19 July 2016

Social isolation

I saw this image of original artwork from a gallery: some found it funny but it actually made me sad.

RX100 M2

On a recent Sunday, a beautiful sunny day, I walked around my city's urban park; it was crowded with families and (real, not virtual) friends, some were in groups.
But there was a disturbing trend: I rarely saw direct interaction...

Social isolation_bw_c
adapted Cosmicar 50mm f1.4   1/160sec

Are we too driven by social media to actually be social?


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18 July 2016

Pokemon hunting

With a condescending thought I laughed at these guys running around the city "hunting" for the imaginary Pokémon (mobile phone game).
Then I paused and reflected: and how am I different?
The basic principle it's the same, the medium different and results possibly more "tangible" (kind of). However I see similarities: we are both satisfying an ancient need to hunt.

Pokeman hunting_c
adapted lens from Pentax-110 70mm f2.8  1/500sec

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13 July 2016

French girls

There was a hearty feeling in the air at the French festival; a mild winter day with crisp skies seemed to make people happy.
I noticed that many girls there had a bit of a different look; less pompous, sultry or dismissive. I liked the atmosphere of the place.

French girls_c
Kodak Cine Ektanon 102mm f2.7  1/800sec


French girl_c
Kodak Cine Ektanon 102mm f2.7   1/1600sec



French girl_2_c
Cosmicar 50mm f1.4  1/4000sec

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11 July 2016

Birds in the garden

My local botanical gardens are open to birds and human visitors to roam free. No cages, no nets, like nature is meant to be enjoyed.

Cactus juice_c
adapted C-mount Cosmicar 50mm f1.4  1/2500sec


Puffing up
adapted Kodak Cine Ektanon 102mm f2.7   1/2000sec

Flying off_2_c
adapted Kodak Cine Ektanon 102mm f2.7  1/5000sec


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04 July 2016

Around the stables

My girlfriend is mad about horses, for me is something new. There was a local event that I went to visit on invite from my friends and wondered around the stables not knowing what to look for, photographically.

Evening jumps_bw_c
Nikkor-P 105mm f2.5 RF  1/1600sec

I had to be cautions enough to know when a horse was not happy having my big lens pointed too close to his body.

Horse portrait_1_c
refitted Sony Precision Projection 60mm f1.5  1/200sec (adapted here)

 I loved the people around the horses: genuine and unpretentious, friendly and approachable. A warm rural atmosphere pervaded the event.

Taking care_bw_c
SMC Takumar 50mm f1.4   1/500sec 

I was also there walking around with the most ridiculous refitted lens that I have tried to date. It was awkward to handle as it was never intended to be fitted onto a camera but the results I achieved were worthy of the trouble.

Evening feed_c
refitted Sony Precision Projection 60mm f1.5 (?)  1/1250sec


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28 June 2016

Make-believe

We make the mistake to think photography represents reality, we want to believe that.

Wave surge on seagull_c
Kodak Cine Anastigmat 63mm f2.7

If we satisfy ourselves with the idea that a 2 dimensional, frozen-in-time moment, cropped vision of an event/place is depiction of reality, sooner or later we probably will find disappointment.
If we accept that photography is an interpretation at best and deceit at worse in showing us a snipped of reality than we are closer to its concept.
Anything else is make-believe, including the emotion that we create around a poignant image.

Limpy_c

Two images, taken moments apart. Two different messages.
Are they real? they are real to me where real is used as believable.
But no image is real, and all are.
If one looks at them at a philosophical level, yes all images do exist, but do they represent reality? They can't, as mentioned earlier, reality is not a two dimensional print or screen display; it's just make-belief.
If we grew up understanding that photographs represent reality than probably we can satisfy our mind when seeing an image. We can create a story around it, feel an emotion, or none of it.
In the end images are nothing but triggers for our brain to believe what we want.

As Galen Rowell said so well before: ​"One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it" - Galen Rowell​

but ultimately:
  • “All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
    — Richard Avedon

21 June 2016

Invasion of blue aliens

At low tide an army emerges from the sand and invades the edges of the shallow ponds.

Follow me_2_c
Kodak Cine Anastigmat 63mm f2.7 1/1250sec

In their impeccable blue uniforms for a few hours they work hard at making "cannon balls".

Beach alien_c
Kodak Cine Anastigmat 63mm f2.7  1/800sec

But as the tide floods again their conquered beach they retreat underground once more.
The relentless life of a soldier crab.

Alien marines_c
Kodak Anastigmat 63mm f2.7  1/1600


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14 June 2016

Re-porpoused cine lenses

My modern native auto-focus lenses are safely tucked away in my "special case" while my vintage adapted glass is constantly fiddled with and taken out for image gathering. I manly consider using the modern marvel on my extended trips to foreign places where I concentrate on recording more than creating images. At home I always grab my vintage lenses and recently discovered two gems from the 50's: lenses from Kodak intended for Cine 16mm film cameras.

I love the look that the Ektar 25mm has given me so far and wanted to try the longer focal lengths: the 63mm, and by chance I also discovered the 102mm
The image circle on those lenses was not intended to cover a sensor as large as the Micro 4/3 and the distortions are way more noticeable on the edges then they ever were on the smaller format of the film. And that is exactly what I am looking for: distortion and quirkiness that my Olympus M.Zuiko lenses can't give me.

Winter swirls preamble_c
Kodak Cine Anastigmat 63mm f2.7  1/500sec

The edges are often darker (vignette) and the bokeh can have a hint of swirl; all traits that I desire for moody and unusual look that I want to create in my images with feel.
I have shifted from methodical and accurate recording of buildings (my previous professional work) to a more arty direction in my images. The real goal for me is to evoke or depict emotions, through images. Even with static natural subjects I seek to capture a sense of nostalgia, dream or fantasy. Blurry and funky bokeh is all part of the composition where a sharp edge-to-edge image might not convey that feeling.

Golden grass_c
Kodak Cine Anastigmat 63mm f2.7  1/800sec

And then there is the part of manual focusing a lens that is a bit hard to handle, with small focus rings and tiny grip for the aperture control. Frustrating and fist and leading to missed opportunities but great for building skills and prediction of events.

Walking on sunshine_c
Kodak Cine Ektanon 102mm f2.7  1/500sec

I notice that I am willing to observe a scene for much longer and pre-focus on the area where the subject might appear instead of just lift my camera, point and shoot leaving the focusing to the microchip evaluation. The results are often different; images taken while manual focusing tend to show, how to say it, more passion?

  Innocent excitement_bw_c
Kodak Cine Ektanon 102mm f2.7   1/400sec


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09 June 2016

Analysis and synthesis

Does great Image Quality of a lens lead to brilliant images?
It depends.
Depends on your interpretation of a great image and Image Quality.

I feel that the definition of Image Quality for a photographic lens is too often a misnomer to describe sharpness as to me IQ is a complex blend of optical properties that create photographs.
But can all the pixel peeping and perusal of resolution charts for the sharpest lens lead to captivating images?
I doubt it.

the blue ridge floral mountains
image by Pete Ware , used with permission

If a photographer heavily concentrates on analysis too often gets lost with synthesis.
The individual that highly values the ultimate resolution in a lens, the highest pixel count on a sensor, the widest dynamic range in a camera, frequently fails to see the forest for the trees.

I see technically perfect images, probably taken on tripods with the largest camera possible that don't deliver emotions. And if a photograph does not stir me inside then it is just an attempt to record reality, sterile and soulless. While it might be useful for analyzing a place or event, possibly for record keeping, it lacks vision.

The deeper I venture into the art of photography the less I obsess over the sharpest results in my photographs and rather concentrate on the passion behind the click. I forego technical perfection while chasing the aesthetic beauty of a scene, and if the image I create does not evoke any feelings then I have failed in my synthesis.

Before Night Falls
image by Mattias Kühmayer, used with permission

Thank you to Pete and Matthias for being inspirational and showing me that lens IQ is overrated :-)
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08 June 2016

Dragons at sunset

The Westerly wind blew in kitesurfers to my beach.
Like dragons with colorful wings they scooted along the shore occasionally taking flight.

Kite sails_c
refittted Russian projection lens Triplet 78mm f2.8  1/1250sec

Kiterider shadow_c
refittted Russian projection lens Triplet 78mm f2.8  1/3200sec


Blurry fast kite rider_c
Cintagon 100mm f3.5  1/60sec


There was an angel among them and at the end of the day she carried her wings when the wind dropped.

Angel wings_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/60sec


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06 June 2016

Where is my master?

An opportunity to try my sudden acquisition of a really weird vintage lens.
This dog was a bit distressed waiting for his owner when  a friend (I assume) came to console him.

Where is my master_c
Kodak Cine Ektanon 102mm f2.7    1/250sec

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31 May 2016

Immortality

It was sun-setting and I rushed to reach the top of a prominent rocky outcrop, I wanted to catch the last rays.
I was suddenly very disappointed when I came across this totally vandalized large sandstone lookout: names and dates have been carved into the soft rock.

Immortality_c
adapted cine lens Kodak Ektar 25mm f1.9  1/1000sec

Upon reflection, I am now in two minds with the message behind this image: is it environmental vandalism or is it the primeval urge to mark one's presence?
Initially I was miffed to see this rock totally covered in carved graffiti: there are a few declarations of love but mainly I noticed persons' names and dates.
Then it came to me: humans have been marking their presence on earth before history, almost like to preserve their spirit to immortality .
We all have the need to belong and the want to be needed, it's part of being human. Is marking our presence the fact that we existed and a way to preserve our memory?


24 May 2016

Same place: 3 different moods

I was hoping for a fiery sunset that evening.
All week long the sky has been turning spectacular with powerful red skies; but I was stuck in the city.
Now it was Saturday and I headed to the beach: it was going to be low tide at sunset.
But one thing it's sure with outdoor photography: I can't control the light.
What I thought was going to happen didn't: there was no fiery sky, no dramatic clouds.
The sun lowered to the horizon and then it met low dark clouds. The light went from soft warm to steel cold and flat.

I had a few vintage lenses with me, none of them really designed for my camera. One was a slide projection lens from a Kodak Carousel that I mounted on some macro bellows to be able to focus and certainly the hardest lens to use. Very low contrast, not very sharp and rendering highlights with a glow.

Misty soft evening_c
Kodak Ektanar C 102mm f2.8 slide projector lens  1/4000sec

As the light quickly changed I suddenly was faced with a very blue light that robbed all the typical colors of a beach at sunset. What it gave me instead is the opportunity to create a different look, of a more somber and pensive style.

Evening stroll with the pooch_c
adapter lens from miniature SLR system Pentax-110: 70mm f2.8 (fixed aperture)  1/640sec

Eventually the light faded away and just as I was heading back I notice the mangrove tree silhouetted against the sky.

Mangrove tree at low tide_c
adapter lens from miniature SLR system Pentax-110: 18mm f2.8 (fixed aperture)  1/200sec


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16 May 2016

About the house

I am still not sure if this has more to do with my previous post or actually has substance, but I just can't help myself experimenting with unusual views of everyday objects.

Clothesless pegs_c
adapted projection lens Cabin 75mm f2.5


about to spin
adapted composite lens: optical block from a compact Canon 38mm f2.8 inside the body of an Industar 50-2


The moment the genie left the bottle
adapted lens: optical block from a point-and-shoot Canon 110ED

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11 May 2016

Content of shit

I read this and made me pause:

Like those pictures you take. The good ones are either art, or portraits, or, at worst, photography. But the really awful ones you put on Facebook -- that picture of the tunafish sandwich you had for lunch, or your dog licking himself, or the adoring selfie -- that shit. And that content is shit!
The Ad Contrarian

Be proud of your work but be your worst critic. Seek perfection but don't be stuck in perfectionism. Create with passion and not for an audience of imaginary friends with shallow "likes".  Explore and go against convention if that is what drives you, as only by seeking and not following you truly will master the art.
For yourself.

That is what I think when I photograph.

Snowgum on granite boulder_c
G-Lumix 14mm f2.5  

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09 May 2016

Back-lit plants

More and more I dwell on the shapes and highlights that plants produce when viewed back-lit.
I used exclusively Pentax-110 lenses adapted from a miniature SLR system of the 70's to produce this set.

Fluffy grass in the afternoon_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/3200sec

Fluffy pink_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/25sec + adapter with 2-blade aperture control

Spiky abstract_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/320sec

70's bokeh_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/2500 + adapter with 2-blade aperture control

At the same time I had with me a native auto-focus lens for my camera but I failed to produce any images that I liked.
For static subjects, where the bokeh is important to me, the modern lenses just can't give me what I look for. With a modern lens, as I compose my image I never really know what it will look like until the image is taken as the camera will close down the aperture of the lens only then and not show it while I compose. I find that for critical work that is not how I want to take my  photographs.
Manual focus and manual aperture glass on the other hand shows me that very instant I touch the lens how the final image will look like, no guessing or chimping after the shutter was released to see if I "got it".

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04 May 2016

Backpacking with light photo equipment

On a recent 3 day off-track backpacking trip I decided to go lighter than usual: skip the tent and take just a tarp, take just the minimal food and leave the "gourmet" at home, and lighten my camera equipment.
I committed to have with me a set of 3 diminutive lenses from the Pentax-110 SLR system adapted to Micro Four Thirds: the set is lighter than one single vintage lens that I carried in the past.
There is however a challenge with those lenses: apart from being manual focus only, there is no iris in the lens to control the aperture but a simple wide-open value of f2.8.
On the longer lenses of 50mm and 70mm in particular I had to be very careful with focusing to get my subjects sharp. The payback was a lighter pack, more angles of view to choose from (from multiple lenses) and ultimately that look that my zoom modern lenses can't give me.

Melt and Gill_1_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/1600sec

 My friends Melt and Gill, also keen photographers, had more conventional lenses with them.

Spider paparazzi_c
Pentax-110 70mm f2.8  1/200sec

And this is what they were photographing

Spider in the rain_2_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/2000sec

I came across this empty nest, so beautifully crafted.

Empty nest
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/320sec

I also used the 50mm lens paired with an extension ring of 10mm to get some close ups

Snail shell_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8 + 10mm macro ring  1/500sec

and the 24mm with the extension ring to give me an extreme close up of lichen:

Coral bleeching_not
Pentax-110 24mm f2.8 + 10mm extension ring  1/6400sec

Running along on the side, some distance away,  while my friends were hiking, proved more difficult to get a sharp image: I had to magnify my scene in the electronic viewfinder to nail the thin depth of field.

Melt and Gill_3_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/4000sec


Melt and Gill_5_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8

While rather versatile these lenses are not as universal as my modern auto-focus zooms. The difference that I find is in the look that I get from these lenses that were designed in the 70's for a film camera that was truly miniature. The 110 film however never really did give credit to their sharpness and re-purposing and adapting them to digital cameras unleashes the real full potential.

PS the display of this website however, by interpolating and compressing the original files, also dwarfs the sharpness of the Pentax-110 lenses; full size files are muuuuch sharper..
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02 May 2016

Snowgum grove

My favourite trees.
Twisted by the harsh winter winds their resilience is inspirational.

Snowgum grove_c
G-Lumix 14mm f5.6  1/125sec

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