Cumbersome indeed and a bit of everything

2012, Image editing, Photography

It took me a while to think of a new blog post again (I don’t feel a pressure to regular post new stuff though) and that has partly come because I currently hardly photograph. I guess, more than expected, I needed a break from photography. Much of my work in the past year dealt with converting my moods into imagery, sometimes consciously, but often subconsciously. A friend recently showed some concept of his new photography blog and that excited me. And made me realize too that much of the stuff I did was not always about happiness and joy. Mood? Yes. Honesty? I tried. I think what I miss is something to desire, a mood, a feeling, something pretty and pleasant. More than ever before I look forward to this upcoming Summer.

Since December 2007 I run my own photography blog and shared my photographs online. I don’t do it to become popular, well known, or to start up a business. sharing makes perfect sense for me in photography, the people I met ever since were worth all the effort. And yes, I had my worries of image theft or people sharing my work without mentioning. But I lightened up on this issue which I mention clearly in my About page. A couple of days ago I was shocked when I received an e-mail where someone claimed the two photographs in the previous post, Almost Human, were actually his. First of that claim was just ridiculous. I know these photographs are mine, I took them, I processed them, I know where and when I took them, which camera I used, and I know who where with me. I told it to my wife and she was flabbergasted (she was with me on both occasions). The claim is stupid, but with current internet legislation I feel the content makers are very vulnerable.

E-mail with the insinuation

Then I more closely inspected that mail and I noticed that the person, not leaving behind additional contact information, attempted to redirect me through a strange link to my blog post. This felt untrustworthy. The strange link and, I presume, the false identity. I immediately changed my password for my blog content management system and I contacted It felt like an attempt to hack either my blog or something else. Again it emphasizes the vulnerability of our online presence and the evilness some people unfortunately have within them. Yet it pisses me off, you know. These punks should get a life, go to school, do something meaningful with their lives and for our society, and they should tell their mothers what a jerks they are. I thought the best response trying to forget this was to write a new blog post. It is my blog, and these are my photographs, my musings.

Since November last year I made no effort writing about gear. You see, I believe a camera is just a tool. There are probably lots of reasons why you decided to use a specific camera (I know I have), but I feel no need to defend this. An important reason why I stay away from forums, because too often people troll to give great significance to their reasoning and bash anything else. Just stupid. But I prefer certain tools and I know many visitors on my blog come here for this fact too. As much as I hope it would be for my photography alone I realize it matters others what gear I use and what can be done with certain cameras (and lenses).

Well that said, my preferred cameras are the Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm pancake lens and a Ricoh GR Digital 3. While I really like the GF1, it does feel like a replaceable camera to me. The Ricoh however is more than that. If I replace this camera, it would only be with a new GR Digital model. Since end 1996 I replaced my SLR for a Ricoh GR1 and I was really glad to get a digital replacement in 2009. No other camera forced me to work so consciously with a minimal set up. Just a 28mm prime lens and that is it.

The current version, the GRD4, still uses the same sensor that was introduced with the GRD3. Sony stopped producing this sensor and that makes me wonder what Ricoh should do for next year. Ricoh acquired Pentax last year, but yet haven’t decided or at least announced proper plans for their full camera line up. I think their current line up has a few noticeable and distinctive cameras like the Pentax 645D, the K-5, and the Ricoh GRD4. The K-5 has one of the best APS-C sized sensors and is a really good camera. The GRD4 is a true cult camera and loved and faved by many photographers, especially in Asia. The sensor however is outdated and the competition is getting better and better. Now Sony introduced the RX100 with a new 1 inch sensor and I really believe this is the sensor that Ricoh should incorporate in the new GR Digital 5 next year. It is a huge step beyond the small sensors used until now. Greater dynamic range and better high ISO performance. And while the current GRD is well developed in it’s current form, I believe it makes sense to get the GRD form factor closer to the original GR1 series with a viewfinder.

And returning back to the Pentax Ricoh camera line up I think their problem is in the mirrorless cameras, the Pentax K-01 and the Ricoh GXR series. While both are unique and use interesting technologies, I believe these cameras are commercially speaking not really successful. The K-01 lacks the option to use an electronic viewfinder and looks rather ought. And when it comes to the GXR I personally feel only the M-mount module is really worth all the effort. And innovating technology alone doesn’t necessarily make a camera system commercially interesting.

Enough cameras though. Recently I started using the previous year released Lightroom VSCO film presets by Visual Supply Co for my own processing. One of the most well known photographers who contributed his knowledge to these presets is American wedding photographer Sean Flanigan with his distinctive style. Both his shooting and posing techniques with tilt and shift lenses became fashionable in the wedding photography industry. Soon after that his processing style popped up all over the place. With the release of these presets it is now even easier to achieve this look. Honestly, I think this look is now overdone in the wedding photography, but still I find these presets very intriguing. In my opinion these are the first development presets for Lightroom that can generate continuity and consistency in the post processing on multiple photographs. Soon I will publish my impressions on these presets and how I try to use these for my photography.

I hope all is well to you and good light!

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

15 thoughts on “Cumbersome indeed and a bit of everything

  1. Wouter, Too bad to hear about the potential phishing. You really have to be careful and only go to web sites where you type the URL yourself rather than clicking the link in the email. Agreed that some seemingly smart people (hackers) should do good with their skills rather than harm!

    Interesting read on the cameras. These days I only use the GXR 50mm simply because I’m sticking to one focal length with the occasional use of the GRD4. Still feel that Ricohs are my favorite cameras to use, though I agree that they are in general due for an overhaul. Long time silence on the GXR front could be telling. Though I love the GRD rendering I would still appreciate a more capable camera.

    I was going to ask you about which VSCO preset you used for you B&W images? Because of your last post I purchased them and I’ve so far been using them for color. I really like them, and I realized why… it’s because the look is similar to my matte film prints. I haven’t quite found the right VSCO B&W preset to accomplish that yet though. I’ve been working on a new project and I want that matte look to be part of it.

    Another insightful post, Wouter, and very much appreciated. And by the way, I can relate on the posts sometimes relaying mood. I’m guilty of that!

    1. Hi Andrew,

      The phishing attempt really surprised me, but I am over that now. I said my thing and it is done.

      For me the GRD is a capable camera and the GXR never gave me the same excitement even though it is technically a better camera. I guess this new Sony 1 inch sensor can make a huge difference for the GRD. And I think Ricoh should all their resources on this new version instead of the rumored B&W GRD and a GRD zoom.

      For the B&W photographs I used the T-MAX 3200 preset. Additionally I used the darken sky adjustment and lowered the grain a bit. I finished with lowering the white point in the tonal curve just slightly.

  2. I quite like the shades of green and the grainy texture on these color shots, Wouter.
    One question about the gear thing: As a recent owner of a GF1 (has its quirks but love it) I´m curious to know if you would still find your GF1 replaceable if you had a Panasonic 14mm 2,5 (28mm eq.) to go with it…

    1. Thank you António. Last year I briefly tried the 14mm lens and was surprised by the compactness and its quietness. I have no opinion on the image quality so I have no real opinion whether I stand by my thoughts regarding the GF1. And admitted, I just fo love the 20mm. Such a wonderful and practical perspective.

  3. Sony has been able to squeeze 1 inch sensor with relatively bright zoom lens in a very compact camera. Hopefully Ricoh GRD V follow this path. I like the GRD body design a lot more because it is more photographic centric than other compacts. Hopefully it will still pocketable. Ricoh GXR & Pentax K01 are too big, the Pentax Q built quality is good, but the sensor is too tiny and the performance is quite bad.

    thanks for sharing your thought.

    1. I hope Ricoh this same 1 inch sensor too for the GRD5. And regarding the Pentax Q performance I disagree. When it comes to the sensor I think Pentax did an exceptional job and it really pushes technology.

  4. i’m not a techy guy. I do not know much about the image sensors. But I was also thinking the same thing last week, while I was checking out what the others do with their Contax T2/3, GR1/2. Those models are what they so-called the high-end compact film cameras. They’re in full frame even with their proprietary tiny lens. The developed film images are sharp and gorgeous. That makes me wonder why can’t a compact digital camera these days use a full frame sensor? Why are we stuck with the pea-sized sensors (or at least not a reasonably size)? Is it because the costs of putting a full frame sensor won’t be affordable to the majority of people? You know those silly questions kept running through my head while I was reviewing my photos.

    I really want to always go light and casual to just head out with my GRD. But sometimes I just can’t, because of the sensor size + image quality issue. I needed a camera with a bigger SENSOR. That sounds ridiculous…but that’s what many of us do nowadays without film.

    I do hope the GRD V will have a sizable update on the hardware. Have a good one 😉

    1. The 1 inch sensor would in my opinion be a very good sensor for these smaller compact cameras. Ricoh will however have to redevelop the 28mm lens which will likely be a bit larger, but still retractable.

  5. Hey Wouter,
    I made the mistake of replacing my GRD III for a GXR P10, cuz I do not like the 28mm. I miss it like crazy and hope the V will have possibility to have a 50mm on it. It is indeed an irreplaceable camera.

    I really wanted to get the VSCO films, but I decided not to, because I would not be able to resist the temptation to emulate either you or Sean. You touched on a pet peve of mine, the wedding photographers that have the same presets (VSCO) and the same lens (Canon Tilt shift): It is annoying when everybody looks the same! I like the way you use it tho, for personal photography, they are indeed intriguing presets. The wedding market is oversaturated with Sean look alikes, and I hope that we do not start having wouter look alikes!

    Love your photographs, very expressive. Moody cat picture wins my vote!

    1. That is exactly the problem I have with the VSCO presets. You can have amazing presets, but this one is tightly related to a well respected wedding photographer. Many get these presets, because they like what Sean does.

  6. Very interesting post, Wouter. I agree about sharing making perfect sense in photography – if I had no one to share my photos with, I think I would be far less motivated photographically than I am – and I’ve no doubt that blogging has made me experiment more, and that it has also improved my photography.

    I don’t worry about image theft and sharing, life’s too short for that! If it were a case of someone stealing a unique print or slide that would be different – but digital greatly facilitates the publicising of photos worldwide while still retaining the original shots, and that’s just wonderful.

    I’m surprised by the email accusing you of stealing photos >>> and I quite agree that there is something underhand / dishonest / criminal here >>> its very good that you mentioned this to us all. This serves to put us all on our guard!

    And I’m right with you about cameras simply being tools. I’m very fortunate in owning the D700 and G11 as I think they’re perfect for the job, and I have no thoughts about getting any others. The D800 is good, but file sizes are enormous and the D700’s far fewer pixels are quite enough for me.

    Good to hear from you, Wouter! Adrian

    1. You have a great setup Adrian with the D700 and the G11. And likely you don’t anything more. I worried about image theft in the past, but I don’t care about that anymore.

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