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
Posted in category "Photography"
on Thursday, May 19, 2005 at 09:51 AM
Coot of the day
Another day, another batch of lake bird photos. Again I used the 50-200mm lens, again with the teleconverter. This time I had little trouble with AF in C-Mode. Today's photo is a close-up of a coot. Trying to optimise the exposure, I used center weighted averaging centered on the head. I also tried using spot metering with AE Lock, which also gave usable results.
Posted in category "Olympus E-System"
on Monday, January 17, 2005 at 07:57 PM
Fame at last!
, Wednesday, January 05, 2005
I was quite surprised to find that the UK monthly magazine, Practical Photography, chose to publish two photographs I submitted to them in October.
The photographs were both taken with the Olympus E-1, which shows that 5Mpix is actually quite adequate for publication.
Since this was only my second attempt at getting published, I suppose I'm allowed to feel slightly pleased with myself - especially since my subject, puffins, was hardly original in itself. Now the pressure is on for a follow-up...
Posted in on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 at 09:50 AM
1 million photos to save the world
, Thursday, January 15, 2004
Recent news articles have been highlighting the dramatic environmental and ecological disaster we are facing if governments - and George W Bush's in particular - stay in their greed-fuelled state of denial. The Independent recently published an article reporting Tony Blair's chief scientist's attack on US policies. It states, amongst other things, that "results of a major study showed yesterday that more than a million species will become extinct as a result of global warming over the next 50 years".
So what has this got to do about photography ? Well in fact it need not have to have anything to do with it, but it has. The work of talented and high profile wildlife photographers help to keep issues in the public eye. Seeing a great picture of a wild animal in its natural habitat is always nice - seeing it in the context that your children will probably only ever see it as a historical curiosity is another matter altogether. The photo that sparked off this train of thought - although the environmental issues were already well to the fore in my thoughts - was of a group of lions, published today by Michael Reichman on his Luminous Landscape website.
It illustrates that beyond all the talk of megapixels, L lenses, Canon, Nikon, Leica, etc ad nauseum, that there is, sometimes, some tangible social benefit to this photography stuff. If just a few visitors to his very popular site stop and think, hey, a minute, maybe that goddam pinko liberal limey scientist guy has got a point...then maybe the lions, and the other 999,999 species will have a better chance.
Posted in on Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 04:09 PM
Still bemused by pixels
, Thursday, October 16, 2003
So anyway over the last months, with the release of the EOS 300D, the Pentax *ist D, and various others, I have been absorbing information, reviews and opinions like a sponge. I'm very taken with the Olympus E-1, but it has drawbacks. I looked at an EOS 300D, but there are some issues. I tried out an EOS 10S, then realised Canon doesn't yet make any really suitable lenses for it (in subjective terms of range, price and quality). And so on. I also note that well known landscape photographers, who's level I basically aspire to, such as David Noton or Michael Reichmann, are either staying with film (Noton) or moving up to astronomically priced (for a non-pro) medium format digital systems.
I wonder why...
Maybe it's because the current range of "35mm" digital SLRs are simply not suitable, with the expensive exception of the Canon EOS 1Ds, for landscape photography. The "keyhole" viewfinders restrict the ability to focus manually and preview depth of field and the effective focal length magnification factor of smaller sensors restricts the potential for wide angle photography.
It seems that my personal needs and constraints are not yet met by digital SLRs on the market. So I'll just have to put up with waiting 4 days for processing, followed by endless scanning, for a while yet.
Posted in on Thursday, October 16, 2003 at 09:11 AM
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