Archives For Panasonic

little angels

January 10, 2016
romantic ponder

Romantic Ponder

The world is full of advice whether you want it or not. One piece of advice is to “only photograph what you love.” The love I have for the little creatures in my life has grown over the years, much as the love for my wife and children has. The foundations for love might be inherent in us all, but it takes time for any kind of love to develop both breadth and depth. Once it starts growing, it never stops.

I’ve always considered all my animals little angels, but the Gingersnaps make my heart melt with their looks and their tiny meows. It’s the size of their eyes in comparison with the rest of their faces that helps tug at my heart. Yes, you could say I love the little guys. I’m now trying to find ways to express a bit of what I feel tempering what I see.

Today I came across Ponder sitting on my camera bag in the window box at the same spot where Lucy used to sit. He was doing the same thing, looking out at the world. I keep one of my OM-Ds in the room with the Leica 25mm for quick grab occasions such as this one. Unfortunately (or fortunately) by the time I swung around with the camera Ponder was looking in my general direction. So I composed and took several quick exposures, picking this particular one to work with.

Normally I don’t talk about all the steps I took to create a photo, but this time I’ll make an exception. First of all I’m using the Panasonic Leica 25mm on the OM-D E-M10. That combination is compact and quick. I’ve owned the 25mm for over three years; the more I use it the more I keep coming back to use it even more. I don’t use it wide open unless I absolutely have to, preferring to step down to f/2 to f/2.8. A lot of people say that’s a waste of a fast lens, but what folks don’t realize is that a fast lens helps to see and focus in dim light. You might not make the exposure wide open, but you certainly use it to help focus.

Once the exposures were made I transferred the JPEGs from the E-M10 to my iPhone using OI.Share. Once on the phone I post processed them a bit using Snapseed, where I converted the three color images to neutral black and white using the defaults. I applied a bit of vignetting (-60) to finish and then exported back to my camera roll. I then opened the black and white output from Snapseed in the Formulas app and applied the Ambrosia filter to get the result you see above. This enhanced the eyes even more while flattening and softening the lighter details around the eyes. It gives an old-fashioned warmth to the overall photo. And it helps make Ponder look like a little angel.

These are two more black and whites that have gone through just Snapseed.

Greebo

Greebo

ponder

Ponder

There’s a movement afoot in the photographic community these days to lament the passing of film, especially black and white. I think those lamentations are ill-conceived. Whenever anyone complains about the digital vs analog, the issues as I see them usually boil down to lighting and composition. Ignoring composition for the moment, in all three of these photos the light coming into the room from the window was soft and surrounding of my subjects, the kittens. Talk to any “old timer” and to a photographer they’ll emphasize how critical the quality of the light is. I had a classic north light, enhanced with an overcast day. The light coming through that window today was incredible. As were the kittens.

quiet contemplation

Resting in quiet contemplation after the big race.

It’s been 30 years this year since I moved away from Atlanta to Orlando. It’s been two years since I went back to visit my parents. My parents are now in their early 80s and two years is a bit too long between visits. So I decided to address the deficit a bit; I flew back to Atlanta early this morning.

I got up around oh-dark-thirty (4:30am to be precise) so I could fix a bit of breakfast, shower, dress, and head for OIA to catch my Southwest flight 424 to Atlanta. The flight was 20 minutes late leaving OIA due to an engine alarm in the 737’s cockpit. We taxied back to the gate, maintenance quickly board, solved the issue, and got us back on our way. Total time about 20 minutes.

When we landed I left and boarded Marta, headed for Doraville to be picked up by my younger brother. When I got on at Hartsfield I thought it was going to be a quiet ride, and it was, until we hit mid-town Atlanta. That’s when we were overwhelmed with a lot of sweaty, smelly Atlanta residents who’d just finished the 2014 Peachtree Road Race.

One minute, it was just me in a partially empty car, the next it was everybody trying to crowd in so they could get home. And I mean they were packed in. The aroma of so many in so little a space needing a shower was a reminder of why I’d left the Big City of Atlanta in 1984. I thought it was bad back then; it’s grown worse, well beyond my dark and tainted memories.

coming on board after the race

Streaming down to board.

crowed feet

Trying not to get stepped on.

bearded redneck

The bearded redneck runner…

Of course, what would a Marta ride be without rubbing elbows with the local hoi polloi? In this particular instance the Bearded Redneck Runner (above) decided he didn’t like me photographing his wife’s midriff (see below). I wanted a simple photo of the sign, a form of establishing content for this story. I guess that was too provocative of me; he got all Manly on me, telling me I might not like what he would do to “that camera” if I didn’t stop it. Of course, this was all after I’d taken the Dreaded Photograph.

Being in a car full of tightly packed sweaty unwashed, I had a brief Walter Mitty moment, a mashup of the movie “World War Z” combined with “The Walking Dead”, where I imagined some sort of redneck contagion spreading amongst the tightly packed, so I decided that rather than become contaminated by actually having to touch the idiot (as in punch out the redneck’s lights), it would be better if I just sat there and until he and his Chosen Mate left the car, which they did right after his bellicose statements. After all, the world doesn’t need yet another mindless, rude, cheap-beer-swilling belligerent Southern white male; there are way too many as it is. I’d left Atlanta 30 years ago to avoid that fate.

While the good news was that the Bearded Redneck and Wife left the car, the bad news was the majority of the other riders stuck it out with me until we all got to Doraville.

she who must not be photographed

… and she whose midriff must not be photographed.

exiting in doraville

Everybody out! Please!

I never felt more relief getting off a Marta train than when I finally got off at Doraville. I hung back until most of the crowd cleared out, taking my time getting out of the station and into Doraville proper.

“That Camera”

Everything taken with the world’s most intimidating camera, the Panasonic GX1, with the world’s most intimidating lens, the Panasonic 20mm pancake. And because I’m on travel, all the photos are SOOC, except for resizing with Shotwell on Ubuntu 14.04.

father’s day 2014

June 15, 2014

raphael

Father’s Day. When the kids were still kids, it meant a lot. It was cards and special gifts (not ties, but t-shirts with slogans and crazy characters printed on the front) and trips out for dinner to celebrate Day. I still get calls and cards and little crazy gifts, but it’s not quite the same. Except for tonight.

We ate at a local UNO’s in International Drive tonight because we’d gotten a coupon for a free meal for dad. So we went over, and I had a roasted vegetable penne pasta meal. It was pretty good. I’ve been moving away from animal protean, especially meat, as I’ve come to discover how it’s produced. That knowledge has pretty much killed my appetite for animal flesh. But that’s a story for another entry. While we were waiting for our meals to arrive, a young lady, about the same age as my girls, came by and offered to create a balloon character for us. While she was there I asked if I could photography her while she worked on it, and she said yes. The character she created was Raphael from Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles, a cartoon show my girls watched when they were still kids.

working

nearly finished

final touches

finished

It was fun to watch her work. She did a great job. And to complete the circle, I’ve sent both my girls a photo of Raphael to remind them of a bit of their past. In all, it was the perfect father’s day gift.

Camera

Panasonic GX1 and 2.5/14mm pancake lens. A very discrete, non-intimidating camera. Post processed with Analog Efex Pro 2 and Silver Efex Pro 2. The black-and-white looked a lot like Tri-X.

minibus memories

As empty nesters, my wife and I try to go out on ‘dates’ on Friday nights, much like we did when we were first dating over thirty years ago. This is in contrast to gathering up the kids to take them out for an inexpensive family meal. There’s nothing wrong with going out with your kids, and we both greatly miss that period in our lives. But time certainly does move on and what were once wee tots are now independent young adults.

The danger of dating as empty nesters is trying to recapture those places and experiences we once frequented as a young dating couple. You can’t go back in time to those places (although I’ve certainly seen a fair share in my cohort do their dead level best, and none for the better), so what we’ve done is use our free time to find contemporary and interesting places.

Yellow Dog Eats falls into that category. It’s a cafe running out of a modest century old building in the “heart” of Gotha, Florida, about fifteen or so minutes down the road from where we live. It’s as diametrically opposed to the touristy kitsch as you can get and still be conveniently close.

Its single greatest calling to us is their superb food, specifically their sandwiches. My wife and I have been infrequently visiting this place since we first stumbled uponĀ it about five years ago. When I say infrequently I mean about once or twice per year. Because it is unique, I’d rather not over-indulge in the place, lest familiarity breed contempt and I stop coming altogether. Some places are worth cherishing by not overindulging, and Yellow Dog Eats is in that special category.

It’s not as if they’re so hidden no one can find them. Last night the place was packed (but not uncomfortably so). They had a local band playing out back, a pretty good band if you want to know the truth. I think they’re called Mud Rooster, but I might be wrong about that. But I don’t think I am…

Yellow Dog Eats owners have also added a few new items to the cafe since the last time we visited, specifically the VW minibus and the VW boot-chair. I don’t know if this is something the owner(s) remember, or if this is an attempt to add “flair” to the cafe to attract the older boomer generation, who do remember these vehicles and the times they were from. I certainly do. The bus doesn’t work anymore, having had the shotgun side taken out and the whole vehicle fitted out as another place for the clientele to sit, eat, and listen to the live music.

As always when we visit, we had great food and a great time. The cafe is a business after all, and it is expanding, ever so slowly, but it is expanding. My only hope is that it doesn’t get so big it ruins the very elements that make it unique, and that have to do with the small intimacy of the place and the good folks that work there.

the way around

vw seating

waiting to order

looking in the case

the band

band notes

Camera

All of it taken with the Panasonic GX1 and 20mm pancake. It’s compact yet quite competent. All the photos were post processed. I’m now beginning to use Analog Efex Pro 2 (classic camera 7 without the film scratches) as well as Silver Efex Pro 2, both from the Google Nik Collection. I opened the 20mm up to f/2 and kept it there; wide enough for some background blurring, but closed down enough from its maximum aperture of f/1.7 to give me reasonable overall sharpness on the subject. And the GX1 was excellent from its base ISO of 160 up to 1,600. Not a bad range for what and where I like to photograph.

For all my talk about being in focus, I’m not a slave to sharpness. My reason for going analog color and black and white with a digital camera is to get away from the overwhelming artificiality that too many have fallen into with digital. This obsession with the technical side (sharpness, bokeh, “micro contrast”) leaches all the enjoyment out of photography. This trip to Yellow Dog Eats was the first time in weeks that I’d really felt like limbering up the old photography muscles. For me it was as much a visual and creative experience as it was culinary. And I was able to indulge my bit of photography without causing undo annoyance with the other patrons.

moon rise #1

There are times when tonality and textures win out over colors, even subtle colors. I’ve always looked at black and white photography as an evolution of ink or pencil drawing. As I was out tonight in Leavenworth, the nearly full moon had risen into the twilit sky. The combination of twilight and moonlight over this section of a work building created the kind of “drawing opportunity” I would have sat around for hours sketching some 35 years ago.

What’s amazing is how the camera was able to handle this: Olympus E-M5, Panasonic 25mm at f/2, ISO 200, 1/160 second. I even dropped the exposure down 1/3 of a stop to pick up a little more dark detail on the side of the building. I would have struggled to create this kind of photograph with older Olympus cameras, such as the E-P2, E-3, and E-1. With the E-M5 it seems almost effortless now. Post processing was in Silver Efex Pro 2.

I finally found a road that follows the high bluffs above the Missouri river. I plan on being there tomorrow around 7pm local time to photograph the moon coming up over the far side of the river while the low sunlight still lights the tops of the trees. I saw that this evening and sat for awhile, just watching and appreciating. I left the camera in the car. Sometimes you just need to quietly experience the world rather than trying to violently photograph the hell out of it.