photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Black, white, and grainy

Feel the noize

in Photography , Monday, October 08, 2012

On a well known photography gear forum, which I imagine I’m not the only one to far too regularly seek out as a displacement activity, yesterday I came across a question asking “is the Ricoh GRD any good for anything other than grainy black and white ?”. It’s a valid question - the vast majority of GR photos you find on the web are indeed black, white, grainy and often gritty. Auteur street photography dominates. And yet as far as I recall, I’ve only ever published low ISO colour stuff. Probably another reason why my genius is chronically ignored and overlooked.

So I thought I’d give it a spin. Using a “recipe” suggested by another contributer to the same forum, I made a settings set with ISO 1600 (gasp!), hi-contrast black & white, with a pinch of classic square format to taste.

The first three photos here are taken at the “Ala Pelera” watchtower above Camorino, part of the Fortini della Fame built in the early 19th Century in reaction to political instability in Lombardy, as well as famine in Ticino.

Ala Pelera detail 1. Ricoh GRD IV

Ala Pelera detail 2. Ricoh GRD IV

Ala Pelera detail 3. Ricoh GRD IV

The next two were taken in the woods a little way from the watchtower, same general area as my previous post.

Tracked. Ricoh GRD IV

Pipeline. Ricoh GRD IV

So, there we go. I’ve now joined the Ricoh GRD grainy black & white club. Lavish praise cannot fail to follow.

Resizing and framing done in Filterstorm Pro on the iPad. Otherwise straight from camera. Filterstorm is a pretty amazing application, but it’s fairly complicated, and I’m not sure if I’ve got the workflow properly sorted out yet. The uploads seem to be very compressed.


Journey through the Past

If you go down to the woods today…

in Photography in Ticino , Friday, October 05, 2012

There’s some pretty remarkable stuff hidden away in the steep woods that rise to the East of Giubiasco. Today, while searching for feeder pipe which comes down from a dam much higher up, to the small hydro power station at the foot of the Morobbia valley, I found the remnants of a seemingly long disused funicular railway. Maybe it was used during the construction of the pipe, some 100 years ago. Who knows. It’s not telling, and very few people seem to care about their history.

Feeder Pipe. Ricoh GRD4, via Filterstorm Pro

Ghost. Ricoh GRD4, via Filterstorm Pro

And later, following a new-looking sign, I discovered a really overgrown, long disused trackway leading back down to the old village - and the truly horrendous hodgepodge of unimaginative, sterile concrete bunker architecture which I’m sorry to say only the Swiss could love.


Going Walkabout

Purely for medicinal reasons

in Photography in Ticino , Thursday, October 04, 2012

Around a month ago my life suffered something of an upheaval, when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Although it was obviously a shock, it wasn’t really a surprise: to say that it runs in the family would be an understatement. So far, it seems that it is not too drastic. With light medication and a significant lifestyle change, my glycemic levels are tending towards the low end of the normal, healthy scale, or indeed lower. The lifestyle change essentially involves not spending all day stuck behind a computer, avoiding the horrendous British / American idea that it is commendable for lunch to be a shrinkwrapped sandwich rammed down your throat as you “do email”, and basically getting out more.

So I do. And often I take a camera with me, just in case. This led me to another idea:  publishing a series of photos taken on the hoof, as it were, and uploaded directly from my iPad. I’m usually really finicky about fine tuning photos, and working with RAW files only, so this is a bit of a change of tack. There are actually some useful photo editing applications on the iPad, so this alo gives me the opportunity to pass on some of my experiences using them.

The place I work, Giubiasco, at a passing glance seems a drab, boring place devoid of any interest or charm. But the unique (for Ticino) village-green type Piazza Grande gives some clue to the more fascinating remnants of past times hidden away from the busy main road in the old village. And just beyond the village, there are old tracks, a rock-strewn stream, and plenty of places to explore for half an hour or so. So none of this is going to be high art, but hopefully it might be interesting. Here’s the first.

The Strada Vecchia leading up from Giubiasco to Val Morrobia. Taken with the Ricoh GRD4, processed in Filterstorm Pro.

I must write some more about the GRD4. It really is a remarkable little camera. It is more sophisticated than many a DSLR, has superbly good handling, and a fantastic lens. The 28mm-equivalent focal length may be a little too wide for really general use, but personally I find plenty of subject matter that suits it.

The sky looks a bit weird in the photo. Probably for the first time ever I’m going to need to think about in-camera JPEG settings. Old dog. New tricks.


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