Sunday, May 12, 2013

Swan Song?

I never know when I'm going to run out of inspiration and enthusiasm. It just happens from time to time, especially when I am really busy.  And so it has been with photography and blogging.  

I started this blog, and chose black and white photography as its niche, because after thirty years or so of on again and off again "hobbying" I knew a lot about it.  I envisioned posts on both analog and digital aspects, of interviews with photographers I admired, of how-to articles and why-to essays, of equipment and supply reviews, of uniting millions of photographers to march on their capitals and demand the end of color pixels, and of course, of making more money than I could spend.  Ya gotta' dream big.  Well, I did most of it, falling short only on the last two goals.  And I often enjoyed it.  But as time went on I had less to say, and less to ask others.  And the constant parade of equipment reviews (more appearing on Serious Compacts than here) grew a tedious.  Of yeah, it is fun to play with a new camera for thirty days.  But then you have to write a review.  And then you have to send it back because you can't buy them all.

I grew tired of equipment reviews in general.  Always something new and better and always a crowd wanting that.  I just wanted to settle down and use the same camera for a while.  And then I went off on a film phase for a couple of months.  And now I'm back trying to take at least one picture each day I'm not ashamed to share with the world.  I'm not sure how long this will last.

But here is what I've done lately.  I have shipped my Oly E-620  and lenses to B&H Photo to sell to the  used department.  With the new APS-C sized sensor Ricoh GR coming out any day, the price of the GRD IV (which I reviewed when it came out) dropped to $400, and I planned to buy one.  Unfortunately I waited a few hours too long and they were all gone.  I tried to order it from Adorama, which still had them listed, but after placing the order I received an email that the GRD IV was "back-ordered."  I then found a used GRD III at B&H (same sensor as the GRD IV but no image stabilization and lacking the super-fast hybrid auto-focus of the latter) and it is now ordered.  If there was one thing I didn't miss during my months off from digital photography, it was the constant barrage of new and improved cameras tempting my wallet.

I wanted a small, pocketable camera.  I love by Fujifilm X10 (which is now going to be my "big" camera), and considered the XF1 since it has the same sensor.  But I've wanted a Ricoh ever since reading Wouter Bransma's comment on small sensor cameras: 

"But the most important reason for me is the way they can draw. For me they create instant sketches. It is something I like, I prefer."

I think that serious cameras with small sensors is an increasingly endangered species as the manufacturers squeeze increasingly large sensors into bodies of decreasing size.  And the masses lap them up, hungry for the noise-free pictures.  I have always found the pictures from the Ricohs to look a lot more like my pictures from 35mm film than the output of other digi-cams.  And I am not bothered by noise - at least not the noise from the GRDs.   I am interested in doing sketches, not murals.

So there you have it.  I don't really have anything to say about black and white photography at this point except that if you want information on analog photography, check out www.apug.org; if you want to master digital black and white photography get the Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in and play with it; and if you want to see what I'm doing photographically, check out (and subscribe) to my new blog.  You will find a simple and streamlined presentation where I am not, at least for now, trying to sell anything.  It will mostly be pictures, with a few words from time to time.

Thank you everyone who has taken time to visit and comment and encourage me!  And yes, this site stays up and I may even pop in and post something new every now and then - which is pretty much all I've been doing for a while now anyhow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sunday Morning Wide


I made it out for some pictures on Sunday morning, including this one made with the 9-18mm Zuiko on my Olympus E-620.  We are having beautiful weather here right now.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Joy Of Play

I'm a serious photographer.  I mean it.  I am.  I, like all truly serious photographers, know things.  Like, I know that historically what photography has done best is mechanically reproduce two-dimensional views of the three-dimensional world.  That is, what photography does best is show how things and people actually look.  Therefore, the best photography has always played to that strength - the strength of its documentary nature.  Those poor pictorialists and their sad attempts to make photographs look like "painterly."  I pitied them.  Those poor Flickrites with their oversaturated, oversharpened pictures and their little clubby, cliquey groups  labeling each other's work as masterpieces.  Just as bad were the oversaturated blurry creations.  All those sad little, wretched, tortured pixels!

But then...

Sometimes...

I like to play a little.  (Sigh.)

It all started innocently enough.  With a trip to the cemetery. The Lexington Cemetery.  In Lexington.  Kentucky.

There is a lovely lane of weeping cherries there.  The trouble is, I was a few days late for those and the blossoms were past their peak.


So I started playing to see what I could do to make those stand out.  In the end, it was a couple of Nik plug-ins that seemed to work best.  First an HDR effect, then a black and white conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2 using first the red filter to lighten the pink blossoms and make them "pop," and then the selective color to give it something of a Wallace Nutting vibe.

My wife loved it.  And really, who can resist that kind of encouragement.  So I decided to venture further.  There is the small white bridge at Lexington Cemetery that reminds me of what is probably the most famous little white bridge ever - the one in Monet's garden at Giverny.  And while the cherry blooms were past their prime, the tulips were just hitting their stride at the cemetery.  So some Lightroom tweaks, an HDR application, and some Glamour Glow in Color Efex Pro 3, and here was the result.

Whoa!  That's some color!  Again, my wife loved it.  And let's face it, some things are better in color.  I was so inspired (or had so lost my sense of direction, take your pick) that I worked up a shot from my latest Sunday morning outing.

Okay, okay.  Enough color.  The process, using essentially the same three plug-ins (HDR Efex, Color Efex and Silver Efex) can be used to create black and white pictures.




The overall look, in the end, reminds me of pictures I used to make in the darkroom with some black mesh under the lens to diffuse the image.  That technique leads to some bleeding of the dark parts into the lighter areas - the opposite of the usual effect when the image is diffused in camera.  Anyhow, I have enjoyed playing.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Mysteries of Flickr



A pretty good picture, I think.  I'm happy with it.  I snapped it with my Fujifilm X10 in Lexington Cemetery on Tuesday during a whirlwind trip to town.  It's a magnolia blossom and a mausoleum in the background.  I had the camera set in EXR mode for maximum dynamic range.  The Fuji has two different sizes of pixels, so it captures highlights with the small ones and shadows with the larger pixels when on that setting.  The downside is that you end up with a 6 mp shot instead of a 12 mp shot.  Not much of a downside to me.

I converted the picture to black and white (with a little sepia toning) in Nik's Silver Efex Pro 2, and posted it on Flickr on Friday.  Somehow it made into the site's mysterious (to me anyhow) Explore, which are 500 pictures chosen by algorithm each day as worthy of, well, something.  A glance, I guess.  Today, it already has more views (over 3100) than any picture I've ever posted on Flickr.  I've been posting for 6 years, so that is saying something.  Maybe just that more people are on there and checking out Explore pics.  Anyhow, it is good to have a picture viewed so many times and I take it as evidence that I haven't completely lost my touch at this stuff despite my time off from photography.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Three Months Later...

Buddy Likes Sunshine.  And Breezes.
Hey, I haven't posted in so long I forgot what my blog was all about!

Not really.  Sorry for the hiatus, and thanks to those of you who emailed to check on me.  I just haven't had a lot of spare time, and have been spending what time I have had on non-photographic pursuits.  And all of that is going to continue.  But I did realize that I can spare a few minutes each week to post something.  With Spring here I am in something of a color mood, I suppose, so you may have to bear with me as I go through an off-topic phase.  At least my wife says she's glad to see some "happy" pictures from me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dangle & Drip

Dangle

Drip
A couple more from the Nikon FE on Tri-x at EI 200 developed in D-76 1:1.  I shot these early on January 1, while the rest of the world slept in, recovering from celebrating the beginning of a new year (or the end of an old one).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nikon FE Rings My Bell

I have to admit that I'm enjoying my new Nikon FE.  Well, it isn't new of course - just new to me.  It, in fact, has a lot of brassing on the corners - proof of a long love affair with plenty of collaboration and dangling around someone's neck. It still works perfectly.  I like the size and the layout and the overall look.  It really rings my bell.  And it's own bell too, as it turns out.  My only qualm is that when the mirror slaps back down after an exposure there is the distinct sound of metal on metal inside a metal case.  In short, it sounds like a bell.  Didn't see anyone comment on that in the reviews.  Oh well, I suppose it doesn't matter much for the kind of photography I do.  Here are some pictures I've made on it using Tri-X film developed in D-76.

Seriously, Keep Out!

Coal Powered

Big Sandy Electric Power Plant (scheduled to close in 2015)
Downtown Prestonsburg, New Years Morning

Remains