Monday, March 22, 2010

New Technology Meets Classic Camera Style

Canon Powershot G11 Clad in Classic Brown Leather Case

Photography to me is as much about the experience of planning and capturing a scene as it is presenting the final image.

For many years early digital cameras lacked seriously in addressing the shooters experience. Unnecessarily small controls, overall plastic feel, and beeping sounds reminiscent of a dime store Timex, adding up to a less than satisfying experience with many digital point and shoot cameras.

Enter the Canon G11, my 3rd G series camera in the past 8 years, which has the look and feel of a true classic camera. Recently I found that in Asia classic leather camera cases are still made for modern cameras... and I could not be more pleased. The G11 body, to me, is proportional to many Leica point and shoot camera designs from the 50 & 60’s. the G11’s manual controls, welcomed for their form as much as their function, are made of metal dials located on top of the body rather than buried in an on-screen menu tree. The solid "click" sound and positive feel as they are actuated is to me akin to what a musician must experience when tuning a fine violin or guitar.

Please don’t mistake my opinions here for being anti modern or digital because I am not. After being dragged into the future and having my film cameras pried from my hands I am now an enthusiastic convert to digital photography. What I have never given up on is holding onto the enjoyment of the entire process. The feel, smell, sounds, and overall design of the camera are just as important to the enjoyment of photography as the quality of the images it produces under my control.

The new brown leather case, made custom for the G11, adds a wonderful feel and leather smell to my camera. I love it. All the controls and even the flip screen are unencumbered by the form fitted leather attached to the camera’s tripod threads. I am extremely pleased with the quality of the leather and the brass snaps and threads which hold it all in place. The look is that of the old cameras I used to discover in attic or basement boxes while exploring my grandparent’s house as a boy. This type of fitted leather case is not available from Canon in North America; however, the Asian consumer apparently as never let go of the aesthetic and function of these classic fitted camera case’s. If you are willing to do some on-line searching there a number of overseas stores which provide this style of case for a range of point and shoot camera bodies.

My recommendation. Don’t let the techies take over the entire experience of your photography. Pay homage to the design lessons learned over time and let a little of the past creep into your modern camera experience. Classic design and style are timeless… Enjoy.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

La Jolla Sea Scape

La Jolla Sea Scape

Paul's Image Notes
This image contains some complex exposure challenges. While it is a low light image overall the sun is also directly in frame. The composition is low angle which places material I wanted to be in focus all the way from 3 feet out to infinity. Add to these things the movement of the ocean and this becomes one tricky shot to achieve.

Paul's Tech Notes
Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
Focal Length: 28 mm
Exposure Time: 1/50 sec
Aperture: f/16
ISO Equivalent: 1600
Filter: None
Tripod: Yes w/ remote shutter release

Paul's Style Notes
I am drawn to the texture changes in this image from top to bottom. The sky is very smooth which transitions into the soft subtly blurred wave movement which ends at the hard rock surfaces. The rocks being a bit wet helps to smooth their hard texture by pulling down warm light from the setting sun. The lines within the image draw the eye to the center where all three elements of sky sea and land come together. Of the several shots I took of this scene I enjoy the upper-mid frame shadow of the rising wave just before it breaks in this particular image.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gritty View of Lacledes Landing

Some effort to save a lack luster shooting day.

Gritty View

This is a gritty image of Lacledes Landing in down town St. Louis. Lacledes Landing is a fantastic spot for dinner and people watching. However if you are ever in town in January during an ice storm the place takes on a different look. I played around a bit shooting the steam coming up from vents in the street while I was walking the mostly deserted downtown. Generally this day I was unhappy with what I captured. The image here was worked over a bit in Photoshop Elements. I gave it a grainy feel, like you would see using a high speed B&W film. To me it makes the scene more interesting. I made the entire image black and white with the exception of the tail lights of the car moving away from me in the image. The shallow depth of field (DOF) helps the feel of this image as well. Focus is centered on the man hole cover.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A little Aerial Photography

Deep blues courtesy of a circular polarizer. If you ever shoot outside in bright daylight this is the must have filter.

Glorious Flier

On a Saturday this spring I spent the day walking the Tidal Basin and National Mall to see the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom and the National Kite Flying Festival. It was a great flying day, lots of steady wind. I was lugging a tripod so no flying for me, next time I will leave the tripod and get myself on the business end of a 200 foot spool! It is true, I was jealous and wanted my own kite to soar above the monuments... What I really need is to rig up a kite with a camera dangling from it!

The Cherry Blossoms were quite good this year and I hit them, with a half million of my closest friends, at their absolute peek. The walk around the Tidal Basin was slow going with so many people but it’s something that just has to be done when you live so close. For me the long day of walking was wrapped up with dinner, a pint, and a Blue Grass band in a tiny tavern in Old Town... of course there was also a cigar for dessert :-)

"Environmental" Portrait

Low Angle "Environmental" Portrait

Weekend Ride Along Maryland's Southern Shore

This one was taken of a friend of mine who rode cycles with me while we were attending the NDIC at DIA for a year. We both had 1100cc Yamaha V-star Classics, great machine BTW. I think this is a timeless image even without the sepia tone treatment. I have experience as a portrait studio photographer however my personal taste favors the "environmental" portrait. I find portraits captured of people in their real environment far more interesting than what is captured in the majority of studio portraits you come across. Of course there are masters of human interaction who can capture breathtaking studio portraits, but those photographers are the exception. In my humble opinion a relative rookie, like myself, is much more likely to capture a visually interesting portrait when it is accomplished in the subjects "environment" outside of the studio.

La Jolla Cliff "Stitch"

This is a 4 piece vertical image "stitch". For this single shot I used my point and shoot Canon G5 to capture the 4 component images. I am very pleased with the result.

To really appreciate the detail over a large area this approach can yield click the image to see a larger version.

4 Image "Stitch" Using A Canon G5

To see a related approach done on a much larger scale take a look at this "Giga Pixel" image. Giga meaning contains 1 billion or more pixel elements! It's the same technique done on an exponentially larger scale. I love it. Note to self, acquire a larger hard drive. ;-)

Riverview Inn at Sunset

I stumbled onto this gem.

Riverview Inn, Colonial Beach VA.

At the right time of the evening I like to put the sun at my back and drive. Doing this paints the landscape with wonderful light tones as the sun goes down. With the sun at my back and my camera by my side I just let the world unfold in front of me. Its a simple pleasure that gives me a front row seat to fantastic picture opportunities. I stumbled onto this gem one night at just the right moment in time. This little Inn was simply glowing at the end of the street I was traversing in the setting sun. At any other moment I likely would not have even noticed this tiny little place tucked into a narrow lot on a side street.

It pays to slow down and "see".

Galileo Thermometer Macro

A pleasing second attempt.

I Believe Galileo Would Have Approved!

After a very disappointing first attempt I worked out a better technique for shooting macro images of my Galileo Thermometer. I am using a Canon 5D with an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro. My first attempt was so horrible I went back to the drawing board by examining the work of photographers more accomplished than myself. I corrected some things I did the first time 'round. Here is a summary of what I did to adjust:

1. Bottom Lighting
2. Black Background Material
3. Reduced Ambient Light

Bottom lighting better exploits the colors of the fluids.

The black background material gives better contrast.

Glass spheres and cylinders gather light from every direction, reducing ambient light helps clean everything up and aids contrast.

For bottom lighting I used an old 12”x9” light table, which before I went digital I used only to look at my negatives with. I used the black under sides of two 16”x23” Kodak film boxes as background material. I am very pleased with the results of this effort over my last attempt where I shot outside in bright sunlight.

Hide and Seek

A visit at Gram's

Hide and Seek

I love monochrome portraits, there is such a focus on expression. This image is helped in that regard by a shallow depth of field as well. I used a 100mm prime lens with an aperature of f2.8 for this shot using only natural light.

Capital City Summer Night

A Friday evening outing.

Tidal Basin View of the Washington Monument

I spent some quality time on the tidal basin one Friday after work. The temperature was perfect and the view, well… you be the judge. I sat on my bench under a tree alternately reading, watching the sun set, and taking the occasional photograph for 4 1/2 hours. Just a very nice evening all things considered.

Directly in front of me was the tidal basin and Washington monument, alternatively to my right was a view of the Jefferson Memorial. Very nice indeed. This was one of my first night time outings with the new tripod and I am very pleased with the results. I notice a marked improvement in image quality. Over the course of the evening as the views kept changing I found myself so drawn to waiting for the next change that I never even ate dinner! Very unusual for me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Morning Glory!

Sun Rise at Ocean City Maryland.

I love the Golden Hour!

After The Game

Truth be told... I enjoyed the fireworks more than the game. But thats just me. ;-)

A hand held fireworks shot.