photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Northern Lights

Obscured by clouds

in Olympus E-System , Saturday, February 25, 2012

Well after 8 days in Iceland I have maintained my perfect record of Aurora Borealis dodging. It has rained, snowed, and in between there has even been the odd patch of light illuminating iconic photo opportunities to which we have been delivered by our tireless guide, DanĂ­el Bergmann. This has been my second ever group photo tour. I don’t usually find that I can really photograph in a group, especially with people I don’t know, but this time Marissa, Leslie, Ed, Patrick, Shane and Peter have made it a real pleasure.

I don’t know yet if I got any good photos, but my first experience with the Olympus E-5 has been pretty positive. There are a few things that I think the E-3 does better, but that might just be down to familiarity.

Hvitserkur, straight out of camera, with a nice big raindrop waiting to be edited out

We have a few more hours of potential photographing around the Reykjanes peninsula, but anyway, I think there already a few shots in the tin.


Lost in Reykjavik

Adrift in 101

in Travel , Sunday, February 19, 2012

Of all the times I’ve been to Iceland, I’ve never really had much time to spend in Reykjavik. So this time I’ve given myself a weekend to explore. Downtown Reykjavik seems to cater for drunks and tourists. And drunk tourists. Even better, rich drunk tourists. As far as tourists are concerned, Reykjavik has been mostly about shopping for quite a while. Sweater and knick-knack shops abound, and there’s always a good few photography books on sale, ranging from the excellent to kitsch (putting it politely). Of the “regulars”, Ragnar Alexsson has a fairly new book out, “Last Days of the Arctic”, which looks good but is way to heavy to carry home. As for the Icelandic Landscape stuff, well the old classics are still around - getting Lost in Iceland is still no problem, but I’ve gone into overload on this stuff. In fact I’m begining to wonder if there is anything much new to say or discover about Icelandic landscape. The heavy, relentless exposure through books, magazines and endless online galleries is casting a bit of a tired light on the whole thing, and it’s becoming a bit demotivating. That sounds pretty selfish and small-minded, I realise, but it’s still how I’m coming to feel. Maybe the coming week will reinvigorate me. In the meantime at least I’ve ticked off a few touristy snapshots I’ve never seen before, spent a very interesting and enjoyable afternoon at the National Museum, and scoffed some very good organic gourmet Icelandic fish and chips. I still like Iceland. Maybe it’s me who’s jaded?

Here be woolly jumpers!


In Transit

The joys of CPH

in General Rants , Friday, February 17, 2012

I haven’t had much time or indeed inclination to blog recently, but since I’m currently about one third of the way through the Stopover From Hell in Copenhagen airport on my way to Iceland, I thought I might as well use the time for something other than warching Father Ted videos. This is also the first time I’ve tried posting from the iPad which I got as a surprise early birthday present last week.

I may well be here considerably longer, as Icelandair, which in my experience offers the worst landside customer service of any airline I’ve ever travelled with (I could go on but it would get ugly very quickly) have got me on standby, after I not only booked well over 2 months ago, but even forked out for Premium Economy hoping it would cushion the pain. The first leg, by SAS from Milan, was an absolute pleasure, as SAS usually is.

Leaving, on a jet plane…

UPDATE Icelandair have upgraded me to Business. Best. Airline. Ever.


Olympus E-5

No, not E-M5

I’ve got a new camera. The last few weeks have seen huge excitement over the Fuji X-Pro, or whatever it’s called, and massive forum troll versus zombies wars about Olympus’ amazing new Digital OM - except that it’s not an OM. It’s a micro Four Thirds camera with a viewfinder bolted on top. Then again the Olympus PENs aren’t PENs either. But what I’ve just bought has no identity crisis. Neither does it invite much gear envy. It’s a 12 megapixel, dreadfully noisy, overpriced dead-end, brick-heavy thing called an Olympus E-5. A minor upgrade to the Olympus E-3 I already own. Or is it?

Well so far, yes and no. From the few real world side by side comparisons I’ve done, the image quality is not a huge leap forward. It seems a bit better, but I doubt a casual viewer would notice. On the other hand, the handling is much better, due to the much larger screen, which makes the widely praised Live View mode of the E-3 much better. Manual focus, on a tripod, with the E-5 in Live View is a very pleasant experience, and this has a potentially major positive influence on the creative process - and hence “image quality” in a less restricted sense.

The E-5 feels a little different to hold due to the modified rear grip, and although as far as I know the shutter is the same, it seems to have a different sound, although still pretty quiet - although not E-1 quiet. One thing I don’t like is the disappearence of the IS button. And really, such a customisable camera could really use two function buttons. If Ricoh can fit 2 on the GRD4, surely room could be found for 2 on the huge E-5 body.

But all this is od news. The camera has been on sale for over a year! I’m probably about the last person to ever buy one new.

I’ll probably post some carefully controlled side by side comparison images at some point - not “tests”, but photos I’d actually consider keeping. Just in case anybody’s still interested…