Tagged: Aging photographer

Nikon 1 J5 … my New Love?

I might have a new love … a Nikon 1 J5.  I still have a lot of work to do before I decide to keep it, but so far it has surprised me in a good way.  The J5 with the 10 – 30mm lens is small and easy to carry and shoot with one hand, except for zooming.  I am finding more latitude in processing the 20 MP images of the one-inch sensor than I expected, and if this result continues, my plan is for it to replace all of my smaller cameras.

I charged the battery last evening and then took these pictures on a walk this morning.  Most of these images were taken at the maximum zoom of 30mm (effective 81mm).  Only the picture of the doll (taken inside at ISO 2500) and the wider view of the lilies were at the widest zoom of 10mm (effective 27mm).

This camera is not as good as my Canon 70D so my intention is to use the 70D for my more critical photography.  I ordered the J5 with the intention to try it as a walk-about and drive-about camera with an effective 50mm prime lens.  But, since I don’t believe in love at first sight, I will not know if I will keep it or how I might use it until I have tried it for a while.

Lighter Weight Photography Solutions

On my morning walk I only took a 50mm lens for my camera, but I still managed to get these images.  I managed to prepare these views by using a lot of cropping and resizing … but it worked.  The fly was small and the ducks were really too far away, but I wanted to see what I could achieve.

I wasn’t using a longer zoom lens since I was trying to “go light” and take pictures with one hand.  My back and legs were giving me trouble and I was walking with a cane in my left hand while I used a sling strap to carry the camera.  I turned the camera on and set the aperture at f/2.8 with auto ISO when I left the house; therefore, all I had to do to take a picture was raise the camera up to my eye and push the shutter button.  The Canon 70D with the 50mm lens is light enough that I can manage it with one hand.  It really isn’t light in weight but is manageable with the good handgrip.

Using my biggest and best camera with prime lenses is a way to reduce the weight to a minimum.  I use my 24mm pancake lens as well as the 50mm lens to be able to get quality images and reduce the weight; but, I have something else I plan to try.  I have ordered a Nikon 1 J5 camera to see what I can do with it.  The camera and lenses for it are very small and light in weight, but it only has a one-inch sensor.  I want to see if the smaller size and lighter weight off-set the loss in image quality (IQ).  I am assuming that it will have lower IQ, but the only way to evaluate the trade-off is try if for a period of time and see what I can do with its raw images.

Rain Drops

I am still experimenting with ways that I can adapt my photography to better fit the cameras and lenses that I have.  The above pictures are some macro jpeg images of raindrops that I took this morning with my cheap waterproof pocketable Olympus Tough 820 camera.  It has the smallest sensor of all of my cameras, but for close-ups, having a small sensor is an advantage since the depth of field is greater.

So far all that I have accomplished was proving the value of small sensors and deciding that I probably can’t reduce down to one camera … least not with any of the ones I have.

Dark Heritage

150429-141709_DH

I have searched for new or different things to photograph and found some things that concerned me, so I am going to start another category called “Dark Heritage” since our children and grandchildren will be inheriting both the good and the bad that we have created.

I will use this category to show the old, the rundown, the world left behind, decay, gloom & doom, chaos, the environment of old, trash, dead & dying, etc.; i.e., things created or formed or influenced by the past which will create problems in the future.  Some might call it the historical breakdown.

I believe that our future will be haunted by our past, and it isn’t always pretty.  Looking forward into the future, it is hard to be positive due to all of our past transgressions no matter whether they are economic, environmental, or societal constructs.  I believe that in many ways that we need to undo or redo our world constructs.

Many consider the camera as recording a current point in time and that is how they use it.  This new category will be used to record the past as seen today.  When I am being descriptive and I might sometimes, this category will be more meditative and dwell upon the current and future as formed by the past; or maybe they could be called the urgent realities.

Another use for this category is to address the failures of our society to harness the terrible commercial energies that have, or are destroying life as we know it.

I will focus on the small towns, suburbia, and the border areas since they are changing and evolving rapidly.  I have no interest in the big cities.  Big cities don’t look much different today than they did 30 years ago and won’t look much different in another 30 years.

Style-wise, I will sometimes make my images moody and dark in keeping with the dire consequences of things created or formed in the past without adequate consideration of the future associated costs; but, I will also use monochrome, color, etc. depending what works best with individual images.  I would like to have a particular style for all of the images in this category but they might be too diverse for that.

To a large degree, the pictures in this category will be more like my personal view of the world.  As Claire Yaffa says “The happiness and sadness resides in us. It is our choice to discover how to convey the feelings of who we are and what we want to say.”

Backlighting

I often try to take pictures that are backlit.  I have found that if I try to take them under conditions of mixed lighting, as these, that it is hard to recover shadows or even over exposed areas with mixed white balance.  Since I had an extreme case with the above horse picture, it was difficult to retain the details of the horse.  In addition, a bare lightbulb above and to the horse’s rear created some unpleasant color effects.  In processing the raw image I found that this was an excellent situation to display the image in monochrome.  I liked it so much better that I processed all the images as monochrome (some shown in previous post).

I am viewing these monochrome images for a while to see how they “grow” on me.  I might show some of them as well as other images from the horse farm in color in a later post.

Hanover Shoe Farms

This is the largest Standardbred racehorse breeding farm in the world and it is only a few miles from where I live. The Standardbred is a horse breed best known for its ability in harness racing at a trot or pace.  We chose this time of the year to visit so that we could see the new foals.  The ones in the barn were recently born, I believe, the night before.

Some men from Homewood visited the farm and I used the opportunity to try some B&W images with my Leica X2.  It was an ideal chance to try it in both low light and in extreme contrasts while inside the barns.  Needless to say, I really liked the way the camera performed and I am looking forward to doing more and more of my photography with this camera.

f/2.8 and Click

I have never owned a lens before that was as good at aperture f/2.8 as the one in the Leica X2.  That is the only thing common in all three of the above pictures.  I have had fun seeing what I can achieve with the camera, mostly photographing at an aperture of f/2.8 in bright and not so bright light, and with near and far focus.  So far it hasn’t failed me in any pictures that I attempted with the lens wide open since it seems to be equally sharp from corner to corner with no optical problems.  My biggest concern was the depth of field with the larger landscape pictures, but so far it seems to do quite well with this 24 mm (effective 36 mm) lens.  Not only is the camera nice and small and easy to use, it also has the best optics of any lens I have ever owned.

For those who are wondering why I would want to take pictures so often at f/2.8 with an effective 36 mm focal length lens, it is for four reasons.  First, it provides me with nice bloke, or blurring of the background, when I wish to focus on something close.  Doing that places the primary emphasis on the close details of what I am shooting when the background isn’t interesting.  The second reason is that it keeps the ISO and noise levels lower when I am shooting in low light.  The third reason is that it also helps keep the shutter speed faster to minimize both camera and subject motion.  The fourth reason is for simplicity in photography.  I don’t need to think about what aperture will work best and then vary it accordingly.  It reduces the number of variables so that I can concentrate on the composition, exposure, and focus point.

Simplifying my Photography Gear

150308-112838_681

 Start

I accumulated too many cameras and lenses.  I primarily did that while trying to cover many different photographic situations and trying to figure out what I wanted or needed.  The above are what I had when I started my recent purging, and you will note that I had a lot of overlapping systems.  It doesn’t include all the other cameras I tried and sold previously.  Lately, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I want to do, can do, and will do, in my future photography so that I can simplify.  By-the-way, there are a lot of differences between “want to do, can do, and will do”.

The unmarked camera in the picture at the top on your left is the Canon SL1.  At the time I took the picture I had black tape over the lettering.  I had one other camera in addition to the above cameras that I used to take the picture.  It was the Ricoh GR.

I have given up on reducing down to one camera for the time being, but I am reducing the number of different systems that I have and selling off some of the above with the goal to end up with fewer options.  While trying to decide which way to go, I cycled through each of the above cameras and used them to remind myself of their individual characteristics and why I got them in the first place.  Each has a particular strength and capability so my decision process came down to deciding what, or how, I will not be photographing in the future.

I have tried to pick a subject to concentrate on.  I first thought it would be Hanover streets and buildings, and it might still be; but I have concerns.  In some of my trials I have had minor confrontations which I have been able to walk away from so far; but I am concerned that the confrontations might increase, especially if I use a DSLR camera with a long zoom lens.

I would like to do something with a rangefinder style camera with a focal length of 35 or 50 (e) mm; but that usually means photographing people, and is not likely … in town or within Homewood.  But, that doesn’t rule out such a camera for buildings, landscapes, etc.

What about other possibilities?  The big one is travel photography but for several reasons, that is not likely for me.  Another possibility would be nature, wildlife, etc.  We have limited wildlife but it is still a possibility.  There are also weather, clouds, etc. but that is limiting from an opportunity perspective.  I can’t photograph the weather effects when I wish since it is dependent upon the whims of the weather.

I am still trying to decide what it is that I mainly hope to photograph, but in the meantime I am going to concentrate on what is most likely.  The picture below shows what cameras and lenses I am currently using after going through my initial simplification and concentrating on what will most likely be available for me to photograph.

150405-114831_681

Interim

The Pentax gear and the Lumix LX7 have been sold.  The rest have been boxed up for sale or storage.  I haven’t sold the micro 4/3 gear yet since I haven’t yet decided to give up on micro 4/3.  I like my micro 4/3 gear but I can’t do everything (especially in low light) that I would like as well with it.   You will also see my latest acquisition, the Canon 70D with the 18 – 135 mm lens attached that I am trying for 30 days.  Yes, the Canon is heavy (just slightly lighter than the K-3) but it has advantages and uses that I would rather not give up.  I really like the articulated LCD and fast live-view focusing.  In order to deal with the weight, I might not carry it far or often, and if necessary, I could get a 50 mm lens for it and back off using the longer, heavier focal length lenses.  Currently I am trying the Canon 70D for certain uses like clouds, wildlife, some internal Homewood projects, etc., and using the Ricoh GR for my pocket camera while walking about as well as for several projects close to people, etc. where all I need is an effective 28 mm focal length.

My objective is to just use the Canon 70D and the Ricoh GR for a while as I continue to evolve my future photography over time, and later replace one or both with a camera that is better for a more limited style of photography when, or if, I decide or find I need or want to reduce further.

Old Hands Lead to New Things

150226-135452_681-Edit-2

 

I took this picture while I was seeing how well the Sigma 17 – 70 lens focused up close, and while looking at the result I was reminded that I should probably tell you some more about why I have pursued a lighter, more easy to hold camera system that still lets me practice photography.  You have read enough about my back problems, but it isn’t the only problem.  My hands are also a big problem, and at the moment they are giving me more grief than my back.  I have arthritis in my back and hands.

Have you ever found yourself using both hands to lift a can of beer at the end of the day?  I sometimes find myself doing that to keep from dropping it, especially if I have carried and used a camera much during the day.  This is another reason why I am exploring lighter-weight cameras with better grips and changing what I photograph to fit an easier to use format.

There is a positive side to my life.  Physical changes force me to try new things.  I have gotten tired of photographing the same things in the same way, and I now have an excuse to look for, and try new things … new cameras and lenses and new subjects and techniques.