Thursday, December 06, 2012

Casual Photography

Ruby and Mr. Bill, NEX 5N, OM 50mm/1.4 @f/1.4, 1/250 sec, ISO 250
The problem with us "dedicated" amateur photographers is that too many of us pursue it too grimly, never stopping to just enjoy the moment. Every photo has to come out of the camera as a Work of Art, each one perfectly composed and exposed as if our very lives depended on it. That attitude carries over into post-processing, where over saturation, over contrast and over sharpening come into play.

It's also a carryover from the early 2000s, when you had to post process if you wanted what the camera's sensor was capable of  recording. So you purchased an expensive computer with expensive post-processing software to go along with your expensive DSLR and you became an expert on post and workflow. And if you were any good at it you wrote books on it and gave seminars. Here we are in 2012, long since past that point, where the cameras now have sophisticated JPEG engines with lots of tunable parameters to give us all what would worked so hard to accomplish five or more years ago in post.

We all read about and talk about going mirrorless because we're tired of carrying heavy camera gear. I'm learning to accept what today's cameras produce because I also want to lighten my post load as much as my gear load. I like what I'm seeing coming out of the latest camera models regardless of brand.

With the operation I took a fair amount of time off (I was forced too as I couldn't walk around very well) and just read and researched in other areas. Basically I gave photography a bit of a rest. As I come back into it, I'm shifting my emphasis away from post processing with its artificiality and emphasis on ignoring what the camera is capable of doing, to doing everything possible within the camera. That means learning how to use the camera's built-in capabilities, and tuning those capabilities to deliver something more in line with my (evolving) tastes.

I've gone back to using the "shimmer effect" for manual focusing. I learned how to do that with the Olympus E-P2, and I can now do it just fine with the NEX 5N, both of them using the OM 50mm/1.4. I know I sang the praises of Sony's focus peaking, but I have since grown dissatisfied with additional use. Where once I thought I liked it, I've since changed my mind; I'm allowed to do that.

I also don't care about having to dig down into the menus to turn focus peaking on and off, and finally, focus peaking makes such a mess on the screen because it covers so much detail. So I've gone back to the shimmer effect. I photographed Ruby with the OM 50mm wide open using that technique. If you're into pixel peeping you can open Ruby's photo and click to full size to see her little girl lashes are reasonably sharp. And I like the soft effect from using the lens wide open.
Sand cranes, NEX-5N, 18-55mm @55mm, @f/5.6, 1/640sec, ISO 100
December light, NEX-5N, 18-55mm @55mm, @f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO 100
These other two photos were taken earlier today while I was walking around the office complex where I work. The December temperatures were in the mid-70s, and with all the green in the trees you'd think it was spring rather than winter. The outdoor, with its light breezes, was wonderful. And I was able to walk around the grassy areas just fine.

All photos are straight-out-of-the-camera JPEGs, with no post processing, cropping or scaling. This is the digital equivalent of printing the full 35mm negative. And if I must say so, I find that APS-C is the new 35mm for digital.

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