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photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Car Parks

pay and display

in Hasselblad , Monday, June 14, 2021

I’m still not really sure that the Hasselblad X1DII is for me. This is convoluted with the fact that I’m not really sure any more that photography in general is for me.  However, inspired by an article I read on the web, I decided to take the X1DII along with me on a shopping trip last Saturday, and dedicated half an hour so to taken a few photos.

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Needless to say, photos of car parks, whatever their compositional or other merits may be, are not going to be of much interest to anybody but photography nerds, either from the point of view of comparing resolution of brick walls, or from an appreciation of water towers or other concrete structures. Otherwise, anybody seeing this stuff (which is nobody, so far), is essentially going to be thinking, if not saying, WHY are you photographing that stuff???

Why indeed. I have no idea. I’m somehow attracted to these forms and the contrast they make with bits of nature poking into the frame.  I didn’t actually make a terribly good job of it, there was one shot in particular when I missed a key component - then again I doubt anybody else would notice. I have no “photo buddies” to chat about this stuff with either online or in the real world, and it really is getting to feel completely pointless.

As far as the X1DII is concerned, the impressive resolution obviously doesn’t really show through here. However, the delicacy in colour rendition and tone transitions I think does show, as does the dynamic resolution under the glare of midday sun. What you can’t see here - I hope - is the endless fight against sensor dust, which the X1DII is completely unprotected against. A far cry from the Olympus “Supersonic Wave Filter”.

This one’s from a different car park.

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The X1DII appears to be a solution looking for a problem as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

Oh, and another thing

bullshit red alert

in Unsolicited, rabid opinions , Thursday, June 03, 2021

You know, if there is one thing that the photo chattering classes go on about which really makes my blood boil, it is “storytelling”.  There’s a fine example here, if you can stomach the smug, pseudo-intellectual self-congratulatory vibe on that site.

With very few exceptions, in my opinion, single, still photographs cannot “tell stories”. One standout exception I could think of is Bill Anders’ “Earthrise” photo. But even that is not telling a story, rather it is intensely evocative. Elaborately staged photos, on the lines of Crewdson, can just about tell stories, but there it is more a case of hinting at a story, where the audience’s imagination is left to fill in the gaps. In a wider context, representational art can also hint at a story, or refer to a known story. But can a painting or a sculpture actually tell a story, any more than a photo?  I think not.

A sequence of photos might tell a story (but not a sequence of random snaps in London as in the linked article), but that’s sliding towards movie territory. Movies and naturally the written or spoken word can tell stories (astounding revelation, I know).

But all these identikit “street” photographers banging on so earnestly about being “storytellers”, when all they are doing is just constructing some pseudo-artistic babble to justify buying another (Fuji) camera…. Well, I’d say “words fail me” although obviously they haven’t.

Why is simply enjoying taking photos not enough for everybody? Why do people taking photos of mountains decide they have to be “Fine Artists”, and why do people taking photos of random stuff in cities insist of being “Storytellers”? Obviously photography can be art, but just saying it is isn’t enough.

Honestly, the bullshit level is gone way beyond critical.

 

Svalbard Revisited

arctic dreams

in Photography , Monday, May 17, 2021

I visited Svalbard with a small group of friends back in 2010. I took along with me a camera for which I have few fond memories, the Olympus E-3. Even though this travelled all around the world with me, North to South, I never really developed much of a relationship with it. It may actually have been defective, certainly the sensor cleaning was very ineffective. It’s predecessor (Olympus E-1) was far nicer to use, and its successor (E-5) far better even if physically near identical. But anyway, the best camera is the one you have with you, so it is what it is.

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The photos are a mere 10 Megapixels, but that’s good enough for screen and small prints. Actually I have a Super-A3 print hanging above my desk, and it certainly doesn’t lack resolution. Re-visting and reprocessing everything in Capture One allows me to get closer to the look I prefer than in Lightroom, thanks to the stronger separation Capture One allows between contrast and saturation (Photoshop allows the same control, but I’m too lazy to go there these days).

I’ve completely refreshed my Svalbard gallery with a new set of 18 photos drawn from 570 re-edits. On any given day I’d probably come up with a different set, it just depends on my mood.

Speaking of which, the photo below pretty much conveys my current state of mind.

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There’s a strong chance that this will be my last real post on this blog. I don’t have much left to say, and even if I did, it would be 20 years too late. I’ve also reached a point where what remains of my dwindling interest in my own photography lies in exploring and excavating my archive. At the moment I have really no interest in taking any more photos.

 

Languishing

andrà tutto bene?

in Off Topic , Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Around about 13 months ago the first lockdown started in my area. It was drastic and shocking. People where fearful of stepping outside, and given that we’re closely bordering on the hot spots of Northern Italy that wasn’t so surprising. Things gradually tailed off, until towards late summer we could pretend that everything was close to normal. But it wasn’t. The virus came back from its beach holidays revitalised and ready to go, and since October we have been in a more or permanent twiglight zone of ever present but ever shifting restrictions. Even as the vaccination stumbled into existence, stalled, and stumbled again, rules on wearing masks outdoors were introduced. Low level paranoia is ever present. And social agression is growing.

Initially at least this didn’t have too great an effect on me. I’m used to, even comfortable with, being shall we say socially self-sufficient. It was an opportunity to get things done in the house in various shapes and forms. I could spend far more time on working through my photo archives. And the fact that we had very luckily completed a lengthy trip to Patagonia and Antarctica just weeks before the pandemic hit helped a lot.

But time dragged on. And on. I initially got more involved in social media, but after 6 months or soon I had to bail out of Facebook, and I haven’t opened Twitter for several months. I’ve vapourised Whats App - not that I ever got on with it. My only online connectivity now is via email and a few forums. I discovered this a few weeks ago: Not depressed or flourishing? How languishing defines modern life | Mental health | The Guardian. Aparently it’s been doing the rounds. Now I’ve got a name for my malaise.

I’ve always had issues with the competitive nature of social media, especially where photographers are involved, and especially on Twitter I got profoundly depressed with the constant flow of masterpieces presented as “just a snapshot from today’s morning stroll”. Perhaps to some it functions as a support community, but to me there was strong sense of becoming more and more an outsider. Adding in the endless stream of people demonstrating how creative they are in lockdown pushed to dread Twitter. The all-pervasive mindless Americans with their bloody Trump didn’t help either (at least that’s stopped. For now.)

The downward spiral made me less and less productive, in all spheres of life. I could not, and still cannot pick up a camera without really pushing myself. There are a million things I could write blog posts about, but I haven’t got the energy to get off the couch. I feel a lot better when I’m outside, but I have to spend most of my time in the basement in front of a computer screen talking to people half a planet away. And when it comes to going outside, I have to get dragged kicking and screaming off the couch. Physically and mentally I’m going downhill fast. I find myself starting online fights in the day job just to feel something, anything. Probably not a good career move.

And my work space has invaded my creative space, killing off that particular refuge.

A few weeks back I started to get interested in planning a trip maybe in Autumn, but finally stopped because just the thought of having to book flights, having to pack, get up (off the couch) and go to airport is just overwhelming. I can’t do it.

Apart from my long-suffering partner I have almost nil significant human contact, either online or real world, with my efforts at improving this having completely broken down. Seems nobody much wants to hear from me. I guess we’re all in the same boat.

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Down in the cellar, where I’ve spent 90% of the last 14 months

Andra tutto bene.

 

 

 

True Colours

roses are blue, violets are green

in Post-processing , Friday, April 23, 2021

Colour is a funny thing.  Online forums and photo geek sites are full of self-appointed experts droning on about “color science” and generally talking total rubbish. For a start colour perception is both physically and culturally subjective. Our eyes are all slightly different, and our brains process signals in slightly different ways. The naming of colours is subjective in various ways. What I call dark orange somebody else might call red. And the colour I see with my eyes is often different to the colour I see on my camera or computer screen. And let’s not even get into prints.

So, buying a Hasselblad X1DII because it captures “more accurate colour” was possibly not the best idea I’ve ever had. Of course, Hasselblad has its vaunted “Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution”, which “was developed for serious users who demand the utmost colour accuracy”. But accurate in which sense? Maybe to a reference colour chart, which is all well and good, but it doesn’t help me much if I’m partially colour blind (I don’t believe I am, but who knows?)

Generally I don’t have too much issue with colour accuracy. In fact I’m more concerned with colour gradation. But there is one area which has always intrigued me, which is how cameras see flower colour.

Way back I had big issues trying to photograph poppies with my Olympus E-1, reported in one of my earlier posts on this site. Over time I’ve noticed that colours that to me visually are in the pink to magenta range come out blue. Some shades of yellow, such as wild primula, come out almost white.

So, I thought I’d do a little test on my thriving wisteria. To my eyes, the flowers are shades of lilac and purple, with some white and yellow tints. But on screen, in photographs they tend to come out more blue. So, I thought I’d see what the Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution would make of this. I lined the X1DII up on a firm tripod, then switching it for the 3 other cameras I use, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk3, the Ricoh GR II, and the Sigma dp0. I used the 45mm f/3.5 lens on the X1DII, and the 17mm f/1.2 on the Olympus, these both closely approximating 35mm in reference terms. The GR has a fixed lens approximating 28mm, and the Sigma’s lens approximates 21mm.  I’m only really interested in colour here.  So, I loaded all 4 into CaptureOne, with minimal processing (the Sigma and Hasselblad images were converted to 16 bit TIFF via their respective proprietary applications. For the Ricoh and Sigma I tweaked zoom levels to get a rough match.

Wisteria test

Top row: Ricoh, Sigma. Bottom row: Olympus, Hasselblad

Well, the results are a bit disturbing. Of course you can’t really see a lot here, but from my subjective standpoint the best of the bunch at rendering the flower colours is actually the Olympus. The Hasselblad is close, but particularly in lighter areas in shifts towards blue (see on the left, and top right). The Ricoh is not bad, but a little under-saturated. The Sigma is in a world of its own, although if you look a detail rather than colour, it makes things a little awkward for the Hasselblad.

Maybe my eye/brain combination has some trouble distinguishing certain shades of blue? I don’t know, but on this unscientific and very specific sample, the Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution doesn’t score a home run.

 
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