Sunday, 4 December 2016

my GF-1 (a rumination on why do I like it?)

I'd like to be clear on why I keep pulling out my GF-1 to use but for the life of me I can't.

I mean it lacks so many things in comparison to my GH-1 (or indeed almost any modern micro43 camera) but for one reason or another when I go out for a walk its the camera I take with me most of the time.

paired with the humble 20mm f1.7 (which it was originally released with and who's release coincided with little GF-1) it makes for a fantastic walk around camera who's simplicity somehow is its strength.

As a photographer who goes into "harsh" climates I am pissed off when tech fails because of temperature. Touch screens shit me to death so much for a number of reasons, as too cameras which I have to take my gloves off to use (like the phone I shot this above picture with).

A look at the specs will not leave you gasping, nor a look at the "feature list" of what modes or whizbang wanking it has. Its just a plain simple camera which you can operate with glove on and take pictures.

Perhaps its because I'm an old guy I grew up with cameras before there were electronic cameras. I prefer being able to set things with a dial rather than dig through a menu or worse try to use a fucking touch screen which 1) can't be used with gloves on 2) can't be relied upon when its cold.

I like being able to pick Av or P (my two main modes of operation) without needing to power up the camera or squint to see what the menu is displaying when its bright.

Yet these are features that my GH-1 also has ... so this does not actually answer my question.

On my walk today at -15°C I just carried it along with me and took a couple of shots I liked:


the quality and sharpness of these images is exemplary, for instance lets look at a 100% crop of the above image and you can see the ice crystal shape of the snow flakes sitting on the cap of the grass

you just can't ask for more hand held ... so if you're thinking the images you get with your 20mm f1.7 are poor then go to the bathroom and look in the mirror to see your problem. (and no, I didn't take a bajillion shots and picked the keepers, I took one of each and they both worked)

When the GF-1 was first mooted (before they were more than a substantial rumour) I was interested in this camera, this was back in 2009 and at that time I already had a G1 (it being released first, then the GF-1 then the GH-1). From the day I picked one up in a shop I was somehow even more attracted to it, but somehow I just couldn't really justify it. I mean
  • it wasn't much smaller than my G1
  • it wasn't cheap
  • I already had the G1
  • it had no OIS in the 20mm nor sensor shift
One day however I stumbled across one on eBay that was priced at under $100 and ... well I just had to buy it. Naturally I immediately started looking for a 20mm f1.7 as the logical lens to have with this camera.

Soon I bought the 14mm f2.5 and then soon after that the GWC-1 adapter (to make the 14mm a 11mm) and then soon after that the small Olympus 45mm f1.8

Somehow this outfit despite all my ability to rationalise otherwise has become one of my favourite walk about outfits. I've taken it everywhere from parties to trecking and just love it.

Because its somehow an unassuming camera, with a simple interface I can take it to a party and comfortably hand it to people (who often forget to zoom cameras now being used to phones) and get reliable well focused shots. In party situations OIS makes less significance than does simply shutter. Sure the high ISO performance isn't great, but with face detect selected I know I'll get keepers even if I'm in front of the camera.

Given that my GH-1 produces "better RAW files" and has numerous benefits (the pivoting and tilting rear screen, an excellent EVF, works well with telephoto lenses, feels better to use with the 14-45 lens...) but that I still reach for the GF-1 makes it clear to me that I don't actually crave that. Thus I believe that none of the newer cameras will offer much more for me (oh, and having tested against other cameras and having access to the GH-4 at work too).

Of course when I do tripod work or know I'll be in a situation where I really need OIS (such as on a 2009 trip to Rome where I was amazed with the ability of OIS) which is only in my "larger" lenses, then suddenly the GH-1 is my go to. As well, having either the EVF or the articulated screen really helps when the camera is held by a tripod (not my hands). This image was hand held at 1/5th of a second ... and is just as sharp as could be expected.

So I'll reach for the GH-1 where the more "SLR" feature set comes in handy. That the GF-1 and GH-1 share the same battery is of course a great bonus (and another reason why I've not upgraded). I need only shove the GF in the pack too, take a battery in each body and a single spare and I'm usually good for a few weeks on a trip.

If I was the sort of photographer that spend more time measurbating about specs I'd probably have ditched it by now, but somehow I'm more into taking photographs. Somehow its not about having a camera with better specs ... its about having a camera I like to work with. 

For reasons I don't fully understand even myself ... its clear to me that that's the GF-1

Thursday, 1 December 2016

down by the lake

I was out visiting relatives yesterday to see how their new house by the lake is going. While there I wandered down to the shore to see what it looked like. I knew that we had not had enough low temperatures yet to allow skiing on the lake yet, but wanted to see the progress. The house is looking fantastic, but the scale of what they are doing is enormous.

We have had some heavy snow falls. Normally lots of snow slows down the process of freezing the water (acting as an insulator) and its interesting to see how rocks can act to break the water stratification layers and bring warmth from lower up to the surface (preventing freezing).

I took that with my GF and the 20f1.7 lens (as RAW) ... moved it over to the phone to have a go with Snapseed. I kind of like this "brash" retune of the image, and like the way its emphasised textures in the hills on the other shore and exaggerated the clouds.

Snapseed has a much more "rough and tumble" approach to its HDR, and so that can go for or against it in specific situations and outcome wishes. For instance below is the image I made using my old favourite Photomatix (a far more delicate tool)

far more photographic in appearance and without the brightness artifacts around the grasses. Still better than the Out Of Camera JPG though

I guess it depends on what you're seeking ... myself I think that the above image would get more comments when printed by my desk than the lower one.

After all ... people love Rock and Roll ;-)

Monday, 21 November 2016

down by the river

Well this is going to be a combo of (perhaps) "nice pictures" and a bit of a plug for Snapseed (or perhaps just where I'm at with it). For those not interested in the discussion, just sit back and look at the pictures :-)

First lets look at the straight out of the phone picture:

not bad ... but somehow feeling a bit lifeless.

One could fiddle about on the spot with this or that setting, but I prefer just to capture the RAW data from the sensor and move on. If I like it I can come back and fiddle with it later. Besides (not that anyone was with me) who wants to hang about with a photographer fiddling with a camera (even it it is a phone).

So, I fiddled when I had time later (people may think I was just looking at my phone, so you blend in)

rather than make this "garish" I tried to be a bit subtle (yes, I know) and to emphasise the snow falls and give a subtle glow to the middle of the ship and emphasize the difference between the snow fall on the water on the ice and just water on the ice (showing the subtle thermal differences)

Details on the ship seem more clear, but not "whack you in the eyes"

This is why I persist with Snapseed and RAW because it just allows me to pull something more interesting (which is why I looked at it anyway) from what the camera turned into bleak.

Lets just look at a few others without me blithering on:

Hope you enjoyed the walk in the sleeting day around the riverside with me ... :-)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Looking at the Peal of a Bell (the resonances of Grief)

The single peal of a bell is a strong and evocative sound. Its also rich in accoustic textures and multiple harmonic resonances (as the wave travels around the bells curve and encounters different resonance frequencies).

A single peal of a bell is perhaps also made clear by looking at the sound levels in a recording:

The recording starts with calm silence that is immediately broken by the sharp rise of the sound of that strong "dong" from the bell.

Then the sound resonates around and slowly fades.

People often think of sound as waves, and this is true ... just like waves on the ocean. But when we zoom in tightly to the bell sound we see complexity:

There is a clear repeating wave of great amplitude and lots of smaller ones embedded within it. These are the various resonances. Taking more than a first glance you'll see that no two cycles of up and down are quite the same, as the various resonances happen at different times to each other.

This not only produces the rich textured sound of a bell, but is a good metaphor for what happens in Grief.

We have our UP's and our DOWNs (all relative to a base line of calm). Sometimes on the way up a resonance can bring us momentarily down again, and sometimes on the way down a resonance can take us briefly back up again.

Over time this "disturbance" to the bells reaction to being struck reduces as the sound gradually fades and the bells surface stops shaking (vibrating).

Of course we all know that bells seldom peal only once, and often the bell is struck many times barely getting to any sort of equilibrium before being shaken once again.

This is how it is for the griever ... the interactions with others, the places and things which are reminders of memories of the one you've lost keep ringing your bell and taking your feelings on that roller coaster ride that the bells surface has.

Eventually though, we do find that we can put our own hand on the rim of our internal bell and quell those strikes of resonance with memory.

We eventually find that we can experience recollection without the severity of the ups and downs (as the bells toll diminishes too). For each of us the steadying hand to muffle those peals is different. But we do need to reach out somehow and grasp that rim to steady it. At first I know its tempting to just withdraw, but the striker will come again.

For me, I found that the effects were diminishing over time (years) and have also learned to put my fingers on the rim of my internal bell to quell the vibrations sooner.

It takes time and strength, but I hope that knowing that it will be something within your grasp makes the shaking you are suffering now more tolerable.