Serendipity too

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 This image was not the best shot from a half hour photo dash yesterday. But as I reviewed the shots today I was delighted.

Ideally, this blog would showcase some incredible craftsmanship, but clearly there are technical issues with the shot; it’s blurred, his feet are cut off, etc. Instead, I like this shot because it highlights the funny, serendipitous and even surreal wold of street photography.

I took the shot because I liked the look; sunglasses with masked face.  But I couldn’t have anticipated that at the ‘decisive moment’ the bus would pass and create both a colourful background and more importantly a great subtext!  That’s what makes street photography such a humbling exercise. Some of the best shots work not due to great skill and composition but as a happy accident.

Just shoot

Recently Olympus brought out the beautiful Pen F. It’s a lovely blend of extreme retro styling and advances in technology, for example it matches the Panasonic GX8’s 20MP sensor. Personally I’d prefer a bit of a front grip but I guess that might spoil the rangefinder aesthetics.

When new products arrive, I often find myself worrying that my gear might be inadequate. This usually develops into a mild obsession as I pour over articles and reviews, often that  I’ve already read, to prove to myself that I should stick with what I’ve got.

This time I took comfort in Thomas Leuthard’s various comments that he’s happy with the Olympus OMD EM10 despite having use of the EM1 and the mk11 versions of the EM10 and EM5. I read somewhere that Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey prefers cheaper, less complex digital cameras too.

After obsessing with camera bodies, I moved on to lenses. But again I eventually found solace in re-reading a post on m43photo blog (here) stating that the fastest glass is not necessary the best.  For street shooting especially I’m increasingly aware that I shoot mainly in the f4-f8 range which negates the need for lightening fast primes.

So, after wasting time with this technological naval gazing, I returned to actually taking pictures.

 

The thinker

band of brothers Paw

reflections Urban camouflage

Red Hat

Street Chic

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Today, I found myself listening to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. Feeling suitably confident in my masculinity, and because there was no one else in the car to laugh, I left it on. The discussion was about fashion in your 80s and 90s.

Believe it or not, it was actually pretty interesting listening to a 95 year old lady talk about how important her clothes were to her; being all she had left in terms of self-expression, and that she still dressed with the opposite sex in mind.

Later as I walked through town I passed the lady in the shot above, standing at a bus stop. I doubt she falls into the age category discussed in Woman’s Hour, but I couldn’t help notice how much effort she had made with her appearance.

I asked to take her picture, as I didn’t want to be intimidating. She seemed hesitant at first but I explained that I like to photograph interesting people and I thought she looked very glamorous. This is shot is from after the street portraits once she had relaxed a little.

 

Epiphany

I recently read an article aimed at improving street photography. Part of the premise was that simply taking shots of relatively interesting looking people does not make good street images. Instead looking for shots that capture facial expressions or physical gestures can be much more engaging (you can read the article here).

So, I thought I’d keep that in mind when I was shooting later that day.

The image above is an attempt to catch a facial expression. I was standing at a bus stop in the rain, disappointed that I’d not taken any good pictures that day. Then the lady appeared standing in front of me staring up. I liked her facial expression because she seemed to be transfixed. I called it Epiphany imagining that she was perhaps watching Angel’s lighting up the sky. In reality she is looking at the electronic bus stop, presumably trying to work out when her bus may arrive.

Old school

 
A few years ago I picked up an old OM 50mm 1.8 with a mft adapter. It was fun to use and nice as a portrait lens (100mm equiv.)

The adapter was poor quality and eventually the coating started to come off. Concerned that it would mess up the inside of my camera I left the lens aside. 

So, yesterday I bought an old OM-10 and some ilford film to begin an experiment in going analogue. 

I’m not sure how the OM-10 will fair in street photography it has the loudest shutter action I’ve ever heard. But time will tell.

The image above shows the similarity between the OM-10 and the EM10. 

Camera Consumption

So it’s out. The new OM-D EM10ii has arrived!  And a beautiful little camera it is too. 

Is it much better than the EM10? Probably not. It’s got new improved image stabilisation,  a new improved viewfinder and the buttons are bigger and more shiny. Will it take better photographs? Again probably not. 

It’s interesting to me that it has been released much more quickly than the new EM5ii. I’m sure the gap between the 5 and 5ii is at least twice that between the 10 and the 10ii. Why the shorter gap? Has it something to do with how well the EM10 sold? I read somewhere (Digital Camera Review) that the EM10 has sold either more units or more quickly than its elder and bigger brothers. 

I remember buying the EM10 and being delighted. It was a step up on the Lumix G3, which was my first mft camera. Image quality was certainly a little better and the stabilisation, wifi and build quality were a bonus.  Adverts and reviews raved about the quality of this lovely retro camera. And now the same adverts and reviews are saying similarly nice things about its upgrade. 

As I look at the camera I once liked so much, I can’t help feel that the shine has been taken away just a little. It’s now the older model; the slightly less desirable version. 

It’s crazy really to think this way. But that’s exactly how the industry want me to feel. To be slightly less happy than when I first purchased my camera. To be slightly less satisfied and to consider replacing it with the newest version. A new version which appears to have few, if any, ‘improvements’ that I need.  And which will likely make little or no change to the quality of the images I make. 
This is the nature of electronic equipment in the 21st Century. Old within a year and outdated within three.  However, despite the reviews and the magazine adverts and articles, I do wonder if the endless effort towards newer, bigger sensored, higher resolutioned, smaller bodied and faster processed images does much for the art of photography. Are we producing better work? Or are we too preoccupied with gear to really see beyond it?