photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

A little more Belair

last set of shots for now

in Film , Wednesday, May 22, 2013

For the few people who have asked, here are a few more Belair 6x12 / Belairgon 114mm shots. Just to summarise what I’ve said before, without very careful technique, and some degree of luck, there is no way you’re going to get the sort of results which justify the use of 120 roll film, at least not from a “straight” point of view. 

Obviously you can’t really see that from these tiny JPGs, but what you can see is good evenness of exposure across the frame, little distortion, and general quite pleasant rendering.

However at 100% camera shake blur is very obvious.

Belair set2 02

Lomography 100 ISO negative film, tripod, CanoScan 9000F at 2400dpi

Belair set2 05

Lomography 100 ISO negative film, tripod, CanoScan 9000F at 2400dpi

Belair set2 08

Lomography 400 ISO negative film, handheld, CanoScan 9000F at 2400dpi

Belair set2 11

Lomography 400 ISO negative film, handheld, CanoScan 9000F at 2400dpi

and finally, a “serious” scan:

Belair morobbia 1 comp

Fuji Velvia 100 ISO slide film, accidentally exposed at 200 ISO, stable, Minolta Dimage Scan MultiPro at 3200dpi

Belair morobbia 1 comp 100

1:1 section (actual pixels at 3200 dpi) of above. Not too bad, really.

So my conclusion remains. It’s not a complete dead loss, the lens seems pretty good, but the body remains the (very) weak point.  Metering / auto exposure is actually pretty good, but focussing is hit and (usually) miss.  There remains a question mark over infinity focus, but with such a shaky platform it is very difficult to tell if the issue is with focus blur or motion blur.

I guess one day I might take it off the shelf and try again.



Self Plagiarism

repetition is a form of change

Over the past few days I’ve been going through photos taken over the last 10 years or so from a particular corner of Tuscany, with a project in mind.

I was quite surprised to come across these two photos, one, on the right, taken this year, the other a few years back.  I had no recollection of having taken the earlier shot.


Neither of these are cropped. The composition is straight from camera. The cameras are different, but the focal length of the lens is identical, so is the aperture, and the exposures are within half a stop of each other. Both are handheld. In both cases here, these were the only shots I took of that particular scene, so there’s no element here of random coincidence. It’s also notable that the spot I took the shots from is far from obvious, and not that easy to get to, at least not the final few meters.

The common wisdom heard from various photo gurus is that to be a Real Photographer you need to develop your Style & Vision. Problem is, as far as I am concerned, I’m far from clear what these things are. Adobe don’t sell them, well not yet anyway. But I am becoming aware that if I have any merit in my photography, or maybe some kind of “signature”, it might lie in the direction of composition. Whether or not that is the case, it certainly seems that my eye has gained a degree of consistency!


Flickrd Off

plus ça change, eh ?

{categories limit="1"}in {category_name} {/categories}, Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ouch.  That’s what my eyes tell me when I see this - sorry, AL&S, nothing to do with your classic alpine scene, just how New Improved Flickr has delivered it to me.


I’ve always found Flickr to be, basically, the worst online photo sharing site except for all the others. Now, it has torpedoed itself on two fronts. The aesthetic changes are truly horrible, and the financial changes would make Abobe’s bean counters blush.

I’ve been fairly careful about how I prepare images for Flickr, with borders designed to set the photo off against the white background. This is now totally screwed, most of my photos look dreadful on the new layout. I’ve always complained about how badly Flickr presents panoramic formats - ironically, this has now improved significantly, taken alone, but the combination of all photos pushed together like sardines in a can, and the ridiculous formatting of portrait format seriously puts the balance well into the negative.

My biggest gripe against other sites such as 500px and WhyTake is that they decide to present my photos as standard square crops, in gallery views, which makes a total mockery of any pretence at being designed for photography. However, 500px does have a major plus point from my point of view, which is its emphasis on portfolios over single photos.  I generally edit my photos as part of some set or narrative, and this never really works on Flickr.

Another thing which the new layout loses is the nicely positioned title.  On Flickr, at least, the title has always been a equal partner to the image in my uploads. Now it just hides part of the image. As does the user avatar, overlaid on the photo.  I can’t believe that any even semi-serious photographer was involved in this redesign.

And it is as slow as s**t, if it loads at all.

Of course, there is always a negative reaction against unexpected change, so I’m not necessarily going to throw my toys out of the pram just yet.  But for now, I will no longer be uploading any new photos to Flickr, and I may well decide to delete my account, if it just makes my photography look even more crap than it actually is. And that’s quite an accomplishment.

For now, see you on 500px.


Lee RF75 polariser on Hasselblad XPan

gearhead stuff

{categories limit="1"}in {category_name} {/categories}, Friday, May 17, 2013

This is a quick note which will be of interest to almost nobody, except perhaps the person who asked about it on Flickr, but whatever, I’m in a public service kind of mood.

A while ago I invested in the Lee RF75 filter system, which fits nicely on both my Hasselblad XPan and Olympus micro four thirds lenses.  My source for this kind of equipment is the ever reliable Robert White.

On their website they state:

“The RF75 will take 2 filters as standard and can be adjusted to take a single filter to enable its safe use on the widest angle lenses, like a 30mm on the Hasselblad XPan.”

However, I’ve found to my cost that this is not 100% accurate, at least not when using the RF75 clip-on polariser. Skipping the point that using a polariser on a ultra wide angle lens is not always a good idea - at least not if you’re using it for the basic make-the-sky-prettier application - unfortunately it is not safe on the XPan 30mm lens.

The examples below are straight uncorrected scans direct to JPG.

Evidence, case 1.  The “blue sky” test.

Rf75 1 30mm 2slot

XPan 30mm lens, clip-on polariser, RF75 holder as shipped with two filter slots. Extremely intrusive.

Rf75 1 30mm 1slot

XPan 30mm lens, clip-on polariser, RF75 holder with one filter slot. Still some intrusion, but salvageable (not that you’d want the sky looking like that. This is a TEST!).

Evidence, case 2, Vegetation, reflections test - something you might conceivably want to do even at 30mm.

Rf75 2 30mm 2slot

XPan 30mm lens, clip-on polariser, RF75 holder as shipped with two filter slots. Extremely intrusive.

Rf75 2 30mm 1slot

XPan 30mm lens, clip-on polariser, RF75 holder with one filter slot. Still some intrusion, barely noticeable in this case. Probably you’d get away with it in this kind of scenario

So, in conclusion, the RF75 polariser can be used on the XPan 30mm, but you need to remove all but one filter slot, and be very careful. And take a safety shot without it on.

This is really an extreme case, and is in no way a criticism of either the Lee RF75 (or the similar “7” system) or of the Robert White team. They’re both excellent.

p.s. - there is no issue using the polariser on either the 45mm or 90mm lens, or indeed any Olympus lenses I’ve tried it on. This, I repeat, is an extreme case.


Tribal warfare

Rant mode engaged

{categories limit="1"}in {category_name} {/categories}, Thursday, May 16, 2013

I’ve had an absolute headache from hell today - still got it - so I’m going to make myself feel better with a good mindless rant. Here goes.

The never-ending cycle of new camera releases marches onwards, and fuels the ongoing mindless squabbles in vast swathes of internet fora where self-appointed pundits viciously attack each other for daring to have a positive view on a camera made by another tribe, er, sorry, company. Is there any other object, or topic, which drives such futile passion? This year’s camera is inevitably lauded as being unbelievably superior to last year’s (well, assuming it doesn’t cross tribal boundaries), while last year’s, which was, of course, a revelation over it’s predecessor, cannot even be used to take photographs now, or so it seems. And of course this years’ best-ever-camera will be sneered upon as useless junk in under 9 months. One wonders to what extent camera companies stoke this stuff on forums, after all it all works out pretty well for them. I found out a few minutes ago that my Olympus E-5 is the worst digital camera you can buy, which came as a shock. I have to confess that the several thousand photos I took with it back in January are probably far from excellent - but at the same time, I never once felt they would be any better with a different camera.

Drm 2013 05 11 EP33042

Hopeless photo taken last weekend with useless camera (Olympus E-P3). No shadow detail. Blown highlights. No DOF. Really hopeless. Must ask internet forums which new camera to buy

Very few of these warring snapshooters actually seem to take any photos. Those that do get shown are almost always banal to the point of comedy. Endless shots of nothing in particular at 256,000 ISO, or at f0.95, of cats, kid shots that only a mother (or expensive camera-owning father) could love, or dull closeups of flowers. And more f***ing cats.

And the noise is deafening.

Even on the more hip side of the scale, it seems these days that it cannot have been conceivable to take a decent photo without a Fuji X series camera (although they’re pretty quiet about the XS-1 and XF-1. I wonder why). Even Michael Reichmann has got in on that particular act, which may well dismay some of the hipper of the hippest. But this, I’m sorry to say, takes the absolute biscuit. “Choices need to be made, however heartbreaking” … “Safe travels little one” - Retch! It’s a sodding camera, fercrissakes. I do generally like Patrick LaRoque’s blog, and his stream-of-consciousness albeit rather affected photography, so I’m praying he’s being ironic. There is some vague hope, he’s Canadian, not American, but not much I fear.

The interesting thing is, when you actually see some good photography, and an interview of the artist touches upon gear, as it seems it must, in the vast majority of cases it turns out that they use boring old Canons and Nikons. Canon 5Ds seem particularly popular. And when I ask acquaintances of mine why they use these cameras, rather than some hip new Fuji, pretty Olympus, or tech-overkill Sony, the answer tends to be a bit boring. Basically, the killer feature is that they are ubiquitous, you can get good service and emergency spares pretty much anywhere in the world, you can get just about any lens or accessory you can think of, they “just work”, oh, and they’ve got pretty good image quality. The last point tends, indeed, to come last, because these days it’s pretty much a given. Hell, even my much aligned Olympus E-5 has quite good enough image quality for 99% of cases.

And then they just go out and concentrate on making great photos. And they stay away from nerdy forums. And they’ve never heard of most “new” cameras - they already know what they’ll buy when the current one finally wears out. By which time they’ll be making even better photos.

Time to get off the treadmill I think.


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