Carousel... ZM50 f/2 ISO 400
This weekend, our city of Cerritos hosted a carnival for the "Community Spring Festival". To me, this is another chance to take the family out for some fun while giving myself an excuse to take more photos. I've never shot fireworks with the M9 yet, so I'm a little unprepared and wasn't sure what to do. Needless to say, I was a bit anxious to check out my images in Lightroom as soon as we got home.
People and tents... ZM50 f/1.5 ISO 400
While playing with the files, I noticed that I really like the mood of the images when I applied the "Yesteryear" presets. They reminded me of the old pictures I have when I was just a baby in the 70's. It's funny how colors does that to a person. None of these photos are spectacular in any way, but I think sometimes we connect with certain images because of the emotions that they trigger within us.
Here are a few more I'd like to share...
This is a lens with a legendary reputation. I believe it was Mike Johnston, who crowned it the "King of Bokeh" [HERE], for it's smooth transition and rendering of the out-of-focus area. I, of course, could not pass up the chance of owning one, even if it's just for the opportunity to try it out. I bought it when I was still shooting with the Sony NEX camera, and it was perfect because due to the 1.5 sensor crop factor, it gave me the 50mm standard field of view. Being a 50mm-FOV type of guy, I don't use it as much with the M9, unless I find myself needing a wide angle lens. I hope one day I will learn to use the 35mm FOV better and use it more.
Just this past weekend, I took the family to the Renaissance Faire. This is my first time going to the faire, and I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not sure what I expected, but I certainly didn't know that most of the faire-goers will also be dressing up as well! Talk about photo-ops galore!
Just after entering the faire, I saw this gentleman sitting on the bench taking a rest. I politely asked if I could take a photo of him and he obliged with a smile. There goes one of many portraits I will be taking for the day, and to me, he had that certain je-ne-sais-quoi look and personality that fit right in with the Renaissance theme. It was only much later that I realized that he was just a faire-goer and didn't actually work in the faire! My extra thanks to him for being so nice.
After finishing an entire roasted turkey leg by myself, I was walking around the food area to shoot some more interesting characters as I met this gentleman. Everyone in his group had some special intricate glasses or eyewear that look very interesting. I think he was just about to get a turkey leg for himself when I stopped him in mid stride for a picture. Everyone I talked to that day was really friendly and I think it aided in my own self-esteem to open up and not be afraid of talking to people and ask to take their photos. I don't think there is any better place for a beginner like me to practice shooting street photography. Maybe because this is Southern California with a heavy Hollywood influence, but anytime you get a lot of photogenic people together in a very interesting setting, you're bound to have some nice photos to take with you. If you're interested in looking at the full set of my photos taken that day, please visit the gallery page.
I'll leave you with the story of this little boy before I end this post. It was late in the afternoon and we were walking slowly, making our way back toward the exit. My mother saw this boy sitting under a tree, quietly calling "A dollar for a song..." There were a lot of traffic, and people seemed to just past him right by, not paying him any attention. My mother felt bad, decided to give him a dollar, and thought he was going to sing a little song. The boy put the dollar in his pocket, took out a small white ocarina and his cheat-sheet, and played a wonderful short song for us. It didn't matter what he played or how well he played, because you can tell he was concentrating so hard to give us the best he's got. My mother said that was the best dollar she ever spent, and a wonderful way to end the day!
Yesterday, in a serendipitous mood, decided to take my son to the Cerritos Library after picking him up from the preschool. I haven't been there myself for probably over 20 years. I knew a lot of money has been put into its renovations, but no amount of expectations prepared me for how much has changed. The entire library looked more like a museum to me. What a great photographic opportunity right in the city that I lived in!
Here's a couple of teasers, please visit the gallery for the entire set:
So I've been shooting out of my car a lot... and noticed quite a few dirty spots on the images. Although I'm pretty sure they are from my dirty windshield, I decided to check my sensor anyway. After replacing a fresh battery and put the camera in sensor cleaning mode, there was something on the sensor that couldn't be blown away with a blower. So, I searched around and ordered a sensor cleaning kit from Visible Dust.
Time for some more quick shares... I haven't been any where interesting lately, just the daily grind between work and home. So, I'll give you a glimpse of what I see everyday. Note: I don't focus while driving, I set the aperture on f/8 and use the hyperfocal distance. Otherwise, I wait until it's red light so I have time to concentrate and focus. Oh, and no animals were harmed while these pictures are taken :)
Read a funny post [HERE] today. It was written by Mike Johnston back in 2006, but I think the same satire still applies today. More and more people are sharing photos online, pro or non-pro, and often times the original poster will ask for critics and comments. I do that all the time, because I thirst for any constructive comments that will help me improve.
However, after reading that post, it made me want to think twice before accepting any future critiques. There's no place that have more "experts" than the Internet, and many people have a very narrow view of what's "good". Even a newbie like myself, sometimes we have to remember that as long as we like the photo as the way we made them to show, no one can say it's "wrong". It's our own vision, our creative freedom. They don't have to like it, sure, but there may be others who will understand it and love it just the way it is.
Now, tell me how much you dislike this uninteresting shot:
To me, Photography is an artistic expression through the usage of cameras, just like painters express their idea by using paint on canvas. Fundamentally, I think we can all agree that having the initial artistic vision is more important than the gears used to realize it. However, sometimes we get caught up in the latest technology and trends that we become lost in the world technology and science. A little too easily, I feel.
Just this week, I've read a few inspirational articles that argued for various sides and stirred up some interesting conversations in the forums:
All three terms will sound familiar if you read about street photography with rangefinder cameras and lenses. Finally, I decided that if I was to grow as a photographer, I better understand them natively so I can use the techniques quickly when I need them. You can read all about them at Wikipedia, but I will try to sum it up in a way that's easier for me to understand.
A well-known photographer and director, Chase Jarvis, has a book titled "The Best Camera Is The One That's With You". Although the book is about iPhone photography, I think the idea is applicable to all photo-taking instruments. Since I received my M9 about a week ago, I've been taking it with me everywhere, even to work. I've been coming and going to this same office for over a year now, but simply because I have the M9 with me now, I'm looking at things in a different light. I'm more aware of my surroundings, and I'm more conscious about keeping an eye out for photographic opportunities, the "decisive moment".
Monday, leaving work, I drove out of the back alley that leads out of the parking lot, onto the major street. Since the traffic light was red and there were quite a few cars ahead of me, I looked to my right and noticed a stunning view. It was a small parking lot behind a hotel/motel, but it had this giant coral tree with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop. I've drove by this place countless times and never noticed this little slice of heaven:
Tuesday, on my way in, I looked up the same stairs that I climb everyday... and noticed the dramatic lighting and contrast. Since the camera was already in my hand, I simply turned it on, set the ISO to 800, and took a few snaps. Later that night, I picked a preset in Lightroom, added some heavy grains, and thought I had a decent looking photo:
Just this morning, driving in my car, noticed a guy was happily smiling at the back of the bus. I think he was singing/rapping along some songs. Again, with the camera right next to me, I turned it on, twisted the aperture to f/8, quickly composed through the viewfinder and took the shot without focusing (hard to do while driving). I remember reading something about pre-focusing, zone-focusing, and hyper-focal things... I wished I know those techniques by heart right about now, but perhaps that'll be a topic for a later post. I also remembered someone saying "F8 and be there", so I just prayed that it works:
My Journey into Leica...
A path not to be taken lightly, not without reservations, and not without dedication, but the results can be sweet, OH SO SWEET! This is a documentation of my trials and tribulations into the world of Leica Rangefinder Photography, and I hope you'll enjoy coming along with me.