18 July 2017

When grass is enough

Grass is enough for me to make me dream of wide open spaces, while still living in a city.
There is this open field left untouched by urban sprawl where the sun can though the horizon.

ghostly branches
refitted projector lens RO501-1 100mm f2  1/6400sec

As the sunset comes I like to squat or even lay on the ground and observe the light filtered by the thin texture. As the breeze moves the sunlit field, one can imagine gentle waves on a golden sea.

golden grass
refitted projector lens RO501-1 100mm f2   1/1250sec

There is something about the wonderful structure of the stalk supporting the grains of seed in the crown.

pure gold
adapted Kodak Cine 50mm f1.6  1/4000sec


grass on dusk
refitted projector lens RO501-1 100mm f2   1/1250sec


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10 July 2017

The little park

There is a park along a creek on my way to work, that I pass every morning.
The drive is short and sometimes I opt to walk that 1/2 hour to get a bit of fresh air.
In winter solstice the sun has been rising later allowing some low light to filter through the trees creating an interesting scene for me.
A few times I wished I was earlier and that I had a camera with me (a phone is not one, for my style)
So, instead of being the usual lazy and sleeping in, I got out of the house earlier last Saturday, with my camera.

Good morning
refitted F.Zuiko 32mm f1.7 (from Pen EED)  1/1250sec

There was a faint remnant of fog left in the low laying area and the sun illuminated it burning it off. A few joggers were about otherwise the place was still very quiet.
The dew was glistening on the grass blades asking me to have a closer look.

Dew lingering 
adapted Kodak Cine 50mm f1.6  1/5000sec

Rainbow in a bubble
adapted Kodak Cine 50mm f1.6    1/1250sec


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04 July 2017

The fire and the ghosts

When I see an image that doesn't just clinically depict a subject or a location my mind is left free to imagine what it could be.
Blurs and bubbles of light play with my creativity and I imagine things beyond of what I can see.

fire beyond ghosts
refitted projector lens 35KP-1,8/120    1/100sec

So, what good is that?
Well, it's no different than a book that vaguely sets a scene allowing the reader to create his/her own vision of the story. Some say that they prefer the book to the movie :-)
Images that don't state the obvious feed my dreams.


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15 June 2017

Because storytelling is what engages us

Because storytelling is what engages us, not facts and figures*

That phrase resonates so well with me where in images I look for a story, not just a record of an event or place.
And that's why I am attracted to images that isolate the subject, take it away from the visual noise of the background and present it with a message, abstract if needed be.

life's twisted path
refitted Russian projector lens 35KP-1,8/120 

It's where my mind then has room to explore the scene and create my own scenario or recall a similar situation or place close to my heart. And fundamentally that is why some images might evoke a reaction from some viewers and not from others; it's one's image bank that is tapped into to recall, subconsciously if you want, an emotion from the past.

That is why images with a story are so much more powerful

Hold my hand_bw_c
refitted Russian projector lens KP-16 50mm f1.2


* from this video at 2:44

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09 June 2017

More Russian love

I had no idea that the cumbersome Russian would deliver so much love.
At first I had my doubts I would be able to handle such a big thing and appeared rather difficult to get along with.
Then I worked out where she shines best and how to focus on her strengths; if I am careful and don't push her too hard she does reward me.

gold in the mangroves
refitted Russian projector lens 35KP-1,8/120  1/3200sec

The images I can create with that big lens, that never was intended to make but rather show (it's a projection lens after all), are unique.
The blend of relative sharpness and the quirky bokeh for the background really help to isolate subjects where I want to tell a story, instead of just mere recording a place or event.

fishscales on the water
refitted Russian projector lens 35KP-1,8/120   1/10000sec


stay with me
refitted Russian projector lens 35KP-1,8/120  1/1250sec



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31 May 2017

Tiny rainforest mushrooms

The mushrooms I find in my area's rainforests are usually small, very small.
They often grown on rotten downed branches where there is plenty of moisture.

protect me
adapted Fujinon 55mm f2.2   1/13sec

Some are really delicate with an almost see-through consistency, some are very colorful but I don't believe any are edible.

magic mushrooms
adapted Fujinon 55mm f2.2  1/6sec

Trying to capture the magic in the depth of the rainforest requires a steady hand and careful focusing: I also wanted to emphasize the beauty by consciously framing them with lenses that produce an unusual look.

spiral on bubbles
refitted Helios-89 30mm f1.9 (from 1/2 frame FED Mikron)  1/50sec


sunset party
adapted Fujinon 55mm f2.2  1/60sec


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18 May 2017

Texture and patterns in the bokeh

I am drawn to the abstract pattern that a lens can create when the the whole subject can not be in focus resulting in some areas of the image blurred.
Much can be said about bokeh and it's rather impossible to be fully quantified or describe it but most purist cherish the "smooth" out-of-focus backgrounds.
I, on the contrary, prefer to find lenses that offer "texture" in the blurred areas of my images.

enchanted forest sunrise
refitted projector lens 35-KP 1,8/120   1/640sec

I do understand that such traits in these lenses are not so well suited for subjects where the attention should remain in the in-focus areas but a lot of my photographs are often of close-up and semi-abstract subjects where a "busy" bokeh might be the crucial component of an image

grass softness
adapted Pentacon 50mm f1.8  1/1600sec

Initially my visual adventures were concentrated on "bubbles" in the bokeh; now I am pursuing the textured, busy and "weird" bokeh.
Some lenses are specifically sought after for those incredible traits and unfortunately my favorite looks are out of my price range (like the Dallmeyer Super-Six 102mm f1.9 lens)

Slowly I am starting to understand which subjects, what patterns and what light will be a suitable theme for my experiments. Repetition of small objects and lines, combined with the correct subject/background ration and lens will reveal surreal images.
And it's a look that the mighty iPhone has not conquered yet :-)

Floral tentacles
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7  1/50sec


wabi-sabi
refitted Helios-89 30mm f1.9 (from FED Mikron)  1/4000sec


watercolored ants
refitted Russian projector lens 35KP-1,8/120  1/800sec


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21 April 2017

Images from a Russian projector lens

I have a case full of modern lenses that can deliver ultra sharp images, all with the comfort of auto-focus, yet I am drawn to use old manual lenses that somehow give me a feel in my images.
In my book sharpness is overrated and the bokeh is king, but that must be textured and dynamic, not just soft out-of-focus blandness.
In my search for unusual glass, that often was never intended as photograph-taking lens, I came across an old Russian projector lens that is rather long and bright allowing for particularly interesting shallow depth of field.

late Sunday afternoon
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/1600sec

The lens is heavy and very cumbersome to use: it took some effort to refit it and make it usable on my small cameras. The images I take with it are often a bit soft, low contrast and they exhibit flare easily if pointed towards are strong light source, yet I love the results.

golden filigree
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/8000sec

Images that come straight of the camera could be considered a fail by some but with a bit of contrast and sharpness enhancement often they give a feel to my image that modern lenses can not.

painting with grass
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/1000sec

The eye has not got the opportunity to scrutinize the details but rather takes in the whole scene as one and draws on my recollection of places I have vised before for an unconscious trip down memory lane.

sunshine in the forest
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/1000sec


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06 April 2017

Autumn leaves

Finally the summer heat has given up and opened the doors to more temperate days, the harsh light replaced by more subtle and lower angle with softer warmer hues for a longer "golden hour".
And while there are no frosts around to change the color of the leaves, like typically in the Northern hemisphere, autumn foliage takes its own twist here in Queensland.

Dusting on scarlet
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7  1/400sec

Recent heavy rains have reversed the typical role of spring new shoots making it happen now, in autumn. Some bushes have come alive with new pink and purple leaves

after the rains
Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7    1/320 sec


soft new leaves
Pentacon 50mm f1.8    1/1250sec

On the other hand other trees are starting to change color and shed some of their leaves. It's a mixed combination of spring and autumn at the same time.

Signs of Autumn_3
Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7   1/10sec


Bubble spill
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/200sec


Spiky graveyard
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7   1/80sec


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23 March 2017

Damsels and Dragons

It has been a rather hot and long summer.
I usually stay out of the sun in the middle of the day but these strikingly beautiful insect have kept me chasing them even in the blazing sun.

Wind beneath my wings
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/500sec

Where most other animals worthy of attention are hiding in the shade or sleeping, dragonflies are most active buzzing around hunting.

Hello stanger
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/1600sec

The delicate cellophane wings are in stark contrast to the menacing looking body, certainly inspiration to the modern helicopters.
And every so often they land to rest, usually in the same favorite high spot, giving me the opportunity to take a few quick images.

Redhead stare
Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7  1/200sec


In flight wipe
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/3200sec


Almost bedtime_c
Kodak Cine Telephoto 152mm f4.5  1/100sec

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10 March 2017

Closer look at the bark

The simple natural beauty of a tree, looked up closely.

Flaking bark
refitted Hexanon 45mm f1.8 (from rangefinder camera) 1/160sec

There is great variety of trees in my part of the world and the bark is most intriguing at times.
I particularly like the shape and texture of some gumtrees that shed the bark and reveal a smooth and colorful new skin. The "exfoliation" seems to be constant and the colorful patterns revealed are most abstract.

Writing on the wall_c
adapted Pentax-110 50mm f2.8   1/100sec

Often when having a close look I notice a miniature world of ants and insects that are often hidden to the casual passer-by

Stick on bark_c
refitted projection lens 16-KP 50mm f1.2   1/100sec

And then everything suddenly changes; the fire completely alters the look of a once smooth bark and creates new textures.

Scorched trunks_c
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7   1/640sec

Charred tree trunk_c
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7   1/60sec


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02 March 2017

Role reversal

What happens when one reverses the role of the intention?
When a lens that was meant to "show" images suddenly "captures" them?
That is what actually happens when I use a projector lens mounted on a camera, the role is reverses.

Grassy caleidoscope
refitted projector lens Meyer-Optik Diaplan 100mm f2.8  1/30sec

Technically speaking a lens from a projector lens is designed and optimized to show images there were once created with a different lens.
A projection lens, apart from being often not corrected for optical "faults", lacks mechanisms that most camera lenses have: a focusing helicoid and an aperture control diaphragm. They are really just a tube with several lenses arranged to project an image on the wall or screen.

Leaf's bubble bath_c
refitted slides projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8    1/2000sec

So why would I want to cripple myself trying to capture images with a tool that clearly is "inferior"?
There is no clear answer and most likely not one that most people accept: because images photographed with projection lenses for me are more capable to deliver the concept of fantasy rather than reality.

Blue and bubbles_c
refitted projector lens Meyer-Optik Diaplan 100mm f2.8   1/2500sec

Since trying to faithfully represent real life in a 2 dimensional format is a futile exercise that is simply limited by conventional constraints (perceived accepted unspoken rules) I much more prefer to explore the emotions that an image can create. Projection lenses enable me to create an in-camera look that modern lenses designed for digital imagery often can not.
While I am not interested in manipulating excessively a concept in post production, by compositing and editing conventional photographs, I allow myself to exploit the design faults of old simple optics to convey a sense of supernatural in my images.

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17 February 2017

The foreground bokeh

In an image, bokeh quality is more important to me than sharpness.
While most of the photographic world seems to be stuck on one single way to measure I.Q. (Image Quality) by carefully analyzing resolution of a lens, I go beyond the simple charts and brick walls test-shots.
I look for how a lens renders the areas that are out of focus.

Sunset dragonfly_c
adapted Kodak Telephoto 152mm f4.5   1/125sec

There were a few lenses that reportedly sounded absolute stunners and I was interested in them. Through sample images I found however that they displayed horribly looking (to my eyes) out of focus areas. The whole image was kind of ruined for me: my eyes were drawn away from the main subject that was in focus, there was a certain "nervous" look to the background, the bokeh was not pleasant.
I never got those lenses despite being very sharp...

From the creative point of view a lens must have a certain look, character if you want, for the areas that happened to be not in focus. I often specifically look for subjects where the areas of blurred background will add so much interest to the image to sometimes become the main point of interest.

Floral pattern_c
adapted Meyer-Optik Trioplan 50mm f2.9  1/400sec

In my quest for creating images that are more fantasy than reality I am constantly experimenting with new optics, mostly of them are old and obscure, some never intended to used on a camera
The focus has now shifted to create images with a dual field bokeh, where the intention is to look for subjects that have a busy depth of field, often natural elements.
On my photowalks I look for vegetation that is veiling a subject that is interesting to me and then I try to photograph it. By carefully focusing and shifting my point of view I search for the angle and composition that will create that dreamy surreal look.

Sunset texture in the grass_c
refitted projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8    1/250sec



Glorious rain_c
refitted projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8    1/6400sec


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09 February 2017

The judgement

"Yes, but that is Photoshopped..."  with a consternated tone of voice.

Half moon rising_c
refitted projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8   1/125sec

So, if those images were created in camera, would it have more value?
If one works magic with in-camera settings, plays with lenses that are unusual, uses unconventional angles and cleverly crops an image, is then held in higher esteem?

I have that discussion often when on topic of editing: some are up in arms that images are manipulated but perfectly accept black and white ones :-)
To me however sounds like ignorance and laziness; somebody's defense for unskilled results.

*PS for the record, above image was created in camera....