Saturday, 1 August 2009

And the Winners Are

The Radio and Television of Hong Kong, the local version similar to BBC, just published the results of its photo contest themed on the aged. Here are the winners. Let's learn from them.

Category One: Old People Having Fun

image ^Winner: I Am a Happy Fellow. Gist of adjudicators' comments: Colours are soft and complementary. The subject gives a smile which looks young. A warm image overall.

image ^First Runner-up: Comparing Notes of Yore. Gist of adjudicators' coments: The composition and vibrant colours are impressive. The feeling between the two old ladies is truly represented. The hand holding gesture speaks strongly of their friendship.

image ^Second Runner-up: I Am Specific About My Hair. Gist of adjudicators' comments: The image has a sense of depth in terms of composition and connotation. It vividly reflects the leisure mood of the old man. The angel of shooting from behind the man is really intriguing.

Category Two: Old People Gets On Well

image ^Winner: Family Fun. Gist of adjudicators' comments: A white-head wave is all the photographer needed to bring out the moment of happiness between the old and the young. The photo aptly speaks of the profuse harmony here.

image ^First Runner-up: Not One Less. Gist of adjudicators' comments: The colours give a cosy and complementing feeling. The theme is vividly expressed in the image.

image ^Second Runner-up: Joy.

Gist of adjudicators' comments: The photographer captured the sparks of love in the exchange of eyesight between the lady and the girl, strongly expressing the speechless love with a soundless media.

Again, my motto is: Get going, take part in a photo contest.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Selected Excellence: Partial Nudes

I thought for awhile about the title. With the confine space of the subject line, I was left with limited choices.

Long time readers of GX GARNERINGS are not familiar with the name SY Hsu, a young rising star in photography from Taiwan and two-time winners for several categories in PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris contest. In a previous post, his publication which won him the honour was introduced to readers.

I just corresponded with him and learnt that the University for Creative Arts in UK, where he is going to earn his MA in Photography, has had him interviewed. For reason of controversy which these pictures may cause, the interview was withheld from appearing in the British press. (You may have well known that the rumour about the general way of doing things in the UK: If someting is mediocre, say good; good, say great; great, say excellent. Can the conservatism displayed be a matter of similar manner? You tell me.)

So I have the pleasure and his courtesy to publish another three photos from his book here. And you may wish to learn about what makes his career in photography tick, read the interview here (English).

(Postscript: The book is in English and Chinese. Ordering can be made via here. But the shopping site is in Chinese only.)

Thursday, 30 July 2009

A Matter of Choice

(Continue from yesterday's post)

R0016793 (Medium)

Well, did I succeed? I wandered around the children's section the size of a football pitch and noticed a small girl in a halter top reading a comic book. As the time-tested popular draws in any image are repetitive patterns and symmetry, what intrigued me for the scene was, besides the back of the little girl, the patterns repeated by the books. The colours look pleasant and conforming too.

But without a frontal glimpse of the subject, the shot lacks punch. The image cannot reflect any unique aspect of the theme Readers Reading, which I knew in the next second and therefore moved on.

R0016801 (Medium)

Then I came across two young readers sitting on the floor reading. I am not a feet fetishist but the curves of the four skinny legs simply held my interest. But how could I relay the image to the theme? I tested a shot including only the young chaps and the shelf behind them in the image. (Later on, I experimented the same for the two adutls behind the book shelf.) But that was too casual a shot. And the two readers looked confined in space, certainly not an interesting aspect of reading.

So I retracted the lens back to include in the shot the two standing adult readers and a more extensive background. The image somehow has an atmosphere about readers being engrossed in reading. The information is richer; young readers, mature readers, reading in different positions, the setting of a bookstore. But the problem is, there is too much information in the image.

R0016806 (Medium)

By this time, I almost called off the bookstore shootout. The one last shot was back to step one: making use of repeative patterns in an image. So I came up with the last photo with three girls sitting in a near-triangular space formed by three bookselves. The outcome is interesting but far from a choice for a photo contest.

R0016809 (Medium)

So photography is an activity charcterised by choices from the moment you think up a theme to when you sieve through the photo for the keepers.

Back to the photo contest. As far as my experience goes, the winning images in most photographic competitions are coincidentially chosen for some similarly distinctive features: they reproduce the gist of an interesting aspect related to the theme with a crisp compostion and the truly essential information. Of course, the light has to be right. So, I ended up with not a good photo from my bookstore adventure. It was then an old image flashed across my mind, which somehow conforms to those distinctive features.

I titled it "The Curious Heads of Reading" (below) and submitted it to the Ricohforum.com photo contest for July.

R0013568%20(Medium)

(Postscript: Of course, the fellow contestants hae produced a lot of great works too. Any one of us can win. But if you think that mine is worthy of your vote, the voting will take place on 1 August for seven days. The voting thread will show here in due course. Thank you in advance for your vote :) .)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Photographic Reasoning in a Bookstore

R0016812 (Medium)^I was so tempted by his typical gesture of reading to tell of the same theme and the more dramatic light/ shade disturbution I could find in the bookstore that I balantly pointed the GX200 exactly this close to him and prepared to shot. He gave me a glimpse but didn't budge, so I released the shutter. The shot was pre-exposed and done in teh black-and-white TE mode.

Only for a month or two since I bought the GX200 did I, being too occupied, not joined the monthly photo contest kindly arranged by Pavel of ricohforum.com, now the de facto official global customer centre for Ricoh cameras. The participation is not simply for winning's sake but more for showing support and sharpening my photographic skills.

This is why I have actually contested some other photo competitions, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so. The greatest reward is not in the prizes but the recognition. I expect to see my other photographic works to be exhibited alongside other finalists' who also almost made it. R0016791 (Medium)

For this month's ricohforum contest themed on Readers Reading, I traveled to the best place for doing the shots, which is naturally the book stores. And it was a big one in Shenzhen, the modern Chinese city neighbouring Hong Kong.

The section which epitomizes the spirit of reading in any book store is naturally the children section, where I headed direct to and found kids occupying the floor reading in every conceiable way. They were so engrossed in their reading that I was free to shoot. But, there the indoor light was anything but dramatic. The setting was also not nice for doing a shot with an obvious primary subject which I had hoped: eyes were all casted downwards and faces were generally not showing.

"How do I express the idea of readers reading?" I muttered to myself.

R0016792 (Medium)

Having taking some test shots around the section and on the brink of quitting, I'd got an idea just in time to save the day: all I had to do was to show how the readers were engrossing in reading! The bookselves drew plenty of diagonal, vertical and horitzontal lines for the compostion. So did the children's characteristic gestures. And if I couldn't take a shot with the primary subject looking into the lens, I could photograph the subject from behind. I could even use the proportion of each subject in the image to tell the importance of the subjects too.

So I kept wandering in the book store at the children section and looking for the right shot ....

But did I succeed?

GRDIII Functions Shared to GRDII

If you are a GRDII user but haven’t noticed it, Ricoh is nice enough to share some of the GRDIII functions to the GRDII through a firmware to be released on 5 August for free download from the Ricoh website. It will be the final function-enhancing firmware update for the GR DIGITAL II. For details of the additional new functions, click here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

1st Preview, 2nd Thought and GRD III

image(A link to the translation of a preview with sample images is attached at the bottom of this post)

The GRDIII looks promising with its new 28mm/f1.9 lens and the suspiciously full-TTL-compatible GF-1 flash, besides which, unfortunately, there is nothing really exciting about it. This controversial remark without looking at the real images is made on the previous assumption that the GRDIII would be powered by a larger sensor.

 

Of course, just as every dog has its day, every camera has the attention at some point of time, especially when it sees the first light. The matter is, after all the gleaming and glittering under the spotlight, whether the camera does justice to the photographers who buy a piece of machine at a dear price which is supposed to afford them some of the most advanced imaging technology at present and in the one or two years to come.

The GRDIII is to be sold in an expectable higher price range. What if it had been given a bigger heart? It will sell like cakes even at a high price.

Again, of course, every new camera brings forth some new features and improvements to the image quality somewhat somehow. The crux of the concern is, however, whether those are substantial enough for the photographers to move to an upgrade, especially when the GRDII produces agreeable results.

 

In this sense, the GRDIII is best thought as a refined version to the II. Amusingly, though understandably so when improvements are made, potential owners who use the II will find themselves upgrading the camera as well as the accessories.

The GH-2 hood will replace the GH-1, growing to 43mm from 37mm. This is not good marketing or good news to users who are thinking of investing in the GRD and even the GX system. These users will be more hesitating. For sure, there are rich users with the money to burn and poor users who don't. But don't forget that the GRD system is in the niche market where users rich or poor have better discretion in photography and spending money on photography.

 

The hood does not cost big money. But how about the filters? You can't use a step-down ring, can you? Those who have invested in the GRD system are supposedly advanced photographers, who will not use a piece of cheap glass on a great lens. Quality filters are costly. Let's hope they are already using filters with a diameter not smaller than 43mm.

Well, after all, a bigger lens is welcomed. But it will be much more so if Ricoh is considerable enough to bundle a free offer of step-up ring trade-ins? That'll be better for marketing, won't it? That'll be reassuring for the users about the devotion of Ricoh to its fans. The survival of Ricoh's cameras hinges relatively more on the loyalty of the less sizeable amount of users, except probably for within Japan. So, efforts spent on loyalty cultivation should be enough to reach the critical mass to customer's total satisfaction.

 

With all this nay-saying about the GRDIII, I am still impressed by the implementation of the refinements ergonomics-wise like the MY setting boxes and the full-press snap focus. The designers have either got to be devoted photographers themselves or open to comments from existing users to have thought out those refinements.

If I have not embarked on the plan to extend my GX system, the GRDIII will certainly be on my wish list. The f1.9 lens and the same pixel counts on an improved sensor are good enough tot hose who don't own the I or II.

 

So much for the armchair commentary. Click here for a Googlish version of a GRDIII preview with sample images by a respectable Taiwan photographer.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Ricoh GRDIII Just Released: First Thoughts

As expected, Ricoh releases the successor to the GRDII. And as expected, its codename is GRDIII. The Internet is certainly awash with the news now. The new features mainly include:
1.28 mm/F1.9 GR Lens (great!)
2.high-performance lens (as assumed)
3.low ghosting (hopefully addresses the issue in GRDII)
4.GR ENGINE III (lower noise? to be justified by samples)
5.lower pixel density (this sounds tempting really)
6.dynamic range expanded by up to +1 EV (disernable in reality)
7.multi-pattern auto white balance (interestingly, migrated from the lower-grade CX1)
8.quicker focusing response in low light (to be observed in reality)
9.quick-shooting function (AF operates when the shutter release button is pressed half way, but for a one-push full-press, the photo is taken at a set focal distance [1m/2.5m/5m/∞]. Thoughtful on paper. Really handy if its works as what Ricoh states.)
10.focusing follows the subject’s movement (sound like the simultaneous focusing as in G10)
11.Continuous shooting and high RAW write speed (does justice to the successor)
12.Shutter speed priority (one glaring omission added)
13.New macro mode system controls field curvature (Marco fans attention!)
14.Dynamic range double shot (again, migrated from CX1)
15.3 inch VGA screen (comparable to CX1's?)
16.six settings boxes for quick changes to MY settings(brilliant idea)
17.two Fn (function) buttons (proven on the GX200)
Despite the new exciting features, if I am not mistaken, there is no the like of APS-C size imaging processor. And the bracketing seems to go as far as at intervals of 0.5EV. For details of the new camera, click here.

CX1 Versus Superzoom Compacts

IMG_8146

Congratulations  to Nevin for his new toy, the VF-1.  I just hope to see when his plan to acquire the VF-1 and the accessories for the two conversion lenses plus the CX1, as well as the user’s review then, will be completed sooner.

So, to accelerate the plan of all those which also include buying the CX1, here is a link to a group test featuring Ricoh CX1, Canon IXUS 110 IS, Casio EX-Z400, Fujifilm F100 EXR, Nikon CoolPix S620.

The result is somewhat in flavour of the CX1.  I think the camera will make a good choice for the readers comtemplating it.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

They Steal My Drink

R0016030 (Medium)

The iced tea is supposed mine. She steals a sip when I am not looking!

R0016028 (Medium)

So does this man! This is sunday. Have a nice day.