Saturday, 21 November 2009

GXR A12 Bokeh/ ISO Test Shots from Japan


The first batch of testers are writing their impressions of the GXR.  What are the most important aspects to you?  Its ergonomics and operating speed?  Or the image quality?

For the first two aspects, you can only choose to believe what are being written by the tester unless you can have a hands-on yourselves, which is always the better way for making an informed choice. 

For image quality, the following are some aperture-cum-ISO-test shots taken with the A12 (50mm lens with a APS-C size sensor) by a Japanese tester for you to make your own conclusion (you may download these images to view the EXIF data):

ISO Aperture (Bokeh) comparison
200 F2.5, 1/68s  
  F4.0, 1/30s
  F5.6, 1/16s
  F8.0, 1/9s
  F11, 1/4s
  ISO comparison
200 F8.0, 1/16s
400 F8.0, 1/34s
800 F8.0, 1/68s
1600 F8.0, 1/143s
3200 F8.0, 1/290s
  Other minor shots
200 F2.5, 1/64s
  F5.6, 1/48s
400 F2.5, 1/36s, –0.5EV

Friday, 20 November 2009

Riding History

R1149382 (Medium)^An old station notice at the Sheung Wan tram terminus.

Some holiday travellers skip Hong Kong for other cities in this part of the world because to them, Hong Kong is out and out a business city. It is simply not a place for leisure, they may think.

Back some years ago, for that same reason, I gave a friend of mine from Melbourne a spin around the countryside from the far eastern to the far western side of the New Territories beyond Kowloon. It took us some five hours including the stops at some destinations we made during the driving. At the end of the day, she admitted that it changed her perception about Hong Kong size-wise and history-wise.

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Fact is, Hong Kong as the British bridgehead and bulwark, and its allies' for that matter, against the warring and later communist China, it has no lack in history.

One of the historic routes for travellers is the trail of Dr Sun Yat-san in Hong Kong, the man who initiated the revolution whereby the last imperial emperor in the history of China was ousted from the Forbidden City.

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The tram is definitely an important part of the Hong Kong history. R1149381 (Medium)

A ride on the tram costs just over two Hong Kong dollars for an adult and less for children and elderly persons. The route of the tramway has changed little since its first operation in 1904. But then the tramway ran along the coastline of Hong Kong Island. So, riding on a tram gives you some idea about the old boundary of Hong Kong Island.

des voeux road central 1910The first trams running were the single-deck trolley cars as shown in the photo on the left. This was a streetscape of the Des Voeux Road in Central, now the heart of the CBD of Hong Kong, in 1910. Later on, there were double-deck trams with a single-deck one on tow. The double-deck trams have been in use since then. The Hong Kong Tramways once planned to replace the old cars by air-conditioned models, which would kill the much-loved atmospheric aspect of the trams. The plan was silently shelved owing to the negative response from the public.

« Des Voeux Road (a thoroughfare of the CBD), Central 1910

The trams have been mostly free of accidents, except for running over a few careless jaywalkers (unlike the UK, jaywalking is a traffic offence in Hong Kong) and one case of derailment some ten years ago.

The most unfortunate accident was that a green tram driver got killed by a car running towards his tram when he jumped off from it out of panic at the sight of a small fire in the compartment, which was later easily put out by the passengers.

extra cargo ^A double-deck tram with a single-deck trolley car on tow behind

During the first years of the trams in operation, there was a rumour spreading around the local community. Because of it, the local folks flocked to the tram stops, went on whichever one pulling over through the entrance door and got down immediately through the exit door.

The rumour was that walking through the tram compartment would bring one good luck! As you can imagine, that brought troubles to the smooth running of the trams. The folks were forbidden to do the same soon afterwards.

1919 end of war^ Trams decorated to celebrate the end of WWI in 1919 des voeux road central 1950^Trams running along Des Voeux Road in Central, Hong Kong in 1950

des voeux road central 1962 ^Des Voeux Road in 1962

des voeux road central year unknown^Des Voeux Road in the old days of an unknown year

Thursday, 19 November 2009

GX200 + TC-1 + Petroleum Jelly-coated Filter

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It is a widely known trick that one can make do with a cheapy(cheaper)  filter coated with petroleum jelly as a diffusion filter.  Not all such filters deliver the same result.    But if you care about not as much being a connoisseur in the diffusion result as getting soften images or images with less harsh contrast, this is the trick for you.

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All you need is a cheapy filter and a jar of Vaseline petroleum jelly available in the dispensaries and supermarkets.  The amount of jelly to be applied on the filter is something you may need to try and err to get it right.  In short, making it the size of two to three grains of rice will do.

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A point to note in applying the jelly on the filter is that you may keep the centre area just barely or even not coated.

R0010307 (Medium) A diffusion filter is suitable not just for your young model.  It is in fact more fitting for your subject of an older age as the soften image will blur their wrinkles.  Oh, if you want to do this with an old filter which doesn't fit your new lens, be sure to get a step-up ring.  If you're in Hong Kong, trip to Shenzhen and exit from Huaqianglu Metro Station.  There are a number of malls selling photographic paraphernalia at low prices.

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Another Fake, I Know, but a Sexy One


A fanciful possibility, Ricoh?

(Source: Livedoor)

Critique: Photography as Flashback

marc halifax winter 2009^ An image of Marc the guitar player in dreamy colour whose engrossment in the music is told by his body form, and supplemented by the blurred background, instead of a regular frontal shot of the player.

We looked at some of Tess Roby's photos on Monday. Today, let's look into her images in a more philosophical way. We will focus on how observation enriches photographic works.

Tess's images beam out an other-worldly quality. It is integral to, operating consciously or subconsciously, her way of observing and deciphering a scene. She said in yesterday's post, "One of the most important things... is making sure you know what's in your lens. You need to focus on all the aspects of the photo, not just your subject."

vinyl winter 2009

^The shot was taken at Tess's first listen of Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion

When an eye-catching image gives her an urge to photograph, she focuses on the scene as a whole and not just on the primary subject. This logic leads her to do the scene in a way befitting her idea of optimum, whereby the final image is less a reflection of the reality but more a momentary flashback of her appreciation of the scene. In other words, the process of her observation forms a flashback, or an ideological encasement, before the point she hammers out the aesthetics and technical aspects for a scene.

toronto summer 2008^Street action in Toronto. The walking man, an elderly on walking-wheels, a car turning up around the corner, the wheel-chaired person accumulate to induce a curiosity in the viewers to imagine the post-shutter-released proceeding of these elements and how the photographer had waited for them falling into places in the final image.

Simply put, to Tess, photography is not as much about snapping the decisive moments as about all the elements falling into the critical places. This falling-into-places is the foremost concern in her deciphering a scene on the basis of her observation.

marc2 halifax winter 2009^Marc and music vinyls

The final images become a visual form to represent primarily a narrator's flashback (in which she interprets her version to the viewers) rather than a composer's pieces (for which the listeners have more elbowroom to come to their own conclusions). Look at her photos here again. They are like speaking to you about the happenings in the scenes through her personal perspectives.

It is the strange interaction of seeing through her perspectives and one's own eyes that the viewers feel alienated from the otherwise objective images, resulting in a distinctive other-worldly quality to her photos. This is a style afforded by how she observes and defines photography.

(Photos by courtesy of and copyrighted to Tess Roby)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sony A10 Rumour and the Bare Truth

The Internet is starting to be awash with yet another rumour when the atmosphere in this traditional shopping season is gaining momentum: Sony's next mirrorless big-sensor camera. The picture is probably photoshopped. But there is no smoke without fire. The rumour has it that the release day will be 18 November. Wonder how such smaller beasts will overlap the APS-C DSLRs for the market share?
(Source: Photo Rumours and Livedoor)
In parallel, and a bit out of topic, here is a site specialising in teaching users to fix their electronic stuff on their own. Look, a gutted Sony DSC-H2 is lying bare.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Selected Excellence: The Young Tess

caleb winter 2008^ A shot in a cafe on the last day of 2008

Catching sight of some of Tess Roby’s photos on her Flickr page, I was like, "Wow, this aspiring young photographer could be the lady version of SY Hsu." (By the way, SY Hsu, who has appeared in quite a number of our Selected Excellence posts, won in yet another international photo contest after his two consecutive year of winning some prizes in France’s PX3. This time it is the 2009 IPA’s honourable mention.)

She is young but her photos show signs of her talent in photography.  A special photographer's eye she has, which I will write some observations as to why tomorrow.  If her style can be summarised in one word, it will be "other-worldliness".

eliot england summer 2009^It was the image that misled me to guess that Tess was British.  The quality of other-worldliness to the photo may have some bearing on the unspeakable, out-of-this-world Britishness in it.  The shot was taken on a farm in Suffolk, England. 

Interestingly, this young lady only does film photography with an old camera  which we talked about the other day, Olympus OM-1.  The photos here are some of her keepers from her OM-1.

For that matter, I asked her, "How did you come to use films and the OM-1?"

"The first film camera I ever used was an OM-1, it was my fathers," she revealed, "He bought it in the 1980's and took it with him on his world travels.  Since then, I have gotten my own OM-1 and have been using it since summer 2008. I only do film photography."

tea autumn 2009^ This photo of Miss Tea taking a cup of tea and showing her eyes is simply eye-catching.  It can make you want some tea like now.

Regarding film photography, she explained her passion, " There are so many surprises when you get your photos developed, the quality of the photo seems richer. There's so much excitement around getting rolls of film developed - I love that."

salinger cigarettes spring 2009^Tess revealed that this photo about Salinger and cigarettes was taken on a lovely spring day in Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto.

So, I asked what her idea about photography is.  I especially mentioned to her to give her own views regardless of the other established definitions.  Her reply is:

One of the most important things for me in photography is making sure you know what's in your lens. You need to focus on all the aspects of the photo, not just your subject. The subject in the photo also needs to be interesting - it needs to catch people's eyes. I like to take photos of my friends and the adventures we have together, I take photos of what catches my eye hoping it will do the same to others.   

self new york winter 2009^ Self-portrait of Tess in the other-worldly room lit by a light source from the lampshade

Oh, a little bit about our young photographer: Tess Roby is a self-taught photographer now stationed in Toronto.  She likes to travel and photograph old and new faces. She's always on the move, except when sleeping in.

Keeping going, Tess!  We look forward to seeing your winning works.

(Photos and some texts are courtesy and copyrights of Tess Roby)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Lift Off

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Mr Crane : "Mr Bank of China Tower, you should have gone on a diet."

This is Sunday.  Enjoy a sumptuous meal with your family!