Going Small – Part 2 1/2

April 25th, 2012

Waiting is the hardest part. I placed my order for the Olympus OM-D in mid-February with the promise of an April 10 delivery. April 10 became April 16 and then the vague April. Some suppliers didn’t even promise a date. They just accepted preorders. Then last week word began to leak out that some had shipped. I called local camera stores and discovered that Olympus was only shipping the black body. I had ordered the silver. One camera store had received a few that had not already been paid for. Would I like a black one? They would hold it for me.

Now a camera is a piece of equipment. You buy one to produce a product, an image. You should really only care about how it works. But we all know that we buy things for many reasons, only one of which is the way it performs its job. For reasons having more to do with nostalgia than photography I had my heart set on the silver, the one that looked so much like my beloved OM-1. I decided to wait, hoping that the wait wouldn’t be long but knowing that I would not have it for my trip to Kauai.

I also did what any self respecting photographer would do: I went out to shoot with the camera I have, my trusted (if heavy) Canon 5D Mark2 and somehow managed to make some images that are quite different from others I have produced at the same site. The following were taken at the Experience Music Project at Seattle Center. Let me know what you think.

And a new take on the space needle.

An update. Rumors now predict that the silver OM-D will ship in early to mid May. Not a very difficult prediction since May starts next week. I really really really want to have it for my trip to Houston.

Going Small – Part 2

March 28th, 2012

I am now going to reveal my obsessive side.

At this point I had three candidate cameras: Sony NEX 7, Fuji X-Pro1, and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (don’t know why they couldn’t stop with just OM-D, but what do I know). All were designed for reasonably sophisticated shooters and claimed to rival the big boys in image quality (IQ). Problem was none of them were available to just go and look at. So I made a list of specs, decided which were most important to me and rated each of them, giving a 3 to the best with declining scores (down to 0) for each of the others. For example, sensor type: both the Sony and the Fuji use a larger APS-C sensor while the Olympus uses a micro four-thirds. In addition, the Fuji sensor is a new take on sensors and is expected to produce fabulous results. So in this category I gave Fuji a 3, Sony a 2 and Olympus a 1.

The categories I compared were: sensor type, resolution, flip-out screen, battery life, light sensitivity (ISO), speed, size, weight, flash, weather sealing, autofocus, quality and availability of lenses, image stabilization, and metering. For my purposes I was less interested in video and did not include video specs in my analysis.

Some of these categories produced clear winners. Sony is the smallest and lightest, followed by Oly and then Fuji (with total difference between heaviest and lightest 3.6 ounces). Fuji won on type of sensor but Sony has 24mp compared to 16mp for each of the others. The Olympus is the only one with weather sealing.

But there was still the matter of image quality and no real life reviews for two of the three cameras. After thinking about it I realized that I need several things to get a quality image in addition to a good sensor. I like to shoot in low light and want to be able to capture images of people in motion: street shooting, environmental portraits, and fast moving kids. So for what I wanted to be able to do I used the following to approximate IQ: availability of quality lenses, fast and accurate autofocus, image stabilization, and the ability to shoot at high ISOs. In each of those categories the 3 went to Olympus.

The final score was Olympus 26, Sony 22, and Fuji 16. My head followed my heart and I pre-ordered the Olympus. I hope to receive it in mid-April.

Now I freely admit that this system is idiosyncratic. Bob looked at the same data and ordered the Sony – with a wonderful Zeiss lens. His camera arrived last week and I have a bad case of camera envy.

Since I placed my order reviews of both the Fuji and the Olympus have started to appear. All three cameras seem to be living up to the hype but I’ll wait to do the third part of this set of posts until after mine arrives and I have a chance to try it out.

Going Small – Part 1

March 27th, 2012

I don’t usually write about equipment but I have spent a lot of time lately comparing camera specs and reading camera reviews and a friend suggested that I share my adventure.

It all started a few months ago. I came upon a review of a new Sony mirrorless camera called the NEX 7. The reviewer raved about the image quality. Even compared it favorably to the Leica M9 (with the right lens) in spite of the smaller sensor. My interest was peaked.

Don’t get me wrong I love my Canon 5D mark 2 but I get very tired of toting it around. There’s something that’s just not that much fun about a heavy camera. I have been using it in spite of its weight because it does mostly what I want it to do and delivers an image that I can blow up to 20×30 – no problem. Until recently smaller cameras were mostly of the point and shoot variety and brought so many frustrations that my default has been the trusty – if heavy – Mark 2.

So the notion of a camera a third the size, with changeable lens, that could shoot like a Leica got my attention. I began to do my research. Just as I was about to order the NEX 7 Fujifilm announced the X-Pro1. More expensive but the specs promised a machine that would blow away full frame cameras.

That slowed me down, but not too much because neither camera was being shipped yet. Problem was there were no reviews of the Fuji. Just specs. So I set about comparing specs, trying to sort out which I cared about and which fell into the meh category.

One night I said to Bob, you know, what I really want is my old Olympus OM-1, only digital. I loved that camera. It was small, light, made wonderful images, and it just fit me. The next day – literally the very next day – Olympus started its teaser ads that led to the announcement in February of the OM-D. OMG. It looked just like my old camera. It was like running into your first boyfriend. I was in love.

But love, as we all know, can only take you so far. There is also the matter of life. I had to know if the new camera in the old body would fit my current needs.

Hana In Black and White

January 27th, 2012

In Hana on the east coast of Maui earlier this month we got up to watch the sun rise over Koki Beach. Weather had not been terrific. Why do I forget that the east side of the island is a rain forest? Still the morning had its charms but without the spectacular sunrise I had hoped for. So I decided to develop the image in both color and black and white. After all, Ansel Adams shot landscapes in black and white. Right? Anyway this was an experiment and here are the results. Let me know which you prefer on my facebook page.

Snow In Seattle

January 16th, 2012

It doesn’t snow often in Seattle but when it does people tend to bundle up and hunker down. Or you can shoot pics from your deck – which I did yesterday. The first gives a new meaning to the phrase “a walk in the park.”

And the second is a look out over the sound to West Seattle. I loved the looming clouds, the dusting of snow, and the hint of a sunset.


January 14th, 2012

Hello all. An increasing barrage of span has forced me to turn the comments section off. I am so sorry but it was beginning to take a significant amount of time to sort through all the incoming garbage. I will continue to announce posts on Facebook and you will still be able to comment there. Thanks so much for your continued interest and understanding.

13 Ways of Looking at a Palm Tree

November 10th, 2011

More and more I am moving toward what I think of as dreamscapes, images that contain some mystery or ambiguity. Something that will help the viewer to see the object or scene in a different way. Sometimes that means changing perspective; other times it means using a different technique. So, I set for myself a mini-project: 13 ways of looking at a palm tree. I would love to know which of these images you like; which, not so much. So, without further ado here they are.

Fall Colors

October 28th, 2011

The Japanese Garden in Seattle is beautiful this time of year. Today the weather was perfect. One of those cloudy days where the sky becomes a giant soft box and the colors pop. After a few traditional shots I realized that I wanted something a little different. I wanted to shoot color itself. And so the following. But first here is a traditional image of the garden.

Pleasant but not what I wanted. Here’s what I wanted and I would love to know what you think:

And my personal favorite:


August 31st, 2011

First a disclaimer: I have never claimed to be a wildlife photographer. After our Galapagos trip in June I have even more respect than ever for those who do it so well. It takes a special skill to capture the excitement you feel when you are up close to other species. So it is with great humility that I am sharing some of the images from our trip to the Galapagos in June.

The trip started in Guayaquil Ecuador. The following image is from the aptly named Iguana Park – before the iguanas in the trees started bombarding me and the camera.

The following are in roughly chronological order as we made our way around the islands in a very small boat (capacity 20 plus crew) and are a combination of landscape and wildlife. One word about the wildlife: everything was really close and very abundant. Birds, sea lions, iguanas, and turtles were close enough to touch.

And finally a picture of Bob, my partner on this adventure as in life. I will try to talk him into letting me post some of his images to extend the experience.


August 5th, 2011

Earlier this year – during my silent period – I was notified that several of my images have been recognized by major international photography competitions. The first was a commendation by the Sony World Photography Organisation (British spelling). Out of 51,878 submissions the top 50 are recognized in each category. My photograph of Cremations Along the Ganges received this honor.

The second competition is Px3, Prix de la Photographie Paris. That competition received thousands of entries from 85 countries. I submitted a series of photos of Amsterdam that was selected for honorable mention. These images are a departure for me. They are composites of images of a place and symbols of the place. In this instance I combined an image of houses on a canal with an image of miniature delft-blue Dutch houses given away as liquor bottles by KLM Airlines. The images are then expressed in a range of colors. They are meant to be viewed together. The series is below.