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Enchanted Castle

No mather what technique do I use to aquire and finalize the image, be it old school film photography or some complicated multi exposure digital sorcery, I consider a job done best only when the final result conveys the exact mood and feeling of the place at the time it was captured.

Bled castle and moon.

In this particular instance it was so and every time I take a look at the photo, memories of the place and time come alive. I remember a slightly uncomfortable position, when I was reaching low to my Olympus PEN camera, at the time placed down on the Bled castle parking lot, sitting on a tiny little tabletop tripod, equiped with a lightweight telephoto zoom.

The strange darkness was about right, the bright moon was not quite full, but it was placed where it worked best for my purpose. What I remember most, and it eventually “made” this image, were those unpleasantly cold and violent bursts of wind, that were pushing the dark moonlit clouds with incredible speed, right above the castle rooftops and while doing so, they were constantly alternating the visible denstity and appearance of the moon.

Since camera was placed on the floor, and I am not one of those enthusiastic guys and girls prepared to get themselves comfortable at lying down on a freezing asphalt, I was rather sort of crouching, with a thumb on a cable release, while observing the actual spectacle instead of peeking at the small non-tilting LCD screen. It was probably the latter, the act of watching with my bare eyes while the scene was unfolding, that made me more emotionally attached to the image itself.

© 2014 The Unpublished Journal by Peter Mlekuž, All Rights Reserved

Vengeance of Anteros

Greek god Anteros, the avenger of unrequited love, is doing his thing since 1893 on top of the Shaftesbury Memorial fountain, now placed on the side of the always crowded Piccadilly Circus in London’s West End, a part of the Westminster City.

© 2014 The Unpublished Journal by Peter Mlekuž, All Rights Reserved

 

The Trial

As a photographer, spot news is something that I rarely cover, but now and then you simply feel the historical or pivotal significance of a particular event and you know that you have to be there and see for yourself what kind of truth is being served to the public these days.

National flag of Slovenia is being waved in front of the District Court in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

On the 5th of June the District Court in Ljubljana sentenced former Slovenian Prime Minister and opposition leader, Janez Janša, together with two other individuals, to prison sentences on corruption charges in what it was a highly controversial Kafkaesque trial that lasted three years. According to relevant legal experts, the case should have been dropped for the complete lack of evidence against Janša, presented by the prosecutor Andrej Ferlinc, a pattern of coincidences on the other hand also points out to the likely political motives behind the courts decision.

(more…)

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review I.

Olympus OM-D camera review

Olympus OM-D E-M5 with a M.Zuiko 12mm lens

This is the first article on this site, that is dedicated more to the practical aspects of photography and particularly to the technology behind the image making process. For my first camera review I have chosen Olympus OM-D E-M5 digital camera, a nice example of a retro looking modern design, that also serves as a great preview of the future camera designs. (more…)

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review II.

E-M5 is not just about the looks. Image quality is improved.

E-M5 is not just about the looks. Image quality is improved significantly.

This is the first article on this site, that is dedicated more to the practical aspects of photography and particularly to the technology behind the image making process. For my first camera review I have chosen Olympus OM-D E-M5 digital camera, a nice example of a retro looking modern design, that also serves as a great preview of the future camera designs.

Please keep in mind that there is no particular testing methodology involved in these articles, only subjective and personal opinions based on practical experiences.

 

 

Image Quality

Image quality is of course dependant on the image chain as a whole, including operator’s technique, hardware induced vibrations, image elements alignment, optical properties of lenses … Every aspect of previously used 12 MP sensor is slightly improved, but where almost a quantum leap has been made it is the area of usable dynamic range which adds a significant 2 stops improvement across the range. This tiny 16 MP Sony made sensor is surprisingly good and it is able, when used at base ISO settings, to hold its ground even against such a formidable competitor as a full frame Canon.

Four thirds sensor size is still a limiting factor when it comes to higher ISO settings, but in this iteration the results at least are useful and rendered with natural looking grain-like structure. Nominal settings go all the way up to ISO 25600, but I would have stopped at ISO 6400 where, with some noise reduction in post processing, usable results can still be achieved if required.

All this observations were made while using raw (.orf) files, but even for JPG only shooters Olympus has a lot to offer. Set it on Vivid, use exposure compensation when necessary and you will get a nice colorful print ready file. I also set “Keep Warm Color” white balance setting to OFF.

There is also the aspect of an image chain as a whole where this E-M5 shines above competitors. Efficient 5-axis image stabilization available with every lens (including ancient legacy lenses through adapter) when paired with some outstanding m.zuikos such as 12mm/2.0 and 75mm/1.8 gives you handhold able photographic possibilities previously unimaginable.

Dynamic range is impressive for a sensor of this size.

Dynamic range is impressive for a camera sensor of this size.

 

Usability

On the usability scale the greatest camera of them all would be the one that would interfere in the photographic process the least. Unfortunately E-M5 is very far from this ideal. User interface is not conceived in a way to be unobtrusive. It looks like this hardware and its great potential is being crippled by operational concept that sprung up from lower spheres of compact cameras instead of getting its own treatment.

Most of my life I have been using Canon 1-series cameras, so you can imagine that it was quite a cultural shock to me, when I saw all the variety of pictograms blinking in the viewfinder. Then I have pointed the camera towards a group of people and suddenly a cluster of white rectangles out of nowhere have started to follow them around while covering their faces. For a moment I felt like I was hovering high above Afghanistan in an Apache Longbow helicopter engaging multiple targets. Hellfire missiles select … At first the kid in me was quite fascinated by the technological wonders of today’s cameras, but just a couple of moments later the only thing left in my mind was: “I have to switch off everything!”

Backside of the camera is more problematic regarding controls.

Backside of the camera is more problematic regarding controls.

There are 3 types of EVF-styles available, but all of them are somewhat flawed implementations. Types 1 and 2 are using classic DSLR type information outside of image frame and would be a logical choice for serious photography if properly done, which they are not. EVF has 800×600 dots available, but they are not used very effectively. Considering the real estate, the image field itself is too small and all the information is rendered way to tiny to be usable. There is plenty of space for larger fonts so why not make a use of it?

Curiously, though, only Type 3 EVF style is available, when EVF auto switch is set to OFF. I personally prefer this option. Using manual EVF switch button reduces the delay and also eliminates accidental switching by your hand or camera strap when using 3” backside display on tripod.

Standard eyepiece EP-10 is way too small to make the viewfinder usable on a bright sunny day. Upgrade to optional EP-11 is essential for that kind of photography.

Optional EP-11 Eyecup is recommended when shooting in sunlight

Optional EP-11 Eyecup is recommended when shooting in sunlight

E-M5 uses 35-point area auto focus with excellent across the frame coverage. When using backside display, AF point selection is solved brilliantly via touch screen, similar to what you are used to do on your smart phone. On the other hand AF point selection while using built-in EVF lacks reliable dedicated controls to be taken seriously. AF response is class leading and nearly immediate in static mode, but unfortunately quite useless when subject tracking is required.

9 fps shooting mode makes this camera also an interesting choice for occasional sports photography, at least when your subjects are predictable and pre focus technique can be applied.

By far my favorite feature of this camera is LIVE BULB. When selected, image can actually be previewed while it is being exposed. It is still an early implementation, but incredibly fun to use while doing long exposures of changing subjects such as trails of light and fireworks.

 

Continued in Part III.

 

 

© 2013 The Unpublished Journal by Peter Mlekuž, All Rights Reserved

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