Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beauty vs. art vs. everyday

I have been reading a lot of books on photography recently, and this has made me feel a bit depressed. Of maybe the reason for the depression is what is called "spring depression" in Finnish, the effect of hormonal balances changing due to increasing sunlight. Of just the after effects of flu.

In any case, there is a lot to think about on this front. For example, most photographers seem to aim for "beauty" in their work, and many factors of beauty are universal (bright colors, contrast, harmony, etc.), so there is a quite uniform look in these photographs.

As an example, the recent Wildlife Photographer of the Year book contained a lot of impressive phtographs - but taken together, it was just too much of the same.

Well, of course there is also the category of "art photographers", many of whom aim to challenge the concept of beauty, some being hailed by critics or buyers or both.

But what is left is the everyday. Well, there are art photographers also in this field, but I don't count them here.

I have a feeling that most amateur photographers are in the "strive for beauty" category - but are there alternatives? What can be done with everyday subjects? I mean here such things as "this is how our living room looked like when the children were young" and "this is what I found on the street". Are such subjects worth exploring?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Daylight saving

Thanks to it being "summertime" (aka daylight saving time), there is good natural light quite late in the evenings, up to half past eight. So, one can go shopping and still manage to take a walk without it yet being dark. This is good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Today I had our car repaired in a nearby garage, for the third time within a month. There were four problems which should now be fixed, at least it seems so. I hope this was the final time. A lot of repairs for an 11-year old car.

I commuted by bus once again, and I was quite nice, being driven by someone else. I took some photographs, of which most failed miserably although I felt there were excellent opporturnities for photography. Then I realized that the eye spotted interesting details here and there but it was impossible to catch them from the moving bus. Oh well.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I'm once more continuing the twig theme. We had variable weather today, clouded, sunny, snowing - mostly it was quite bright, and the fresh snow almost hurt the eyes. Some kind of flu is affecting me, I hope it soon goes away.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walking in a forest

We went for a walk in the Pirttimäki forests in Espoo. Today was a bright day, and the wind wasn't so hard as yesterday. There was plenty of snow, and it feels that we may be nearing a recond snow depth for the end of March.

I'm continuing the twig theme, there are endless variations to discover. And who wouldn't be captivated by this subject?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring day

Continuing the twig theme from yesterday...

Update: There is a new review of the Olympus XZ-1 at Digital Trends. A short one, with not much new, but there once again popped up the discussion on the lens - should one have it wide (as in 24 mm of the LX5) or bright (as in f/1.8..2.5 of the XZ-1). I prefer 24 mm. The difference between 28 mm of the XZ-1 and 24 mm of the LX5 seems small, but it is quite significant.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A twig photographer's dream time

We had hard wind yesterday and today, and it dropped a lot of twigs and other stuff from the trees on the snow. So, you could say we are having a feast for a twig photographer (see also here).

I wrote a little bit about using the LX3 at Andreas' blog, regarding the use of manual focus. I didn't mean that one should try to focus on a subject through the LCD - I have done it a couple of times when the LX3 has been on a tripod, and it is not really a pleasure.

What I meant is to use the DOF range which is shown on the LCD to set up the desired range. This of course works well only if you use aperture priority. (And I don't use anything else on the LX3 except by mistake.)

For example, you may set the focus range from 2 meters to infinity - a good setting for general street photography. Or set it to 1...3 meters and take photographs of subjects in this range.

I have used this in night photography (with long exposures), and also with motion blur: set the desired focus range and take photographs of subjects while walking/skiing/in a car etc. As a bonus, there is no focus lag so the camera responds instantly.

Update: There is a fresh review of the Panasonic LX5 at aPHOTOzine, well made and containing several interesting practical observations on the use. (Found via 1001 Noisy Cameras.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hard wind - and the LX5 vs. XZ-1 question

We had hard wind and bright sunshine today. I went for a walk and took some photographs. And thought a bit about cameras (LX5 vs. XZ-1).

But first a little about shoes. I have a feeling that the new hiking shoes made by Sievi may be the best I have ever had, better even than those made by Meindl which lasted 6-7 years. But it is still too early to make a judgement.

The Sievi shoes are good for hiking, although they are originally designed for occupational use, so-called "safety shoes".

I read a nice story about the old days, when such shoes were being introduced on factory floors, but not without resistance. They were thought to be heavy, hot, slippery, cumbersome - and perhaps also bad-looking.

In one particular factory there was a lot of resistance, but in time things settled. After many years a worker went on the day of his retirement to the office of the safety inspectory, and gave his work shoes to the inspector. It turned out the worker had peeled away the outer surface of the safety shoes and glued it onto ordinary rubber boots.

Is there a lesson in the story? I don't know. But at least the safety shoes have developed a great deal - the ones I have are a pleasure to walk in.

Well, back to photography. Andreas bought the Panasonic LX5, and provided interesting views on the difference between the LX5 and the Olympus XZ-1.

I thought about this for a while, and I must admit I'm of the same opinion: 24 mm wins over 28 mm any time. Even though the XZ-1 seems to get rave reviews, and the lens is bright, it is not the same as having 24 mm at the wide end.

It will be interesting to see what Andreas can do with the LX5. He already established a RAW workflow, so things seem to be on track.

But I'm not willing to jump to the LX5, although it has a better lens and sensor than the LX3. But I don't think it is so much better than the change is worth it. Today I took photograph number 166,666 with the LX3, and it is still working well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Today I took the car for repairs and commuted by bus instead. A bit of change to the usual, and there were also opporturnities to take photographs.

The car works better now, with the new shock absorbers, and some additional work done. However, some new problems cropped up, and they need further work at the garage. Oh well.

I guess this should be routine for the owner of an older car. But for some reason I'm not yet used to the thought that the car is old - it wasn't so long ago we bought it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aspect ratios and battery endurance on the LX3

Andreas Manessinger asked an interesting question, regarding the RAW format on the LX5: does the RAW file obey the aspect ratio setting? If you would need to crop againg in the RAW converter this would severely limit the appeal of the LX5.

As I don't have the LX5, only the LX3, the following may not apply, but I think it does as the changes are not that big.

I made a small experiment - I shot the same scene first using jpeg in 1:1 and 4:3 aspect ratios, then using raw in 1:1 and 4:3, with the same (ISO etc.) settings. The file sizes were:

  • jpeg: 3.7 and 4.9 MB
  • raw: 9.8 and 12.4 MB

So I think you can deduct that on the LX3 the RAW is cropped in the file. This also means that you can't recover information, e.g. go from 1:1 -> 4:3 afterwards.

This I think also provides some clue why I have found the endurance of the new batter on my LX3 to much exceed my initial experiences when I first started using the LX3. Since then, the endurance of the original two batteries has decrease to half of original (or even less in below freezing temperatures).

But with the new battery I bought the charge lasts up to 800 photographs - well above the 600 photographs which I had earlier. And the only change is that I'm nowadays using the 1:1 aspect ratio. So, the camera needs to do less work (pixel pushing), and thus the battery lasts much longer.

And having a battery that lasts for 800 photographs is quite nice indeed.