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Friday Slide Show: Summer Garden Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

31 August 2018

It wasn't just one thing. That one thing would have been the fog, which settles in to protect San Francisco from the scorching heat radiating seaward from the valley every summer. And makes our garden in summer so short of spectacular that we've never featured it in slide show before.

It was, instead, two things. The other thing was the smoke from all the wildfires in the western states. If the offshore winds weren't blowing them at us from the Sierras then the onshore winds where recycling the particulates blown out to sea from Northern California and Oregon.

You couldn't ask for worse gardening weather.

And when it comes to gardening, we are a benevolent caretaker. We whack the weeds, we prune the trees, we cut the ivy back. But mostly we just tidy up to let the wildlife (birds, raccoons, skunks, gophers, field mice, roof rats, coyotes) know who's paying the property taxes around here. After 15 years the only things growing are the things we haven't killed.

The one benefit of that approach is that it's drought resistant. We don't water. Ever. But then the fog helps out there.

Setup. Certainly looks sinister but it's just a trio of discontinued gear.

But those two things -- the fog and the smoke -- kept the garden off limits for photography this summer. So the other day when the skies had cleared a bit and the sun burned off the fog for the first time in weeks, we got ambitious.

We popped a Lensbaby Edge 80 on our Olympus E-PL1 (making it a 160mm optic) using the Lensbaby Tilt Transformer adapter for the Nikon F mount.

You can't get the Tilt Transformer (or the Edge 80) any more. And if you have one you have to be careful not to let the little pin slip out of the F mount or, focusing on something, you can pop the lens right off the adapter.

But we're careful.

The Edge 80 has a Macro mode. You push the front element out and, presto, you're in Macro mode. And you can be quite a comfortable distance from your subject, unlike most Macro modes.

You also get a nice shallow depth of field. More than usual, we changed f-stops from wide open to shut down as we decided what we wanted to keep in focus.

Most of these shots were taken in Macro mode, in fact. We only slipped into Normal mode when we had to back up to include more into the composition.

But that's only half of the story.

The other half is what we did with our Raw files. We processed them in Piccure+, which we haven't done for a slide show in a while.

Piccure+. Ripping our DNGs into TIFFs.

We thought Piccure+ would noticeably enhance the Lensbaby captures. And (once again) we weren't disappointed. They just seemed to take on an extra dimension, not that the two dimensions the Lensbaby provided weren't sufficient.

We brought the TIFFs into Lightroom and used the Develop module to finish them off, making some tonal and color adjustments while cropping them a bit. But we did a lot less work in Lightroom than we usually do.

That was, oddly, a bit disconcerting. We're used to making a set of edits to get the depth of color and sharpness we like in our slide shows and -- for the most part -- we really didn't have to. We used Clarity, for example, but we almost could have skipped it.

In the end, we don't mind showing off our summer garden. But just one thing. These images are the garden, not the stuff attracting that wildlife out beyond the patio.

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