Kathy will occasionally mention that a particular photo would make a good jigsaw puzzle. This is one of them. Fall is coming!
I don’t usually talk about gear any more, but the recent new camera announcements from Canon and Nikon, and more recently Fuji, Panasonic and Sigma have gotten me thinking about cameras. Not to buy a new one, I promise! Just thoughts on what cameras we buy and why we buy them.
When the so-called mirrorless cameras came out, the whole idea – at least in my mind – was the ability to have a high-quality camera in a size that was smaller and much lighter than all of the full-size gear we had been hauling around. Small and very capable cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji and others paved the way for a lot of folks to “downsize” to a camera and lenses that had excellent image quality without having to haul around a bag of bricks. For myself, unloading 30+ pounds of Canon gear and replacing it with the smaller and lighter Fuji gear was a welcome change. No longer did I have to carry my camera equipment in a suitcase that weighed more than my clothes! I specifically remember checking into a hotel one time and having the bellman pull my Think Tank Airport Monstrosity out of the trunk with a “what the heck is in this thing…library books?” question. Ah, not exactly!
Inevitably, some companies started working toward the idea of the “full frame mirrorless” cameras. After a slow start, Sony has become a major player in a field. I know a number of folks that have converted to Sony cameras, but it always interests me that those cameras and lenses are as big and heavy as the cameras they replaced! Canon and Nikon have recently introduced their own versions of these “full frame mirrorless” cameras, but they are nearly as large as my old 5D and lenses. What happened to smaller and lighter?
Ever since I traded in my medium format Mamiya 7 film camera for my first 5D, I hoped that some day there would be a digital equivalent of that Mamiya camera. Fuji just announced a camera that comes very close, but at $4500 for the body it is out of my price range, and it is huge! Nothing like the Mamiya 7, 3 lenses and a box of 5 rolls of film that I was able to put in a fanny pack. Airport Monstrosity 2.0 here we come!
I’m really happy with my decision to move to the smaller APS-C Fuji cameras and lenses. Right now my “ancient” X-T1 is still better than I am, and while I may eventually succumb to the siren song of a newer model, the stuff that I have suits my needs just fine. It is interesting to watch where all the technology is headed, but watching from the sidelines is a pretty comfortable place to be!
I posted previously about having made a slideshow of color photos from our Tuscany workshop. A personal project of mine has been to get better at seeing and photographing in Black & White. I recently created a separate slideshow to showcase my progress toward that goal. Link to video is below.
Thanks to Jeff Curto for his encouraging feedback and for hosting the videos until I get my own Vimeo page set up!
Video is here:
For some reason I’m always drawn to the play of lines and shadows in this place. In many ways I keep taking the same photo over and over but I like to think they are slightly different, since I am slightly different each time I’m there.
From this past weekend in Waynesville, NC. Channeling Monte Stevens just a bit. Although Monte would have had the nerve to ask to take her photo – instead of just sneaking one – and would have gotten a better result. 😉
When visiting a place known for being a photographic destination, it isn’t unusual for certain locations to be “famous” as sites of iconic photographs. We all have our favorite examples. One of them for me was the photos I made of the blurry gondolas in Venice. While I captured the obvious shot, I also tried to find my own view, to make it my own, in a sense.
While on our photo tour in Tuscany, several of the students asked about specific locations and whether we would be going there. Jeff (Curto) indicated that those spots were not on the itinerary but that we would likely pass by a few of them. Jeff was very familiar with the locations, but cautioned us that for a number of reasons – namely conditions such as weather, season or time of year – we would not be able to capture the photos those folks had in their minds and had seen on Flickr, Facebook or National Geographic. But, photographers being photographers, they wanted to go anyway so we did. There’s nothing wrong with photographing famous photographic subjects of course, but Jeff encouraged us to find our own unique view of the locations – under the conditions we found there – and to make the best of them.
Case in point is our visit to the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta, which is in the Tuscan countryside near Vitaleta, Italy and is the location of the photo I posted previously and the location of the photos in this post. It’s a spot that even I was familiar with, having found photos on a number of websites and possibly in a guidebook or two along the way. It is a beautiful scene under just about any conditions, but at the time of our visit we faced a number of challenges. First, being that it is a place famous for being famous, it attracts a lot of attention. In the middle of the afternoon in June, there was no way to avoid people. Second, it was 4:00 in the afternoon, not exactly an ideal time for photography, although the light in Tuscany was almost always ideal for some kind of photography!
I worked to try and come up with a couple of views that I felt would reflect my own take on the scene. By taking the wide-angle approach I minimized the appearance of people and took advantage of the great sky and the surrounding landscape. I also looked around for other scenes that were not as iconic but photo-worthy themselves. I think I came up with a few good shots, including one of some actual people! On the distance shots I could have cloned out most of the bodies, but to me that was part of the scene and I decided to leave them in. Plus, the scenes looking elsewhere didn’t have any people in them! If at some point I decide to make a “fine art” print I may take a few more liberties.
Kathy & I recently made a day trip up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had hoped to get in a little hiking, but the weather turned out to be uncooperative. We did manage to spend a little time between rain showers just sitting at a parking spot along the Linville River. While we were there I spotted this grouping of birch trees that I thought would make a nice still life. It looked like a family photo to me, so that’s where I came up with the title.
Making a slight diversion from working on and posting about Italy photos….
I first heard the term “stochastic photography” in a post by Ctein on The Online Photographer way back in 2010. It’s sort of a refined version of pointing your camera at something, taking a boatload of pictures and hoping some of them come out in a way that is pleasing or that somehow meet the intention of what you were trying to capture. As in “I’ll know it when I see it.” I don’t always remember to use that technique, although I often recognize situations where it might be appropriate. Sometimes I even have my camera with me. While I don’t generally care to make my photographs “about the technique, ” sometimes the technique helps to define the photographs. Post-visualization perhaps, rather than pre-visualization?
Kathy & I spent 4th of July week out in eastern NC, in New Bern and Belhaven. One morning we stopped at the Bell Island Pier, which is a fishing pier within the Swan Quarter National Wildlife Refuge, near Swan Quarter, NC. It was a beautiful day, with towering cumulus clouds and a deep blue sky. I noticed the reflections of the sky in the water and decided to see what I could get.
Over the course of about 4 minutes I fired off a little more than 100 shots. It’s a little hard to tell which ones are “successful” but I’ve put together a little collection of a few that I liked. The ones that “feel right” to me have a nice balance of light and dark, color and no color, with an interesting pattern. I may decide later on that there are others I like or some that I don’t like, but that’s part of the fun!
The “final product” of the Tuscany workshop was a themed slideshow. Here is a link to mine:
The Colors of Tuscany
All of the participants work can be found here:
Here in the Piedmont of NC spring has been springing for several weeks, and we are almost into early summer. The dogwood have been out for a week and the hardwoods are unfurling their new leaves.
Several weeks ago Kathy & I visited South Mountains State Park for a little hiking and sightseeing. The park is west of Charlotte, about halfway to the “real” mountains, and a slightly higher elevation, so spring was a couple of weeks behind us here.
One thing I love about spring is looking through the woods and seeing just the hint of green. I think that “Spring Green” is a shade of color unique to new growth leaves, and to me it speaks as much about the seasons as the fall colors do about fall. Coupled with redbud and the occasional other early bloomers, they make for a hopeful sight after the gray of winter.
These photos won’t do much to show off my nature photography skills, but they do a reasonable job of showing the spring that we saw as we explored the park.