Tuesday, April 30, 2013

rubester

Rubester
Taken the same time as "party of two", this photo of just Ruby shows why I prefer sepia over neutral black and white. There's just more life in the sepia output, and the dark areas are truly dark. Part of this is the composition, but part of it is the internal tinting that takes place. Both of these (rubester and party of two) were taken with the E-PL2 and Panasonic 14mm at f/2.8. Foreground/background separation is rather nice. Again none of this was retouched; SOOC.

Love me, love my Labs.

party of two

The Labs
max and ruby
Can't get through a TV program without the Labs showing up. It's showering again this evening so everybody came in to be with me. I'm watching "Dinotasia", narrated by Werner Herzog (who sounds an awful lot like Christopher Lambert). The Labs keep looking at the TV whenever the dinosaurs roar, then turn around to look at me as if to ask "what was that?" I guess Labs don't like dinosaurs.

who cares?

This is going to be a rather cruel post, so if you're of a sensitive nature I advise you to turn away now.

OK?

The internet photo forums are abuzz with discontinuance of the Hasselblad 503CW, the last of the V series. According to the official Hasselblad press release;
“Everything has its place in time. The veteran 503CW combined with an extensive V System range of interchangeable lenses and accessories, was for seventeen years, the camera of choice for discerning professionals and aspirational amateur photographers.

But there has been a substantial decline in demand for this camera over the past five years or so and the time has now come for us to reluctantly consign the V System to history. In so doing we would like to thank all fans and customers for both their loyalty and their enthusiasm for our legacy Hasselblad V System.”
The 503CW was and is a dinosaur, even during the fading heyday of film. I remember a close friend of mine who worked with me at Wallis Kamera Haus back in Atlanta during the mid-1970s nick-naming it the "CollossalFlop" due to its large mirror. The only time I ever really paid attention to the Hasselblad was during the Apollo program, when special built Hasseys were used with Apollo 8 onward, the Skylab series, and early Shuttle flights. But that wasn't enough to inspire me to want to own one. I did own an interchangeable lens TLR, the Mamiya c330 f. I loved its quiet shutter and its solid feel in my hands. Most importantly I loved its affordability. I bought the body and two lenses for less than what I would have paid for a Hasselblad 500c body.

In my not-so-humble opinion Hasselblad the company has been slowly changing, and not for the better, since Victor Hasselblad sold the company to investors back in 1976. The company has passed through several owners over the decades, again not necessarily for the better. The last time I paid attention to Hasselblad was the bad attention it drew with the introduction of the Hasselblad Lunar, a Sony NEX-7 with $5,000 of useless luxury bling glued to its exterior so that Hasselblad could sell the ultimate luxury mirrorless camera. Too bad that Leica has already staked out that particular market niche by selling the M240, which might actually turn out to be one of Leica's better rangefinder mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Although I'll never own one, I have to say if you need a medium format quality digital camera, then investigate buying a Nikon D800 or D800e. With the right kind of technique I've seen both cameras produce remarkable results rivaling medium format, especially if it's your desire to "print large." Except for my brief foray into medium format with the Mamiya, I have been and always will be a small camera person. Medium format cameras just don't fit in with my idea of what a camera should be. The Hasselblad V series stayed too stagnant for too long, and now it's rightfully being discontinued. Long past time to move on.

Monday, April 29, 2013

tinkering

Used Watch
The Old Watch
The Olympus E-PL2 was introduced in late 2010 as the follow-on camera to the E-PL1. It's the slightly down-market version of the E-P2, even though it was introduced about a year after the E-P2. It's smaller and chunkier than the E-P2 (and E-P3) and has a much more distinctive grip, which in spite of its smaller size compared to the E-P2 makes it the easier camera to grasp. With a pancake lens mounted on it (14mm, 15mm, 17mm, or 20mm) the total combination makes for a small nifty package that can challenge anything you care to throw at it, including the fixed prime compacts from Fuji and Ricoh. For my plebeian tastes the E-PL2 and Panasonic 14mm makes for a quite satisfying e28mm class camera.

I've been back to tinkering with the internal settings of the camera. I've set the Custom tone (Menu - First Camera - Picture Mode - Custom) to Monochrome (Picture Mode), Contrast to +2, Sharpness to +1, B&W Filter to Green, Picture Tone to Sepia, and Gradation to Auto. I set the camera to 16:9 aspect ratio, and pulled the image straight out of the camera.

At 1600 ISO you'll see lots of noise grain, kind of like what you'd get if you pushed Tri-X four stops (or more!). And I prefer the warmth of sepia over the cold tones of pure black and white, or at least most black and white papers. There was one Ilford paper I used a long time ago that had brilliant whites and deep, deep neutral blacks, like a good brush-and-ink paint sketch on Bristol board. If I could get that look straight out of the camera I'd use it instead of sepia.

Image was taken hand-held, and I set the focus square to sit over the watch to get the composition I wanted.  I'm thinking cinematic these days, even if I do loose a few megapixels on the top and bottom edge. I think I'll set the E-M5 to the exact setting and put the 45mm on it.

Why this? The joys of experimentation. And just to have a little fun breaking down my self-imposed walls.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

shutter therapy sunday, part deu

Across and Up
Near Kohls, Gainesville, Florida
I drove to Gainesville Florida today to visit my oldest daughter and drop some items off for her. We stayed long enough in Gainesville to do a quick visit, a quick round of hugs, some very brief conversation, and return a pair of Crocs (shoes) at a local Kohls before heading back to Orlando. It's a two hour trip one way; we'd left the Labs back at the house (this, after their morning walk, feed and water, and a final trip out to the back yard). So we had to get back home at a reasonable time.

While I was waiting for my wife to return the shoes I walked around the Kohls' parking lot grabbing some environmental/architectural photos of the store and its immediate environs. I was using the Olympus E-PL2, Panasonic 14mm, and the E-PL2's dramatic tone art filter. Today's lens setting was f/4, two stops down from the 15mm body cap lens.
Indoor/Outdoor
Looking in from the outside, Kohls, Gainesville, Florida
Shadow Play
Shadow play, Kohls, Gainesville, Florida
All three of these are from the store and immediately next to it. I've reached a point where I want to move away from dramatic tone and experiment with the other art filters. If there's one feature I wish the Pens had it's the ability to layer effects. The E-PL2 can almost do it, with the ability to use dramatic tone with either color or black and white. But it's not the same as using dramatic and, say, pinhole. Never-the-less it's still an enjoyable little camera to work with.
Pastureland
Pastureland, on I-75 south of Gainesville, Florida
On the drive back to Orlando my wife and I kept seeing broad swaths of color, wild flowers that have been deliberately planted along the shoulders of I-75 and a number of other Florida highways. I pulled off onto the side of I-75 at one point to photograph the wild phlox growing along a section, as well as a bit of pastureland. I keep forgetting that Florida has a 500-year history of cattle ranching starting with the Spanish in the 16th century. As you drive along I-75 and other main road between Florida's cities you'll see pastureland with cattle, sheep, and horses. And some of the best looking live oaks I think I've ever seen.
Wild Phlox
Wild phlox, on I-75 south of Gainesville, Florida
Orchids
Some of my blooming orchids
When I first purchased my E-M5 it was body only, minus the 12-50mm kit zoom. I began to realize that was a mistake when I and the E-M5 got rained on one day, and since that day I've been looking for a low-cost way to pick up the lens. Jamie MacDonald (https://twitter.com/MacDonald_Photo) sold me his and today I took it with me, mounted on the E-M5. Starting with Pastureland above, I started to use the lens and discovered that the lens isn't nearly as bad as so many make it out to be. In particular I have discovered that the 43mm macro mode is actually very very good. That's what I used for the wild phlox and these following flower photos. It's more than good enough for what it does. If anything the M.Zuiko 12-50mm is a better kit lens than the eternal M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lenses. In fact I'd call the 12-50mm impressive.
Mandavilla
And my mandaville back in bloom again. Note the subtle details captured, especially upper left.

Technical

A mix of the E-PL2 with Panasonic 14mm and the E-M5 with 12-50mm kit zoom. Art filter when used was dramatic tone. All other was vivid. Every image SOOC, no post processing, cropping, nothing. Just straight out JPEGs.

I remember when I ran with straight JPEG out of my Olympus E-300. As much as I still love and miss that camera, the E-M5 and today's Zuiko lenses just leave the E-300 in the dust.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

shutter therapy saturday

Old Style Burger King
"Classic style" Burger King, John Young Parkway
I have been living in interesting times for the past few weeks. I'll get into more details in a later post, but suffice it to say I'm no longer in Kansas, at least career-wise. And so I've been working quietly but extensively in the background, coming up with a plan for what to do next with the rest of my life.

Today I went out on a shutter therapy break, using an Olympus E-PL2 and the f/8 15mm body cap lens. I'm still enamored with the dramatic tone art filter, which is what I set the E-PL2 to use. I also turned off autofocus (it's certainly not needed) and turned off "autochimp mode" by turning REC VIEW off in the menu (Menu -> Wrench (or Spanner for you Brits) -> REC VIEW and then turn down the time to briefly display until it's zero). With all of that the E-PL2 executes as quickly as a film camera. It becomes a true point-and-shoot but with a nice big sensor.

Most of the photos were taken on today's trip from a Jersey Mike's at Conway and Turkey Lake out to a bead store on Sand Lake and John Young Parkway. Some taken out of the driver's side, some of me walking and waiting on my wife.
Fixing Lunch
Fixing a sub, Jersey Mikes, Conroy and Turkey Lake
The combination turned out to be as quick as I anticipated. There was no noticeable delay when the shutter was tripped which made the photographic experience more the enjoyable. I was able to practice "decisive moment" photography. Of course one photographer's decisive moment is another's mess, and I had few opportunities to practice determining decisive moments.

A lot of folks dislike the heavy post processing of dramatic tone. That may be the case, but it's one of the few art filters that keep calling me back to try it. Others include pinhole, diorama and grainy film. In this photo the high ISO chosen (1600) combine with a slow shutter and motion blur produces an effect that is "too smooth" for some, where fine detail is obliterated. Big deal. I like it and that's all that matters.
The Big Orange Bus
The Big Orange Bus, John Young Parkway
I like the effect on this photo. Dramatic tone has reduced the detail and heightened the color so that it looks almost like a acrylic and ink painting, which isn't so bad. Again, a keeper.
Sun Eater
Sun Eater, John Young Parkway
When we got to the bead store I wondered around photographing the odd composition (and drawing the occasional "who is that screwball" look). One of those odd compositions includes this one with the sun in the upper right. The astute viewer will note the "red dots of death" that are attempting to assert themselves around the image of the sun. Again I like the effect, where the sun seems to be bleeding light and flying down out of the very upper right. There's plenty of flair (look in the opposite lower left) but the dramatic tone simply incorporates it into the overall image processing. Another keeper.
Bracelets 2
Brass bracelets in the bead store, John Young Parkway
The 15mm lens has just two focus settings, infinity and near. Near focus is about 1 foot. I've set it to near focus to make this photograph of a tray full of brass bracelets. Note that with proper composition the background can be thrown out of focus, which is rather interesting considering that it's a 15mm (30mm effective) at f/8. Is the background bocahlicious? That's up to you to decide. I couldn't care less.
Grand Opening
Grand Opening, John Young Parkway
Shadows
Shadows, International and Central Florida Parkway
These last two were the last two taken on the way home. Nothing special except for me. I like this combination of body and lens. With the body properly configured I could just carry it around and grab shots all day long in all kinds of light. The other filters in the body lend themselves to other treatments, other emotions.

Tomorrow is another jamb-packed day. I'm switching out the 15mm for the Panasonic 14mm. It has a different character than the 15mm. Keeping to the dramatic tone art filter I want to see what comes out of the camera.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

selfie saturday

The Beard

For whatever reason there's been a spate of articles published on the Internets about digital camera self portraits, or selfies, and What It All Means. There is in particular a recent essay published on Luminous Landscape (LuLa to those of us In The Know) titled "The Age of Narcissism – Digitized, Homogenized." It's the kind of essay I might have been assigned in a freshman college English course. It's an earnest attempt to show how narcissistic we've become in this digital domain, aided and abetted by the twin devil spawn of Facebook and Instagram. So here's my nominal addition this culture's "narcissistic pandemic." If there's any saving grace to these photos, it's that they aren't on Facebook and they haven't been produced by Instagram.

Self Portrait - First Light 20mm
Self Portrait #1 (7/365)

Technical

Produced over the years with Olympus Pens. The top was produced with the Olympus E-PL2 and the Panasonic Leica 25mm, the middle with the Olympus E-P2 and the Panasonic Lumix 20mm, and the bottom with the Olympus E-P2, a µ4:3rds to OM adapter and an OM 1.4/50mm. All post processed in Lightroom and Silver Efext Pro for the black and white images.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

a camera out of left field


Blackmagic Design's Pocket Cinema Camera caught me by surprise when I first read about it on Thom Hogan's sansmirror.com web site. Up until yesterday I was pretty well settled about not buying any new camera gear, until I came across this announcement. What's scary is that the $995 suggested price isn't a problem with me. My first line of defense, my inherent cheapskateness, has failed to protect me and my wallet.

What is remarkable (to me) about this camera is that it appears, on paper at least, to be a real digital cinema camera, not a stills camera with video bolted onto the side. I'm certainly no video expert, but I've been dabbling in video with the Pens as well as the NEX-5N. And I have not been particularly satisfied with the results. I'm now going to commit the timeless amateur photographer's sin by saying that I would get better results by buying a different piece of equipment. I'd be the first to look askance at anyone making that kind of claim, but for the following features on this particular camera;
  • Sensor: Super 16mm sensor, 12.48 x 7.02mm (3x crop)
  • Mount: µ4:3rds, active mount, supports autofocus and exposure information
  • Output: Video only, 1080P/23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30; Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) or lossless CinemaDNG raw format
  • Shutter: global electronic shutter
This camera, which looks like a cross between the NEX-5N and the E-PL1 on steroids, has video capabilities unmatched in total by either Olympus or Panasonic out-of-the-box. Well, I say that about Panasonic, and looking at the GH3's specifications the GH3 comes close, and the GH3 includes features not matched by the Pocket Cinema Camera. Except... the global electronic shutter. That means no rolling shutter artifacts. Or at least that's the claim.

Rather than run around like my hair's on fire saying how I just have to pre-order this camera, I'll sit back and see how it fares in someone else's more capable hands. That should make my wallet and my wife happy. I want to see output from this camera where there's movement, either the subject, the camera, or both. And not see rolling shutter.

I could see me owning this particular camera for my video experimentation. It would certainly be discreet enough (like the Pens) and fit in a very small pocket with the rest of my kit. And who cares if it uses a different battery (the Nikon EN-EL20 of all things)? Buy an extra battery or two and make sure they're always charged and I'm ready.

A highly-affordable cinema-class video camera in a Pen-sized body that takes all my µ4:3rds lenses. That's just awesome to think about.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Sunday, April 07, 2013

what i want in a camera i finally have

The Collection
I have over the last few years written about my wants in a camera. And then today, for whatever reason, I realized I pretty much have what I've yearned for. How did that happen, you ask? The sensors, specifically the Sony sensors, came along and gave me pretty much all I ever asked for with regards to image quality, my biggest want. In particular, the sensors in the NEX-5N and E-M5. They're pretty well matched where it matters to me. Yes, yes, the NEX-5N scores slightly higher numerically than the E-M5 according to DxOMark, but in practical use, they're essentially equal, and compared to the three Pens in my collection, they are well beyond what I'd been working with in regards to overall sensor capability. And to be honest the Pens aren't all the bad to start with.

ModelDxOMark scorecolor depth, bitsexposure range, EVlow-light, ISO Year announced
NEX-5N 77 23.6 12.7 1079 2011
E-M5 71 22.8 12.3 826 2012
E-PL2 5521.4 10.2573 2010
E-PL1 5521.5 10.1487 2010
E-P2 5621.4 10.4505 2009

As you'll note in the chart I've pulled the pertinent DxOMark scores for my cameras from the eponymous website. I tried to rank them in descending score order, but decided at the last minute to rank them both in score order and the year they were released. Yes, I know the 5N was announced six months before the E-M5 (August 2011 vs February 2012). But that's surprisingly not that far apart.

Other facts from the chart:
  • There's no difference between the E-P2 and the E-PL2. They also span a seven month release from November 2009 to June 2010. And, oh, by the way, there's no difference between the E-3's score, a camera announced in 2007, and the E-P2's, even though the E-3 is 10MP and the E-P2 is 12MP. Think about that.
  • There's essentially a two decadal jump score-wize between the Pen's score and the E-M5's score. It shows in the quality files I get from the E-M5.
  • The real boost shows in the exposure range. I really do see two extra EV of exposure range in the E-M5 and 5N, and not just in the highlights, but across the entire exposure range.
  • Cameras that score within the same decade (50s for the Pens, 70s for the E-M5 and 5N) behave equivalently. Except for extreme exposure/corner circumstances, I can't tell the difference between the E-M5 and the 5N, and when I believe I do I'm really not that sure. And that's a good thing.
  • I don't care about megapixels. Really, I don't.
At this point I could split hairs over handling between the various cameras. A lot of folks do on the web. I've read plenty about handling issues with the E-M5 and the 5N. Rest assured that in my ham-sized hands they handle equally well. I enjoy using all five or else I wouldn't have them.

But I have reached a point where I'm pretty much tapped out with regards to gear. I have all these primes and no real need for more. Well, I could use something around 200mm to 300mm, and I'd rather have it in µ4:3rds mount to take full advantage of the E-M5's IBIS, which is absolutely phenomenal.

I've learned a fundamental truth from all the shooting, observing, and staring at DxOMark numbers: all cameras that have a score of 70 or higher are essentially in the sweet spot of digital photography. If the sensor is in that range then you can be assured of excellent performance regardless of brand.

Photographically speaking I'm happy, bordering on ecstatic. Who'd of thought that would ever happen to me?

nexxie sunday

waiting in line
I was supposed to go to the spring Fiesta in the Park at Lake Eola today. My wife went downtown to the Bob Carr to watch Madama Butterfly with a friend. On the way back I intended to stop at the Fiesta and walk through, looking for photographic opportunities. But as I drove near where it was being held I found no place to park except for all the little spots near apartments and other small parking lots where local folk had set up for-pay parking starting at $5 a pop and up. That pretty much killed any desire I had to visit. Instead I drove on down to a Burger King on Orange, near Michigan, and spent $5 on a basic lunch.
1950 in 2013
What is interesting about the current Burger King stores are the new, nineteen-fiftyish style the stores are all adopting. Lots of bright colors, primarily bright oranges, with vinyl coverings on seat bottoms and backs. I don't know why they'd choose this particular design motif, but it reminds me of older places I used to eat at when I was a kid living in Atlanta. In particular, it reminds me of the Varsity near Georgia Tech.

On The Way Home

I picked my wife up after 5pm when the opera finished. On the way back, driving south on Parramore and at the corner of W. Central, I passed a number of now-empty buildings covered in local graffiti.I stopped across the street, and with nothing but the NEX 5N with the Sigma 19mm, I walked around and took as many photos as I could before I had to stop and head on home. While walking around I came across a local who told me that the buildings were due to be torn down in two weeks to make way for a parking lot for the Amway Center just two blocks south and east. This is but a fraction of all that I took. I hope I documented enough before this is all gone.
graffiti at parramore and w. central
graffiti at parramore and w. central
graffiti at parramore and w. central
graffiti at parramore and w. central
graffiti at parramore and w. central
graffiti at parramore and w. central
late lunch / graffiti at parramore and w. central

Technical

I used the Sony NEX 5N with the Sigma 2.8/19mm. Post processing was done with LR 4 and Nix Color Efex Pro 4 and my special filter. The look is almost like HDR, and it works equally well with either the NEX 5N or the E-M5 raw files. The Sigma 19mm has a 35mm equivalent of 28mm on the NEX 5N. I like that field of view. And I like what Color Efex Pro 4 is doing with the raw images. I'm slowly approaching a look I like with this tool. It definitely isn't film-like, and I like that.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

early saturday

up out of the depths
Saturday morning started way too early for me. My Saturdays are sacrosanct; I consider it, along with Sunday, to be my days of rest. But my wife had an early morning MRI appointment at Florida Hospital. So I woke us both up while it was still dark, even for daylight savings time, and drove us both to the appointment.
waiting room
The MRI waiting room was done up in classic Florida Hospital tans and browns. I suppose they carried out some sort of study and decided this had a calming effect on people waiting in their waiting rooms. Or maybe it was picked because it's the cheapest. Regardless, I got to sit for nearly two hours while they ran all the tests on my wife. I'd brought my Nexus 7 tablet with me, and settled down reading my Analog and Asimov science fiction magazines via the Nook app. In the background a large flat panel TV was playing episode after episode (no commercial interruptions!) of Law and Order, from the seasons with Jerry Orbach as Det. Lennie Briscoe. It's kind of hard watching those episodes, remembering Orbach passed away back in 2004. So I hunkered down into my reading.
skyglow
In spite of the length of time it took it was still early morning, with the sun just up over the horizon. Looking up as I walked back to the car I saw the dawn streaking over the hospital highrises and onto the construction cranes adding more buildings to the Florida Hospital complex.
bagels
The two of us were ravenous so we headed to the closest Einsteins bagel place, the one on Orange and Mills, to grab a few egg and cheese begals with some coffee. I'm always into asiago cheese. If I can't have asiago I'll get sesame. We wolfed down our begals in record time and finally headed back home for our usual weekend chores.
breakfast
uinversal kitsch
I saw this in the morning, and came back after doing the grocery run. Universal's tourism business  seems to be on a rebound these days. They're in the process of building out the rest of their undeveloped buffer property at Turkey Lake and Hollywood Way. I can't wait for this 1950's inspired pile of concrete to be finished, complete with what appears to be wall-to-wall swimming pool. With all the shorelines on both the Atlantic and Gulf sides of Florida, Universal feels the need to create an artificial bay to keep its customers right there at the park. I guess, from an economic standpoint, you can consider this a "good" thing. Personally, as a very long time resident of the area, I wish Universal had never settled into the area.

Technical

Olympus E-M5, Panasonic 1.7/20mm on all but the last photo, which used the M.Zuiko 40-150mm R. Post processing in LR 4, Silver Efex Pro 2 and  Color Efex Pro 4, using a number of Color Efex Pro presets.

Friday, April 05, 2013

mastering mediocrity, part 2

the tree
This afternoon on the way home from work I was running btween Best Buy stores from my work side of town to the location in West Oaks Mall, looking for any of the iPad 3's that Best Buy had put on sale in the middle of the week. As bad luck would have it, there weren't any more to be had. I should have expected this; Best Buy is too well known for having too-good-to-be-true sales on very limited stock quantities. I first learned that lesson on a Black Friday back in the mid-1990s at the West Oaks Best Buy, after getting there and waiting three hours before the store opened. By the time I finally got into the store on that particular Black Friday morning, all the special low-priced notebooks that were advertised the day before were gone, and the store had only been open fifteen minutes by the time I walked in the front door. I swore back then I'd never shop at any Best Buy unless I had no other choice. Today I should have stuck to my original resolve.

On the way out of the Best Buy parking lot, I drove through the connected parking lots of three other closed businesses that face West Colonial; Toys 'R' Us, Chevy's Fresh Mex, and Borders Bookstore. The Toys 'R' Us moved to a new location next to Millenia Mall, the Chevy's closed when they opened a new one at Disney's Lake Buena Vista, and Borders closed when the whole corporation shut down nation-wide mid-2011. I don't remember the order in which each business closed, but Border's was the last to close; Toys 'R' Us and Chevy's were already boarded up when Borders closed its doors for good.

On the way out I stopped in the Chevy's parking lot and and walked around from there. While walking and photographing I started hearing the cries of what I thought were hawks, but were in fact ospreys. A nesting pair had set up a spot in the top of one of the old parking lot lights. While standing and gawking I saw one of the pair swoop by with a large fish in its claws. I tried for some photos of either one, but all I managed to do was to spook them away. It was just a short time later that the mall security drove up and informed me I couldn't photograph the closed buildings. I sat there for a moment, and then told the guard, fine, I'll come back when you're not around. He didn't say anything so I left. My goal is to go back and photograph those ospreys. The only other spot I've seen nesting ospreys was about two years ago in Lakeland.
corner view
former chevy's
bienvenido
reflections
the side door
former borders entrance
former toys r us exit

Technical

Everything taken with the Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic 1.7/20mm and M.Zuiko 40-150mm R. All the photos were taken using the E-M5's key line art filter. In post I selected three for RAW post processing using LR4 and Color Efex 4. I've created my own customer filter from the black gold filter in Color Efex, with tweaks for my own taste, and that's what I used on the three above. They should be obvious.

For the very first time since I started to take digital photography seriously I am approaching a look to my work that I really like and consider mine. And it's the top photo.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

mastering mediocrity

industrial tourism
There are two kinds of photographers; those who label themselves as enthusiasts, and everybody else. The everybody else category includes pros and amateurs and snap shooters who don't care about the endless minutiae that enthrall the true enthusiast and drive them to pontificate endlessly on multiple fora around the Internets.

Photography enthusiasts will spend nearly endless sums on expensive gear of every strip because they can, in pursuit of ever diminishing returns. Everybody else spends only what is really necessary to get the job done. If it happened to cost a lot at the time, then that's what it costs.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle of those two categories. I'd probably be an enthusiast if my wallet could stand it, but I'm constrained by budgetary realities. I tend to feed the enthusiast beast within by picking up the odd little piece of gear when it's been marked down; my inner enthusiast doesn't care, or at least that's what it tells itself.

Another reason I tend to switch into don't-care mode is you really do reach a point where you have so much stuff you can't use it all. I now have a Kata DR 467 backpack with four (and sometimes five) mirrorless cameras in them, each with a different lens on the body. I've found some space to hold those lenses not mounted, as well as chargers and cables and spare batteries and SDHC cards. Big enough to hold everything, yet small enough and light enough to grab by its top handle and put in the back of the Prius or on my back. If I really intend to travel there's a slot on one side where I can slide a Macbook into it, for post processing on the go. Note there is no flash or tripods. Just bodies and lenses. This is an available light only kit.

With all that firepower I have slowly come to the realization I'm well situated to document the boundless mediocrity I live in and drive through every day. I'll never be recognized as a Photographic Mover and Shaker, so I might as well do what I do best, photograph mediocrity in my best mediocre style.

And to that end I've picked up a few extra extensions for Lightroom 4.x. I picked up the complete Nik Collection on Monday when Google had marked it down another 15%. I may even pick up the VSCO kit for a completely different look. Right now I'm in something of a film noir mood, and Nik's Color Efex Pro 4 is helping to aid and abet that streak.

I'm also tired of Orlando and its environs. It's full of kitschy shit and places where new business is plowing over the wetlands and other green spaces. So I'm going to document and interpret all this crap and throw it out there. You have been warned.
zoned out in traffic
grounded pirate boat
pirate cannons
pirate figurehead
pirate quarterdeck

Technical

Olympus E-M5, Panasonic 1.7/20mm, everything manual. Post in Lightroom 4.4 and Nik Color Efex Pro 4.