Saturday, 25 December 2010

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas and Stocktaking


Dear Readers,

As Christmas is approaching and the year is closing, we take this opportunity to thank you for your regular visits during the year.  May you have a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with actions and colours!

Now, in case you're interested, here are the "stocktaking" info about GX Garnerings:

- it started a month after the purchase of Ricoh GX200 by the author in the summer of 2008;
- as of last night, GX Garnerings has recorded 205940 hits and roughly 5 000 pageviews over the past 30 days;
- this is the 885th daily post;
- the most interesting countries of visitors is "undefined" which was shown a spot in the ocean when, to tickle the curiosity, tracked down.

(a map showing the visitors' countries early this year)

- cameras field-tested and/or reviewed since the birth of GX Garnerings included Ricoh GXR full series, Panasonic GF1, Samsung NX series, EX1, Canon S95, Ricoh GX200, and GRD2 and 3;

- cameras scheduled for field tests at press time include, hopefully, Panasonic GF2, GH2, Fujifilm X100 and F300(?), and Nokton lenses for MFT (??).

With best regards,

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


RIMG0002(L)(Camera: Ricoh GX200 with DW6)

In addition to the tips given yesterday, this is another one: use a wide-angle lens or wide-converter.  The wide angel will give you the ability to walk really close to the subject and still cover enough background in the final image.  The DW6 converts the focal length of the GX200's lens to 19mm at the widest end. 

Also, the deep depth of field of the 1/1.7" sensor in the GX200 is just what you need for street photos like this.  People seldom mention this point now since the advert of the reduced-size mirrorless cameras.  Maybe it is overlooked because of the irresistible big-sensor-in-a-small-body fad.  For that matter, it makes sense for the GXR to include the S10 module (I don’t really like the P10 module as it sports too tiny a sensor).

As a side note, the old bus stopping at the traffic light is nicknamed "hot dog" because of its colour combination and the high temperature inside it during summer.  It has been being phased out.

The Constraint of a Prime Lens

R0017430(L)(Camera: Ricoh GX200)

A user of riochforum asked a question in a post, "I'm just curious as to how some of you take your shots without getting a subject paranoid or if they're like whoa who's this person with that camera?"  The title of his post is "How to overcome 28mm limitations?"

Although not all the cameras I have tried and owned are fitted with a prime lens, I have taken tons of street photos and here are some tips under my belt:

1) Most people are curious, especially young people.   Just point the camera at them in the street.  You may ask for permission.  I ask for permissions for roughly one third of my shots.

2) Point the camera to a spot where the subject will pass.  Surely, you'll have to anticipate his or her route and pace.

3) Use a viewfinder, the best being the upward tilting ones.  People are less allergic to the camera when the photographer shoots with his head bowing down to see through the viewfinder.

4) Half-press the shutter for several time to beam out the AF-assist light to draw attention.  You'll end up with shots in which the subjects all look into the lens saying, "Whoa, who's this person with that camera?".  Works great at night.

5) A variant version of tip 5 is to do it to your subject after making sure that she (this works fine with pretty ladies) knows you have checked her out.  The photo of today was shot in this way.

6) Stay at a spot and make it known that you're taking photos.  The curious eyes will check you out and don't hesitate to press the shutter release at those moments. 

7) Take some time to walk the scene and see the final images with your mind's eye.  Imagine how to take the shot while you walk.  Set the shutter speed to at least 1/500s.  Pre-set the exposure or set it to auto.  Ricoh's cameras have the nice function of exposure lock at the press of the customisable fn button, which in M mode works to quickly tune the exposure "right".

8) Regarding tip 7, practice makes perfect.   You really have to practise how to hold your camera in your palm to make the image come out right.

9) Be decisive.  Don't walk past the same spot several times and worry too much before taking the shot.  Most people won't mind after you've taken the shot.  Most likely, they don't even know it.

10) Always get your camera ready.

The same curious user added later, "Photography has taken some changes in the USA, you can't just go into a city and start taking snapshots of people. You can be sued if the person doesn't want you to take a photo of them in some cases. So my issue with a 28mm would be getting close enough to take street shots that will not cause trouble."

There is a way out too -- move to live in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Dusk in Orange

SAM_1565(L)(Camera: Samsung WB600)

A fine view to the west side of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour at dusk.

The image was taken through a dirty window which could not be opened, making the image seemingly fraught of noise.  But it is actually not.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Dreamy Reality -- A Novel Subject?

R0014583(L)(Camera: Ricoh GXR A12 28mm)

The chance to come across a person here without a camera in hand on the street is few and far between, especially because Hong Kong's December is the best time for street photography in a year.   The whole city is heavily decorated and coloured at night.

With the widespread ownership of cameras, everyone seems to be photographing whatever can be photographed in whichever imaginable ways. Our senses may be so numbed that a great photo becomes no wonder anymore.  The growing culture of buying expensive cameras to shot the most routine of subjects robs cameras of their full potentials.  This is very regrettable in the eye of photography lovers.  On the other hand, serious photographers are trying hard to refrain from producing images of commonplace subjects and themes.  The idea of photographing novel subjects has burgeoned.  But is this the right course to pursue without any regret later?

Striving to be different is admirable and should be encouraged.  But although camera technologies are evolving in quantum leaps -- we are seeing more advanced cameras in shorter cycles -- the world is unfolding itself at a constant  pace.  That is to say, to the common folks, there are not many novel subjects to be photographed.

So, before you may dissipate your energy by going too far into the dead end, change course!  The more practicable way to strive to be different is in terms of how you advance your perspectives, thinking and photographic skills in reproducing the even most commonplace subjects and themes.

Today's photo was taken at the beautiful Hong Kong Park.  While everyone was shooting the scenery before their eyes, the author turned back on the bench and discovered this intriguing scene through an opening in the bushes -- the reflections on the lake framed by the plants and branches.  The white balance is tweaked to add on a greenish tint before the shutter release was fully pressed.  The subjects are commonplace, but the final image is hopefully less so, if not more interesting.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Spice Up

R0014455(L) (Camera: Ricoh GXR A12 28mm)
This is Sunday.  Have fun!