There are geeks and then there are photo geeks. In the old days, geeks worked in carnivals and were oddly entertaining folks who swallowed swords, hammered spikes into their nostrils, and decapitated chickens and snakes without benefit of a cleaver. The photo geek, by contrast, is not nearly so riveting. In fact, photo geeks are downright dull. They photograph things like test charts and brick walls, and talk about spherical aberrations and aperture diffraction rather than composition, light, and shadow. In general, I tend to avoid partaking in the nerdier aspects of photo geekiness. But ever since I began sharing M-mount lenses between the Leica M8 and the Panasonic DMC-G1, I've been consciously aware that they perform quite differently on the two cameras. Because of the way I use these lenses, I'm not actually bothered by this — but readers of this blog feel otherwise, and they asked me to write specifically about the differences between these cameras when using M-mount lenses. This article discusses one such lens — a 1991 Leica v5 50mm f/2 Summicron — and the performance differences one sees when mounting it on a Panasonic DMC-G1 vs. a Leica M8.
"What do you photograph?" Inevitably, when someone discovers that I'm a photographer, this is their Pavlovian response. It's a question framed in an expression of utmost earnestness — as if they were asking a medical doctor to state his specialty, or an actor to enumerate the roles they had played. It's an Innocuous query, but one I find absolutely impossible to answer... Oh, the torment!
What would you do if an event coordinator asked for "action" shots at an event, and that event is about "people sitting around exchanging ideas?" It's just another "Day in the Life" story for the fearless ULTRAsomething photographer.
In this third and final entry into my "working" review of the Leica M8, I discuss image fidelity. Specifically, I discuss the obvious visual benefits of shooting a camera without an anti-aliasing filter. I take Leica to task for recording 12-bits of data, but downsampling the RAW files to 8-bit. I conclude with a discussion about rangefinder shooting, and how the Leica M8 and a Micro Four Thirds camera make a potently dynamic duo for reportage.
In Part Two of my report on the Leica M8, I discuss such things as the camera's ergonomics, its shutter noise, and whether or not it succeeds in making me "invisible" on the streets. Granted, they're not the normal topics one discusses when reviewing a camera. But there's nothing "normal" about the unique requirements of a street photographer, either.
With my street photography proclivities showing no sign of waning, this article finds me continuing my quest for the "perfect" camera. Earlier this year, I opted for a hybrid approach — mounting rangefinder lenses on a Panasonic DMC-G1 MFT body. The experience was reasonably successful. In fact, it was so much better than my previous attempts to coerce either an SLR or a small "enthusiast" camera into reportage duty, that I soon realized I had to go "all in." And by "all in," I mean "a Leica M8." This article discusses my decision process, and how I came to actually possess an affordable one.
Every now and then, we all need a little extra inspiration. Many photographers fall into the habit of looking for photos in all the usual places. But by actively looking for photographs in non-standard places, photographers can find photo opportunities that might otherwise bypass them. This article discusses that "art" of looking for interesting reflections in glass surfaces.
On February 16th, 2009, the UK began to enforce their ambiguously-worded counter-terrorism laws that, essentially, call into question the motives of all photographers and cast doubt upon their actions. Photographing any police officer, military personnel or intelligence official is an 'offense' for which a photographer can now be arrested. The vagueness of the law is nearly as disturbing as the fact it even exists, because it empowers any police officer to detain a photographer and confiscate both equipment and images under the flimsiest veil of legitimacy. As I mourned the vilification of my UK brethren, I took solace in the fact that I lived in Canada — a nation fiercely committed to rights, freedoms, and artistic expression. But is it time for Vancouver photographers to start worrying about the "British" in "British Columbia?"
For a photography blog, these posts certainly skew toward the wordy. Every now and then I need to exercise a little restraint, and simply let the images do the talking. So, in that spirit, I present a few street shots from the previous couple of weeks — each of which can tell its own story without my usual reams of imposing prose.
Canada's annual musical celebration, the Juno Awards, descended upon the streets of Vancouver and so, inevitably, did I. It took me only a couple of minutes to grow bored with the musical performances — all of which "borrowed" from classic rock structures of the 1970's, but regurgitated them into soulless clichés. Dismayed by the fact that another generation of musicians was failing to make an imprint on culture, and annoyed that I was neither hearing nor seeing anything new, I lost interest in photographing the bands. Instead, I turned my attention and camera to the audience. And that's when I saw it — the cultural difference between this generation and those that preceded it — the video monitor.
Lately, I've been thinking about negatives. This might seem curious since I rarely shoot film anymore. So why am I thinking about negatives? Because I'm thinking of them in the stylistic sense, rather than the traditional. Specifically, I've been thinking about creating the opposite of an image — inverting every decision I made in the original capture, and replacing it with its conceptual opposite. Confused? This article explains all.
The 2010 Winter Olympics are just over 10 months away, and construction projects continue to disfigure and disrupt this beautiful city as if Mothra and Godzilla had chosen to wage a street hockey battle in our little metropolis. Alas, in spite of the poetic imagery inherent in these words, this is really just an article announcing some new features in the ULTRAsomething photography website — features like Gallery support, a Client site, RSS feeds, and the all-important donation option.
I'm sure my accountant would argue that there's nothing good about volunteering for a free photography assignment. And, should one wish to pay for such mundane things as rent and food, she would be right. But for me, both rent and food rank slightly below coffee on my list of life's essentials. So when my friend Mike, who owns Coo Coo Coffee on Davie Street, mentioned that he needed a few photos to boost his business, I jumped all over it. Fortunately, there are some non-remunerative advantages to working for free. For example, your client can't be even remotely particular about what you shoot. "Shooting for free" means "freedom of choice." And "freedom of choice" means you get to pull out all those wacky little photo tricks that you never get to use on "real" jobs.
A month after publishing my impressions of the Panasonic DMC-G1 and its ability to adapt M-series lenses, I revisited some of the issues in this article. Paramount among them was a manufacturing issue with the original Novoflex M-to-MFT adapter, which caused many of the focussing problems discussed in earlier articles.
To many photographers, photographic artifacts such as grain, grit, softness, and noise are about as welcome as a rabid Rottweiler. To me, they add texture and intrigue to an image. This article discusses how, after spending several years seeking images of the highest fidelity, I've come full circle and, again, embrace the "texture."
After a week of malady compounded further by the medicine meant to combat it, I finally felt like venturing out of the condo yesterday. Well, maybe I didn't exactly feel like it, but I was beginning to suffer from an opportunistic affliction known as termino morbus. Don't worry, it sounds worse than it actually is. Like all things medical, it's a latin term that, roughly translated, means "closure sickness." Its folksier name is "shutter withdrawal" and, as any obsessive photographer knows, it's an affliction that causes one eye to close and the index finger to flex up-and-down. Without a camera in-hand, such behavior appears "eccentric" at best. Fortunately, I was finally strong enough to carry a camera and, like a newborn fawn (but not nearly as adorable), take my first tentative steps into the great outdoors — even if it was just to the Vancouver Public Library.
My good friend, Dan Timis, passed away yesterday. I was fortunate enough to have worked with Dan on two separate occasions over the last twenty years — at both Opcode Systems and at Muse Research. Dan was a brilliant digital audio programmer, and a very clever fellow. He could see a solution to a problem before many of us even knew that a problem existed. He always had an interesting idea; another angle; or a unique take on a design.
My discussion of the Panasonic DMC-G1 was originally a four part review. But the fourth post was so long that some people had trouble downloading it. So, I've split Part 4 in half, creating this new "Part 5." It contains my conclusions about the G1's "street" shooting abilities and a (scant) few images.
The nitty gritty. The dirt. The details. Everything you want to know about using the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds DMC-G1 as a "street" camera in a single post... well, OK, "two" posts. The article was so long, it got sectioned into a separate Part 5. Dive in. Enjoy.