Pretty pictures

All sorts of things continue to go wrong here, the latest being my computer becoming erratic in function. Gee, twelve years old and rebuilt once and it seems to be having hardware difficulties. Unfortunately I can’t replace it because A). I’m not made of money and computers are just one example of things that have shot up obscenely in price and B). everything that is available (and a lot isn’t) is pretty much junk anyway, and not just because they have Win10/11 on them.

That’s all as may be. I mean; we’re having food shortages here again, the COVID numbers are increasing (12 dead one day, 15 the next), weather is still trying to murder everyone by switching between thaw and melt so there’s ice everywhere, and my wife is still stuck in England for the foreseeable future (things have to stabilize before she comes home and there’s no sign of it happening in either country).

Wow, what fun eh?

I’m even having trouble finishing the lens test series as a result of all this craziness.

In the mean time, let’s just look at some pretty pictures out of the venerable Nikon.

One pileated woodpecker who visited.
A second pileated woodpecker who visited at the same time as the first.
A black-capped chickadee (a breed which is fairly abundant here lately).
The yard the birds were in before the melting began.
Ah this is how the leather case turned out once I got the new strap for it. Matches nicely, doesn’t it?
Kitty is sleeping. Sounds like a good idea to me.

We’ll see how things go the next few days. Although I can’t really plan even a day ahead because the forecast is hit-or-miss and the edicts from On High are random and often confusing. For now I’ll go with the cats’ take on things and sleep as much as possible.

The freedom of artistic photographery

Blue Skies.

I feel sorry for professional photographers. Back when we had an accounting business we had several photographers as clients, and even in those days of still mostly film media their ability to eke out a living by catering to the tastes of others was continually tried. Today it could only be worse, as not only is there a dwindling market due to the proliferation of amateur shooting to fulfil the needs of people who still can’t tell the difference between a low-quality snapshot and a top-notch professional image but also because techno-snobbery saturates the minds of client and competitor alike.

Whale Out Of Water.

So on the one hand they make a major investment in equipment and learning only to have their work deemed comparable to shots taken with a smart phone, and on the other they get looked down upon if they don’t have the latest cameras and lenses because everyone knows you can only get the best results with the newest equipment release. Quite the perplexing paradox, no? Even your fellow professionals will deride you if you don’t keep your kit up to date. That over and above the usual ‘brand snobbery’.

Christmas Cracker.

The artistic photographer does not have to fall victim to this charade (which doesn’t mean that they don’t). For them all that matters is the end result which, since it is a work of art and not a visual documentation, is subject only to evaluation on its own merits. Or at least that’s how it should be, and admittedly this does not mean a great work will automatically be seen as such by all (more often quite the opposite). But the artist can take some solace in knowing the art only has to please its creator. Whether or not it has commercial value is a different issue (and to be honest it often doesn’t; no matter how many people praise it they still won’t pay for it). If they leave off the camera description they will not be subjected to ‘brand snobbery’ either. In fact only in the field of artistic photography can one use low-quality equipment to positive results: a Holga lens is acceptable as a tool for artistry, but no one wants their wedding photographed through one.

Some Sunny Day.

Given my deteriorating eyesight I have found extra solace in artistic photography. Since I can’t really see what I’m doing until the finished image is on my computer (if even then), there inevitably is a random component to the outcome. Perhaps a magical one as well. I certainly can no longer claim the ability to make professional-grade images, but I can still create acceptable-level artistic ones (I think so anyway). It certainly is easier not having to remember and make use of all the technical aspects, instead relying on a ‘feel’ for what is being done. It is also cheaper not having to buy ‘bargain’ new lenses, any one of which may cost more on its own than my entire arsenal of “out-of-date” equipment is worth.

Smoke Rising.

For those who are professional photographers I suggest they take the occasional moment to experiment with artistic photography. Not because they should switch, as that inevitably would result in their becoming very poor very rapidly, but because it can provide a respite from the stress of always having to ‘measure up’ to other people’s standards. Which is particularly frustrating when those other people aren’t really qualified to judge your efforts anyway.

Ice and Light.

Leftovers served cold

There’s a kind of tradition where at the end of the old year and/or start of the new one people clean up around the house thoroughly. Everything gone through, all the garbage disposed of. That sort of thing. As close as I come to that is posting these few ‘leftover’ photos from the Pentax tryout of the old lenses. I can’t remember which lenses were used in the photos and can’t find where I made the notes. Maybe I tossed that.

Strange sky.
Thin gold line.
Moon. (I suspect this is with the 200mm Cunor.)
Calendar shot. (Probably the 24mm Vivitar.)
Colour version.
Monochrome version.

There is much other news, but none of it is good and I won’t relate it at this time. There’s already too much bad news all around.

The photographer as a kind of musician

It doesn’t matter how good your instrument is if you don’t know how to play it.

It doesn’t matter how good your camera is if you don’t know how to use it.

High-priced, complex equipment with lots of ‘features’ will not overcome a lack of photographic knowledge just the same as a tin-eared rock star wannabe can’t get a song out of a Gibson Les Paul. If the player has the talent though, a Silvertone will sing for him.

Here’s me playing my ol’ Sears Silvertone, as it were. I make no apologies about the boast.

Eyes in the dark.

 

Dendrite.

 

Black-capped chickadee-dee-dee.

 

Last drops.

 

Another galaxy.

 

The reason I love this camera.

Pictures taken with the Nikon P610; the camera I keep coming back to despite its ailments. I think manufacturers should be really embarrassed that their much-more-expensive ‘professional’ DSLRs can’t do any better than this low-dollar, ten-year-old ‘bridge’ camera.

Canon 1Ds, Part II

(I hate not being able to edit a post with the classic editor; it’s create and go with no going back!)

Okay, now let’s see if this Pro-Cam can deliver a decent photo. I haven’t cleaned the sensor yet, but here we go anyway.

Canon 40mm EF lens.

Not bad, and of course sharper than the 75-300mm zoom. Let’s go for really sharp with the Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 on all manual:

Ubiquitous shed shot is sharp.

This sort of makes me want the Canon 50mm EF now, but that would be further expense and I don’t imagine I will use this camera enough for ‘standard’ shots to make it worthwhile.

Marley has found snow.

I had to ‘fix’ this one a bit as it was slightly over-exposed (f16 is the minimum aperture and at ISO 200 & 1/250 it wasn’t enough). That’s what snow will do to you.

Duncan: less snow = better exposure.

Nice, subtle colour from this camera. It’s a CMOS sensor but it comes across like CCD.

Wood is good.

At full size this image has a lot of detail. The “very low resolution” sensor (11MP) isn’t lacking no matter what the megapixel promoters insist.

Here’s a bit I found on-line regarding the original price. EGAD! Glad I didn’t pay that!

And now for something completely silly:

Fujifilm F80 vs. Canon 1Ds – the small and the large.

One fits in your shirt pocket, the other breaks your neck!

Next experiment includes trying some different lenses and resolution settings. I also hope to try an astronomy shot, as that is one of the reasons I got this monster.

So far I’m happy with it. Also it’s the only exercise equipment I own. I’m sure it’s building up my biceps.

Waiting for …

… many things. Better weather, consultation with a doctor, shopping trip, and shipments.

But not Godot.

While I’m waiting I tested the Nikon P610’s focus failure, which I noticed is most pronounced close-up and with the lens pointing down. The lens is actually loose in its barrel, and you can feel it (and sometimes hear it) shift around. So I pointed it down and took a close-up of a wild rose stalk, and then gently pushed the loose section back to the camera to ‘take up the slack’. What I found was that the autofocus said it was correct at either point, but the actual focal point was off by about 10mm (at a distance of roughly half a meter). This doesn’t explain why it sometimes fails to focus on more distant objects, except in as much as the internal wear may cause some random slack then as well. I’ll have to devise an experiment to check that. Although there isn’t anything that can be done about it.

Anyway, here’s the best picture from that test. It shows again why I like that camera!

Some alien creature, perhaps?

That’s a 640×480 crop out of the full size 4608×3456 image. At the focal point it’s very sharp indeed! Not bad for a $400 ‘bridge’ camera, eh? It will cost me over $700 to replace this ailing imager, so I’m not keen on it quitting altogether. True, the EVF is practically impossible to see at times and the exposure is no longer accurate across all conditions. Yes, the pictures always need a slight contrast improvement because the sensor has aged and doesn’t produce ‘snappy’ results. Okay, once in a while it jams completely and has to be shut down and restarted. But as long as I can coax the images I want out of it I will keep using it.

Some other recent examples:

Raven hiding in a tree, says “you can’t see me!”
The Lone Pine. Growing in a roadside ditch all by itself.
Weathered dog. (Duncan came in with snow and hail on his back.)
A robin wondering where Spring is.
And so it goes.

What do you see?

Recently fellow photographer Robin Hogreve posted about how and why he shoots RAW format, which led me to comment on how his pictures look on my computer as opposed to his. This is an issue in the digital age; it’s no longer just a matter of what does a particular person’s eyes see, but what does their viewing screen present them with. Herewith I post four versions of one picture which tackles the difficult business of getting a snow image “right” (by which I mean looking as true to reality as possible).

Original, unprocessed JPEG image shot with the Nikon.
White balance automatically corrected in GIMP.
Brightness +20, contrast +10 to compensate for poor light exposure.
Cyan saturation turned down 100 because snow isn’t blue.

The final image is as close to what the scene actually looked like as I could get. It makes a difference which order the steps are applied too, as the computer uses the image content to judge how to make certain adjustments. Usually a white balance correction should be the first step, as colour temperature varies a lot in Winter.

Now artistically you might want the scene to look blue or darker or lower contrast in order to convey the mood of the time. But really the snow only looks blue around here in bright sun when it reflects our very blue skies (full of UV due to thin atmosphere at this elevation). That doesn’t mean you want it to look that way, though.

The question here is: which one looks best to you?

It would be interesting to look at these on several computers side by side and have several viewers judge the results. Art is in the eye of the beholder, but given the medium here we have to wonder if we’re getting across to the beholder what the creator intended.

By the way that’s a highway truck “winging back” the snow on the road shoulders with a “belly blade” and possibly dropping some sand as well to increase traction. It’s been a very nasty Winter, and it continues: just yesterday we got four more inches (10 cm) of the white stuff.

Snow on Sunday

Friday it snowed 6″. I cleared the driveway and split some wood because it’s going to get arctic cold. Saturday it snowed 4″. I cleared the driveway and split some wood because it’s going to get arctic cold. Sunday it’s not supposed to be snowing … but it is. Monday I have to go for a hearing exam, and the high temperature is expected to be 1F. Which will be warmer than Wednesday that they guess will be -11F. For a high.

Did I mention they hacked a chunk out of my arm Thursday for the biopsy? I’m sure they were supposed to use a scalpel, not a scimitar. Kind of lingering pain that makes using the arm difficult. But I only have to use it for … clearing the driveway and splitting wood.

Gosh I’m having so much fun. Let’s look at some pictures.

Did somebody order some wood? (Canon G11)
Bald spot mountain. (Canon G11)
Frosted (bird) flakes. (Mystery Camera)
I found something! (Mystery Camera)
How much is that kitty in the window? (Olympus E410)
Yellow line. (Olympus E410)

I am still waiting on a piece of equipment ordered over a month ago now. I guess I’ll have to report it as missing in action. Zero progress on the plan or any thought of doing more photography with the upcoming freeze-your-battery weather.

Oh and BC still has no vaccine. Thanks, Justâne.

Tuesday, town day

Finally some sunshine. Well, half a day worth. And it was cold of course. Nevertheless I took the Canon G11 in to town with me and started trying some of this ‘street photography’ I’ve read so much about. Amazingly I refrained from taking actual pictures of just asphalt. Couldn’t see much for all the snow, ice, and slush.

The dilapidated Red Coach Inn. This place looks worse every time I see it. No doubt it will eventually be razed.
The red coach from the Inn. This at least has been preserved, albeit at a different location.
My favourite store in town.
Secret government building. Where they hide the UFOs and aliens.
A lot of money. Get it?
The most exclusive club in town.
Do you like blue?
Put a sock in it!

The good news is I finally received the xD card I bought some time ago – and the seller sent several bonus cards! Now I can crank the Olympus up to full resolution since I have 2GB+ storage to work with (it takes either xD or CF cards). The bad news is the USB cable for it hasn’t arrived so I won’t be able to download the images yet. Also still waiting on another small piece of equipment for the Mystery Camera.

As for getting further things I want off Fraudbay … it doesn’t seem likely.