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 wordpress.com. 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

November rain, well sort of

2010, Photography


These photographs were actually taken in October, but the weather seems to be the same. It is autumn and last weekend we entered the winter time. It is dark and rainy here. Little time to photograph, but some time to experiment with my camera.

I am still wondering how to achieve the high contrast B&W look in-camera with the Ricoh GR Digital 3. Ricoh seems to apply a a lot more contrast than possible through the normal B&W settings. I tried the Panasonic LX3/LX5 style with their dynamic B&W setting which is a very warm white balance and green tint compensation. Ricoh however restricted their warmest white balance setting to the cloud white balance which is only half as warm as Panasonic´s option. There is however a need trick to get both a photograph with the high contrast B&W setting and a color photograph without these additional contrast. Both photographs will be jpeg, but you still have a normal jpeg when the high contrast might be a bit too much. Set the camera in scene mode, press the menu button, and select Hi BW. Instead of just selecting OK, press the fn1 button, go down in the menu and change the default setting for Plus Normal Shooting into On. That is all. And now two jpegs will be recorded, one with high contrast and one normal color jpeg.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

New post/firmware Ricoh GRDIII

2010, Photography


It took my a while (I know), but I learned quite a lot about my photography in the last weeks. I needed some time to evaluate it, to better understand what I want, and how I might want to achieve this.

In the meantime Ricoh announced a new firmware update for their Ricoh GR Digital 3 which can be found here. They included two new scene modes, high-contrast B&W and Cross Process. Both are actually pretty cool and I like them a lot. See the examples above and below. These were only resized and slightly sharpened. Other new feature is the manual focus magnified ratio. Default was 2x, but you can now also select 4x. The remaining features is a delete option for the key custom settings and my settings.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

My view

2010, Photography


It is now almost two weeks ago that I broke my back at a freak accident. I still have some pain, but I am able to sit and walk a bit. I really appreciate all your comments and messages, thank you all.

But what next? Ricoh quickly replaced my camera for another one and many suggested seeing the situation as an opportunity, which I did.

On twitter @MichaelZelbel suggested to post some tips on photography health. But what should I suggest? Be careful with chemicals when you are still shooting film. Unless you need all your equipment, go light or at least minimal. A large camera bag and one or two cameras and lenses add a lot of stress to your shoulders, neck and back. When you go out in your neighborhood walk or take your bike instead of a car.

And concerning health, it took me a lot of time to edit these photographs and write this post. So I now I am still not there yet. I am still glad that I could take these. And I am also glad that I could still keep in contact with many of you despite my fracture.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma