Saturday, 27 June 2009

Nikon FTN

R0016106 (Medium) ^Nikon FTN with interchangeable photomic TTL metering prism. The same model was taken on an Apollo mission to the misson

Education time. This is not a digital camera. Not a compact. But this camera is special in its own way and of note.

Introduced in 1959, the Nikon F camera introduced the concept of the 35 mm single-lens reflex camera (SLR) system; that is to say, it introduced a lineup of the following interchangeable parts connected to the camera body.

The Nikon F evolved from a rangefinder camera, the Nikon SP. "In the trial model, based on the body of the Nikon SP, the mirror box was inserted in the central part. Only the three principal components, mirror box, pentaprism and bayonet mount, were newly developed, and the other components were virtually identical to those in SP/S3."

R0016101 (Medium) ^ The FTN Finder is the last metering finder that officially offered to the Nikon F users before the Nikon F2 started to market and it sold along with the Nikon F2 until 1974, it remained as one of the most popular prism for the Nikon F.

Upon its debut, the Nikon F SLR system revolutionized the photographic market, stealing the thunder of German manufacturers Leica and Zeiss. The F also had a reputation for being extremely resilient to damage or mechanical failure. It became known as "the hockey puck". Many professional photographers, especially photojournalists, began using the F camera system.

R0016102 (Medium) ^The camera is exhibited in Hong Kong

The first Nikon F Photomic viewfinder had an independent photocell, then Nikon introduced the Photomic T (superseded by the Photomic Tn), which featured through-the-lens TTL metering. The final metering prism for the Nikon F, the Photomic FTn, provided 60% center-weighted TTL which became the standard metering pattern for Nikon cameras for decades afterwards. Additional viewfinders included a waist-level viewer and an "action finder" with a larger viewable area.

One possible disadvantage the Nikon F had compared to other professional cameras was the fact the entire bottom and rear plate was made in one piece, and had to be removed to reload the camera. Even so, the camera was a mainstay of professional news photographers desiring a 35 mm SLR. A specially modified Nikon FTn was also taken on the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon, which is shown here.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Selected Excellence: All Get Free Ricohs

First of all, readers, don't get jealous (or upset). Today, we'll check out the winners in the photo contest I mentioned in a previous post. The contest was a collaborated effort of Greenpeace, Jurlique and the Ricoh camera dealer (Laikok) in Hong Kong.

The theme of the photo contest was Climate Hero. Entries were the photographers' visual interpretation of the theme.

Grand Prize

21__8ce85 Topic: Simplicity and Frugal

Description: Walking not driving. Lead a simple an frugal living for the benefit of the environment.

Prize: Free flight to Adelaide plus two-night 4-star hotal accommodation for two persons, plus a Ricoh GX200 completed with a full set of accessories

Two First Runners-up

27__71a49 Topic: Little Environmental Heroin Makes It

Description: Have you?

Prize: A free GX200 with a full set of accessories and a free CX1

44__77f22 Topic: Up We March

Description: To right the climate changes requires no expertise. Use less lifts, save more power. A penny saved is a penny gained. Together we climate heros and heroins march for the environment.

Prize: A free GX200 with a full set of accessories and a free CX1

Three Second Runners-up

17__7372f Topic: Fan Away the Mist

Description: The heat island effect brings down the air quality of Hong Kong, which adversely affects the business environment and our health. We must tickle the problem if we are to see the blue sky.

Prize: A free CX1

30__77248 Topic: Start Environment Protection from Daily Life

Description: A small step for the environment in your daily life, a gaint step for protection the Earth.

Prize: A free CX1

43__f6b70 Topic: Thick Mist

Description: If pollution worsens, we'll see thick smog in Hong Kong instead. Is that what we want?

Particpants are restricted to Hong Kong residents. Now, fancy to move to Hong Kong?

---------- Postscript: The winner did a good job even though to my eye the colours are too visually explosive (bit uncomfortable to my taste), probably a result of post processing (the shadow of the shoe heel suggests the time being around midday but the treetops are just way too bright in this case).

The two first runners-up did justice to the theme. The image of the little girl is brisk and simple, verging on outdoing the winner's. The other image of the staircase is visually classical and intriguing. I like it too. As far as I'm concerned, the second runners-up's works are more controversial. The two misty images are with too extensive a death space in the photo, and bear little relation to the them. The lampshade one is relatively better but casual, and presumably a drastic cutout from the original image which is much bigger as evidenced by the grains. Of course, the official judgement is final. Congrats to all winners.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Visual Narration

R0016084 (Medium) ^Streetscape: A man and his all-important Mercedes

This is the second post about the great minds on B&W photography. Today, we are looking at the ideas of Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984).

Adams was a prolific B&W photographer best known for his exceptional skills and authority on scenery of the Western United States. Through his visual interpretation of the wasteland, people have rediscovered the beauty of the landscape and the importance of nature conservation.

What is behind his landscape works is his credo in photography. He believed that great photographers were people who could reproduce his or her personal feelings about an object in its entirety, in depth and precision. These feelings, to him, were the essential, personal tastes of life. To visually reveal such tastes, the photographers are required to give devotion to his photographic gears and most lucid, perfect narration to his works.

R0016025 (Medium) ^The Commuter: The Zone System may apply here. But the movable AE cursor of my GX200 makes exposure in difficult situtaions easier and me lazier

In this connection, Adams had inherited the concept of straight photography and invented the Zone System. While the Zone System may be less useful to digital cameras whereby the LCD screens and the flexible metering facilitate all kinds of instantaneous tricks, it is worthy of study for doing B&W works. At least, a study in the Zone System will improve our intuition in metering a scene.

Also, the ideas of Adams and straight photography are what we can ponder on and learn from his examples. Of course, we are not masters (yet) and have to start from the basics. So, whereas straight photography calls for no qualities of technique and composition, the masters were successfully in so doing because they knew well enough how to do with and then without.

That is all for today. Let's carry on this B&W topic tomorrow.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


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^Giggling youngsters on the platform at an underground station

In this first post to peek into the great minds on B&W photography, we look at the ideas of Eugene Atget (1857-1927).

Eugene was a pioneer in the art of photography. For 30 years since the late 19 century, he had used a 18 x 24 cm format camera to record the vanishing Parisian history from the late 19 to early 20 centuries. His objects ranged from historical buildings, old streets, shop windows, signboards to gardens. What is special about his works is the lucid viewpoints.

R0016091 (Medium)
^The flow of communters gushed out of the cars at the most bustling underground station, Mong Kok. The four Chinese characters on the exit sign reads, "To Concourse Direct". But the Chinese character for "concourse" is just a stroke short from the character "paradise". It has been read by the naughty minded as "To Paradise Only" -- shopping paradise maybe

The photographer's viewpoints in his images are plain. He expressed the beauty of his objects in an intrinsic, low-profile way, giving a quality of visual pureness to the images.

Eugene's huge fan, Ansel Adams, once commented that the charm afforded by Eugene's works was in neither his technical skills nor the intriguing clothing styles, buildings or humanity in the images. Ansel was more enticed by the fair and friendly viewpoints through which Eugene saw the world around him.

R0016092 (Medium)
^The man nearest to the foreground is waiting for someone and the two question marks in the background seemingly suggest that he is wondering why his friends were late

Eugene's works, as Ansel put it, are the simplistic depictions of the reality by showing viewers the simplest appearance of his surroundings.

The simplistic but forceful, low-profile but detached protrayal of the objects in his works is the generic element in photography art. His influence has been far-reaching, especially seen in B&W works.

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Next time when you do your photographs, you may bear his examples in mind, espeically when you do B&W works. We may not be a frequent B&W shooter. But it is easy to feel the purer visual quality through the LCD screen in black and white. The decoloured images are the better vessels to emulate Eugene's simplistic interpretation of the world.

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^Commuting at a time of human swine flu outbreak

Tomorrow, we will continue this series with another photography master.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Speaking in Clarity

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^A storm in formation: the B&W version gives a more intimidating atmosphere to my taste

In the colour film days, black and white photography was less popular among the common folks. Back in my dad's younger years, all he could use were B&W films. There are hundreds of his B&W works about me in the 1X1 format. But when I was old enough to learn photography, people simply forgot and almost forsook B&W. Colour films were the norm of those days.

Then, the digital era seems to have rekindled the B&W passion, kudos to the (almost) costless digital copies and post processing programmes. But what do we know about B&W photography?

R0015906 (Medium)

B&W is special in its own right. In photography, it is a different representation of the reality in relation to colour photography. Its black-white-grey tone is sort of surreal as compared with the reality in colour. B&W photography is therefore an abstract dR0015906 (Medium)bwepiction of the world, which is also characterised by strongly objective moods.

Interestingly, without the interference of colours, the image appeals to the viewers with a more forceful narrative impact. If photography is a language, and it is, B&W speaks it with clarity.
^ Two versions: I like the B&W texture

In the following few posts, I hope to steal a peek with you into some great minds about their understanding of B&W photography.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Hallucinated Breakdance

R0013369 (Medium)

On the busy pedestrian precinct, I came across this man sitting on the road, apparently under the effect of drug.  He just rubbed his bottom against the asphalt surface and exercised his body like doing a breakdance hallucination-style, pivoting on his back.

Recently, the drug problem in schooling youngsters has surfaced to bring home to the community the enormity of the issue.  For the last few weeks, Hong Kong has been full of reports about students taking ketamine pills after school in group, made known by a number of them who lose consciousness and hospitalised afterwards.  What gives?

This is Sunday.  Have a good day with your loved ones.

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