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It's only "A very hard choice" because you've set it up as a straw man. I have the M.Z. 45/1.8 "and" the amazing 60/2.8 Macro. As you say of most macros, the 60/2.8 is a truly excellent general purpose and a superb macro lens. One might almost say micro, as it focuses to 1:1*, which, with the format multiplier, is like 1:2. It gets twice as close as any of my old MF, FF macros without using bellows or tubes. Usability is tops, too. A dial on the lens allows setting AF to 0.4m-inf., 0.19m-inf. or 0.19m-0.4m. It also has a spring return setting at the end that takes it to closest focus, lovely for MF when working on a focusing rail. The extra focal length is a blessing for the extra working distance over a shorter FL lens. The hood is unique, too. It bayonets on, but is sliding, so it retracts over part of the lens body. Really slick when getting so close that the hood gets in the way. (The JJC version works the same, but mine required some lube in the channels to slide smoothly.) Then the 45/1.8 may be used for its own special strengths. It's tiny, half the weight and a stop faster than the Panny 45 macro. And an excellent lens, too; a joy to use. * As does the Panny
"This is one of the last pictures I took along those lines. I eventually realized that one of my failures as a human being is simply not *really* caring that much about the sorts of things that show up in these pictures. I realize their majesty and beauty and overall importance in the grand scheme, but taking pictures was the extent of my personal involvement with the places and things. So my pictures would never be that good, and I should leave the places to people who really cared about them, was my thinking." Interesting that you would have those feelings. My reaction to this particular image was instant, visceral engagement. I've not been to that particular place. Yet I do know that sort of land, and was and am moved by your image of it. This particular is that good, to at least one viewer.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2015 on Scenic Photography at The Online Photographer
"My entire web presence is all about putting pictures together in such a way that they do something more than just sit on the screen. I try to assemble portfolios so that you can construct a narrative to go with them: they're processed and ordered so they fit together, and then given a title that sums them up and gives a launching point for the imagination. I like to think that the title reiterates to people that this group of photos is a curated album, not a shoebox of snapshots. Hi James, I liked the few images I've seen so far on your site. But back to the point. I've concluded that the kind of portfolio you describe above is very difficult to pull off on the web, perhaps impossible for me, to my ideas of what it should be. Lots of major photographers have tried, with varying degrees of fanciness and success, but none really work for me. Where I have a book of their images, I always have found it superior to the web site. So, I've moved to books. It's possible today to make amazingly good photo books using on-line publishers at not unreasonable prices. I see you are trying to make a little money selling your images and through product links. A non-commercial book can't do that, but I've found the physical object to please me a great deal. I've also had family, friends, acquaintances (even the occasional stranger) react to the physical object in a far more intense and engaged way than ever from my images, even the same ones, on the web. Watching, sometimes interacting, as a person goes through a book of mine is far more rewarding than checking the number of views on a web site. The link WTF isn't landscape, in any traditional sense, but I like it and it's something I would do, too. In fact, it would have fit right into my book Extracts from Artifacts
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2015 on Scenic Photography at The Online Photographer
"... but her appraisal of the gorge and its visual gifts was not complimentary. The light was too flat; the blue sky, rare enough in winter, was not blue enough; "you have to avoid the contrails"; there's not enough color in winter; and so on." So, you ran into someone who's photographic glass is half empty, who wants the world to be different than it is. I photograph a quite range of subjects, and scenics are a large, but not majority, part of that. But my interest is in seeing clearly what is there, not what isn't there, and finding ways to capture some of that essence in photographs. If life gives me contrails, I take their picture. I know from experience that my better efforts often elicit an emotional response from people who have not even been there, let alone those who have. For myself, these images recreate the experience of awe that I often have when confronted with natural places and phenomena. The images I took of a spectacular sunset as our plane approached LA last week, from knock down intensity near/around the setting sun to ethereal wisps of colors without names and the Channel Islands floating in subtly colored mists, will forever remind me of something closer to a spiritual than a photographic experience. Flying above the earth, jammed into a metal tube with 100+ other people, everyone else had closed their blinds against the strong sun and were interacting with phones, laptops and books, chatting, napping, etc. While physically with them, I was in another world, amazed, transfixed, by the visual drama taking place outside. That experience will be evoked again, with less intensity, but still wonderful, whenever I look at those images. "Of course the flip side of that coin is the way that practicing scenic photography can enhance our experience of land and landscape, and of the natural world, by sharpening our seeing and enhancing our powers of observation." It seems I experience that more powerfully than do you. One of my little delights is to be in the same places as others and surprise them later with images they had in front of them, but didn't notice. In Cabo last week, we, and especially my wife, spent a fair amount of time on the deck outside our room. When I did my usual sort of thing, setting up a tripod and fussing with camera one evening, she paid little attention. When I showed her the shot on the LCD, she said "That's beautiful; I didn't even notice it." For me, photography has been, and is, something that leads me to actually 'see' more of the world than I otherwise would. Ram Dass succinctly summed up a great deal of spiritual advice from millennia, "Be here now." Good advice for the photographer, too.
Toggle Commented Jan 19, 2015 on Scenic Photography at The Online Photographer
I am so grateful to be a photographer making $0 per hour, and year. To be in a position to do so is one of the great blessings of my life. My boss is both a quite tough critic and a great appreciator of the stuff I get right. Sunset over the Channel Islands as we approached and landed at LAX yesterday, coming up from Cabo, was mind bogglingly gorgeous. Before the sun dropped into the clouds, it was very bright, so almost everyone had their blinds closed. Tough shots, through not so clean multi-layer windows with what looked like slight condensation inside. But even if they didn't come out (and, oh, yes, many did), I SAW it all, and sat in awe as the rest of the little world around me sat engrossed in their books or electronic devices. I don't know about others, but being a photographer has helped me to really see the world around me. Priceless.
"Twenty-seven to be exact—eight maids a-milking, nine ladies dancing, and ten lords a-leaping." Taking the words of the song literally, there are a total of twelve partridges in pear trees, as each preceding gift is repeated in all subsequent giftings. 40 Maids 36 Ladies 30 Lords That's 106 people - and 40 dairy cows. Holy Sh**!
"I hate being force-fed the same bad ones for an entire month in the service of mindless commerce." Perhaps you get out too much? {;~)> They don't play music on line. Is there mindful commerce? I don't think the catalogs full of over hip, over priced meditation oriented stuff counts. Sorry, I cheated, and listened today. Nope, bored almost immediately. Stuck it out, hoping for more musical interest or better lyrics ... No brain damage, but I don't need to hear it again. Happy snark. And all your lovely wishes reflected back at'cha.
Nice story, lovely in the telling. Now, could you get the Noyszewskis to straighten up their tree? I wish you a level Christmas. And to all, good light.
"@Moose -- for me the value proposition of the E-M1 is in the EVF. Does any other m4/3 camera have as good of one?" OK, that works for you. I happen to be notoriously VF agnostic. When the Canon 300D/Rebel came out, I bought my first DSLR. Everyone derided the tiny, dim, tunnel of a VF. Flipping between an OM-1 or 2 and the Canon, I could surely see the huge difference in size, brightness, etc. In the field, I just didn't notice, "seeing through" to the subject, perhaps; I do have exceptionally acute vision. The E-M5 EVF does have particularly dull red/oranges, but the fall colors are still there in the image. As to your specific question, I'm not the one to ask. I often use E-M5 and GX7 hanging around my neck together in the field, switching regularly between them; grabbing one or the other for different focal lengths. On paper, the GX7 EVF has a few more pixels than even an E-M1 and almost the same magnification - and I don't notice any difference. Probably there, if I looked for it.
I'm happy for Oly, long may they sell enough cameras to survive. I continue to be amazed how many people there are who find a bulkier, heavier, more expensive camera better than the E-M5. Is that over sized grip that good for you/them? I have what seems to have become a nest of µ4/3 lenses, that may be breeding, OM Pens, E-M5, GX7 and GM1 and can't for the life of me see the point of the E-M1. Had I some old, 4/3 lenses that need PD AF, sure. As it is, it just adds some features unimportant to me at the cost of size, weight and $$. I do hope the rumors of an E-M5 II are true. Especially if, like it's predecessor, it should usher in the next generation of sensor IQ. Or might Panny do that with a GX8? In the meantime, I can assuage my GAS with other things. BTW, the Oly 9/8.0 lens cap fish eye is more fun and better quality than one might expect.
"Ctein mentioned these years ago, but we paid no attention to The Bearded One." Which we would that be? I've been using a 320 GB USB 2.0 My Passport as light, portable backup for years. "The wee little Western Digital My Passport hard drives are wonderful—you can alternate backups to two of them and then just grab one when you're traveling with your laptop. One stays safe and sound at home and the other continues performing backups on the road with you, with minimal cost in size and weight." Or - use one on the road, copy to primary storage when home and backup with one's usual home strategy. My images come off road storage/backup into my regular image storage process. "We chose ... but there are lots of different models, and different colors, even." WD Elements is the same drive in drab clothing and without the WD backup/cloud/password/encryption software. It may, depending on the vagaries of retail, be available for noticeably fewer $, as was the case for my one TB model. (It would require reformatting for Mac.) Be aware that USB 3.0 peripherals use a different Micro cable connector than USB 2.0. So if you want a back-up cable in your travel kit, you may need to buy the second one. Another Bearded One
Wow! I pretty much have an answer for everything. But this has me scratching my head. Not that I haven't had seemingly endless camera desires over the decades, but time has outdated them or occasionally eliminated through eventual acquisition. Had I been able to afford a Rolleiflex 2.8 when I bought a used 'cord, ever so long ago, I'd now have a valuable classic, instead of a less than valuable semi-classic. I've got plenty of examples of the opposite. \;~)>
Toggle Commented Dec 16, 2014 on The One That Got Away at The Online Photographer
"I spent the first half of my life avoiding large apertures, because most lenses perform at their worst wide open." Seems to me a more accurate generalization could be "most older lenses perform at their worst wide open, while many contemporary lenses perform best wide open or a stop down." Simple case in point: All my older, MF macro lenses perform best somewhere around f8-f11. The Tamron AF 90/2.8 is sharpest for flat copy work at 1:2 to 1:1 wide open or one stop down, where it outperforms all the others, but ties with the Zuiko 50/3.5 Macro @ 1:2 (f8 or 11) "And nowadays, I see lots and lots (and lots) of pictures that are taken with what I think are inappropriately wide apertures—pictures in which the photographer has reflexively tried to maximize the amount of blur, but just doesn't have everything in focus that (in my judgment) ought to be." Amen Brother!
One more vote for the Oly 45/1.8 $, size and weight of the PanaLeica for equal or lesser IQ and one stop doesn't work for me. It goes against the whole gestalt of µ4/3. Length = 74 vs. 56 mm Diameter = 77 vs. 46 mm Weight = 426 vs. 116 g Price = ~ $1,600 vs. ~ $270 Gotta need that one stop real bad ...
The idea that Sony knows the future better than the endless trail over millennia of failed prognosticators seems odd to me. Just because they are willing, and foolish, enough to make detailed predictions doesn't mean they know more than others who choose not to do so.
"So, now I'm in the list for an A7II which will be used only with manual-focus lenses. That is not a problem for me since I'm 63." That sounds like a non-sequitur to me. Is it "I'm still young enough that I can focus manually."? Or is it something like "I'm so old that I can afford to just futz around with old stuff for fun before I die."? Or??? I'm really not being flip; I don't understand what you meant to say. 70, with a large stash of OM mount Zuikos and other brands, but almost exclusively using AF µ4/3 lenses, mostly zooms. And not because I can't see well enough to focus manually. I can see very well, but prefer MF for its quickness. µ4/3 AF lenses allow MF fine tuning just by using the focus ring.
"I've long enjoyed photography from airplanes and have had some shots that really work out:" Aha! Another one. I spend inordinate amounts of the time I'm in 'planes peering out the window - and taking pictures. I spent much of my work career working with aerial photos, and still find the landscape from above endlessly fascinating. "It is interesting that it seems phase detection focus on a couple of camera systems I've used have more trouble hunting when shooting from the air or in low contrast situations like that seen from the air. I would be curious to hear if anyone else has that experience." I've mostly used cameras with contrast detection AF, which often has that problem. I use manual focus much of the time. When subjects are eight miles away, focus doesn't change much. I do focus when I can, note where that focus is and then switch to MF, as I believe the multiple bits of transparent plastic affect focus. When at lower altitude, AF seems to generally work fine. Here's a series over much of the empty West, including one of Great Salt Lake and one of the Front Range. Some of my favorite clouds, including a minimalist series, and a favorite landform image. And a few from SF=>Seattle=>Kalispell and with some wonderful views of mountains, esp. Shasta. Moose
An interesting problem/process. One that some bloggers are quite good at. Particularly with those who manage to maintain a weekly PAW blog, a real sense of continuity and picture of a life may emerge. One I enjoy is Nathan Wajsman. The ability to take images all the time to document my life is not one I have or desire. (Probably too boring, anyway.) Nathan shows how it's done, and has a good enough eye to make quite a few images that do stand on their own. Another interesting thing is editing a set of stand alone images into a book. Selection of which to include, in what order, across from what other image and on left or right page all have an effect on the feeling of the book. Putting together my first book was a revelation. Switch two images across from each other from side to side, and the whole affect of the spread changes! People tell me I'm good at this, but I can't say why. It's all instinct, as far as I can tell. But then, so is most art(ish) photography. Bookish Moose
Nice!! Moose
Toggle Commented Nov 26, 2014 on Leicabashing at The Online Photographer
The 7S makes different trade-offs than the 7, in favor of high ISO performance, at the cost of less DR, better video, at the cost of less resolution for stills, etc. The 7R makes compromises for super high resolution. The 7 is the model best optimized for straight still shooting. Is the attraction of the 7S it's actual feature set, which seems not aimed at you, or that it's new - SHINY! - and you held it? If the images I've seen from you here over the years are any indication, you will get no better results from the A7S than you are now from the NEX-6. That's not a negative comment, but an observation that, the occasional testing of limits aside, your photography doesn't push the capabilities of an excellent camera like the NEX-6. If it's about the lens, and the 7S is just a vehicle, I think an A7 is a better match for you. If it's about the lens, can you first determine whether the new Zeiss, whether 'better' than the one you loved or not, makes images that you will like as much? It would be a bummer to drop that cash and find that the results aren't what you expect. In another couple of years, the A7S will be in the same position as the NEX-6. So why not continue to take good images with it and let it be in danger again then? Any help?
Toggle Commented Oct 28, 2014 on O Lawd Hep Me at The Online Photographer
"The great example of this that I can think of off the top of my head is Edward Weston, who made art out of a ceramic toilet ("Excusado") and a bell pepper ("Pepper No. 30") as well as a great many other mundane subjects." I'm not sure I agree. Both are common objects, but the prejudice that they are necessarily less interesting than their photographs I'm not willing to accept without further consideration. Might the enduring interest in them be in part because they are such perfect evocations of things inherently of interest to most people. Sort of B&W Platonic ideals in which we can see the beauty of their true forms. Perhaps Weston's talent lay not only in being able to make exquisite, tonally gorgeous prints, but in recognizing subjects that would be inherently interesting to most people and making beautiful images of them as ideals. The unanswered question in my mind has always been whether it was a green pepper, which is much less interesting to me, or a luscious red one. A problem with B&W. Then there are all the photographs of his wife, in many of which the subject transcends the photograph - to this male. Late Night Rambler Moose
What's small? to judge from replies so far, it includes cameras I would call gargantuan. Then, I pulled out an Oly OM-1 with 50/1.4 the other day, and the immediate thought that ran through my mind was how big and heavy it is. I think of them as my big cameras now, but apparently they aren't ... I use an E-M5 and GX7, usually as a two camera kit, Oly 12-50 on one and 75-300 on the other, when in the field. Other lenses in the bag, but those do most of the work. If I HAD to pick one, it would probably be the Panny, for the EFC silence and lack of shutter shock. For what I consider small, I love the Panny GM1. Same image quality as in the 'big' ones with few compromises. I have a long history of trying to find the perfect compact camera. With the advent of the GM1, I found my S100 and others went unused. And yet ... I want a compact with good zoom range in one lens. The GM1 with 12-32 is a lovely thing, but I do like tele and macro. Add the Panny 45-150 and an extension tube, and the kit is no longer really small and simple, although usable for many times and places. So now I'm trying out a Panny ZS40. 24-720 is a heckuva zoom range, twice as long as the 24-360 of the Samsung WB650. Same small sensor, but better IQ in JPEGs and, wonder of wonders, Raw output. Don't believe the reviews that say it doesn't much matter.. The pixel level difference in IQ with proper processing is great and, small sensor or not, there's a little headroom for recovering highlights, at least at low ISO. If it only had closer focus at the long end, sigh. Will propinquity grow into love? Only time will tell.
"The idea is that there are professions out there in the world with remunerative positions waiting to be filled—i.e., jobs that need doing—and that that's why the school exists: for training purposes ...This is fraudulent on the part of the art schools, of course. Think of it as one of the world's biggest white lies." They are far from alone. Religious education, seminaries and such, psychology, alternative health care modalities and others have similar problems. The schools prepare more people than are needed for the work available. And like art schools, they prepare them poorly, paying no attention to their actual aptitude and skills* and little or none to the practical sides of actual practice/employment. I was amazed when a good acquaintance decided to study psychology, impressed, but disturbed, as she stuck with it right through to the state license to practice. I was unsurprised when she was unable to turn all that into any sort of income to support her. Another forty-something for now living again with her Midwest parents - with a mountain of student debt. She could survive with the work she was doing before, but likely can't do that and pay her debt. The explosion of small, private 'Universities' over the last few decades is a vast con game, based on poorly designed and managed Federal student loan practices. It's far broader than what I've talked about above, including all sorts of academic and technical fields where poorly qualified professors baby sit poorly qualified students as they learn part of the skills and knowledge to succeed in jobs for which there are too many candidates for demand. Student debt is a hidden drag contributing to our long term economic malaise. "There is no art profession and there are no artist positions waiting to be filled." I don't believe this to be true. If you change it to read "fine artist positions", perhaps so. I believe there is a continuing shortage of really talented artists for the huge demand for 2 and 3D and moving images for commerce. The problem is much the same as for fine arts, many, many who are competent and few who are exceptional, but there are a lot more jobs that will support a person. "There isn't any need for a certifying process for artists, either. It's not a guild that can protect itself from interlopers or overcrowding by keeping membership exclusive." "And then you have to factor in the sobering likelihood that some of those 5–7% would have succeeded as artists anyway, even if they didn't have a B.F.A. or an M.F.A., because they happen to be particularly good, or particularly driven." One of my sons has drawn on what ever is at hand since he could smear finger paint and hold a pencil. He chose not to go to art school, mostly because he knew just what he wanted to create and wasn't interested in most of the curriculum. After a handful of lean years, he is so busy as a graphic artist that "I wake up, start drawing, draw all day, and fall asleep drawing." He has to turn down paying work. His wife has her art degree. For now, she is the support "team" without which he couldn't be nearly as successful. She's still in the field, as you put it. "particularly driven." is interesting, as it calls up an image of someone driven by the need to succeed, make money, etc. For artists there is another kind of drive (to which you refer below). My son's second major area of work started because he is driven - to draw. His drawings on napkins while waiting for lunch were seen by a right person. Luck, sure, but the drive to create let it happen. His creative talent and hard work have broadened it far beyond that first client. "For individuals who have an artistic temperament, not practicing art in some way or other can be unhealthy." A great truth. There are other, perfectly good, reasons, but the real reason I keep making images is that it feeds me to do so, whether or not anyone else sees and/or appreciates them. That I have a small fan club doesn't hurt, though. \;~)> Moose * This is not an exaggeration. I have a friend who teaches at a large, well known private 'University' of good reputation specializing in this sort of fields. You might find it hard to believe what pressures are put on teachers to keep students in the school, no matter what. A whole industry that produces little of value and ruins thousands of lives depends on government loans not to the industry, but to its customers.
Every Fall, I drive around Boston and the surrounding area. Every year, I swear I will avoid anything close to rush hour. Every year, I rediscover how long rush hours are. Many people have told me how bad Boston drivers are. That has not been my experience. It's been more like "This is hopeless, we're all in it together, go ahead, merge in ahead of me." It's not like we are all in the wrong lane intentionally; they weren't marked until too late. And I understand that the streets in old Boston started as cow paths. That doesn't seem to me to adequately explain the appallingly poor design of the newer parts, including the results of "The Big Dig". "Sure, let's merge in three entrances just before a major exit, but why bother to add half a mile of extra right lane? It'll only be creeping for a few hours, five days a week." And the signage! Much of which is a lack of same. Makes Maine signage look good, if only by comparison. Glad you got in one piece, on the same day you started. (Can you tell I was just driving there?) Moose
Very fine! Strong, simple composition, perfect exposure, lovely tonalities. 'Twere mine, I'd correct perspective distortion. I'd also consider making it like the camera was slightly to the right, so the edges of the windows aren't visible. Maybe, maybe not, I'd have to see it. Moose
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2014 on Random Snap at The Online Photographer