29 July, 2015

Over the edge

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - ANZAC Square, Brisbane [click to enlarge]

I always try to have a look over an edge – a wall, a rail or a balcony. I'm not a big fan of heights, as it makes my tummy feel a bit funny. But I've had good luck in having quick peeks.

It's hard to convert the familiar into something interesting or beautiful. But, looking down provides an almost immediate shift. I suppose that's a reason why drones are so getting so popular.

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - Bribie Island, Queensland [click image to enlarge]

26 July, 2015

I walk around

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - "Rain" - Camberwell Markets, Melbourne [click image to enlarge]

I walk around and I take photographs.

I try to keep a low profile. I have a small bag, a reasonably small camera with a small lens, and I usually have my camera at my side until it's time to use it.

If I'm noticed, I ask if I can take the picture. I smile (although I'm not a particularly good smiler), and I say why I want the shot: "I love the hat," or "Great mustache," or whatever.

I know the privacy laws and my rights as a photographer in public spaces. But if someone says, no, or waves me off, then I don't take the shot.

My mother didn't raise me to be a nuisance.

21 July, 2015

The Sigma E-Mount trio

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - Fortitude Valley, Brisbane [click image to enlarge]

A recent post in SonyAlpha Rumors pointed out how well the less expensive E-Mount lenses were selling on Amazon. This reminded me of the strength of the Sigma trio.

Sigma came to the E-Mount party with three lenses that form the classic primes kit: A wide 19mm f/2.8 (28mm equiv), a "standard" 30mm f/2.8 (45mm equiv) and a moderate telephoto 60mm f/2.8 (90mm equiv). These are all autofocus, but they're not stabilised and they're not super-fast. That's how Sigma kept the lid on the prices. (And they all share the same filter size - 46mm.)

I'm a prime guy, and a trio like this reminds me why. The kit zooms that we're used to seeing are slower and less sharp. They do, however, have stabilization. But think about this. The 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom for the A6000 is f/5.6 at it longest (75mm equiv). The Sigma (at 90mm equiv) is f/2.8 and is one of the sharpest lenses you can get for a NEX camera. Talk about bang for your buck....

Yes, there are better primes, and some of them are stabilised; but they are usually twice the price or more.

But something else is happening. Many Sony users are moving to full-frame with the A7s. And soon there will be a new A7000 (or whatever it might be called). This is going to mean a buyer's market in both new and used NEX-7s, NEX-6s and A6000s. Any of these outstanding ASP-C cameras linked to the Sigma trio will be a powerhouse kit for almost no money. (Well, okay, some money.)

For anyone who wants to do photography (but lacks an inheritance), I think this is a super opportunity.

20 July, 2015

Lens hoods

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - "The Chase" the City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane Queensland [click image to enlarge]

I always use lens hoods.

Some photographers feel that lens hoods are too intimidating for street photography. That hasn't been my experience. On the other hand, I don't use large zooms, so I start from a fairly unintimidating profile. When I'm walking around, the camera is down at my side, either on a wrist strap or on a BlackRapid strap. And, of course, when my camera is pointed at the subject, the subject doesn't see the hood.

I used to use protective filters with all my lenses. I stopped a couple of years ago. I did that because using the hoods all the time gives those front elements enough protection. I live in the semi-tropics, so this works for me. If I went back to a more harsh environment I might work differently.

And the hoods do what they're supposed to do by keeping out some of the stray (or even direct) light. This reduces that little bit of "haze" that stray light can introduce.

Leaving off an unnecessary filter also eliminates two glass-to-air surfaces — yet another optical benefit.

My walking around lens is a 50mm. I keep it in the bag with the hood on and the lens cap off. You don't want to be fiddling with either a lens cap or lens hood when the time comes.

Because I'm usually a prime shooter, lens hoods are more effective for me than they are for zoom shooters. A lens hood on a zoom needs to accommodate the widest focal length of the lens, making the hood less effective for all the longer focal lengths. On a prime, the hood is tuned to the focal length of that lens.

One good habit is worth a hundred resolutions.
—Yllib Ybnad (b. 1948–)

09 July, 2015

Lightroom CC and Perpetual

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), in Brisbane [click photo to enlarge]

I've got a couple of drawers full of DVDs — movies to which I'm attached, movies that I think of as mine. But when the family sits down to decide on a movie, we don't search my "memory-lane" drawers any more, we go to Apple TV and Netflix.

I used to use Thunderbird for my emails, but now I use Gmail.

Still amongst my programs are Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CS6. But when I have photos that I want to see and work with, I fire up Lightroom CC. And when I have things to do in Photoshop, I go to Photoshop CC.

Change often seems hard. (I won't call it progress, because I don't want to have that debate.) Sometimes somebody ends the debate; and after that, things just are what they are.

And that's what Adobe did: For all practical purposes they ended the debate. They were able to do that because Lightroom and Photoshop are so capable that many of us think of them as essential. We weren't going to switch to something else because of downloading and license arrangements.

And, let's be fair: Adobe worked hard to make the transition to CC painless; and they offered photographers an outstanding monthly package deal for Lightroom, Photoshop and Bēhance.

Sometimes things just are what they are.