Saturday, 12 December 2009

And Your Exposure Combo is…

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Now that we are all exposing a scene with the instant cue on a LCD screen, the techniques of doing exposure are left to the wind by and by.

In the above contrasty scene, which I photographed with my film Minolta Dynax 7, how would you expose?

The present-day metering system and micro-chips in the cameras are so sophisticated that giving it an average metering will do the trick. The photo will come out okay.

But, what if you wish to know exactly what you're doing, and to end up with a final image turning out to be exactly the way you want?

For this photo, I cared about the foliage under the shade by the footpath. I didn't want it to be unduly darkened in the final image.

So, I metered the area. Since I presumed it to be near zone 5, I just exposed the scene as suggested by the camera and took the shot.

Zone 5? Read on here.

Friday, 11 December 2009

So, a Crush for your Old Cameras still?

F1640012 (Large) (Medium)^These birds were as big as half an adult's height.  Well, it depends on how high you are.  All images in this post are film photos. 
 
Maybe I shall be as wise as Marco who, in his comment yesterday, revealed that his GX200 would be sold. I am still keeping two GX200, and even my decade-old Minolta Dynax 7 and, believe or not, the dead body (well, it doesn't function anymore) of my Minolta Dynax 7000i plus a P&S Oly film mju-zoom camera.
  
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Can you recall the crush for such old flames when you first caught sight of them seemingly with a halo overhead inside the shop windows?

And if you have many old cameras, it was "lust" not just "crush".
 

F1640003 (Large) (Medium)^I like the serene view of this boardwalk over a pond.

Want a cure to mitigate your insatisfiable photographic libido which get you in a downward spiral of dire need of money?

It is time to revive your old flames. Give them a hug (not with force or the battery compartment flip may fall out) and give them a clean-up as in the first days when you both met. Then, bring them (one at a time) out for a date.
 
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So I brought mine, the Dynax 7  to the Mai Po Marshes which is a nature reserve under the World Wild Fund for Nature (Didn't I say that Hong Kong is not just a city for business?). The reserve restricts access by the general public except for participants of the guided tour at a cost.

F1640018 (Large) (Medium)^The fast focusing of the camera allowed me to snap this tiny bird perched briefly on the fallen bough and flew away in the next second. 
 
Although the tour is primary for bird watching, for which the staff can lend you monocular and binoculars of high-magnification power, it is worthy of a photographic trip or even just chilling-out from the crazy rat-racing world.
 

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I certainly made sure that it was worthy of all three of the purposes.

The Minolta Dynax 7 with the lenses and the flashgun slowed me down  bit after some time walking around and climbing up and down for photos, which is the downside of heavy, regular photographic gear. The saving grace was that I once again enjoyed the joy of the past when I first used it. Suddenly, I was like being stripped of the desire for any new cameras.

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Actually, I felt myself a class above using a film SLR while the others kept checking out the LCD screens of their DSLRs as if they weren't sure about any of the shots. No wonder I could stay more focused on composing and doing every shots.
 
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Things became simpler. A good scene, compose, expose and shot. What a refined joy of photography without keeping thinking about the camera per se!

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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Do You Crave for More Cameras?

R0018424 (Medium)^My Ricoh GX200 System:  the camera, two conversion lenses, some filters and the accompanying long-zoom CX1.  Wonder why the EXIF suggests that the photo was taken by a GX200?

A lady speaking English at a near native-speaker proficiency said in regret, "This is not enough.  I still have lots to learn."

I, half turning to her husband, replied, "Well, we are always in the want of what we already have but want more.

"Ask him," I, pointing to the man's Epson R-D1 and hinting at his Ricoh camera in his backpack,  continued in an amusing tone, "if he still wants more cameras?"

The answer was a resounding YES.

R0011307 (Medium)^The answer to the last question is: I have two GX200 cameras.  The photo gives an idea of how the GX200 grows in size with the tele-converter.  I attached to it a step-up ring to use a circular polariser.

With the dawning of the interchangeable-lens MFT (micro 4/3) cameras, the exciting GXR and the likes with a larger sensor at heart, we are even more tempted to "well stock" our camera cabinets.

Just three weeks ago I received yet another enquiry email from one of our readers who was vexed by the wide choices for a new camera.

R0018427 (Medium)^The GX200 with the TC-1 and the viewfinder on is so cool.  It is a head-turner in the street.  The polariser does miracle to saturate the colours and contrast of the images. I leave the other GX200 bare to suit it to doing streetshots.

Among other suggestions, I pointed out one thing.  A decision to buy a new camera should factor in the cost of building it up to a full-fledged system, especially when the newly available ones are meant to be a system in the first place.

The extended usability and extra fun with the GX200 system can prove this suggestion, to say the least, reasonable.  It is like back to the film era with a SLR, or in this digital era with a DSLR, when people did not buy as much new camera bodies as new lenses.

R0011311 (Medium)^A comparison between the GX200 attached with the TC-1 and the Minolta 24-105mm reminds me of how I'm determined to stick to the serious compacts… for now (well, we all crave for more cameras; who can say for sure).

It is the lenses that afford photographers to see a scene  in different perspectives.  This is true for my GX200 when using the 19mm and 135mm converters.  The possibility to use filters is an added benefit in relation to a built-up serious compact digital system.

So, if you're buying the MFT or GXR, consider an austerity plan to help expand it to a system.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A Vanishing Race

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Hong Kong is a typical big city where nearly all neighbourhood shops have been elbowed out of the way by colossal chain stores, except for the older districts devoid of huge business viability.

With the juggernaut of greed in nowadays humans whereby even the Copenhagen summit  becomes another occasion to ask for delayed remedial actions to the big environment issue, it is little wonder that small neighbourhood businesses cannot survive.

They are the vanishing race.

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It was just by chance that I came across this teeny-weeny shoesmith shop which is situated in the tiny space under a staircase leading up to a pre-WWII tenement building.  For this kind of shop, the commonly known name is "Loutiedyke  Poou", or literally "Staircase-underside Shop".

These days you won't find many, if any, shoesmiths in Hong Kong.  Maybe you can spot one or two mending shoes of variety at some makeshift stall in a back lane of an old neighbourhood.  It will be certainly by the grace of luck if you come across a shoesmith with a decent shop of his own.

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I approached the friendly man, who was engrossed in mending a black leather shoe, and asked, "May I take some pictures of you?"

"For sure, just go ahead," he replied at once in a very audible, willing tone despite of his face mask.

What did his reply remind me of?  It was the friendliness of neighbourhood shopkeepers which you who have grown up in such neighbourhoods definitely miss.

Try to wander in any big name store and ask for permission to take photographs.  You will probably be refused or even confronted by the security staff if you insist.

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When I had taken enough shots, I raised my eyebrows and voice to admire his decent shop with a thanking note before I left.  He, without turning his head from the black leather shoe on his hand, spoke up at my back, "Don't mention it.  You're very welcomed to take more."

I heard him as I walked away, and thought to myself, "Only if all the greedy decisions can be reverted."

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Reason Why

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Today's photo may be puzzling to the tyros: how did the photographer do it?

Flash photography is a genre of photography in its own right.  For one thing, the flash now serves as the primary light source and the control of the amount of light reaching the sensor hinges on the aperture alone.  The shutter speed becomes irrelevant, well,  in a way, to the exposure.

This is why flash photography affords you the chance to do intriguing photos like this.

Here the room was lit by environmental light peering through the window.  I spot-metered the backyard outside the window, thus making the room seriously underexposed save for when the flash beamed light in a split of a second.  The shutter was dragged by way of lowering the ISO - since the camera used was CX1 which didn't allow tweaking of the exposure combo - thereby allowing me enough time to turn the camera from a horizontal to a vertical position.

Since the backyard was exposed correctly throughout the span of 1/32s, the sensor recorded the twisting movement for that "correctly" exposed area.  The bedroom was intact because its image reached the sensor only at the firing of the flash, except for the the area below the windowsill where the lighting condition was closer to that of the backyard.

Voila!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Spare Tyres

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This is a shop which sells spare tyres of all sorts, with the obese shopkeeper sitting outside it.  The humour is, without any intention to tease the man, cultural.

In Cantonese, one's "spare tyres" are the wiggling rings of unshaped fat around the waist, the big fat belly.

See the spare tyres now?

This is Sunday.  Have a restful day!