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A wet night in Zürich

in Photography , Sunday, October 09, 2005

Recently I was struck with the idea of photographing Zürich by night in the rain. Since, recently, most nights have been wet and miserable, this wasn't too rash an ambition. The area along Limmatquai (the Limmat is the main river which flows out of the lake) seemed to offer good panoramic potential, so I went there. I was hoping for damp conditions - I got torrential rain. I got very, very wet, as, despite umbrellas etc, did the Xpan, but at least the lenses kept dry. Generally it was quite succesful, especially considering the foul conditions. The shot below was one I had pre-meditated, but it didn't end up quite as I expected. grancafe.jpg

Gran Cafe, Zürich. Hasselblad Xpan, 45mm, Fujichrome 64T, 45 seconds at f11

I think the strange, ghostly "lensbaby" effect is due to a long exposure in heavy rain. It isn't out of focus, and the lens was not misted, or wet - I kept checking. In any case, I was a bit unexpected, but I'm pretty pleased with it. The few customers of the Gran Cafe, and the even fewer passers by, clearly thought I was crazy.

Time of no photography

in Photography , Thursday, May 19, 2005

I haven't written anything here in the last two months basically because I have done practically no photography, and apart from trying to catch up on reading - slowly - Alain Briot's excellent Aesthetics and Photography series (buy the CD!) I haven't really done anything even related. The demands of a new job and moving to a new appartment in an unfamiliar region take their toll. However in the last couple of days I have been going around with my Ricoh GR1, just in case I stumble upon a quick opportunity. I've often considered that the GR1 was highly significant to me, as using it was the first time I really appreciated what a difference a really high quality lens could make. But for some reason it occured to me this morning that there might have been another factor: autofocus. The first autofocus SLR I ever owned was the Olympus E1, and the first thing I did with it was to work out how to enable the manual focus overide. I was quite fixated on the idea that I wanted to be in control. Later - much later - I came to realise that the problem of control was not so much over focus as over autofocus. I assumed, somehow, that autofocus "just works" and if I was getting bad results it was because it wasn't very good, and anyway was somehow cheating. Of course I was wrong, completely wrong. To use autofocus efficiently and creatively you have to understand it and practice, like any other tool. But maybe with the GR1 the fact that autofocus can only really be disabled in favour of "SNAP" mode, which sets up hyperfocal focusing, gave me the benefits of autofocus coupled with the excellent lens. Ironically I did consider buying the GR1v, which includes a kind of manual focus mode. Whatever, it is nice to rediscover this camera. It is the only one I own which can really be taken anywhere for opportunistic shooting. I have an "ancient" Olympus C4040 (ancient despite being 3 or 4 years younger than the GR1), but it is relatively bulky and the handling, especially compared to the GR1, is horrible, So all I need now is to find somewhere I can still get slide film developed. [Posted from the scene with hblogger 2.0]
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