DallasArtsRevue.com Calendar Member art Join Resources My
Home Page Feedback Contact Us Reviews Submissions Search
OTHER PAGEs How to Start Showing Your Art How to Design & Distribute an Invitational Postcard and I used to do a Canon s90 Journal
Amateur Birder's Journal How to Photograph Art Learning My Nikon D200 Art Here Lately Movies Reviewed
Other Blogs: nd7kj The Learning my new Nikon D7000 Journal ThEdBlog
This Page: accumulated recent links
continued on My G5 Journal
Sometime in January 2013
Impossible Colors from my Home Still Lifes series
Amazon's price for the Panasonic Lumix G5 has dropped about a hundred dollars. "About," because previously, the camera with lens and without lens was $699, so even though I didn't need another short zoom lens with disappointing maximum aperture wide open and even more disappointing max aperture when zoomed, I could have got it without paying extra.
Now a G5 camera-only costs $599 and the camera with the silly lens that zooms with the new zoom lever behind the shutter button costs $679. So the cam with kit lens is $20 cheaper, but now I can finally get it without lens for one dollar cheaper than $600, 99 dollars less than last week, month, year. The price might go lower, but if that doesn't happen soon, it'll happen later. On February 12, 2011 my G2 cost $568.96. A new G2 with kit lens is now $700.
Its immediate predecessor is still available — without the zoom lever, LCD finger tracking for moving objects, electronic silent shutter mode or lower high ISO visual noise — for $429 at Amazon (but only a few left in this shipment, so the price may be inflated. Amazon seriously inflates prices when the supply is short.) and it's not listed at Adorama, and its price is ignored at B&H, where I rarely visit, because they've repeatedly sold me second-hand equipment as new.
Adorama's prices are $699 without and $798 with the kit lens. So it's still cheaper buying through Amazon, even though they charge full Texas sales taxes — 8.25%. So the body-only, which is all I need, would cost $50 less than Adorama. At a place called PrimoTronix both kit lens and camera are $599, but I've never heard of PrimoTronix... Though that price may indicate that everybody else is gouging us, or that they are still stuck on just-before-Christmas' prices. I didn't inquire, since I don't want them to have my phone or email.
Meanwhile, the G5's immediate predecessor, the G3 (There is no G4) is $399 with kit lens at B&H, and Amazon gives me the runaround about its price. The G3 may be a slightly better cam than my G2, and the Panasonic Lumix G5 is about that slight much better than the G3, but I want the 5's advantages, besides it being so stupid to pay a price that close to a new one's for old technology. Among other things, I'm hoping the new buttons last more than two years.
The latest full-fledged online review of the G5 is by Camera Labs, one of my favorite testers, except Gordon Laing has taken the bizarre step of comparing it to the not-at-all-similar Sony NEX-6, which has a larger format (G5 is m43; NEX-6, whose format everybody but Nikon calls APS-C, and Nikon calls DX), which has a 1.64 times bigger sensor. And everybody knows the NEXes have nowhere near the variety of lenses available. So such a comparison is just stupid, off-putting and confusing. I assume Gordon had one on borrow and decided, oh what the hell, the Pany can't possibly look good compared to the Sony...
Body-only, the G5 cost $599 or $679 with kit lens. Body-only, the NEX-6 costs $848 or #998 with kit lens, so the two cams are not even in the same price range. Amazon readers rate the Lumix 4.5 stars and the Sony 4 stars. Where's the comparison, Gordon?
He does, however, point out that my G2's battery lasts longer than either the G3 or G5.
January 8 2013
J R Compton Lights Tent Window 1 15 13 Home Still Life series
Walking to the kitchen this afternoon, I beheld this odd vision, turned around, went back and got my G2, struggled again with the rear adjustment wheel, eventually got the blankety-blank thing to work one last time, just under two years since I bought it, so I can't send it back to the factory to fix. Wouldn't want to anyway; I love this little camera, and I need it all the time.
But it's time to replace. Except it still works. Still always annoys me when my hand or face gets too close to the sensor that switches from the LCD to the EVF, but there's very little else that annoys me about it. I stood in front of this darkly illuminated scene. Light coming in the window, but not much in the room.
Handheld. That lens (20mm f1.7) isn't image stabilized, but I almost am. Adjusted the light up and down a hair (when I figured how to change the EV without the wheel), found the settings I liked, held my breath, released it and clicked. May be too odd for some tastes; I understand. But it's just weird enough I like it. Can just barely discern the cheap plastic checkerboard tablecloth.
The tent at the center of it, all folded up, is a light tent. The lights are lights. Light cometh in the window. The tall skinny thing with cord wrapped around and down it is a light stand. This is my ersatz studio. And yes, sometimes the salmon window frame rubs off onto objects being photographed if I'm not careful, but I love that orange color in this photograph — and that the lights are dark.
Wonderful thing about this camera is that I didn't have to use a tripod. Iso is 800, but I could probably blow it up to 16 x 20 inches before most people noticed image noise. I figure that and grain are part of the image. I don't mind it showing.
J R Compton Fog Curtains 1 15 13 Home Still Life series
Actually, that curtain is that soft white stuff they wrap delicate equipment in for shipping, and it fits that place in my living room window, with just a little hang over I keep promising myself to scissor off. I can pull it back to peek out, but nobody can see in. Here we have a game of circles. Flushed with the instant success of the light tent pic, I shot several truly mediocre other images around the house, then settled on this scene.
Again, I liked the light. And the dark. The circles were a bonus I didn't consider till after I got it up on this page. Some of the circles are a major chunk from a numberless sculptural clock by John Snygg whose motor died a few years ago,
Left to right there's the only hand that clock ever had; a pseudo-antique astrolabe my parents gave me decades ago; a blue and white ceramic plate baked with a halftoned decal of my photograph of the door on a clothes dryer that was in a long-ago show at Conduit Gallery when it was in Deep Elm; a retracted slinky; and a plastic plant pot (Not a pot plant; I quit in February 1988.) saucer. Above are rings of illumination (That notion again.) emanating from the abstract candle design of the matching stain glass windows, the door pulls on the cabinet doors and a blue translucent (Aha!) sun.
The object hanging next to the sun is a hollow stainless steel heart stamped with flora I tore my whole house apart looking for last month to use on a bed of dead flower petals (I have a photographic series of those going.) for an annual Valentines exhibition I was invited to enter. I knew I used to have it hanging in my window. And sure enough.
I hadn't seen it in a long time. More precisely, I hadn't noticed it in years. But I just knew it would fit inside this rounded-corner triangular box a third filled with desiccated parchment purple petals, and I just now tried it and it fit perfectly. Probably too late to put a photo of it into the Corazon Show at the Bath House, but the series continues, and if I pay more attention in 2013, there could be another competitive exhibition I can get it into.
J R Compton Love Triangle Rhomboid January
16 2013 Dead Flowers in Little Boxes series
This 16 x 23-inch photograph is seeking a public place to show itself.
Thinking about that, I unchained the tarnished heart, buffed it a little, got the red cloth down, put the new petals from the tulips I gave Anna last week — that she brought me a couple days ago after their full, rich Tulipa Liliaceae life — into the box over older tulip petals, then topped that with the aforementioned heart.
I turned my big lamp onto it, leaning it out over the desk so it shone down into the box, tried a few exposures to render the edges just discernibly not-white — figuring out as I did, that I could adjust EV via the screen's Q.Menu, so I don't have to deal with that recalcitrant thumb wheel. And shot this. The work-around works, but it's not fast enough for field work.
First I tried arranging the box to point symetrically left and right, but that rendered too little detail and too much background. I only stumbled on the rhomboid triangle duality when I gingerly moved it all to the middle of my frame. I love the way the center heart's heart shines dully, just back from blazing bright.
I may have to use more than my usual one light from the top, but I'm not sure about those dark shadows atop Box A. Box V is doing well, showing plenty of depth. Iso 100. F8. I didn't notice the shutter-speed. The G2 was on a tripod distorted into the desk to get the camera close. This may not be the final version, but I thought I was making a prelim sketch — but it quickly became obvious it was the final — when I did the Corazón piece, and I doubt I can improve the exposure on the tin heart, though the flowers may need more.
I've abandoned replacing my G2 with a GH3, if only because the US version is still not publicly available in the US and may not be for another while. Got to give the public beta testers/early adopters enough rope to report most of what's wrong. Pany is such a klutz about delivering new cams to the US, which is probably — if they ever figure it out — their biggest market. Besides, the GH3 is way too big and heavy and expensive and Olympus' "camera of the year", the OM-5 is retro ugly. And I've read enough reviews now to be eager to try several of the newest features on the G5.
Like touching the LCD while I'm looking through the viewfinder at something that needs focusing. That'll be a trick to learn. I love the G2's articulating LCD and all the menu things I can already do on that camera that's three numbers (though only two actual models) newer than this one (the 2). I've been shooting all my bend-down and scrunch-around art documentation with the G2, and a 33% higher resolving and better noise-abating sensor can only help.
A big plus is that m43 gives more depth of field per aperture. Wonderful for still lifes, although all those photogs who want fuzzy backgrounds might have to do it in Photoshop.
I've read at least thirty reviews and previews of the G5, and am put off by all those reviewers who insist that the G5 is not a good match for camera enthusiasts or professionals. As you can perhaps see by this blog I am very much an enthusiast and have often used my G2 professionally. But then, even when I was a staff photographer for large and small newspapers, I always prefered the simplicity of supposedly lesser models. I loved Nikkormats when the big Nikon were king of photojournalism. Simpler and smaller rule.
Cameras don't decide what you use them for, photographers
do. Panasonic's G series cameras are perfectly acceptable for some professional
purposes. Nikon cameras are perfectly acceptable for some professional purposes,
but I have used both for amateur purposes, also. Doubling the price does not
necessarily double the professionalism.
December 12 2012
Morton Rachofsky Nested Triangles 2012 Red HDP, aluminum and wood
Wow! The new Nikon 5200 DX (everybody else calls that sensor size an APS-C) dSLR has a fully articulating LCD very like the Pany G series has always had, only — I guess — bigger. And twice the cost, maybe more. But I was excited to see Nikon had finally made an effort to catch up with my G2. There may be hope for Nikon yet.
Oops! Apparently I never even looked over the Nikon 5100, the 5200's immediate predecessor, which I now notice, had a fully articulating LCD, too. Obviously, I don't pay much attention to the less advanced Nikons.
Meanwhile, I still use my G2 several times a week, sometimes every day, to photograph art for art reviews, artists and my own work, which sometimes aspires to art. Wish the new Nikons were smaller than the big clunks that their DX cameras so-far inevitably are. The Sony NEX series cameras has the same APS-C sized sensors as DX Nikons, but Sony's is built into a body about the size of my G2, so it is possible, though still unlikely that Nikon will get small with their future DXs. So far, Olympus and Panasonic m43 cameras have way more lenses to choose from than Sony does, and Nikon has gobs more than that.
Any Nikon dSLR will operate and focus faster than ny G2, which is not a problem with most art or landscape..
And I still often think about replacing it with something better. I am still weighing and balancing one or the other of the Panasonic G5 or their GH3, but I'd love a camera that was quicker shooting (shot to shot and focusing) than either of those, and a Nikon with an emphasis on being smaller and lighter while still maintaining its DX sensor size could be very interesting. I'm hoping against hope that their upcoming (rumored) D400 (I have a D200 and D300) will have the fully articulating LCD (very unlikely, but I can hope) as well as all those sped-up portions that m43 has, so far, not managed, like rapid fire with full focusing between shots, fast focus anyway and low lag time (between pushing the button and having the shutter click).
On Black Friday, Amazon had the G5 for $500 without
a lens (a couple hundred dollars down from current list price), and today I noticed
it was back. My G2 has been behaving adequately lately,
so I may be able to wait longer.
October 27 2012
Black-faced Ku Klux Lambs from my State Fair of Texas series (cloaked to keep them clean)
It may be too perverse to choose the G5 after reading — and viewing — Image Resource's full review of the newish Olympus OM-D E-M5. Usually, any camera they test fails to beat some of the competitive cameras they choose to match images with at various ISOs. But no m43 or APS-C camera beats it in image quality detail. It's sharp.
I doubt I'd care much that the OM-D is weather-sealed — I still put my cams that are, under umbrellas or in plastic bags when I shoot in the rain, but I wish it had a built-in flash and fully articulating LCD with all the Quick Menu options my G2 or the new G5 have. But I am being seriously tempted to go over to the dark side and choose an Olympus camera here, even if they went out of their way to design a camera that looks and feels like their most popular cam from the last century. It's boxy and ugly.
There are many things about the G2/G5 that I'd miss, starting of course with the fully articulating LCD viewfinder, including that the G series automatically corrects optical lens flaws like chromatic aberrations, barrel and pincushion distortions ... hmmm, which cam am I talking myself into here?
The OM-D shows better image quality than even my Nikon D7000 with its 1.5 X larger sensor — at low and high ISO. That's just strange (though IR did not compare it with any full-frame cameras). And if I were to use the non-stablized kit zoom that came with my G2 on the E-M5, it would be stabilized, but I'm not sure I'd want to. I am always disappointed with it when I use it on my G2, because, like most kit zooms, its maximum aperture minimalizes rapidly as it zooms. The Panasonic 12-35mm (24-70 equivalent angle of view) f2.8 is not, according to PhotoZone better than average optically, although their criteria are strange.
Eventually, after all this worrying, I realized that the G5's big sister, the GH-3 will be out soon, and it uses the same sensor as the OM-D, and it has that fully articulating LCD, the same or similar but updated, on-screen menus as my G2 and the G5. Most people see it as a professional video camera, but Panasonic is now saying its newest GH is equally for pro photographers, although the GH-1 amazed Panasonic by selling so well to videographers. The company says the GH-2 was 60% for video, whereas the GH-3 is 50-50 for still and video.
I should note that the GHs, especially the GH-3 is significantly bigger than the G series, and more expensive.
My daily read of 43 Rumors gleaned this quote from a link story about ePhotozine's E-M3 vs GH3 review: I suppose both cameras are using the same (Sony) sensor and quality will be almost identical. The real difference between the two cameras are the features, not the image quality."
I like the G series for its controls and LCD, and the OM-D for its sensor. If the GH-3 has the same Image Quality as the OM-D, maybe I should get it. But for that, I'll have to wait at least another couple months — till the price begins to fall and first-users find what's wrong with it. And by then, there'll be something more interesting just over the time horizon.
Still, it might make a great Christmas present for myself. Luckily, my G2 is mostly still okay.
Panasonic GH-3 preliminary report from Luminous Landscape.
October 15 2012
I've been reading a lot of noise about my G2, the G3 and the latest, G5's not-good-enough color renditions in their JPEGs lately, so I finally took the time to try shooting Raw with my G2. I didn't start out doing that because I don't update my full-bull version of Photoshop every new iteration, and it's in those annual or oftener new versions that the RAW File updates for newer cameras come built in. I bought my G2 late in its run, and even then missed Adobe's Raw update to Photoshop.
So today I shot Raw for the first time on the G2. It makes much bigger files, yes, indeed. And they are somewhat more adjustable. But. And that's a big but. I have come to prefer its JPEGs. Maybe because I've just got used to them. Maybe because all those camera review writers really don't know what they are talking about, or they're just spouting the party line. I like G2 JPEGs, and I'm sure I'll like G5 JPEGs. If I had an Olympus camera, I'd probably learn to like its JPEG renditions, too — but it's hard to imagine wanting to use a micro four-thirds camera without a fully articulating LCD.
My Raw experiment turned out okay. I'm not going
to use it all the time, because the files are so much bigger it slows Photoshop
down to an infant crawl, so it takes much longer to work those images through
my Post-Production processes. I like quick and easy with the G2's JPEGs, which
are just fine for my images and seem to do okay in bigger prints, too.
October 10 2012
Red Cigar at the State Fair G2 100-300mm ISO 6,400 full frame no de-noising
According to DxOMark, a site that apparently does rigorous, scientific testing of cameras and lenses, The G5 is not as good as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (E-M5, for short), but it is somewhat better than my G2, so it's a step up for me, and that is about all it needs to be. It is also not as good as my Nikon D7000 (and its 50% larger sensor), which is better than my Nikon D300 (for aspects tested; although the D300 shoots longer and focuses faster). I had worried that the G5 did not do as well as the E-M5, but then that Olympus costs about twice as much, does not have a built-in flash or a fully articulating LCD. Plus, I probably already know how to operate the G5.
What had me worried was DxO's finding that the G5's best usable higher ISO was 618, but compared to what they consider my G2's highest of 493, the G5 is improved. They seem to think that the G5 is not up to snuff in low light, but since a lot of my photography is in low light (See my extensive Family Reunion people photographs, none of which used flash or the late evening State Fair shot above), I believe my G2 has acquitted itself superbly in that department. DxO rates the G5 as 26% better, faster, whatever than my G2.
Indeed, the G5 is rated almost as good as my Nikon D300, but only about half as good as my newer Nikon D7000 in its low-light abilities. They rate those three cameras, respectively, at 618, 679 and 1167. Meaning those numbers are the highest ISO the cameras can be used and still get quality results. I disagree — the G2 at 1600 gets perfectly acceptable results (although I sometimes need to run images through a Dfine noise filter in Photoshop), but the D300 struggles with image noise after ISO 320. By 3200, however, the results are sandstorm-ish.
I occasionally consider getting an Olympus
m43 body so all the lenses I'd use on it would be image-stabilized,
even my trusty 20mm f1.7 — I don't use flash often, but when I need it,
I want it. So I'm back on track, waiting out the inevitable failings
of G5 and its likely lowered price once it sells enough early versions.
October 4 2012
J R Compton Cowboy October 7 2012 photograph ISO 800
I've been photographing the Texas State Fair every couple of days since October 2, but I really didn't have anything in particular to photograph or any style in mind, except my own, which usually means whatever I'm in the mood for at the moment. As it often does, however, a sort of Style seems to be developing from the images, largely without my intervention, which are usually decided in some fraction of a second. These are definitely not posed, just captured from the life all around at the Fairgrounds.
Most of my shots were made with my G2 and the
100-300mm zoom. It does not always focus as quickly as I'd like it to, but it
seems to focus quickly enough — and when it just won't, I'll preset it
and see what happens — even though I'm sometimes shooting in the lower
regions of available darkness these nights.
Steve's Digicam's review of the G5 praises its low-light abilities and Quick Menus but faults its focus.
Thom Hogan's excellent Guide to m43 pays attention to most of the aspects of Micro Four Thirds cameras.
DXo's stinging review of the G5 also includes some other niggling details.
Steve's Digicam's detailed review of the G5 reminds us of its limitations.
September 29 2012
Tim Harding Curled Wall 2012 graphite and paper — not perfect but very close
Every time I go through the issues about which camera is good for which task, I come to the conclusion that my Nikons are good for action, and the G2 is good for photographing art and people. Earlier this month I attempted to photograph the Cura! Cura! Cura! exhibition I co-curated at the Bath House Cultural Center on White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas. For that first attempt, I used my Nikon D300, and although most pieces were easy enough to render accurately, some gave my personal color sensibilities — and that camera's ability to render realistic colors — fits.
Like this elegant piece by Tim Harding. The
Nikon shots looked too magenta. Essentially brown, where it
should look black. The bright back of the sheet Tim scribbled
graphite on on the front till it was black with it, is actually high ivory.
Mostly white with just a little yellow. But it photographs as white every time,
even when I carefully adjusted the color balance. It was in one final attempt
to get Tim's work color correct, that I came back today. But the work
that actually benefited most from the color-correctable G2, was Cedrick
Huckaby's new, people-in-the-neighborhood drawing series called "The 99%.".
Cedrick Huckaby The 99%: Highland
Hills Series Untitled detail 2012 Stabilo
and colored pencil on Mylar
After I adjusted the one tiny click into the yellow on the G2's White Balance Adjust matrix, Cedrick's drawing of his father looked right, so the white of the mat, directly adjacent to the yellowish-tan Mylar, or paper under the Mylar made the drawings of his neighbors [image above], look like they do in the gallery.
This was the first time I've ever done that. I'd seen the dynamic color-adjusting matrix only recently but had never used it till today, so I'm finding yet another learning opportunity late in my ownership of the G2. I often find I'm just cracking the surface of some more complex matter after I've lived with and used a camera for several years. I'll keep the G2 even after I buy a G5, if I do. I drive my cars till they drop, and I keep cameras till they're useless.
It would have been helpful if all the lights in the main gallery of the Bath House Cultural Center were the same color. But there's two main types of lighting in that space. The track lighting which is unstandardized (variously aged and dimmed) Tungsten bulbs, plus there's several skylights that let in daylight. In that respect, it is not much different from many other galleries that have both windows and lights. It rarely bother visitors whose eyes automatically adapt, but cameras don't adjust as easily.
I'd waited till the last two hours into evening,
because today was the last day of the exhibition, which would close at 6 pm.
It was raining and dark outside and getting darker, so I hoped the blue of Daylight
would not show like it did the last time I tried documenting this show. Ideally,
I should have tried it at night, but I'm usually doing something more interesting
Looking Up Past Tungsten Lights Through Skylight
with a camera Set for Day Light
Notice how red (people think of it as yellow, but it's actually red) the lights are.
The diffused light appears white because the camera is set to Daylight color. Balance
for Daylight, the sky would be blue and the lights would appear normal.
I arrived at 4 — which normally would have had a nasty mix of Tungsten and Daylight — and started with Tim Harding's work, which had given me fits last time. I hadn't even realized how poorly I'd documented Cedrick's work. Now I see a big difference, and I'm happier with the new renderings, although they may be too yellow. After I shot all twelve of Cedrick's drawings, I readjusted yellow back toward neutral, thoroughly confusing me during the rest of the shoot, because I'm not sure when exactly I changed the color balance.
It probably doesn't help that the amount of light falling on different portions of the various artworks in a show are always uneven, so that the left portion of the mat in the Cedrick image above renders gray, while the right of it renders near white. You can still see where the yellow stops before the mat starts, but the right of the image is much less yellow. All of which is why professional gallery photographers shoot at night or with the windows and doors covered, and they bring and use their own lights, which job gets more and more complex.
Nikons have adjustable Kelvin settings too, but one has to know what one is doing, and Nikon's method for adjusting color balance is absurdly complex, and difficult to remember or execute. The G2 (and G3 and G5)'s several procedures for changing color rendition allows photographers to make minute alterations much easier.
I can usually get away with hand-holding a bright
lens (Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lens) to photograph individual
pieces in a gallery, so I can review them on DallasArtsRevue.
When there's not enough light, I use a tripod. Sometimes, odd lighting patterns
require turning off all the lights and using
flash instead. Often that doesn't work well, and ya just gotta
Kim Alexander is the artist, but I'd rather
identify her work when it's larger.
Because our eyes adjust, most variations in art exhibition illumination looks good enough to most people, but aiming any halfway decent camera at it may show bright splashes of high-intensity light. Like the dragon in this shot. First, I stupidly tried using flash with my camera set to the tungsten, rendering everything too blue.
So I turned off all the overhead lights and reset my camera's White Balance to flash, aimed and fired. That almost worked well enough, but I got a blurred image — not because I moved the camera during exposure, which is why most blurred photos happen — but because my camera does not always focus in near-darkness. The resulting images seemed plenty bright when viewed immediately after exposure in that darkened room, but never good enough on my monitor or in my eyes.
Hauling the piece outside under direct sunlight would have been by far the easiest and best way to get consistent colors and tonality, but the piece is fragile, and it's raining.
Kim Alexander The Hard Year 2012 acrylic on wood panel 60 inches high
Eventually, after a lot of post-production (PP — what happens when one uses Photoshop to alter an image to try to make it look right) and just a little visual negotiation with the artist, one of my more recent attempts at her piece is almost good enough — although I was still not happy with it, although I will be at the Bath House tomorrow when the artists pick up their work, and I will bring my G2.
Eventually, after failing all these other
possibilities, I carefully removed the dragon painting from the wall and parked
on a more evenly lighted wall and photographed it there. That's the image we
see above, and I'm still not sure it's accurate. Kim got her paintings yesterday,
so I probably won't see it again for awhile. I still think it's greener and lighter
A Young Great Egret Lands Near an American White Pelican
I shot birds with my Panasonic G2 — while seriously thinking about buying a G5 — today, and was disappointed to relearn some of the reasons I usually do not attempt that particular brand of regression therapy. Tomorrow I'll take my D7000 and the 300mm lens instead of my little micro four-thirds camera and its slow f5.6 100-300mm lens that's supposedly the equivalent of a 200-600mm lens.
I missed being able to follow a bird flying as I shot image after image in quick succession. The G2 doesn't do quick succession — and the G5's quick succession is a lot slower than the d7k's (I don't shoot raw very often, because that would slow the 7000's usual [JPEG] succession down to a lifeless blur), and because it has a Electronic Viewfinder instead of an optical one, it blacked out a lot longer than the almost imperceptible D7000 mirror flip.
It was very difficult to follow a flying bird with the G2. I did accomplish it from time to time, but only by going up to an ISO high enough that anywhere but in the very low resolution place called the internet, would have looked like the bird was caught in a sandstorm of visual noise.
The light was fading fast, and the only telephoto lens I have (or is available) for that cam was way too slow. I usually use long zooms at their longest zoom, and that almost always was at least f5.6, meaning my shutter speed was usually limited to 1/125, if not a lot slower. Just to make it a fair fight, I'll use my f2.8 tele under similar low-to-no light tonight. It might be educational.
But I've done that in Sunset Bay fairly often, and I always come back with something interesting.
When light is more plentiful and shutter speeds
substantially quicker and ISO lower, the G2 is either almost good enough for
flying birds and sometimes it is actually good enough.
September 27 2012
Big Yellow Flower — adequate, but I want to get closer!
I still want a macro lens. My once-fabulous Nikkor 55mm f3.5 still works (on Nikon cameras) and still offers superb resolution, though strictly manual. It does not auto focus or automatically set exposure. Nor does it automatically stop down to a pre-selected aperture. Nope, it is strictly a manual lens on contemporary Nikon, especially digital, cameras. I'd like something a little easier to deal with.
I've been thinking I'd rather go macro with
my m43 Panasonic whatever. Probably a G5 soon, since I rarely shoot video — and
the GH-whatevers are too expensive. Because that way, I'd get an EVF with that
marvelous swinging and tilting screen I've got so used to. But today I looked
carefully at Photozone.de reviews of both the 45mm f2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit
from Panasonic and the Nikkor AF-S DX 85mm f3.5 G ED VR from Nikon.
Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH OIS
Click the charts to be
taken to their full-size originals on Photozone.de, although you'll have to scroll
A link to the next page of their test on the bottom of that page will take you to their very conservative verdict.
Photozone's comparative resolution charts are remarkable, albeit very confusing, despite their being the best lens testers on the Internet. But Photozone does not award the higher-resolution lens with more stars, and they highly recommend the lesser resolving one and do not recommend the Nikon at all.
The Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH OIS (Photozone test) is pretty good for $750 (from B&H) albeit a somewhat worse deal for $870-1,600 at Amazon two days ago but now only $679 from Amazon before tax. Here in Texas, that's $735), but that's with only eight left, and we all know Amazon jumps the price when demand is higher. The Nikon 85mm f/3.5G AF-S DX ED VR Micro Nikkor Lens (Photozone test) for $527 at Amazon offers significantly better resolution, for $200+ less than the Leica lens at B&H.
The odd review variations may have to do with comparing similar lenses projecting images onto unsimilar sensor sizes, although the price variations probably have more to do with corporate greed.
According to the peculiar star-ratings given by Photozone, for Optical Quality the Micro-Nikkor gets 3.5 to 4 stars and the Leica gets 4 to 4.5 stars, for Mechanical Quality the Nikkor gets 3.5 stars and the Leica gets 4 stars, and for Price/Performance the Leica gets 3 stars and the Nikkor 4 stars, yet the Leica is "Highly Recommended," and the Nikkor is not. Go figure.
Unfortunately, the charts are not directly comparable in almost any other category either — especially visually, because there is no consistency from one set of test results to the other — I assume that Pz is slowly improving their tests — although it's pretty obvious who wins the race. Add that the Nikon image size is fully 50% larger, and I'm not sure I can even call them comparable.
The Leica provides significantly more consistent center, edge and corner resolution. Bigger images plus higher resolution usually wins. Here, it might also, but not according to Photozone.
When I also factor in the EVF the match-off begins to make sense. Plus, I'd far rather shoot close-ups through an EVF, although, as I've recently re-learned, EVFs that work great when new, don't necessarily work great when they're a couple years old. So who knows? Although I remain baffled, I am again leaning toward the Leica/Panasonic micro lens, which is also significantly smaller and lighter weight.
I wanted this decision to be easy. My hero, Poo (Winnie, The) may have said it best, "Oh, bother!"
Since none of what I call the really credible, big-time camera review sites — DPR, Image Resource, (their Hands-On P)review, Camera Labs, Luminous Landscape, or Thom Hogan's SansMirror — have yet tackled a full review of the G5, complete with standardized studio shots, one interesting and probably credible review is from Pocket Lint. I especially like how the cam looks in white.
September 24 2012
Dying Tulips showed much darker in the LCD than this resulting
near darkness f8 iso 100 shutter speed not recorded (approximately 20 seconds)
My G2 is beginning to show its age. In some lighting conditions, especially low light, it no longer shows the same exposure as what I get after I go click, although what it gets is usually better than what it shows. Another symptom I'd also seen in aging Canon cameras is that the image, when carefully composed sometimes moves around in the frame when it's on timer. I don't know the technical facts behind these visual indications, but I've seen them before only on cameras about to bite the dust.
That I can no longer depend upon its WYCSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get — pronounced wizzy-wig) is distressing, since that was the best reason for buying into m43. What Electronic ViewFinders (EVF) are all about. My G2 was delivered February 17 2011, so it's at least 19 months old. And the G5 is only the second iteration since the G2 — there was no G4. It cost $569. A new G5 is $640.
Before everything was electronic, film cameras were expected to last longer than that — sometimes decades, although there were already Nikon camera repair persons who made good livings.
My Nikon D300 is a month short of four years old. Its shutter mechanisms, others of its innards and many of its outtards (including its skin, which had got very loose) were replaced in December of last year, for just under $300. Most of what was failing on that cam were its mechanicals, although the LCD (I think) and other electronics were also upgraded.
Pretty good deal for 16.2% of its original price. I've never had a Panasonic fixed. I don't even know how long its warranty was. Probably one year.
I bought my Nikon D7000 just under one year ago, and though it served me especially well when the D300 was in the shop, it got its lens bayonet popped off when it and my 300mm lens got dropped just under three feet. The lens has shown no apparent issues. I have not dropped, crushed or otherwise damaged my G2.
I'll probably get a G5 soon. I've been holding out for a price drop, but it's too early for that, and probably too late to be an early adopter, upon whose experiences I usually depend to learn about the usual new-model-introduced flaws. But since the G5 is so like the G3, and because the company employed so many professional photographers to test drive the early, pre-production G5s, there may actually not be any of those.
Rita Barnard America in Progress mixed media collage $600
I'm still considering buying a Panasonic Lumix G5, so I'm paying attention to serious reviews of the new camera, especially those that compare it to its strongest competitor, the significantly more expensive Olympus OM-D E-M5. More G5 stories and reviews: from The Sound Image Plus Blog, E Photo Zine's comparison with the Oly OM-D E-M5. The site that recommended those also suggested Amazon's consumer reviews of it, but many of those "reviewers" are amateurs who frankly don't know what they're talking about and have a vested interest.
And if you don't mind the usual forum crosstalk and arguments, this page from the DPR m43 Talk Forum may be very informative or a big muddle.
Not exactly sure why I thought this image would be good here, except I shot it handheld with my G2, and it shows a lot of detail.
I'm continuing to believe that although the G5 is a lot less expensive and easier to say than the OM-D E-M5, it's a better camera. At least better for me, because I already have several Panasonic lenses that I like and use often, and I hope for more. Olympus cameras have image-stabilization built into the body, so all their lenses work well on Olympus bodies. But using Oly lenses on Panasonic bodies is a waste, because then they won't.
I like dr_elis' remark that "those who can wait enjoy steep price declines." I am waiting. Surely something will turn up bad wrong with the camera, then it will get fixed, then the price will fall, but I'm looking forward to that faster focusing, and I think being able to move the point of focus with my fingers while the camera is up to my eye will be amazing.
And I'm hoping the new, faster focusing will help
me photograph birds.
September 3 2012
Bryan Meggison and Bach Norwood with The Rich Jasin Group
at Times Ten Cellars in Dallas
100-300mm Panasonic Lumix lens at 300mm (600mm equivalent) f5.6 1/100 EV-.66 ISO 3,200
I brought my G2 with the long tele zoom (nominally 100-300mm but the 35mm equivalent of 200-600mm), because I thought I might photograph birds (and later I did), but I needed the practice with that cam/lens combo in whatever scenario. So I brought it in when we watched jazz at Times Ten Cellars in Lakewood. At first, all I wanted to do was listen. Usually I prefer to talk with people, but at its core, jazz is a conversation, and I was digging the musical interchange.
When I worked with Texas Jazz in the late 1970s, which I ended up co-publishing, because I believed in it too much, I photographed a lot of great jazzers, usually with an off-camera main flash that provided more directed light, and thus shadows like on-camera flash mostly destroys, with the camera's built-in flash as slight fill. Today, there was strong daylight (Daylight in a jazz club?) streaming in a big window stage left, leaving deep character-defining shadows. I didn't want to use a flash. As usual, I preferred real, available light.
I'll admit this shot is a little doctored, but
the sunlit background was too bright for those dark faces. Zoomed
all the way to 600mm, ISO a torrid 3,2000, noise reduced later with Nik's Dfine.
I shot 124 frames that afternoon, mostly in some kind of focus. All five guys
and some crowd shots. Probably the first time I've ever brought a long tele
to a jazz club, but even if I didn't know it ahead of time, the light was perfect.
August 31 2012
Stretched-out Snowy Egret Landing Long and Lean — and not quite in focus
Despite Electronic Viewfinders' clear superiority in many, especially lower light situations, there are times when it is very difficult to see subject or separate it from its background. One of those is the very high contrast scene among the steps on the lower spillway at White Rock Lake. From my perch on the walking bridge dozens of feet away from and parallel to the driving bridge on Garland Road.
Most often trying to shoot in the exact same circumstances as the scene below, I could not visually separate bird from splashing water, all of which was rendered as moving glare. Clearly, optical viewfinders are superior in that — as in many other — lighting condition.
It was my second attempt. The first was almost identical, but I had been having trouble seeing and was experiencing what we diabetics refer to as a Sugar Low. Hypoglycemia. I know my sugars are low when I have this particular vision issue, almost as if there were a hole in my eyesight. Luckily, I keep high-carbohydrate disks in the car, and once there, I brought my sugars up to normal.
Yesterday, I got one halfway decent photographs. Today, I got a couple more. But both episodes were vastly different from my 50% useful focus and compositions accomplishment using my Nikon D300 from August 29, just below. I don't know whether the new G5's viewing and focusing abilities are so significantly improved that they'll be much different from my G2's performance today.
I have to keep making such comparisons, if only to remind myself that keeping the much heavier and usually more expensive Nikon bodies and lenses is important — although I've had many of my lenses for years, decades even. There are times when I dream of only ever carrying a much smaller and lighter m43, but not yet. Not yet.
It helps that my 2008 Nikon D300 is still capable of shooting six frames per second normally (or up to nine fps with a complex set-up). The Pany G5 will max out at 3.7 fps. My G3 might get as fast as 3 fps, but usually only if the subject is in sharp focus, and today it usually was not.
It also focuses extremely faster, especially with the f 2.8 tele lens. The G2 does not focus anywhere near as fast, and an unfocused scene is much more difficult to see or follow via an EVF than with an optical viewfinder.
August 29 2012
Great Egret Chasing Snowy Egret — See my Bird
images like this one, shot with my Nikon D300 and 300mm f2.8
I've been using my recently Nikon-repaired Nikon D300 body every time I go out for birds. Always with my 300mm f2.8 lens. Usually with the only telextender I have, a 2X, although I've been contemplating getting a 1.4X, since it would likely focus faster than the 2X. Today I'm going without the telextender, because I hope to capture egrets flying, and the 2X makes it extremely difficult to focus on birds that are moving. I used to use my 70-300mm zoom for those kind of shots, and it worked out very well. This lens is faster (brighter) by several stops, so it focuses faster and yields significantly better IQ (Image Quality).
Maybe tomorrow I'll use my 100-300mm lens on my
G2 for comparison. But I'm all set for the Nikon D300 today. I've even been reading
up it again, reading for the first time, Thom
Hogan's extensive review from when it was new, circa 2008. Next time I buy
a Nikon camera, if I ever do, I'll read Thom's review carefully. Kinda wish he'd
review the new G5.
August 23 2012
Christmas Lites on the Redneck Riviera
Before I left for my Family Reunion trip, I began devising lists of lenses I should bring, which led to another list of lenses I thought I needed. Since I originally thought I was going all Nikon D7000 for that trip, my list began with a litany of Nikon lenses. More recently, the list has segued into a WANT list of m43 lenses, since that's the camera I actually used almost all through our whirlwind tour through The Southeastern States. And ever since when I'm after anything but birds.
This shot was taken with the lens I used almost all the time, my trusty, bright, sharp Panasonic 20mm (40mm equivalent) f1.7 semi-wide-angle lens. The one I leave on the camera, because it almost always works for everything — landscapes, people, art. Again, everything but birds.
Every once in a while I get that list out and tweak it more.
m43 Lenses I Want and/or think I Need
45 f2.8 macro - 90mm equivalent, short tele macro for 1:1 shooting - mostly for art, but also for bugs and other small objects, including flowers and parts thereof. Superb lens, more expensive than the 85mm f3.5 Nikkor I like, but macro is so much easier with the fully articulating LCD of the Pany G-series. Some of these wish lenses may be want, not so much need. But this lens would be used often and well. Photozone verdict . $750
7-14 super wide zoom - 14-28mm equivalent - I was thinking about getting this superb but expensive lens for our California trip last autumn, but I never really missed it except when shooting very large objects up close. We love shooting bridges. I think a wide zoom might be just the thing for all those repeating patterns as we zoom under them. Photozone verdict . $889
12-35 f2.8 bright midrange zoom - 24-70mm equivalent - people. I have a big chunk of 17-55mm Nikon lens, which I use on my DX camera, so I get the equivalent of a 28-85mm f2.8 lens that I loved until I started paying attention to m43's significantly smaller lenses. This Pany/Leica lens is shorter at both ends than the Nikon, but that Nikon is a major chunk of glass and metal. It weighs 26.6 ounces. The Pany is a mere 10.76 ounces, and it's a lot smaller, too. But would it replace the incredible 20mm f1.7 as a people and art and almost everything else not tele? I doubt it. Especially at $1,300
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 - is not as long a tele as I'd hoped, but I like the bright maximum aperture, stellar optics and light weight — Just under 11 ounces — it offers, and I haven't used a 35mm equivalent 135mm-ish lens in forty years, but I'm drawn to it, even if it's $1,100. Etc., etc. But no image stabilization, unless it's on an Oly camera, so it won't be stabilized on my G2 or eventual G5, and I'm not interested in buying an Oly just to use an Olympus lens. So no optical corrections, either. Mostly just a dream.
400 or 500 telephoto - 800 or 1000mm equivalent - Only major issue with this right now is that there is no such thing. When there is, price will rear its ugly head. Then I'll worry whether it's good enough. A lot of lenses that long, are not.
All of which is kinda absurd, because I used only
two of the three lenses I brought on our Reunion Tour, and at least 95% of the
time I only used one, the 20mm f1.7. I never once believed I needed a wider angle
lens, and only once needed longer than my 100-300mm. I'm sure I would have found
use for a macro, however. I don't think about macros unless I have one.
August 22 2012
Panasonic Lumix G5
The best G5 preview I've seen is CameraLabs' which informs that it delivers a higher rate of well-focused images than the much more expensive, though slightly less new now Olympus E-M5, and "its composition, control and handling performed very respectably compared to [that] more expensive Micro Four Thirds model." It also has an "optional electronic shutter which allows totally silent shooting" and "Continuous shooting" at 3.7 frames per second "with Live View (everything on the G2, G3 and G5 is live view) and continuous AF." It goes faster without AF, but I fail to see the use in it.
All of which would be excellent for my style of shooting people, maybe even slow birds. We can touch the swinging/tilting LCD to focus on any specific point in the view, even when we are looking through the EVF." That's quite a trick. Moving that little target around with the circle dial is sometimes absurd and always slow. The new finger-pointing way sounds ungainly but is reported to be quite easy and effective.
I've read that some people hate the G series' Q (for quick) menus that also use the swinging/tilting LCD, but I took to it immediately and never looked back. It's too easy not to use. What? They'd rather spellunk through the idiot-arranged menus? How quaint.
Image Resources cites a larger grip, improved auto-focus called LightSpeed AF. But we know calling it that doesn't make it so. It also has a new toggle-control Function lever rocker-switch to zoom on Power Zoom lenses and playback zoom (one assumes for quieter video zooms), select pages in menus, set Exposure compensation in Program, Shutter and Aperture priority modes and adjust aperture in Manual mode.
The rear, knurled push-and-turn edge dial is larger and off to the right from where it was on the G3 (and I suspect, my G2), and the new EVF is 1,440,000-dot, and the LCD 920,000 dots, double G-series' more recent LCDs, and the sensor is 16 megapixels. Add in the high-speed autofocus, and the display-lag that's been reduced by 18% for photographing faster targets, and we might have a winner.
All the sites talk about "the new" sensor switch that automatically switches view from the eye-lever EVF to the 3-inch LCD, but that's what my G2 still has (It was removed on the G3, probably because it didn't work very wall or all the time. The back end of the eye-level EVF housing on mine fell off months ago, and I assume that's why mine doesn't always switch modes when I want it to.) So I hope they've improved the switch. And I bet putting my hand anywhere near its sensor still switches viewfinders, even when I'm trying not to.
A new Creative Control mode tweaks the look of images by automatically adjusting variables such as color, saturation, contrast, brightness and tone curve. That sounds amateur-hour but might be effective sometimes. Bracketing improves to three, five or seven frames at 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV differences. I doubt I'll ever use it. Not much use for bracketing when I can see the exact exposure, etc. There's a new HDR function that melds three exposures. A digital level-gauge sounds interesting, and the new battery is rated at 310 shots — not great, but much better than 140. The body comes in black, white or silver, and iso 1600 looks very clean, so images on the G5 will be sharper, and supposedly usable at twice that..
According to Trusted Reviews, "The only area where the G5's AF performance falls a little short is in Continuous AF speed; we found that it struggles to keep up with moving subjects." So there's the big rub.
What else is not to like? Well, we'll find out when the m43 forum on DPR gets their hands on production models, soon — if Panasonic has significantly improved their distribution channels to the U.S.A., which is unlikely. So maybe by Christmas. This Christmas, we hope.
• PhotoEzine.com now has a direct comparison of the closely comparitive (in everything but price) G5 vs OM-D cameras.
August 3 2012
Part of the audience at the non-competitive Clare Family Reunion Talent Show
I fully expected to use my Nikons for most of the photography along what I am calling our 2012 Reunion Tour, including the Clare Family Reunion near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and various mini-reunions with friends from both our pasts along the way to and from Dolly-land. I even rented a Nikon D7000, because I thought that camera (mine of which is in Nikon's USA service center to repair and replace its lens mount) was superior to any other camera I own.
That I was wrong is almost besides the point. As a last-minute decision, I brought my Panasonic Lumix G2 and three Pany lenses, the amazing 20mm (40mm equivalent on that micro four-thirds image format) f1.7, the slow and unstabilized 14-42mm kit zoom and the 100-300mm (200-600mm equivalent) telephoto zoom.
Sure glad I did that. I used the Nikons D300 and renta D7000) enough to get thoroughly disgusted with them, their weight and their refusal to focus on anything moving, then switched over to using the G2 and 20mm f1.7 almost all the time I was photographing people — all 3,108 exposures.
The G2 focused immediately almost every single time I wanted it to; showed me the accurate exposure before I clicked; allowed me to shoot around corners or with the camera solidly on a table, wall or other solid surface; and it let me shoot motion sequences as fast as I wanted to. It also rendered gorgeous sunsets over the Revenuer Hills and everything else I wanted to shoot but birds.
I rarely used flash, and apparently used none of those on the finished page. I far prefer natural lighting. The lens I used in the vast majority of shots was the 20mm f1.7, which is the lens I leave on my G2. It's bright and sharp. Perfect for available-light candids that show personality and feelings. Another family photographer shot the official group shot and candids always using flash. Some people say they can't tell the difference, but I can. Of course, I've been at photography since 1964.
40 adults and 25 kids attended the Clare Reunion, and I tried to get candid, real pictures — "Don't point and don't smile — of everyone. I know we all tend to photograph the people we know best at these things, but I hoped to capture as wide a variety of real people doing real things as much as possible.
As I write this, I've winnowed those 3,108 shots down to 361 of my best shots, and will probably filter through those a dozen or more more times till I get the number down to less-than or a-little-more-than a hundred photographs that honestly represent who was there, a lot of what they did, especially when they were with other Clares, and as much a glimpse into their individual personalities as possible.
similar page from the
last Clare Reunion is already online.
May 23 2012
Boortz Brave New World (detail) found
and carved wood, clay and beads
the baby owl originals on this piece are about 3 inches wide 300mm setting
I still use my Panasonic Lumix G2 at least daily, often oftener. It's my stand-by art photographing lens for both live and studio events, and it seems to work very well for performance images as well — even fast-moving performers. All the images on my recent Performance Art page were made on the G2, and not just the everything-hold-very-still shots, either. I love its ability to shoot bursts like the dancers dancing and the women playing hula-hoop.
My last big job with it was photographing Dallas artist Kathy Boortz' latest work in my ersatz studio. With the electronic viewfinder and fully articulating LCD, it's almost perfect. As usual when I shoot a lot of various-sized sculptures, I employed all three of my lenses for one reason or another, and I several times wished for a real Macro (close-up) lens, too. The best one of those available for m43 cameras is a Panasonic/Leica collaborative lens that started out costing nearly a thousand dollars, but now it's "only" $649.
I've read many positive reviews of it and only one partially negative review. Unfortunately, that one is from someone I sometimes trust. I'm not sure whether I should this time, also. But I'm not about to go off half-cocked on this purchase. There's an at-least-as-good macro lens for Nikon for somewhat less cash, but I rarely use my Nikon anymore for art or close-up photography, because my elderly G2 is just so much more adept at macro work, although the lenses I use for that close-up stuff, really are not. For this shot, I backed up all across the room and shot with my 100-300mm Panasonic zoom.
The next-step-up, G3 camera has been available for well more than a year (I think), but I may well get the G5 sometime next autumn, after whatever is initially wrong with it, gets noticed and eventually fixed. I'm hoping, as always, for a better sensor, quicker auto-focus and the G3's pinpoint focus.
March 30 2012
Berthe Morisot The Bath (Girl Arranging Her Hair) detail 1885-86 oil on canvas 36.25 x 28.88 inches
When I go gallery-hopping, looking for art to review on DallasArtsRevue.com or to museums' press previews, I almost always take my Panasonic Lumix G2 camera. Usually with my 20mm f1.7 lens that's a tad wider than a so-called 'normal' lens with a very bright f1.7 maximum aperture and very good image quality. Galleries are generally brightly illuminated, but museums are often much darker, because light destroys paintings, but that camera & lens combo offers the best combination of possibilities.
It was particularly useful for photographing Impressionist paintings at the Kimbell Art Museum's Age of Impressionists exhibition (my illustrated review thereof) because the Kimbell's own press pictures for the exhibition (both exhibition and press images originated at The Clark Institute) weren't accurate to the colors and tones of the paintings in the show, and I could show that by consistently previewing the quality of my images of it in the LCD before, during and after each photograph. Whoever took The Clark photos — and the many other images scattered across the internet — was much less exacting than I was with my little precision Lumix.
The show is amazing wonderful, and it was exciting
to get that close to beautiful and historically important paintings by Impressionist
masters, without having art police coming down on me. They watched carefully,
but they did not interfere. All the other press people there had either bigger
dSLRs or much larger, monster video cameras.
January 3 2011
Thirteen-week-old flowers 100-300mm lens on my Pany G2
If I bought a G3 from Amazon this week, I could get the camera with the same 14-42mm kit zoom as I bought a year ago, for ten dollars less than what I'd pay for the body only. There's something wrong with that price, although the valuation of the lens may be about right. A DMC-GX1 body-only would cost a hundred dollars more, or $950 with the new mash-in lens of the same zoom, but I still couldn't fit it into my pocket, and that's okay, because I'd want to use it with a super zoom, not a pancake or sub-par zoom.
I'd love to buy up to a better m43 Pany that shoots and focuses faster than my G2, but no such camera exists. So I'll have to wait. Maybe by then the Sony NEX-9 with its electronic viewfinder (EVF) will be out, and they could even offer a so-called super zoom of up to 600mm or more equivalent (400mm nominal), although I have three m43 lenses that won't work with it.
The new Sony sounds terrific, but do I really need to buy into yet another system, especially one that's just now getting started? I had a Sony 5 megapixel F707 sometime in the last century, and I loved it, even if its sensor size was more the size of a fingernail than DX/APS-C.
By that unknown future date, I might get my Nikon D300 back from Nikon's fixit. It's as heavy as two of any of the cameras mentioned in today's entry, and its viewfinder is strictly old-fashioned optical, but it's fast to shoot and faster to focus, and I already have all the lenses but one.
Red-tailed Hawk Swirling in Cage
I should have said, at the beginning of the previous entry, that usually when I go birding I take my Nikon. This time I took the G2, because it's so much smaller and easier to handle. The lenses are also smaller, so putting one right up against the narrow gauge mesh of wire around the cages at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation and hoping the front wire grids would tend to disappear, would be more likely.
Up the Neck shot of Great Blue Heron on Roof
Plus I didn't want to lug the Nikon and Stigmata 150-500mm zoom lens hulks around all afternoon. So I took my little G2, it's kit smallish but close-focusing 14-42mm zoom (28-84mm equivalence) and small 100-300 (200-600) mm zoom lenses, and rather enjoyed myself photographing birds in rehab or graduated from it at the only wildlife rehab facility in Texas, located about a fifteen-minute drive from Dallas.
Eastern Screech Owls in a Cage
I use the G2 enough so most of its operation is almost second nature to me, so it was easy. I kept wishing I had two cameras, but Panasonic doesn't make what I want, and Olympus, who has in-camera stabilization, that would stabilize my one other lens, really doesn't either. Besides learning another camera does not appeal.
The few birds that moved fast or even medium-speed, like the swirling Red-tailed Hawk or the Roadrunner, made me wait for the right moment when they were either between directional movements (although I kept trying and failing to 'stop' their action) or I just went with the swirling feathers and hoped it'd turn out alright. Usually, it didn't. I have several shots of too-fast-moving roadrunner blurs.
Red-tailed Hawk in a Cage at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation
Noble beast stood still ever so briefly, and I
Yosemite in Rain and Fog G2 with 20mm f1.7
Wow. Almost a month since my last entry. When I go for birds, I take my Nikon d7000 and the Rocket Launcher. When I do anything with people (parties, art openings or gatherings), I take my G2, usually with the 20mm f1.7 lens that's so close to my old-time favorite, Nikon 35mm f1.4 from decades ago. It's always a little confusing when I switch cameras, but the G2 interface is so easy and direct, it's not a problem. I always miss having an EVF when I don't have one. I'm not saying my exposures on the G2 is always perfect, but I know pretty quickly when it's off, if I'm paying any attention.
With my Nikon, I can shoot whole, long series of photographs before I realize I've got the exposure wrong. Usually over-exposed, but sometimes seriously underexposed, too. I don't understand how Nikon can get away with not having an EVF, or why Panasonic can get away with not having a fast, professional camera (with an EVF), but they do, and I guess that's part of the difference.
In The Haight G3 with 100-300mm at 127mm
By fast, I mean everything, including shot-to-shot, although I'm generally limited to 12 with the D7000, then I wait a few seconds and can shoot more. The waiting stinks. More and more I think I should have just gone back to my Nikon D200 instead of mucking about with the D7000, but I got it, and it'll do till Nikon produces a D400, and I hope that camera's shutter lasts longer than my D300's did.
Live view on the Nikon is not useful only when the camera is on a tripod. But it's a chore when the camera is not clamped down. And Nikon's version of Live View is via the LCD only, making it a truly amateur (hold it in front of my face and hope I can hold it still out there) camera. I'd far prefer they came up with an alternative eye-view viewer that showed what the sensor sees, so I could choose. With the G2, I don't need to choose, it just doesn't focus or shoot fast enough to do birds the way I want to do birds.
Fantasy Bridge off San Francisco G2 with 100-300mm at 114mm
more G2 Vacation pix on my DallasArtsRevue.com member page
I have a third camera I still use, the Canon S90, which — unlike either of the other two, fits in my pocket. It's handy to have around for family-type pictures or to intimidate anyone who bumps into my car. Although remembering its peculiar, though simplified, interface is yet another fingers-do-your-duty-while-I-try-to-keep-my-brain-out-of-it issue.
It's easy to accidentally change settings on both cameras, and it drives me nuts. That didn't happen with my Nikon D200 or D300. My G2 often resets itself to MF (manual focus), and my D7000 changes, sometimes settling on M for manual. Nothing's ever perfect, but it it weren't for fast birds, the G2 would be close.
Next time I go away — depending upon how much room I have — I'll probably take my G2 and its full retinue of lenses: 20mm f1.7, the 14-42mm variable aperture kit lens (that focuses closer), and my tiny behemoth, the 100-300mm, all of which fit in less space the Nikon and Rocket Launcher lens occupies. If there's lots of room, I'd take it, too — ever hopeful I'll find new and different birds or a fantasy Golden Gate appearing through the clouds.
November 12 2011
One of the most fun experiences I've had with a camera lately was photographing people in visually interesting clothes at the recent Art Con 7 art auction in West Dallas. Tiring early of photographing the sad state of most of the art, which was what I expected to do that evening, I noticed all the stylin' people around me and started photographing anyone wearing interesting clothes.
I was up for a challenge, and photographing fashionable people seemed like it might just do that for me. I'd seen the movie Bill Cunningham New York [my short review of it] about an old guy who photographed couture as well as what real people wear in New York, had inspired me. I was happy I'd brought my G2 and my 20mm f/1.7 lens, and that combination seemed perfect for the task.
I'd watch for somebody (or several somebodies) in interesting clothes, decide to photo or not, shoot one (usually) or two or three frames while they walked by, and see what happened. I didn't know any of the people I photographed, and I treated it like street photography. I held my G2 with my right hand, checked the live-view LCD or EVF often, because the lights varied in color and brightness, and left the camera on auto ISO. And usually kept my other hand in my pants pocket, going for, more or less nonchalance, and I think, mostly people did not notice me. Of course there were hundreds of people with cameras there, so my little G2 did not stand out.
See my Art Con 7 page at the bold link above for more information about the event and a bunch more of my ersatz fashion photographs, some of which like this last one, were later somewhat manipulated in Photoshop; so the photo fun did not stop with shooting the pictures.
American White Pelican Raising Landing Gear Shot with my new Nikon D7000
I haven't given up on my G2 and I'm still looking forward to Panasonic's rumored upcoming professional model maybe next year. The G2 acquitted itself very well on our recent trip to California, even rendering a couple birds in flight (BiF) in focus, but it missed on most the rest of the BIFs, so I kept wishing for something more intelligent, faster focusing, and it wouldn't hurt if it had a fifty percent larger sensor.
Since most of my lenses, still, are Nikon, the choice was obvious. I've been waiting impatiently far too long for the Nikon D400, but it has not been and probably will not be forthcoming any time soon with Nikon's factories either glowing in the dark (Japan) or under water (Thailand), so I "settled" for their little D7000.
During the last century, I usually liked the second-tier cameras from Nikon more than the bigger and more expensive models. When I was a Staff Photographer at the Dallas Times Herald, I always chose a Nikkormat over the Nikon F2, because they were lighter and easier to deal with.
I thought I'd rather have a D400, but I'm willing to adapt my shooting style — staying out of rapid-fire exposure mode that's just so impressive as it ratatats away like a gattling gun but yields far too many shots to have to edit — and now I'm clicking much more carefully.
Meanwhile, I am learning my latest camera by studying online (Nikon's Digitutor and Ken Rockwell's review of and Guide to it, and Thom Hogan's and DRP's reviews) as well as blindly using the thing to photograph the stuff I shoot most. Art, art and birds. Capital A Art is the stuff of DallasArtsRevue, my biggest site. Little a art is everything else and sometimes including birds that I shoot, and birds, well birds are birds, and I shoot them here in Dallas and wherever else I am.
Coots Scooting Shot with my new Panasonic Lumix G2
Last week I was in California vacationing from Texas, which continued to be hot until we got back but now may finally have settled into autumn. My bird pix from there are dribbling into my Amateur Birder's Journal, along with more shots from White Rock Lake inside the Dallas City Limits. All of the shots from California were shot with my G2, and only a smattering of newer White Rock pix are from my newer D7000, which I have not quite all figured out yet. May never.
I'm doing an Art Shoot this afternoon for whom is essentially my only steadily ongoing art shoot client, Kathy Boortz. I've tried to use new cameras I didn't fully understand on shoots of her work before — we go back some years, so I know better than to try that this time. I'll use my G2, which is now a little confusing, because its controls are nearly polar opposite those of the D7000.
I will continue to use the smaller, lighter Panasonic Lumix G2 for art purposes, for my client or for my DallasArtsRevue.com website (where there are thousands of my photographs of art). There may be another art photo client coming to me via emails to a friend of a friend, and I will continue to shoot other people's art (OPA) from time to time. But I'm not sure which camera I'll use for each specific shoot.
American White Pelican Bathing Shot with my new Panasonic Lumix G2
Probably the G2 for awhile till I'm fully up to speed on my latest Nikon again. Then the D7000's 50% larger sensor and simplification of complex controls will make that choice nearly a no-brainer for shooting OPA. For everything else, it'll continue to be a quandry. The G2 is smaller, lighter and easier to know focus and exposure, since its electronic viewfinder is so wonderful for all those things, and the D7000 will always make me guess.
I was surprised how small and light the D7000 is. Not as tiny as the G2, but not the behemouths my Nikon D200 and tragically discombobulated Nikon D300 are. The D200, so far, has far outlasted the D300 I bought three years later. Its shutter fell apart, and I'm not sure I want to fix it, even though at one time, it would only have cost $300. I don't know if it would still only cost $300 and three months without it, but it's no longer the APS-C (Nikon calls it DX) champion, and the D7000 has all but eclipsed it. I lost faith in Nikon with my D300, making my m43 decision all that more likely.
Today, finally, Apple wanted me to semi-automatically upgrade to something downloadable and free that gave my system G3 RAW compatibility, so I went for it, but it didn't do anything for my ancient version of Pshop, so I finally upgraded to CS5.5, and now Raw works. Nice of them to remind me. I've had that upgrade disk awhile, just kept procrastinating installing it, because nothing was going right, and there's never any sense in adding to the mess.
Can't wait to thoroughly test it. I've already photographed some dead flowers in a box (for an art series I've been working of the past decade or so), and Anna gave me a very small birdthday party with more flowers than guests, so I'll be photographing them live for awhile then as they die and dishevel..
I loved shooting RAW on my big Nikons (Compared to the G2, almost everything is big.), and have often read that the G2's raw files are better by far than their JPEGs, although I must say, I've never had any real issues with jpegs, except more of them fit on a backup drive. I really don't look forward to quadzippling my storage, but raw is usually worth it, and if I ever catch up with all the dud image files I've backed up just because I was too lazy to winnow each stack down to the real winners, I'll be okay.
Egret Flying Low and Slow Before the Sun Comes Down
Thom Hogan asks, "Yes, I mean you. Quick, how many different cameras have you bought in the past two years? Is your photography any better?"
And I answer, I've bought the Canon s90 and the Panasonic G2, and I use the G2 usually more than once, every day, and my photographs are spectacularly better, because I know pretty much what they look like before I take them. I don't have to guess about exposure, shutter speed or aperture, like I alway have to with Nikons. With the G2's electronic viewfinders (EVFs) I see, I know, and then I shoot.
I still get to wait for that decisive moment, and it doesn't track birds (BiF) in flight well, but for everything else, I'm a better photographer for having the G2.
Now, should I get a G3? Or should I get a big, heavy, fast and fast-tracking Nikon? Good question. I'm stymied, except Nikon's been so busy introducing its own mirrorless camera with a signficantly smaller sensor than micro fourthirds and its bigger lense. So I'll probably have to wait till they finally get around to introducing the D400, about which there are hardly even any rumors yet.
Recently I got to play with a friend's big, heavy (compared to my G2) Nikon 7000 last week, and I held down on the trigger, and it fired 7 shots very fast using RAW plus JPEG, then it stopped dead in its tracks.
I was, of course, pretending I was following a fast bird flying across the landscape. Great for those first seven shots. But after that? Nothing. I like RAW. I prefer RAW. Even my elderly Mac will let me shoot and PP Raw images. But it won't let me do Raw Panasonic till I upgrade Photoshop. It's almost worth doing. But not yet.
Thom Hogan has an interesting website about Nikon and Olympus cameras that I sometimes visit.
Every once in awhile I get a BiF right or nearly right. I was able to track this egret even if I haven't upgraded my G2's tracking with the latest update, because it was going slow, and because I was looking down on it, there was more of it to focus on.
I'm still seriously considering buying a big,
heavy Nikon. I'd get a D400, if they'd only start making and selling one. I liked
my D300 until the shutter disassembled itself. I sometimes still use my D200,
but its interface is too slow. And I always miss the always-on Live Viewfinder
of my G2. I assume Nikon can't make D400s yet, because their workers are still
glowing in the dark.
Red, Light and Blue
Big Lights, Little Lites
Crown of Light
The Ch Word
Juvenile Red-winged Blackbird in Sunflower tree G2
with 100-300mm lens
Gotta stop using bird pix on this page.
My G2 is de facto my usual carry-anywhere camera. I keep hoping Olympus or Panasonic (since my m43 lenses will fit any mf3 camera, and Oly has in-camera image stabilization) will release a professional m43 camera, but it looks like they're way too involved in capturing a market share than making real profit from a really outstanding camera. Everything either has produced lately falls squarely into the smaller, lighter, fewer manual controls, cheaper, easier for amateurs realm. Pity.
So my next camera upgrade will probably be to the Nikon D400 (on which all my old Nikon lenses will work) that rumor sites indicate will be announced (nice thing about Nikon announcements; they usually don't tell us about new cameras till they actually have a bunch of them to sell — unlike Pany and Oly. Oly eventually has cameras to sell in the USA. Pany USA may take six months or more — in late August. So maybe by my birthday, I'll have a serious, new dSLR, that my fingers will probably already know how to operate, though my brain may lag. It often does.
My G2 will still be the camera — and likely the 20mm f/1.7 will be the lens — I take arting or people-ing, but for birds or professional shooting, I'll take and shoot my large, heavy and very professional Nikon D400. I hope. If the rumor sites are right, and they are often enough. (My fave rumor sites are m43 rumors and Nikon Rumors, with Canon Rumors running a distant third. There are others, but I lost most of those links when my old browser, El Camino, crashed ingloriously earlier this summer).
I still love what my G2 can do, and I'll probably still take it — as a second or back-up camera — for birding or sight-seeing trips, even if I will expect more quality and significantly faster focusing speed for action photography (like birds in flight) from the Nikon. I had harbored great hopes for the m43 companies to develop a professional camera once I got the hang of using the G2. But that, apparently, is not going to happen.
If birds hold still, don't perch on vertical posts or vertically on posts, [See bird on sign below] or fly (!), I can capture them with the G2. If they do, I can't. That's a serious discrepancy for someone who shoots how and what I like to photograph.
Besides, it's sad to let all my old Nikon lenses
go to waste, although I got an adapter to use my elderly Nikkor 55mm macro, which
is full manual anyway. I can wait to see how that works, but I am looking forward
to actually being able to see the exposure, for a big change).
clockwise from top left: Wood Stork, Great Egret flying, Great Blue Heron and smaller Great Egret
Saturday morning we arrived at the Trinity River Audubon Center a half hour east of Dallas before the nice lady even opened the front gate. We were eager to see some Wood Storks we'd heard were being seen there and hoped to miss the heat of mid-morning, since recent afternoon temperatures had been rising to well past 100 degrees F, although that may have been unavoidable. After tromping the paths there, we eventually found one stork high in one tree and later saw a flock of about two dozen of the distinctive birds fly over the ponds where we'd originally hoped to see storks standing around.
I brought both my Nikon D200 with its 70-300mm (my longest reliable lens now that my Stigma 150-500 has all but died) and my G2 with its 100-300mm Nikkor zoom lens. Very equivalent lenses, the main difference between the two was that the projected image on the D200 was larger than that on the G2, although the Nikon camera + lens combination was considerably larger and heavier.
That hot morning's best images are on my Amateur Birder's Journal —current link and link after July 2011.
For awhile, I used the two cameras interchangeably,
starting with the G2 to photograph a long and beautiful Texas Indigo Snake, because
it was just easier to hold. When I photographed the snake, I thought it
was dead, but when I stepped over its four- or five-foot length, it came quickly
to life and startled me.
Texas Indigo Snake
Then I'd try the Nikon for awhile. For fast focusing, the Nikon generally won out, but for color and exposure previews — especially helpful when a small bird camouflaged itself in a tree full of leaves, the G2 was far better, lighter, easier to use, and it provided far superior visual preview. It's not a champion fast-focuser, however, but if I could pre focus on a particular scene — as in the image on top of today's entry — it was easy to capture unfurling action.
The Great Blue Heron and Great Egret were up in the tree with the stork from our first sighting, when we shot, walked closer, shot again, then walked even closer up under that tree. When those birds started being visually agitated and flapping their wings excitedly, I carefully clicked the shutter about once per second while the Great Egret flew through the frame.
Since there was plenty of light directly on the subject, I had the camera set at f/7.1 @ whatever the camera set in Aperture-Priority mode (1/1,250 here) using ISO 250 for good color and lots of contrast. I'd recently read that using any digital camera at apertures smaller than f/8 was detrimental to image quality, because of diffraction from the aperture blades.
One thing that surprised me was that the heavier Nikon camera-and-lens was not onerous to carry, compared with the much smaller and lighter Panasonic, like I assumed it would be. (Although my Blunderbuss Sigma 150-500 zoom usually was a chore.)
I do need a better, more weight-distributive strap for the Nikon — because I switched straps when I got the Pany, and had not bothered to buy another good one. So I used the strap that came with one of my Nikons, and it was too short and not comfortable enough and fairly shouts NIKON, even though I had attempted to Marksalot over it.
I have been using my black, Crumpler ("The Industry Disgrace") camera strap on the G2 since the first week I've had that camera. It is an easy strap to attach, and very comfortable to use for either large or small cameras. The extra-thick back-of-the-neck length helps distribute the weight and hold the camera firmly. For $30, it's a bargain. In fact, I just talked myself into ordering another one, in brown, for the Nikon. I'm not sure why the strap's name includes the disgrace part, but it's a great strap, and the name is memorable.
When a Great Blue Heron flew over carrying a stick for its nest, I photographed it — a little too late — with the Nikon and got good exposure and focus, so when the flock of wood storks flew over the ponds down the long hill below the center's main building that I was just about to enter, I attempted to shoot them with the Nikon. But in 19 shots in about nine seconds — faster than the G2 can shoot, I never once acquired critical focus, although I seriously doubt the G2 could have done better, since it nearly always fails to focus flying birds or wastes precious seconds hunting focus.
Over the years, my D200 has acquired a spot on
the image, always in the exact same position, that does not go away when I blast
air through the opened shutter. I guess it's well past time I got its innards
cleaned out professionally.
Cattle Egret in Cloudy Blue Sky — This is one of the best BIF shots I've ever made on my G2.
Reading a review of the new G3 in CameraLabs.com, I learned that "the Field Sequential technology used to generate images sometimes 'tears' with a rainbow effect during fast pans or when glancing across the image." Although I've never seen that happen, I suspect that's why, when I look at birds that are small compared with the frame size (I much prefer photographing larger birds), they appear to flicker as they flap away. It's annoying enough that It becomes difficult to watch the silly things twitch.
CameraLabs also said that shooting images in high-speed mode was "a deal-breaker for action photographers," because the G3 does not show live view between shots, but instead inserts just-taken images." When I tried high-speed bursts on my G2, that happened, so I reset it to M (medium speed — about 3 fps), and never looked back.
Then they warn that if we switch the G3 to continuous AF, [we]'ll see the shooting speed dramatically reduce," adding that we might as well "select the 3 fps mode for live feedback as the AF system will effectively slow it down beyond this rate anyway." I wonder if I need faster than 3 fps. I used to spend hours going through large bird fly-by shots on my 5 fps Nikon D300, which uses an optical viewfinder. I don't believe 3 fps is too slow, if the camera would only focus in on the bird while I was shooting.
I got the G2 primarily for the direct visual feedback offered by the EVF that shows exposure, color, focus, blur or sharpness in all scene variations.
The G3 focuses faster, but it doesn't say it focuses better. The CameraLabs review calls the G3 "the quickest contrast-based AF system I've used." This from one of the best and most professional camera reviewing sites on the web, even if it is based on the other side of the planet in New Zealand, and his videos have an NewZea accent.
It does not however, tell me whether it will sometimes simply refuse to focus on an object or a bird who's just standing there, on a fencepost or a tree limb. The camera's refusal to focus seems to relate to the verticality of the subject. The taller in the frame the subject is, the less likely the camera will bother to focus. I wonder whether the G3 has that built-in limitation, too. Nobody who's reviewed the G2 has ever mentioned it, but it's a big deal.
I used to watch my D200 and D300 snap into focus as I panned along with and photographed birds in flight. The G2 rarely continues to focus as I shoot, no matter how I have it set. Now I wonder if any m43 camera maker wants to develop a system that continues to focus as frames fly by. I know the m43 market now is for beginners with interchangeable lens cameras, and the G3 is definitely intended for beginners, who think they need small but haven't figured out yet that they need fast. But what I need is a professional camera, and I might have to settle for a big, heavy, chunky Nikon instead of a light, fast m43.
The new G3 review by Digital Photography Review, the gold standard of online camera reviewers says pretty much the same thing, only in more detail.
Catbird Seat with Trash and Recycle Bins
Off-chance, I clicked an Amazon link supposedly to the "Ultimate Micro Four Thirds Kit" (UMFTK) by somebody named R. Canales ("real name"), who has thus far received zero helpful votes on Reviews." I can see why.
What I got was a list of ten, often duplicating cameras. Three GF1s, the List Author didn't say why. One body, one with a 20mm and one with the older and better 14~45 kit zoom. Then just to keep everything chaotic, an Olympus Pen E-P2 with the 17mm f/2.8, an E-P1 with a 14~42 kit zoom (very nearly duplicating the 14~45), and the older Oly E-P1 with the 17mm f/2.8 that really doesn't test very well at all.
Then a flash for the Oly E-P1 that doesn't have one built-in, like my G2. Then an Oly Pen E-PL1, amateur model with yet another 14~42mm and a Oly cable remote cable release and a different brand of remote shutter release. Then a shoulder/belt bag that carries two bodies and two lenses, just four short of the camera body count so far.
Then comes an 8 gb, a 4 gb and a 32 gb flash memory card, none of which will fit into any of the cameras listed. A replacement battery. A tripod for heavier cameras than m43 "but also can be used with your bigger SLRs," although there's no bigger SLRs in the UMFTK. A Panasonic DMW-LVF1 electronic viewfinder for one of your three Pany GF1s, that are no longer available. One large red and small black Giotto Rocket Air Blaster. I have a middle-sized one, and I agree one is worthwhile, and plenty.
Some lens cleaning tissue, that is not, as the list author claims, "the best way to clean your lenses." Don't use folded paper, use a micro-fiber cloth.
25 yards of gaffer tape to attach something to, ah, something I'm sure. And another camera — a Pany GH1 (also no longer available) and a 43 to m43 adapter, even though there's no 43 lenses in the kit. A SD card reader (got the right kind of card this time, at least, and a good addition to an ultimate kit. Then a Pany 45mm f/2.8 lens, a 45~200 f/4~5.6 Pany lens — I mean, do you really need two 45mm lenses? Why not the 100~300, too?
And a 20mm f/1.7. Good lens, as the list author says, "built better than the 17 f/2.8 from Olympus," that he also recommends. Do you really need both the spectacular 20 and the truly mediocre 17? Of course not.
A Nikon to m43 adapter but no Nikon lenses. I have one of those, but I've not used it, either. An Oly OM lens to m43 adapter without OM lenses, and a Pany mount adapter.
Weird, weird selections, not based on any known or unknown usage or intelligence. Thrown together nilly willy. At least a couple years ago. I had hoped to tell you the total amount for this incredibly stupid collection of expensive devices. But they didn't give me a total amount, so I deleted them all. As quickly as possible.
Then I read a comparison of the G3 and the Olympus Pen E-P3 not bourne out by the best comparison I've seen. You'll have to enter "Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 and equal ISO into one of the boxes, and you can change the marquee selected in the picture above, but you'll see the facts not in evidence in the comparison story.
Net Fishing by the Steps down from the White Rock Lake Spillway 20mm lens small crop
I finally gave up on my Nikons — at least till the D400 is out and thoroughly tested — and I usually go with just one camera and one lens. Most often that's my G2 with the 100~300mm, because together they are light and small and work well. As I may have mentioned, I think in telephoto, but when I might photograph art and probably will do people, like at art openings or just around town, I carry the light and bright 20mm f/1.7.
When I'm not sure what I'll be up to, I might take both lenses, but I almost never use the 14~42 kit zoom, and I wish I'd spent the money on something else, maybe a macro or some M&Ms. An even longer fixed lens might be nice too, say a 500mm (thus,' 35mm equivalent' of 1,000mm), but far as I know there isn't an image-stabilized autofocus one of those that works with m43, although there should be. A bright short zoom like the non-micro, four-thirds 12~60 f/2.8~3.5 could be great, too. But that does not exist, either. Yet.
It took awhile to learn to use my Nikon 70-300mm for BiF (birds in flight), another year or so to adapt to the Stigma 150-500mm zoom I used to call 'the rocket launcher' when it worked, but now it's 'the blunderbuss' because it doesn't focus and the IS is iffy. So it will probably take longer to learn to photograph them with the 100-300. I'd love a longer, brighter fixed lens, but it'd be yet another learning curve sharply upward.
I've seen the videos of the supposedly fastest focusing dSLR in the world, Olympus' latest m43 offering, focusing back and forth on napkins and people at a party, but that's nothing compared to finding and holding focus on a bird in flight. When that gets fast or even possible, I'll pay attention.
I spend most of my time photographing either art or birds, and the G2 — or the new G3, or the GF pro that will eventually follow — may be the best possible camera for my work. But meanwhile, the G2 is plenty good enough.
My Nikon D200 refusing to focus a Little Blue Heron I had in my sights more than a minute.
So, this morning when Anna and I visited the Fort Worth Drying Beds, I took both cameras. My one working Nikon — an aging D200 — and the G2, and I used them both, eventually settling on the G2, because its images acquired focus more often. The Nikon was a disappointment, because it rarely acquired focus. I hadn't used it in a long time, and I barely remembered the important basics, and had forgot the parts about changing screen focus areas in the screen.
I'd been thinking of getting my — faster, newer, with more intuitive controls — Nikon D300 repaired. But I'm not convinced it can be. It's had intermittent problems that have got a lot worse since I got my G2, even though I have not been using the Nikon. Like it went on vacation since I wasn't using it.
I had hoped it would focus well and focus fast, but neither condition obtained. Very disappointing. I'd hoped the Nikon could pick up the slack in those several instances when the G2 didn't have the time nor inclination to focus — flying and otherwise fast-moving birds.
I had apparently set the focus area larger than I used to, probably one of my experimental moods when I think I won't use this camera for awhile, what difference does it make how I set it? Then I forget I did that, try it and it doesn't work as I remember it, and I don't know how to get it out, and I need it right now. It's set much smaller now, and I'll try it on birds at White Rock Lake my next time out. And I've acquired a tiny fraction of the focus experience I used to take for granted.
The G2 sharply rendering a Yellow-crowned Night Heron suddenly flying away
After rereading Ken Rockwell's Nikon D200 guide, I figured I had set the focus area too large, so I could not get pinpoint focus, which I desperately needed for (comparatively) little birds in wide telephoto areas very far from me. I also need more practice and more on-the-job training with what to do when I want to do this or that or the other to happen.
These two images are mutually exclusive special cases. If I'd had it set correctly, the G2 would have rendered the Little Blue Heron at the top (itself a small crop of the DX frame, sharp without much problem, but the Nikon appeared to refuse to focus at all. Part of the problem was the intermittent battery power issue. I usually put several layers of blue tape on the bottom of Nikon batteries, so they maintain battery contact and continue to provide power. Those were gone, and I didn't have any tape so I eventually shoved in some tissue, and that worked well enough.
The G2 rarely captures flying birds with much acuity. If my Nikon worked properly, it should have been a natural for this sudden action, but it wasn't and it didn't. Eventually I got it to almost focus and even sometimes actually focus, but by then I'd got frustrated with it and wanted to handle something lighter and faster and easier to deal with.
Same Pelicans, Differing Technique
So I tried iA mode today, and I think it helped, although once I started photographing [Yeah, those pelicans again. That same bunch. I know I'm overly fascinated by them.], I tried desperately to get out of that silly mode once I walked across the bay to see and photo them closer than I ever have before, and I don't even know if I succeeded getting it out of iA. For some idiot reason, in that mode, the camera chose to set my camera at f/5.6, and I struggled in the middle of shooting these pelicans to give it a little more field depth, but it wasn't happening, and meanwhile I had the opportunity, so I just kept shooting.
Got good shots. Better than usual. Lots better than usual. Helped that I was so much closer, but I got rich color, solid focus, and stopped most of the action, even if I was hung up on getting more depth, and they weren't moving very fast. My hurry was to get as many shots off before they filled up on fishes and swam off somewhere farther away. When I calmed down later and started thinking it through, I realized I may have to push that silly blue button more often.
Focus, which has been eluding me lately, was a whole lot easier. But I was shooting into the sun before I pushed the button, and I was having the devil of a time, getting yellow scale back to normal after. I probably should learn more about it for next time. Practice or something.
I've avoided it this long into my G2, because I always think I can outsmart the camera in amateur mode. But these shots were so much better than what I've been getting with the G2 — densely colored, significantly overexposed (but still mostly manageable in Photoshop) and did I mention sharp? Focused better than I've done in a long time. And maybe f/5.6 at a 500th of a second is what I should have been shooting all along.
I was using my Panasonic 100-300 zoom as usual.
When I'm birding, I usually do. Almost always. I tend to think in telephoto anymore.
Sunday, I played with the 20mm all day, and it was strange and fun. When I did
Nikons (earlier this year), I had a Sigma 150-500, which supposedly equates to
a 225-750, and I like long. But the Pany's substantially sharper than that stupid
Stigma, even if its equivalence is shorter.
Early Ayem Fishing
I've been carrying two cameras lately. One or the other of my big (!) Nikons, the D300 (till I learned it was terminally bunged, not just transitionally buggy) or the D200 (lately). I always liked the interface of the 300 better. The one major issue with the 300 was that it occasionally skipped a frame. Now, apparently, there are several issues much more difficult to deal with. I know I could get the 300 fixed, but it's so dated, why bother?
Big — or even middle-sized Nikons are much better at focusing in difficult focusing situations — like birds in branchy trees, focusing fast — while the bird is still in sight ‚ and following fast action — like pelicans flying and learning to fly again.
But my G2 is significantly
better at shooting in available darkness (like I have been early mornings at
the lake lately) and for controlled (not too much action, not too many shadows)
and uncontrolled lighting. Can't beat seeing the actual colors and exposure before
I shoot or being able to adjust exposure compensation, rather than having to
guess, like with dSLRs like my aging Nikons. I have considered getting the newer
Nikon D7000, but it has rapid exposure issues that are not dissimilar
to my G2's tepid speed. And compared with light, small m43 cameras, it is large
June 18 2011
That Chair, Upended by Strong Winds shot with Panasonic G2
I've just been playing with my Nikon D300 again. After all the put-downs I've stacked up against it lately, I thought I should get back a feel for the big dSLR. My gosh, that sucker's heavy and bulky. I've got used to hefting the G2, if hefting is the word. And although I don't remember much about shooting with the Nikon — it's been awhile now — my fingers are remembering back a way with it. I was wrong when I said they didn't. Sorry, fingers.
Had to seriously think about it to accomplish anything at first. It's getting easier. I just re-read Ken Rockwell's guide to the D300 and DLed his version for my iTouch. I never learned all of it perfectly. Probably never will, but I need practice, and getting the basic settings set right will jump start that endeavor. With my "little" Nikon 70-300 zoom, not my huge 'rocket launcher' Stigma 150-500.
The D300's over/under exposure scale is just the opposite of the G2's, so's the direction it twists to zoom, although I've never got that right on the G2 — always, always start with he wrong direction. So starting back with my good old used-to-be should be easier by fractions. What's become natural on the Panasonic feels very unnatural on the Nikon. But I'm going to try this big rig out on the pelicans. Maybe tomorrow. My sleep cycle's so twisted, I actually wake up early in the morning these days.
I did finally get some pix of the eight liberated pelicans flying — and while the G2 was desperately attempting to fling back and forth between too far out of and too far in hunt-and-not-finding focus, I kept reminding me how much better the D300 was at all that. Carrying it may break my back, neck, arms or hands. But I'm gonna work with it some to remember more of the differences. Maybe even get back a little closer to the notion of carrying them both. But first the D300.
Then, of course, I'll miss the G2.
June 10-12 2011
Learning How to be Pelicans in the Wild Again
Over the weekend I became obsessed with photographing at first eight, then seven — no idea what happened to the other one — American White Pelicans who showed up at White Rock Lake late last week. When he became aware that there were pelicans in Sunset Bay, Charles called Anna, and Anna had her grandchild Alice, so she called me, and I rushed over and started taking pictures, even if it was too dark to shoot telephotos.
Then I came back twice the next day and once today, already. The obsession is dwindling, but the opportunity to photograph pelicans two months after our local contingent went back to Southern Idaho (we checked bands), is still alluring. I love photographing American White Pelicans and the opportunity is too good to pass up, although I long to photograph these guys flying. Unfortunately, when they get good at it, they'll fly away.
Anna guessed they had been released by Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, checked up on it, and learned that Rogers had, indeed, released eight rehabilitated American White Pelicans last week. They usually release them at White Rock Lake, because such a large flock usually of about 70 pelicans winter here. But that flock left, as it usually does, around April 15, and now these guys are here with no hint of how to get back to Idaho.
I have watched one of them attempt to fly, and it was not very good at it (nor I or the G2 of photographing it), two-footed hopped across the water as pelicans do, and tried several times to get aloft, but it could not stay there.
They sweep the bay early in the morning — between 6 and 7 ayem — fishing and exploring before many people arrive at the public lake situated within the City Limits of Dallas, Texas, USA. Then they spend the rest of the heat of the day (which is why most of our pelicans leave here in April) mostly resting on some logs out in the middle of the bay.
Paralleling to Learn iso 800 1/500 f/9
Okay, enough preamble. TMI, etc. But I wanted to set the stage.
These few days I've wished I had a big Nikon with me instead of the G2. Many times. More times than ever before, even the early days when I still carried either my Nikon D200 or D300 as well as the G2. The G3's pinpoint focus might have cured most of those instances. But not all. I may have said this way too often already. There are many times when the G2 simply will not focus.
My Nikons have a focus mode setting whereby it automatically focuses on the first object it encounters out there in space, which also often worked on birds on water, water being the space in that case. There is nothing like that on the G2, and I bet it's also not on the G3. Which makes focusing on one bird or several birds far from the camera very very difficult. Often impossible.
This shot is almost in focus. There's some, but not nearly enough, detail showing. It is soft. Too soft to make a 20 x 30-inch print. Probably too soft for even a 16 x 20. Might get away with a 13 x 19. Might not. It's okay here on the web, where I usually publish my pix, but the focus on this nearly full-frame shot just isn't good enough. It was shot at f/9 @ 1/500 and ISO 800. The high iso adds to the visual noise, which is almost the same thing visually (and caused by the same factors) as large grain in film.
At those setting, it really should be sharper. On one of my Nikons, it would have been sharper. I understand that aperture diffusion plays a bigger part in sharpness with micro four-thirds (m43) cameras than with APS-C format sensors like my Nikons have, because the difference in distance from lens to sensor. Light traveling along longer focal distances scatter (diffuse) less when traveling past the edges of the metal blades that create differing apertures (f-stops) than when they do that in longer focal distances.
Noise reduction software (I use Dfine.) smoothes out visual noise, but it can't do much about soft focus. I have tested various, supposedly "sharpening" software for images, but none of them do much more than Photoshop's own Smart Sharpening, which I use gently (apply to my max of 139%, then back it off to 44, 55 or 77% in real Photoshop). And 1/500 shutter speed may be at the low end of usable hand-held shutter speeds anyway. So in low-light situations like occurs when pelicans do something besides stand around on logs out in the middle of the bay. They are much more active during the early morning and late evening.
I could go higher iso, but that just makes for too much noise for the anti-noise software to adequately deal with.
Pelican Practicing Flying
Worse, the G2 usually fails to focus on something already moving. It depends too much on the size of focus frame selected. The purpose of a changeable sized focus frame is to tell the camera what all you want in focus. It will endeavor to focus all the objects at differing distances that are included in the focus frame. Which is why a tiny one, a pin-point focus point, like on the G3 would be so nice. Then the camera would know right off, we only want what's in that tiny fraction of the full frame to be in absolute focus.
Following a fast-moving bird, like this recently-released and rehabilitated pelican who's running across the water and trying to get aloft, with a tiny pinpoint focus frame will be nearly impossible. Three seconds later, after it gave up, not having slipped the surly bonds of earth, I was able to focus on it with its wings up, but its body floating on the lake. Too late to take the photo of it practicing flying.
My Nikons would have kept trying to focus even on a fast-moving object like this pelican. As I often have, following fast-flying birds, I would have seen it quickly come into sharp focus, instead of hunting back and forth and not having the coded-in intelligence to stop when it was sharp. But then the Nikons shoot at least twice as many frames per second.
I later realized I had my G2 in slow rapid-fire mode, so when I switch it to single shot for careful shooting, I'd get instant replay. Sad I have to set such a complicated, interactive set of controls to get instant review, that then overrides me shooting fast when it's way too late already for dumpster diving (spelunking the obscure, complicated and too-deep menus).
This camera is touted as a touch-controllable camera, but there's still too many complexities hidden in the menus. Murphy's Law dictates that now I've changed the settings, I'll probably need the replay mode and won't see any fast action for awhile. I appreciate the touch controls, but sometimes a nice little, single-action button or two would be easier and quicker. Maybe a button to replace the stupid iA near where my finger could find it while I'm looking through the EVF.
I know the G3 will have two modes, each including several different control settings. I'm thinking I'd need at least three…
Most dSLRs use a different focusing method from m43 cameras, so that he m43s are inherently slower to focus. I have been trying to get the G2 to go against its very nature to become a wildlife camera. But it's just not. I can get away with photographing birds on it, sometimes even moving birds. But it's just not good enough for sudden or fast action. Which is a great disappointment, and it probably means I should be researching the right, bigger frame sensor, camera and longer, bulkier and heavier telephoto lens with a wider aperture. And those suckers cost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars more.
June 1 2011
Window Treatment at Last Night's B&B iso 500
One of my favorite camera-testing sites, The Imaging Resource, has a preview of the new G3, and they seem to like it a lot. I will finish reading the review as I write this entry, but I've taken long, serious looks at their usual full-resolution lens-testing image as rendered by the G3, and I was impressed soon as I saw it. I'm used to scoping cam lenses there, so I know what to look for and at. And I was also impressed. I should note, however, that the camera in question is a prototype and not a production model, but if the production model is this good, there's definitively a G3 is in my future.
I'm already a big fan of my G2's LCD touch controls, and this cam has more and better of those, so it might be truly copacetic. I won't need another lame 14~42mm kit lens, so my 20mm f/1.7, 100~300mm zoom with varying apertures might finally get something else Panasonic with Mega OIS. I really need a close-up lens, and I really want an even longer zoom or fixed focal length telephoto.
Even though it's a PREview, not a REview, I'm very interested in IR's take. I trust them more than anybody but Digital Photography Review (dPr) and (sometimes, he gets carried away with new cameras often) Ken Rockwell, who rarely recommends anything but Canons, Nikons and Leicas. And them more than ANYbody else. I'm sure dPr has previewed the G3, too. But their previews are so often hype-filled reiterations of camera company BS. IR tells it closer to the truth than anybody I know of.
But be sure to test out DPR's amazing image comparison device that lets us directly compare how up to three other contemporary cameras render their standard studio scene at differing ISOs. In that, the G3 comes off remarkably better than even some APS-C cameras, whose sensors are 50% larger.
I won't miss the AF/AE Lock button, because I've never used it. Thought about it a couple times, but never once tried it yet, so no worry there. I also have only ever made two videos, and I have no idea where either one of those are, although I usually save everything. I was hoping for a higher res LCD, but the one on my G2 is perfectly acceptable. I've rarely swiped my G2's screen, but I have noticed it not registering direct touches when enlarging images on the LCD to check focus and details (which is very close to the same thing but not entirely).
I like the idea of more megapixels and lower noise at higher ISOs. I don't care about the other aspects both cameras offer, I only ever use the native 4:3 ratio, because I always want as many megs of pixels as I can get. I won't miss ISO 100, because I so rarely use it. Better burst performance will be appreciated. I was using my G2's today, as I often do, and it's slow compared to my Nikons that I rarely ever use anymore. So rarely that my fingers no longer quite know what to do with my D200 or D300.
I don't pretend to understand how a G2 or G3 focuses, but if the G3 is faster and involves more points on the full screen, the better. Very very often, my G2 simply will not focus, no matter how large or small a focus point I choose. The new pinpoint focus point may be helpful sometimes, but it won't help much when trying to focus fast-moving birds, which the G2 is horrible at. The new automatic 5x zoom when using Pinpoint focusing sounds like a nightmare for all but studio conditions. It always confuses me when my G2 assumes I want it to zoom in on auto or manual focusing, usually because I'm steadying my long zoom incorrectly. For studio shots, however, even the 3x, 5x or 10x MF Assist zoom feature may actually be helpful. I look forward to trying it.
I never use Face recognition or detection, so I just don't care. I take relatively few snapshots.
I wish I could choose which of the camera's features the Touch panel controlled. There's a bunch on the G2 I would happily get rid of just to speed up its use. Having even more to trip through is not a welcome concept, but it's usually pretty quick to click through all the goofy ones. I so rarely use flash that any new modes would only confuse me further. I may eventually use video more than I do now, so any improvement there might actually be helpful, but not for awhile.
I can, however, see value in having two Custom mode positions, as I often vary individual settings for differing sorts of shooting, and that might actually help. We'll see. Direct Kelvin adjustment in 100k steps might help, sometimes. I often set my color to Vivid but I try to entirely ignore their other, so called "creative" and so-called "film" modes. They just get in the way.
Mirrored Lampshade iso 500
I already use counterfeit (or maybe licensed) Maxtek G2 batteries with no ill effects whatsoever. They're cheaper and last just as long, so I don't know if I will still be able to use them on the G3. That the batteries won't go as far as they do on the G2 will be a nuisance, but worth it for the various image quality improvements.
I like my G2's JPEG rendering and until I upgrade Photoshop (soon, soon) I don't care about RAW. If I alter its well-known proclivity toward orange or brown or green or whatever in PP, I haven't noticed it. But I'm sure I'll go RAW eventually, although most of RAW's improvements are available in Photoshop via Bridge already, so I really don't care.
I have more often been annoyed by the G2 switching from LCD to viewfinder than any other of its annoyances, so I might actually like the new LCD to EVF switch. But I decidedly do love having an EVF, so whatever they feel they must do there is okay with me — I have often wished my G2 had a switch.
I have never figured out Pany's idiot scheme for which menu item goes on which multi-page menu group, and I probably never will. The less I have to use the deep-down menu system, the better.
My fingers often trip on my G2's tiny buttons, and I've never managed to get the ones in the circle on the back, to the right of the LCD to render their labeled settings (ISO, WB). Not once, not ever. Though I generally managed to get the camera to do pretty close to what I want it to do.
That battery life is diminished from the G2's remarkably good bat life, sucks. That dynamic range is also diminished, also sucks. These point to a possible dumbing down of the camera, as Panasonic attempt to reach a larger, less sophisticated audience. I doubt the G2 sold anywhere near how well they expected it to sell.
But that the G3 trashes the G2's IQ (image quality) at ISO 1600 and at 3200 rules. I have rarely printed G2 shots, using them mostly on my various web pages, but if I get into a couple recent competitions, I might have to, and then we'll see what we can see. I will be printing 16x20s of a couple G2 shots for an invitational exhibition very soon, however. I can't wait to see what I discover there.
In one idiot competition obviously 'organized' by folks who have never organized an exhibition before, some crops of my G2 images did not render their minimum, 5-10 megabyte size requirements. They didn't say what format they wanted — JPEG, is what I assumed they needed, although I could easily have rendered G2 shots as PSDs that would break their banks.
I am imagining taping or gluing some tiny thimble-like cap on the even more-in-the-way iA button on the G3, which I only ever use by accident on my G2.
I doubt I'll read more of IR's previews on
optics, exposure, performance or peruse their thumbnail or gallery pages and
instead just wait for their real camera tester to test a production unit. I'd
never trust a preview using a prototype to decide whether to purchase a production
camera, but it was fun reading this far, and I must admit I'm a little excited
to learn much more about the production version of the G3, and I wonder if I'll
be able to put it and my 20mm f/1.7 in a big pocket.
May 13 2011
Egret Fight - Escape
I remember that it took quite a while, although I do not remember just how long a while, for me to finally learn to know where a flying bird was and to immediately track it with first my 70-300mm Nikon zoom, then with the much-longer 150-500mm Sigma (when it worked at all). And now, after three months with the camera and almost that with my Panasonic 100-300mm zoom, I am finally able — some of the time — to acquire birds flying and render them sharp (rarely).
But I keep trying. Today, I snuck up pretty close to where various egrets had gathered to spear fish swimming by in the rush of recently fallen rain sluicing through the lower spillway at White Rock Lake, where I often photograph birds. Today's best shots are on my Amateur Birder's Journal (here for May 2011 and here thereafter).
I was very uncomfortably draped over the too-tall edge of a wrought iron fence. I kept wishing I'd brought my step-up from home, to get me high enough over the fence to be able to shoot in any direction at any angle whenever I wished. But I was severely limited in motion where I was. Still, I managed to get some pretty awesome shots.
I've noticed lately that I finally can look at a bird out there and immediately aim the tele zoom right where it is. That skill took about 2.5 months to get right almost every time.
There's lot going on in those egret fighting pictures, faster action that most of my birds-in-flight shots, certainly, although I've been practicing with those, also, lately. I'm still not very good at it. Today, straining to follow fast-flying egrets coming from the dense foliage of the island out to the far edge of the concrete lower spillway, I was only able to capture one or two birds flying.
I decided that it has a lot to do with how fast the EVF (electronic viewfinder) redraws its screen. It's a little like panning fast with an old-fashioned video camera. I've often watched birds flapping in the EVF, seeing the flickery image not show smooth motion. I think that's throwing me off. I remember wishing I could use my Nikons' optical eye view of fast action, which was always smooth, since it was always rendered optically, without the pesky artifacts of electronic video.
Egret Fight - Strike
The Panasonic Lumix G3 was introduced today, and it will supposedly be released in July for half the original price of my G2. Not half my original price, but half of the original MSRP, which was about twice what I paid for it last February. At first I worried about the dials the G2 has that the G3 doesn't. But the G3 is significantly smaller.
And I only rarely use most of the physical dials and selectors and selections on the dials on my G2, and I've got used to using the touch- menus on the articulating LCD for the others, so it might not be much of a bump for me. It's got higher resolution, significantly faster focus — including point focus (meaning it focuses at a single point, instead of attempting to keep in focus everything inside an only-so-small focusing area, all of which I could really appreciate. So maybe in six months or so, when the price drops and they fix everything they've screwed up on the new model, I might get one. It's also 25% smaller.
Although Olympus is still rumored to be introducing a professional m43 camera soon, it would really be nice to choose from in-camera (Olympus m43 cameras) or in-lens (Panasonic m43 cameras) image stabilization. But there's so many other details yet to be known.
I'm gradually learning that I can get away with higher ISOs, even in daylight, with my G2 than I could with my now several-years-old Nikon D300. These Egret Fight shots were mostly taken at ISO 400, at which speed both my Nikons start to lose it with color and contrast noise.
Meanwhile, I've been studying a shoulder strap that holds two cameras, so I could use my G2 and my elderly Nikon D300 to shoot the things and in the situations the other camera seems ill-equipped for. Like birds in flight on the G2. Since I don't have to buy anything but the strap (although it's fairly expensive), it might be a pretty good trade-off. I didn't think I would, but I dearly miss using Nikon's optical viewfinder.
I'll likely not get nearly as many really good exposures with Nikon's twice-removed-from-reality optical viewfinder that is so easy to render ideally using the G2's electronic viewfinders, but maybe I can use the Pany for a light meter to at least get into the neighborhood of perfect exposures on the Nikon.
One of the chief reasons I delved into the G2
in the first place was that the semi-pro Nikon D series — I have a D200 and
D300 — cameras were very difficult to get really good exposures with. I've since
discovered lots else I like about the Pany, however. It is significantly smaller
and lighter than the Nikon hulks.
There's an intelligent video review of the
of the new G3 from PhotoRadar.com.
Bird on a Sign — The G2 Would NOT Focus
Just back from five days on the road, to the Texas Coast for birds, San Antonio for my mother's 90th Birthday Party and birds, and I shot at least two thousand images on the G2. I took my Nikon with the damned Sigma 150-500mm lens (which did not malfunction once during my 8-shot foray with it) on my Nikon D300 one day but quickly learned my lesson and did not use either again.
The G2 is wonderful and maddening. I still have not figured out how to make it focus about ten percent of the time. Often it just will not focus, no matter which mode I choose or what size is the focus box. Very annoying, usually for small objects, like birds on posts or branches away from the rest of the tree.
If the background is the same distance from me as the object, usually no problem, but if there's something detailed back there that is not part of the subject and at some distance, so I'd want it blurred out, the camera insists on blurring the entire image. An undocumented feature taking over.
Sometimes I really wish I had a small Nikon dSLR. But I don't, and there isn't one. Yet. Olympus is once again rumored to be working on a genuine professional m43 camera, and that would be great to have fast focus, professional-level features and built-in image stabilization, but we've heard all this before. Nice thing about other cameras that adhere to the m43 protocol is that their lenses work fully on all m43 cameras, which means I could use Pany's great lenses (some of which I already own) on the Oly's cam, and have the best of several worlds.
At my mother's 90th birthday party (only one pic so far, eventually there'll be a large webpage), I kept getting depth of field but missing sharpness due to longer shutter speeds. For a while this week I played with a try-out version of Topaz' InFocus, but it's not as useful as Pshop's built-in Sharpness filters. I used high ISO. Already had set it to 800 when I realized that wasn't working, so I cranked it up to 1600, and for my uses, that's very good indeed. Eminently useful.
But I kept changing the aperture when I was trying to adjust the EV, since both are on the same knurled adjuster (a.k.a. rear dial) top right of the back of the camera. I often wish that had only one use, and that I could wreck aperture/shutter speed combinations some other way.
The G2 is still not the perfect answer to all my camera needs, but it's close, and two thousand or more images from the trip show that it was a successful outing with this camera. The bird pix are, as usual, on my Amateur Birder's Journal (link now), (link after May 2011). I haven't run the party images yet (except one of my mother doing the hula with two other dancers now on ThEdBlog), I've been so busy with the bird pix.
The G2 is truly lousy with most BIF (birds in
I no longer have any need or desire to return to that dreadful book [my review below], The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2, The Unofficial Quintessential Guide. It is certainly not a popularizing version of the manual Panasonic should have included with the camera. It is neither pleasant to read nor informative, and I just found the book on my bookcase and wondered where I could stash it for the next eternity. Stilted, difficult to read text, dense, obfuscatory and tedious. No thanks.
So sorry I led anyone astray with my original,
fairly positive review of that hulk. Waste of time and money.
Little Red Bike
Apparently, it's inevitable. Every time I start thinking this is the perfect camera for me, I learn, suddenly and without preamble, that it is not and can never be. Today, I was walking alone in the woods. Where Anna calls "The Fitchery," that many call 'The Old Fish Hatchery Area.' Behind the dam at White Rock Lake. A thick woods peppered with large, rectangular pans of water, where once grew fish, and now trees and weeds and all sorts of wildlife.
As a woods, it is trees and trees and utterly thick with trees. I don't know my trees much worse than I ever have not known my birds, but there must be hundreds of species. Allowed to grow. Volunteers, wild and wooly. Willy-nilly with dense vegetation. I tell myself I only go there for birds in the winter, when leaves are not so thick. But I was there today, because someone told me about some nests I would find fascinating, and I wanted to attend that tree-filled paradise to get the glimmer of a beginning knowledge of what that place is like now.
Green was much denser than it was last time I was there. With semi-official paths almost paved with embedded gravel but whose wild growth of branches has not been hacked back even as wide as the gravel, maybe one human wide. I stood where I have stood often before, in years past, and there's almost no place to put my body without slapping branches and leaves and probably dozens of crawling and biting bugs. I'll know for sure in a couple days of itching and scratching.
I heard many birds but only saw a few. I stared at dark stumps in the distance, along paths or out in the wild growth of pans, wondering if that were a bird or just more wood or something else. One of those bird-like shapes turned, as I stared, into a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron as I carefully and quietly watched. I photographed it, hoping against hope that one of my long-off shots of it would be in enough focus to present in my bird journal. (It was and now is in my Bird Journal.)
But another time, I tracked down from their gravely, crickets with a head cold, civit-civit sounds, tiny birds I couldn't see they were so fast, so electric in their flow and movement. I finally got them in my viewfinder, almost straight up from where I stood in the narrow gravel path, but my G2 refused to focus on them, insisting on focusing, if it even would, on some piece of intervening branch or leaf.
I've tried that same maneuver on small, flitting birds with my Nikons, and found it difficult to get them to focus, also, but eventually they would. The G2 would not. To learn what bird I'm watching, I have to focus on one, then look its portrait up. No such chance here. This lens, like most Panasonic from its G series, has a manual override to make it do focus when it obviously is in no mood to. It did not work, either.
So I did not get that tiny, impossible bird. Then I wondered whether I'd rather have carted the bulk of a Nikon in there with me, and then I didn't think it such a bad deal. Can't ever get them all. Besides, my inexpensive Nikon lenses are too dark for such pursuits. Darn.
Behaving at an Art Opening April 16 2011 20mm f/1.7 lens at f/4.5 @ 1/20th iso 400
For a long time I've thought I was wed to my Nikons, because I almost always have been and expected I always would be. But now I know I'm not. My G2 is still new and different and a little strange. You know the selling points and the parts I don't like, and a lot of the limitations (read down this page. But overall, I'm really happy with my G2 and have not even considered using one of my Nikons since the last time I shot art for an individual.
For my purposes, and for exhibition (a 20x15-inch vertical print from my horizontal umbrella-spinning experiment [well below] will be in the Loteria show at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas, Texas later this and into next month), and for publishing online, the G2 is just fine. Or better. I may or may not upgrade any time soon. More than half the battle with any camera is learning how to use it. Lotta people never learn to use the camera they've had for years. Some people never learn their cameras.
My intensive re-education, as iterated all down this page is not over. I haven't graduated, but I'm expected to. I probably already know too much, and even after many years with other cameras, I was still learning lessons about them that, because they never came up in all that time before, didn't seem worth worrying about, till the electric last moment when I either had to know, or had to experiment enough to either find out or learn another way to do it.
The image of the two little boys absorbed into their hand-helds was very impromptu. I shot two previous shots, each moving closer into the scene, and two more from the other side, but this third one does just what I wanted this image to do from my first glimpse of their parallel inaction.
Great Egret Over the Lower Spillway Steps iso320 1/2,500
Ah, the latest rumors — on 43rumors.com, my favorite micro 4/3rds rumors source — is that the new G3 will be a dumbed-down G2, in that the touch-sensitive screen will take over for some settings now set with dials and switches. That worries me, because I love a camera with lots of ways to directly change settings without screwing with menus, wherever they are — even popup menus on the LCD. It's just quicker to turn something I can already see than try to find something I can't.
Fine for careful, planned shots, but hell on impromptu, gotta-get-it-now-or-it's-gone shots, like I often make (like Can Man below, where I didn't even have time to reset the dial to Auto). That all caused me to thing again that the GH2, which I had originally planned to buy but wasn't available here till last month, may be in my future, again.
Then m43.com links DXOMark where we can compare a variety of sensor-related output parameters that reviewers rarely mention among a wide variety of cameras we can pick and choose among, although this link is set up for a specific set of cams. There, I see that the GH1 does better than the GH2 in all tested parameters. That's scary. The GH1 is still available at Amazon and other places for $400 body-only. And perhaps directly from Panasonic for less than that with a lens. What a bargain.
Of course, it's not as good or as easily-used a camera as the GH2.
Interesting that Pany and other makers are not just dumbing down their cameras for the larger population of less-than-enthusiast photographers, but they are making them less good, too — and, of course, more expensive.
Carved Wood Wizard (Randy Stall 1991) and Owl
("Panama City Spring Break 1992" made in USA) 264mm iso 320
I'm still exploring other camera possibilities. The G2's image quality (IQ) compares very well to the much more expensive, and brand new, Nikon D5100 with its laterally swinging LCD. But the Panasonic GH2 has better IQ than either, and costs just a little more (body only), while being somewhat smaller and lighter (as well as being a magnificent video cam, should I ever wish to explore that realm). Most of the quality improvement probably comes from the GH2's higher resolution sensor.
I'm eager to see how much better than the G2, the new G3 sensor (not the same as the GH2's, I read) will be, but I suspect one or the other of those Pany bodies is in my camera-body-buying near future.
I've been reading about big, long lenses on Nikons and Canons, but I keep forgetting that my current most-used lens, the Panasonic 100-300 (35mm equivalent of 200-600mm) is the longest of all the hand-holdable lenses, though not as optically superb as the big Nikons or Canons, which I should mention, cost between five and ten thousand dollars. Mine cost $538. If I can up my res(olution) significantly with a GH2 or G3, that'd be an improvement, and I can use all my m43 lenses on it — both my 100-300 and 42-84mm lenses have Mega OIS (optical image stabilization) and some of the others don't..
I wish the 20mm f/17 did, too, but it is the fastest (brightest) of the bunch. I chose it because it offers close to the coverage of my Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 lens I got for film use in the 1970s. An equivalent angle of view and brightness is now available in Nikon's 24mm f/1.4, but that now costs nearly $2,000. I used nothing but that lens for an entire year in the 1970s, just to see if I could. I loved that lens, but a bright short zoom would be perfect for a photojournalist, which I still am.
My Pany 20, which cost $360, is the equivalent of a 40mm lens, which is 5 silly millimeters longer than my beloved 35mm and only less than a half-stop less bright, but the focal length (40mm) combined with that bright maximum aperture makes for amazing, easy photography down to near darkness. It's my people and art lens.
April 9 2011
Lance Letscher pistol at Suite
Art Fair iso 1600
Spent most of the last several days either looking at art from all around the country, photographing it with my G2 or writing about it, sleeping enough in between to go back at it again, till I finished a few minutes ago. The camera acquitted itself very well under all that duress. In fact, the only time it's failed me recently is when I was photographing birds at White Rock Lake.
Occasionally it just up and decides not to focus, not sure why. I wondered somewhere below if I'd ever want to go back to my Nikons, but I've been eyeing the new D5100, that has a fully articulating LCD and the usual, traditional, still a little goofy and lacking in all the presentation features my little G2 and I take for granted, but I bet it focuses faster and more accurately in slippery conditions.
Red Car Passing Between Me and a Ruddy Duck at White Rock Lake iso 250
I'd be willing to bet it'd focus faster on fast-moving objects, like birds in flight (BIF) and them just walking, too. I'm in no hurry, and am trying to imagine me with one of my old two-ends-of-a-strap around my shoulders, with the Nikon on one end and the G2 on the other. Several brands of those are available. I just have to pick the right one. But it'll be awhile till I jump back to Nikon. I'll wait to see what Panasonic releases as the G3 first.
Right now, I'm so tired I don't remember whether I've photographed any birds lately. I'm thinking back and wonder if I copied the images over, if I did shoot some. Probably should get a couple day's worth of sleep. Then I can't remember where I put my camera, looked everywhere minus one, brought it back, and it's got 295 shots of birds at the lake today. I'll work those up Satty.
I'm really looking forward to photographing something besides art and birds, but those opportunities usually cannot be scheduled. I'll have to think about that. I do have a Ziplock bag of monster tulip petals that I've been eyeing lately.
Ruddy Duck Showing Almost Everything f/6.3 @ 1/1,000 iso 250
I shot both the above images in less than about five minutes, me sitting in The Slider along Arboretum Drive at White Rock Lake, waiting, hoping one of those Ruddy Ducks I so often photograph too far away up and does something interesting. This qualifies. They usually float or swim with their beaks turned around stuck in the feathers along their back (wings primaries probably) ignoring the world. This one's engaged, and my shot, though it lacks that sparkle of eyeball, lost here in the shadow under its eye ridge, is amazing as it nearly jumps out of the water after performing a particularly ornate version of the Victory Flap.
Not perfect focus and shutter speed, but almost. One of those times I just kept shooting afraid if I let up on the shutter, the G2 would abandon focus again, and I'd have to catch up in the big middle of something already interesting already happening.
* * *
Earlier rumors were that the G3 would be a dumbed down G2 on the order of the now discontinued G10, the GF2 (which jettisoned all the wonderful dials and buttons outside the camera that us enthusiasts adore, to get more menu items, and too many other m43 cameras. Now folks online are saying it's a genuine upgrade with a new external design, sensor, higher res LCD and maybe even an EVF (electronic viewfinder, which Pany makes great ones of). I'm all for those and can't wait to see what else they update. When the GF1 was replaced with the GF2, the GF1's price skyrocketed. Maybe with a new G3, the G2's price will rise, and I can sell my G2 for a couple G3s. ;|
I'll probably wait my usual six months or so till all the new features actually work and test well and learn the new tech hasn't introduced new problems. I'm a plodder with new technology. I wait till it's not only not new anymore, it actually works and it costs less than all the early adopters paid to test it for me.
Right now I am up over that inevitable shoulder on my learning curve. I know enough to take most of the kinds of pictures I want to take. There's issues that still stop me in my tracks, but it's more like coasting than mountain climbing till the next sheer cliff wall.
April 6 2011
Ayutthaya Buddha 14-42mm kit zoom ISO 100
I didn't think nearly enough of this and similar shots when I was struggling to avoid the pesky glare on this shiny but expensive surface today at Joel Cooner Gallery while trying to replace my much-earlier (2007) and really bad attempts (now the last two images on that page) to render this object with reality. I'm a better photographer than I was, but recognizing one quality while avoiding others sometimes takes awhile of not thinking about it so hard.
The head is too expensive to throw in the back of The Slider, drive it home and shoot it in my light tent, but that might have got rid of most of the bright patches I could not seem to avoid today using the one light I haven't knocked over and broken in the last ten years. Behind the head is a taller-than-I-am contemporary sculpture of rusted steel that makes a fabulous backdrop for many photographs.
This buddha is prized for its patina much more than the gold color I first saw in it. We got a new tripod today that wasn't as tall as I'd hoped, and without a self-timer, it would have been too rickety. Professionals say a good tripod should cost more than a thousand dollars, but we'd made do for most of my ten years at the gallery with one that probably cost less than fifty.
But now that I've tried a ball-head, even a truly mediocre one on that too-short and shaky $150 tripod we got for the gallery and is now being returned, I know I can do better.
The one I still use sometimes is my replacement Leitz Tiltall. The original Tiltall I bought in Viet Nam was substantial and held together for forty years, when I could no longer get parts machined to match the originals that kept vibrating off it when I carried it in my trunk. The replacement had the name, but the Leitz Brothers were long gone, and so was their quality. I still use it, because I have it, but it's a heavy, black thing (about the same heft as the original gray one) with a big white blot of self-promotion on one leg that often reflects in dark subjects or art under glass, because I have not had the energy to sandblast — or seriously scrub it off.
Since today's brief encounter with a 21st Century tripod, I've been reading up on them and am glad again that the G2 is so much lighter than any of my Nikon clunks. My best links so far are Thom Hogan's Tripods and Ball Heads, Really Right Stuff's Choosing a Tripod, The Nikonians' Do I Really Need A Tripod?, eHow's How to Buy a Tripod and Tiffen's How to Buy a Tripod, in that order.
Male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in an Abrupt Wind ISO 250 300mm (600mm 35mm equivalence)
Although I often get the feeling while aiming my 600mm-equivalent (nominally 100-300mm) telephoto zoom at a small bird or something really far away, that the image stabilization on my Lumix G2 isn't working as well as the ones on my Nikon lenses or compact Canon cameras (S90 and SD780), neither of those systems — the APS-C sensor on either my Nikon D200 or the D300 (still bundled up and ready to send back to Nikon for repair if I ever decide to go back, but it'll cost me $300), or the comparatively tiny sensors on the Canons, ever gave me such superior contrast or sharpness.
Unsharpened Full-frame Image of Wind-buffeted Scissortail Above
For awhile, I had the G2's so-called Intelligent Resolution set to High on my G2, and that gave me unnaturally over-sharp results, but even with all the amateur-hour, supposedly Intelligent image tweaking features turned off, my results are natural looking and sharp. Sharper than I was used to with my Nikon APS-C sensor, which is fifty percent larger than the m43 sensor on my G2.
I still haven't mastered focus for flying or rapidly moving birds — although I luck out more than I used to, now that I've been practicing, but if they'll hold still a couple seconds, I can get amazing, though not always consistent, results. The quality baffles me, but I like it.
Boortz Fixed Stare April 2011 found
wood, clay, beads and metal
full piece 15 inches high, bird 7 inches (detail) 100-300mm zoom
I tried photographing Kathy Boortz' latest found-wood sculpture with my Nikon D200 and 17-55mm zoom, which combination I've almost always photographed her and nearly everybody else's work with, but it had been so long since I used that camera, my fingers got lost trying to accomplish the usual things — exposure, white balance, image review, zoom. I was stymied when I couldn't figure out how to articulate the LCD. Of course, it doesn't have one.
If I start using that camera again, I will have to learn it all over again. Gradually, some finger notions came back, but I couldn't do studio work without that articulating LCD. Nope. Not worth it anymore.
So I got my G2 and went to work. The lens I used for this shot was — after I'd got pretty much what I needed with the kit zoom that has significantly more depth of field than this honker, I took the G2 off the tripod and replaced the kit zoom with — the 100-300 (200-600) zoom, and with that much light on the subject — it felt like I was working in an arc lamp testing facility, I hand-held it and wandered around the room shooting for the fun of it. It was fun.
Its eyes, beak, face, cowl and the tree are sharp, but the owl's body and wings are slightly soft, because that close, the depth of field of that long a lens (300mm equivalent) was so narrow. The view I got absorbed with capturing was the straight-on, dead-ahead, stare-back-into its-glowing-eyes look, and I concentrated on getting that. Its title is Fixed Stare, and when Kathy delivered it this afternoon, she talked about really liking looking straight into owls' eyes.
Kathy Boortz Fixed Stare 2011 15 inches high 14-42mm kit zoom
This was shot at ISO 100 — one of the few times I've shot ISO that low with this camera; 1/80 at f/4.5 (subtracting even more from the depth), so I didn't have to drag the tripod around the room. Notice its tail and tips of its wings are really soft in the top pic. This treatment either gives it a sense of three-dimensionality or it's a big mistake. I chose the former.
Sometimes I wish I'd got the newer 14-140mm zoom that's the kit lens for the new GH2, but it's awfully dark at the long end, although with three high-ouptut lights going — and without any of them umbrellaed — there was plenty light, although I usually don't have that much on offer. Next time, I might stretch it slightly and go to ISO 200.
Then I did the whole thing over again, because these were too brown, not quite blackish enough. This sculpture is a tad darker than this. I started with a quick white balance, which made everything better. If I actually knew what I was doing, I might be dangerous, but I'm not really a studio ographer.
When I get the new, darker images finished, I'll repost this entry, but then many of these words will make no sense…
April 3 2011
Screech Owl at Black Prairie Raptor Center 100-300mm
More images of this and the other raptors on my Amateur Birder's Journal.
I still use my G2 every day. Yesterday we did birds at the Black Prairie Raptor Center near Allen, Texas a little north of Dallas, and art openings last night. I keep learning about this camera. The main issue I'm dealing with lately is focusing. If I have time to set up a shot, there's no problem, focus is not an issue if nothing's moving.
Crows v. Hawks - Crows Chasing Hawk Out of Their Territory 100-300mm
Flying birds are often very difficult to photograph, however. It may be that I am setting the focus mode incorrectly. I usually prefer cameras to let me focus continuously. On the G2 that means it hunts a lot. I can see it sharp in whichever viewfinder I'm using, but then it decides that's not really focused, so it goes back and forth, in and out.
I was attempting to focus on some crows mobbing a young hawk last week. But they didn't settle into focus till they were all very far away. A nuisance. Yesterday at the Raptor Center, I had the same issues with someone holding one of a series of captive raptors. They were moving around a lot, and the birds were moving around even more.
Peregrine Falcon Shows Off Its Wing Feathers 14-42mm kit zoom
Worse, bright daylight poured in from outside the roofed picnic area, while the birds being held were usually in deep shadows. I just kept shooting and shooting. It was annoying to me and to those around me, but the birds were always more entertaining, so maybe it wasn't too bad.
Another issue is that in Performance (P) mode, the G2 always chooses a large aperture and way-too-fast shutter speed, so I'm constantly missing shots because I'm readjusting it to use a smaller aperture and slower shutter speed, so I have better depth of field. Then I aim at something else, and it sets another hi-speed/low f-stop combination.
When I've tried Aperture- or Shutter- priorities, it doesn't show me the other setting — shutter speed in Aperture mode or aperture in Shutter Speed mode. Again annoying and I'm not sure how to deal with it. There's always more to learn.
I think about leaving it in Manual Exposure Mode, but boy, would that slow things down. I suspect this all may be corrected by setting the right oh-something settings, but I don't know which ones yet, and I'm missing shots when it happens and happens again.
Tom Hollenbeck Hopper from Art Here Lately #11 20mm f/1.7
I do not know for sure, but I suspect the Lumix GH2 is a better camera, but at twice the price, it should be. The G3 will, apparently, not be the next model up from the G2, but the next model down. It is rumored to be a camera for much more amateur photographers. The Micro FourThirds (m43) industry seems to be heading in that direction. Many of the more consternating "features" of this camera are there for amateurs, and they get in the way.
Micro FourThirds and other formats of mirrorless cameras are becoming immensely popular, so there's hope yet that some company will make a professional m43 camera without all the so-called Intelligent (meaning stupid) features designed for amateurs. I've long thought that Olympus would make such a camera, but they too, have got caught up in the much more lucrative (so far) amateur market.
It would be lovely to have a m43 camera with a built-in Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and Image Stabilization in the body, so lenses could be even smaller — and an articulating LCD (like my G2). I originally thought Panasonic's Touch Technology would prove to be mostly hype, but I find I often adjust the focus point and size to what I am shooting that way. It's handy to set ISO and White Balance, too by simply pointing and swiping. I didn't expect to, but I like fondling the LCD to change those settings.
Claudia Borgna plastic bag installation at the University of Texas at Dallas Campus 20mm
It would be quicker to use a dedicated ISO button. I have not yet figured out how to use the one on the back of this camera. It has never done anything to do with ISO, and I wonder why it is labeled that. A dedicated White-Balance dial would be nice, too. More direct dial options and fewer hunts through the menus would make for an easier-to-use camera for professionals and amateurs alike, but the latter might have to learn something first.
The same is true for exposure compensation — I loved how that's implemented on my Canon S90, with a dial around the lens (in most, but not all, modes). Focus and other major adjustments should also be direct and easy, but after awhile the camera would be festooned with dials. Overall, I like how comparatively easy it is to change those with the so-called Quick Menu, but it's never as quick and just twisting a dial.
I have three lenses for the G2 now, but I am sorely missing one with more reach and wider max apertures. When I was photographing the raptors, I used the dark kit zoom 14-42mm (28-84 equivalent) f/3.5 (already darkish) to f/5.6 (very dark). Olympus has a 12-60mm (24-120mm equivalent) f/2.8-4 (four times brighter) maximum apertures, even at the telephoto end of the zoom. But it costs more than $900 and is not image-stabilized (IS). That would be a great range and brightness if stabilized.
Oly also has a 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 for $600, but the same IS limitations apply. And, though it's for 43rds cameras, not Micro Four-Thirds (which means you'd need an adapter), there's the $2,300 Olympus Zuiko (meaning top quality) 14-35mm (28-70mm) zoom.
Panasonic is rumored to be working on a 12-50 (24-100mm) f/2.5-3.3 zoom, which would more than double the range of my G2's kit lens, with wider wide and more than twice the long zoom. I'm hoping it also has IS. Since it will primarily be for Pany's video cameras and the GF2 amateur cam, it will have quiet zooming and is likely to be large and heavy.
Meanwhile, Olympus is rumored to be planning releases of three pro m43 lenses this year. No telling what focal lengths. They don't yet make as good a camera as the G2 (I had hope, but gave up on them, then bought my G2), but image stabilization is built into their cameras not their lenses, so those lenses won't have IS on my camera. So, essentially, what.
Fire and Tears
Smoke gets in her eyes is why she cries. Little girl just happened to be walking by. I shot a half dozen shots hoping to capture the flames just right. This may be it. Nice to have human interaction in it, too. Call it The Crying Woman. Picasso called his Llorand, but I think she was crying for another reason. Amazing what fire pix can show sometimes.
I don't know what it's called or where it's from. I'd forgot to bring the kit zoom, so I had to use my ultra-sharp (in the middle) 20mm (40mm equivalent) lens, and to get this I had to get in pretty close to fill the frame with what you see. Turned out amazing. Joel especially wanted both eyes to show and to show on the same level, because its maker was careful to only line the eyes up when its looking at us askance.
Buddha with Flowers
Joel puts such nice flowers out, sometimes in and around the art at Joel Cooner Gallery, it's hard for me not to photograph it. But since the G2 lets me previsualize my final project while I'm looking through the camera to take the picture, it's all exquisite. I could do lush this contrasty and gorgeous on other cameras, but on the first try and with very little post production work.
What I Love About Joel Cooner Gallery
Sometimes I feel the need to wander around the gallery and just take detail shots of some of the pieces that affect me in strange and tribal ways. Like the natural pigments in this shield. Amazing.
Today's entry got bumped over to Art Here Lately, where it belonged anyway.
Mac Whitney with Sculpture ISO 1600 20mm f/1.7 lens
Tonight, I documented Mac Whitney's informal talk in and around his retrospective at Kirk Hopper Fine Art on Commerce in Deep Elm. Another G2 experiment. I brought two lenses, the little kit zoom and the 20mm f/17. Unfortunately, I relied on the zoom too long into darkness, but when I broke out the little 'pancake' 20, things brightened considerably.
The story comes later when I decipher the recording of him talking. These are just the pictures and me yapping about the situation and my pictures.
Mac Whitney Looking Up at His Sculpture 6400 14-42mm zoom
I don't know which of these shots I'll use in the eventual story that will rise from all the words he said, sculptures he showed and photographs I took tonight and last time I was there, so tonight, instead of just showing the very best, I'll show all the shots I like, am baffled by, or think I might grow to like.
Mac Whitney Explaining 6400 zoom
Mac's talk began inside the gallery, then moved out into the sculpture patio out back, where we'd hoped to see the Super Moon, but it wasn't visible from there. I was and I'll conjecture that most of us were much more interested in what Mac had to say than how close the moon was in those moments.
Mac Whitney Feeling Sculpture 6400 zoom
I'm posting which lens I used to make which photographs and what the ISO was set to. Mostly for my use in comparing quality. So maybe I can learn from that and other data in the images. Like that ISO 1600 looks pretty smooth and contoured, whereas most ISO 6400 shots are pretty sand-stormy. But not all. I would have guessed the next pic up was 1600 and I was surprised to learn it was actually 6400. No getting around that the next shot used the highest setting I had. He was standing in the darkest of darkest shadows, and I'm lucky to have got any image at all.
Mac Whitney with his Arm Around His Sculpture 6400 zoom
I've known Mac for decades, but only to say hi and congratulate on another amazing exhibition or big piece of sculpture. I don't know him well enough to know what he looks like. Really looks like. What are his characteristic facial gatherings? What is is repose look? His thinking through it? What does he look like when he's stifling a notion?
Mac Whitney Caught Mid-gesture 1600 20
Not knowing much of any of that, I'm not at all convinced I captured the real Mac Whitney in these shots. I know he's normally reserved, quiet, maybe shy, I'm not sure. My G2 may be quieter than a dSLR, but it's not a silent camera. I've turned down all the noises I can turn down, but it still peeps annoyingly when it focuses, so Mac would have been aware there was someone — usually someone gathered close in to him — taking pictures most of the time he spoke.
Mac Whitney Considers Sculpture 400 zoom
I wanted to show one of Mac's sculptures blending into him, and I would have managed that, if he weren't moving — or if I'd been quicker when he actually did stand still. You get the idea here, but I'm not sure the idea is enough.
Mac Whitney Pointing to Elements in His Painting 1600 zoom
I was glad to have the opportunity to understand from their creator what his paintings were all about. In many ways, they are the antithesis of his sculpture. More information about that as I figure out what he actually said.
Mac Whitney — Profile 1600 20
I've already gone through the 159 images a half dozen times. Now I'm beginning to find more hidden gems. I'll come back tomorrow and find still more, I'm sure. Mac talked about being ready to do something when he's working on a piece, then going off to eat lunch or sleep and pick it up again later, after his thoughts and notions have had time to work themselves out. I suspect most good artists do that..
This may be a slightly more at-ease Mac Whitney. The tonalities are in order. It is likely a characteristic pose. Several times tonight, he'd pause, clasp both hands behind him and think a moment. This is either just such a moment, or somewhere in the midst of such a time. I may have to rework his arm back there, so it more matches his facial tones, even though it's much brighter illuminated.
I like the errant red, diagonal line at the bottom left and the woman staring, probably at Mac, but it could be at the photographer. And the guy in shadow.
Mac Whitney (at right behind sculpture) Looking at Older Piece 3200 zoom
Another of these shots where I tried to mingle sculptor and sculpture. I like the tonalities, and the sculptures, of course. But also the way everybody is looking at the work, and that both Mac and the person at far left are only partly visible. The directionality of the image is centered on the spiral piece left central. Having the red of the sculpture be the only vivid color is nice, too.
Mac Whitney's big red piece Up Close 500 zoom
This image violates several rules. We're not supposed to allow white at the edges, because it supposedly robs attention from the object of our attention. Here I was careful to keep it bright back there to focus our attentions and my focus and sharpness on the abstract portions of the piece itself. It may work. The extra-long 'watermark' pointing out that my photograph should not be used by anybody but me is joined by a credit to the sculptor. This is the first time I've done this. I usually try not to put my name on other people's art, but here I manage to credit both the artist and the photographer. The idea is worthy of more thought, but probably less verbiage.
Mac Whitney doesn't own a computer and he avoids peer-group and other external sources for ideas. When he finishes one piece he starts at least one more. There's no celebration, although he sometimes gets excited about new work, but he knows it's not a permanent feeling. He is very much an independent thinker and maker.
The late Ted Pillsbury called him, "the foremost
abstract sculptor in Texas and arguably one of the region's most accomplished
Yellow Car, Yellow Truck Different Owners Darker, to my taste
Today's entry is brought to you by the colors yellow and red. For this shot I used the license plate to set the White Balance. Such an object can, of course contain both white and black, long as there's no color in the portion used. Color throws off white balance. You need white. Black neither helps nor hinders. Gray is fine. I always wanted a car this color, still think I might paint mine that color sometime. People SEE it. These were parked outside the literary reading of former Dallasite Ron Roy’s first novel, Passing Time. I thought I was going to photograph people at a private reception.
Color Balance One - Ron Roy 5:58:06 PM
And I did. I shot lots of pictures. Just didn't like most of them. Worse, they were mostly shot in altogether the wrong colors. I, who've been ranting and raving about color balance, forgot to alter the colors, till I shot the next one.
Color Balance Two - Ron Roy 5:59:02 PM
Which looks nicer in the right White Balance. I cropped this to him, and multiple copies of his book scattered on the coffee table, thinking that might help, but didn't. I enjoyed Ron's performance, was charmed and taken away with his prose when he finally let go of explaining everything that came up in his text, and just went with pages somewhere in the middle of the book that let us see what was going on, without explaining. Let his read, printed words do their work.
This English Major (B.A., University of Dallas) likes to think Ron chose one of his favorite passages for his final reading after the answer and question session. I put my camera down, closed my eyes, and was just listening to the words tumble. Those few minutes were the best moments of the late afternoon get-together at a friend's house.
"Click" — photographing Ron Roy
Besides the yellow vehicles, the images I was most pleased with — the start of a mini series perhaps — were people holding their cameras out in front of them to take pictures. That's how I held most of these shots — often using the swimging and tilting LCD, although I rested the cam or my hand holding it, on my knee, on a table and a pillow, too, except somebody kept shaking the couch we were sitting on. I felt uncomfortable holding it against my forehead, where it would have been much more stable.
This doesn't look corrected but that woman's white blouse is bright white without a hint or tint of yellow or red. The walls weren't white, but they weren't yellow, either. When I did the manual color balance, I used pages in Ron's novel (thin black letters on white paper). The mix of incandescent (what I usually call tungsten) from those track lights and daylight coming in the window, makes some non-white objects yellowish or reddish and yellow and red stuff more so.
Photographing Ron Roy
I'm beginning to care less what the white balance is set for in these shots now that it's too late to change them. And more and more for pictures of people taking pictures of other people by holding their cameras out in front of them, where few of us can hold them steady. Oh, and didja notice how much less over-sharp these shots are than yesterday's?
Tomorrow evening comes an artist's talk by Dallas sculptor extraordinaire Mac Whitney. I'm expecting plenty of light there. And Sunday is the one-place-does-all Ninth Annual Art in the Hood, uh… former artists' tour. Most of these were shot at ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400. A lot of those probably will, too. Stay tuned.
Stringy Kites with Dallas Skyline
This was taken with my trusty and apparently sharp Panasonic 100-300mm tele zoom. Soon as I saw all those vivid kite tails, I got it out and put it on the camera and started shooting. This is the best of about a dozen shots as the three kiters walked back to their car. The backlit color delighted and amazed me, and I wanted very much to capture its glory. I think I accomplished it. Turns out, however, I have my camera set to over sharpen everything [below] Oops.
Two Women in Green on St. Patrick's Day 2011
I say "apparently sharp," because those who review lenses agree that telephoto lenses, especially the longer ones like this, are all mushier with lower contrast and resolution at full zoom. These, of course, were shot at full zoom, why else have that long a lens? I don't photograph lens test charts, so I wouldn't know that about this lens. I have not had any issues with it being soft or low res.
I'll hold back on such talk now I realize that setting Image Resolution to high, actually meant to sharpen it nearly to death.
Bob Nunn New Territory, Refracted 2011 way too sharp; gotta reshoot
I'm almost certain these colors are finally correct. Probably my biggest struggle in photographing art is to get the colors right. I photographed the Hecho en Dallas exhibition at the Latino Culture Center today, and mostly succeeded, except that I still have not figured out how to do a manual White Balance (which would solve most of my right-color issues). Plus, the colors in that gallery change from nearly pure sunlight to almost total tungsten lighting and every shade between. It's a nightmare to get colors correct anyway, but in there it was a major struggle, because they changed every few feet.
I should carry my little black, white and gray cards wherever I go and remember to use them. Plus, I should learn to do the Manual White Balance dance. I've done it dozens of times, but it's not simple, sometimes the camera won't let me perform all the steps, and it doesn't seem at all logical to this brain.
The above image is my third attempt to get the colors correct. I checked it against whole-gallery shots and close-ups and multiple renderings of this magnificent painting. This should be close to reality, although it's still too contrasty. At least it's not spacially distorted.
Eunice Bridges Attitude Bottles 2009 clay
Another struggle is to get all of large paintings, sculptures, drawings, whatever, sharp and without distorting. Today I introduced my newest lens into the mix, the very popular 20mm f/1.7. I bought it especially for photographing art, candids and landscapes. The kit zoom, the much compromised, short zoom that came with the camera zooms from 28 to 84mm (35mm equivalence) and introduces a lot of its own distortions, which are automatically corrected in the camera for Jpegs, but not RAW.
The kit short zoom is also a slow lens (small maximum aperture) that gets smaller the more it's zoomed, till it's a f/5.6 max aperture lens at 42 (84 equiv), which makes it very difficult to use in darker spaces. The 20mm stays 40mm (equivalent), which is just slightly 'longer' than my all-time favorite lens, my old (doesn't work on the new cameras), 35mm f/1.4 Nikon lens.
Some people say the lens makes images that look 3-D, meaning either that it's so amazing sharp or that the center of the frame is so much higher resolution than the edges. It is sharp. I worried the center resolution outclassing the edges and corners' resolution would somehow render it odd-looking, but as you can see, it doesn't.
Jack Brockette Look Out! Ants! 2011 hand-dyed silk organza (detail)
Today, I shot everything in both Jpeg and Panasonic's RAW format thinking that my new operating system would recognize the raw format. But it doesn't yet, and I'm more confused than ever about how to use raw images. It was no sweat with Nikon, which I used often. But I have not been able to implement its use for the G2.
Although everywhere I've seen it mentioned, photo writers have noted that the G2 renders raw images better than jpegs, although I've had fabulous luck with jpegs. Probably because I've been using Photoshop since version 1, when it was all black & white. Now using it, seems more than easy, it feels normal. It had a steep learning curve, however.
When I shoot art, I mean all mediums of the stuff. Jack Brockette's organza piece above is a relatively straight-up detail shot. To show the thread, the intensity of the color contrasts and the actual weave of all the lines and shapes. It doesn't look bad showing the whole thing from the needed distance, it's just a lot more interesting up close.
Sturdevant Forgiveness 2009 digital
with outside pseudo-adobe walls and doors showing all around it.
Certainly the most difficult piece in the show to see or photograph — although many pieces reflected brilliant outside light through the windows and doors so I had to shoot them at an angle, so their glass reflected dark walls instead — was this piece placed in a little alcove entirely surrounded by brilliant sunlight pouring in.
Which made for an interesting challenge photographing it. Lucky, the G3 has that reality-rendering LCD and EVF. Still, however, I didn't really know what the piece looked like till I got it, not just up on the monitor, but color-corrected (if it is), too.
So I'm still, fairly happily stuck in JPEG Land, and my new slightly wide-angle lens with a big maximum aperture acquitted itself very well indeed today, shooting art. And I actually shot a couple pieces of art with my 100-300mm lens, too. When I could get some distance — to eliminate those dreadful daylight reflections.
I Finally Figured Out How to Set Manual White Balance!
Later: I spent about two hours repeatedly attempting to manually set the White Balance on my G2. Three of the perhaps forty times I tried it, changing various other settings along the way (but not keeping track of them), it worked as described in the book and in the manual. The rest of the time, when I clicked the right cursor button labeled WB (for White Balance), it instead clicked to the next parameter. I was never able to repeat the procedure on either of the two manual WB setting choices WB1 or WB2. Never.
Obviously there is something I don't know abut setting my camera up to behave like it says in the book and manual. But since I don't know what I don't know, I can't do it. If I could use RAW images, I could just set the correct white balance later, but I can't do that, either, and I just get more and more frustrated. Arghhh!
I searched the DPR Micro Four Thirds Forum for every form of the question I could type, and after another hour, found nothing that helped. Then I found this on the Imaging Resource review of the G2: "Custom white balance is set by selecting one of the two Custom White Balance settings, pointing the camera at a neutral white or grey [sic] card under the lighting you'll be shooting in, filling a frame in the center of the display with the reference target, and then pressing the on-screen Set button."
That, of course, didn't help anything, but futzing with the "Display" button (four possibilities, one with each of four clicks) gave me a boxy grayscale view of the Quick Menu, which if I push the WB button on that ugly gray screen, yields the proper configuration (I recognize it, but didn't know how to get it. Now I do.). That's the secret.
So I wandered around my house — every room features a differing bulb type, age and color, walls and intensity of light, but by doing the fairly simple five-step procedure correctly each time, I got perfect results and enough practice that maybe I'll remember it.
Something else I discovered by this same dogged mis-attention to detail is that if I want to automatically review the image I've just shot (with the way I have set various elements of the menus set now), I click the top right lever to one box (single shot mode), and if I don't want to review each time, I set it to multi boxes, representing up to two-point somethingframes per second. Effective, but if my trigger finger is heavy, I might fire off more rounds than I expect.
The reason my pix from the last few days are all so in-my-face contrasty sharp, is that I'd set my I.Resolution to High very recently, thinking "High" would be good for resolution, huh? But I.Resolution is the G2's idiot way to set sharpness. Now it's back to Standard. Let's see whether I want to go back again the next day.
I may finally be getting to a point where I am beginning to understand some of the inter-related settings on this thing. There's still plenty to learn. Too bad Panasonic doesn't see fit to explain these things in intelligible English. And that Unofficial Quintessential Guide, too. I'm still glad I got that, but it is over-priced and under-helpful.
Uelsmann Trees in Upper Sunset Bay http://www.dallasartsrevue.com/resources/G2pix/Ulesman-trees_1040548.jpg
As I've just explained in my Amateur Birder's Journal that now shows the few bird photographs I shot on Anna's and my walk down Arboretum Drive from this cool but oh so lovely afternoon. These are the other shots. I hadn't really planned for this to be another G2 experiment, but that's the way it turned out. Gloriously so.
Jerry Uelsmann is, as Wikipedia says, "a master printer producing composite photographs with multiple negatives and extensive darkroom work." And many classic Uelsmann images were of trees, often showing them above and below the horizon. He used darkroom magic. I largely lucked into this shot, that shows the trees' reflections in the roof of Anna's white car, where I'd parked the G2, so I wouldn't have to attempt to hand-hold a long exposure. It was too dark for me to see that there was that reflection in the car roof, but I really do like it. And the inclusion of the spectral light source, almost always a no-no in serious photography — I didn't see how I could not include it, but now I know — is almost perfect.
I was experimenting with the G2's highest ISO, 6,400. I'd tried 1,600 several times already, but I hadn't dared to go this high till today, when I really didn't care anymore. And I'm sure I'll try it again. Yes, it's grainy and visually noisy. But for getting an image when I normally could not possibly, it's pretty amazing. A 20 by 30-inch print might be different, but here, in glorious 72 dots per inch or whatever your monitor's native resolution happens to be, it ain't half bad.
Rowers with Dam and Skyline
Nothing experimental about this. Exquisite color and exposure in the middle — I have my G2 set up to pay more attention to the exposure in the center, then bring everything else around to some sort of agreement with that, and it worked out very very well here. A little more silhouettey than I expected, though there is color and some small amount of shape in the human participants in this rowing experience, but the downtown skyline is good, the lake water good enough, and the dam is a little dark. But oh, the trees.
Goldfish in the Murk
We'd just been effusively admiring the quality and murkiness of the murk here, then Anna told me to come look at the goldfish in the pond-ette along the arboretum side of the walking path near the bamboo on the road near where Lawther takes a sudden curve up toward the new yellow and orange baseball fields and Winfrey Building. I was expecting Koi Juniors, but found these bloated little friends a laugh.
These green guys were not very far away from the goldfish. Don't know who they are exactly, but we both were impressed by their starryness.
Cute, Fluffy Dogs
I missed when the big one was leaning about 30-degrees down the hill with the rope a straight line and the woman leaning slightly in the other direction, but what I was after then, too, was the fluffiness of the two pooches of such remarkable size differences. Once again the G2's ability to preview exact exposure and its effects of dog hair, grass and almost silhouetted owner black against the green and white rope and dogs against them both, before I shot it, came through all aces.
The New Reflecting Boat House with Sun Glint on the Other Side of the Lake
Not sure from where I shot this, though it would be easy enough to go back and line it all up and find out. I'm not a big fan of that huge blot of brilliantly reflecting light blinding everybody from as far away from it as we could get, but it does make an interesting photograph now and again. The glint of light splashing along the waves came from a gap in the clouds, and as they moved, the glint raced across the lake.
I don't know my plants worse than I don't know my birds, but I love this explosion of color along the edge of the Arboretum proper about where the goofy HO-scale Teepees and Wild West Town are. They may not be Redbuds, but they certainly are red buds. Pretty intense colors. I think most of my shots from today were ISO 125, the first time I've done ISOs that low outside. Not a problem when there's plenty of light and extended areas of depth of field are not necessary. Slower ISOs magnify the contrast. Higher ISOs lower it.
Rowers and the Hunt Mansion
With five bicyclists and a red car in the driveway. This image is about a half of the full frame, mostly taken out of the upper left of it. And yes, on the other side of the lake. Nice that the Panasonic 100-300mm has image stabilization enough to let me hold it adequately still (most of the time) to capture all those details in what appears to be fore- and middle-ground, but all of which is actually deep background.
Sunset Bay at ISO 6,400
Night and skies and everything else so dark I could only see the lights on the far side of the lake and a little bit of the pier on the far left of this shot. Everything else was too dark to expect much of anything. I kept pushing the button that's supposed to show me how the sensor would render this scene, but all it showed wad dark dark dark. So I had to use the Nikon way. Click, hope and check it out on the LCD, adjust if necessary, then try it again. Looks almost like daylight, except for the reflected lights and the noisy, grainy skies.
Friends at the Hecho en Dallas opening: Anna, Dwayne and Art
I'm still struggling against reality. Always have. Still do.
I've been wanting to push the ISO button to change my ISO, but that never works, and I'm not even sure how to ask someone how it's supposed to work. Meanwhile, I use the Q (for quick) Menu for most things I need to change. It's easy, and generally pretty quick. I have small hands, but I'd need even smaller fingers to manage to push the items arranged along the top and the bottom of the viewfinder (whichever one, EVF or LCD), but I don't need to do it that way, I can just push those buttons that call themselves WB (supposedly White Balance, but I've still never got it to control that.) and some icon I do not understand (so I'm not flustrated about that one) till I get the right menuette, then the ISO (up) and Fn (down) buttons to set the settings.
Works well with no frustration.
Cameras with viewfinders, optical or electronic, are inherently more stable to shoot, because we get to lean those against our forehead or nose, giving us that extra bit of stability, especially useful for slow shutter speeds. Image Stabilization helps, too. But being able to use an eye level viewfinder is great. Holding our cameras out in front of our faces, like most compact cameras need to be held, almost guarantees that in many lighting situations, we'll blur the image. Camera movement is the number one cause of loss of sharpness. It always has been.
Cameras with electronic viewfinders let us see (if everything else is set correctly, and I keep pushing the button on the bottom right of the back of the G2, so it will be) exactly the exposure we'll get when we push the shutter button. Exactly. If we're shooting American White Pelicans in the sunlight, and we need a little tonality in those otherwise bright white bodies, we underexpose slightly — and we can see our progress in an electronic viewfinder. Optical viewfinders don't do that. Most LCDs on most compact cameras show a very high contrast image that usually has nothing to do with what the resulting image will actually look like.
But ya gotta pay attention.
When I shot today's top image of my friends, I was too busy being in the conversation to pay attention to the shutter speed, which was too slow. A quick look into the too-high contrast LCD confirmed the erroneous notion that it was fine. The exposure was almost perfect. But the image is not. Everybody is blurred. I was paying somewhere near zero attention to those details, so I got that and several other shots very much like it. Stupid and ignorant mistake.
When I shot Alice on the playground equipment, I'd check focus after each shot by enlarging the image on the LCD, which the G2 happily allows me to do. That's where I learn what giveth and what taketh away. Of course there was a lot more light out there. Indoors is usually darker than outside under the sun.
I still wasn't paying much attention when I shot the guy with the colorful hat. I don't know what that's all about, but I just accepted it as local color. I was standing in the Latino Culture Center. The fact that the man with the hat is in focus here, is because he's standing still, and in the middle of the frame, where my focus point usually goes when I push the bottom right button. The hat, unfortunately, was not. The paintings and doors, etc. were, but since I was shooting at wide open aperture, they're all blurred, like everything moving is.
If the hat had been as sharp as the guy, it might have made a nice shot. I did get a good enough shot of him later, when I was actually paying attention.
The G2 offers Auto ISO that changes the ISO when the shutter speed would be too slow to take a decent photograph. Like here. This was shot at 1/20 of a second. Not always too slow, but this time it was. If I'd had Auto ISO on, it would have raised it to at least 1600. I've had good luck with interior shots with ISO 1600. Richard in Red was shot at that ISO, and it looks great.
The reason I didn't set my G2 to Auto ISO, was threefold: 1) because I wanted to control the situation myself. (Then, of course, I didn't. Might be a lesson in that.); B) because the setting for that gizmo is not on the easy, Quick Menu, but somewhere among the 22 pages of LCD menu items, and I still have not found my logical way through all that; anc 3) because I didn't want to shoot any art I shot at ISO 1600.
I want a button that puts the camera into auto ISO and lets me take it out when I don't want it any more — or a setting that does that on the Q Menus I get by pushing the Q Menu button (but not, curiously, by pushing the Q. Menu on the LCD. It could replace any of the Q. Menu button Q menus that I still have only the foggiest notion of what are, and that would be great. But it's not, so it's not great.
Or else I need to buy a lens with a larger aperture than the kit lens. Maybe a fixed lens (not a zoom). But most of those don't have image stabilization, and my images need to be stabilized…
And once I do find it among the 22 menu pages, I'll probably forget that I set it, and the camera will do something grossly insipid, and I'll be stuck with that till I figure out what I've done again.
Recently, just to figure out what it did, I changed the settings on the image stabilizer, and for several days I did not understand why IS no longer worked like I'd learned to expect it to. Till I eventually remembered I'd changed it for that dumb reason and tracked its setting down and changed it back, and now it works great.
If only I did.
Alice Fast Down the Slide
Anna (Granna to four-year-old Alice) invited me to go to the lake, and I took the opportunity. I photographed some birds, then we settled into the playground by Stone Tables, where I photographed these.
Struggling Down Through a Spiral
Pretty straight-forward child action shots. Interesting watching Alice figure things out and go at them. She had little bit of a cold, but was still strong physically at each new problem/piece of playground hardware. .
Down Into the Spiral
When she got to the bottom of the spiral, she crawled out from under the bottom wrung and went on to the next activity.
Grandpa Guiding Kid Over the Bridge
We don't know either of these people, but it's
fairly obvious that's a grand-dad or grandad substitute helping the tyke
cross the bridge. For following kids around, even from a distance with
my tele, the G2 is just fine. But I'm still stymied by menu issues I
don't know any other way to cure than to ask on the micro four-thrids
forum on DPR, which means I'll have to formulate and accurate and more
than adequate question. Which means I have to figure out exactly what
I want so desperately to know. Just have to put it into the right words
— always a challenge.
Reflections in Glass: unidentified Patricia Forrest collage on paper
I was really disappointed with this camera on a simple job. Go out to Brookhaven College and photograph work by the late Pat Forrest in their little gallery. Unfortunately, that gallery is illuminated by overhead tungsten lights with daylight sneaking in through the windows, blinds and doors all around. It's dark in there and of mixed white balance lighting. A nightmare for most cameras. Impossible for this overly complex little disaster.
It would have been simple to use either my Canon SD780 or even my impaired Canon S90. Setting white balance on those is simplicity itself. Works every time. Never fails. The stupid G2 would not allow me to set white balance around the room where white balance changes every few steps. By would not allow me, I mean it's set somehow not to respond to simple commands. The ISO button doesn't do anything about ISO and the WB button ignores White Balance.
I was frustrated and upset. Nervous about having gone that far to get images and the white balance refused to go along, neatly forgetting that I knew enough in Photoshop to more than correct most color shifts, but its and my failure to set the ever-changing light balance in that window-encased gallery. The next night at the Hecho en Dallas, I brought the G2 and my trusty Canon.
For awhile I wondered if I should keep it. Amazon
gives me a month to decide whether to keep any product. But that confusion
passed quickly. A couple hours later, after finally getting my music
playing in my car on the way back and a nice, long, hot shower brought
me back to humanity and some intelligence. Somewhere in all that I experienced
a very low blood sugar episode (I am a diabetic, and low blood sugar
makes me stupid.) I ate some candy before I got to Brookhaven, but it usually
takes awhile to take effect.
Oof! Glad that's over. I don't hate it any more. But I do love it less. Very frustrating at Brookhaven. At tonight's show even my trusty little Canon refused to do some things that the G2 did almost immediately. I should remember the specifics, but there are so many of them, I always lose some. Probably has to do with white balance or exposure. Was having trouble with both. When set correctly, and this one I know, the G2 usually — but not always — shows precisely the exposure in the LCD and/or EVF. The Canon less often. But the Canon does White Balance superbly and quick — and accurately. Often I cannot even the G2 to consider doing a manual White balance. Very disappointing.
Patricia Forrest untitled [back] cardboard, hair, wire See story
Canon sells more cameras than anybody, and that probably has something to do with Canon's careful attention to simplified execution of common commands. I still don't know the procedure for doing a white balance on the G2. But then I've never figured out how to do it on my big Nikon, either. For a long time, I taped instructions to the bottom of the D300, and I was thinking about taping a step-by-step to my new camera, but I hadn't got around to it. Still a good idea, though.
The problem with a camera that doesn't do what it's supposed to do when it's supposed to do for me when I'm photographing notes to write about a show is that then I have to put my attentions on the stupid camera instead of the intelligent art. When cameras intrude, it throws off my game. The G2 really threw me off this afternoon. This evening, the Canon worked as it was supposed to for awhile, then it failed, and I had to use the G2 to take up its slack. Nothin's perfect.
Eventually I wrote a decent story, and the pictures were good enough.
Stop in the Name of Commerce
Feel like I've trapped myself into the pattern of new experiences every single day of this learning experience. Got to be days when everything runs together like it always has, and that day may be tomorrow. Today our initial attempt was a mall somewhere unnamed with the usual array of mall and store spaces, people and stuff to buy or ignore. Odd that each hand is bisected by the split in glass exactly the same place, diagonally across the palms.
Signage Overkill — Verbiage as Texture
I tried to combine looking for some slacks with photographing interesting textures and shapes, but it was an uphill battle and after a little while I gave up on store interiors. But I've always liked indecipherable signs. This is one of those. I doubt anybody was expected to read it. But notice the color similarities with what the pink lady above is wearing. Must be the new colors.
Parrot Getting Sideways
Parrots are intelligent creatures, not like a mouse or hamster — although they too, may well be capable of language and using tools and projecting thought. We know parrots are, yet we put them in little cages when once they or their parents or grandparents had the whole jungle and the whole sky to play in.
No wonder then, that several of the parrots we visited in the pet shop were going quietly — and in one case very loudly — berserk. I would have, also. Sad story, but that stop was our favorite, with lots of cute animals and reptiles and spiders and fish to look at and try to photograph.
Pueblan Milk Snake in a Plastic pack
We visited the pet shop extensively, and they didn't mind us shooting everything in sight. That was the most intense fun, new experience of the afternoon. I like animals and birds, but I don't much care for them being stored in cages or tiny plastic containers, although sometimes that's probably necessary. According to Wikipedia, when the non-venomous Pueblans are handled, they discharge a pungent smelling exudate … as a presumed defense mechanism. Some species at this store appeared to have enough space, while others seemed unduly crowded. I don't know enough to know which ones enjoy being cooped in like this, and which don't. I know I would not.
A Big Boa — Waiting to Constrict
I experienced a couple of struggling moments today when what I wanted the camera to do was clearly not going to happen. Sometimes I had plenty of time, as my subjects weren't going anywhere fast or soon. A couple times, I just missed the opportunity. If I could remember what I was trying to do and couldn't, I might learn how to next time. But with so much going on, I forget.
I still cannot simply push the ISO button to change the ISO, I always have to take the time to go to the Quick Menu, which is much slower. I mean why have a button named ISO if it doesn't change the ISO immediate sly? Luckily, I know other buttons to push for other ways of setting it. At least I'm learning this camera, and what I can accomplish with it, even if I know there must be better, quicker ways to do things that I have just not yet discovered. And that's frustrating.
I attempted to photograph this shy chinchilla who, when it saw me aiming my camera at it, scrambled into the deep, low-contrast shadows of a hollowed-out half log, leaving the rest of the image bright. I got great focus on the right edge of the log and along the purple pebbles this side of its feet. And its close-side whiskers, just barely catching the sparkle in its eye, though not sharply.
I kept opening up the exposure, so the shutter got slower until I nearly blurred it out with camera movement at 1/6th of a second as I held the camera lens against the glass front of its cage. If I'd got it any lighter, the whole scene would have been too bright. Elusive little critter. Probably the best solution to this issue would have been to shoot quicker before I scared it into its hidey-hole.
Most of Two Blue Parakeets
If you are not using a wide-angle lens that keeps too much in focus, you can photograph birds in a cage — little ones like in a pet shop or two- or more-story ones like at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation south of Dallas, by getting the lens as close as possible the the wire of the cage and focusing on the birds, close or far.
That way, the bars or wires tend to almost disappear, although they sometimes manifest their patterns in out of focus areas of the image like the vestigal black vertical line on the right and the other between the two birds. Old lazy birder's trick. Although you can rarely compose as you would like, because you have to shoot between as few bars as possible. Thus the face-ectomy here. Pretty keets, though. I bet they're smart, too, just trapped.
I love that I can put the cam down, move the focus point with my finger on the LCD and go back to shooting. I can even simply and directly change the size of the focus square, to include more sleeping rats or minimize it for a little chinchilla. Next week, when I'm shooting studio shots at Joel's, I'll be able to set it up to tap on the LCD where I want it to focus, and take its picture then and there. I haven't practiced any with that yet. But there many advantages with the G2, and eventually Ill test them all, screw up the first couple times, so I can learn the right way, then get better at it.
I thought I needed a public place with color and shape and movement today, but the one I found turned out to be private property that lets anybody in, except a guy with a camera with a long lens, even if the Mall Cop was standing next to someone else with a smaller camera who'd also been taking pictures too. But then she was buying something.
The rentacop told me not to take any more pictures, and I made as hasty a retreat as I could. Stopped to lie down on one of the wood benches waiting for Anna to pay for something, and a tall black man ran from around the corner, and leaped over me, then ran off. I wished I'd got a picture of that. That would have been amazing.
We left the mall and drove north and east, not really sure where long enough to find more colorful animals and things to photograph would be, so we kept driving through the urban maze of stores and eventually out past the newly genitrified country to older, real country, where we found these:
Three Chickens, One in a Cage Big as a Back Yard
Seems like wherever we wander we end up photographing birds. They're everywhere, they're everywhere.
So-What Llama Just Stared
Conserving energy, out squatting in its field. Did not turn its head or lean in any direction. Just stared back at me, like a hayseed chewing on a straw. Nearby were some other mutant animals, a large (They all are.) Emu, some donkeys and other animals I couldn't put a name to. But this was my favorite, mostly for it's care-less attitude. It was, after all, the biggest thing in the barnyard.
The Bull, The Red Barn and A Blue Bucket
More interesting things along the road we chose at random. Past some really ritzy neighborhoods, down into Lower Middle America, then bump, suddenly we were back on the highway going back from whence we came. Tomorrow night's the opening reception for Hecho en Dallas, an art exhibition I have two photographs in. It's from 6-ish to 8-ish at the Latino Culture Center. Do you suppose that could possibly be Ybarra's.
Another Attempt at Focusing the Feather Fetish
When I got home, I was still suffused with a sense of accomplishment and accelerating learning, so I once again attempted the impossible.
That's my fetish. I made it out of feathers, of course, and a styrofoam ball, tin foil and some Elmer's glue. Shot it from almost straight ahead last time, so this time I held it against the door jam on the side. This one's slightly more in focus, without actually getting very much more in focus or all the way in focus. Without a lot of contrast to detect, contrast detect focus is better off with lots of light or sharp edges, at which it shines. An interesting, maybe even intriguing inconsistency I think worth exploring and reconsidering.
If I didn't dislike direct flash so much, I might try that. Luckily, the fetish isn't going anywahere.
I was wondering whether to eat another apple or that last banana and had wandered out through the dining room / ersatz studio, saw the light tent with the foam core pile holding up the white mat board I'd used to reflect light back into yesterday's tomatoes in the kitchen window, and I imagined the banana in the tent on the board.
So I made that happen and shot with the wrong lens, my long telephoto. Hence the exaggerated sense of perspective. No lights, strictly the daylight sneaking into the room, around and into the tent.
So I figured out that the LCD stays on (to shoot) fifteen seconds, because that's how long I had it set. Now it's set for 30 seconds, which gives me a little more time to figure out how to compose and maybe shoot. But when my camera's on a tripod, I usually dally much longer than that. So I'll have to keep pushing some silly button to keep it running while I dither.
Then, when I shot the banana, I never once thought about how long the LCD was staying on. Apparently, thirty seconds was enough.
And I went back to the Dead Photographers Society show at the Bath House, and I am convinced it's a student group, with some teachers thrown in, although you can easily tell them apart. They all went on a trip to some colorfully picturesque town or towns and took picturesque pictures galore. Very little that hadn't been done a thousand times before. Kept reminding me of photography clubs of yore. I was surprised not to find the close-in portrait of a wizened old man smoking an ornate pipe.
One of the functions of a City cultural center like the Bath House is to support beginning artists, give them what may be their first opportunity to exhibit their work. There was plenty of that, and some pieces that depended upon it, weren't even in focus.
Comparing Oranges & Apples
I liked that one enough I went back to the fridge and got an orange. There I remembered the apple, and the phrase went through my brain. And I thought, oh, why not? So here we are making the inevitable comparison.
The untitled monochromatic Diner photographed by Guy Giersch that I mentioned earlier on this page is a dark red-brown and white, not black & white as I misremembered. It's quaint and curious and picturesque, as well as charming. I still like it. Unfortunately, there are too many others too like it that aren't nearly as curious or charming in the show. Store fronts and the fronts of otherwise picturesque buildings, sometimes gaudied up with goofy Photoshop filters.
Dragana Bulatovic's silver print, Suicide Note, scrawled on a window the image is shot out of beats that rap handily, with a cowboy hat parked neatly on the sill. Another of Bulatovic's images, the grayscale Guarding Your Grave, of a tangle of vines and a ribbon or flower (I can't tell which) attached in front of a grave, manifests raw power with a subtlety that eludes most of the photographers in this little hallway show.
Oh, there are mysterious landscapes like Bonnie Slack's Caddo Lake digital print of a completely washed-out white Great Egret flying over dark water reflecting great dripping trees — which we are told is a digital print, so there's no excuse not to have form-showing tonality in its whiteness, and Brian Magnuson's too-dark though moody color photograph of storm clouds over a rocky shore.
Orange & Apple Sliced
Then I ended up eating half the orange and all of the apple, but the banana is still spotting in the fridge.
I wanted to like this show. I wanted to like it enough that it'd be a group I'd want to join. Just like I wanted to join the Photography Club when I was a kid just out of college, but I think I'll pass on it. Not so much because I think I'm so much better than them, but that I would have wanted to document entirely other sorts of things in small towns and rural places, as I often have in strange places. People, for one instance largely missing, except for obviously posed shots here.
- - -
I may be about finished with that G2 book, which though informative, is not as completely informative as I'd hoped. It does not explain how to get and then dismiss errant settings sets, but I'm navigating all those so much better now that my fingers have been doing their dada duty these past two weeks plus. I have and will keep reading and rereading portions thereof, however, hoping always I'll find answers to the stuff I don't even know how to ask questions about yet. The answers are more difficult when I cannot formulate decent questions.
Then I downloaded the appendices for the book,
that seems to comprise a fuller explanation of each menu item and where
in the labyrinth of the G2's menu settings than the book painstakingly
did. I remembered the authors promising to do that in the back of the
book and that I did not find them there. My best use for those things
(I hate PDFs and rarely find them of much use, because they are so clumsy.)
I would so much rather have had them in the back of the book, where I
could just look at them to find where the various settings were on the
extensive menus, although suspect that I will eventually acquire a feel
for where Panasonic puts various things to set. I do not have that innate
Sorting Sox on the Bed
Monday is my day of rest. I used to work then, but I don't seem to be employed lately, so I' taking it easier. Besides, yester was an all-out energy soaker. I will wander over to the lake today, as much to go there and maybe see some birds as to listen to the Jesse Stone audio mystery book that's lodged in The Slider's dash.
I used to have sox of all different colors, then I decided to make it easy by just keeping the black ones. Uh-huh. Like that would work, and it didn't. Now I have a largely unmatchable rainbow of nominally black sox that don't pair up easily if they pair up at all. That's plain enough in this image, but it was very difficult to convince my G2 that what I wanted was a natural-looking dark bunch of sox on a dark bed with a black & white comforter in a minimally illuminated room. Worse, the camera would not let me watch the view in the LCD long enough to know how to change the composition, if needed. I eventually decided it didn't need changing.
But the camera desperately wanted to render everything fresh and new and bright. I'd stare at the sox on the bed, then concentrate on the articulated LCD aimed at my face, so I could keep my camera attached to the tripod, looking mostly down. The camera clearly would have preferred if I'd go along with its intentions to not render the scene as it so obviously (with my eyes) was. Eventually it relented, and I got what I wanted. I really don't need to have to fight my camera to render my reality, not its.
Doesn't Belong In Here
Since it was already on the tripod, and I had only once before used it on one, I looked for easy other objects to aim at. This stack of stuff piled on top of one of Alex Troup's pieces from my collection, and that atop a red wastebasket, presented itself. I moved the tripod so the octogonical mirror on top did not just reflect the bright daylight outside in and shot it, as is. It's still there, because I'm not sure where to put all that stuff I thought I needed somewhere close, and now I have no idea what all is there.
Red Stuff Quickly Gathered from Around the House
This was the start of Red Stuff I found to pile onto that very comfortable, slightly rocking chair in the corner by the window. I added more and more red stuff till I wondered whether the white balance was right, then through my usual consternation about how to set White Balance on the G2, then I couldn't find either the Panasonic manual or the book I bought, struggled and gnashed teeth awhile, finally tracked down the bought book, read the instructions four times through, and it didn't work.
Turned the camera off, went off to the kitchen to eat a leisurely breakfast, came back and used the other Quick Menu — the one I used to not know how to dismiss when I was tired of looking at it, and it, finally, worked. I set the white balance for light hitting the white cardboard I had propped up on the right of this little scene, so that side wouldn't be lost in darkness, but that light was a different color than what was busy falling here.
So I abandoned the bigger pile of red things, because they were ugly and inelegant, and I went instead with this early, much simpler study, instead.
Umbrella on the Floor
The still lifes later reminded me of spinning umbrellas, and since it was too cold out — and way too cold to spill water all over the porch again much as I like that background texture, I fetched the umbrella out of the car and posed it in the living room under the tripoded G2. First open and still.
Umbrella Spun Longer
Then I spun it several times. This is the best of those. I keep remembering I need to photograph an umbrella, but I keep forgetting that the photo has to be a vertical. This is very slight a vertical, but it needs to be more, and I'm not sure how, but when I get the shot shot right, it'll be a vertical, because it needs to be a vertical, not because I need it to be one.
Tomatoes in the Kitchen Window at ISO 1600
I didn't want to engage in any more still lifes, because always before they'd present me as necessary to document what I was already doing, not set ups just for the camera, and I would much rather continue my more organic approach to home still lifes, but at some other time.
Then I was back in the kitchen for something, saw where I'd replaced the tomatoes in the window, got my camera, set it first to ISO 400, then 800, then 1600, so I could hand-hold it, found my 20 x 30-inch white mat board reflector, clamped that with my hands to the bottom of the camera, so the shadows wouldn't win again, rested all that on the sink so I could use a slow shutter speed and shot this, because it seemed to need to.
I tried to sharpen up that sticker on the left,
so the whole tomato wouldn't look out of focus, and here it is. I think
it's time to go to the lake.
Grackles Fighting Over Leftover French Fries
Saw some birds there, but I wasn't really looking for birds. I was happy driving with the windows down and the wind blowing. These guys just showed up in the middle of the road around the food in the bag I thought the crows owned. The rest of the pictures are on my bird journal. Then I drove over to Yacht Club Row looking for something else to photograph.
Blue, Gold, White and Dark Sky ISO 400 1/500 f/7.1
Most of the same items as in the image below, but organized differently, bolder with color and shape and shadow. A harder contrast of color. This one actually almost adheres to The Rule of Thirds, usually a good rule to ignore or blatantly disregard. Amazing to me, its author, how distinct this approach of simple bold shapes and colors is from the multiple intricacies of the next image down. Neither, planned, of course. just point, find something interesting, and click.
There I found a bunch of boats, which I enjoyed photographing. These two are the best of that bunch.
Both shot with the long telephoto out the window of The Slider. Looking at them I wonder if anyone else can see what I see in them. I attended a photo show at the Bath House last weekend, and I thought for awhile about joining them. Call themselves Dead Photographers Society, but a lot of the work looked like old-time Photography Club work. Photographs of things. Traditional things, fronts of old buildings, odd lighting.
Marty Ray bought what I thought was the best photo in that show. Of an old diner with interesting architectural details including a stove outside the front door, but shot with dark skies, maybe after a rain. It's got atmosphere (and funk). So what colors there are in the mostly monochromatic composition, really shine. She and Richard both talked about the feeling it gave them. I told him that we photographers often wonder if anybody else can see or sense those feelings we try to capture or protray.
Dark Boat Yard Still Life ISO 400 1/125 –.33 EV f/11
It all seems to defy any coherent sense of space. Another one of those abstract realities, a mix of identifiable and unfathomable spaces and places and shapes. The object labeled Corinthian Sailing Club in all capital letters on white with black, brown and black stripes, seems to occupy no discoverable space, though I believe it was really there.
I love the dark wheel in the middle of the foreground (or a little back from there). A strange compression of details without all the details destroying the shape or color. Nearly monochromatic white, with odd bits of red, yellow and blue accents.
Usually, we can't put these feelings into words, either. That's a good thing. As Paul Harris keeps reminding, if we could put it into words, we wouldn't need to make art of it. I think these two shots fit that category. Why, of all the clutter of boats and shapes and shadows and lines and colors I shot this afternoon, were these two images special? Why did they speak to me?
I couldn't tell you. I knew it when I saw them, even before I lightened and darkened or made the colors a little more … something. I knew what they needed and making it happen was easy, because when I shot them, I adjusted the controls so I could see what I wanted in the G2's electronic viewfinder. Unlike my Nikons, where I might have seen something near what I wanted, but since I couldn't fine tune as I watched, I would have to make a bunch of shots, and hope one of them was close to showing why I shot them. Then hope I could do something in Photoshop or printing to make it right.
This one amazes me with its complexity and its organization. I like the contrast of textures and jumble of cubist (that word again) shapes. There's two layers. The boxy stuff up front, back to that first, dark wheel and the end of the raw wood. Then all that white stuff, boat covers, masts, lines, even some raw but not weathered wood back there. A jumble, but there's an order back there, that holds it all together. The sky would make three, if there was anything distinct about it, except it's blue with clouds, maybe.
These happened as I was photographing them. But then there were 25 others not all that different. Different boats, different places, different ineffable ideas, that didn't.
I was thinking about joining the Dead Photographers, but I don't like that name, which sounds too much like The Dead Poets Society, and I didn't know where they met, and I didn't know whether I'd want to hold my mouth about a lot of their work. Some of them are fine photographers, and that's who I miss talking with, but many appear to me students. But then I guess we all are.
Today I discovered yet another iteration of the quick menu. A drop-down (and squirt-up) menu of all the usual settings, some of which I still I do not understand with strange icons, as well as more familiar ones for aperture, ISO, white balance. I don't know why I haven't seen it before, or how to keep it. I like it.
Owning this camera is a series of mysteries. Guess I need to go back to that new book. I stopped reading somewhere in the middle. Even when I muddle with this camera, I don't do badly, at all. I love this camera.
Little Girl in Red Reveling in the Color and Motion of the Carnival
Wonderful fun with colors. Anna and I visited a little carnival at Valley View Mall then later walked at White Rock Lake for even more local color, body language, a few birds and strange color compositions. I was shooting wild and a little crazy, hoping and usually getting amazing fast focus and trying to capture people being people at a carnival.
Like this junior anti-grav units driver, which if you can ignore the yellow strut to the right that we can see and the others behind this small, mostly streamlined craft, looks like it could ignore gravity and zoom off-planet. Not sure about the crab decorations, however.
A lot going on and around and up and down but not so many people riding rides till we'd been there awhile. I should have gone back tonight for vivid color in motion, one of my favorite things to do with carnival lighting, but by then I was too pooped to pop.
Spotted Dog Carousel
We both loved the carousel. Nice horses, of course, but also a giraffe, a big spotted dog …
The Bunny Ride
A large, pink bunny … whose tall ears I brought back from deep shadow with more Photoshop work than I've got used to having to with my spiffy new camera.
The Monkey and The Zebra
And a monkey and a zebra amid gobs of contrasting color, and people, too. I didn't like these shots till I'd been through the 350 or so I made all day at least a dozen times. And I keep finding more winners among what I first thought as losers, which is why I usually wait a week or so to clear out the dreck from each shoot. Some shots, like this one, I just wasn't ready to accept at first. Now I think it's some kinds of wonderful, and very unlike most of my work, which makes it all the better.
Running Rider-less Chicken Carousel Ride
Here's a bit of an experimental blur from setting the aperture to f/22, the shutter to 1/30 and the ISO way down to 100. Just to force things in the direction of the mildly surreal. And I panned along with the chicken, so if it's at all sharp, it's the only thing in the picture that is. Fun and games with photography, and another entirely different look for what I shot and shot and shot today. Lots of others were less successful…
Roses Around the Ringy Cups
I wasted a lot of silicon on people riding rides, but if I stopped motion, it mostly looked like there wasn't any, and if I blurred it, there wasn't any human interest. If it weren't for the hair flying, nobody'd believe the action this almost stopped.
Fighting the Hyper-color G Forces
My first time around the carnival, I shot only the kit lens, the image-stabilized 14-42mm (28-94mm 35mm equivalent, supposedly). Then I went back around with the 100-300 (200-600mm equivalent). I was so tired by then, I'd shoot at any cute kid or vivid bit of color. I like both lenses, but I think differently with either. So I lived in a widish angle universe the first go around, capturing vistas and close. While on the second loop I was strictly going for individuals, details and a compression of space.
This looks almost as if I had planned and carefully executed this composition, but truth be told, I got in close enough to fill the telephoto's frame with ride and background and waited for a human to enter and clicked away at a couple frames per second hoping, hoping something would come of it, as the machine twisted, turned and flung those little crafts around in variously spiraling circles. That I got him this sharp is a minor miracle.
Now, this one would have been a lot more interesting and involving if there'd been a human form up there piloting the yellow craft, but we got there early, and many of the rides were running with as few as two or three riders, and I was shooting pretty random, so enjoying the color and shape and motion. A human presence (besides me) might have saved this from abstraction, but I still like it, even if I've super super-saturated the colors and tones. A distinct subject in all that might also have helped. But when I'm experimenting and this tired, I take what I can get.
And except for the fact that this is entirely different a composition, it's pretty much the same sort of experimentation. The human element almost saves it, but because we can't see a face to focus on, it doesn't quite. The bars and their shadows are great textures, and her blue pants and pink polka-dotted red hoodie makes for a simple and strong color contribution to the geometry of the shot.
The Heckilopter Pilots
I have to admit I haven't had this much fun with photography — both shooting and in post-production — in a long, long time. It helped immensely that I was doing stuff I'd never done before and that I had zero opportunity to pose anybody all day. I'd got used to just needing two or three minutes to prep G2 images for use on this page, but some of these took a lot longer.
Flying Focus and Rich Color
Something about a miniature carnival that startles my color and sharpness sensibilities. If you can tell what's sharp from what's merely colorful here, you might be as surprised as I am. Something there is about playing with a new camera that sets my chickens free in several realms. Here I'm toying with many of the elements in the original more or less reality, till it just isn't anymore.
Boy Guides Mom
Then, after more than enough dabbling in abstract realities, let us slowly and gently transition ourselves back down the path of humanity …
After the carnival and some coffee, we went to the lake to walk, not so much photograph birds, although some of that was inevitable as long as we've been documenting the birds there. This handsome young lady swam close enough, I couldn't miss her.
And, a little later at the lake, continuing my carnival track of vivid color in service to obvious body language, we end today's experimental path with this slightly sad note. I had already been already following the little girl in her vivid reds and purples as she danced and skipped around the pier at Green Heron Park on the west side of the lake.
I also liked the shapes and colors of the two bicycles that probably belong to the little boy seated at left and the girl. I don't know what she did that the adult thought was so wrong, but the adult and child's reciprocating body language tells a loud and clear story. Shortly after this brief episode of shame, she was prancing back down the pier to shore, and her and the boy bicycled away.
Richard Ray in Red and Plaid
My friend Richard and I have been doing a series over the last several years called The Richard Show in which he strikes a pose, and I photograph him. It's usually over in a few seconds, and it's sometimes serious, often a little goofy and generally entertains a visual pun or two. I've been wanting to top that page with a serious shot for awhile, so more people would take the series more seriously.
I suggested that to him shortly before he posed and I made this shot. I hadn't really noticed what he was wearing till I got this on my monitor at home this evening. Absurd I hadn't noticed the hat. Later, I saw that his left eye got a little lost in spectral and area reflections. And though I tried to darken and sharpen it, it stil looks a tad strange, which fits right into the series.
Ain't perfect yet, but I am getting better at this — most of the time. I still have moments when I don't know what to do to get what I want — focus, white balance, etc. But I'm getting way better at previous problems. I know how to dismiss that ugly, but useful menu box, etc. I'm just to the place in the Quintessential book where it explains "taking partial control of the camera" after drudging through basics and automatic and semi-automatic use.
I distinctly remember a brain freeze moment this evening, I just can't remember which specific it was related to. That means I'll get another opportunity to blow that one, probably in another "gotta get it" stress moment "out there."
Much of this evening was spent at an art opening of photographers at the Bath House Cultural Center. Earlier this week I hoped for a public event with people who wouldn't be stressed by me photographing them. Took awhile for me to figure I was in the big middle of just such a situation, so when I came to, I started photographing the people instead of my usual targets, the art. These two boys were my first obvious subjects.
My first shot of the situation with the woman with a handful of puppets and two boys blurred the woman even more than this one when she turned to look behind her. The blond boy was hanging further back. Here they are equal standing together. This is the second of a series of seven shots, most of which were blurred, because the boys were moving, and the woman who was unknowingly acting as the organizing principle in my photograph, had left the area.
My other shots lack that unification and blurred either because I wasn't using a high enough ISO or the boys were too active, which of course, is what boys do. The Richard Ray image, which I shot later, used ISO 1600 that I'd set after I thought I'd failed to capture the boys. I made a couple other portrait attempts but they all blurred badly in the low light I used to think I specialized in.
Now that I know this camera can handle ISO 1600 so easily in low-contrast situations — at least for jpegs online, I will hesitate slower.
ISO 800 worked fine for this one, and the musician is whom had temporarily fascinated the boys. I could see and hear why. The guy was good. He'd put down one instrument track, keep playing along with another, maybe sing some, then play along with those, too. All of which makes this photo rather simplistic. But I like it well enough.
Hair and Sweater
This is another near miss that worked out pretty well, considering. Focus is close, but on the sweater, not the hair. Should have been on both.
This was earlier. What I was seeing, and the
reason I shot this was their flyaway head feathers, which stood out to
me shooting from the shore as much as they stand out from these birds'
heads. I waited till some of the pelicans in back turned around so we
could see their beaks variously engaged in preening.
Day 13 b
image purloined from Amazon.com
I'm only 109 of 268 text pages into Brian Matsumoto and Carol F. Roullard's The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 The Unofficial Quintessential Guide, and I've already learned enough to know that I've got to read the whole thing. My sanity with this camera depends upon it. I'm already learning and understanding more than the past two weeks of struggling with that idiot manual that came with the camera.
The people online who trashed this book simply do not know what they are talking about. It is informative and written in English by authors who know what they're talking about and are usually able to explain the intricacies of this camera without it getting lost in translation. It's not perfect. The type is squeezed together and sometimes difficult to read, although there's enough line spacing to make it worth trying.
The writers' photos on the frontispiece are amateurish. Matsumoto has his eyes closed — from an on-camera bounced flash? And Roullard is posing with a wide and very artificial smile. Neither photograph inspires faith that this book about cameras and photography will be professional, although for the most part it is.
The sometimes turgid text needs serious editing and rewriting. They get carried away with repeating information and writing mawkishly about creativity, and the text consistently refers to figures by name that are right there, always directly adjacent to the text directing us to look for what we're already seeing, as if the writers had no concept how the book was laid out, and the book designer didn't care. But there's lots of helpful information.
Chapter heads over the photo introducing each chapter are either repeated over the first, usually facing, text page — or slightly reinterpreted but still redundant, and every page shows oversized black blobs I first thought were ink smears, but when I got my glasses on to read it, I discovered were dark, grayscale images of the top half of either the front or the back of the camera, chopped off and sideways. I guess to delineate the chapters, even if they don't line up with any visual list or explanation. They might have made sense if the Table of Contents had been aligned with them. Also, except for the instructions on how to register face recognition capabilities, which must have been the last pages added to the book, every menu screen shot throughout the book is dark.
I suspect a lot of things either did or were going to line up before the book was suddenly rushed into publication. It's dated 2011, so maybe they dallied too long and suddenly needed to publish the thing before we all lost interest in the G2…
But I don't care about niggling design inconsistencies, or occasionally obtuse text, because this book is intelligible and telling me what I need to know about the G2 — information I was unable to glean from the lame Panasonic manual or online. I thought I'd read every page but I don't care about face recognition or identification and other amateur Point+Shoot settings, although I will keep this book at my desk for reference.
It helps, and it's already worth the $18.89
I paid for it.
I still use it, but I am finding this book overly technical and underly useful. I suspect it could have been a much smaller and more useful book if the authors had used more informal language. These writers are too precise. I suspect they were limited by Panasonic more than by anything else. It's not a practical guide, and I wish there were such a thing, but since it is apparently not selling well, despite its bargain-basement price, I suspect this is the only book that will ever be published about the G2.
Day 12 a
'Brella Spin - This
was a test image. I didn't plan to
my fingers that'd just spun it, but I like the feeling they add.
I've been invited to create a work of art to show in a themed exhibition based on the popular Mexican ¡Loteria! game, wherein each invited artist does one of the 52 standard game pictures. Of those I have selected three possibilities. The Umbrella, which sounds fascinating to me as I think on it and previsualize several possibilities, one of of which now includes a wet and dripping black umbrella open on the floor before or between two large mirrors. So there's one umbrella with a lot of reflections. Or turn it upside down and fill it with water, turning the tables.
Fill 'er Up - really nice to be
able to previsualize the
exact exposure when shooting something that's black
My second choice was The Bottle. I've often enjoyed photographing the translucence or patterns of bottles, especially back-lit ones, because I was taught to photograph translucent and transparent objects, with light coming through them, not dully on them. My third choice would be The Pear. I like pears and have recently run out of them. One on a table is classic. One cut or chewed and dripping on the table or surface sounds interesting and manifests the juicy-sweet nature of pears.
'Brella Spill - This umbrella doesn't hold water, but I like the spill.
When I looked where I thought I'd last seen my own umbrella, it wasn't there. Searching for it, I found the white umbrellas used on my photo light stands and wondered at the possibilities those suggested. Running the various real umbrella possibilities through my mind as I slept or did not sleep last night I kept seeing a junky background, although I had also considered getting some of those goofy little umbrellas people put on sweet drinks, but I didn't want to promote alcoholism and wanted a large 'brella.
Black Flower II - I clicked the G2 to Flower Mode to do a close-up
But my ersatz studio, with the white, light tent and one blazing lamp with its light umbrella presents a certain symbolism of photography, which might be interesting, and then the white, glowing tent could be its own background. Still would like to find my black fold-up umbrella to be the object of that photo setup. Hmm.
'Brella Pack - Folded up and Velcroed down
I keep looking for something I hadn't tried before. This invitational exhibition may be just the thing. I like home still lifes. My series of those is at least a dozen years long. Interesting. I suspect the images I show here will not be the one I will contribute to the exhibition. Interesting that all three of my choices from the ones no one else has already selected, are all wet.
Where do you buy a cheap umbrella that looks like an umbrella enough for a photograph? But I'll probably never use it, stoic Texican male that I am. Then I looked it the car one last time, I told myself. And found it in the glove compartment. Much smaller folded down than I thought. As you can see, I've been playing with it on my front porch. I got so much water out there, I mopped it, too. It needed a good cleaning.
First Flowering - I didn't like
this one till I'd created all the others,
even if it was one of the first shots — before I mopped the porch.
These images are, of course, only the first gush of notions. There will be others. No tripods or artificial lights were used in the production of these images, and I got a clean front half of my front porch out of the deal.
After I did these shots, I asked Exhibition Curator Enrique Fernandez, who told me the format for images would be 2:2.5 vertical, meaning few of these would work. I shot verticals, but none of them were even this good — probably because I tend to think horizontally. So far, my favorite is the spinner at top, which I may be able to save by chopping and channeling the area between fingers and umbrella and expanding to include area at the top I had cropped out for this composition.
I still may go out next time it rains and, using
the 100-300 tele, photograph people with their own umbrellas.
Errands to run today. Did those, drove to the lake to not take pix of birds. Did a very little of that anyway, but mostly I photographed houses and trees and flowers and stuff. If you have a really big screen or two of them pushed together, you might see what I began to see when I opened all my Bradford Pear shots (if those even are Bradford Pear trees; I know much less about trees than I do about birds, and I often cannot identify either.), you'll see this as one big picture. But even as two up and down, they're interesting, and I had fun putting them together like whichever version you see. Max PP (post production) time for each was maybe one minute. I like that.
I walked a mile or so along the west side of the lake and photographed just this sort of thing, mostly avoiding birds, although I saw and photographed some easy ones. .
Then I came home and crashed. Surprised myself with that, probably much-needed sleep.
I also looked through it online at Amazon, then ordered the much-maligned (in online forums) The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide. I learned several somethings just by reading through it that way that Amazon lets us. I liked what I read. The forum folk said it was just a rehash of stuff in the manual, and when I read that I thought, oh, that's bad. But then when I was reading it, I realized that's what all after-market guides are. Rehashes of the original. Except what I read was in plain English, not what I've been calling Panasonic Swahili — badly translated and ignorantly rewritten from the Japanese (I assume) originals.
I read today on my favorite online rumor site (43 Rumors) that the original camera I thought I wanted/'needed, the Panasonic GH2, will finally be available in the US after March 8. I don't care. I think this camera at that camera are the same, except the GH2 is much better at video. I've only ever made two videos in the time I've had this camera. Two. And I haven't had the slightest idea how to save or what to do with them since. Paying $500 to a thousand dollars more for that sure seems insipid now. I love my G2.
I was tooling around my extended East Dallas neighborhoods looking for interesting things to photograph and saw this guy and his bag of cans approaching my neighborhood grocery. I got two shots off, struggling between them to get the settings I thought I needed, although this is the first and the better shot, by far. I've already put it into the folder where I keep future art exhibition competition entries.
I first assumed I'd crop close to him, but I love the wide open empty wall and parking lot space around him, with only that squiggle of green, some car bumps and the wall framed by the dark shadow, yellow pole, white strip and American flag-like poster.
I sure didn't plan it that way, but I appreciate the way he is, except for that one foot, in dark shadow. Anonymous.
Okay, I broke down and have been reading the manual. Got pretty good at a lot of important settings without doing that, but there comes a time when I'm more interested in results than not figuring out Pany Swahili. Many aspects of that book still baffle me, but I'm learning and I'm reading. I'm also reading widely of reviews of this camera by cam sites I appreciate, and some I hadn't previously.
One of my earliest G2 shots was this fence. This time I got it sharp and dense, so it both looks real and a little abstracted, slightly Cubist. The slivers of blue white in sky-colored shadows, the shaded yellow and all those wonderful, variously stained or discolored natural and unnatural wood hues. A spectacular improvement. Maybe five blocks from my house.
Turned out the best I found about the menus which have so baffled me is my old friend Image Resource's review of the G2, which is somewhat specific about which menu item does what and how. It's not super definitive, and often does not clarify which selections are good for what purposes, but it's so much better than the manual that I'm grateful. Very grateful.
Brown and Black and White
I burned out the grass but had been concentrating on the dog, of course, and the shaded porch area. Probably could never have got everything this close to reality otherwise. It was clearly the guard dog, on a rope. But it never barked, just stood its ground.
I like all the subtle textures, the brown, carved wood door, the C, B and A mailboxes, the dog's blue bowl against all those reds and reddishes, the Christmas wreath and lights. And how the white of the dog contrasts so ideally with the dull shade of the other whites in it. I wish we could have better seen the dog's eyes, but it's not bad for a quickie out the window, me parked in the middle of the street, hoping nobody'd drive up behind me and honk.
I played with a lot of menu settings today, and don't know and haven't figured out how to tell which one I set for each shot. This may have been set for extra added color density. Or maybe not, although I'm still not sure which setting does that exactly.
This one got a little help from Photoshop, but none of today's shots took more than maybe three minutes to post-produce. Just too close to perfect already. All I did here is to lighten the clutter behind the chairs. One of my oldest series is/are Stairs, Chairs and Fences. This fits very well into that category of repetitive pattern shapes as well as being self-framing.
I did not want to shoot more birds or art today, although I think Can Man may qualify as art. I'm an art critic, so I get to decide, inasmuch as anybody does. My main uses for photography and especially this camera have been those two, birds and art. But it was nice to get away from the usual today. Nice weather, great light. Image after image kept offering themselves. I took the chances.
Today's adventure started with delivering two photographs — the largest I've ever shown, a new adventure of showing prints I did not sweat our myself on my ten-year-old, then-suddenly-dead 'archival' printer. One print was from my tiny compact Canon, the other from the big Nikon. I still haven't visually compared the two for grain, pixelization and other signs of which might be which. I know, but I keep hoping it's not obvious to others.
The show is held at Dallas' near-downtown Latino Culture Center, but obviously open to all races. If I'm there with a camera, I almost always juxtapose some vivid colors and strange shapes. Today again, too.
Big Foot Coot All today's shot with G2 and 100-300mm lens More Big Coot Feet
Spent (invested?) five hours photographing birds today, at the Arlington Drying Beds and at White Rock Lake. More than 500 images shot. I also dragged my big Nikon and Stigma honking lens along in the car, but I never once used it. Must be a lesson in that.
Three major series today: American Coots' feet, Great Blue Heron nests and American White Pelicans going fishing. There's more Coot Feet Shots on my Birder's Journal today.
Four Great Blue Herons in a Distant Tree
There's a more interesting version of this shot that I'll post on my Birder's Journal later (tonight, day after tomorrow, soon). But this is nice, because everybody's in focus, and I got more than a little of the tree in there, too. Right now is when Great Blue Herons (GBHs) are setting up nests, laying and sitting nests, etc. Trouble is most of them do these things far from people and people access. I had to walk about a half mile to get to a place where I could photograph them from a dirt (was deeply rutted mud) road that was blocked off with tape and wire warning of danger. The ruts were about as dangerous as it got, unless you are acrophobic.) This is about a fourth of the full frame.
I haven't messed with the sharpening settings yet, but so far the G2's sharpness is fine with me. Heck, I still haven't learned how to get that touch menu off the LCD when it appears there. I think I know how to put it there, but I have no idea how to get rid of it. Wish I did.
Great Blue Heron Jump
I'd like to crow about this shot, but of course it was pure luck. Part of the luck was having the G2 and setting the exposure up so a bird in full sunlight would be near-perfectly exposed. If the wing had flapped down, the exposure would have been better. Luck brought it up when I clicked. I suppose I could have asked for better positioning, but that would have been dumb. I love the action, the sharpness, that one feather on its right wing flopped out of place, and it sharp enough we can tell. This is delicious. Maybe half the full frame, taken out of the middle left.
San Rafael 1/1,000 @ f/10 ISO 250
Actually, this is Garland Road. Down the hill to the left, then back up it some, it's Grand Avenue. That's downtown Dallas in the telephoto distance. Between the sign and the skyline is a neighborhood I've only glimpsed in long and telephoto shots. Never shot it directly before. I like the compression. I was coming back from attempting to photograph pelicans fishing, looked back to check traffic, and saw this. Click.
Like this. Cormorants, often gulls and pelicans rushing to where somebody's just found fish. I photographed pelicans doing this for several hours for this shot. Not the greatest, but pretty good. About a third of the frame.
Beaks to Beaks for Fish
Significant enlargement but the G2 shot still holds some details.
Some of what I learned today
Red-tailed Hawk at Altitude
Pond-hopping Northern Shovelers Landing — Shot with Nikon D200 and Stigma 150-500mm
Guess from here on, I'm counting days as days I write in this journal. Maybe it takes about a week to get behind white-hot passion for a new camera. I shoot pix with it every day. And the bird ones, at least, I publish on my Amateur Birder's Journal. Often talk about using the G2 and its lenses there, too. But except for one of my Pond-hopping Northern Shovelers Landing shots, so as to be in distinctive contrast to the blurry shots of the ducks landing below, I won't be duping very many bird pix here. You want bird pix, my bird journal's the place to go. I add to it at least three times a week. Lately — and there's no way to sustain that constancy — it's been every day.
Greater Yellowlegs Pair
The day I shot the Northern Shovelers landing, I'd brought both my Nikon D200 and my Panasonic G2. The Nikon with the Stigma 150-500mm lens, and the G2 with my Panasonic 100-300mm (200-600mm equivalent). I used the Nikon for the shovelers, and the G2 for really long, non high-speed action shots, like this one, which is still a tiny fraction of a full frame. I'd guess about 1/30th or so of the full frame. Considering the enlargement of such a tiny portion of the entire frame, it's some kind of miracle. Shot at f/6.3 at 1/800th and ISO 400 and EV +.66.
Later that day, I photographed Great Blue Herons having sex on the top of a great tall tree, and I dearly wish I'd shot the whole sequence with the G2's tele instead of the blur-mass of the Stigma (Yes, I know they call it Sigma, but owning one that's been in the shop twice, and it still doesn't work all the time, and blurs out in long tele situations, I'm right to call it a stigma.).
Kids from Commerce Installation at Plush Gallery shot for DallasArtsRevue.com
Odd odd form, but interesting here, because it was a straight shot, no chaser. I just pointed, adjusted exposure, and clicked. 1/40 @ f.3.5 –.66 EV and ISO 400, just like nearly every other shot with my new camera. No fancy lighting or flash or anything. I just shot it not expecting much, but it turned out amazing considering everything about it, really. Not perhaps great art, but interesting and visually arresting, which is more than we usually get with installation art.
All I adjusted later in Photoshop was the size and then sharpness. I didn't change lighting or color or anything else to share it with you here. That's a good deal of why I love my G2 for documentary purposes. I still own a Canon S90, but I don't trust it. I do trust my G2, even with its current kit lens.
Next time I go where the Great Blue Herons are nesting I'll take my G2 and long lens. You can be sure of that.
Meanwhile, I've been practicing a lot with fast-action birds and not doing a whole lot better than below, but some. Small increments of quality showing through way too much practice. I might get there yet. Maybe.
Black & White Duck Blur
Today, I discovered a major flaw in this camera and one of the uses I planned for it. I wanted to shoot birds with it, and I've had a lot of success doing that, but today, it was an utter failure at following birds in close flight and fast action. Not action in a straight line, like pelicans fly, where I can plan ahead and pan through. I was standing on the pier and over by the lagoon in Sunset Bay, and my goal for the evening was to capture ducks — mostly Mallards — as they flew in, usually high and inside, down into the close-in bay. And gulls attacking coots.
I'd done both many times with my Nikon and Rocket Launcher lens. So I know I can fall back on my larger format gear for that sort of shooting. I'm not SOL here. But I had hoped I could follow focus down toward the water as ducks decelerated, then splash landed. I shot about a hundred of those episodes this afternoon, and I did not get a single shot I liked.
That Duck Again and Again Blurred
The bird pix in today's journal entry are shots I wished I could have succeeded with. The Black & White Duck is a case in point. I'd like to have got details of it, so I could identify it. I like the white ring around the color and the white primaries. I'm interested in finding out who it is. But the camera chose both these times and a lot of others to focus somewhere else. What I wanted was too fast and I wanted it quicker than it was capable of rendering focus.
Of course, I need more practice, and I need more knowledge about this camera's focus modes. But I tried all of them today, and none helped me. I kept wishing that, like my Nikons, it had a focus on whatever is closest mode. So whatever is out there but in the frame that is closest to me will be focused on. It's amazing, and it almost always works on either my Nikon D200 or D300. But the G2 apparently does not have such a mode. Would that it did.
The White Plastic Chair
It's a great camera for easy action and for no action. Excellent for art and studio shots — although I'll stick with my Nikons for professional art photography, except at Joel Cooner Gallery, where this camera has a much larger sensor than the camera I've been using there and, especially, its articulated LCD will be a godsend — the camera before the camera I've been using there had one, and I sorely miss it.
Shooting at the gallery is very much a studio situation, albeit a make-shift, ersatz studio situation, and it requires a lot of different angles, several of which are impossible without an articulating LCD. The G2's LCD articulate in all the ways that old Canon camera's did, and was the early reason why I got it. Nikon still has not done a decently articulating LCD on one of its DX (APS-C) format cameras, although I keep hoping the not-yet-released D5100 will have one. But the D5000 had gimped articulation and so probably will the upcoming 5100.
And I still harbor the notion of buying a really good DX frame camera with a superb 750mm+ lens, whether that's a 300mm f/2.8 with some telextenders or a fabulous longer zoom. That dream's been on hold since I've been evaluating my G2, which I am definitely keeping. I really like and enjoy shooting with it.
My Nikon D300 is seriously injured. I cannot depend on it, and my D200 is ancient now, having long passed the 200,000 exposures that is supposed to be its upper limit. When I was losing Nikon trust, I bought this Panasonic. I always knew it would not be the be all and end all. And it ain't.
Lake Tree Gate Road
I am still seriously considering the new Nikon D7000, which is the successor to Nikon's very successful and near-pro D90. No articulating screen or electronic viewfinder, but pretty amazing in most other categories. It's big and expensive at more than twice what the G2 costs or weighs, but it'll do almost everything that the G2 does, plus some it can't even think about doing, and it's better over all. Neither is the perfect camera. No camera ever made was or is.
The G2 meanwhile, is much easier to carry, because it's small, light and almost never in the way. Not just good for photographing art but useful in art situations. Opening receptions, people around art and in galleries and other art spaces. It's wonderful for my long-term and ongoing Home Still Life series and for wandering around in life as we know it. So easy to grab and shoot when I've stopped out driving somewhere. Handy for most travel bird situations, too. Both lenses are light and easy to carry and deal with.
Oh, and did I mention what a fun camera the G2 is to have and use? Once again, because I can set the exposure before I shoot slow- or no-moving objects, those images are so quick and easy to run through the post-production routine. This yellow building, like the gate and the stairs and the chair, each took about three minutes to prepare for this smaller (than original, in-camera, full-resolution) size. That part's fun, too.
Following fast and close-in action will get either better or at least possible as I learn which focus mode to attempt it with. I tried all the clicks on the focus mode dial today, with nearly no success. And frankly, I rarely shoot that sort of action, but when I need to, I want the camera right there and capable of anything I throw at it.
I love this camera, and I haven't even begun to play with its RAW capabilities, which are supposed to substantially increase its exposure and image quality capabilities, although it's difficult to believe I could get much better than these.
It's a keeper, I just wish it were perfect …
Duct Work at Xpert Imaging
There's still a lot of things going on with this camera that I have no idea why. Why can't I focus on something without the apparent focus box bouncing around the frame for no apparent reason. Why does clicking the "Display" button bring up a set of boxes on the LCD whose purpose baffles me? What's going on? How can I either stop it from doing these odd things or use those odd displays to control the camera to my liking and not its? Very peculiar.
Cactus in Amber
I read on the DPR micro four thirds forum that the reason the G2's menus don't give any help is because it is an "enthusiast's camera" and not one for amateurs. Why then do my Nikons, which are professional cameras, have a ? button I can push to immediately discover in good English what that particular setting is for?
Aha. I'm reading DPR's full review of the G2. It is far more helpful than the G2 manual that came with the camera. It was obviously translated from the Japanese by someone who does not speak nor understand English.
The picture up always is not really of religious figures. It just kept reminding me of the way they are stylized in many depictions. Large bodies in flowing robes and little pin heads. I also had not planned this series as stripes, but when ya got 'em flaunt 'em.
Another porch shot, also early in the morning. For me. Busy day today learning my new camera. Most of the bird shots are on my Bird Journal.
Yo Up Close (More Stripes)
I doubt I would even have attempted this shot if I didn't know what the exact correct exposure and focus likelihood was going to be before I started. Yo is not compliant with requests to hold still or look this way or that. At least he's not baring teeth here. In fact, my pink-nosed cat almost looks pleasant.
Another Religious Figure
Somebody told me this was Frank Campagna's version of Marilyn Monroe. I think it's on Hickory Street along my alternate return path from the VA hospital. He's a good sign-painter. Nice rendering with my new camera and some Photoshop work.
Something a little bit odd along the middle spillway at White Rock Lake. I was unable to think of anything else to say about it so I could use it on my bird journal today.
These shots were easy to focus, but focusing on birds flying was nearly impossible today. I tried every one of the focus mode settings, and neither any of them nor I worked well enough. I'm sure there's a solution. I just don't know who it is.
Xpert Imaging in Deep Elm has been incredibly helpful as I get my dead flower Treasures ready to hang at Hecho en Dallas at the Latino Culture Center Mach 10 through April 29. I was wandering around while waiting not very long for them to pop out another proof after I changed something else, and found the duct work in the big room where they're redoing it.
I seem to be grasping more and more that this camera does that others of my cameras have not, and how to change the way it does things that other cameras do. Thanks to the DPR review, I am beginning to understand the options in some menus, if not excactly what or how to do them.
I've been thinking of photographing my Canon SD780, Canon s90, this one and my Nikon, to show the remarkable size differences. I'm kinda curious about that display. In the DRP review, it says with body, card and battery, the G1 weight 15 ounces. Or 21 oz. with the kit lens.
Focus is still the big bugaboo. I had similar problems when I got my Nikon D200. Took concentrating on their online video tutorials to figure it out. No such help from Panasonic. Most of the sites that claim "tutorial" don't have any such thing.
Reading the dpr mft forums: G2 uses contrast based autofocus, supposedly more precise than phased-based AF like on dSLRs.
green focus confirm light.
Somebody there says the only time he uses a tripod is when he shoots pix of the moon. Very strange. The moon, when we see it, is illuminated by the sun. So it's like photographing something in bright daylight. Why anybody'd need a tripod for that baffles me, unless they were photographing the dark side. ; )
When I started my S90 Journal, which like this journal was me learning a new camera, I began shooting a series of images of this chair on my porch. That camera was a Canon S90, a much smaller camera that I still use, and I even sill add to that journal sometimes, but except for sticking it in my pocket and going off somewhere. With the kit zoom I got it with, the G2 is very unlikely to fit in any pockets.
Even without that middle-sized lens, it'd be hard to fit a G2 into a pocket. It is an interchangeable-lens dSLR, after all. With a significantly larger sensor than the S90. The s90's sensor is listed on the bottom line of the Sensor Size chart in yesterday's entry. The micro four thirds sensor in the G2 is on the right of next row up, obviously a big difference. Somewhat more of a difference than from the four thirds sensor to the APS-C (DX) sensor on my Nikons, which is only a third again larger.
The sensor-size difference impacts me every time I look through the viewfinder or LCD at another potential photograph. The bigger the sensor, the bigger the viewfinder. My Nikons' viewfinders are bigger, so more stuff fits in them. When I'm trying to find an object — say a bird — in it, so I can catch up with it and make a picture of it, that it is bigger helps.
Monk Parakeet Carrying Nest Stick
The smaller sensor size and viewfinder size of my G2 makes it more difficult. I suspect all these discrepancies can also be affected by practicing. I remember when I first got my Rocket Launcher long zoom lens. Seeing something and pointing the lens (on the camera) at it, was difficult at first. Actually, it was impossible at first. With practice, I wore it down to difficult. Eventually, I could usually sight something through it. Gradually, after that, it got easier.
Aiming the G2 with its 100-300mm lens at something small flying fast and unpredictably is very difficult. I'll check back in a month or so and see if it's still difficult. Probably it'll be a lot easier. Today I missed more flights than I captured. I got three nearly good ones and one sharp one.
Meanwhile, I thought it might be fun to continue the chair series, along with everything else going on here.
More of today's photographs and understandings are on today's Birder's Journal entry.
From My Bed
Topsy turvy day. Tired tired tired. And sick. To my stomach after either food poisoning myself or from a Thai restaurant. Hard to say which. I spent a lot of the day in bed sleeping or groaning but would get up when I felt guilty I wasn't learning more on my G2. I shot this from there. That night, we saw a New Music concert at the Nasher but I took my pocket camera not this huge and bulky (only by comparison) cam.
Slow and drear day. This shot most appropriate, part mirror, part window, blind, part shadows and light. This looks pretty much how I felt most of the day. Nice when I can get reality to go along with me photographing it. I guess in here is always in our images of out there anyway.
Tre Roberts untitled (ladder not included in art piece)
I'm still moving three-dee things around my front room. This was on the far corner bothering my Laura Abrams Mantas, but I never really liked it over there, just it seemed to fit, physically, not visually. So it's looking for a place again. He hangs upside down in the artist's braided and skeleton-surrounded vision. Time magazine probably thought the red was shadow. I suspect Roberts thought of it as blood. I agree. I have qualms about hanging him upside down, but the artist is always right … er left.
Stained Glass Window with Turtle Bumps and a Globe
Outside was out of the question most of today. Dark edged, I again agree with my pictures of as out there as I could manage. Toward evening, I felt better enough to go out, but no drinking or eating and early back. We were expecting an up of percussion, instead got a heaping helping of down New Music, but ended with a resounding (!) flourish of percussion, and what better to bang on than stuffy old pianos?
Plastic Dragon Boat
I hadn't experimented much with close-up images yet, but this was about as close as I have got so far without special close-up filters or gizmos. I'm surprised at the translucent details. Full-size, this shot is amazing. Not bad here, plenty of real and apparent depth. Wonder what, besides focusing on feathers, the G2 is bad at? Haven't come across anything in particular yet.
My Wind Tunnel
Kathy Boortz calls this my "wind tunnel." It's where I photograph most of her pieces now — and one of my pieces coming up at Hecho en Dallas. When objects inside this light tent are photographed with the powerful tungsten lights I bought from Tom awhile back, the seams and panels show as nearly pure white, then I get Photoshop to nudge them on all the way to oblivion. The styrofoam comes in the mail around my insulin, keeping it cool. I use the slats to hold tiny objects up.
The last thing I shot in there was a marvelous little, life sized Screech Owl Kathy made. I like this as a White On White Composition with Black. All today's shots were with the 14~42mm stabilized kit zoom, which at first I thought might not be good enough, but it seems plenty versatile for my usual purposes, though I've been studying all the lenses available for micro four-thirds cameras, including some really optically optimal ones from Olympus that, because they build image stabilization into their cameras, not their lenses, don't have the IS my often shaky hands need.
Sometimes it seems I follow the sun around my house. Rainbow glints off hippie crystals in the LR window. Sunlight dappling through all the translucent doodahs in those windows. Light with shadows making ornate patterns on the floor. Trick is to get it so it looks like light, not some mistake, and letting the colors of floor and furniture in, too. Not sure this succeeds, but I think I like it. Kinda too early to tell. Almost like it's the splotches of light that are the shapes, not the shadows.
I liked the contrast between bulbous vegetable and sink shapes, food color bottles, onions, potatoes and a Sake ochoko, verses the stiff, sharp, straight bristles of a white on white and blue plastic bottle brush in the kitchen window, all Rembrandt backlit. Much later I noticed that — unless you count the empty window glass — this is today's only shot without a large rectangle comprising a major portion of the image's composition.
Probably go birding tomorrow after way too much sleep. I'm still thinking what to say about last night's gallery hopping. Hands down, Mac Whitney's retrospective at that new downtown gallery was the most scintillating of the night, and such a relief to get away from the wall to wall parking madness on Dragon Street and wall to wall people in all those galleries, though I hope Mac draws more crowds with all that fabulous sculpture.
Contemporary Digital Camera Sensor Sizes
Compared with Full-frame 35mm film
I found this illustration of the relative sizes
of camera sensors on Wikipedia today. It should be instructive about
just exactly the size of Four Thirds System and Micro Four Thirds System
camera sensors like my new Panasonic Lumix G2's compared
to all those other digital imagers out there. As I state in large letters
on my How
to Photograph Art page,
Cameras that combine lower pixel density
and larger sensor size with more megapixels
offer the best image quality.
The G2 has a pixel density of 2.2, which is very low, even lower than my much bigger and more expensive Nikon D200 or D300 dSLRs with their fifty percent larger sensors.
Day 3 PM
Downtown City Silhouette
This may be the best photograph I shot this evening. It was across from the art below. I shot this out the driver's window. Adjusted my view to exactly duplicate the way I saw it out there. Nearly perfect.
And this through the windshield, I think. Nice sky, good enough detail everywhere else. The art of it seems to be shining a rigid disk of light on the side of an old building downtown in Dallas. We didn't expect much more than that, and we didn't stop long, then drove to the next place. Or were about to, when I saw the top shot out my window. Then again, that clear and undistorted, maybe I got out and shot through air instead of the windshield.
Photographer Ann Stautberg and Painter Francis X. Tolbert, Jr. at Marty Walker
Ann and Frank are legendary. Used to live in Dallas then up and moved south somewhere. Soon as I walked in the door, I recognized Frank and started angling to arrive where I could take their picture. I didn't want a stand and grin, I wanted something real. This is as close as I got to that. I am doing a people picture series. Probably I ought to post this there, too. I think this is the first people photo on the G2, except of me and unknowing people at the lake.
Andela Andeon Hyperion At Chris Worley Gallery
Light sculpture on a white wall in a gallery I can't spell correctly yet, but I'll get to it. In real life, the wall looked white, but looking through the G2's EVF I could not manage to render it white and show the light as light with all the details. So this is a compromise at best, but a pretty good one.
Mac Whitney Mosca 1994 steel 14 x 7 x 10 inches
I know Mac Whitney well enough to shake his hand and tell him this show was really good. Hadn't seen his work in a gallery in a long time, so it was nice to see a bunch of them — small to humongous — in one place at one time, under a full moon. Good time to photograph some three-dimensional art that I already love, even if I'd never seen these specific pieces before, which ain't necessarily so. At best, sculpture is a study in color, rhythm and shape. I'm pretty sure I could dance to any Mac Whitney I've seen. Already have with some big ones.
Getting that background so very close to neutral gray was an unexpected bonus. That it's just a tad blue contrasts nicely with red. Whitney has gouged tiny titles into his pieces, so there was something to go on till I found the price list. Like Marty Walker Gallery, Kirk Hopper Fine Art did an illustrated price list, but the colors were awful. Luckily the shapes were right, so I've named and sized these images correctly. Marty Walker lists are on cheaper, thin paper, so we freely take them. These were bound in plastic folders and on thick paper, so I didn't feel free to take one.
Mac Whitney Lucin 2008 stainless steel 13 x 5 x 4 feet
Shooting 3D art inside with great lighting is one thing. Shooting outside in big spotlights with major shadows is something altogether different a challenge I was eager to try. I felt this one when I got close. It felt like steel suede, probably sandblasted in addition to the grinding. Not so pretty in this shot, but the ones inside looked great. The shadow simplifies onto the far wall.
Mac Whitney Escobas 2005 steel 14 x 7 x 6 feet
Especially this one. Harsh light stopped in its tracks with a chunk of the previous piece. Light bright to deep shadow. I wanted the red to show bigtime. I waited for people to get out of the picture, although it's often useful around large sculptures to have one or two in sight, so people understand just how big these things are, relative to humans.
A Complexity of lines, tensions and
unknown artist unknown title
I only remember staying bored thorough the rest of the gallery, but I liked this ... oh, 1956-57 Ford with hood ornamentation removed and license plate obliterated. Like the car mattered more than anything else in the world. And to many, it does, did then.
Mock Over Shoulder
Up early to sign for my new tele, which I used in minutes to capture a pair of very busy Northern Mockingbirds swooping through my front yard. No chance I could catch that long a lens up to them swooping, though it was grand fun to watch, but when they perched still awhile, I got them many times. Lot of wavering with a 600mm equivalent lens though. The stabilization not nearly as active as my stupid Stigma, which renders rock-solid steady sometimes, when it works at all.
The next shot was my first of the mock, when I finally found where it was and angled my shot of it up through intervening branches. It looks like it was going to be as sharp as the next one, only the mock was already leaving.
First Mock Shot
And lest we think the top one was the only really sharp one, here's another of the series.
Now, this is why I got this lens. It wouldn't be much good to photograph art, but for birds. I'm thinking 600mm (equivalent) might be a close-enough match to my Stigma's 500mm (750mm equivalent). None of these shots, so far, have been lightened or darkened in Photoshop. When I had time, I could adjust before my very eyes, when I didn't have the time, I shot what I could get, then adjusted in Pshop later.
I'll be adding more pix and more new understandings later this weekend. There's more bird pix and camera/lens commentary is on my today's entry to my Bird Journal.
Today I made maybe four photographs worth keeping or showing, although I shot about a hundred. Instead, I studied. I read extensively in Panasonic's miserable excuse for a camera manual and looked for an online tutorial, but found none, except some reviews on YouTube that were helpful. Mostly, I shot eminently trashable images that I mostly trashed almost immediately. But now I know what a lot of those buttons are for and what all that stuff on the screen is about.
Not all, by any means. I remain miserably ignorant about this camera. I'll be using it at a bunch of gallery openings tomorrow night, and I'm afraid I'll do another something stupid with it, but that's normal in the learning process. Every time I screw up, I learn something new. I'm familiar with the concept. I represent that remark. The fear is for screwing up images I want, not in looking stupid. I do that often.
There's a book about it on Amazon but the folks on DPR's Micro Four Thirds forum say it's garbage, and I believe them. There are no commercial videos or DVDs. When I got my Nikons, I went on Nikon dot com and found amazing videos that explained each subsystem, button and selection. Nothing of the sort on Panasonic dot whatever.
Because the G2 doesn't have a mirror making it bigger or a pentaprism weighing it down, it uses a different type of focusing that I don't really understand. I suspect that's why my G2 refused to focus on my feather fetish sculpture. Feathers are soft, but I'd need good focus to see that.
I've shot it with my Nikons and Canons easily, no problem. But not with the G2. These are more like a blob. This is the closest to sharp focus of the four shots I made of it, high on a wall above me.
I don't remember which one, but the pumpkin picture at the top of today's entry used one of the G2's custom color modes. I must have stumbled on them somewhere in the menus. The manual page about that is titled, "Change Tone of the Color for the Pictures to be Taken. (Film Mode). So that must have been the film mode. It jumped the color contrast enough that it looks a little like grain or digital noise. I bookmarked that page, too.
There's five pages on using the flash in the manual, but I blundered into the right settings and shot my first flash shots today. I don't use flash unless I really have to, except in tests like this, but I immediately recognized that big, round shadow at the bottom of the shot. My Nikkor 17~55mm f/2.8 does that every time I try using the flash again. I took off the G2's stylish lens hood, and no shadow.
I shot my cat in that window eight times trying to get one with his tail looping up instead of down, but the fraction of a second it took between me clicking the shutter button and the camera actually firing with flash (which slows it down, because the flash has to recharge) was enough for the cat's tail to swish down again.
This one, like many today, was shot in difficult lighting conditions. Light pouring in that window, deep shadow on the left. This was the second try. The earlier one was too bright, so I adjusted the exposure compensation dial (another early discovery, right under my right thumb) one or two (I don't remember) clicks down and shot again. Turned out very nice, except the plate's still a little bright. I could fix that in Photoshop, but there's actually less light on the bug, so it's real. I've been looking for places to put objects.
This was my seventh of eight tries at this bouquet, brought to you — like most of my photographs — through the magic of Photoshop. I should have tried a slightly different angle or moved the Calla Lilly in back, but it falls over if I move it. Not bad other than that. Pshop helped me calm down the Menthe Green walls, so it didn't overwhelm the flower colors.
Now this was a Photoshop save. Not my camera's fault. Mine. From that low angle, that's a busy corner. The bottles scattered around the baseboards don't help, but that spider really looks great looking up at it. Looks its best, I'm convinced. But I'm still moving things around in there, so I'm paying attention. The room is in flux. Originally, everything was in focus. I blurred the background in Pshop, so the spider would really stand out.
It helped to have an articulating LCD. I had it twisted all around for this. Only way I could have done this with Nikon would be to guess where everything was, shoot, chimp the LCD, move it slightly, shoot again, etc. The G2 doesn't need guesswork. It just works.
A nice UPS lady delivered my new Panasonic Lumix G2 with 14~42mm OIS kit lens just before noon February 17 2011. I hadn't realized I'd need to charge the battery, so I had to wait one of the five hours it was supposed to take to fully charge it, before I could play with it. This was not the first shot, although I'll probably show that first one down this page.
Self-Portrait in Screen Door
I put most of my energy that day (yesterday, as I write this) into taking a variety of photographs with it, learning as I went, how to do things. I had seen the manual and had got to about page 7, when I gave up on that approach. I've been handling cameras since about 1954, have been a professional photographer since 1963, and have had digital cameras since 1991, so I know what cameras can do if you push the right buttons or twist the right dials.
Today, I looked for buttons and dials. I only discovered a scant few percentages of what all this camera is capable of yesterday, but I learned enough to get some decent images. I also kept fairly busy looking for and finding as wide a variety as I could manage of differing photo possibilities. I was good at some and dismal at others, though I'll probably only show my better work today.
The greatest fun was closely matching exposure to the scene. Possibilities to realities. With an fairly high resolution EVF (electronic viewfinder) instead of an optical one like on my Nikons, I can preview each shot to make sure every setting is copacetic. So the whites don't white out, and the darks don't merge together into blots without light.
A chore that's much easier with this camera than with any other I've had since my Sony F707 late in the last century. And this EVF is much better than the Sony's.
My biggest mistake was to get all involved in shooting RAW. I still want to and expect to, but contrary to what I thought I'd learned on DPR's Micro Four-Thirds Forum and elsewhere on the web, JPEGs are perfectly fine — if you know what you're doing. I've been doing Photoshop since Photoshop v 1.0, and I taught a class in it at an ad agency soon as I learned as much as I knew then. All in glorious black & white.
Closer Than They Appear
I struggled with RAW files way too long, especially considering how well these JPEG files turned out. RAW files are generally 12.5 megs each, and my JPEGs today ranged from 3.2 to 6.6 megs each, so I'll probably stick with JPEGs and not mess with RAW till I get my system and Photoshop updated. I had to work at them awhile, but these aren't bad. I would have to work at RAW files, too.
I probably put more time into rendering these reeds by the edge of the lake than anything else today. Lots of tonalities along a range from dark dark to bright tan. Not, perhaps, a great photo. But an ambitious one, considering the subject.
By the time the sun was ready to fall off the far end of the earth, I was getting pretty good at it. Here I've retained detail in that big, bright field lamp, the just set sun and in all those dark, silhouetted trees against the dark lake water. Intriguing contrast.
This was a grab shot at Anna drove us down Grand Avenue / Garland Road east toward the lake. I seriously overexposed it, not having any idea what would appear before me as we drove 41 miles per hour down the road. This appeared in my EVF, and I clicked. Any detail at all is amazing. That the G2 captured this much detail and tonality in such an overexposed image — then gave a lot of it back, is pretty amazing.
Three Headless Ducks
Of course I tried some birds, too. The 84mm equivalent zoom is way too short for most bird photographing, but as I noted in my Bird Journal for yesterday, I was able to set it up so I could still render white necks disappearing into the muck and orange feet balancing them. And enough tonality in their otherwise bright white backs, so we could see light modeled there, too. Remarkable shot for all its simplicity.
But this elegant goose's victory flap, with all that subtle detail in its bright white wings, may take the cake. The water ended up too dark, though not unrealistically, but I would have liked to show more detail in that dark murk, too. Still, not half bad.
Enough shots for the first day. The battery is still charging toward full, and I'm tired yet remarkably well educated for a first-day student of the G2 after reading tutorials online (far and few between; more links to than anything linked to), watching videos of, and explanations, and reading more than a hundred posts on the DPR (Digital Photography Review) m43 forum.
since February 18 2011