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My favourite image viewing software program is FastStone Image Viewer 4.6. It is simple to use, offers easy to use image manipulation controls (although I prefer Lightroom for processing images) and handles most RAW file formats (including Adobe DNG). On top of this, it is available free to download (for home use) from http://www.faststone.org/, although donations are accepted to help toward future development costs.

One of the greatest photographic pleasures in life is to see a well exposed, well projected slide and more so, if it is an image that you have created yourself. I have been using 35mm slide film for decades now, both professionally and personally, and my enthusiasm for it has remained constant. There is nothing like receiving a box of transparencies and holding them up to the light for the first time. In this world of binary data, a slide is something so tangible – almost magical, with almost a feeling of a bygone age.

I write this occasionally glancing down at my desk, at a small box of yellow and blue with a ‘best before’ date of October 2013. And I realise that this could be the last batch of Ektachrome E100G I am likely to be able to get hold of. The news came, early in March 2012, that Kodak was discontinuing all of their slide film. Bad news for me, as I have used Kodak’s E100G, E100VS and Elitechrome EBX exclusively for many years. Kodak assured us that there are sufficient supplies of film to last several months, but I have noticed that stocks are already exhausted at some of my suppliers.

My biggest problem when starting out with post processing digital images was that of sharpening. I simply could not seem to strike a balance that for me, exhibited the right amount of sharpening without too much destruction. I guess this, and other post processing routines are down to personal preference; what I consider being enough will not be to everyone’s personal taste. Me? Well, I like my images to be ‘film like’ in their appearance, and the right amount of sharpening is fundamental to achieving this result.

My main post processing software is Lightroom 3.5 or 4.0 (the sharpening examples given below are relevant to Lightroom only), depending on what computer I am working from.

For my first PhotoArk Blog entry, I thought I would take a brief retrospective look at an old friend and favourite, the Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.2 Lens. Long out of production, and expensive when new, it is one of my all-time favourite lenses of any system and format. For those that are not familiar with the OM System lenses, they were designed with true portability in mind and this large aperture lens is no exception. Stand this optic next to similar offerings from other manufacturers of the day, and the genius of the OM System’s chief designer, Yoshihisa Maitani, really shines.