Finally a (sun)day worth being called a mid-summer day. Only a few more days and the wheat will get harvested.
These hot summer afternoons with crisp blue skies and a few white clouds are ideal for taking monochrome images. Takin either a yellow, a red or an orange filter to get such an amazing sky.
This is my contribution to Monochrome Madness organized by Leanne Cole. Look at here site on Thursday (Australian time), to see many more monochrome images created by many other talented photographers from all over the world.
I’d also encourage you to participate. The conditions are published in each of her Monochrome Madness posts.
Did you ever heart this name? It’s a small fruit from the citrus family. I have to admit, I’ve never heart of them before. The fruits look similar to very tiny oranges in color and structure, but the shape is a little bit like a long drawn-out egg or an olive. Their size is similar to a large olive or a date (fruit of the date palm)
You can’t eat them. They are very hard. But, the people got the idea to cook them very long. After about 2 days of cooking the fruits are edible and taste quite good. Now, they are sweet. You can get them candied or pickled in kumquat sirup. We tasted both variants. The candied variant was way too sweet in our opinion, but the pickled ones were good. We bought a 500 ml glass to take them home. The dealer (and producer) told us, even the open glass is good for another year. Thus, you don’t have to eat them all at ones. That’s good. In my opinion, you can’t eat more than two or three of them.
Other usages for the kumquats are making marmalade, syrup or liquor.
A simple sign beside the road offered a sightseeing of an oil mill. We stopped our car and accepted. Outside the building in modern industry style, were old mills set up.
In the pre-industry times, the olives were grinded by big round millstones pulled by donkeys. Then the mash came in the next stage. Here it was pressed, to get the oil out of the mash. In the early 20th century a steam machine overtook the donkeys job as well as the mens job at the press.
Today, we have a washing machine first, were the farmers throw in their olives. Next, they are milled and centrifuged by different machines to be filtered before bottling the native oil. The machines are cooled to keep the oil from getting to warm. That’s because the oil looses quality when getting to warm during the production process.The remaining parts from the pit shells are pressed into pellets to be sold for pellet heatings.
At this point, we were shown a documentary to learn, how the olives are collected at harvest time and how the machines produce the oil. Harvest time is in winter, and during summer there is no work to be done in the mill. So, they produced a little documentary for the visitors showing all processes in action. What a great idea.
Before we left the building, we have had to pass a table with some oil cans and were allowed (had to) taste the oil: 2 different pure oils and an oil spiced up with garlic. The idea here: get the tourists to buy some cans 🙂 I expected this. The price was OK, so I bought a can. I like cooking with olive oil, so the can is already empty. What a pity. It tasted way better than the oil available in the grocery stores around.
On Corfu you can find many, many old olive tree forests. Corfu was a colony of the Venetian Republic for growing olive trees to produce oil. Everywhere you can find these forests, even next to the streets.
Although, I’ve read about this fact before, I was quite impressed by these forests. For me, a forests consists of high trees standing next to each other. Their treetops form a dense roof. Only few light can pass this roof during summer. Only in winter and early spring the light has a chance to reach the ground. But, these olive tree forests are so translucent.
Also the trees themselves. They are so impressive. Look at their shapes and how big they are, compared to our rental car.
We also visited an olive oil mill. I’ll show you some images in a separate post. Here we learned, on Corfu olives are not picked. The trees are way too high to pick the olives. Instead, huge fabrics are spread below the trees to collect the falling olives. In some forests these fabrics stay on the ground, in others they stay furled and in a few forests we saw no fabrics. Maybe the latter were given up or the farmer have taken them home.
At harvest time, the fabrics are spread under the trees carefully. Now, the people are shaking the tree branches with long bars to make the olives fall down. All the olives drop in the fabrics now, where they are collected for further handling. Most of them for producing oil.
It’s fall here and the year comes slowly to its end. Fall also means, to harvest. Framers pray for good weather conditions to get the results from their year of work safe in their barns.
The cold and often wet weather is also the time of the year when the mushrooms pop out of the ground. They life the whole year in the soil and in fall their fruiting bodies come up to spread their spores.
While some mushrooms are eatable, others are (extremely) poisonous and some are only eatable, when young. You have to have very good knowledge of mushrooms, when you try to find them in the forests and decide the good guys from the bad ones. Some of them look so similar i.e. champignon and death cap, so you can go wrong very easily. I don’t have much more than a very basic knowledge in mushrooms, so I leave them alone. Fly agaric and stinkhorn are nearly the only one’s I’d recognize 🙂
As a child my father has had to go with his father to collect mushrooms in fall. They went to the forests in the early morning on weekends. They had to be back in town, before church started. The mushrooms were cleaned, threaded on twine and hung up in the kitchen for drying. During winter the mushrooms and also collected dried berries were used for food.
I remember a few mushroom collecting trips with my grandfather when I was a child, but my mother always was very skeptical in preparing them for food. But, they were always good. Even, when looking very strange like Ramaria aurea, a coral mushroom.
But, every year you can read in the newspaper from people dieing after having eaten poisonous mushrooms.
Another Tuesday and another photo for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness. I picked this photo of hazelnuts I took last week. Currently we have lots of hazelnuts in our garden. Most of them are already laying on the ground waiting to be collected.
Today’s post is a little bit different, because I let different kind of imaging software run against each other. So, who are the competitors?
First of all: my regular raw developing software Capture NX2 for the color image. It’s the source for this comparison and you can see it at the end of this post. I also used it for a first monochrome conversion, although I usually don’t use this feature of Capture NX2.
Next, my favorite bw-tool Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. In this comparison I used it twice: the plugin for Photoshop CS6 and the standalone version.
The third competitor is (at least for me) the new kid on the block: MacPhun Tonality Pro, that is also usable as a stand-alone software and as a plugin for Photoshop.
The last competitor is Photoshop CS6 without any plugin.
There are really huge differences between the competitors. While Nik can only work with TIF or JPG-Images, Tonalitiy Pro is able to handle Photoshop PSD files as well as native Nikon and Canon Raw files. So, you don’t need another kind of software for your raw development. Another pro for Tonality Pro is the native file format, that stores your complete history with layers just like Photoshop would do. Silver Efex Pro depends on Photoshop for this. Thus, running the standalone version is only a quick-fix-tool. For a straight workflow you definitely need Photoshop and run Silver Efex Pro as a plugin.
Native Photoshop is in my opinion the weakest conversion. Silver Efex and Tonality, both produce very good results with only minimal differences.
Both, Silver Efex Pro and Tonality Pro, come with a bunch of presets organized in several groups. And both can save your own presets. But only Tonality Pro can handle RAW files, can save your editing history and does not depend on Photoshop.
Just in case you want to produce high quality monochrome versions of your photos, I’d recommend giving Tonality Pro a try. There’s a demo version available for free.
The idea is, to set two photos in a connection. This might be the same color, the same subject from different angles or two different photos having a certain connection.
I’ve chosen, to take two photos with a “before and after” or “then and now” connection. You can see a photo taken two days ago: 2 apples in an apple tree. The other photos is taken back in April and is showing the blossoms at the same tree. So, here you have a then and now connection.