Australia from Four Cameras — (4 of 4)

Moto RAZR (phone camera) The least technically capable camera I carried in Australia was the one built into my cell phone, the Moto Razr.  And when I say ‘least technically capable’ about the imaging quality, what I mean is that it is pretty atrocious. The shutter is remarkably slow, the color calibration is bland, the orientation and ergonomics are awkward and unpleasant. That said, although it was less capable than my other ‘real’ cameras, in non-traditional ways, it was the most capable. With all its limitations I was able to do some interesting things. The panorama feature was slightly redeeming – I could wave the phone in a circle, and it would stitch together a wobbly but coherent frame.  I could instantly share pictures by uploading to Instagram. I could take “selfies.”  Most importantly, I was able to use pictures as a surrogate notepad, for ‘mentally bookmarking’ things I needed to remember …

Continue reading

Australia from Four Cameras — (3 of 4)

Olympus E-PL1 The E-PL1 is an amazing camera. What I love about it (aside from the image quality) is its inconspicuousness. When shooting street photography, or casual travel scenes, pointing a big DSLR neck-weight can easily tip off potential subjects that their image is being captured, and may intimidate them into feeling a need to ‘perform’ for such a large camera. The small body E-PL1 is a much friendlier camera to be in front of – it looks small and harmless, and leaves people to behave as naturally as they would if a camera weren’t around. It uses the same 13 megapixel sensor that the much larger E-30 does, but in a compact “micro 4/3” body system. The Micro 4/3 line of cameras offer big quality in a small package, and with a lens converter, I can shoot with the same glass that I use in any other E-system camera. (So …

Continue reading

Australia from Four Cameras — (2 of 4)

Olympus E-500 The E-500 was the first DSLR I ever used, and I’ve been shooting with it for nearly eight years. I learned how to operate manual controls with this camera, and built a muscle memory with it that I can’t quite replicate with any other camera body. The E-500 doesn’t have the live-view features or the 13MP sensor of the E-30, my other Olympus camera body, but I chose to travel with the 500 because it’s smaller, lighter, and I am more familiar with its nuances. Comfort with a tool could be more important than features, bells, and whistles. Even with its older sensor and more limited features, it’s very capable of producing gorgeous images. I’ve always been impressed with its color accuracy, especially shooting in .jpg with no post-processing. Rich blues and greens make it great for landscapes.

Continue reading

Australia from Four Cameras – (1 of 4)

It’s the biggest question I face when I get ready to take a trip – which cameras are coming along?  For my trip to Australia, I ended up packing four cameras, four lenses, and 38GB of memory cards. Each camera served its own unique purpose, and I gave all of them almost equal use. Olympus FE-170 This camera was put to market in 2006, making it the oldest of my crew. I found it on eBay for under $100 back in 2007, so you could probably put 50 cents in a vending machine to get one today. It’s a small 6 megapixel point and shoot, with 38-114mm (equivalent) zoom. By today’s standards, it is very limited in image quality, but it has something none of my other cameras did – an element of “disposability.” At 4.4 oz, and with only two buttons I needed to press, it is exactly what I …

Continue reading

Weather Review ★★★ Tysons, VA

Morning was wet and cloudy with the first chill in months. Sun breaking this afternoon, evaporating sidewalk puddles, but the air still cooler. I didn’t notice the American flag until after lunch – in front of the building it hung dormant on the pole, then a gust set it fluttering. Occasional billows of full exposure were followed by rattling breezes, its form alternating between a solid rectangle and a twisted branch.

Continue reading

on National Geographic Live!

The National Geographic Society has launched a program called ‘NG Live!’ in which brilliant photographers from the magazine’s pages present their work at the Grosvenor Auditorium, in Washington D.C. to a curious and appreciative audience. Gardens by Night Diane Cook and Len Jenshel presented an alluring series of exposures from gardens around the world, captured during the darkest hours of night. The soft light from the moon casts a diaphanous glow on the beautiful landscapes in the images. Gardens, curated carefully to be visually pleasant, calming and intricate, show a hidden power at night. Fuling and Changing China I’m acquainted with the modernizing landscape along the Yangtze River from my own travels, but gained fresh perspective from the images captured by Anastasia Taylor-Lind. Her presentation ‘Fuling and Changing China’ uncovered an engaging and striking portrait of the people, structures, and natural beauty of the region. Ms. Taylor-Lind journeyed along the …

Continue reading

three Films Worth Watching

Senna Sports films seem to be trending toward documentary lately, leaving behind fictional drama like ‘Hoosiers’ and ‘Rudy.’ ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ series is a great example, and this portrait of Ayrton Senna, the Formula 1 driver, is another. I’m not really a  fan of auto racing, but I was able to enjoy this critical exploration of Senna’s character, and the sport of Formula 1. Recommended for fans of anything Brazilian, and also as an interesting chronicle of international sportsmanship in the days before Atlanta ’96, China’s economy, and Livestrong. Holy Motors Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Holy Motors is the strangest – and most wonderful – movie I’ve seen in a while. The kind of film that offers more questions than answers, its imaginative course plays out, like other recent French films (Paris, je t’aime) as a series of distinct vignettes, tied by a central character – …

Continue reading