Have some random brain fog on me

Idly looking over pictures, cameras, and photo blogs.

A few things come to mind. One being that I just shot a nice picture at ISO 80 while all the world raves about the greatness of the latest camera(s) being able to shoot at ISO 25,600. Is it that much brighter up here at the top of the world? Or are photographers mostly vampires who only go out at night? Kids, we lived with ISO 400 max film for decades. And often we did it using tiny apertures and slow shutters, which brings up the next point: image stabilization. Edit: curiously before I posted this I came across another photographer addressing this issue, Nina Kirienko.

Great stuff, that. Whether in body or in lens it can be a help sometimes. The Old Man will now tell you it didn’t exist for over 100 years of photography, yet we still got the shots. It makes me wonder how often it really helps today. Maybe it hurts; maybe people would learn to be better photographers if they got some blurred shots and realized they need to up the shutter speed or ISO. Hey, you can get ISO 25,600 now. And shutter speeds up to 1/4000 second. BTW, do you know the trick of high speed focal plane shutters? They don’t really go faster above a certain point, they shrink the size of the opening so that the effective exposure time is shorter. This traveling slit effect can sometimes show up under the right (or wrong) circumstances. Just thought I’d mention it.

I could probably do another whole long-winded rant about photographers not learning the art because the cameras do everything for them these days. You’ve seen the “scene” modes, right? Like that. Of course Mr. Eastman promised “You push the button, we do the rest” and it seems to have returned. Today’s instruction books don’t do much for encouraging people to try the other settings. It’s a bit ironic considering you can shoot like crazy for next to free now, as opposed to learning on film which cost you. Maybe that’s it: what we don’t pay for we don’t value. Anyway the books don’t even tell you to keep the sun over your left shoulder now. Not even metaphorically. Shall we debate if camera companies have any moral obligation to provide instruction with their machines? If so, how much? The books seem to contain mostly safety warnings and liability exemptions.

Some of this written wandering comes after reading Eric L. Woods latest post. I like his writing style, even though he’s in the “supercars” realm of cameras and I’m driving the “back lot specials” so to speak. He does appreciate value nonetheless, and that’s a rare thing these days. From reading his recent adventures with returning to Fuji I discovered a certain major retailer available in both countries considers our CDN $ to be worth about 61 cents US. Far below the 75 cent exchange rate minus further bank discount of 5%. We never catch a break up here.

Where was I? Did I mention that modern cameras with their high ISO ratings and high shutter speed capacities shouldn’t need image stabilization? Oh yes, I did. It’s still nice. Maybe they could tag the shots with some flag about having been ‘stabilized for your comfort and convenience’. It doesn’t work with certain lenses. Try shooting with those and see if you notice a difference.

Another blog I read the other day rightly pointed out the difference between the blur caused by low depth of field and the ‘quality‘ of that blur which is described by that word starting with “b” that I don’t use because it’s a silly affectation and entirely subjective. Hey, I’m an old man with a reputation to maintain so I have to say stuff like that okay?

Oh yes. Something about apertures. Even in the film days we had the great race/debate/flaming row about f1.2 versus f1.4 – or whichever (Canon made an f0.95 lens, btw). Most of us were using f1.8 lenses if we were lucky. Heck my main Exakta lens was f1.9 – a Primoplan 58mm from Meyer Gorlitz that would kill anything new out there in terms of resolution. Rather like the Super Takumars, only crisper – if you can imagine that. A lot of people managed just fine with f2.8 or even f3.5 on their 35mm cameras. This is because most of the time we were all shooting at f8 anyway. You should have been there. Lenses really aren’t at their best wide open, even today. If you want that neat look of limited depth of field and sharpness where it’s focused you need to find the ‘ideal’ focal length lens that gives you this while somewhat stopped down; the joy of the short telephoto. Lots of people have discovered this by accident.

But really this entire entry is an excuse to post this picture of an old kettle that I took as a “test shot” with the Kodak P850. I played with the exposure and contrast to lose the distracting background it had as it’s about the shape of thing. I expect to shoot it more under varying conditions – without a distracting background.