Category: Sufficiency

Simply Minimalist

I like to simplify whenever possible.  I have been slowly eliminating my stuff or going smaller and lighter when I do buy replacement stuff.  When it comes to simplifying my images, the easiest way is to convert to high contrast B&W.  Would I like to do this all the time?  Maybe, but I doubt it.

Trying an Olympus TG-5

I am tired of sitting around and not having a purpose for making pictures.  I am tired of playing with different camera settings, etc. like I was when I made the above pictures early this morning.  I am “subject starved”.  I have multiple good high-quality cameras and lenses but don’t take them out looking for things and reasons to photograph, especially this time of the year.  In addition, there are fewer events, etc. for me to photograph this time of year at Homewood.  I need to stir-up my energy, opportunities, and reasons to make pictures.  At times in the past I have resorted to carrying a small pocket camera with the hope that I would see something, anything, and make pictures of it, but the thought never lasted long enough, and it never seemed to help.  I needed a purpose or goal or idea of what I wanted to do with a camera.

This winter I have been thinking about various projects for when the weather improves, but I haven’t launched any of them yet.  I just haven’t gotten motivated enough to overcome the weather conditions yet, but I’m getting closer.  I still have some testing to do to get a firmer idea of what I’m going to photograph and what style to use.

If you have been reading my posts for long, you know that this isn’t a new situation.  I have always been anxious when I didn’t have a reason or goal leading me towards a subject and style of images.  My most enjoyable time in the last few years was when I was making pictures and producing a photography book with pictures of crafts and etc. here at Homewood.  I need a new thrust or idea like that book gave me, so I am going to take on a self-inflicted challenge.

I have long felt that cameras have passed the point of sufficiency from a technical perspective.  Too many of us have become engrossed with the technicalities, with the number of megapixels, the dynamic range, the resolution, the lack of noise at higher ISO settings, etc.  I would like to get away from those considerations.

My idea is to make some books with pictures from around Hanover that are different from others.  One of my self-imposed limitations is to make the pictures with a small sensor, point and shoot camera.  In the past I have been confronted several times when I was using a DSLR camera with a zoom lens on the streets of Hanover.  People here are very private/paranoid and thought that I might have been working for a newspaper or someone else and they wanted to know why I was taking pictures of their buildings, etc.; thus, one reason for a less threatening pocket camera.

Another reason for a small lightweight camera is due to the fact that I have arthritis and other problems in my fingers and I can’t hold or carry heavy camera-lens combos for long.  I also have back, knee, and balance problems, so I use a cane or walking stick and prefer to use a camera with one hand; another reason for a small camera which has image stabilization and some zoom capability.

I have been using a TG-4 as I explored some ideas for projects, but I decided to upgrade to the TG-5 to see if it was better.  So far it is certainly worth it, at least in darker conditions.  The processor is faster and more capable, and the initial images have better IQ with less noise than the TG-4.  I will make some comparison images later to get a better feel for how much better the jpeg and raw files might be in good light.  I also like the external controls better.  It is easier to adjust exposure, zoom, etc.  As far as I know, Olympus is the only camera manufacturer who is still improving the small 1/2.3 sensor cameras.  Everyone else has given up to the smart phones; but, they represent an entirely different set of ergonomic issues and don’t yet include the zoom range, controls, capabilities, and the ruggedness of the TG-5.  While I don’t plan on using the TG-5 underwater or at a pool or beach, ruggedness is of value to me if I drop it, especially with numb fingers in the rain or snow.

Another Look at Utility of X100F Camera

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I continue to probe the limits of an X100F camera.  After looking at some of my comparison images made with micro 4/3 gear, I decided to take a closer look at details made with the X100F.  I had previously looked at up-close images made with Acros at F2 so this time I tried Classic Chrome F4 images.  In the above image, I took a picture at the closest focus limit and then cropped it and then upsized it, a lot.  I was using it to look at some flaws and characteristics of some old glass in a small (two inches high) antique pitcher.  I sat the pitcher on some black cloth and used a LED pen light held in my left hand to help light it while I hand held the camera in my right hand.

This is probably more about the capability of the raw files and the computer software used to process the image.  I used Adobe LR Classic and upsized the image with ON1 Resize 1, but the fundamental first requirement was to get the image with the X100F.

Olympus Simplifies Photography

I have been pushing my Olympus 14-150mm F4-5.6 II lens to its limits and liking it more and more.  These are all crops which were then upsized to make the sizes shown.  Click on one of the images to switch to slideshow mode and then down below the bottom right of each picture you can select a larger size to view the details better.  Note that these images started as out-of-camera jpegs which were then tweaked in LR CC and upsized in ON1.

I was considering obtaining a 60mm macro lens but I don’t think I will since I find that I can make good enough images like these without it.  I would like to get to the point where I could just use one camera and one lens for most of my photography, and I’m now closer than ever with the Olympus PEN-F and this lens.  I am at the point where I can do it for my personal photography and I’m working to see how much of my Homewood event photography might be photographed with this camera.  So far, I found that a faster lens was often needed indoors and I used either the Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 lens or one of my F1.8 prime lenses in those cases.

A lack of things to photograph and a need to make images that I haven’t before, pulled me away from using my prime lenses as much; but, I still prefer walking with and using one prime lens.  It took the Olympus 14-150mm zoom lens to go back to getting some enjoyment out of a zoom lens.

Labor, Income, & Tax Changes Needed

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Canon is building a new automated facility in Japan for the manufacture of cameras and closing other out-of-Japan manufacturing facilities that are labor intensive.  In the past, we in the United States and other countries like Japan moved production to countries where labor was cheaper.  Now Apple is going to build new automated manufacturing facilities in the United States.  In addition, robots have been displacing labor in all kinds of manufacturing and distribution facilities.

In the United States of America, we rely upon taxing the income of labor to support our society, our infrastructure, our government, to pay for the cost of disasters, etc.  All of these costs have been going up and are on the verge of exploding due to decaying infrastructure, climate changes, etc.

After inflation, the income of laborers and those who are most likely to be replaced by robots have been stagnant on a per person basis for the last decade, while costs for most things have been increasing.  I think we have a problem.

How are people going to make a living?  How are we going to be able to pay for the rising cost of health care?  How are we going to be able to tax incomes to cover the costs of social services, infrastructure, social security, etc. when we have no income?  It is impossible unless we radically alter our taxation model.  We need to develop different taxation and income sources if we are going to improve, or even maintain, our infrastructure and living standards.

We have a choice.  Either we go back to subsistence living like we did in the distant past, or we change our political, cultural, and economic structures now.  Think back to how we made pictures in the past.  Cameras won’t revert to film, but our available cash to buy future cameras might be nonexistent if we still want to eat and have shelter.  They will be priced far above our ability to afford them.  We might already be seeing the results of our changing abilities to afford luxuries.  The sales of cameras have been declining while their costs have been climbing.

We may be lucky to afford a smartphone that will replace our computers, cameras, telephones, post office, entertainment, credit cards, local banks, etc.; but that would also mean fewer jobs available to provide individuals with income.  No income, no taxes, no police or firemen or roads or bridges, and no money to buy the basics.  Where will this downward spiral end?

On the Other Side

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I do most of my photography for Homewood with the X-Pro2 using the program mode since I need to work fast under changing conditions; so, what I am writing about in this article doesn’t apply to my event photography.  I am writing now about how I photograph my own work when I am experimenting and learning.  As I have done this, I have been exploring more types of photography with my X-Pro2 and the HX80.  I like the size of the HX80 and I can do a lot with it, more than many would expect; but, there are times when I need more.

The things I really like about the X-Pro2 are the controls.  I can make the changes I need to make just by looking at and changing the external dials.  Not having this capability is alright if I’m photographing in program or auto modes, but is much harder to photograph in manual mode with the HX80 which doesn’t have the nice controls of the X-Pro2.  And don’t forget that the capability and image quality of the HX80 are way less than what the X-Pro2 has.

I have been doing more experimenting while I practiced with the above cameras.  As I have been doing this, I have been finding the value in photographing in manual mode.  This realization, along with the limitations of the IQ and controls of the HX80, have started me wondering if I can find another camera that is in between the size and weight of the X-Pro2 and the HX80; but choosing one involves other compromises, constraints, and changes, including my continual battle with finding things to photograph, deciding whether I am going to need/use longer focal lengths, considering weight and size issues related to my physical abilities, etc.

The above have moved me to keep going lighter and smaller with my cameras, but ones with better controls, so I have been thinking about going back to the older Leica X2 or the older Panasonic LX100 or the Leica D-Lux 109.  I had a Leica X2 once before, and I am going to give it another try first.  I liked the minimalist simplicity of the camera in addition to its small size and its external controls.  I should have another used one in my hands this coming week to check out.

Winter Mornings

I’m still working on finishing up my projects from last year, but I’m also trying to continue taking a few daily pictures of common everyday views of mine, especially early in the mornings.  I’m not sure how this will end up but I’m considering a book of pictures like the above … made with a small sensor P&S camera.

I am partially driven by this idea of mine to show that needing to own an expensive larger sensor camera is not necessary (under most situations) if you wish to make pictures.  But, you do need photo software of some type to finish them off.  The above are all jpeg images (another act of rebellion against the necessity of raw images) made with a Sony HX80 camera that have been tweaked using Adobe Lightroom.

Good Enough?

I keep thinking about getting a better pocket camera, but before I decide, I have been using the one I have … the Olympus TG-4.  I like the TG-4 because it is water and dust proof, has a zoom lens which is internal, i.e. doesn’t extend when zooming or focusing, and it all fits in a small pocket.  The only reason for getting something else is because of the small sensor in the camera.  Surely a larger sensor would have better image quality, especially if it also has a better lens.

But, is the TG-4 good enough?  As I have learned how to best use it, I have been getting closer to deciding that it is good enough and that another camera wouldn’t be of much value to me.  I especially like it for creating high contrast B&W images like the ones above.  I took these when I was walking Misty first thing in the morning.  The camera is sufficient for these kind of images, especially for photographing up close, even in lower light.

Enough, Sufficient, and Minimal for the Purpose

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And now there is one.  I now only have one camera.  I found new homes for all but my Fujifilm X-T1 camera and three prime lenses, the 18 mm, 27 mm, and the 60 mm lenses.  I hope to enjoy my path to a more simple existence.  I have been shedding not only cameras and lenses, but also camera bags and other camera related stuff, and I hope to continue reducing other things from clothes to tools, etc. if I’m not using them.

I am now approaching photography a little differently and I’m enjoying the freedom from carrying a heavy camera bag and looking for a wide variety of subjects both near and far.  I hope to spend more time photographing details, and life experiences up close with a wider prime lens.  I will have to shorten my vision and not look for small images in the distance.  It sort-of goes with the image of me walking slower with a cane and looking down rather than far.  My 27 mm lens will be my standard walk-about lens for now.  I’ll use the 18 mm lens for inside buildings when I need something wider and my 60 mm lens when I’m photographing details and/or need a little greater reach.  The only change or addition that I’m still considering is getting the new 35 mm WR lens when it comes out and making it my standard walk-about lens.

I plan to continue my photography and make images of ordinary things around me with my single, lighter, smaller, higher quality camera.  I hope to photograph the mundane, but with an ever-changing perception of how I see and think; but it will have to be up close since I no longer have a long focal length zoom lens.  I like to go out with just one lens at a time … just one focal length at a time.  I usually just select from one of my three prime lenses before I go out and then just photograph what works with that lens.  I rarely change lenses out in the field but I do change them when photographing an event or project here at Homewood when I don’t have to walk far with a bag of lenses, etc.

Simplifying

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I got rid of my Leica X2, Canon 70D, Ricoh GR, Olympus TG 820, and Nikon 1 J5 cameras along with all the gear that goes with them.  I am shrinking and simplifying my photography gear and making some other adjustments.  I have gone lighter and simpler.  I kept my Fujifilm X-T1 and prime lenses to photograph events, etc. at Homewood as well as for my personal photography.  I also plan to get rid of lots of straps, camera bags, etc.  In addition to the X-T1, I have kept my Lumix LF1.  I am keeping it temporarily for a pocket camera, to make close-ups, visual notes, etc.  I am the closest I have ever been to using only one camera and one lens at a time and simplifying my photography to match.

An even bigger change might be in what and how I photograph and blog about, but those changes are still in an incubation phase and, at the moment, only limited by my gear and subject availability.  Not having longer focal length zoom lenses will necessitate some changes.  While I am working this out and no longer trying new or different cameras and lenses, I will be photographing and blogging less.

One thing that has happened in the last month is that I have taken a larger percentage of pictures for Homewood and a smaller percentage for myself.  This shift might continue with my current lenses since I am in a better position for documentary or street photography.  Whether or not I will make that my primary personal style will depend upon my travel opportunities and how much variety in locations and subjects I can find; but, more Homewood photography and less personal photography usually means fewer pictures for my blog.