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.

7 comments:

  1. I so much recognize your swan song, Jeff. I get tired of all the buzz about new gear, the reviews. The perception that new is better. My GRD3 still remains special, even though it gradually breaks down after 3 years. I will soon get the GR and I am seriously curious how it affects my photography. The sensor will give me a different drawing and I am don't yet know how much I have to do to kind of break the images down. I like the thought of having a camera better suited for low light, but I wonder if I need to push the ISO in bright light to make it more sketchy. I will soon find out.

    I like your new blog and the new direction. It is photography what really matters.

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    1. Thank you, Wouter! I am looking forward to seeing how you and the new GR work together. :)

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  2. Hello Jeff, I sympathize completely with your thoughts here, and recognise my own thinking in this. I have enjoyed your blog the last year that I followed it, and look forward to continue following you on your new blog. As I have written a couple of times I really like your almost lyrical images from your area. Good luck on your new direction. All the best/Mattias, Sweden

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    1. Thank you, Mattias! I appreciate your support and kind words.

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  3. Hi again Jeff, not to prolong an unwanted equipment thread, but maybe I should come clean and say that I also have the GRD III since 1,5 years (bought it at discount when the GRD IV arrived). As you know it is a great camera, I love how sensible it is put together and I have not had any problems like Wouter seems to have. On the other hand I don't push it very hard. I also have a fully functional but semi-retired compact back-up in the Canon S90 that preceeded the GRD. I plan to jump two generations and not buy the new GR until the discount in 2015 when it will be discontinued for the next generation GR (Richo's typical cycle). For my big compact, like your X10, I recently bought the discontinued Pentax K-01 with a pancake 40mm (60mm-e). Addictive camera with a great APS-C sensor and much better than its reputation (although the image quality was never questioned). So, all in all two serious compacts in active use and that's it. The GRD for B&W and the yellow Px Bumblebee for color. I am fully satisfied on the digital side and have no plans for anything else until the GR in 2015. I am overstocked in lovely film cameras though... /Mattias

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    1. That is pretty much the way I foresee my use dividing up as well - the GRD mostly for black and white the the X10 for color as I do like the color images from the EXR sensor. Though, I suppose, there will be some crossover on that as needed. Wouter has some wonderful color images from his. That leaves me with only small sensor cameras for now, but I am content for now. Film cameras are, indeed, lovely. :)

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  4. I most acknowledge your performance, Jeff. i purchase uninterested in all the thrill concerning new gear, the reviews. The perception that new is healthier. My GRD3 still remains special, even supposing it step by step breaks down once three years. i will be able to shortly get the GR and that i am seriously curious however it affects my photography.

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