Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My First Digital

Looking though some old photos I came across this set of three I took on my first digital camera, an Olympus CZ3040z, a magnificent 3.3mp. I still have it and it still performs well, although a little slowly compared to modern cameras, thanks to the excellent lens.

Again taken on the 3040z in the same session but with more manipulation.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Past cameras

One of my first posts was on the different cameras I've had over the last 30yrs or so.
Recently I found the film scanner component for my flatbed scanner.

To test if it still worked I dug out some old negs. The photos below were taken on Ilford HP5 which I exposed at 400ASA. The scanner has really brought out the grain.

This was taken on my Rollei B35 before the back started to leak light.

These two are from my Praktica with 50mm Zeiss Jena lens. Lighting is from a 35mm projector which is why its a bit harsh, although the shadow is intentional.

By Royal Appointment

I'm not normally one for royal patronage, honours and all that guff. However I recently put my politics aside and joined the Royal Photographic Society.  The reason I have done this is to work toward one of the society's distinctions.
These start with LRPS, then ARPS and finally FRPS. The support and guidance supplied by the society to those working towards a distinction is impressive. I've decided to postpone the OCA degree and use the LRPS to get myself ready for it.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Here we go...

I'm going to register for a degree in Photography by Distance.  I've been taking photographs for over 20 years, occasionally on  a semi-pro basis, and having looked at the course I'm pretty much of the opinion that the first year of modules cover the parts of photography which I'm confident with. It is possible to gain credits for prior learning/experience. so in order to do this I have to submit 7-10 images, if these are deemed of sufficient quality then I have to submit a further portfolio and credits will be awarded on this.
I've started selecting images for the initial submission. these are the digital ones, I've yet to go though the 1000's of negs and slides and choose the best of those.
I'm more confident with some types of photography than others, but I've attempted to present a broad selection of  the different types of photos I've taken over the years.
The fact that I'm about to search through the 1000's of negs and slides I have. 
I've ask a couple of photographer friends of mine to look at the photos I put put. One is an experienced editorial/commercial photographer the other a photographic artist/lecturer.
Their choice was remarkably similar, both saying that the strongest photos were the B/W Landscapes and Nudes, in other words the more abstract ones. the Photographic Artist said he could tell that the ones he chose were taken by the same photographer due to the composition and style and that they worked together as a group, he said that the others, while OK could have been taken by any technically competent photographer. I've shown the photos to a friend of mine, a keen and experienced photographer, and he favoured the same photos as the others so it looks like my choice has been made for me. Which was the whole point.


I sent my APEL pre-submission to the OCA this week, so the process has been started.
I've ring-fenced money to pay for three modules of my degree
I also bought a Canon EOS 5D2 DSLR with EF-L 24-70 f2.8 lens. I got a good deal at my local Jessops, they beat both Warehouse Express and Park Cameras on a package deal, and it arrived within a week.
Recently I've been reading Open Skies by Don McCullin. Inspired by his dark and brooding landscapes I made use of the rainy weather and took the 5D2 out to see what it was like.
I'm pleased to report that it is joy to use and being back on Full-Frame after all these years is really nice. I hadn't realised how much I'd missed the DoF control FF gives you. So far I've only used the camera in Aperture Priority and even used manual focus at times as the lens does this so well.

Above is my attempt at a Mc Cullin style grumpy landscapes.

Getting all cut up about it

My mother tells a story about me as a child of about five years old in primary school being asked by my teacher what my painting was of. The story goes that I replied "its an abstract, you wouldn't understand..."
How true this is I don't know, but it does go some way to explaining the interest I've always had in abstract shape and form.
When I've taken photography night classes I always ended up making "joiners" as they are now known. Then I had to  make individual prints of each piece and physically join them together. Now Photoshop makes this much easier.
This is one I put together recently. I took the original pic on my iPhone camera.

How many cameras?

My recent purchase of A Canon 5D2 got me thinking about all the different cameras I’ve had over the years.
I started to seriously take photos in around 1982 when I was loaned a Zenit E SLR with the standard 50mm and a telephoto of around 300mm IIRC. It was a clonky bit of kit but it got me started. I had to return the camera when I moved away for work, but then bought a Praktika SLR, which was much better than the Zenit. I later got hold of a Halina 28mm lens to compliment the Zeiss Jena 50mm and a rather nice Slik tripod.
I suddenly decided that this kit was too bulky and sold it all to buy a Rollei B35, this was a lovely little camera but very unreliable. I also dabbled with 21/4 square format in the form of a Yashica TLR. Then it was back to the 35mm SLR with a Contax with Zeiss T* 50mm and Yashica 28mm lenses. I much preferred the images from the Yashica lens over the T* even though it was single coated, the T* was very boring.
I kept the Contax for a good few years then sold it and had an Olympus OM2 with 50mm, 21mm and 150mm lenses on a long loan, this was a superb camera and my favourite 35mm SLR. When they were returned I bought a Nikon301 with a 35-70 Nikkor zoom. I then added a Nikon FM with 50mm f1.8 Nikkor and 90mm f2 Tamron. The 301 was sold when a brand new Nikon D90x with Nikon 24-120 zoom arrived. Then in 1997 I’d had enough of film and sold the lot and went digital with an Olympus 3040Z.
I still have the 3.3mp 3040z and it takes a good photo, but in 2007 I went DSLR with an Olympus E330 with D-Zuiko14-42mm zoom, later adding a Sigma 55-200mm zoom and D-Zuiko 11-22mm zoom. This year I again felt the need for smaller kit and bought an Olympus PEN E-PL1 with the 14-42 kit lens and 40-150mm zoom.
As it said at the top of the post I’ve been at it again, this time going Full-frame digital for the first time with a Canon EOS 5D2 and a Canon EL 24 – 70 f2.8. This combination is by far the biggest heaviest camera I’ve ever had, weighing in just shy of 1.9Kg. It is an absolute joy to handle though.

When the wells run dry

Recent talk on radio and TV news programs regarding the economic woes of various countries in Europe and of course the USA suddenly made this image I took on Saturday all the more relevant. The dilapidated forecourt and pumps expressed how the US economy must feel at present.

Enough of the politics, I have recently been reading Michael Freeman’s book on Black & White Digital Photography and found it by and large informative and I learned some new things. when I processed this image I tried to get good peak white a nice dense black and retain some shadow detail. I largely think I’ve achieved this and am pretty pleased with the image.
Comments welcome as always.