Monday, February 20, 2012

Old Camera's

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post.  I've had time to think about what to write, and this time I decided to look back, back to some of the camera's I now have on display.

The first is my Pentax ME Super.  I have owned several Pentax 35mm camera's over the years.  The 1st was a K1000.  I didn't really know anything about photography, but I was interested and really wanted a 35mm.  So, I saved some money, and bought the K1000 at JC Penny.

That was a long time ago.  I did my best to learn photography on my own and didn't do a bad job of it.
And during those early days in my photography obsession, I thought I need something a little more advanced than the K1000, so I bought the ME Super.

Here's one of my ME Super's with an autowinder.  I got it mostly for the grip since it was only good for about 2 frames per second.

I really loved this camera.  In fact, I loved it too much.  This ME Super is no longer functional.  I never mistreated it, I just wore it out.

So, now it sits on my shelf, a reminder of where my passion for photography began.

Next up, a medium format Yashica.  This is an interesting camera, and is not an SLR but a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex).  One of the other differences between this type of camera and a 35mm SLR is the type of shutter.  Most 35mm cameras use a Focal Plain Shutter, where the TLR uses a leaf shutter.  The Focal Plain clunks and makes noise, the leaf shutter makes a very small click.  A quiet shutter can be an advantage when needing to be stealthy (such as shooting a wedding).  The other advantage of this type of camera is that it's a medium format, using 120 film vs. 35mm.  The much larger negative has to potential to hold more detail and yield larger prints.

I have owned and used quite a few TLR's.  All 3 of them were Rolleiflex.  A friend of mine has a Yashica similar to the one in the photo.  I never actually used a Yashica.  This one was given to me by another friend.  It's in very good condition and if I wanted to put some 120 film in it, it would still work.

This particular Yashica has a light meter, something of a nice upgrade from the standard versions.  Only my most expensive Rolleiflex had a light meter.

Unfortunately, I don't have any of my old Rollei's.  It was short sighted of me to trade them for another camera, a Bronica.  At the time I was shooting weddings and the Bronica was easier to use, and offered options that the Rollei's just didn't have (like interchangeable lens).

So, I don't have my Rollei's, but I do have this Yashica to remind me of this wonderful style of camera.

One last camera to talk about in this post is what I called, my Precious.  It so happened that I was already using a digital SLR, the Canon 300D (Digital Rebel).  While I really liked this camera, I wanted a smaller digital camera for backup.  Just before we went on our annual Thanksgiving vacation to Bishop and the Eastern Sierra, I bought my Precious, a Canon SD700IS.  This little camera offered some nice features for the money, and decent quality for such a little package.  Besides a panorama function, the image stabilizer was the thing that sold me.

This little camera also saved me.  On this particular vacation, I had the misfortune to have my 300D stop working.  One of the main reason I go to the Eastern Sierra at this time of year is to make photos, and to have my main camera out of commission was a major problem, that is if I didn't have my Precious.  I used that little camera for the rest of my stay, and really loved using it.  Decent quality in a package that I could put in my pocket, I couldn't have asked for more!

My Precious sits on a shelf now.  Another unfortunate victim of being loved and used too much.  I used to take this camera with me on my bike, and dropped it once to often and it finally broke.  While there are much more advanced point and shoot camera's around now, I really miss My Precious.

That's it for now.  Perhaps you'd like to share some of the camera's you've used over the years.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Little More HDR!

Seems that I can't get enough HDR.  Personally, I like the look and it doesn't matter if the image is subtle or extreme.  For me, I think it's very creative.  Not everyone likes it, and that's ok too.  To each his own.  There's an argument that it's not real, or that it's not photography.  I think that's just silly.  If you don't like it, don't look!  It's kind of like the tired old argument of which is better, Chevy or Ford?  Does it really matter?  Art is a very subjective and personal thing.  Is photography art?  Depends on who you ask, I say yes!

Getting back to the subject or HDR, I had another opportunity to dabble in it yesterday.  I spent some time with the family at Downtown Disney.  I've never been here before, and wasn't sure what to expect.  So, I took my trusty Sony NEX3 along because of it's small size and big performance.  It was the perfect choice for snapshots of the family and more thoughtful shots of the place.  The other thing is that being so small it doesn't really attract unwanted attention (like my Canon 60D with the big white L lens).  With the NEX3 I could easily move around and quickly grab shots without too much trouble.

For this post, I want to show you what I did with a hotel lobby (I wish I could remember the name).  It was very large, and the light was dim.  Not a great combination.  Yes, I have a flash on the NEX3, but it's tiny, and there's no way it was going to light up this large space.  I could have kicked the ISO up (say from 100 to 1200 or more), but in this case I left it at 200.  ISO is a setting the adjusts your camera's sensitivity to light.  The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the sensor.  In the days of film cameras this was expressed as ASA.  With a higher ISO you can increase your ability to take photos in low light.  The downside of this can be a degraded image.  This is especially true with Point & Shoot cameras with smaller sensors.  The high ISO can lead to noise which lowers the quality of the image.  So, I kept my ISO low to try and get the best quality image I could.

Getting back to the hotel lobby, I decided to take a few shots with HDR in mind.  With the Sony NEX3 I set the camera to HDR mode.  This will cause the camera to take several shots at different exposures, and combine them in the camera.  In addition I took a shot in normal, Aperture Priority (AE) mode.  Here's what I ended up with:

First, the normal AE mode shot:
As you can see, it was pretty dark.  I braced myself against a column to steady the camera since the shutter speed was pretty slow.

Here's the auto HDR shot:

This one is a little better.  You can start to see more detail in the shadows and dark areas, and the color seems to pop just a bit more.  This one is ok, but I think it could be better!

To reach the final product, I combined the 2 images above in Photoshop using a 3rd party plug-in called HDR Efex Pro by Nik.  This process took the best of both images to create something that really started to give the image the sense of magic and drama that I experienced in that lobby.  The final step was to use another filter from Color Efex Pro called Tonal Contrast.  As you may have noticed, I really like this filter.  The image always seems to come out a little edgy and artsy.  Just my observation, but it works for me.  

The final image is very colorful, has some texture and some beautiful light.  Seems a little on the unreal side, or so it is Disney it could be looked at as Magical!  Either way, I like it and hope you do too!  

Since I got into some tech stuff here (ISO), I may need to go a little more into it in a future post.  Thanks for reading!