Sunday, October 17, 2010

The cost of 'consumer' features.

A topic that surfaces reasonably often in fora across the net whenever new features emerge is "why do I have to pay for this when I dont want it?". In Sony land the latest cause of this cry seems to be the in-camera GPS included in the A55.

This one really caught my interest because in a strange twist, in camera GPS is actually one of the first of these 'new' features I'm really keen for. So I figured I'd like to run through some of the 'features' in my A700 I would happily do without. So here goes:

DOF preview. With instant review utterly unnecessary and compounds this by being inaccurate.

JPG engine. I only shoot raw.

DRO. Since it only works with JPG dont use it.

WB Button. Since I only shoot RAW I have never used anything but auto WB.

Exposure Comp Button. With two dials one is alway on exposure comp already or I'm shooting manual and its unnecessary.

Drive button. Some shoots are single shot, others use drive, others use the timer or remote. I have never, in five years of shooting with a DSLR moved quickly between drive modes shot to shot. Using a menu would make zero difference to my shooting.

PASM dial. Like the drive button, its not like I move from P to A to S to M modes between shots. Actually there would be months where I never move this dial despite taking 1000's of images. Complete waste.

SSS switch. I dont think I've ever used it in five years (combining A100 and A700 usage).

Video out. If I'm linking to a TV (which I do every now and then) I only use the HDMI - the video is pretty much wasted.

DC in. Really, whats that about?

I would probably say a lot of the flash functions too except I think I should probably use them more and that one day when I get of my arse and learn to employ them I'd regret ditching them.

Now my camera is nothing more than my camera and I suspect it would be an absolute flop in the marketplace. So despite the fact that I never use any of these redundant features I understand why they should be there and arent going to be asking for them to be dropped any time soon.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I cant (or wont) see you!

I cant (or wont) see you!, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

The question of photographing homeless people is a vexed one. Many see it as lazy, insensitive, exploitative and unimaginative. I agree, often all those things are true. And yet I think photos of (or including) the homeless can be more. I think you can take photo's of the homeless that don't exploit them and do ask questions that deserve to be answered.

This image goes to the heart of the issue for me. When does not giving to or photographing or helping the homeless stop being a principled stand to not take advantage of their victim hood and instead become a shameful attempt to deny their existence.

Personally, exploiting the homeless might be bad, but refusing to acknowledge their existence or their humanity is worse.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Breaking the buying strike.

Yesterday I stated my decision to stay with Sony and in that I also listed a couple of things I was going to discuss later; they were what my 'final' lens line-up plan was and how I had chosen to mark my decision to remain in the A mount when I broke my buying strike.

So, first things first, my 'final' lens line-up. Ok, even before that, whay do I insist on qualifying the word "final". Well thats pretty simple, because final only ever is final until a new lens is announced that makes me want to change my list. Also, occasioanlly opportunities will crop up to add something extra at little cost that I might choose to take. Now with that out of the way what is my 'final' list. Well I'll start with overall design of the list, basically its long slow high quality zooms with generally fast, high quality primes. So the list is:



The Sigma 20 1.8 might look out of place in this list but really there is nothing in the a-mount better than this lens anyway.

There are a few things interesting in this list when comparing it to other brands. The first is that its a line-up that has no apologies to make. This line-up of lenses is as good as any you can get from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, or (dare I say it) Leica. At this point I should acknowledge that I know I can get a much cheaper line-up with not a huge drop in quality so why am I aiming at all these CZ's and G's? Basically because I want to give myself no excuses, no reason to think that the equipment is holding me back. In short,if I cant make great images with this line-up I should just give up any pretensions to being a photographer. And, lets be really honest, I can afford it - not all at once, it may take years to build the full line-up, but if I'm careful I can do this without taking from my family.

Secondly, what is also really interesting is that the costs are very, very similar no matter which brand I choose to go with. This line-up with Sony, Canon or Nikon all fall within a few hundred dollars of each other. So much for the myth of Sony being an expensive brand I suppose.

Now whilst this is my final wish list (until I change it) these wont be the only lenses I buy or own. I have a couple of other pieces of the glass I'm either going to just keep or buy in addition to this list. The most obvious addition will be E mount lenses. These form a completely different range and so aren't discussed any more here. The second is the Sony Easy Choice range, that is the 30 2.8 Macro, 85 2.8 SAM, and 35 1.8 DT SAM. I love that these lenses are so small, so portable and so so cheap. Given the very small investment I will almost certainly be picking up some of these.

So, how did I break my buying strike?

Today I picked up the 70-400 G, 30 2.8 DT SAM Macro and 85 2.8 DT SAM. I am so stoked.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sony, I'm coming back!

I've been unsure of whether I was going to stay with Sony, no seriously I was. I had all my gear for sale and built my ideal "final" lens list, done the sums and figured out the price of building it with either a Sony, Nikon or Canon line-up. (a topic for my next blog).

So why stay with Sony?

Well, in January this year I was virtually on a buying strike for all camera gear. My frustrations with Sony are briefly described in this blog entry but to recap I was frustrated that a company with more technical tricks up its sleeve than any other of the big players out there seemed to be doing nothing. At the time the A500 and A550 were the best Sony could you with real innovation and I was concerned that Sony was gone, extracting itself from the market as gracefully as possible at the lowest possible cost. The constant recycling of the A2/3XX series models only heightened my fears.

But recently Sony has shown its hand and the reason for the apparent inaction is clearer now. Better, I actually like the direction Sony is taking. First the NEX, then the SLT cameras reveal that Sony has been reserving its development for entirely new lines of cameras which take the traditions of the old film cameras but truly harness what digital can do. These cameras arent the last word in photography, I'm not even certain they are best in their class but the direction they point to is really exciting. Suddenly, in camera GPS, fast AF in video, 7 to 10 FPS, in camera HDR and pannos, EVFs arent things that SLRs can have, instead, they are core parts of a mainstream product.

But it doesnt stop there. Noise performance and AF, two traditional weak areas of a Sony DSLR, are greatly improved. Again, the new Sony's arent the necessarily the class leaders but they are now far more competitive, Sony is very definitely in the game.

So, what it came to was where did I see the future of my photography? Canon and Nikon are no where with a mirrorless compact camera while the NEX is a really exciting product that is changing the way I do my business (in a good way). The Nikon D7000 and Canon 60D (and Pentax K5) are really impressive cameras but they are really just incremental improvements on what has gone before and still dont bring any excitement to the field while the A33 and A55 from Sony are game changers, a huge step forward in what a camera can be.

So I see the trajectory of Sony following a path I want to join. So with that I'm back in. So how did I break by DSLR buying strike? Well I think I've written enough for now. That can be tomorrow.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Has the advent of Digital devalued Photography

A common question that pops up routinely is "has the ease and accessibility of digital photography ultimately devalued photography more generally?". A typical example (actually not typical, its a very good discussion) of the debate is this one in the Self Taught Photographers group on FLICKR.

I wont try and make a definitive answer today because I havent got the time or the tools but I would like to add to the debate with a little clarification and a slightly different perspective (though one in keeping with my general feelings on photography).

To begin, I think too many people confuse, are at least arent careful enough to distinguish between "craft" and "art".

Craft, the ability to master all elements of the process of photography to produce an image is definitely degraded and even devalued by digital. While it is true that digital hasnt completely destroyed the craft of photography (meters arent perfect and photoshopping itself requires a degree of perseverance and experimentation) I doubt many would argue that today the level of dedication to master the operation of a modern camera or editing software matched that required by manual film cameras and wet darkrooms.

Art, the ability to know what image is worth making, is however largely unaffected by the appearance of digital. Digital technology has made it easier to make a great image, but it has done little (if anything) to help the person putting it together to know what a great image is.

Personally I dont regret that situation. Personally, the craft of photography has always left me cold. I hated film and still resent having to stop and use a tripod. The mucky muck of getting the image in my head into the camera and onto the computer is something I just want to get over. So I love digital with a passion and revel in how it lets me get to the art quickly.

However, just as there are people that value the hand crafted boat, vase, chair or tapestry and I understand that for others, the loss (at least partially) of the craft of photography is a painful thing.

A film resurgence - or perhaps something else.

BJP talks with Scott DiSabato, US marketing manager for Professional film at Kodak, after the release of the new Portra 400 film where he is spruiking the resurgence of film. His view is that many, formally digital shooters, are finding film, enjoying the challenge and results and a new dawn of photographers will discover the benefits of film, leading to its growth and reclamation of at least part of its former glory.

I think, perhaps, that there is also another phenomenon going on based on my involvement in a number of groups. People like me that never got into photography because, frankly, it was a pain. Learning was slow, and frustrating, and oh so expensive. Sure some
punched through that phase but many of us shrugged, found something else and moved off to a new past time.

But then digital came and we could learn quickly and easily (and cheaply). Instead of toiling away, taking notes, toiling laboriously through film, processing it and printing it(or waiting for the lab) we were able to zip through the lessons. Grasping concepts that previously took days, or weeks, or months in minutes. Because it was there, immediately, you got to see the result while you still remembered what you did.

And then we understood exposure and composition and lighting, we had confidence. And film wasnt so scary, wasnt so difficult, it was just like 'normal' photography without using the review screen much. And this photography has 'street cred' its smart, and cool and somehow more real. We keep shooting digital but we see film as a viable choice and something we will really work to master. We start thinking of medium format. We buy old bronica's or pentax's or contax's.

But here's the bad news. One day, when wee are picking up the prints and paying the man 20-30 dollars for processing a single roll of MF film and there isnt a single shot on the roll that we really, truly, in our heart of hearts actually like we stop shooting film.

Well thats my story anyway.

I dont doubt that film use is stabilising, there will always be a core of people that love it, that romanticise it that make the rest of us keen to try it. But film hasnt changed and the reasons not many were really into film havent really gone away. So film wont die, it will linger on, inspiring some and teasing many more, but I cant see it ever being more than that.

A tease that very few actually grow to love.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Williamtown Airshow - a frustrating day

I recently attended an Airshow at RAAF Williamtown in NSW. The airshow was excellent with a lot of cool displays on the ground and some really wonderful air displays. The Super Hornet was so loud, so tight, really really exciting but really the star of the show was the F-111 (better known as the Pig).

The Super Hornet is louder, more maneuverable, and generally more spectacular, except the F-111 has a party trick no other aircraft out there can match - the dump and burn. The dump and burn is pretty simple, fuel is expelled out a fuel dump valve at the rear of the aircraft between the two engines, the pilot then hits the afterburners, lighting up the trailing fuel in a huge rooster tail of flame. I got a few images of it but these are probably my best two.

So why was this a frustrating day?

Well for many years I've read horror stories of Sigma quality problems, and in particular problems with the Sigma's handling the high torque lens drive motor fitted to the Sony A700, 850 and 900 (some discussion here on DPreview). I have avoided all these problems, secure in the belief that while the 'lower' Sigmas might has a problem, the top of the line EX series was immune. Well I was proved wrong.

On the first pass of the F111 the less was tracking well, locked focus and I was shooting nicely then suddenly as I re-composed and the lens locked up and I was greeted with a horrible grinding noise as the now stripped focus gears just spun against each other without engaging. Bugger, one pass in and I'm at at airshow with no lens longer than a 50mm prime.

Well thats not entirely true, I had no auto focusing lens longer than 50mm, I did still have a Sigma 100-300 f4 now manual focus lens. Well, I hadnt read the article on Luminous Landscape article on the importance of persisting in the face of frustration (Photography, Rain or Shine) but I decided to press on and see what I could get. Well you know, I didn't get a lot, trying the manually focus on aircraft is nightmarishly difficult so my hit rate was minute. But it was still a day out and I got a few. I think the ones I were the shots of the Roulettes, the RAAF aerobatic display team.

But thats a story for the next blog entry.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sony SLTs and ghosting

The release of the new Sony SLT's has unleashed another torrent of web activity. This is divided into two very broad categories. The first is excited about the prospect of some really interesting new products bringing new abilities to the photographer. The other is upset that 'traditional' photographic values are being lost in the rush to introduce new gimmicks.

The epicentres (if you can have more than one epicentre) of this dispute are two technologies. The SLT and the EVF. I cant talk about the EVF now as I havent handled the camera and so cant comment except in very broad terms. However, there are thousands of samples of A33/55 images out there on the net now so I feel I can comment on the ghosting (non) issue.

My guess is this argument will just go round and round in circles for years. Someone in one of the hundred of threads on this issue raised the idea that question could be settled via independent quality testing from site like Alamy being the ultimate judge. I understand the logic of that argument, I’ve even used it myself, but its never got anywhere.

Despite submitting thousands of images and getting many fails, I have never, ever, had a single reject for excessive noise. Instead, I’ve been repeatedly rejected because a 12 Mp capture could not be uprezzed to meet the minimum size requirements. Yet, no matter how much this is repeated I am constantly told that Mp dont count and that all we need is lower noise.

Sony’s noise performance did (and I stress the past tense) lag the mainstream slightly but never as much as people claimed and never with the real impact people feared. Ghosting is an issue but on all the evidence I’ve seen its precisely the same scenario, no-where near the problem claimed and nothing like the impact feared.

But Sony is a hated brand (even, or perhaps especially, by its own users) so this alone will give the topic legs. Combined with an especially conservative current market I suspect people will continue doing 100, 200, even 300% inspections trying to find the most minute problems. That is what it is.

All I know is that the people actually working with the new cameras to get great images are almost certainly going to be doing better and enjoying their hobby/work far than those spending their energy just complaining about them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Photokina and the Sony user response

A lot of us were hoping for just a little more from Sony at Photokina. Specifically I think we wanted a) some details on the A700 replacement and b) a lens - any lens - for the A mount. Instead we got some promises and poor mockups we've seen before. As a result there is a lot of angst on the Sony forums at the moment and I for one fully understand it. In fact, I've been so put off all the forums that I have, by and large dropped out of them (except for posting this at Dyxum today). This post isnt really intended to resolve much, rather just put out a perspective that might calm peoples ire and cool down the debate a little.

We see constant calls (and I have made them as well) for Sony to be more open with its users, give us a better road map, give us confidence that the system is going somewhere so that we can have faith in future investments in the system. Personally I feel caught between decisions in so many ways, a-mount vs e-mount, APS vs FF, existing screw lenses vs rumoured SSM variants, stay with Sony or shift to Nikon? I'm pretty ambivalent on the whole EVF vs OVF debate but I understand others are very invested in this and thats causing them considerable concern.

Given what can really only be described as the collapse of the 4/3s format
(well described by PT here) I'm not one of those people that advise others to simply ignore this and go out and take photos. This is a real issue and one that shouldnt be ignored.

But on the other hand I also understand Sony's dilemma. It has learnt a hard lesson, that in a head to head, fair fight it cant beat Nikon and Canon. Sony isnt Pentax, prepared to hover around the fringes, being a respected niche brand, it has bigger ambitions. Those systems have too much built up expertise, too much system infrastructure, too much brand power and too many rusted on users. To try and go to war with those guys in the current DSLR market will mean years of trench warfare with an uncertain result and the possibility of only winning a pyrrhic victory as there is a strong chance that in 10 years time the current DSLR market might not be one worth being in. If I were running Sony I would also be looking for the game changer too, the thing that makes the fight between Sony and Canon/Nikon unfair in a way that suits me.

So in this context the E-mount, the move to SLT's, the possible ditching of the OVF all together starts to make enormous sense. And lets quickly look at some of the market indications we are seeing. After years of struggle, getting no-where in the Japanese market with a traditional SLR strategy, within a month the NEX achieved what Sony never managed with the 'old' A-mount formula. After years of at best mediocre, at worst outright damning reviews, Sony cameras are being hailed and people like MR over at Luminous Landscape who has described the A55 as one of the most important cameras ever. Finally, it appears the market has spoken with stories that the 'traditional' A560 DSLR is being delayed because demand for the new mirrorless/SLT formats is so great its consuming all available sensors.

I think the market is also showing us that no one out there is capable of doing it all at once. The 4/3s consortium clearly couldnt manage that format and develop the M4/3s. Samsung appear to have given up any pretension to traditional DSLR formats. Nikon has been rumoured to have a mirrorless concept coming for ages but seems to be getting no where and every day they delay more people buy an NEX an enter the Sony universe (my estimate less than 40% of NEX users at flickr came from Sony), while Canon might just be playing a very stealthy game but on the surface it looks to be a complete non-player in the mirrorless world right now instead just soldiering on with an warm over of the G series compacts. If the predictions from Samsung are right (and they have proven to be pretty savvy commercially) then Canon and Nikon could find themselves kings of very small and insignificant kingdoms in not to long.

Considering all this doesnt make me happy, it doesnt help me figure out where I will go or what I will do next. But, for me, thinking through my problem undeerstanding the realities of the world lessens my emotional investment and helps me think more clearly.

None of this is intended to make people stay with Sony. If you need to go to another mount for professional or creative reasons my recommendation is to go. Sony is juggling a lot of balls right now and I for one have no confidence that they will deliver exactly what anyone wants when they want it. But my other piece of advice (or perhaps plea) is that people accept the Godfather principle; this is strictly business, not personal. If Sony's business and yours go in different directions for a while, thats business, no need to go to the mattresses.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A new beginning.

Yesterday I had over 1500 images on flickr. Today there are 6. That wasnt a mistake, I deleted them on purpose. PMacImagery is getting ready for a more considered relaunch - nothing dramatic but just a more deliberate approach to my photography.

New Fuji X100

Judging by the love being shown the newly announced Fuji X100, especially over at TOP, I'm obviously the odd man out as I'm distinctly unimpressed.

As an NEX convert I dont understand the X100 and think its lacking some key features essential in a modern camera. Ok, here are my issues:

1. Fixed 35mm (eq FOV) lens. I dont get that. I just shot an airshow on the weekend and some aircraft are 1 meter behind a rope, others 10 meters back so 'zooming with your feet' isnt an option. Its the same on a street, on too many occasions doing the 'one prime' exercises I've been caught where the shot I want requires me to stand in the middle of traffic, lean way out over bridge guard rails etc. Just let me change the bloody lens please, get the shot and not frighten my wife and kids.

2. Fixed, low res rear screen. The pivoting screen on the NEX has changed everything for me and I will never take photos the same way again. Looking at my photo's now I have so many new points of view that world is a different place. I find going back to the A700 a real wrench (obviously that form still rules for long tele work, sports, airshows, BIFs etc). I'd feel like I'd lost part of my vision if I had to go back to a simple eye level finder again in my wide/street shooter.

Dont get me wrong, I love the controls and layout and the look etc etc but really those are just nice to have's. After all, people seem to get by using film still, so clearly shutting a camera down and partially disassembling it every 24 frames and waiting 4 days for the preview to come up isnt a massive problem - so pressing the odd button is hardly a creative issue.


A fixed lens and fixed rear screen is far too creatively limiting and while I might love the feeling of the shots I get I simply wont get shots I should. And for me sacrificing photographic usefulness for mere design is unforgivable.

Curiously, while the marketing for this camera stresses that its designed for photographers I dont think thats right. After all a photographer is a person who takes photos, so a camera that limits the photos you can take isnt for photographers.

Instead, I think its designed for a very specific set of photographers. The X100 is for nostalgics, people that want to recapture some romantic past and that (like Leica users) will actually cherish its flaws as a kind of hairshirted puritanicalism. Its a Morgan of the photographic world - sure, you can build a car with a wooden chassis, but in 2010 should you?

(all that said it will probably sell in droves, because from an aesthetic POV its a beautiful bit of kit - just not very useful)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


traces, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

Another experiment in 'dragging the shutter' as I understand the term. Basically I've deliberately slow the exposure right down and then panned across a stationary object. In this case an old train station in Seattle.

What I was after was a sense of movement backwards, with the station leaving today behind and returning to a time when railways stations were gateways to the world, not de facto homeless shelters and places for drug buys. I dont think it entirely worked, but I still like the image.

Anyway, I recommend you try this as well as a technique. There is a lot more to photos than technical perfection, more important is the idea. I may not have nailed it, but I tried.

How little the NEX still system needs

There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about the place of the NEX series, particularly in light of how small the latest A33 and A55 from Sony are. In particular there has been some discussion that the NEX adventure is largely unnessary and will further dilute Sony's resources to develop the A-mount. I disagee.

When thinking about the A and E mounts I am reminded, very strongly, of Contax which ran a 'full' SLR line-up (albeit only the C/Y manual mount was what we would call 'full' these days) and a 'full' and mature rangefinder range. If we consider the NEX 3 and NEX 5 as spiritual successors to the Contax G series (which I do) it is really instructive to remember just how small the Contax G RF lens line-ups were. The entire Contax G mount range was:

Hologon 16/8
Biogon 21/2.8
Biogon 28/2.8
Planar 35/2
Planar 45/2
Sonnar 90/2.8
Vario-Sonnar 35–70/3.5–5.6

Thats it - 7 lenses.

Even looking at the much more mature and well supported Leica M mount there are only 11 basic focal lengths (albeit in some lengths there are a variety of speeds) although to be really fair we should also note that the Leicas are all manual focus and with the addition of a very cheap adapter can be used on the NEX series.

So, using the Contax G as a 'model' range what would an E mount lens line-up require (I'm assuming a 1.5 crop factor but not worrying about DOF issues of an APS sensor) the rough 35mm FF equivalent is shown in parenthesis also.

10 (15/16)
14 (20)
16 (24)
20 (28/30)
24 (35)
30 (45/50)
60 (90)

Now given that the 35-80ish zooms are now longer very fashionable I'd suggest something like:

16-50 (24-75)

Also, considering the need for video, we also need a superzoom, say:

18-250 (28-380)

So if we got all that we would have replicated the entire Contax G range and be only a few lenses short of everything Leica has deemed necessary after almost 70 years. Thats not a lot and only a small investment for a company like Sony to produce. So instead of thinking of the E mount as a competitor to the A mount we should see it as a compliment and instead of worrying about how it diverts resources from the A-mount we should be pleased that a system that requires so little can bring so much to the Alpha community.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Its all in the timings isnt it

Yesterday I unleashed a bit of a broadside at Sony and its abject failure recently to listen to outsiders produce the sorts of products that a giant like Sony just had to be capable of. Well just one day later Sony responded with perhaps the single most interesting DSLR since the original Canon Rebel.

No more discussion from me today, you'd really be better off visiting DPreview for a quick rundown.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Arrogance, foolishness or just business

First, let me say that I think a lot of the angst over the NEX5 interface is overblown. No, the interface is not perfect, I would like one more button, I want some small alternations to the way the menus are structured and probably more than anything I want the ability to create some user customizable modes like the Memory Recall functions on the A700. But, I will admit that I am a pretty flexible camera user (in fact I'm pretty flexible in my use of most UIs) so I just dont get flustered by these things as much as most people. Similarly, I really do believe that for all practical purposes the IQ of the NEX at isos 200-1600 is so consistent that I've actually given up selecting iso and just keep the camera on auto-iso for everything except tri-pod work where I am deliberately seeking long exposures. I'm now convinced that both these traits dont make me a very good guide to what is (and is not) a good UI - I'm simply not demanding enough.

So, putting aside my own ambivalence its is clear that much of the interweb is anything but sanguine over the direction Sony has taken, not only with UI, but also with feature sets. Michael Reichman over at Luminous Landscape is perhaps the most vocal and direct critic of the recent Sony approach of both the NEX 5 stills camera and more recently with the NEX-VG10 combi-cam. And while I dont share his passion, even I am able to see that he has a point. These criticisms (taken from Michael Reichman but pretty common out there in the web) are certainly justified:

a) why the rapid descent into menus for obvious functions like changing an ISO setting?

b) why are the video options so limited?

c) why doesnt the NEX-VG10 shoot raw stills?

d) why cant Sony get simple things like histograms, manual focus support, exposure warnings sorted?

Its frustrating that these are issues at all. Why?

Because Sony has designed some of the great camera interfaces of our time in the A700/A900 and their various handi-cams why do they get this wrong now. Also,its not like the interface and functions of DSLRs, camcorders and new combi-cams arent well established. Sony could have spent a few thousand dollars, bought themselves a D3s and 7D and learnt exactly what photographers want from their cameras. Finally, with every camera since the A900, Sony has been bombarded with criticism of its relentless dumbing down and crippling of their cameras. Every site, every review, every blog, every test has said the same thing - that Sony camera lack the simple functions expected of cameras in that category and that the intefaces have been so simplified to actually be ore difficult to use rather than easier.

And yet Sony will not change direction.

Is this sheer arrogance. Does Sony hear but just think it knows better? Is this foolishness, does Sony just not understand? Or is Sony right and everyone else wrong?

Time will tell, but frankly whether arrogance or foolishness, I believe Sony is wrong and must stop this mindless stupifying of its own product.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Where the magic happens

PMac Imagery flickr-08516, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

I love watching and photographing musicians hands. Watching the simple, mechanical action of a hand just like mine but to see it producing a magic that is totally beyond me always draws me in.

Combine that with the wonderful shapes, colours and contours of the instruments themselves and I always end up taking a bunch of photos.

These were all taken at the 2010 Seattle Folk life festival.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Macro isnt just flowers and bees

music takes me back home, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

I am really not a huge fan of pictures of flowers and bees that seem to be the staple of 99% of macro photographers. As a result, I've never really considered macro photography as something I would be interested in. However, with Sony's production of a really cheap little 30mm macro I figured 'what the hell' I'll give it a go.

So the lens came (and is brilliant, I really should do some equipment reviews some day) and then sat in bag for a few weeks while I had no idea what to do with it. Then, it made a work trip with me and was locked in the hotel room with me for a weekend where the weather was just appalling and I discovered that the world I live in that doesnt have flowers and insects everywhere but does have sprinkler heads, power outlets, phones and walkmen is equally deserving of (and really rewards) macro treatment.

So now I've discovered a use for macro, looking at the world around us (really around us) in our homes, offices, etc up close and personal. This is going to become one of my little, ongoing projects, so you'll be seeing more of this as we go along.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Simple scene, special colour

PMac Imagery flickr-1189, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

My photography is a constant stream of experiments with not fixed style or genre, that I can discern anyway. After a long time shunning the sunsets and sunrises I've seen so many of I've started hunting them myself. So much so that I can no longer claim the defence that this isnt something I normally do.

But still, I am wary of the clichés and I am equally wary that not being a strong student of photography I might be falling into a cliché not even knowing that I am. Ah well, at some point you have to stop worrying and simply make art.

So that is what I'm trying to do here, to make art, not just pretty pictures. I'm trying to capture a beautiful Newcastle sunset with the blistering sky of fire the thin line of man's industry and the brilliant blue of the oceans.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catching up - a favourite photo

PMac Imagery flickr-0944, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

A week or so ago I did the o dark hundred thing, crawled out of bed far to early and tried to catch some sunrise photos. In a way the morning was a complete disaster. It was cold, wet, cloudy and basically a disaster.

But a little experimentation yielded some great results and in the end it was all worth it.

First, I acknowledge this long exposure thing is a little of a photo fashion thing and I'm hardly being original but still, standing on the shoulders of giants is a well established artistic traditions and who am I to ignore that? Anyway, while a bleak, grey morning was a disaster for the shots I had planned its ideal for this sort of work.

That said, to get this right you need looooong exposures and with the sun rapidly rising I was running out of options. I had a pretty weak ND filter (3 stops) but I found combining that with a circular polariser (another 2 stops of light gone), going to f 22 I was able to really stretch the frame out for 15 seconds. Not the minutes required to give the really solid milky sea some can produce but on the other hand this middling long exposure and CP also gave me the ability to play around and after a couple of goes I was able to generate this.

While I have certainly boosted the blue, the base colour is pretty much as I caught it. But even more interesting was the slight 'see through the water' effect that the polariser gave me adding some real interest in the water.

Its not going to win any prizes but you know what, I'm really proud of this one and I hope you like it.

Sony actually losing more lenses?

Sonyalpharumours is reporting that the Sony 500mm reflex lens is out of production. While this is an enormous shame I must admit I am not surprised. I dont have this lens, in fact I've never shot with it so I cant comment directly on its pros and cons but its clear that:

a) it is a lens with pretty limited application (limited to F8)

b) the IQ of the lens was never considered an unalloyed success (great CA characteristics, very dodgy bokeh)

But on the flip side

c) its an autofocus 500mm lens that can be handheld and costs only about $US700.

A fuller review is given over here at Alphamountworld.

So already we have a lens of mixed blessings but I would also remember that Sony has a new mount to worry about and has been quietly shuffling old Minolta glass out of the inventory. Combine all this, and if its true that the only AF mirror lens is getting retired, I am saddened but not shocked.

If you want one, get in quick. I'm not sponsored by BHPhoto in any way (though I would love to be - shameless plug) and I get nothing from this but they have always been great to me so here's a link.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Allure of the NEX5 - Part 1

I am loving the NEX5 I bought a few weeks ago and since the 16mm 2.8 pancake arrived I'm loving it even more. Sooner or later I will start doing more formal reviews (never tests, I dont have the discipline) but for the time being I'm just going to post a few little vignettes on why this is a wonderful little camera and something that changes the way I think about photography.

I was never really into photography until digital and then I bought a little Canon S1 3.something superzoom and fell in love. Within a year or two I was feeling the limitations of the small sensor and went to a DSLR, a Sony A100. Since then I'm hooked on big sensor goodness and cant tolerate anything less. Yes, yes, I know that the A100 (and the A700 that supplanted it) are 'just' APS sensors and that there is still full frame sensors above me but nothing I've seen indicated that the jump from APS to FF is anything like the vast leap from compact sensor to APS so bear with me.

But being addicted to big sensor goodness has a draw back, the cameras are huge. Ok, I know I could make this smaller, I could go for a little lens or remove the grip but thats not how I use the A700. But the NEX changes all that. Its IQ is, I think, better than the A700 and just look at the size difference. Will the NEX5 with a pancake lens fit in a jeans pocket? Not on your life. But if you are in cargoes, or wearing a jacket it slides straight in. The A700 on the otehr hand, well I doubt I need to say anything.

The NEX now goes everywhere with me, in the month I've had it I doubt the camera has ever been more than 20 feet from me and I've taken 8 times more photos in July with the NEX than any other month for over a year. I love this little guy precisely because he's little.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Forums and why I'm leaving all of them

There are any number of forums out there for internet using photographers to indulge in and I've decided to drop out of all of them. Why?

Because I'm an argument addict. I cant help myself, I have to put my 2 cents into every argument and this stops me thinking clearly, forming whole thoughts and articulating my ideas even remotely sensibly. I have tried to step way from the gear oriented talk and focus on the images but good intentions are often swamped by realities and before I know it I'm feeding the gear talk addiction. So thats it, I'm getting out. I say 'getting' because right now I'm trying going cold turkey and making sure I can survive before actually cancelling my membership.

So what am I hoping to achieve by getting away from compulsive forum sponsored gear talk? Really I'm hoping for three things, one immediate, one medium term, one longer lasting acting:

The first, immediate, effect I'm hoping for is that by passing on participating on every petty little speculative debate on the past, present and future I'll spend less time, thinking more about far reaching issues and actually keep my blogs running.

The medium term effect I'm hoping for is that by staying away from the froth and bubble of camera talk I will focus more on images. I suspect this is the modern photographers lament, or perhaps the modern enthusiastic amateurs lament, and that I am just another voice in the chorus but so be it, I'll add my voice.

Finally, in the longer term I simply hope to recapture the wonderful, positive feelings I had when I started this journey into photography. I'm no Sony fanboy, I shoot Sony, I hope for the best but I am also painfully aware of the limitations of the system and the errors Sony has made along the way. However, I recently posted on one forum that I felt it was becoming a "sinkhole of negativity" and that has rubbed off on me. So thats it, I'm out.
I dont advocate others to follow my lead. I cant know if you share my problem and therefore whether my fix is your fix. But I'll keep you tuned on how my withdrawal goes.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A different style of fireworks

PMac Imagery flickr-1492, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

We've all seen the classic fireworks shot, the beautiful trials of crisp, clean colour against the velvet blackness of the sky. Well I figure that the world had enough of those images already and so strove here to capture something different.

I'm trying to capture the way we see fireworks there, at the actual event. First, there are people in the frame, second I'm aiming for the light and movement and fire and smoke. Finally, I rarely remember individual explosions, rather the night becomes a pastiche of colour and moverment, so I deliberately tried to get the busiest scene I could and frankly didnt worry at all about all those technical issues like focus and exposure. I really like the result and hope you do too.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I must be more careful

PMac Imagery flickr-0943, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

I love this shot. Its not my favourite from the morning (I'll post that tomorrow) but still I love it.

But I must be more care, before going live on the net I must, absolutely must, check for dust.

Do you see them? I didn't (until they were pointed out to me) and now those three little spots are all I can seen. Bugger, bugger and damn.

Latest Sony lenses - especially the Easychoices

There is enormous discussion on the net at the moment about the latest lens releases from Sony. Everyone from Mike over at TOP to just about everyone on Flickr and at Dyxum seems confused. Why is the 35 1.8 a DT lens? Why is the 85 2.8 so slow? Why do they have plastic mounts and SAM drives. Where's the 2.0 apertures? Where is the metal mount and SSM drive. All these photographers saying they would have paid more for just these little upgrades.

Ok, I'm going out on a limb here but I believe almost no one on the net 'gets' what Sony is setting itself to do and hence we dont understand these lenses. That said I reckon Sony needs to be far more ambitious in its selling and really get a message (and message) out there.

I think the mistake we are making is trying to understand the Sony releases in the context of the market as it has been for the past 2 decades. In that world 95% of people only bought a body with a twin set of cheap zooms and never went near a camera store again. Hence we, the geeks that haunt internet forums obsessing about gear have been the market for nearly 20 years and can only rationalise gear in its relationship to us.

I think Sony is trying to change that paradigm and re-introduce the masses to the consumerist dream of buying, collecting and occasionally even using lots of different lenses. We know that joy so Sony doesnt need to peddle its cheap trinkets to us.

Sony's language is clear in the press release. These new lenses are the easy choice range, Buying them is easy, about $us200 each. They give new users choices, right now its 30 1.8, 30 2.8 macro, 50 1.8, 85 2.8. And Sony is making it clear that this will be a growing range, my guess is that before long we will see a 135mm 2.8, a 24 2.8 DT and perhaps even a 16mm 2.8 DT. I can imagine an Easychoice kit with an A290, 24, 35, 50, 85 for under a grand if Sony was really aggressive.

So people are struggling with the logic - in my mind this Sony's criteria for the easychoice range:

1. Target cost - $US200ish
2. Std filter 55mm
3. Very good to excellent performance across the frame (therefore stds and wides will be DT)
4. Target weight under 200-250 grms

If I was running Sony (as opposed to just a customer wanting Sony to be my personal lens factory) this is exactly what I'd be doing in this segment. I'd probably even go further with a range of lenses I might be able to source from tamron as well like the 90mm and 180mm macros.

As for the premium end well there are so many holes where to start? The widest premium prime is the 35, the longest is the old and massively overpriced 300 so the 24 and never-ready 500 make perfect sense. Also while Sony has the 'gold' standard premium covered (16-35 2.8 CZ, 24-70 2.8 CZ, 70-200 2.8 g) the 'silver' std is almost completely empty. I think the 24 was obvious, I think the 500 will come. I suspect that after that we will see that 'silver range of premium glass - say a 16-35 4.0, 24-120 4, etc start to emerge.

of course I still havent squeezed in PC never ends does it? LOL

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some more ideas of Sony's Photokina 2010

Its been a long long time between serious news for the Sony DSLR user. The A700 was serious news. The A900 was serious news. Everything since then (including the very creditable A550 and A850) has been perfectly serviceable but nothing that really said, we are Sony, one of the powerhouses of consumer electronics, look at us. Instead, its been a long chain of dreary rehashes of the same basic three cameras, the A100, A700,A900. From that base, Sony has spawned the A200,230,290,300,330,380,390,450, 500, 550 and 850. And real progress has not really been made anywhere. A few tricks here and there (cool fast live view in some cameras etc) but really none of the ‘core’ camera functions have improved much.

Actually one thing that has changed, and we are mostly happy for, are the sensors. The move from the 10Mp CCD to 12Mp CMOS, 25Mp FF CMOS, 14Mp CMOS to the current 14Mp HD CMS in the NEX cameras has been excellent with improved resolution, DR, colour response and (most noticeably) high ISO performance between every generation. That said, however, the AF, metering, flash, control and customisation functions at the heart of a DSLR are little different between the June 2006 A100 and current June 2010 line-up of cameras.

So, here we are, the NEX camera and camcorder launch a few weeks behind us and another Photokina coming up about 60 days from now. What is going to happen next.

Well one site, Sony Alpha Rumours reckons it knows. Its suggesting:

Sony will introduce the two “translucent” cameras, the A55 (16MPX) and A33 (14MPX) -> (ultra fast autofocus during videorecording, very fast fps).

These ‘translucent cameras are based upon the pellical mirror technology discussed here and here.

My guess is the the different sensors (if this is true) point to the 14Mp sensor in the A550 and NEX series being the new ‘workhorse’ sensor for Sony. It will be fascinating to see if this sensor makes it way to Nikon or if Sony reckons that between the NEX series and based level A mounts it can make enough money. The presence of the 16Mp sensor probably signals what will drive the A7XX and (potentially) a future Nikon 400.

2) Sony will introduce two new Sony A5xx cameras with ExmorHD sensor. The higher-level camera will also be able to take 3D pictures (and it comes with GPS).

This is really surprising as the A500 and A550 are amongst the newest cameras in the Sony line-up and (apart from video) very competitive. And perhaps that the problem, today video is no longer an option, its seen as a requirement.

3) Many new lenses. Many current kit-lenses will be updated. The new Zeiss 24mm f/2.0 and Sony 500mm beast will finally come to market..

We always get sucked into talking about camera bodies but really it’s the lenses that many of us are really craving. The 24mm and 500mm are expected and there are strong rumours of an 16-80 CZ update. But what else is out there and what other ‘updates’ are required? My wild arsed guess, Sony is working on NEX compatibility for A mount lenses. What does this mean? Well I suspect at the least, some tweaks to AF processes (such as SSM in the CZ primes), possibly A mount lenses with Optical Stabilisation and most out there, electronic aperture support.

4) New NEX accessories are expected to be announced (electronic viewfinder???)

My guesses for NEX accessories. GPS, wireless unit(s), EVF.

If this rumour is true (and Sony Alpha Rumours doesn’t have the greatest reputation for getting it right) we are seeing almost a re-launch of the Sony Alpha brand. While it still doesn’t have the much desired A7XX (or the increasingly needed A8XX and A9XX) it would still be pretty big news.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two different approaches to a product

Micheal Reichmann, photographer, blogger, owner and operator of the Luminous Landscape site began as a photo guy with lots of discussion of images, their capture, processing and printing but most recently he seems to have been caught by the same gear driven, tech headedness that most of us on the net suffer from. This is really well illustrated by his response to the new Sony NEX-VG10 camcorder. Now I know nothing about video, but I must admit I was astounded at the vehemence of Michaels response on July 14 2010 to a product he has never touched on the basis for nothing more than a spec sheet.

It is really interesting to compare the Luminous Landscape comments with those from the guys at Endgadget. For me the most interesting difference is that the quite openly gear driven guys at Endgadget were infinitely more interested in actually using the device in their preview than in analysing the spec sheet. What drove these guys was what the camera could do, not what it couldnt, they considered how they would use it rather than how they wished they'd use it.

Now, I am being a little unfair, perhaps if Michael had a camera in his hands, like the Endgadget testers he would have reacted differently. Given Michaels inability to understand the NEX UI I dont hold out much hope.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sony NEX5 with Minolta 28-135

Ok, I havent spoken about it much yet but I have joined the Sony NEX(t) generation and am loving it. I got the camera about three weeks ago and the A to E adapter last week.

So far I've really only been playing around and I havent tried to take any "serious" photos yet. (I'm in the middle of a major overhaul of my entire photography working regime that is actually getting in the way of just taking photos right now). Hopefully I'll get that fixed very shortly.

Anyway, so far so good. A fuller report to come soon, but just for kicks here's a snapshot of the little NEX on the Minolta 28-135. This isnt really an ideal configuration but it sure is fun.

Sony and the A7XX saga

The single biggest discussion point on every Sony Alpha oriented forum I frequent concerns the mythical A7XX, the A700 follow on. When will it come? What will it be like? Will it confirm our hopes that Sony is going head to head with Canon and Nikon or will it confirm our fears that Sony will dumb it down? Why oh why was the A700 discontinued with no successor.

I feel the same angst as everyone else and as a result I'm still not buying any new A mount stuff. But then again, being more dispassionate I would say Sony was kind of stuck with the A7xx.

Look at the opposition in the meantime.

1. Nikon has released the D300s, a very mild warm over that gathered coverage for about 10 minutes then the world shrugged and moved on. Still it was worth it because there is a huge nikon user base that just keeps buying stuff so of course it made sense to keep production going. Still no idea on a genuine upgrade.

2. Canon very quickly replaced the 40D with the 50D because the 40D was an embarassment for the company that sees itself as the market leader and default 'pro' choice. Not saying that it was a bad camera but go back and read the reviews of how it was compared to the Nikon (and even Sony/Pentax) at the time. Also remember what else was going on then, the D3/D700 was all the rage, Nikon grabbed huge market share and Canon had to act.

3. Despite the 50D Canon was still obviously off the pace in the $US1200-1900, aps pro, segment and everyone new it. It had to get something out and it did - eventually - with the 7D.

4. In the meantime the market has gone crazy for mirrorless cameras and that segment is exploding and we have nothing from either of the big 2 except the promise of an announcement later from Nikon.

5. Sony new the A700 was off the pace but what to do?

a) keep it going potentially leading to a whole lot of embarrassing reviews with a tiny production volume?

b) release a D300s/D50 warm over that sucked up a lot of resources, still probably only had a tiny production run and not gained it much cred?

c) bite the bullet and carry a hole for 12 months and get on with business (like getting the NEX out)?

Personally I reckon option A is a non starter and only option B or C were viable. I also reckon none of us really know what would have been smarter from a business POV. I would have preferred B but I can understand Sony's choice of C.

Now, with 20/20 hindsight and zero visibility inside Sony I think Sony could have done better, however, Im I have no idea if much would have really changed. Just for a minute forget companies and think in terms of 'mount'. The A mount, F mount and (whats canon?) call it the EOS mount.

When you look at the F and EOS mounts we see this long, unbroken line of development, using Nikon the F3,4,5,6,D1,D1S,D2,D2S,D3,D3S plus X's and H's thrown in there. From this AF modules, flash systems, metering systems, control methods have had this nice steady flow, a consistent maturation leading almost inevitably to where we are now. The Canon flow is pretty similar.

Comparing that to the A mount flow, its clear that we have not been as well served. The A mount has had a number of changes in direction, long periods of hiatus, spurts of growth and stagnation not to mention a near bankruptcy, a corporate merger and finally a complete change of ownership in its last few years under what appeared to be pretty chaotic circumstances. Dont forget that when it took over the A mount it was almost dead in the water with perhaps 1-2% (on a good day) of DLSR sales. I'm only guessing but I'd think that this has resulted in significant technical and management churn over probably a few decades punctuated by the occasional massive dislocation.

On top of that add that the last owner in the history is also, at the very highest levels of the corporation, struggling to define themselves but are also suppliers to their own product's key competitors.

This lack of direction and inability to forge a culture is clearly evident in the alpha line.

In that context I wonder if we were ever going to be in a very different position without a heroic effort from Sony.

But, lots of companies face challenges, find new ways of proceeding and move on from those challenges - they find heroes - Sony has not. Therefore, while I understand why we are where we are, I dont excuse Sony. From where we sit we've seen Sony squander some simple opportunities, make some really dumb calls and pursue marketting strategies that deny explanation. They should do better and we should demand more - however, I often believe that without an understanding of the full context our demands are unreasonable, and being unreasonable, are easy to ignore.

Personally I think the great hope for A mount users is the E mount. I hope (and it is only hope) that the growth of the E mount will lead to the adoption of the A mount into the highly successful video family in Sony and provide a consistency of vision and direction that has been lacking in the A mount for perhaps 20 years.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sony and Photokina 2010 - 66 Days to Go

Photokina is just 66 days away and as usual, this is critical juncture for Sony and the alpha line (when wasnt the alpha line at a critical juncture?) Anyway I've decided to get this blog back on a roll with my guesses as to what Sony is going to do at this big event.

1. After a quiet period, Sony will make a bit of a splash at this one.

2. We will get the two bodies shown to us earlier released:

3. These will be an A7XX and an A5XX.

4. The specs will be ok but nothing earth shattering, however, Sony will continue to blur the lines between entry/enthusiast/pro which will really annoy most people here and will get (at best) lukewarm coverage from the camera sites that specialise in equipment testing.

5. The 500 G and 24 CZ will be actually released,

6. There will not be an NEX7.

7. There will be some more NEX lenses, at least one will be either a G or a CZ (I'm 90% sure its would be a CZ as that has more cache - deserved or not)

Now more "out there" guesses:

8. There will be a mock up displayed of the A9XX.

9. The NEX camcorder will be released.
(whoops - already done)

10. There will be a couple of lenses, software suites and other accessories for the NEX range to also blur the lines between still and video work.

So over to you - what do you think will happen?

(note, I have no inside sources, know no one in the company and all this is total arse pluck)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sand dunes and the power of black and white

PMac Imagery flickr-07169, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

The Sygna morning shoot yielded so many great photo opportunities I'm still wading through, processing and posting them.

Maybe I'm just bandwagon jumping seeing as my last b&w dunes shots got explored but I really do think they work. Why? I think its because there is so little detail and such a limited array of colours that the core of the images becomes just the play of light and shade, something B&W handles really nicely.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Working the scene

PMac Imagery flickr-06965, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

Returning to a familiar theme here on the importance of working the scene.

When you spend several hours with the same subject through a sun rise you get lots of opportunities to experiment. Add to that a few more hours of processing and you can really go to town. Here's a whole bunch of photos of the same subject (The Sygna) from basically the same spot but with a lot of variation in exposure and processing.

One way of expanding your boundaries as a photographer is to stop chasing new scenes but instead concentrate on new ways of capturing and presenting the one scene before you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Transportation, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

Here's a great reason why having a cheap and cheerful 2nd camera is really handy. I was out on a social shoot with the people in the car in front and the scene just struck me as worthy of capturing. So I just wrapped the strap around my arm, stuck it out and fired.

I quite like the outcome.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Google Ads - WTF

As a side point, I was unsure of taking Google Ads but I figured what the hell, yu never no, I might make a buck. I'm told they are "context sensitive" so if the blog is most about - say - photography, the ads would reflect that.

So where the hell are these latest ads for a dating site coming from?

Sigma is challenging the big boys

For so long Sigma lenses have been seen as something of a cheap and nasty option to the offerings of the main players. Sure they has the "EX" line and a few good pieces of glass but, really, they werent what "serious" photographers used.

Well it seems that Sigma has had enough of that an is determined to stake a claim as a serious competitor to the OEMs.

This PMA (Feb 2010) has seen the latest (and perhaps the most convincing) barrage of new Sigma lenses. These include an 85 1.4, super-ultra wide 8-16mm zoom, a big re-vamp of the 70-200 2.8 with new glass (FLD - more on that later) and IS/VR and the release of a couple of old favorites with IS/VR.

And, not content with simply putting out new lenses, Sigma is pushing into the realms of the OEM further with advances in exotic glass elements with the advent of the new low dispersion glass with the FLD elements.

Heady days indeed and great news for us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I've hit 100,000 views

PMac Imagery flickr-06638, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

My flickr stream hit 100,000 view sometime yesterday and I chosen to think that this image was the one that took me there. Why? Because its an image that speaks to me right now.

In his book "The Architecture of Happiness" Alain de Botton quotes Stendhal saying that "Beauty is the promise of happiness". He then further extends this with the proposition that often we will therefore be attracted to things that we feel are missing from our lives (or our selves).

This image is just one recent example of this for me. As my life at work is becoming more and more complex and stressful I'm finding more solace in simple, clean, soothing shots such as this.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is it about doors and windows?

PMac Imagery flickr-06181, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

Really simple and short post today. What is it about doors and windows that fascinates so many of us (well me at least).

For me its a couple of things:

1. Door and windows represent a point of interest in a building, therefore architects always seem to put in a little extra effort.

2. Doors and windows get used, they age and become more and more interesting. Like the one in this posting, they wear, break, get patched, break again, get fixed again. Ultimately doors and windows become like a little potted history of the building.

3. Door and windows are about more than the building, there are a physical manifestation of the building need to cater for people. I cant help but think of the people that went through a door, looked through a window etc when I see one.

Dogs and Cats - an old stand by

PMac Imagery flickr-06450, originally uploaded by PMac Imagery.

Ok, I stand guilty as charged as an animal lover. Animals, especially our pets give us so much pleasure, whether its the look of absolute devotion our dog as we come home or the complete silliness of a new kitten.

But as photographers we should never also forget the wealth of photo ops they give us. Even more than our kids as our pets dont get sulky, hide their faces or run off and hide (ok they sometimes do this).

Anyway, my only advice is we shouldnt be ashamed of our pet photos. Ok, they arent going to change the world but big deal. I'd rather see 1000 photos of pets loved and cherished by their owners than 1 more posed shot of a model that I dont know, dont care about and usually has all the warmth of an antarctic winter.

So anyway - say hello to my newest addition, Othello. Our 13 week old rescue kitten.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Photography books

I love books and I love photography so it stands to reason I'd love photography books - and its true - I do.

So its probably no surprise that I get pretty excited whenever one of my favorite photography websites does one of its regular columns on photography books. I particularly enjoyed his wrap up of 2009 and intend to try and keep an eye out for his recommendations.

However, if I may make my own recommendation its this, never walk past a second hand bookshop without checking out the photography section. Not often, but often enough, you will find a gem thats worth the small effort.

Over this years holidays I found two such books, the first is:

Witness. The worlds greatest news photographers. Ok, its not printed on luscious thick paper and its contains lots of images we've all seen before but as a quick primer on some of the people that created and developed the idea of the news photographer this is a great little book.

The Fincher File. I hadnt heard of Terry Fincher and looking through this book I didnt see many great iconic photos but somehow that makes it an even better read. Yes, I said read. There is certainly more text than images here and its a fascinating history of one man, a photojournalist, and a world undergoing massive changes following WW2. No, this book wont change your life but you can pick it up very cheaply and I think you'll enjoy it if yu find photojournalism your sort of field.