Friday, January 21, 2011

TGIF Week 3

Religious Megabunker (21/365)
"Religious Megabunker"
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm 1:1.4
1/500s, f/3.2, ISO 100

A capture if you will of a major church construction project on the corner of Curry Ford and Econlockhatchee here in Orlando Fl. I'd add "sunny", but today was anything but. It'd rained pretty thoroughly the night before and into the morning, leaving the rest of the day overcast and gray. The lighting was even, the better to illuminate the subtle patterns in the concrete slab walls making up the church and lending a depressing bunker-like atmosphere to the whole structure.

Still working with the E-1, learning more and more. Biggest lesson so far is that five high-quality mega-pixels can produce remarkably good photographs if you just let it. Combine the output of the E-1 with today's RAW converters and post processing applications (such as Lightroom 3.3), and the output is nearly indistinguishable from its more advance descendants, the E-3 (10 MP) and the E-P2 (12 MP). If anything, the E-1 has broken the crazy fever I've had lately to buy the latest high-megapixel offerings from Canon and Nikon. Even after nearly eight years (mine was built August 2003), my E-1 is still remarkable modern looking and handling.

Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm 1:1.4
1.30s, f/1.8, ISO 100

Oh, to be a Lab, and to just worry about the simple things in life, like my next meal, my next walk, or who will be the next person to interact with me. Max has entered that part of dog's life where he's extremely parsimonious expending energy. He'll lie still for long periods on the cool floor tiles, the only indication he's even conscious is the constant arching movement of his eyes. And yet, when the time comes, he's immediately up and moving about like the wind, that big otter tail thumping walls, cabinets, and my shins with gusto.

I like how this turned out with the Sigma. I set the aperture wide enough to give a pleasant, subtle bokeh, but with enough aperture to provide crisp detail. I can't say for certain, but the Sigma seems to focus more accurately and more assuredly with the E-1 than with the E-3, and with the E-P2 ... I'm being charitable when I say that autofocus with the Sigma 30mm on the E-P2 is lethargic. It's a good thing I've learned to manually focus the Sigma 30mm using the VF-2. I think it's significant when the Sigma 30mm acts like it was purpose made to properly autofocus on the E-1.

I also processed the first two photos in black and white as a reaction to an editorial written by Ken Norton on his blog. In his editorial, Ken starts by noting a resurgence of black and white printing, then starts reminiscing about his dark room days, and segues into a rant about the excesses of Flickr ("an abomination") and the state of digital black and white ("cheapened by people who think that desaturating and cranking up the contrast is B&W photography.").

Field of Crosses (18/365)
"Field of Crosses"
Olympus E-P2 with Zuiko Digital 9-18mm + DMW-MA1
1/2500s, f/4, ISO 200, 9mm, -0.7EV

Olympus E-P2 with Zuiko Digital 9-18mm + DMW-MA1
1/800s, f/6.3, ISO 200, 10mm, -1EV
I spent my twenties (starting in 1974) by working in and and helping to build black and white and color darkrooms for college and commercial work. I spent countless hours learning about and perfecting techniques for producing what I considered (and still consider) excellent prints. I lived and breathed darkroom lore and technique, and melded that with all the film photography I was doing at the time (both 35mm and 120/220).

I'm here to tell you that after 30+ years have passed, I can say with absolute certainty that hell will freeze over before I'll work in another darkroom. A well-run darkroom, especially a commercial or public darkroom, is demanding of too much time and money. The processes required to develop film and produce prints are simple enough, but the devil is in the details, such as maintaining proper temperatures, keeping the chemicals reasonably fresh and knowing when to mix new batches, water quality, etc, etc, etc. And when it's a public darkroom (such as at a school) where others besides yourself can use it and depend on its proper functioning, and you're ultimately responsible... I've been there, done all that, and burned out. I have no wish to go back. As a consequence I heartily embrace the digital age.

I'd like to think these simple images would meet with Ken's approval. If they don't, well, I won't loose any sleep over it.

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