Kind of blind

A week later. I’ve had laser surgery for a torn retina. As it is now, my left eye is still okay but my right eye has a long ways to go. Amazingly the one affects the other because the brain sees using both. In photography terms the left is resolving 50 lines/mm and the right more like 5. I wear a patch to keep it from getting tired and causing distraction with close vision.

I took a camera with me on my rushed trip (the Canon G11) but did not take many pictures. I can’t see if there are pictures to take, can’t see to use the camera right, and can’t see to process an image afterward. I can’t see other people’s pictures either. The only reason I can type this is by using the left eye only, and knowing how to hit the keys without looking (mostly).

There’s a list of things for me not to do. Basically it involves irritating the eye or getting the ocular/blood pressure up. The problem may clear up better or stay the same. Or the retina could tear again. Or it could happen to the other eye. Once again I’m at Life’s casino playing a game I’d rather not.

But I wouldn’t be me without getting at least one photo out of this. Taken from my motel room window. I’m not sure if it’s any good as it was largely guesswork from start to finish. Besides it’s ‘Street Photography’ and that’s not really my thing.

What do you think?

Homeless in Kelowna. (Most of the homeless there are women, unlike in other cities.)

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.

PowerShot powered up

Having received the replacement battery charger for my Canon PowerShot G11 it is now back in operation. A quick review of the tool kit here shows six cameras ‘in use’ and another six put away, including the Kodak P850 which had developed erratic operation. The ‘Mystery Camera’ still has this problem and may be relegated to inactive duty, but there’s still a chance for it – if the sensor swabs ever arrive.

Meanwhile no luck at securing a Canon 5D or SX60/70. Sometimes you gotta run what you brung, so here’s some pictures from the G11:

Cat-wrapping paper.
Raven overhead. I literally bent over backward for this shot.
Wild dogs foraging in the snow.
Up on the roof.
I’m walkin’, yes indeed!

I have not done as much ‘street photography’ with this camera as I had intended due to the fact that every time I need to go to town the weather is heavily gray and very cold so I just want to get the trip over with as quickly as possible. It has to get better someday, right?

The Zen Canon

When you travel the path to your intended destination, do not be afraid to step off now and then and see what you may find along the way.

The Master Plan calls for the acquisition of two cameras: a replacement for the ailing Nikon P610 (currently a Canon SX70 is the front-runner for this) and a full-frame DSLR for the nominal advantages it offers (currently a Canon 5D is the front-runner for this).

However, something new has been added that wasn’t planned: a Canon PowerShot G11. This is something like the PowerShot A70 I have, only on steroids. Let’s look at the specs and see why I might want this:

10MP 1/1.7″ CCD sensor capable of ISO 80. Whoa! Stop! You’ve got me.

Optical Image Stabilization. I said you’ve got me already.

2.8″ fully articulated LCD. Yes indeedy!

28-140mm (5X) zoom lens. I’m good with that.

Optical (tunnel) viewfinder. Shut up and take my money!

The Zen Canon Street Camera
Look at all those nice dedicated controls!

While some reviews would bemoan its small, ‘low’ MP sensor and complain about the lack of techno-glitz like wireless connections and touch-screen controls, I say it’s just the sort of thing I like. So what is it good for? According to Camera Decision, not much – except for being rated as “excellent” for Street photography. And that is where it fits into the Master Plan: fulfilling a niche I didn’t even know existed (Eric L. Woods understands). I’ve never done much in this area, but here is a camera that opens up the possibilities for me. Also it was $12. No kidding. The shipping was twice that, btw. There was no battery charger with it, and the replacement for that will cost as much as the camera! I’m still ahead, though, as a quick look turns up other examples of this camera listed for ~$250. The cheapest working one I’ve found (aside from the one I bought) was $65 plus shipping.

But is it worth the, or any, money? Let’s check the first shots!

Green logging truck nipping by, as-is colour.
Same image, slight tweak to compensate for aged sensor.

Although shot under less-than-ideal conditions, the colour rendition and contrast are nice right out of the camera. As is typical with an aged CCD sensor, a bit of a tweak is required but then that makes it more than acceptable quality. The tonal range is, as expected, better than CMOS.

The Queen’s (mincemeat) Tarts.

Pretty close, indoors, slightly cropped to eliminate distractions around the subject. There is nothing to complain about in this picture. And it is “as-shot”.

Full view, full zoom to check lens sharpness.
100% selection from the above image.

Remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that I did some pixel peeping and this camera does not lose sharpness over 100% image size! It goes to grain-of-film look at 200% and drops into pixels at 400%. There is no ‘oil paint’ effect or other signs of poor resolution. It makes the Lumix ZS-60 look sick.

The impossible ISO 3200.

I like low ISO because it’s more like film. High ISO is numbers silliness. This camera has ISO 3200 which is just absurd, especially given the sensor size. And yet … The original was unviewable, but some post-processing (white balance and contrast adjustment followed by desaturation) turned out this almost good night image.

With less than a dozen pictures taken so far, I already like this camera. It is a keeper, and I can’t wait to find out what I can do with all those lovely controls. This camera is going to be fun!

I would be remiss not to mention this recent and somewhat related post from Dan James.

The photos I don’t take

We all have our particular favoured fields of photography. Some prefer landscapes, some nature, others urban views, still others go for macro or astronomical images. It’s all according to taste. My own work tends toward either documenting projects I’ve done or things I’ve seen or else I delve into the artistic realm, sometimes to the extreme. And although I have been known to stray from these norms occasionally, there are certain kinds of pictures I really can’t be said to indulge in.

The Jazz Man

People Pictures.

Although I have been known to take the occasional self-portrait (definitely not ‘selfies’), I just don’t take pictures of people. Not friends or family or strangers. I can’t explain it other than to say they’re just not my sort of subject matter. As it is the self-portraits are more a form of artistic exercise than anything else. There are of course the legal ramifications of taking pictures of people; generally you can’t use the images to your benefit without a model release (the requirements vary from place to place), and that adds an extra measure of complication. I don’t like complication.

Mural at Coach House Square

Urban Images.

I’ve never liked cities much, no matter what size. I grew up in a small village that got bigger as I got older. I’ve always preferred rural, remote, natural settings. Probably why I have a cabin in the woods miles from anywhere – and just across the creek from the neighbours. The nearest ‘city’ to me now is not very interesting to look at anyway; it’s a ‘rapid-build’ settlement made largely of concrete block one-story industrial-look structures put up quickly for practical use rather than with any eye to architectural aesthetics. In other words it’s ugly. Even the residences are mostly brought-in-on-a-truck design. Not much ‘real’ architecture anywhere. A sop has been made to beautification with flowers and murals like the one sampled above (unfortunately I don’t know who painted it) which are everywhere yet do little to improve the view anywhere. The one nice effort along these lines is the seasonal store window paintings, all done by the same artist which gives a certain homogeneous look to local retail. But frankly photographing this civic art or the ‘canvas’ it is on is not for me.

If you put those two categories together you have Street Photography, which I also don’t indulge in. It just isn’t my thing.

Hummingbirds at O’Hare


Oddly enough, the new Lumix camera is capable of doing 4K video. Evidently that’s supposed to be something desirable. All the other digital cameras I have do video in some form or another, but I’ve never done more than try out the function to see if it works. I have one nice video of hummingbirds swarming the feeder (see the still image above), but since none of my work is worth spending money on to present I don’t have a premium account here that allows me to post the actual video. In my youth I shot some 8mm and Super8 film, and even had quite a few movie cameras. Once I even made an entire stop-motion animated movie (it wasn’t very good). But despite these dalliances with video I never had any serious interest in making them, and still don’t. This is particularly peculiar considering I’m rather fond of classic movies and have quite a few on DVD. Sometimes enjoying something is best done from the sidelines, not from within the ‘game’.

So I will stick to documenting those things I feel I need to make a record of, and indulging my artistic desires with the kind of images I’m familiar with making. Not because old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but because sometimes old dogs are happier with the familiar antics they already know how to perform.

Frosted Fir