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Thanks, Edward Taylor. I got a good chuckle, recognizing myself in your story. Back in film days, I managed to accumulate way too many OM mount lenses, 12 distinct prime focal lengths of Zuikos alone, along with many zooms, mirrors, etc. I had 18-1000 mm covered. In my detour in Canon land, I didn't accumulate many lenses. Now, with µ4/3, I must be at home again, as the big brown truck will be delivering my 14th. 'real' µ4/3 lens (plus the 2 lens cap lenses) today. Uses are more variable than with my OMs, though. Two lenses have IS, to go with the tiny GM1 that has no IBIS, for example, but are otherwise focal length duplicates. I have sold off one redundancy, and should clear out a couple of others - but buying and playing with new ones is more fun than selling. \;~)>
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Crack for Lens Addicts at The Online Photographer
"... three lenses will be enough for your needs. ... Unless you're a pro with special requirements, three lenses will be enough for your needs. We all daydream about owning a cornucopia of lenses, but my experience taught me all we really need is a wide-angle, a standard and a short(ish) telephoto lens." This generalization doesn't work for me, Manuel. Had you written "... three lenses are enough for my needs. ...... but my experience taught me all I really need is a wide-angle, a standard and a short(ish) telephoto lens." I'd have no argument. I shoot at least hundreds of images a year at 600 mm (FF eq.) and would feel severely deprived with nothing longer than a short(ish) telephoto. I also shoot a lot with macro. One of the ways I see the world is in small/tiny extracts of the wider visual field. Your vision was the standard back when I started with 35 mm in the 60s, but I never felt the real freedom to capture the world as I see it until I got true macros and long teles. I see nothing to criticize in the choice of lenses you find fulfill your needs. Why do you feel the need to sell your version to others? We all have different visions of the world that we wish to capture. Different lenses are required to realize them. I have a range of primes, mostly for speed, but prefer zooms when there's enough light. That's just what works for me. Are you really doing anyone with a different way of seeing a favor by recommending that they only use the tools that work for you?
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Crack for Lens Addicts at The Online Photographer
What is success?
You claim you don't like landscapes. These are, to my taste, the best images you've shown here in some time. Lovely tonal distributions. Lake Keuka, Eastern Bluff, Ice and Water has particularly lovely tonal composition, with large shapes of different brightness and texture working harmoniously together. I could definitely see that one on my wall. Mount Savior Monastery lands, New York is also very appealing, but for the hanging clump of leaves. Looks much better, to my eye, without them.
I can't remember the transition into my second decade from the first, nor the next, really, in any way that feels real. Since then, though, in spite various losses at various times, divorce, deaths, etc., I have felt at the end of each decade that it was better than the one before, and expected the one beginning to be better yet. Having just started the second year of my eighth decade, I have yet to find reason to doubt that it will be the best yet. Might expectation help create experience? Perhaps so. Remember the power of "true gratitude" to support "deep heartfelt happiness", learn to gracefully let present become past, fully inhabit the present, allow your definition of "best" to evolve naturally and you will have more great decades.
Toggle Commented Apr 1, 2015 on No Foolin' (OT) at The Online Photographer
I would not call myself a portraitist. But even a broken clock is right twice a day. My friend and fellow Olympus shooter, Mike Gordon: Mike also used the Olympus 45/1.8 to catch me: As I'd heard, that lens is excellent for portraits.
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2015 on Portraits at The Online Photographer
There's a blast from the past. Back around, say 1965, I was Commodore of the University of California Yacht Club, a far less august position than it sounds, and quite involved in photography. I worked, with inadequate equipment, on taking close-up shots of people sailing small boats, some B&W, some color. A few came out rather well. One, a shot of a friend sailing his Olympic class Finn dinghy, ended up on the cover of the local Finn magazine. I think it was this shot. I'm glad I'm limited to 470 pixels wide for this one, as it's a quick scan of a not so great 5x7 print. A very low rent publication and poor reproduction. I believe I was paid $5, which was a lot more then than now, but still nothing much. A bittersweet shot for those who knew Arnie, as the name of his boat, RUTH LESS, with the two halves separated by the rudder, was not actually about his competitive style, but about the loss of his wife to his life consuming involvement with sailing.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2015 on Ever Get a Cover? at The Online Photographer
The issues of long term physical, and particularly brain, damage in football and the intersection of the culture of toughness with very real dangers is rather well explored in the play "Xs and Os: A love Story". About 80% of the words are directly taken from interviews with participants, support personnel and families, and so have particular human resonance. They are not all on any particular side, although end up overall on the side against continuing football as it is now played - or is that my bias coloring what I was? Imagine that it covers pretty much all that Mr. Borland went through in coming to his decision. I was quite surprised that my wife, who knows nothing about 'Murkin football but that she hates it, really enjoyed the play, more than I did, in fact. She was the one who pointed out to me what Mr. Borland had done. I have no personal stake in this, as I stopped watching many years ago. Just lost interest in virtually all spectator sports.
"Every photographer needs at least one Zeiss lens." Oops, moment of panic! Do I have to quickly buy a Zeiss lens or not be a photographer? Might I have to dispose of all the images I have made, under the mistaken impression that I was a photographer? Then I remembered ... There's a CZJ Tessar 2.8/50 T sitting on a corner of my desk. I think I'll keep it there, as a certificate of belonging. Whew! {;~)> Oh, do the Zeiss enlarging lenses in the basement count, too? [I just said you need one, not that it's required. You know, like I need a million bucks. --Mike]
"Download a high-res (148 MB tiff) scan of The Great Wave from the US Library of Congress." Thanks so much for that link! The colors, particularly in the boats, are much better than in the WSJ site. The scan doesn't reach the top of the histogram. Whether a true reproduction of an original that doesn't get to pure white anywhere or a scanning artifact, pulling it up to the top makes it look a little more open and appealing to me. No way to know what an original looked like when new.
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2015 on The Great Wave at The Online Photographer
"As well as a Gordon Parks exhibit, of photographs he made on returning to his hometown in 1950. It was on assignment for LIFE, but I guess the story never ran." Oh good!, We may be in Boston before it closes. Gordon Parks is one of those few who may be accurately called men of many parts or renaissance men. I was privileged to have dinner with, and sit next to, him after a talk he gave in Oakland many years ago. An unaffected, thoughtful and delightful person to talk with.
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2015 on The Great Wave at The Online Photographer
"[It's most often translated as "plans," cf. {url}--Mike]" What that page actually says is '"To a Mouse", a poem by Robert Burns, which is often misquoted as "The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry"' [emphasis mine] The original seems to me perfectly understandable, and better conveys Burns' intent. "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley" Why would 'scheme', a perfectly good, English word, in current usage, need to be "translated" into a different English word? The two have perhaps subtle, but real, differences in meaning and implication. Why would the second line be changed not only to make the words clearer in contemporary English, but changed in word order? Would "Go oft awry" not be better? The is poetry, not prose, and the two orders don't scan the same. And yes, there's a Rolleicord (IVb?) around here somewhere, along with the 35 mm back, which is was a pretty silly idea, even back then, but is beautifully made and did work. ["Gang aft agley" seems like perfectly clear English to you? I should rest my case there... "Scheme" now has the sense of an underhanded intrigue or plot, whereas "plan" means to devise a method of procedure in advance. In any case I think it's perfectly appropriate the reference the common and more familiar American translation, "The best laid plans of mice and me oft go awry," for purposes of making a joke. --Mike]
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2015 on Too Long; Read at The Online Photographer
"...Hokusai's woodcut "The Great Wave," can you picture it in your mind?" Well, yes I can, and it doesn't look like that. That one looks seriously faded, the blues muted, the colors of the boats almost gone, sky streaky, with cloud detail missing. Here's that "... vibrant Prussian blue ..." I'm not saying you're wrong. You appear to have used the image from the WSJ, which is credited "Photo: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston", so I must assume it is a photo of their original. As the Met exhibit runs concurrent with the MFA, theirs is a different copy, and indeed, it looks in better shape. We almost certainly will miss the MFA, but as it happens, Carol's sister's 60th. birthday is in early Sept., so we will be in NY for the big "surprise" party while that exhibit is running. I may be able to see it in person (again, I believe, but it's been so long ...) I do like Ken Jensen's image. It reminds me of many other waves, including a beautiful print from a friend on my wall. It also reminds me of revelations about Monet and water I received from the show Monet in Normandy at the SF DeYoung Museum a few years ago. It was the first Monet show or book I'd seen that was arranged chronologically. I was amazed to see the progression of his depiction of sea water. In early paintings, the water in harbors was flat and unconvincing. Then, suddenly, from one to the next, he had figured out how to create a realistic looking/feeling impression of the small waves of a harbor. At least in this exhibit, which covered most of his active painting life, he never did figure out how to do incoming ocean waves convincingly. Obviously the curator was well aware of this, and included a single Corot of a wave breaking on a beach in golden light, to show how it's done.
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2015 on The Great Wave at The Online Photographer
" An app is not going to enable any new features that are not available via public APIs, and in some cases the manufacturer’s app will have access to private APIs, and thus, more full featured than any competitor could possibly be." The CHDK and Magic Lantern developers have gone far beyond that limitation, in effect breaking into the camera OS and doing things that would seem impossible. "Of course, the Sony mirrorless cameras use proprietary firmware so there is little chance that any third party app will ever be released." Probably true, as there likely just aren't enough out there to interest developers who want to hack in as has been done with Canon. " Sony also offers apps that allow the user to remote control the camera from any smartphone, use one's phone as an advanced intervalometer, do time lapse animations as well as upload pictures to Facebook or Flickr." Other brands do all those things but the last in the firmware. They also upload to smart thingies, whence access to any web social/photo sites. In this particular case, all Sony is offering is function it was missing that others have. "Olympus is due to release the Air A01, an "open source" M4/3 camera. " This is a really interesting project I had forgotten about. Looks like the initial camera is pretty limited in capability, compared to the OMDs. If it catches on, it could lead somewhere good.
As you say, the Panny 42.5/1.7 has OIS. It's faster sibling was the first Panny prime with IS. I imagine this may be in part a response to a competitive disadvantage vs. Oly. Until these two new lenses, Panny's primes have been much more useful in dim light on Oly bodies. Kinda silly, really, what the speed adds, the lack of IS gives away. I love my GM1 for go everywhere, casual use, but in dim light situations, I can't effectively use their 20/1.7 and Oly's 45/1.8 or 75/1.8. The E-PM2 is larger and heavier than the GM1, but gives much better results in the dim. As 42.5 mm is Panny's longest prime FL, it would be the one where IS would be most useful. But experience has shown me that at least the 20-25 mm primes need it, too. A GM5 with 20/1.7 III OIS and 42.5/1.7 OIS would be sweet.
Eek! Suddenly my lovely 20/1.7 is a "slow focuser", a fate worse than ... Well, OK, if I pay attention, it's not instant on the E-M5, quicker on an E-M5 II, and pretty instant on a GX7 (Seems the same with Quick AF on or off.) But with a GM1, we're back to about E-M5 speed, but Quick AF speeds it up. DPReview says " It's not as fast as the Panasonic 14-45mm or 14-140mm zooms, but it's not terribly slow either (obviously this depends to some extent on the specific body used, with the E-P1 feeling just a little bit slower than the G1 or GF1)." Whereby may hang a tale? If you want fast focus, perhaps the choice may come down to both brand and model of camera. Your idea of a "... faster-focusing type ..." may not be useful. Back to ~85 mm eq. lenses, the Oly 45.1.8 focuses more quickly on my cameras than does the 20/1.7. And, in support of the above provisional thesis, focuses faster on the E-M5 II than the GX7. As to actual usability, I offer these casual portraits, taken in a rather dimly lit restaurant last weekend. Taken with the "lowly" E-PM2 I've touted here before as a great pocket camera. In that kind of light, where it uses its focus assist light, first focus from infinity to close in is slowish. Subsequent focus in the same range is quite quick. Quick enough to get the expressions I wanted. The lens was wide open, so DOF relatively shallow and focus was accurate enough to catch the eyes even at f1.8. I don't think any other lens would have done better.* The 45/1.8's rep as a great portrait lens seems justified. The above comments on focus speed are obviously not terribly scientific, being based on mounting the lenses on various cameras, focusing on a few near things in moderate to dim light and a far thing in bright light. Failings of personal accuracy and sample variations in equipment all play a role, too. If I were in your situation, and planning to use the lens on an Oly camera, I'd go with the odds and buy the Oly lens. * The 2 axis IBIS of the E-PM2 has done very well at 1/50 sec. with 90 mm eq. BTW, my initial experience with the E-M5 II IBIS shows it to be a big improvement at long FLs.
"I visited and photographed in a townhouse lit entirely by compact fluorescents in the ceilings. No two rooms have quite the same light color (different brands of bulbs) and none can be corrected." That's why one might choose to carry a neutral color reference all the time. Include it in an inconspicuous place or take a shot just for it. Then one click in ACR, PS, LR, etc. and you are corrected. Perfect? Sometimes yes, sometimes just quite close. In strongly separated mixed light, two or more reference shots and masking in post can make the impossible possible. I carry the WhiBal wallet/credit card size. It adds pure black and white references. Put it in a little cover to prevent surface damage, and it's always there when I need it. That I forget sometimes is not the fault of the card. {;~)>
"... Given the choice of spending $1,000 on a new lens that might improve your pictures or spending $15 on five new apps that you can go out and play with tomorrow, I think lots of photographers are figuring out where the fun is." And oddly enough the camera makers prefer the profit on one $,1000 lens to the $0 profit from 10,000 $15 downloads of an app from an independent developer. Yes, of course, it is theoretically possible to create good, useful apps in-house, create and maintain firmware safeguards against unlicensed apps and convince users to install them. There are already many camera users who are ignorant of firmware upgrades. And others, me, for one, who don't update unless there are changes of use to me. The user mindset is so different from smart phones/pads, where we all recognize the risk that the next OS update may make something important to us stop working - and that another one will likely fix that, sometime soonish. In practice, how many Japanese camera companies can you think of that are likely to undertake creating what amounts to a skunk works inside their corporate culture to do firm/software things completely differently than they do now - let alone be successful at it? It's a wonderful idea for users, plug-ins for camera OSs. Is it practical for those who are afraid of losing function(s). Is it possible for established camera companies? OTOH, are you aware of the CHDK and Magic Lantern independently developed OS enhancements for Canon cameras? They dramatically increase the function and flexibility of those cameras. They are also crowd sourced - and free, which kinda limits the expectations of developers who might want to make money.
I can also recommend MyPublisher, with one, possibly two reservations. I have done four books with them, using their software. One creates the book locally, sets up the order, then it uploads the images, prints and sends it to me. The quality of the printed images is outstanding, very similar to what I see on screen. I've had many people comment on the quality and none say anything negative about it. They have many choices along the way. Their heavier paper is a sensuous pleasure to leaf through. The lay flat pages option is outstanding. I don't have to worry any longer about part of the image disappearing into the gutter. It also allows great two page spreads of panoramas, with only a very thin, dark break in the middle. I swore I would never do those when encountering them in photo books, but like them with the lay flat pages. There is an option in the software to create panoramas. There is something very special about holding, watching others go through, giving to others, a book that I have made myself. The process itself, selecting, preparing, selecting order, and so on has quite a different quality than printing up a bunch of images. It becomes a specific project, beginning with a goal/plan, process and end, with a tangible finished creation. As to the reservations: 1. When I first used their software several years ago, I had trouble with portrait format images, getting them to exactly fit the height of the page without the software resizing them. I don't want unknown software messing with my carefully made images. I found out the actual pixel size of their pages and created full page sized images before pulling them into the program. This works perfectly for me. The software has been updated several times since then, and improved a lot. So I imagine that problem may well have been corrected. I just don't know, because I'm working the way I know for sure works. 2. Their pricing is silly, with a high/low model. List Prices are high, it seems to me, although perhaps not higher than Blurb and others. Then I receive at least one special offer a week with various discounts, two for one offers, special reprint prices, etc. Waiting for and taking advantage of them does keep my average cost down. With patience, I've found it possible to get a roughly 8.5 x 11" book with 100 images, premium paper, glossy printing, lay-flat pages, etc. for about $60, plus shipping. They don't seem to be as well organized as Blurb to facilitate sales to others through them. It's possible, of course. I've not tried either myself. I have so far made books for myself, family and friends.
Toggle Commented Mar 3, 2015 on The Blurb Experience at The Online Photographer
"If you listens very closely, you can hear Gould saying ..." I didn't realize that Gould had rather poisoned me for the Goldberg Variations. Then, just a few years ago, I heard them played by a pianist who only spoke, knowledgeably, charmingly and wittily, when he was not playing. When he played, it was excellent. Quite enjoyable. With the large number of extremely talented pianists, I wonder how Gould became such a "thing".
The Mozart was fun. I also listened to a few others on YouTube. I was fascinated with the Gilels at first. Amazing delicacy, especially compared to the ferocity he shows elsewhere, as in parts of my favorite Waldstein. But it palled after a while, staying delicate so consistently throughout that it lost interest and momentum for me. A strange contrast to his appropriate changes in touch/mood in other Mozart and the Beethoven Sonatas. I have to say my favorite hasn't changed. Mitsuko Uchida manages to bring individuality and life to each part while creating a unified whole. I also quite like her use of a repeat of the introduction at the end. The conventional ending is not Mozart's work anyway.
As I was somewhere in the middle of watching Nebraska, I began to question myself. Maybe, I thought, the human race is just a blot on the planet and the Universe, and it would be better if we just died off. The motivations and actions of most of the characters, most of the time, are either opaque or distasteful to me. Say that's just how people are, and: 1. I circle back to my second sentence. 2. That is not my experience of life. My family is not like that. I know so many people and have so many wonderful friends who aren't like that. Fortunately, it was only a movie. It ended. Depression lifted, and I was released back into a world of color, both literally and figuratively.
" But of course the very idea of "the best" is a mirage. Fact was, the D800 was too big for me, in two ways. The camera was a lot to cart around. And the images were too big too" One of the problems with this whole thing is the definition of Best. To the extent that one allows the opinions of others, individually and as groups or whole societies, to define the terms, one is more likely to find the Best to disappoint. It's easy, when surrounded by a group of performance addicted people to buy a camera, watch, car, and on and on, that over emphasizes certain (largely macho) quantifiable measures. Added to this problem is that the accepted wisdom among such groups is often wrong. After many months of listening to the Fuji X fans in my group raving about image quality, I was starting to feel torn. So I downloaded test sample images from both Oly E-M1 and the latest object of Fuji adoration, the X-T1. And you know what? Working with ISO 100 and 1600 Raw files, there's not a spit of difference between them. I can find parts of the images where one or the other has a very slight edge at 100% in one aspect or another. Part of my measure of best is size and weight. I know others who are driven by things like how the camera fits their hand and how they interact with the controls or the quality of the viewfinder. To the extent that such a person listens to the MP and absolute resolution sirens, they will likely be disappointed, as you were with the D800. If one finds a proper balance of the many qualities of all the various bits of Stuff that one likes/needs to have, the best may actually be best. I toted a 5D around for about five years, because smaller cameras didn't meet the IQ part of my personal equation. Now an E-M5 has made me happy for about 2½ years, and I would likely go on , but for the advent of a camera that fixes or enhances nearly everything about it without messing up the size/weight equation - E-M5 Mark II. OTOH, I have a friend who went from E-M5 to E-M1, without need for the PD AF for old lenses, and is in love with the, to me, enormous grip, with the viewfinder and with the different positioning of the control wheels. "All truth is in tai chi: to cultivate the mind, body, or spirit, simply balance the polarities. " - Hua Hu Ching, Lao Tzu, trans. Brian Walker, c. 46
Toggle Commented Feb 21, 2015 on Seeking the Best at The Online Photographer
So make the end point of a photo project a book, or a show, even if only in a defined space in your house. Not long ago, a book wasn't something an everyday photographer could easily aspire to. Now, it's rather easy and not all that expensive, especially if one shops the sales offered endlessly in emails. For me, there is something immensely satisfying in holding in my hands a finished book/project containing images I've made, each individually carried to completion, then edited and ordered into a "final, finished body of work". And - there is now an unexpected, growing, open ended, unfinished body of work in the slowly growing set of volumes on my bookshelf. I've also found great satisfaction, and surprisingly little frustration or second guessing, in watching people go through the books, whether interactively or at a distance. It's impossible to describe the feeling when someone turned to an image I had decided was a mistake, as no one had paid it any attention at all, and burst out crying. "Oh, that one was for her." I believe I've learned more about my "Real Art" with these projects than in many years of photography before. Think how OC/OL/OY changes when the end point is a book with that title in your hands. To me, the whole project now has a completely different feeling and driving force. The possible extension into a commercial project seems to me a different thing. Although quite a few people have urged me to do so, it seems to me somehow as though a commercial endpoint may change the journey in ways I may not like, that may not be my Real Art.
There are examples of far more famous views that have changed over time. Just in Yosemite Valley, there have been big changes. Many images taken from the Wawona Tunnel overlook area, snaps and serious, including some of St Ansel's, can't be reproduced today because of trees growing up into the view. I've seen a big change just in the few decades I've been visiting and photographing there. I can't even reproduce a film shot I took in 2003. (OK, I admit it, I secretly hope the NPS does a little thinning.) Mirror Pond, the site of so many shots of Half dome reflected in the still water, is fast becoming Mirror Swamp or Bog, as the pond silts up. The NPS has decided to let nature take her course. Still an interesting place to photograph, just different. The famous Jeffery Pine is gone. Things chnge so we won't get bored. \;~)>