Learning my Panasonic Lumix G5 — continued from my G2 Journal
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My G5 Journal
Stories + Photographs by J R Compton

August 3 2014

Edgar Degas - Dancer with a Fan 1987 - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Edgar Degas   Dancer with a Fan   1897

It's been a long, long time since I've updated this journal. Not because I have not used my G5 in that time. I use it often. If you peruse new reviews on DallasArtsRevue, you will see its work constantly. It has become my favorite and best art camera. The only new thing since the last entry to this journal below is that somewhere along the way, I bought the 12 - 35mm f2.8 lens I had been lusting after and reading reviews of ever since it came out, at least a year before I bought it. I am an exacting and obsessive review-reader before I buy new equipment. I don't get anything when it first comes out.

I wait and watch and read reviews and find out just how good it is before I sink my money into something new, but that little zoom lens is amazing. I have very rarely taken it off the G5 since I got the lens. It wholly and completly replaced my wonderful little 20mm f1.7, with which I thought I'd never part. Come to think of it, I may have got that new lens for Dad's party. That was so long ago, I just don't remember now.

The 2X telextender for my 300mm Nikon lens has been screetching and whining like metal on metal doing something it ought not to, so I've been using my 300mm lens without any extension lately, and it almost feels like a wide-angle lens. And every time I actually think about getting a real wide-angle lens for my Nikons, I think about this wonderful little zoom and that 20mm lens, and realize that every situation I'd use a wide-angle lens for, is already covered.

The photo of the dancer was photographed inside the Dallas Museum of Art. I may yet write about the show, but I was so thrilled to finally, after so many years of being told to put my camera away there, that I could use it for all but a very few images there, I celebrated by taking a bunch of pix of some beautiful works by artists other than those around Dallas, Texas, for a change. I was very careful with each, looking at the EVF then back at the original till they very nearly matched colors and densities. Great fun.


December 30 2013

 Chaz and Blaze - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Blaze and Chaz

I've just finished shooting and have begun working up photos for my father's 100th Birthday Party. I really wanted to use my Nikon D800E camera with its 36mp resolution, but I don't have the right lenses, and even if I did have the right lenses, I wouldn't want to lug them around. And even if I wanted to lug those lenses around, I wouldn't want to use the camera, because in an environment that was illuminated by daylight, tungsten and/or fluorescent lighting, and because I've never used the White Balance routine enough to either use it with ease or understand it on the Nikon. On the G5 it is simplicity itself, and I use it all the time.

What I ended up using was my Panasonic Lumix G5 with the pancake 20mm f1.7 (40mm equivalence, think of a 35mm lens on a full-frame Nikon or Canon that's slightly constrained. Which is why I've been lusting after a 35mm lens. Nikon's got one for

So I've been experiencing a lot of lens lust lately.

August 10 2013

Pouring Red Paint on a Human Canvas - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Pouring Red Paint on a Human Canvas — Akirash's Oda Performance in downtown Dallas

I've been shooting more Performance Art attempts with my trusty little G5 lately. And except for its new position (compared to my G2) of the shutter button, I still love nearly everything about it. That shutter button on a bevel really throws me off when I am not holding the camera in the traditional camera-holding position.

I shot some pix of body damage and a dislodged chunk of metal under my car's engine this morning, and holding it awkwardly under the car and aiming up into the chunk and holding it sideways to shoot the bent fender, I had the devil of a time getting my finger on the right button. I've noticed that before, and it's almost always temporarily annoying.

I liked where the G2's shutter button was. When I push that one down, the camera is still steady in my hand. This new shutter on the slant doesn't let me keep it as steady and sturdy as with the G2. Almost everything else about the G5, however, is better.

And lately I see Pany's getting rid of its inventory of G5s and selling them wherever they can for $239 (according to 43 Rumors). I know there's a G6, but as fast as they iterate these things and the miniscule differences between models, I can wait for the G8 or G10.


June 23 2013

Dancer Pausing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Dancer Pausing   shot with the Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm zoom

Last night I photographed a prime example of a performance art event here in Dallas at Red Arrow Contemporary. I briefly considered carting my jumbo Nikon and a fast wide zoom that also weighs heavy. But as usual for such events, I brought my Panasonic kit — the 20mm f1.7 that I use most of the time when shooting anything that moves fast; my kit zoom and my 100-300mm zoom, which is the lens I used to shoot this, although as the light outside dimmed, I switched to the little zoom, then the 20. In Micro Four-Thirds lens millimeters are always doubled to get the 35mm equivalent, so the 20 is actually the same as a 40mm lens.

Yes, I used that slow and darkish tele zoom inside for an event where I knew there'd be fast action, but not while I was shooting that zoom. The action sped up considerably after I switched to the faster kit zoom.

The whole ka boodle, now with original words from me — and full cast identifications from Director/Choreographer Danielle Georgiou — are on my latest Art Here Lately page on DallasArtsRevue.com, and oh, wow! what a gas it was to photograph, especially with that powerful and fast little camera.


When my favorite lens-testing site, Germany's Photozone.de, tested Panasonic's 12-35mm f2.8 zoom some months ago, they didn't get very excited about it, but comparing their resolution charts for that one against their more recently-tested Olympus 12-50mm zoom, the Panasonic zoom seems positively stellar. That lens might have been a big help for shooting the dance performance linked just above, but I'm still glad I brought my Pany 100-300 zoom also. If my G2 and G5 had more similar controls — I always get confused when I switch back to the G2 — I'd love to carry them both to such performance events — one with the 20 and the other with the 12-35 zoom.

The links above are to page two of their respective lens tests. Photozone usually includes an intro page with an introduction and specifications on the first page, the resolution test numbers on the second page, and the verdict and links to pictures made with the lens tested on the third page. They are very Conservative and very specific about their tests, which is why they're so good — unlike some testers who just throw a bunch of number charts at you, and most testers who really don't know what they're doing.

Now that I know the vaguely similar Olympus has much lower quality, I may eventually, finally get that short Pany zoom.

June 18 2013

Sunset Bay at Goose Feeding Time - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White Rock Lake's Sunset Bay at Goose [and duck] Feeding Time

When I need a little camera and either don't really expect to be taking any pictures, or I just might but I don't already know of what, I usually take my Panasonic LUmix G5. Anna and I went to dinner, then we stopped to talk to friends at Sunset Bay. I didn't know we'd go to the lake, although when we do, we generally go or end up in Sunset Bay, even when there isn't a sunset scheduled any time soon.

Usually when I go to the lake to take pix of birds, I take a big Nikon camera with a big Nikon telephoto lens. So the comparatively tiny G5 is like an antidote for all that heaviness and structural largeness. With the Nikons around my neck, I always know there's a huge photographic presence around my neck. With the Pany, I hardly know it's there till I need it. And I'm a photographer, and I have been a photographer for fifty years now, so that time always comes, especially if I have a camera.

Several other photographs I made this same night are on my Amateur Birder's Journal for June 17, 2013.

When I look through my Nikon I see what's out there, but when I look through my G5, I see what the photograph will look like, and that's pretty wonderful. Exposing the Nikon is always a guessing game, but that game is a lot less gamy on the Panasonic, although it's not always perfect. No camera is.

And, oh, Wow! I just read on 43 Rumors that the Panasonic G5 is the most sold overall camera at Amazon, and that makes me wonder whether I should have waited just a few more months after I bought mine to get another hundred dollars off the price.

May 31 2013

 Dallas SITES at the Dallas Museum of Art - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Dallas SITES exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art

I took my whole Panasonic kit to this museum exhibit that follows the history of Dallas Art from 1963 to the present: the G5, the 20mm f1.7, the 100-300mm zoom and the kit lens that the G5 came with — 14-42, I think, but I never remember all the max apertures for that one.

I thought about bringing my G2, too, but it's confusing, because some things don't work on it anymore, and they switched several important buttons between the G2 and the G5, so it's always confusing to use them both. Nikon actually changes controls less often than Pany does.

I knew I'd use my long tele zoom to read tiny text on typed documents high up on that green timeline wall — that nobody less than nine feet tall could have read. And I figured I'd make a photo like this one with the kit zoom. All three lenses and one camera easily fits into one small camera case. With room to spare. I could easily fit another couple lenses in there, although switching them out might be a little more confusing.

No way I could get three Nikon DX or FX lenses in that small, light package. I still want more lenses for my G5, and I'll probably get some eventually, but I'm having to replace my main Nikon, so the m43 goodies will have to wait. High on my list are that super-sharp 75 f1.8 I talked about last month, and the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f2.8. But dream though I do, I still have not had the experience of actually needing either of those lenses for something I actually wanted to photograph.

If I photograph my next Clare Family Reunion — and I notice I miss out on many important interpersonal experiences by dedicating my time so thoroughly to that task every four years or so — I will likely either already have or get that 12-35, unless, of course, somebody who makes excellent zoom lenses comes out with a faster or longer zoom in that range.

The lens I used most of the time for the 2012 reunion was the lens I use to photograph art I write about, the 20mm f1.7. No lens I've ever used is smaller/lighter than that. For the 2008 reunion I used one of my now-failing Nikon bodies, probably the D300 with the heavy 17-55mm f2.8 zoom. My Pany G5 is just so much smaller and lighter than that clunk.

Actually, I can only imagine what I'll be using by 2016, so all this is pure speculation. I am tending two trends with my photography. My Nikons are getting bigger with bigger, better lenses. And my m43s are getting smaller. The only m43 lens I have that's larger than any other lens I own and use, is the 100-300, although most of my Nikon lenses are bigger than that one.


May 21 2013

Snow Egret Mock Battle - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mock Snowy Egret Battle   shot with Panasonic 100-300mm zoom

Oh, here's another, brief, photo project I just uploaded. All those pix were shot with my G2. I've posted this shot to my Bird Journal previously, but I did a much better job on this version. Most of the rest of the project — driving around Dallas taking pictures with a friend — has nearly nothing to do with birds.

The page is called Matt & Me.

I guess when something this interesting was going on, I used what I had with me, and darned near succeeded.

April 26 2013

The Sky - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Sky

If I had to have a second camera (and for some strange reason didn't want to use my G2 that still works just fine thank you, well, except for that knurled thumb thing that broke months ago), I wouldn't get another G5. I'd probably get an Olympus of some m43 ilk, so I could use the utterly superb 75mm f1.8 (150mm equivalent) that my favorite lens tester, Photozone tested recently. Their test. and still have Image Stabilization, which is built into Olympus m43 cameras and only into some Panasonic m43 lenses.

April 15 2013

 Feet In The Air - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Feet In The Air from my On Top of Winfrey Point photo shoot

Latish yesterday afternoon I experienced one of my most diverse photo shoots of my nearly 50-year career so far. We were sitting on the top of Winfrey Point at White Rock Lake when all sorts of human tableaux presented themselves to our wondering cameras. Was a hoot, and I'm always surprised when almost everything turns out, and today, it did.

Check out my DallasArtsRevue Supporting Member Page for the pictures of some of what was going on then and there.

April 14 2013

 My Two Kits - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

My Two Kits   Panasonic Lumix G5 and Nikon D7000 : The Chunk and The Sliver — shot with G2 and kit zoom

I was in my office futzing with pix I'd shot that day. I had both kits with me that day. Usually I only use the one I was going to use. Most of the day was art stuff, openings, shows, an open-studio with art all over the place. That's a G5 game. Lots of white balance challenges dealt with immediately, almost without thinking.

And I wanted to do a few shots of birds. Whatever I found worth shooting. I tried for owlets, but settled on one Wood duck in Sunset Bay. I'd been waiting for him for about three weeks. That's a Nikon D7000 game. When I got back to my office, I parked both kits on the end of the desk, pulled one after the other of the memory cards, and mostly ignored the two dark chunks sitting there waiting for me to put them away.

Back from getting some diet root beer from the kitchen, I happened to look down and see them next to each other, the size differential startling. I was impressed with the obviousness of what I've been trying to say about each and both in this and my D7000 journals, and was right there staring up at me.

The big chunk on the right is my D7k and the 300mm lens. They belong to each other, so I don't separate them for weeks at a time, although sometimes I use the 2X extender for farther-away birds. Not with the extender, but otherwise, the d7k + 300mm combo is amazing near-instant focus and follow-focus and reach for birds, whether it's shooting straight up into a tree with an owl up near the top or something winging fast and low across the lake using the ground effect to go even faster and coast longer.

It's great for birds in flight. When I'm thinking telephoto — and I usually do — it fits my way of seeing. I only rarely have to think about which lens to use. Almost the same feeling on the little G5. I use one of my short, dark zooms on the G2 on a wobbly old tripod to shoot the pic above, but on my G5, I do most of my shooting with the 20mm f1.7 pancake.

Fifty years ago, just to see if I could do it, and I did it, I only used one lens for a full year. That was in the days of film, and my fave lens was an f1.4 Nikkor 35mm lens. It was perfect for most of the shooting I did then, and a little imperfect for some others, but it's what I used for all that year. And that lens was only a silly 5mm shorter than the Panasonic 20mm (40mm effective) that I use all day every day shooting art events, art, artists and family reunions.

One's a big, heavy, fat peg leg chunk of heavy metal and glass that through and through professional with a capital P. And the other is light, easy, direct, no guessing about exposure or white balance or over or underexposure.

April 10 2013

Mod III - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mod III - Side View using my G2

Okay, you've already seen Mod I and Mod 2 [both not far down this page], now here's Mod 3, which I'm probably keeping for awhile, since the new tape is much stickier and it works. The tape is not black, as advertised. More like a darkish gray. And unlike blue Painter's Tape, it's not clean. There are white lines showing wherever that edge does.

Mod III frontish - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mod III - Front using my G2

Not something I can't live with. On this and the next pic down, I blotted those white lines out in Photoshop. I guess, because I wanted it to look better. You'd have to be a perfectionist like me to even care about stuff like that. It matters in photographs but not in real life. In real life I can accept those flawed tape-edge lines, although I've been thinking about black fiber-tip penning them out, so it does look like this.

Mod III - back view - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mod III Back View using my G2

The tape is not slick and has about the same amount of built-in friction as the camera's grip does — just enough. As you can see in this view, the mod does not extend past the back edge of the camera. I learned in Moods I and II that to keep my palm from unduly interacting with the buttons around the controller, I didn't have to make it longer, just thicker, with four, I think, total layers of thick cardboard.

And because I've shortened the cardboard mass vertically, there's more room for tape to hold it firmly to the body (without interfering with the battery/memory card compartment — I don't care about the video connections, because I never use them‚ or the back knurled dial, which I try to avoid because the one on my G2 broke.

The tape is a little lose on the bottom, but it's plenty everywhere else, and I didn't extend any of it round the bottom corner to the actual bottom of the camera, although I could easily without getting in anything's way. Oddly, the rubber band was never in the way, except when changing lenses, so if I need it, I could always put it back, but it's just useless complexity that looks really stupid. The tape leaves no residue for the first six months. I guess I should date it prominently, so I don't forget and keep it on longer. By then I'll probably have figured some other stuff out, so I guess there could be a Mod IV and beyond.

The blue tape you see just past the EVF housing/flash unit, is holding the strap back from loop-de-looping through the buckle in contact with the other part of that strap. That splays and gets in my face and fingers, till I taped it, and I've since replaced the blue with the new dark gray. The Scotch Tough Duct Tape may not leave residue, but it does not tear straight or cleanly. It's not great, but it'll do.

Using my G2 was very confusing, because neither I nor my fingers could remember what to do to make easy things happen.

April 10 2013
Panasonic 12-35 zoom lens

Panasonic 12-35 — Not the dream Lens I was hoping for

I've been lusting after Panasonic's newish 12-35mm constant f2.8 aperture zoom since I first read about it in 43rumors. I got really excited when my fave lens-test site tested it, but I was disappointed with their score for it, based, it seems on the fact that lens distortions and aberrations won't be automatically corrected on Olympus m43 cameras — which is unsurprising since it's a Panasonic lens.

Well, that and not altogether stellar resolution figures. And when I directly compared equivalent focal length Nikon DX and FX lenses, I was amazed how much lower resolving it was. Goof!

Thom Hogan's new review of the lens gives me lots to pause and consider about, I'd hoped he'd love love love it. But he doesn't and neither did Photozone's review of it. Both reviewing sites are basically honest and good at what they do. I still want it, but I'm willing to wait for the Panasonic version's price to go down from #1,300 or to have it replaced by Olympus' new, very similar focal-length zoom, except then I'd need to buy an Oly camera with built-in IS.

Pany and Oly seem more intent on copying mm by mm their lens zoom ranges and prime lens focal length than doing something — anything — original. Sad.

Other lens tests: Lenstip seems fairly balanced but forgives a lot of flaws; Photozone downgrades it, probably deservedly; PhotographyBlog is soft on it; DPR hasn't got around to an actual test; and ePhotoZine gets sloppy over it.

Stick with Thom Hogan and Photozone. They're at least honest, although Thom hasn't reviewed a lot of m43 lenses on his mirrorless site yet.

I still want one. It would be handy for a lot of the shooting I do. That performance art piece in the entry below would have seriously benefited from that little bit (3:1) of zoom, not that my 20mm f1.7 didn't do awfully much better than this zoom — of course, the 20 is a single focal length prime. Just I could have filled the frame with farther-away subjects, and since it's best wide-open, f2.8 gives plenty of depth of field, especially at the wide end.


April 8 2013

Pizzicato Porno - Communications despite impediments - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pzzicato Porno: Communicating Despite Impediments   G5   f 1.7 @ 1/125   iso 3200

Photographing Pizzicato Porno, a performance art piece about relationships, Sunday night was a gas. I shot 265 images, most of which were sharp and well exposed, and nobody complained about the shutter noise. See the rest of my pix of this event. I planned to wander around like I did at the last Danielle Georgiou performance I saw (and photographed with my G2), but there were soft and hard chairs empty when I arrived what I thought was too early but wasn't at all, I picked one and slouched into it, never moving.

That chair was in good proximity with everything that happened. I just switched from ISO 800 to 1600 to 3200 when necessary and followed the action. Amazing depth of field even at the widest apertures by my 20mm pancake, semi-wide angle lens (just a little longer than my all-time fave focal length, 35mm). It's amazing sharp in the middle, where most of the shots I used were cropped from, although this one's full frame.

Earlier that afternoon I'd progressed to a much smaller cardboard palm guard mod. I skipped IIb and jumped to III in one swell foop. I never fumbled a button or missed a shot for futzing, so I was very happy. And most of the second half I didn't blind the audience around me with my LCD when I figured I could hold my thumb over EVF when I wasn't shooting through it. I'll be happier still when my black painter's duct tape gets here next week.

April 7 2013

 Celia Eberle - Fetus - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Celia Eberle   Fetus   2012   alabaster and marble   3 x 12 x 8 inches   $8,000

This was the best of the art I saw yesterday. Exquisite piece that puts me in mind of the plight of elephants being murdered by the thousands all over the world for their ivory tusks. Greedy, evil people cutting them off with chainsaws, leaving bleeding corpses. Yet this piece is so gentle, offering hope, despite it being out of its mother. The bright white haunch is a coloration of alabaster, not a splotch of light from above.

I'll probably improve this first paragraph when I write about the art I saw, but rendering art as close as I can to its original colors has become a fetish for me. The G5 (and G2 before it) make that so incredibly easy four-step Custom White Balance. Every gallery has different lighting. One mixed outside sunlight and both tungsten and fluorescents (especially damaging to art) in the ceiling.

Four clicks, and the light's right.


April 6 2013

Palm Guard 2 - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

J R's Palm Guard II Modification

Where's Richard Franiec when I really need him? Franiec built a custom grip for my Canon S90 (and other cameras before that) using a VHB (very high bond) clear transfer tape that holds finger grips on cameras that didn't have them before. That were, we used to describe our gripless cameras, "bars of soap." When I first got my Canon S90, my first mod of that camera (that still works and actually fits in most of my pockets) was a Franiec grip.

Unlike Franiec's work, however, my own mods on my G5 are strictly amateur. Attached to my G5 with Blue Painter's Tape (not as sticky as I'd like) and a medium rubber band, which I quickly replaced with a thicker fatter shorter band. Unsure what would be better to hold the two chunks of Crumpler cardstock to the end of my G5, I did a little Amazon reconoitering and found Scotch No-residue Painter's Duct Tape just under two inches wide. Best thing about the blue tape was that it approximated the easy-grip texture of the Panasonic grip. We'll see if the new tape does, too. I hope so.

Palm Guard II - Mod - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Palm Guard II Mod — Cheesy but Effective

I fully expected the first version of the Palm Guard [below] to fall off, because it wasn't very securely attached. Version II is more comfortable. The new no-residue duct tape might look professional enough that few people would notice it.

That blue stuff is pretty cheesy. It almost sticks to the camera well enough, and is attached in just enough places not to cover anything important. But next week, I'll graduate to Palm Guard II-b, because this one isn't form-fitting itself to the G5 grip.

My hands are small, and I wonder how other G5 owners with bigger mitts manage not to mess up their WB and other buttons. You suppose one of the big improvements in the upcoming G7 is something that keeps palms off the buttons? Since I've been monkeying with my palm guards, I've never once accidentally palmed the WB button.

Now I'm noticing the difficulty thumb-reaching the knurled back knob, which has always been in just the wrong place. So I'm thinking about notching off the cardboard guard's upper back corner about a quarter inch, which in turn, will uncover more area to attach tape to cam. That sharp corner's been agitating my thum crotch. Oddly, because it's so flexible, my newest yellow rubber band (like all the others before it) doesn't get in the way.

There are artshow openings this weekend, so I'll probably discover more discontinuities and figure out more modifications. It's nice to have a project …

March 30 2013

 Self-Portrait with Storm - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Self-Portrait With Storm   G5   20mm f2.5 15 seconds iso 640   EV +1   1:58 A.M. March 30 2013

Thunderstorm raging early this morning, I stood on my front porch and watched the rain and felt the lightning and thunder. Then I thought I should take a pic or two, got my G5 and began to play. First I shot the porch and the trees and sudden brightnesses, then I felt the need to get into the picture, so I picked an ISO, any ISO, adjusted EV up and down with the little joystick, rested the cam on the back of the blue couch, and let it go.

I should note that the exposure time includes me walking over to that spot, where I stayed stood, but I was dancing to the rhythms of the storm, so I was not exactly still. I never knew how long the exposure would be, but I turned around toward the end of my guesstimate of enough time to see the grayscale numerical projection on the wall behind the couch and my camera that showed the exposure was still in progress or the large full-color image projection/reflection that showed it was over. When to move and not to was guesswork.

Sometimes I'm there and sometimes I'm somewhere else. I like that I am rooted to my home but partially disappearing into the trees.

This is the ninth of eleven shots at ISOs from 160 to 1600 and shutter speeds set automatically by the G5 from 1/25 to 40 seconds. Only one was way too dark, and three show some vestige of a me out there. This was the only one worth showing as a self-portrait, although I may later mess with a couple more of the just-barely-there shots.

The storms are gone now, and the rain's mostly dribbling.


Storm Without J R      G5   20mm   f1.7   4 seconds   iso 320


March 28 2013

I am baffled by Luminous Landscape Publisher Michael Reichman's strident article, Why I Hate Electronic Finders at this late date, even though the majority of humans on this planet who have cameras or camera-phones have been using EVFs and electronic LCD viewfinders for years and years now. I know it feels good to protest something, and I often enjoy Reichman's articles and check his site every couple of days. I just hope nobody who designs or makes or installs EVFs in cameras reads or at least heeds his words, although making them higher resolution wouldn't be a problem for me.

I have been using cameras with EVFs (electronic viewfinders) since my Sony F707 in the early Oughts of this century. I loved that camera, primarily because it had just such a viewfinder. I've had others, and I hope to have more. The F707's EVF was much lower res than the ones on my G2 and G5. I wish my Nikons could go EVF, too. Don't get me wrong. I understand the value of their superb, bouncing mirror and heavy chunks of inner-reflecting glass that make their cameras so complex and heavy. There are times when a dSLR really comes in handy. They may be the best system yet for photographing birds in flight, especially erratic flights.

I have several Nikons, and they do what I want them to do most of the time. But I almost always have to guess at exposure, adjust it, shoot again, adjust it again, till I get it right, then the light changes or my angle changes, and I have to start all over again.

With the EVFs on my G5 and G2 I already know and have been adjusting exposures as the subject moves and/or the light changes.

Cardboard Palm Guard on G5 - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Amateur-hour Photo of My First-attempt Palm Guard on G5   photographed with a G2

One problem with the ergonomics of the G5 has recently arisen, especially when I use my 100-300mm lens. Or more correctly, it's been being annoying for awhile, but I only today figured out what was going on. When my right palm wraps around the right side of the camera, it often rests on the WB button, which sets off a moving mini-light show in the EVF, which often results in changing the White Balance to something other than where I set it. And like when the 'exposure meter" shows, that is so annoying and confusing that I figured out I could probably tape a flat piece of cardboard or slightly pliable plastic along the slow curved edge down from the strap lug, over the video-out compartment that I've never used (Will they eventually sell cameras without video, and will those photo-only camera cost less?) and have it jut backwards about a half or so of an inch, to keep my palm from wrapping the camera securely and that WB button insecurely.

Kinda like my first attempt at fixing the problem show above.

What I found first was the cardboard that came with my Industry Disgrace camera strap. I cut it down so the tape that temporarily holds the cardboard to the right end of the camera doesn't cover anything important, like buttons or the door to the memory card and battery. It's not terribly uncomfortable, but it is ugly, except I like the curved white lines that were the lens and lever in the white on black illustration. That camera looks vaguely Pentaxian.

It'll be interesting to see how long my temporary fix lasts. I also have some black vinyl electrical tape that might look less slopping, but that stuff slides sometimes, so I might be better off with the blue painter's tape. We'll see.

Next day after using for awhile: There's nothing to stick tape to that doesn't have buttons, dials or doors, so the cardboard just flaps, but it has kept me from palming the WB button a single time. Sure is confusing to hold sometimes, however.

update: The palm guard should probably be thicker; it's beginning to bend and flap.

March 27 2013

Wispy Great Egret at the Rookery - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret at the Rookery   600mm equivalence

I took my G5 and 100-300mm lens to the Medical Center Rookery to see what I could see, and if I could get any of it in focus. Simply put, the answer is yes indeed. As these two shots show, the G5 can and does focus on objects whether they nearly fill the frame or are far far away. I was amazed, even though I've done it before.

GE far away - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long Shot: Great Egret Flying Past Texas Women's University at The Rookery

The only real trouble I had focusing standing or moving objects like these birds was when they were fairly close and moving relatively fast, either toward or past me. I decided later that if I set the cam to single-focus, I might have a better chance catching up to BIF (birds in flight), since what I saw when I tried was a bird almost in focus, then suddenly a sky maybe in focus but the bird a blur. Over and over again. Of course, I usually have the focus grid set to the resizable rectangle (or is it a square?).

I have since read in DPR's m43 forum, that except for the Nikon 1 series, mirrorless cameras are lousy at tracking moving objects, especially small ones that are fast, like birds, and that most photographers use single shot focusing, as continuing focus is useless. Sinlge shot gives better results, although focus consistency is much lower than with a dSLR.

Of course, when the camera attempts to focus, skies usually have fewer objects to confuse the camera's focusing when it misses the bird and instead settles on focusing that big purple-gray building behind. Which means, now I just leave focus on single.

I'll have to experiment with focus modes.

March 22 2013

 Camera Size - Lumix G5 vs. Nikon D7100

Fronts:  Panasonic G5 vs. Nikon D7100 — I got this size comparisons from Camera Size

I've been using my Nikon cameras in an effort to figure out what's wrong with them and/or my Nikon 300mm lens. An expert told me it was my camera, but since that big, honking lens has the same noisy and focus-stopping issues with two cameras that work well with other lenses, and after extensive comparison testing, I'm thinking it's the lens, though I'll hate to have to send it off to Nikon. Although that camera does have a front bayonet mount that sticks.

Anyway, so I've been futzing with my Nikons lately. And probably will some more, just to be sure it's the lens that's broken.

Tomorrow, I'm going to some art openings, so I'll bring my G5. My fingers have got used to Nikons, so I'll have to activate my mind when I use the 50% smaller G5. Switching camera systems or even just switching cameras — I've yet to go back and forth from my G5 to my G2 — though I've considered taking them both to some shoot or other, but both cameras work fine, or they did last time I used my G2. I should probably charge up my G2 batteries.

Some G2 habits hang on. I always go to the G5's review button when I want to engage the Q.menu, and there's other built-in physical confusions, but I've mostly ignored the G2 the past month or so since I got my G5. Now there's word of a G7 coming, and I'm thinking, "But I just got this one."

tops: G5 and D7000

Tops:  Panasonic Lumix G5 vs. Nikon D7000 - from Camera Size

I won't jump to a new m43 cam for awhile. If ever, since many companies are offering APS-C sensor sizes in significantly smaller camera sizes now. Sony's NEX series looked promising, but they're not offering anywhere near the number of lenses already available in m43. And because I'm still learning this one, I probably will keep learning it for at least a year, if my G2 is any example.

If the G7 is a continuation of the same series — why no G6? — I'm curious what it will offer. I check m43 rumors almost every day, especially on Sundays, because I think then is Monday where that is published — Europe or Asia. I'm pretty sure English is not the author's first language.

Now that my hands have got used to big, chunky Nikons again, it'll be interesting to downsize to my G5, which is about half the weight of my D7000. According to Camera Size, the G5 is 12% narrower, 22% shorter, but only 7% thinner, and weighs 48% — which is very close to half — of the Nikon D7100. And now I've found the D7000's stats and pix, I see the G5 is 49% of its weight.

When I thought my D7000 was the problem, because its front is not magnesium like the top and back (I don't know about its sides yet.), I was researching even bigger — and more expensive Nikons. I love the size and weight of my G5, but if somebody can build a camera with a 50% larger sensor (like Nikon's DX format and Canon's APS-C cams), I'd be interested.

The just-announced, "smallest APS-C DSLR ever made, Canon EOS Rebel SL1 weighs 1 gram more than my G5.

But I'm not very interested in buying all new lenses.

March 13 2013

 Red Jacket and Guys Standing Around in the Dark - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

1:  Red Jacket and Guys Standing Around in the Dark   iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/5 at EV 0

I didn't really plan this as a high ISO eXperiment; it just happened. Anna wanted to go to Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake this evening between 8 and 9 to hope to see some Starr comet. I hadn't read or heard anything about it, but it sounded interesting, and the weather was being pleasant, so why not?

I did not want to take technical pictures of the comet, so I brought my little G5 with the 20mm pancake f1.7 wide-ish angle lens to maybe take pix of the scene or friends. I hadn't worked out any details. There was plenty of ambient light in the neighborhood — probably too much for comet-watching, but enough to see where we were walking over the uneven shoreline.

This was my first shot. I could see it a little brighter in the LCD, but I went click. After each shot, I'd adjust the EV one way or the other. Shoot, review shot. Adjust EV (which I have set to the lever behind the shutter button in all modes). My 2nd through fifth shots were still too dark. My sixth was adequate but boring. The seventh was okay, but still not bright enough.

guy, photog in hat, gooses, person - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

7:  guy, photog in hat, person   iso 12,800   G5

The lens is wide open — f1.7 at 1/30 at EV +3.

Because it's an experiment, I have not adjusted any of these images in any way except to make them smaller. I usually adjust exposure, contrast or whatever needs it. Not this time. I've saved each image to 777 pixels wide (my usual horizontal size for web work; I use 555 for tall pix up to 10 inches) at 100% quality, so nothing gets lost unless your monitor is goofy.

Mine shows just enough detail here to discern where people stop and the landscapes starts. This is almost enough exposure to show what I want. I was surprised to see the gooses rendered so well, and some of the colors of the lake, which seemed darker than this, while the people seemed brighter.

Gooses - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

8:  Gooses   iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/20 at EV +3

So I immediately tried it on birds without cluttering them up with people. One of my two nearly identical (one's newer) short, dark zooms might have been handy, but f1.7 was handier. This may be one of the few times I've ever held the camera this level. It's technically okay, but not good enough for my bird journal.

This camera can not be set to any higher an ISO.

People, trees, lake, sky - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

9:  People, Trees, Lake, Sky   iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/6 at EV +3

Aperture priority — the camera set the shutter. That's a bicycle on its side this side of the tree. The scene seemed darker than this, so the bike might have been cause for mayhem, but I remember congratulating myself for seeing it before I walked into it.

The only person I know I know here is behind the tree, or this might be a keeper. The tones are scrumptious. I wouldn't want to make a big print of it, but I'm impressed.

Anna and Tree - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

12:  Anna and Tree   iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/4

I decided to try photographing Anna, who might hold still enough — and she almost did. My first two shots were over-exposed at +3 and +1 EV. I didn't expect that, but it was obvious. So this was done without any Exposure Value adjustment.

I got skin tone, detail in her hair. You can mostly tell what she's wearing. That that's a tree behind her. And people and what they're doing beyond. I didn't want to blow these things up to 100%, because I'm usually not a pixel-peeper. This is as big as I usually use shots on the web, and this is amazing.

I would like to blow something with these sorts of tones up to 20 inches by something sometime, but I always liked grain in film photography. Might as well, it's a part of the process. So I don't mind a little visual noise or pixelization in digital prints. I'd love to have a truly still-holding subject or one blurring in movement worth making a big print of someday, just to freak out the purists. They look at it at a distance, see these luscious colors and tonalities, then when they get up close, all the visual racket stares them in the face.

Sliver Moonscape - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

17:  Sliver Moonscape   iso 12,800   G5

f1.8 at 1/100

I tried some other shots, a boring picnic table, a couple of the techy photogs standing and walking around. Some of those blur from hand-holding slow shutter speeds. When I'm perfectly calm, I can hand hold a second or two, but other times my hands shake, and when I get too interested in having a shot turn out perfectly, I get a little jitter.

So I tried a landscape. There was a lovely, bottom-slice moon that night, and the sunset had finally set, so I just pointed out to the other side of the lake, wondering how the moon would render. Exactly like this.

The grain / noise shows more than any other of these shots so far, but I could easily get rid of most of that via software. But it's really nice. The moon shows very close to what it looked like. No detail in the bushes between us and the water, but that's a nice frame. I could have opened it up 1 EV, but who cares? We can see detail in the lake, on this and the other sides. Very nice.

I didn't think to try it then, but I probably could have got less noise and pretty much the same thing except a lot cleaner with a long exposure and short ISO, although the car light in the middle left would have blurred.

Rubber Boots, etc. - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

17:  Rubber Boots, Tripod, Wide-brimmed Hat and Onlooker   iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/5 at EV -0.33

The only real drawback for having a Panasonic Lumix G5 instead of a fat Canon or Nikon is that professional and semi-professional and probably even Enthusiast photographers don't give me the time of day. They look at me snapping away in that darkness and assume I'm not worth talking to. I guess the feeling's mutual, but I do miss talking tech with intelligent photographers. I get to sometimes, and I always cherish it. I guess I'll have to join a photography club.

One of these photogs was telling the other how little exposure it takes to photograph the moon, when I interjected that our favorite satellite is lighted by the same star that everything here is, so standard exposure would be 1/iso at f16 — if you wanted an 18% gray moon. Overexpose it for the white thing we perceive to be up there … at which point they brushed me off and closed me off from any further conversation.

And sometimes I use the obviously-an-amateur ploy to take pictures where some people would just as soon I wouldn't. But this is pretty good. We can almost tell telling details on this guy with his rubber boots, baggy jeans and wide-brimmed hat. I am amazed at the quality at ISO 12,800.

I remember Polaroid 3000 speed film and Kodak High Speed Infrared Film, which I used maybe a half-dozen times, although nobody but me ever liked that much grain, so this is much better.

Portrait of Roy - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

18:  Portrait of Roy  iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/5 at EV -0.33

My friend Charles brought his handsome and very friendly companion with him that evening, and I tried to get Roy to hold still, but he did not understand the concept. So I just did the best I could this first time I've used this high an ISO on this camera.

This is the first of these shots I've noticed the White Balance, which again the camera chose. But this is definitely purple. Just enough details. The people's faces are in shadow, and Roy moved his nose and tail.

One other problem — way more than just an issue — was that sometimes when I hadn't set the EV to gain up on light, the camera would not focus, and I didn't remember how to focus manually, but when I upped the +EV, and the red focus bracket would turn green again, and I could focus and take pix again.

Roy moved the next time I attempted. My second shot of Anna and her tree, rubber boots guy, and the photographer in shorts was overexposed by about a stop — though the second try at it was rendered a little darker than daylight when I held the cam firm to the picnic table top, except the afore-photographed photographer's face that was not shaded by his hat was rendered way too bright.

Past Sunset at the Pier at Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

24:  Past Sunset at the Pier at Sunset Bay  iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/6 at EV 0.33

Then I walked over to my current favorite place. That has moved around the lake a little in the last decade, but now it's "standing on the pier at Sunset Bay," just a short walk away.

A couple was snuggling on the west end of it when I arrived, but I didn't think the shutter, loud as it seems compared with its Electronic version, would bother them, and it did not even though I included them in several shots just to see what sort of detail I could get, but I didn't get much.

It's not my ultimate photograph of the pier at Sunset Bay yet, but it's got more color in the water and the sky than the version I shot just after it with more sky. Everything else is almost identical. I tried more or less this framing twice before this shot and once after. All at pretty much the same exposure. Next time I might remember to set the cam to manual exposure, but that seemed a needless hassle tonight.

Photog in the Dark - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

37:  Photog in the Dark  iso 12,800   G5

f1.7 at 1/4

After several more shots of the pier, none of which ever revealed any sneaky details, although I could see an arm or a leg stuck up in the air sometimes. Then I shot a pic of my white car, which looks like it could have been done in daylight, except I smudged it during its .6-second exposure. I did several other landscapes between the pier and here, but didn't like any of them, either.

So it was back to photographing the photographers till I got this. The big difference between this and the one right after it is, when magnified, all its pixels seem blurry, so I smudged it again by moving the camera. I used to tell my students early and often that more photographs are ruined by camera or photographer movement than any other cause.

This one's sharp, and if I were to do any post-production on it at all, I'm sure I could bring up all the detail I'd want in his face or shirt.

Then I took two shots of light shining up through the perforated top of the picnic table where I sat talking with friends, then five attempts at photographing Anna and Roy that were all overexposed (+ 2.33 EV), but I hardly noticed I was so eager to get one or both of them to hold still, but I didn't want to say anything because they were having a good time

Roy at Rest - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roy at Rest

f1.7 at .6 at EV+ 1.33

Eventually Roy nestled down at the end of the table, and I tried again. On this third attempt, he held still enough for this final shot of the evening. The vignetting on the lower left was probably the top of the table I was holding the camera onto while I pointed down at Roy.

We were there just under one hour. Nobody saw any comets.


March 9 2013

 Kitchen Window Translucents - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Home Still Lifes series:   Kitchen Window Translucents

The other, really good reason to read a good review of a new camera, is to learn how it works. How someone who is experienced at seeing a new camera as one in a long line of similar and dissimilar cameras, so they can parse out the different systems and figure out how to accomplish what cameras do and how they do it. And how well.

I used to teach Macintosh computers to artists, probably because we think differently than other people, and because I could see things the way they saw things, I could help them realize their visions — or something like that. I've often taught someone their new camera, even if I'd never seen that camera before, because — like computers — I know what cameras can do, and the deal is figuring out how to interface with that one to make it do what I want it to, if I just twist the right dial or click the right selection in the pertinent menu.

Good camera reviewers — most people who write those things are not — understand camera systems, so they can figure out what dial, menu, switch or button to use to make something photographic happen — and explain all that in regard to whole systems. In four days I will have had my G5 a month, and I've finally got a pretty good grip on what to push, click, switch, turn or honk to make it do what I want doing.

And when I don't actually know what to do, now my fingers often do.

That's one of the important tricks — to get to the point when my fingers can do what needs doing without bothering my brain about it. Minds are generally best used for other purposes — like composing while the frame, and maybe even the subject, is still moving. Remembering which button does what in which mode fades in importance once our fingers and bodies know what to do if it's working well or not. Minds are still useful for flickering finger photographers, but that takes taking a lot of photographs, even when many of those are mistakes — and being willing to make mistakes — and, of course, learning from most of them.

Perhaps the most important reviews of the Panasonic Lumix G5 are by Imaging Resource and Camera Labs. Digital Photography Review may eventually decide to review it, also, so that one will probably be the longest review of any of these websites, but I'd still hew to IR or CL for the best information, although Gordon of Camera Labs got it into his mind to extensively compare the G5 with a camera costing twice as much. Even then, however, the G5 usually came out ahead.

The reason the most recent of my Home Still Lifes Series is atop this journal entry is because I suggested someone else try photographing the inside of their house because it was raining out. It was raining here, and I felt similarly blocked, so I tried it, and I liked it. The dark round thing on the upended jelly jar is an avocado seed. I always think I'm going to plant it.

March 6 2013

 Kathy Boortz - Strut - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kathy Boortz   Strut   2013   found wood and sculpted ceramics and rebar   life size   iso 160

Color me amazed. One of this journal's readers, Lois Dorrell, answered one of my most perplexing G5 mysteries. The one about why the modes/operations etched on the cursor button are usually not available. Lois sent me to the fourth page of the Custom Menu, to change my selection at "Direct Focus Area" to off. I assume I changed that setting to on, but now I'll have to look up what Direct Focus Area means, and whether I can get away without having it. She also pointed me to pages 100 and 112 for an explanation of Direct Focus.

It's the deal where we can move the focus point (only in Facial Recognition, area or 23-area modes) by clicking the cursor button etched with the modes. No loss, since I almost always move the focusing area by finger-dragging it where I want it. I am often dismayed about the two-or-so-second delay till the G5 gives me the opportunity to change the size of the focusing area, but that has not been a major issue yet.

Like Lois I have trouble remembering what I've set the various FunctioN buttons to accomplish, and there's really not much camera-body real estate to post tape notices. But boy oh boy am I happy to have the cursor button give me the operational modes by simply clicking that button! This is some kind of wonderful to write something in a journal I wasn't sure if anybody out there read, to learn that somebody does, and they know enough about the G5 to help me. Thank you so much, Lois. I do appreciate your time and email.

Kathy Boortz' above rooster is from a shoot of her latest work for a show at Valley House Gallery in Dallas soon. We shot work on her deck this afternoon, so this is a very fresh example of an image made today on my new G5. There were other birds, but this was the most colorful of the bunch I shot and have been doing PP (post production) on into the wee hours of the morning.

Kathy Boortz - Offering - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kathy Boortz   Offering   2013   found wood, sculpted clay and other media

I usually do not, but today I used the kit lens that came with the G5. It focuses closer than my usual favorite lens, the 20mm pancake f1.7, and it's plenty sharp. This second image is from the same shoot. Kathy needs photos for publicity purposes, to show galleries her latest work, as well as to keep to see how she handled various aspects of the pieces, so most of the quarterly shoot is fairly straight documentation, with details.

This shot is my own concept. I wanted to show off the "offering" in the title of the two-bird set. It always takes me a couple seconds to figure out what I am seeing here, but there's a Barn Owl with a dead mouse in its beak. The mouse is the offering for the young owl that is the other bird in the set. Several of these pieces will soon be on Kathy's DallasArtsRevue Member Page, linked from the links in the captions above.

March 4 2013

 Finger Off Shutter Shot - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Here's proof the G5 fires even after my finger is removed from the shutter.

Rushing headlong into G5 understanding, here is my best shot yet of the deleterious effects of electronic shutter. I was hoping there wouldn't be any. Assumed that. Then I got this sort of image too often. Usually on art I'd photographed to critique, so I didn't want to show you because the art did not look like that. The fifteen is a cross-check gallery number viewers use to find a piece on a price list with title, artist, mediums used, year dates, other identifying information and sometimes the price, although because the words "price list" have become generic, one does not always include the price. Go figure.

The wall is white. The number is scribbled black = gray. The stripes are created by the electronic shutter. They are always lengthwise and usually annoying. This image has convinced me not to use that very quiet shutter for art anymore. The first time I used Electronic Shutter in public, however, it worked fine, and I did not get any visible lines, so now I have to watch out when I do use it to see when it generates those lines.

It may be an issue with focusing close with the electronic shutter. That's when I've most often seen it.

The camera is set at medium with Live View Burst Rate, which is the fastest the G5 can take pictures and still focus before each shot. If I cranked it faster than Medium, it wouldn't bother to focus before firing in Burst Mode. Not a problem for art and other things that don't move. But a real bother when photographing birds that move and change directions and distances.

Setting it to Medium Burst is probably a mistake when photographing art, but it's a bigger mistake when I forget I changed it for art when I'm photographing birds. M Burst speed is three frames per second, which has almost always been adequately fast for the birds I've shot with this camera so far.

I had thought I was leaving my finger on the shutter too long. Now I know better. It's the setting, not my lazy trigger finger.

March 3 2013

Performance Art in Downtown Dallas - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Performance Art in Downtown Dallas — You Can't Tell the Players Without a Program

Through some inverted dark magic, I've managed to have the C2 mode on the Mode Dial set so when I click the bottom corner of the cursor buttons, I get what is actually etched onto that end of that circle. Same with White Balance that I can not only select from the preset and supposedly changeable but not directly or by any means I have yet learned in any other mode — and set it on the right, ISO on the top, workable AF Modes on the left; Burst, Bracket, Self-Timer and something called Single on the bottom end of the big button.

On no other setting, A, S, P, M, Scene, palette or C1 do I get what is so obviously etched on the button. And in those other modes, when I click on something calling itself White Balance, I can change from one preset selection to another, but I cannot Manually Change White Balance 1 or White Balance 2. I do not understand why Panasonic would go to the trouble to etch onto the circular controller on the back of the camera all those modes  it refuses to allow me to use in any mode but C2, but I am grateful that such a thing is possible. Hallelujah for C2.

And yes, I did the programming to set what Pany put on the button, settable by pushing that part of the button. I barely knew what I was doing when I did it, but I'm so glad I did.

This is the first big breakthrough on understanding the G5's inner anti-philosophy, and if I can remember how to access those four major and multitude of minor adjustments in the field, even when I'm flummoxed or frustrated with the G5's idiocy for having modes etched onto its controller that that camera cannot access, it will make everything easier.

It took me just over one year to learn where the G2 put Manual White Balance, even though that was one of the chief reasons I bought the G2. Nikon's method of manually setting White Balance on its Semi-Pro and Enthusiast cameras is so convoluted I eventually just gave up ever even trying. For awhile, I shot NEF (which might stand for Nikon Exposure File, but it stands for RAW) when I knew I needed to change White Balance. Doing that made those files miles bigger, but somewhat adjustable in the White Balance realm.

I wrote an over-simplified step by step instruction and blue painter taped it to the ample bottom of my Nikon D200, then D300, but by the time I got my once-and-now-lately-again-disabled Nikon D7000, I had given up ever knowing how to implement Manual White Balance, so I was joyed to learn that on the G2, like many Point & Shoot cameras, adjusting the White Balance was utterly simple.

Three Dancers Earlier - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Three Dancers/Performers within True-White Walls Earlier

If you could find it. How I eventually learned to find it was by clicking the G2 Display button. I couldn't find it any other way. I like using Manual White Balance (MWB), because I so often shoot in differing colors of light. In some galleries illuminated by various sorts of illumination — daylight, incandescent, at least two varieties of fluorescent lighting, White Balance can change by the inch. I like to show art as it really is, so I use MWB often.

The image at the top of today's Journal entry looks pretty good for the light inside this gutted retail space now art gallery, but the tungsten lighting outside is very unlikely to be yellow. That's just wrong, but if I can adjust the WB for where the action I'm following is, I'm happy enough. The interior white walls are rendered as white, and that's about as much as I can hope for.

I have a three-card Opteka Digital Gray Card for adjusting White Balance that has only ever hung from a hook in my office, but smudges of its black card have migrated to the white card that faces it. The trick is to include one each of the white, gray and black cards in one image in a room, so I could adjust Photoshop the same for every image taken in that room, to render those images color-corrected. Before I noticed the black smudges on one side of my white card, I had always planned to carry the white card around, so I would have a local true white, but I usually just hope I have a white paper towel (I don't like Kleenex.) or piece of typing paper, which works out to be good enough.

Except, of course, no two places in some rooms like the ones above in this journal entry, are ever the same colors.

Also through the happenstance of the gods, I got no electronic shutter in C2. A refuge from rendering white walls or white areas of artwork as white instead of subtlish horizontal stripes of brownish white and whitish white. The E shutter is amazing quiet for shooting something in a dark and otherwise quiet room — although there's usually some other turkey in the room with a loud shutter camera clickity ker-plunking away at an old-fashioned dSLR shutter. Shudder...

So now I have the adjustable basics readily at hand, and vaguely understand where other important adjustments are hidden on the Quick or Slow other menus. At this point, progress is our most important product. Often our only product.

March 2 2013

Fantail Great Egret - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Egret at the Top of a Tall Tree, Showing Off Its Finery

The last several times I've used my new G5, everything has gone well. No major frustrations, no impossibilities of finding certain settings. It's almost as if I had finally settled into using this new unit. Not that everything is perfect yet. Not hardly. But enough is that I'm beginning to actually use some of the esoteric features of the camera, like tiny-selection-box focus anywhere on the screen.

The only task I've set for myself that I have not yet accomplished well and consistently is photographing egrets flying over the rookery, and that may be at least half my fault for not practicing enough with the new camera. I know the G5 doesn't focus as quickly as any of my Nikons, but most of the flying at the rookery begins and ends over the rookery and through the trees, where none of my cameras can adequately track them. Some few of them fly beyond the little managed forest that is the rookery and out over the world to places beyond.

I just have to learn to be under them when there's no encumbrances between us.

I may someday get used to the jittery little electronic viewfinder that I so appreciate in the G2 and G5, but I haven't yet. I would not even have tried overhead BIFs (birds in flight) shots with the G2, that I am attempting those with the G5 is a testament to my pigheadedness. I am determined to learn to think through the G5, as well as I can think through the Nikons.

What it really needs is practice. Within about 45 days, the American White Pelican contingent that resides in Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake wholly within the City Limits of Dallas, Texas, USA, will return to southeastern Idaho to live their spring and summer lives, so I'll have to switch to egrets for my big white bird obsession, and soon they will come back in great numbers to White Rock Lake and the Rookery, so I should get lots of practice.

Meanwhile, most of today's G5 shooting, of those egrets, will stay near the bottom (now top) of the March 2013 page of my Amateur Birders Journal. Link now and link after April 1, including some shots of egrets having sex mostly obscured by trees and branches.

February 27 2013

 Male Grackle Splash Bath - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Grackle Splash Bath — more pix

Not sure why, but it went a lot smoother lately. What needed dealing with. was, quickly. Not so much hassle, thinking it all through, just doing it, although the image jiggled too much most of today, till I realized the Image Stabilization was not engaged. Fortunately, there was enough sunlight so that lack didn't ruin any pictures. Somehow, the switch had got unswitched. When I switched it back, the jiggle was gone. I didn't have to work so hard steadying the cam. The little progresses that mean so much.

After my workout, I changed clothes and drove slowly with lots of stops all around the lake. Looking for birds, as usual, but accepting almost anything anything visually interesting. Including birds. All day I kept thinking I should be writing about art, and I even have art to write about, but learning is much more important, so I kept photographing for several hours. The sun slanting slowly only helping.


February 26 2013

Windy Pelican Short Flight - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American White Pelican in Flight   from my Amateur Birders Journal  Link after March 1.

I'm still pushing to make a birder's camera of the G5, and I'm having pretty good luck, although my weak understanding of how all the disparate modes of the G5 work or work together continues. I'm letting myself make lots of mistakes, so I can learn a little faster than if I hold back just because I don't yet know how to do something. All of today's bird pix were made with the G5 and the Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6 lens on a very cold and windy afternoon when the light kept getting darker. I wonder when or if ever Pany will sell us a 400mm f oh something in the vicinity of f4.5 or f5? Except they've probably bought into the notion that their cameras aren't good enough for ornithological photography, too.

February 23 2013

Man in Red Hat and Shoes - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Man in Red Hat and Shoes

I tried to use my G5 on tonight's art gallery tour, and it mostly worked well when the light was pure tungsten, which is what it was preset to, but the one time I needed to adjust it to the light that was, a cross between tungsten and something uglier and redder, it failed. I could not figure out to use the built-in WB adjuster. I kept clicking on its symbol in the Quick Menu, but nothing happened.

Now that I am back in my office, it was as plain as switching to my preset C2 mode, but I couldn't fathom it then, so my pictures of the man in the red shoes and red hat are overall too red. Peculiar how life works sometimes.

I'm sure, now that I see it large, I could Photoshop the walls and art behind him back to white, maybe unredden his face, too.

He was our favorite piece in the several shows at Craighead Green tonight, although I enjoyed seeing and photographing Heather Gorham's Fair Game in one of the bathrooms along the back hall, cluttered as it was with other pieces in temporary semi-exhibition storage, although now I see that even it is a tad pinkish.

This was the first time I've done gallery openings with the new cam, and ... well, I'm still learning, but almost all the art I shot turned out true, unless I misfocused, which I've been tending to. I gotta gotta gotta pay attention to the shutter speed. Maybe set it at that instead of aperture for art, as well as birds. Learning, learning.

Heather Gorham - Fair Game - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Heather Gorham   Fair Game   ceramic & resin mixed media   $2,500

February 22 2013

 Male Hairy or Downy Woodpecker - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Downy Woodpecker

Anna and I were going to go birding Saturday morning but then it was forecast to be down to freezing and we backed out. But I went birding today before that, and I took my G5, because I was kinda planning to take it on the birding trip tomorrow morning, because it and my 600mm equivalent zoom lens are so incredibly light and small, and I needed the practice.

So once again I was setting out to prove that the G5 was good enough for birding. I'm not utterly convinced of that after attempting to do it all afternoon, but I am convinced I should keep trying.

This shot of this woodpecker is very nearly sharp enough or all the way sharp enough for my Amateur Birders Journal. But most of my shots of that bird, some of its kin, and other little birds today were not. I did realize on my way home after that I probably should have tried pinpoint focus on some of these shots. Not that it's easy to hold the pinpoint focus cross on anything that moves, let a bouncing, flouncing and super fidgety bird like a woodpecker.

The light wasn't all that good, either. The G5, if it is a birder camera, is a better one in bright light, and today was cloudy.

Bufflehead Flying Low o r Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bufflehead Duck Flying Low 0r Landing

I saw this male Bufflehead flying leftward past me on the west side of the lake, heading toward what I call on my map, Green Heron Park, but I never expected it to morph so quickly into whatever this is. I kept it in decent focus, then it passed a tree close to me and far from it, and the camera lost focus, but I hurried it back onto the low-flying duck, and caught up with it it.

My Nikons have settings for how long it should maintain focus while something intervenes between camera and subject, but I have not discovered such a setting on the G5, if it even has such a thing. So when an opaque object intervenes, focus is lost. In this photo, focus is there again. But I had to blow it up extremely to get it this size.

I do so want to have a light, small, easy to handle (The G5 lives up to those first two adjectives, but not the last one yet.) camera for birding. Lugging the big bump of an old Nikon D300 and my 300mm f2.8 lens with its doubler, is a chore for my aging arms and back. The G5 is as nothing, by comparison. But neither is it as technically adaptable. The electronic viewfinder is terribly smaller than the optical viewfinder on my Nikons, which makes it more difficult to see and focus on the G5.

But I'm still learning this camera, and I'm liking it more and more, and maybe next time I chase after itty-bitty birds, I'll take the Nikon gargantua.

Full-frame Bufflehead Landing Shot - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Full-frame Image of the Bufflehead Pic Above

Oh, here's the full-frame version of the Low-flying Bufflehead pic, to give you an idea how good the upper pic really is, considering how big it's blown up. I may need a bigger, badder, faster, brighter and more optically amazing lens to cope with birds who insist upon being beyond my various lens's reach.


February 21 2013

Scaup Post Dive Dive Splash - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lesser Scaup Post-Dive Splash

I love that after this Lesser Scaup — also called a "Blue-billed Duck" — dived, this circle splashed to the surface. I was trying to catch one of the now three male Lesser Scaups at Sunset Bay in the act of diving today on my bird journal. [link after March 1] Instead, I kept getting water disturbed by their dives. Kinda arty. I like it. I think that's the scaup under the lowest blur of splash in the circle.

The more I use my G5, the more I like it, and the more manageable are all those variables that freaked me out the first few days. I am gradually working toward a time when C1 and C2 actually mean something and become modes I can actually use. Which is what they're for. I remember photographing a panel discussion at the Dallas Museum of Art and talking with the people in the row in front of us, who said my camera (the G2) was the quietest camera they'd ever heard. The G5's electronic shutter is much quieter. In the wind the other day it was so quiet I didn't know it was happening.

We'll be attending a flurry of art opening this weekend, and I will have the G5 along for the ride to document artworks, artists and art spaces along the way. So we'll all be able to see something on this page besides more birds and more dead flowers.


February 20 2013 (again)

 Two Lips and Daisy - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

J R Compton   Two Lips & Daisy   from my Dead Flowers Series   G2
 [more of yesterday's images on my DallasArtsRevue Member Page]

The dates I end up putting on these journal entries are within one day of when I actually wrote them. I usually write them late at night (in the early morning between midnight and 4 or 5 ayem) when other stuff I should be doing has either been done or abandoned. But there's a fuzz factor integral to my journal entry dates. It its February 20 as I write this. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has just dropped its price at least temporarily to $889.99.

The O...5 has been the main camera competition — in my peculiar way of thinking — for the G5. If the O5 had a fully articulating LCD and some of the more interesting features of the G5, I might have gone for it instead, but since the sensors are the same, myeh. Most other aspects of both cameras are at least comparable. I would have liked to have image-stabilization built into the camera, like Olympus does and Panasonic m43 cameras do not, if only because my Pany 20mm f1.7 lens has no OS, and I could sometimes use it.

But I still love my G2. In fact I used it for my big Dead Flower shoot here (just to my right, on top of my big desk) yesterday morning. Because the G2 was handy. Maybe I should have used the G5 with its 1/3 more megapixels, which might have helped make slightly bigger prints from it, but a little size "grain" (enlargement noise) never hurt a photograph any more than silver halide grain did when I used film. And 1/3 is not a significant improvement in megapixel quality. It takes about 50% more before there's any discernable difference — and I don't yet know whether Pany's other sensor improvements have much helped making exhibition prints. I suspect I'll either find out or learn there are nearly none of those.

The other camera that I briefly considered instead of the G5 was the Panasonic GH3, which turned out to be nearly as large as my DX Nikons. The chief reason I am involved with m43 has to do with size and weight. The G3 I skipped was involved in a not well-thought-out mine-is-better-because-it's-smaller competition with Oly, but the G5 is, I think, a better camera that is so similar to my G2 I still have difficulty telling them apart — or understand why they didn't use the same, longer-lasting battery, and it doesn't help that they've switched buttons around willy-nilly since then.

I'm thinking about putting a sticker or some tape on it. The small adobe-pot sticker I put on my Nikon D200 (because it looks so much like my D300) is still there more than two years after I stuck it there. Although that sticker looks pretty nasty now. Next time I'll put it a place may hands won't get close to.

My G2 or G5 with the 100-300mm lens is tiny and light (sometimes too light) compared with my Nikon D300 (now that my D7000 has proved its amateur status by popping its metal bayonet mount when I was using my 300mm lens with its 2X extender) and that tele lens.

In big winds, I'd mostly rather have the Nikon mass. Otherwise, the G5 is proving a more than comparable camera, but I've only had it few hours less than a week now, and I still have much to learn about my new G5, which I am at least very fond of.

February 20 2013

J R Compton - VikingGhost Ship - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

J R Compton   Viking Ghost Ship   February 19 2013   25.3mb   G2

Etc.: I found a series (at least 21 short vids) of Panasonic UK G5 Tutorials and promos on YouTube, and though many seem tedious and over-simplified, there is good info in them. And they just run and run, so I eventually settled in and opened my mind and actually learned stuff. Unfortunately, many of the LCD screen views are tiny — so we see their hands, not necessarily what they're talking. And I have trouble with their accents.

I was especially charmed when he said, "all this is available by pushing just one button" referring to the red video button on the top of the camera, but not bothering us with such details. I know a bit about photography, having done it for 50 years now, but they (Louis Law and at least three others.) make passing mentions of whole universes of concepts without pausing. I'm afraid amateurs might miss a lot in these short, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-collective-pants videos.

But I'm enjoying them. Maybe because I'm desperate.

I still find the angled shutter button difficult to push, since it no longer pushes against the weight of the rest of the camera. I like the Function Lever for exposure, which I can directly access in any mode, no matter how I've got that one set up. I like and maybe even need the level indicator, but it hogs most of the screen with giant dark gray brackets, when all it really needed was the tilting line, which interrupts the visual portion of our program significantly less.

My settings: Standard color usually; Vivid when I want colors to shout. L 4:3 picture quality, because it offers the most pixels possible. Always F for fine, meaning the best quality, because I never know when I might be shooting something worth keeping. Exposure on the Function Lever, because I'm always fiddling with exposures, usually under-exposing some to a lot. Almost always Multi-Mode metering, because it works with all the types of shooting I do. I've tried every variety of focus, and love that I don't have to spelunk the menus to change that.

My main (C1) customized Q.Menu includes Photo style, Forced Flash (because I did not manage to get rid of it), Electronic Shutter, Histogram, Quality, Focus Mode, AF Mode, Drive Mode, Metering Mode, Sensitivity, Auto White Balance, Flash Adjust and HDR, since those are what I most need to change. If I ever take up video seriously, I might change that, or park it on C2.

I also stumbled onto David Thorpe's superb and erudite video review of the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 — and other lenses, which was probably the best photo-related vid I ever saw on YouTube. More of his videos are on YoutTube, but they're not limited to the G5 or photography.

February 19 2013

 Windy Day in West Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Windy Day in West Sunset Bay   G5

Terrible day to take photographs of anything at the lake today. Because it was very windy. Not so cold, just windy. Which made holding the camera steady difficult. I kept thinking my big, heavy Nikon lens would be much more steady. Much more. There is some issue with not being able to see the image in the electronic viewfinder all jittery as it bounces. But all that bouncing also adds to the need for a very high shutter speed. Some of these were shot at 1/1000-40000th of a second. The higher the better.

Pelicans Go Fishing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

But Others Suffered from Low Shutter Speed Blur and unFocus   G5

Low shutter-speed blur happens when the camera can not quite get the shutter speed up as high as it should. Some of these were shot as slow as 1/400th - 1/500th of a second. That's just not fast enough to stop fast action. I almost always prefer to shoot at aperture priority, meaning I set the aperture — usually in daylight at f8 — and the camera sets the shutter speed. Today, I'd have been better off setting it to S mode, meaning Shutter Speed Priority. Probably all of these shots would have benefited from shooting at at least a thousantdth of a second. 1/2000th or 1/4000th wouldn't hurt.

Tree, Rough Water, Skyline and Motorcyclist   G5

Photographers sometimes blame our cameras, but if something goes wrong it's always the photographer's fault. A camera can save the day, but only if the photog sets it right. I carefully set this shot up without the motorcyclist. I liked the composition just fine without him there, but when he drove to just the right spot, I clicked. Then I backed off his clothes in Photoshop, so we believe it's human.

The Black Duck Slosh - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Black Duck Slosh   G5

Something else I'm learning is that the way I have it set, some modes give me daylight, some tungsten and some allow me to set my own. I'd really prefer to always get to set my own. Same confusing deal with ISO and other variables. I need to completely redo what 'features' are included in Aperture Priority, C1 and C2 modes, but first I need to figure out which of all those settings I need gathered together.

Handy as it can be to have all the settings lined up when I do a specific task, it's totally annoying when I need a cross selection of various settings for some other task. My amateur Nikon D7000 and my Panasonic G5 both only have two settings, and I do many more than that varieties of photographs. So I'll have to plan out the C1 and C2 modes, and I don't yet know with what, how or why. Which may destine me to struggling in the comparative darkness for a while till I figure out what I need for what kind of shooting.

I sometimes used the U1 and U2 clicks on my now broken-bayonetd D7000, but it's been so long since I've used it that I don't remember which was which, although when I used it every day, I kept track. It made sense. There isn't any such complexity with my G2. I quickly and easily changed whatever I needed to change whenever I needed to change it, and when I turned it off, then back on again, it was the same.

The G5 isn't the same. There's a reset that occurs upon restart, and I haven't the foggiest notion right now how to get around that foolishness. But it's near the top of my list of things to understand and use. Eventually, I'll come to some sort of dichotomy, whereby when I shoot stills, I'll have low ISO, either eminently resettable White Balance or the WB set on Tungsten, the shutter speed slow, the aperture small. And the other setting, for bird action or surprises outside, a whole different set of settings. Then be able to wing it when I photograph people, dogs, cats or art.

Something else has been bugging me. I've been tapping and tapping, and not getting anywhere with enlarging the image on the LCD in review mode. Three times now, I've had to explain to iPad and other LCD users that no, there's no pinch and whatever cell phones all seem to do. But turns out, just tapping doesn't do anything. Need instead to finger-tap and drag a little, either up or down, not sideways. Then instead of unpinching, tap on the 4x, 8x or 16x text in the lower left corner, and watch it get bigger. Simple, and all I had to do was follow the instructions in the manual.

I worry that now will come a time when I actually begin to appreciate the manual. Probably just as well, because I have not discovered an independent one yet. Maybe by the time one appears, I'll know everything about this gem of a camera.

The last several times I've bought a new camera, I've gone to DigitalPhotographyReview's forums for info, issues and help, but while there are people who, like me, just bought this camera, not much info is being shared. That's where I found the G2 manual a couple years ago, learned lots about other cameras from people who have them, too, and like to explain things. Not so much anymore. Maybe because DPR is so busy sell, sell, selling instead of info, inform, informing.


February 18 2013 - Day 5


Three Gulls, Two Coots and a Pelican   G5

I was attempting to take pictures of the gulls. That much is accurate. I did not know I had turned the Electronic Shutter on. I was expecting the flip-flop sound of each exposure to remind me what I was doing and keep me clued-in. So I was audially confused by the lack of any confirmation that I was doing what I thought I was, and I was visually confused by the stuttering 3-point-something exposures per second rapidity (which is adequate for most of my birds in flight photographs) I watched on the electronic viewfinder (EVG), and I was being blinded by the sunlight bouncing low off the waves to my left. (We photographers cling to our excuses, but the challenge is to learn from our mistakes, like everybody else).

Gulls - Continued - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gulls Continued   G5

Normally, there's a chunk of camera left of the EVF to block sunlight from blinding me in the eye I don't use to look through the viewfinder. That's on my Nikons, but not on the G5. I'm thinking of taping some sort of flap over there, because I often photograph at Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake here in Dallas, and often in the afternoon toward the time when the sun falls out of the sky. So now I'll need blinds of some sort to keep me from being blinded. A gimme hat with curled-down bill might help more.

These are not so much complaints as information I need to consider to use this camera. So I can see what I am doing while I'm doing it. The exposures are pretty good, and the action is certainly active. If I weren't so flummoxed by all that was going on in the EVF, I might have noticed that distracting, large white blot of pelican in the big middle of these shots.

Gulls Continues More - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gulls Continued More   G5

This one's cropped. The other two are nearly full frame. I had the focus set to CFF (Coninued Focus Flexible), meaning Follow Focus, or something like that. These three shots are the first two and the the sixth and last of the series. The middle ones are boring, as if I'd lost track of what I was doing — which I had. I'll probably turn on the regular exposure so I won't be so thrown by the electronic quiet, unless I'm somewhere in public shooting something quiet, like dance or performance. It'd be a great camera and mode for dance, which I used to shoot a lot. The only thing that would give me away would be the LCD, which can be toned down or faced into the camera, but it's not much good then. I've been stuck behind a dance photographer with a bright LCD, and that's no fun.

The camera followed its own focus, because I was way too confused to help it. Once I get used to the soundlessness and the visual clatter, I'll be able to concentrate on what I can see. Maybe next time, I'll see the big, bright, white pelican behind all my tan to gray seagul action and just wait — there's plenty of gulls in Sunset Bay, and once they get riled up by white-bread-throwing humans (more or less), they'll fill the air.

Pelican Tones - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Tonalities After a Splash Bath   G5

For not having any eyes in the picture, this is pretty wonderful. A lot of what I shot today of moving pelicans — flying, taking off, landing, flapping, whatever — was overexposed. In that sunset-streaming space, the exposure is fine for pointing at pelicans in once direction, and overexposed aimed the other, and vastly underexposed shot in yet another. The elderly Nikon D300 I've been using for birding at White Rock lately is better at adjusting for those exposure changes, but it's way bigger and heavier, too.

So I'm willing to learn and practice this new light camera. Today was only the third or fourth day I've had the G5. I did figure out how to set the self-timer, and for awhile today, I remembered what my other self-assigned task was, and I accomplished it, too.

About Right Pelican Exposure - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

About Right Pelican Exposure   G5

There've been moments when I seriously considered sending this camera back to Amazon. I learned today that some other online camera shop had G5s for another hundred dollars cheaper, but that other, cheaper place has often been badmouthed as a bait-and-switch operation, as if most of them were not.

I may not have known what I was doing during the gull series above, but the camera did amazing well, so I'm just going to have to grow into it. I did successfully photograph birds not just in flight but doing interesting things while flying with my G2. This is quicker and smarter — and there's hope I will catch up to it in those and other respects, so I am hopeful.

But there's no table of contents in the G5 manual and not an index, either. So somebody ought to write a decent manual for it. I suspect some hapless author is already struggling with Panasonic towards publishing such a book, but they'll make him use their idiot terminology or otherwise kowtow to their abstruse camera philosophy, so readers will be none the wiser. Alas.

It took me nearly two years to figure out how some things were easily set on the G2. I bet the G5 is an even better camera, and some of what it could do will long be encumbered by the idiots who made it but don't know the first, second, third or fourth things about explaining its use.


February 17 2013

 Roses Remnants - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Roses Remnants   G5

Over at Anna's so I could catch up on Downton Abbey, I was still obsessed with my new camera, which I brought with the unstabilized but fast 20mm f1.7, just in case. I usually think in telephoto, but that requires long distances and small apertures. The flowers were accessible and in various stages of disassembly. These are older roses in a glass. Behind, I aligned a sheet of typing paper I got from her printer. I used Anna's tripod, but I still haven't figured how to engage the self-timer, so the camera still jiggled during the first moments of a several-second exposure. Because my hands were shaking, I let go soon as possible. Not all the attempts were this sharp.

Nine Pink Valentine Tulips - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nine Valentine Tulips   G5

These are a little newer. Same routine, except I went with the dark tabletop. No paper. They were in a higher vase on the same table in front of me. Took a lot of fiddly bits putting it all together, so I missed some dialog and made do with where the light came from. Can't always choose these things. Strictly available illumination perked just slightly in Pshop later, because I didn't want to jostle the color, contrast or detail. That was quick. Setting up the flowers, arranging, composing and focusing took long and discontinuous minutes.

Two near term objectives: figure out the self-timer and … oh, drat. Now I've forgot. There were two. So much to learn.

Seeing the Downton episode when KERA-TV played it again at 2 ayem caught me up on the lot that I'd missed taking pictures of live — for a change — and dead flowers.

February 16 2013

 The Drawer that Holds the Door Closed - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Drawer that Holds the Door Closed   G5

If the drawer is not opened just right, the door opens, and the little heat in there escapes, and taking a bath in a cold bathroom is a drag.

Everything I've shot since February 13 was shot with my Panasonic 100-300mm lens.

Jackolantern - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Plastic Jack O Lantern   G5

A Jackolantern with a hole in its soul where the sun shines through.

Electric Cross - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Electric Cross   G5

I don't usually see Christian symbols in real-life situations, but this hit me. I may need to photograph it some more. It may need to be more vertical than horizontal, but I liked the depth that telephone pole gave it.

Porch Cross - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Porch Cross   G5

Very difficult to focus until I learned how to use the pinpoint focus feature, even if it does greatly enlarge the pinpoint detail every time I employ it — till I learn how to turn off the enlargement screen. Learn, learn.

Paper Prayer Flag and Christmas Lights - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Faded Paper Prayer Flag Entwined with Christmas Lights   G5

My prayer flags came in a letter seeking financial support for somebody. I love the notion that every time they were lifted by the wind a prayer was sent. I still love to turn on my so-called Christmas Lights when nobody else seems to be celebrating. I guess I like my religion passive and mayb a little aggressive.

Shrub Branch - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Shrub Branch   G5

What I've always taught those who want to learn photography is to take many photographs. And don't worry about the mistakes, just learn from them. Which is what I have been doing and will probably continue for the next few week and thereafter for the next few years. I was still learning very new things about my g5 as soon ago as last December. Dallas seasons never really figure out what time it really is. These guys seem to think it's still autumn.

Here's another example of something that renders prayers every time it moves. I was surprised this focused so well. So sharp against the rest of the world out there. I am thoroughly enjoying learning this new camera. What a joy to get to see things I see every day of my life in new light. And in focus.

February 16 2013

 KKK Grand Dragon - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Detail of Gregory Horndeski's KKK Grand Dragon and His Ghoulish Night-crawling Minions on my wall   G5

I was up early. In the actual morning today. Usually I wake after noon because usually I don't sleep till four of six ayem. There was light in here and the one G5 battery I have was charged, so I started taking pictures with it, then I needed subjects, so I shot what I know and see every day of my life, whether I notice them or not.

Monster in the corner - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Monster in the Corner with Cobwebs   G5

This little monster's job is to keep me safe from intruders. It works hard at its job, and so far, I'm safe.

Light in the Corner of the Window - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Light in the Corner of the Window   G5

But it was this brilliant light accumulating in the upper left corner of my office that inspired me to go out into my yard.

Sink Fountain - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sink Fountain   G5

Where this has been without getting its picture took for years and years. Not much has changed, but now I have a recent photograph of what will someday be a fountain. I feel wrong about feeding birds, but providing them with some water seems ultimately fair. Only issue with that is plumbing this silly thing, and that it's so far from anywhere I could stand with a camera and not scare away birds.

Green Fence Shadows - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Fence Shadows   G5

Actually two fences with shadows.

Arrow - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Arrow   G5

Most of the paving stones Kathy and I made that I still have have from partially to wholly disintegrated.

Two Little Duckies - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Little Duckies   G5

Not sure where the duckies came from, but I put them up there, so they could swim together. Hard to swim when you're stuck upside-down in a bucket.

Chair Stack on the Front Porch - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chair Stack   G5

One of the earliest photo series with my then-new G2 was of this or a chair very much like it — cheap, plastic and white. Here for old time's sake.

Fuzzy Cardinal - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fuzzy Cardinal   G5

My first half-successful yard bird photo. Not entirely in focus, for that I'd want pinpoint focus, except that always jumps into hugely magnified version I guess so I can get perfect focus, but by then the bird's flown away. I'm learning how to use pinpoint focus, but it's too annoying to use on birds. Yet.

Glider Chain - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Glider Chain   G5

What's wonderful about an actual WYSiWYG camera (What You See is What You Get) as opposed to an optical viewfinder cam, is that I get what I can see, if I'm careful enough to adjust things so I like what I can see, to change it, then I get ... well, you know.

February 15 2013

 Yacht Club Complexity - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Yacht Club Complexity   G5

I remember being so baffled by my G2's peculiarities that I thought I had to buy a book explaining everything. Except the book was almost as baffling as the manual. Several times today, I felt completely flummoxed, even a mediocre book might have helped. But I cannot find one. I've read the on-paper manual and the computer PDF version, and I'm still confused about a half dozen aspects. Worse, it's costing me photographs.

It doesn't help that the text "explaining" menu items as I click them is in reverse Swahili, apparently badly translated from Japanese by someone who doesn't speak English and never used a camera. And it types itself across the top of the screen so slowly a four-year who has to sound out every syllable could easily outpace it. Truly troubling for a 'feature' that's supposed to help. I want smaller type and faster typing there, and get the guy who wrote the printed manual to describe what each feature does. He knows English and camera.

Both the on-screen PDF and printed manual need a vocabulary list so I can understand what Panasonic means by its abstruse terminology. A couple of paragraphs by a photographer who has actually used the G5 might explain whole systems.

I may be learning some things about this camera, but I also seem to be unlearning others. I remember feeling this way in school — and not always when I was on the verge of figuring it all out. Though I really want to. Usually with new cameras, struggling helps me figure out what I need to know by letting me screw it up often enough that it eventually soaks into my mind via osmosis.

I have learned to hate the too-short lumix camera strap, stylish though it may be, so I've ordered another Crumpler, The Industry Disgrace. I continue to confuse the G2, which still works, with my new G5. I wanted a silver G5 so I could easily distinguish between them, because the silver one would be better for Texas summers. The reason I got the black G5 is because no other color was available for cheaper than I paid for my G2 two years ago.

And though the official Panasonic Original Equipment battery is several times more expensive than the multitude of cheapo replacements, it is very probably better enough. The cheapos don't track the power remaining or adequately communicate with the camera, so the photographer finds out it's run out of juice when the camera stops. It was very difficult to find the correct battery for the G5 until I learned the GH2 uses the same battery. Then it was easy.

Amazon lists several cheapo batteries as Panasonic, but they clearly are not.

February 14 2013

A Coots Panic — which may be what they do best     G5

Just posted 29 of my better shots from today's shoot with my new G5 camera using my 100-300mm (with the 200-600mm equivalent angle of view) photographing birds, some flying. Others doing other things birds do. On my Amateur Birder's Journal [link now - link later] Altogether a successful outing, although I didn't always know what I was doing or how to do what I wanted to do but didn't know how, and there were times I didn't manage to focus, and other times when I had no real belief I could even possibly focus, but I did anyway.

Which is to say, it's still a learning experience, but I'm figuring some of the things out. Enough, it seems to get away with some decent shots. The one, lasting memory from today was looking through the lens — actually looking through the Electronic ViewFinder (not at the LCD on the back) while the camera was moving too fast for the electronic image on the EVF, so I was seeing lots of jitters, which made viewing, composing and photographing difficult, but the resulting photographs looked just fine. What I learned from that was to hold the camera more still.

But the sneaky little strap is simply not pleasant, long enough or comfortable. At least, unlike Nikon, it doesn't scream its brand.

February 13 2013

Feather Antenna - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Feather Antenna - Looks sharper than it is, but for a first shot, it ain't half bad.   G5

Several hours after the UPS guy usually delivers packages, he delivered my new G5. The battery came with a little power, and I used that to explore and take some fool-around pix, but now the battery is fully charging, and I've been monkeying with the G2's menus, startling myself by discovering items there I did not recognize.

Mount the lens on my G2 just to get the feel of it, till I can use the G5. Scrutinize the body, finding customizable buttons that might come in handy. I wonder if I can set one to two clicks underexpose, which is probably my most often adjustment and how my G2's rear dial got bunged. I wonder how long the rubber around the EVF will last this time. I have thick black Gorilla tape that's fraying at the edges on the eye end of the G2 EVF.

I'm realizing I probably need another camera strap. The one included, though almost stylish and thin, may not be comfy for extended shoots with it and the 100-300. But since it's what I have, I'm trying it out. I don't remember much about doing these things on the G2. I'd love to use the G5 while there's still light, but both the light and chances of the battery fully charging by then seem minimal.

Tried the G2 battery in the G5. Too small. Probably why the G5's battery longevity does not match the G2's. Pity. I haven't yet got the other Pany batt I ordered.

I'm already excited about having the function lever set to exposure, even though I'm still all thumbs trying to operate or even remember it. The delete image (I'm doing a lot of that as I learn) procedure is still way too complicated. Wonder if I can set one of the function buttons to delete the last shot — ha! Haven't figured out how to set or use function buttons yet, but I finally got ISO set and WB set back onto the four-way controller instead of focus something or nother.

By now, of course, it's dark outside and a lot of inside. I'm reading the Basic Owner's Manual and wishing there was a movie to watch that covered all of this complication.

Gradually, eventually, I got the Q.menu mostly figured out. It's very different from my G2 — so much is. I've struggled to learn most of what I am relearning. Still hope — even though I just bought this one, and don't really want to go through all this again anytime soon — Pany will make the next G cam a semi-pro model to compete with the Oly OMD5, because this one almost does.

Without the overweight and oversize of the GH3.

February 12 2013

Comparing Oranges and Apples - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Comparing Oranges and Apples   G5

Now comes word that the Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH POWER OIS zoom lens I've been lusting after for months has issues with turning off the Image Stabilization, at least when mounted on a Pany GH2. Basically, when the switch is turned to off, nothing changes. The IS continues. Not something that would affect me normally, because I don't shoot video from a tripod, and I rarely use a tripod for long exposures, except when shooting stills in near-macro mode, where one of my Pany kit zooms would actually focus closer. But while they're fixing the Vario, Panasonic might upgrade or change something else — might have to. After that imbroglio gathers and is fixed or diffused, maybe the lens price will fall more.

I do a lot of people pictures from time to time, and even though f2.8 isn't super bright, it's better than everything else I have (Nikon and Pany) except the Panasonic 20mm f1.7, which I use all the time, although sometimes it's just not long enough, and my gargantuan Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 zoom, which I avoid because it's so big and heavy and doesn't focus close.

Those two short-to-medium zooms are similar in zoom range (once all the equivalents are worked out) except the Nikon's a little longer. The medium tele end of the X Vario's zoom range could come in very handy for my coverage of art opening receptions, parties, reunions and other people pictures. I hate kit lenses, because they close down precipitously when zoomed out to less than what the Vario does and way less than the Nikon.

February 11 2013

Faux Surls in Strong Sidelight - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Faux Surls in Strong Sidelight   G2

I couldn't resist. The G5 price came down to $498 this morning, so I bought one. With the silly, utterly ordinary kit lens, but only because the price was the same with or without it. It's a decent lens, but since I already have one that's reportedly better, who cares. Tipping my decision was last week's Imaging Resource's glowing review. Over the years, I've found IR's reviews to be particularly fair. I figured the price would fall at least one more time soon, so when it did I bought. I'll let you know how I like it then. In many long words and pictures. Probably for years.

The star of this photograph is as close as I ever got to owning a genuine James Surls sculpture. The only other person I know who has one like this got it free, but she called it a "Faux Surls," so so am I. Very peculiarly enough, it was made by students at SMU just after James Surls left there for more southern pastures, well before he moved to Colorado. It was a prize for visiting digni- or indigni-taries. In this case, I suspect, for visiting gallerists.

They — the Smu art department, got Surls' permission. Bill Verhelst cast the screw shape that holds all the wood pieces more or less together, and had the students carve the wood parts — very amateur carving, some says real Surls were like that, too. The wood circle it stands on was probably a later addition. Under that is an old tin can of Chinese Checkers and under that is something else that has no relation with Surls. With the piece came a folder of publicity about Surls and nothing whatsoever to do with its buy/sell or collection status history. The seller called it provenance, obviously having no idea what that is supposed to mean.

I paid more than it was worth, but I always wanted a Surls, and now I almost do. I was walking through the living room and noticed the nice side-light and rant to get by G2 before the light moved.

Continued from My G2 Journal link fixed


  since February 11 2013