Saturday, September 12, 2009

I might be missing for a week.

At four o clock tomorrow I head off to go skiing for a week. If the lodge has wifi I'll still be in business. If, as I suspect, it doesnt then I suppose I'll see you all in a week.

Hope to see you all again soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Signs, miraculous or just cruel?

Signs are a wonderful source of photographic inspiration. Whether its the mangled English on signs that have been shockingly translated, weird efforts by graphic artists to represent complex ideas with stick figures or times, like now, where the signs themselves are pretty mundane but their positioning is really funny.

I literally stumbled on this as I jumped back from the edge of a platform in San Diego, California. As I tripped (because as you can see the platform was all buckled) I looked to see what was going on and I saw this. Instantly I just sat down and started laughing and laughing. Then, obviously I took the picture.

I was really late at night so the aperture is wide open, iso high and it was still a slow shutter so I was relying on the Sony's in camera stabilisation. It worked pretty well but not great. Therefore I've processed this pretty heavily in Lightroom using a Dragan preset I downloaded from the net. I sometimes wonder if this kind of processing is a bit of a 'cheat' using tricks and faux grittiness to hide basic flaws in the shot. But you know what I dont care that much because its not a competition. When I take photos its to make and image not to prove myself. I think the only duty I owe is to be honest about how I took the shot and made the image.

I cant remember where I got the preset from and I feel a bit of a thief not giving the guy who put it together a credit here. Also I suppose I should also credit Andrzej Dragan who "invented" (or at least popularised) this look.

Also I dont know if its a mitigating or aggravating factor that I didnt really copy Dragan because I found, downloaded and used the preset before I knew anything about the guy's work it was based on. It was only when I started this blog piece I figured I should do a little more research.

All in all I promise to fulfill my artistic duty and takl a little more about the creator of the preset I've used and the photographeer who inspired the look very soon.

Sometimes you find just the right thing

A short one tonight.

I'm a keen amateur photographer whose sold a few shots and is considering how to go beyond here and perhaps wondering whats beyond here and well, just wondering......

And while doing this wondering and just circling the drain ready to vanish into nothingness again I found this site, on how to make money from your pictures.

I've just scratched the surface of the site and already I've found stuff that I will be trying to implement and stuff I cant see myself doing. Is it perfect, not at all, but if we all were only ever satisfied with perfection as a starting point why bother getting out of bed in the morning?

So, if, like me, you are thinking that you might like to do beyond just shooting images for the sake of it have a butchers hook (look) at this site.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We actually delight in being ripped off

Its been interesting to watch the press in raptures over the imminent (and now past) Leica releases, whether that Phil Askey over at DPReview or the otherwise pretty sensible Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer. For me the most interesting thing has been watching otherwise sane people willfully, almost gleefully, looking for opportunities to be ripped off.

Any way you look at the new Leica's they are ripping you off. I mean $US7000 for a manual focus camera, capable of just 2 fps, incredibly basic metering system and massive limitations in use. To me, I can only imagine how hard the Leica engineers were laughing when they decided to put a 230k, 2.5 inch LCD on the back of this camera. Can you picture that meeting:

Engineer. "ok, we are going to charge these dolts seven grand for a camera with less features than an iPhone lets at least give them a decent screen".

Manager. "Nuh, give them nothing, wait, no, even better, lets give them a screen but make it worse than anything fitted to the cheapest DSLR on the market today".

Engineer. "But we can give them a decent screen for nothing, we wont even notice the price, surely they'll hate us if we do this to them."

Manager. "You dont get it, the users will love us for it, people who cant afford the camera will scoff, sure, but those who can will make all sorts of excuses for us. They'll even use the fact that the screen is god awful as a reason to buy the camera, they'll say shit like 'real photographers dont need the screen anyway!"

Engineer. "Your kidding right?"

Manager. "Nah, trust me - just watch".

And already we are seeing exactly this reaction in fora across the internet.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, people can be such idiots. Yesterday Mike Johnston in his piece questioning what is expensive, was saying that the camera world was generally free of Veblen goods, well today Leica proved him wrong.

To feed the beast

the mouth of the beast, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

A nice simple post today that combines a few of my favorite things, one the capture of nice details in cars, and two, the use of the "direct positive" development present in lightroom.

I think this is an image that shows off both to good effect.

By the way this is an image of the fuel filler cap of a 1967 Shelby GT 500 Cobra. These were highly modified versions of the contemporary Ford Mustang. The shot was taken at the 2009 Issaquah Greenways days festival.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dog attack victim

Dog attack victim, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

Recently I was invited to do an event (which I never do) using a flash (which I never use) and I learnt how little I know.

But, I must admit I enjoyed breaking out the old flash and so have begun having more of a play. Especially combining using a few little lighting tricks with some heavier lightroom processing.

The beauty is two fold:

a) you can create some pretty interesting images, and

b) you can do this using pretty mundane materials.

In this case I just used an old doll my dog had found and chewed.

I like the tension in the shot between reality and horror. For just an instant you are (or at least I was) caught thinking it was a real baby, then you see the fantasy and its all ok, but the tension remains from that first flash of worry.

Anyway, that's how I experience this photo.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cars - these are some of my favorite things

Maser 3500GT Gearshift, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

I love cars. I love driving them, working on them, dreaming about collecting them, and - of course - photographing them.

Not being a professional most of my access to cars that arent mine comes at car shows and these are tricky places to shoot. The cars are jammed next to each other, often the bonnets are open to show of the engine, there are people all over the place and all in all its a photographic nightmare.

I generally find the best approach is to ignore the 'whole' car and just focus on the details. After all, a truly great car will almost always have those special little touches that just say "this is something special"

Well this car, a Maserati 3500GT from the late 1950's didn't disappoint. These are truly beautiful cars that make you just want to take it all in. But its beauty is far more than skin deep. Just check out this gear stick - isnt she gorgeous?

So next time you see a car show teeming with people and think its not worth stopping, think again. Think small and close and I'm certain you'll find some treasures.

If you like my car shot, you'll find many more here at my flickr site, you can even buy some prints (including prints of this photo) from my redbubble gallery.

The DSLR Marketplace - the main players

This is my take on the state of play in todays DSLR market. I apologise to Pentax and Oly users - these makers produce fine cameras, I just havent included them because both companies have such limited ranges at the moment.

Clearly my groupings are pretty arbitary and people can debate all day on precisely where any particular camera sits. In the main I've thought in terms of:

Band 1 - entry level - my first DSLR. (Note how many of these bodies can only be bought with a lens - designated by the + symbol)
Band 2 - my second, DSLR. I'm getting serious and value little touches like a second control wheel, more direct buttons, less menues etc. May do a little lite pro work.
Band 3 - ok, I'm not mucking around anymore. People have worked there way here and are after very serious photograohic tools. Bigger, heavier bodies, big VF's, lots of direct controls, can be relied upon for a variety of pro roles.

A couple of things leap out from this:

1. The need for something like the 7D becomes pretty obvious.

2. The D40 is hopelessly outgunned as an entry to DSLR land and will be replaced soon.

3. Despite having a lot of camera's on the market, Sony still has two huge gaps to fill

a) A 'serious' APS body to take on the D300s and 7D (expected to be filled in about 5 months), and

b) A high end pro model to take on the D3/1D pairs (may never be built).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thom on Sony Envy - its not just "us"

Over here in Sony land its usually a pretty dark and dreary place full of whiners (why have we got video, Sony cant make a decent JPG, why is Sony's noise so bad - see here and here for more on the Sony Whine). So it comes as something of a surprise to see that outside our little world there are people looking in and seeing stuff they like.

Apparently its true!

After all if Thom Hogan felt motivated enough to write about Sony Envy I can only assume that there are a reasonably significant number of people out there that are at least talking up a big game for us Alpha users. Actually however, Thom is pretty right when he wonders why this is and recommends Nikon users take a deep breath. Ok, if you really, really want a high resolution FF and dont own an oil well then obviously the Sony A850 is the ducks guts. Or if you are (like me) in love with in-body image stabilization. But apart from that, even as a Sony user I struggle to understand why anyone with any sort of investment in the Nikon system would consider a swap.

Still, its nice to see Sony appears to be moving out of the joke and into the "to be taken seriously" catagory.

PS. Thom Hogan is a big Nikon blogger and as such gets a fair bit wrong on the Sony system but he is a good writer with a nicely balanced view of the world. I highly recommend you check out his site.

Editting comes to the rescue (I think)

PMac Imagery flickr-02236, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

I love this shot but to be honest, straight from the camera it didn't really work. I've got to admit, using a flash, except for a little touch of fill flash, is totally new to me and under the pressure of the "paparazzi for hire" night I just did I failed pretty badly.

But still the little devilish expression, the slight blur of movement, the costume and the lighting all gave me the desire to press on and make something of the shot. But what?

I decided that the focus of the shot is the dancers face and that wonderful expression, so that got the majority of the light. Obviously the background was adding nothing so I took that to black. I then decided that what I was left with was something sort of exotic, so I went for a grainy, blurred vision like you'd get in a cheap tourist brochure to somewhere like Brazil in the 1970's.

In the end while still not the greatest shot ever taken I actually quite like this.

(though I really need to work on my lighting skills)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

OMG - I had the right spec, just the wrong company.

In the frenzy leading up to the Sony A850 I had a stab at its specification - assuming that it was going to be an uber APS-C body to compete with the Nikon D300s. Clearly I was totally wrong with the A850 being an A900 lite. But I clearly wasnt a million miles away from what some people think the prime APS body should be.

Compare the Canon 7D thanks (DPReview for the specs) to my idea of what the Sony A850 was going to be and judged how close I got.