photography

The White Goods Index

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New film freezer
New film freezer

Back in the 1990’s I recall reading an article about something called the white goods index. It was intended to measure how much better we are all as a result of white goods becoming cheaper in relation to how much we are all earning.

On Saturday I took delivery of a new freezer. Our old chest freezer had broken a few weeks back and the lid no longer closed. The replacement we bought was duly delivered and filled with all manner of food. Whilst loading the new freezer my wife suggested I buy a second smaller freezer in which to store my photography film. My initial reaction was to think this was an extravagant waste but then I stopped and thought about it. A quick search on the Internet and I found a new freezer for about the same price as three boxes of Kodak Provia in 120 format.

Today I loaded the new freezer with all my film from the fridge, and our new main chest freezer. Seeing all this film in once place made me realise just how much I had. The value is many more times the cost of the freezer and there are a few more benefits. My wife is now happy that she can put food in the freezer box in the fridge. She can store and access food in the chest freezer more easily. I might start using film faster than I have been buying it. Perhaps this last point is pushing things a little too far though.

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Help Me to Help You

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North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.
North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.

I have been reading some books about blogging recently and apparently I need a mission statement – okay, let’s go with this for a moment. When I started The Lightweight Photographer blog it was my intention to share information about lightweight cameras as well as information about achieving fast results when editing images. Four years on and I feel I have lost a little bit of focus. In an attempt to address this, I wrote a mission statement.

To create a valuable resource of lightweight photography information and to make this freely available.

And this is where I now need your help. When I sit down to write these blogs, as well as the tutorials on Lenscraft, I am guessing a little about what people want. I am also guessing as to what problems and concerns people have about following a lightweight approach. So…

  • Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?
  • Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?
  • Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?
  • Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?
  • Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?

I really want to hear about your concerns, thoughts, observations and questions. This will allow me to focus the blog and my website to hopefully respond to some of these points. If it is to do with photography but in particular lightweight cameras and image editing, then I would like to hear.

Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts.

Thank you.

Road Trip America

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Portland, Oregon.
Portland, Oregon.

Back at the start of May you might recall I wrote a short piece about the equipment I would pack for a trip I was planning to make. Unfortunately, (for me at least) the trip is now over and I’m back in the UK. Whilst I have been trying to write and reply using a mobile phone, I have fallen a little behind. Hopefully things will get back to normal this week.Over the next few weeks I expect to be sharing quite a few examples of photos from my trip as well as share some of the photography related “learnings” I experienced whilst shooting for the duration of the trip.

My trip involved a lot of driving, perhaps too much if I’m honest but I did see some great sights. I started in Seattle for 3 days before driving to Olympic National park where I stayed at Crescent Lake and also Lake Quinault. From there it was down to Canon Beach for a few days. This was followed by a stopover at Coos Bay on the way to Crater Lake. After Crater Lake it was on to Mount Hood followed by Portland then Mount Rainier before heading back to Seattle.  A total of 18 days and 2,000 miles later I have just short of 5,000 new images to work through.

As for equipment, the majority of the time (probably 80%) I found myself using the Olympus EM5. This accounted for almost 4,500 of the images shot. The remainder were taken with the Sony A7r which I carried as a backup camera but also because I wanted some very high resolution shots of certain scenes. I should mention that I had upgraded my firmware on the Olympus EM5 a little while back from version 1.1 to 2.2 and the camera has started to play up a little since then. As there is no way back from a firmware update I thought it best to have two cameras for the trip.

In terms of other stats from the trip, I only used the 12-40mm and 45-150mm lenses with the EM5 and the majority of the time it was the 12-40. I did take a fisheye which I used for a couple of shots and the 9-18mm lens wasn’t used once. It was a similar story with the Sony. All the shots were taken with the 24-70mm lens and 16-35mm was never used.

I experienced 1 memory card failure which was with the EM5. This was after trying to shoot a video of the sea and has happened to me before where I have been mixing video and still images on the same card. This is probably coincidence but there may also be a lesson in there.

The company who arranged everything for me was The American Road Trip Company. They did a fantastic job and provided excellent service. If anyone is planning anything similar I can highly recommend them.

Friday Image No.87

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/640". 0.6 ND Grad on the sky
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/640″. 0.6 ND Grad on the sky

I keep having this odd feeling that I am running out of images (I haven’t been able to shoot much recently). I have this feeling that I don’t really like too much of my recent work and that it won’t endure. But when I go back about a year that I start to find images that I like. Here is one example of yet another moorland scene. This is taken on the descent from Black Hill heading towards the Woodhead Pass. Black Hill can be reached from my home by walking across Saddleworth Moor but you need to be ready for a 35-40km hike (round trip) so it’s not something I do regularly.

This particular shot was taken around this time last year with the Sony RX10. The lighting really appealed to me at the time but then I could never capture the mood in post processing. It’s only now that I seem to be able to accept the very dark tones and gritty feel of the image. I doubt this will appeal to a lot of people but it does sum up the drama of the area well.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday Image No. 84

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/400".
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/400″.

Last weekend we had snow and a reasonable amount at that. So I did what I usually like to do in the snow and went for a long walk in the hills. With my new found project of moorland views I headed up onto the moors to join the Pennine Way.

Now to reach the Pennine Way from my house you have to cross the moors where there is a reasonable trail unless its covered by a foot of snow or possibly more. Well I can vouch for the fact that we were the first people to walk that trail since it had snowed the previous day because there were no footprints anywhere. And despite knowing the route very well having walked it many times, it does get pretty tricky when it starts snowing and visibility is down to around 20m. And if that wasn’t bad enough I was wearing new glasses that turned that dark I could barely see my feet.

In the end a 22Km walk took 6 hours but I did get some rather nice shots to add to my project, including this one. I hope you like it and have a great weekend.

Hidden Gems

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Boat study at Heswall Marina. Panasonic GX1 converted to Infrared. ISO160, 45mm lens, 1/50" at f/10.
Boat study at Heswall Marina. Panasonic GX1 converted to Infrared. ISO160, 45mm lens, 1/50″ at f/10.

Yesterday I finally decided to sell my Panasonic GX1 that’s been converted to shoot infrared. The cameras been sat in a bag since I had the EM5 converted and whilst I thought it would be a good backup, I need the money for a new project (more on that in the future).

Whilst advertising it on eBay I decided to look through my back catalogue for some example images to show what an Infrared conversion can do when processed. I can’t believe how many shots I really like and that I have overlooked. Again, this is an example of distancing yourself from the event of taking the image.

I don’t know why but I particularly like this cluttered shot of the boats at Heswall Marina on the Wirral.

Hope you like it as well.

Friday Image No. 83

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/320"
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/320″

For this week’s Friday image, I thought that I would share another scene from my recently adopted moorland project. I think I’m going to title the project “Views from the moors”.

I realise this image might not appeal to many people but I like it for a very specific reason. When you are walking on the moors they are largely flat and featureless, but with a sky that can go on for miles. And what I really like about this vast sky feeling is that because of the and their flatness of the moors, you feel very close to the clouds. I hope the image conveys some sense of this feeling to you.

Have a great weekend everyone.