Thursday, 8 December 2011

Art Filters

I'm a photoshop guy. I've taught it to my photography students for years - and used it in my graphic design and photography business even longer.

So when I read that the Pen cameras had 'Art Filters', I snorted, rolled my eyes, and chalked it up to another 'useless' feature that modern cameras lumber us serious photographers with.

And then I got an EP-3. And I started using the Art Filters - purely for educational purposes you understand. And I wasn't rolling my eyes anymore (well, not with a few of them at least). In fact, I may use a couple of the Art Filters more often than not - they really are that good.

Boat Ramp. Olympus EP-3, Grainy B&W Art Filter, 16:9 aspect ratio
I'm in love with the Grainy Black and White filter and will probably use this a LOT. I'm a black and white fan anyway - but add to that the best digital application of film grain I've ever seen straight out of a camera, and I'm in heaven. The engineers/software guys at Olympus who developed this filter should take the rest of the year off - they deserve it.

I also enjoy the fact that you can view the results live - in real time - on the back of the beautiful 3" OLED screen on the EP-3. That's how I got the shot above - I saw it on the back of the screen as I was walking along with the camera pointed down. The shadows and shapes stopped me in my tracks, and 'click', I had the shot. I know I wouldn't have got this image had the Art Filter not been on and tracking in real-time. Brilliant!

Coastline. EP-3, Dramatic Tone Filter
Another Art Filter that I'm using a lot is the 'Dramatic Tone' filter. It's not quite HDR - but close enough. As the name suggests, it adds more 'drama' to your image - bringing fairly lifeless lighting to life. Just like HDR, you wouldn't want to apply it to every shot (probably not great for portraits), but once again it's an amazingly effective one-touch effect and something that would definitely take a while to replicate in Photoshop (for the novice at least).

Storm approaching. EP-3, Dramatic Tone Filter
You can also add border effects (the film-like edges is my favorite) instantly just to finish the 'arty' look off - and why wouldn't you? Again, it's better to do it at the time of capture, than in Photoshop later on. And if you decide you don't want the border, just crop it out. But I do like it, and it's a look that I gave to a lot of my images in post-processing. Now, the EP-3 does it all for me!

Another feature I'm really enjoying on the EP-3 (and other cameras feature this as well) is the different aspect ratios you can shoot in - from the digital 4:3 standard, to a more 35mm 3:4, a wide-screen 16:9, or a medium-format looking square 1:1. Very cool.

And the EP-3 makes it so easy to 'play' with the art filters by adding filter bracketing. Just decide which filters you want to include, and after you shoot a normal image, the camera goes about processing other photos, applying the art filter modes you've chosen. It does take a while for the camera to process the new images - about 1 or two seconds each - but compare that to the time you would have had to spend doing it in Photoshop, and it's a no brainer!

Other filters I intend to play with depending on the situation include: Pin Hole (adds a dark vignette and slight colour shift), Diorama (pseudo tilt-shift effect), Cross process (self explanatory) and Gentle Sepia (again, fairly self-explanatory). Not only will these be fun to explore on their own, you can also 'stack' certain filters - combining Cross Process with Pin Hole for example. Lots of opportunity for fun images.

The less impressive filters (for me at least) are the Soft Focus (too strong), Pale & Light Colour (too pastel), Light Tone (too wishy-washy) and Pop-Art filters (too trippy). I'm not sure I'll use these at all. And if I don't they can actually be turned off in the Pen's menu system so as not to get in the way.

Greymouth Wharf. EP-3. Grainy B&W Art Filter
It's early days, and I'm really only scratching the surface of the possibilities that Art Filters open up for creative image making. But it sure is making the Olympus Pen P-3 a lot of fun to make images with. And isn't that the point?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Pen EP-3 Ordered!

Okay, I've done it.

After much gnashing of teeth and fretting over finances, I've ordered an EP-3 twin lens kit, with the EV-2 Electronic Viewfinder accessory (a must have as far as I'm concerned!).

The silver is very retro and very sexy, and I've opted for this instead of the understated black or chic white.

Will all be arriving tomorrow, so I'll charge up the battery (bought an after market spare one of them as well), configure the camera to my liking, and shoot like mad over the weekend!

Will obviously post more then - but until then go here to see a short advert for the new Pen. Very cool.