Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Been a while. A journey and a camera review.

I've been away for a while partially due to a health crisis that ended up taking me down a different photography path.  I'll just say the treatments I got for my health issue made it impossible for me to carry all my heavy dSLR gear for any period of time.  So I began to experiment with the new 'mirrorless and micro 4/3rd cameras.'  This was a big decision for me to 'step down' from a full frame to a crop camera system again.  I have to admit I really like the full frame file size and detail.
I went through a few camera brands and found that there were several features I absolutely liked but features are just gimmicks and the real point was and is Image Quality.  I've really gotten to a point now where I'm pretty satisfied not only with the gear I have but the Image Quality I get from the camera system I'm currently using.
I am no longer a young man and there are limitations to what I can and can't do anymore.  My illness made me physically weak and carrying 20-30 pounds of gear for extended periods of time wasn't something I could do anymore.  I still had the desire to take good quality images but my camera was literally to heavy to hold to my eye.
I tried a few systems and I ended up buying a Fuji X-20 literally days before a month long trip in Europe.  I was on the fence between the Sony NEX system and the Fuji System.  I got the Fuji X-20 because it fit in my budget at the time.  I took both cameras to Europe and the Sony stayed in the motel room the whole trip.  So I walked around with the X-20 in my pocket and that was my 'kit' for the whole trip.  Well, I carried an extra battery in my pocket and I had a 64 GB card in the camera so I wasn't to worried about anything else gear wise.
Sure there were teething problems because I was unfamiliar with the camera but as I figured them out I liked the camera more and more.
I discovered Vertoramas years ago but didn't know that the technique had a name.  I had been doing several photos of buildings and landscapes and photo merging them in PS.  Then I discovered an article by Klaus Herrmann that added a new dimension to what I had been doing.  I used the Fuji hand held shooting a -1,0,+1 bracket series.  This is done in camera with the Fuji with one press of the shutter button.  I did Vertoramas that were around 100 photos and the quality was very good.
Before I had left on my adventure I had come to realize that my dSLR had been sitting in the bag for nearly two years.  Oh I missed the fact that I couldn't do certain things with the smaller Fuji camera but it could do many things that my dSLR couldn't possibly do.  That was part of the reason I thought seriously about changing camera systems.  Several photographers that I had been following also began to switch systems and that planted the seed of 'should I change systems'.
When I got the first mirrorless micro 4/3 camera I thought maybe this could be a backup for my 'real camera'.  Turns out that wasn't the case the trip to Europe solidified the answer.  I got many great photos and I used this small P&S camera.  Yes my 'kit' with computer and all the cables was a bit heavy but it was less than 20 lbs and my prior trip to Europe it was at around 50 pounds.
I've found a non camera messenger bag and some lens wraps to help protect all my gear inside the bag.  It isn't all that difficult to figure out what is what.  I have one camera wrapped in a blue wrap so I know what that one is by sight and feel.  I now have a Fuji X-E2 with two lenses and that is pretty much my new 'kit'.  The Fujinon lenses are a good quality glass and are a bit heavy but at less than 15 pounds for a kit including batteries and tripod one can't complain.  The Fuji sensor is great and it is very capable of taking photos at very high ISOs with no problem.  I have no problem with 3200 ISO from the Fuji and I like that, sometimes a lot.  I could do 6000 with my dSLR and that was also good but I still haven't used it for anything other than taking photos of the Super Moon simply because it had a longer lens.  So in two years plus I've taken four photos with my 'pro' dSLR and several thousand with my P&S style camera.  I even had someone offer to buy the pro camera but backed out and that is probably the only reason I still have that system today.  I have to say that theres is a bit of angst in thinking about letting that system go.  I'm sure I'll eventually get over it and sell the system and get a new lens for the Fuji, maybe.  I have been a fan of the all in one lens for quite sometime now and I have a Fujinon 18-135 that is good quality.  I probably would have prefered something at 200 for the long end but I'm happy where I am system wise now.  It was a hard journey but very exciting.  As with everything photography related the journey never really ends.  Sometimes it takes side routes that take us to wondrous places.
Take care be well.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rhein Theater Bacharach

I had the pleasure of spending a few days relaxing along the Rhein in the Bier Garden of the Rhein Theater in Bacharach.  I can say that it was by far the place to spend a few hours watching the Rhein and enjoying the view.
I'm enjoyed their Bier, brewed there.
I had before been to the Rhein Theater but in the winter of 2010 one of the coldest on record at that time.  Being a bit of a photographer I noticed that there were some Marionettes hanging inside the theater.  I tried to photograph them but the result wasn't good because of the glass and the viewing angle.  I returned there in May of 2014 and the windows were now frosted.  I said something to the woman serving the Bier Garden and she said I could just go inside and look at them. So I returned with my camera and took photos of the Marionettes.
I was allowed to be there unsupervised to take photos.
 I was able to get up close and personal with the figures though I didn't want to move them or the storage frames they hung from so the space was pretty tight. I used a Fuji X-20 and a Sony NEX 5R to photograph the Marionettes.  I shot using a 3 bracketed exposure sequence then merged them with Photomatix and tonemapped them to add some contrast.
The storage area for the Marionetten was typical of most, small and crowded so there were some challenges in attempting to take photos of them and not break or fall over anything.
I managed to get a few shots that I liked and a few that I wish I could have done over.  In a perfect world I would have moved them into an area so that I could have done them individually with proper lighting and a seamless background.  In a perfect world but this is a you get what you get type of opportunity so these are the photos I ended up with.


Clown in Camouflage 

Rhein Theater Lobby

This is what you will see when you walk into the lobby of the Rhein Theater.  I think a cute scene

Rhein Theater Interior

View from Bier Garden
I spent many hours sitting here looking over the balcony and looking out over the Rhein River.  While the train does pass by from time to time the old city wall absorbs much of the sound and one can spend time here and enjoy the sights and sounds of the boats traveling by.
I would say that if you had the time and were in Bacharach you should make time to check out the Rhein Theater.
There is also an honour flea market in the area that may provide you with an interesting souvenir of your day at the Bier Garten.  I thought the Cherry Streusel was very good.  I believe I ate there twice and the food suited me as far as a guy traveling alone and looking for something simple to eat.  The price was reasonable and the people are friendly.