Just horsin' around…
This was a nice surprise on the trip. We had spent the night in Lincoln City, and on advice from a friend, backtracked a few miles to a little town called Otis for breakfast, at the Otis Cafe (highly recommended… seriously yum—get the German potatoes!). As we pulled up to the cafe, right behind it was a field of beautiful horses. Some were Clydesdales, I think (do they lose their fur around the ankles? These were huge, Clydesdale-looking horses, minus the furry boots). I grabbed the Leica and went up to say hi, and boy did they come and say hi back! Very friendly horses, and actually I couldn't get the shots I wanted because they just came so close. Silly beasts.
This Creamy File
With this shot I can see some of that legendary Leica sharpness, and with a sensor this big, that lovely depth of field. This was shot on the Summarit-S 70mm ƒ/2.5 lens at 1/180th at ƒ/4. Truth be told, I'm not sure that this isn't something I couldn't do with the Canon with a good lens. The 70mm on this medium format camera is about 50mm on a 35mm equivalent, so comparing this to my Canon 50mm ƒ/1.2 would be interesting.
Depth of field is very shallow with a medium format sensor and that's something to get used to. I think (guesstimating here) that the shallow DoF on this shot would require about ƒ/2 on the Canon 50mm lens and full frame body. What's interesting here however is that the blurry horses in the background, while obviously completely out of focus and knocking the foreground clean off the background, are almost like they're more "soft" and less "out of focus". Does that make sense? This very shallow DoF hasn't rendered the background a complete blur, but instead made a very beautiful, soft version of the scene.
Maybe I'm imagining it, but I'd love to hear from other Leica and/or medium format shooters if it's just in my head, or if that really is what you can expect from this type of gear. Unfortunately I didn't shoot the scene with any other cameras to compare.
Image Treatment in Nik's Viveza
There isn't much done to this file at all. I opened it in Nik's Viveza, and all I did was lower saturation and increase structure quite a bit. However there's one more tip that I'll share here that's quite interesting. If you raise structure on an image with fast gradations, as you'll find in the file above from the top of the dark blurry mountains to the bright sky behind it, or even the transition from the horse's rump to the field behind, those areas take on a nasty halo effect very quickly when you increase structure. To counter that, you can add control points directly to the trouble areas, then set the structure to –100%. That knocks out the structure previously added, and structure only benefits areas that are sharp to begin with—so, problem solved.
If you're a fan of the Nik plugins, do check out my Nik Creative Workshop, and don't forget you can use the discount code ApertureExpert when buying any Nik plugins for 20% off.
The Horse Whisperer
I love this iPhone+Instagram photo my wife captured of me making nice with the horses. And for anyone who asks, that bag is Lowepro Passport Sling II (it comes in black, too). This is a great "when you get there" bag, and is designed to carry a small amount of stuff around, such as a compact system camera and your other needs (water, iPad, etc.) or in this case, I'm using it to schlep two more Leica lenses, plus the OMD camera.