May 29 2015

The Impressionists – An In the Gallery Presentation

I went to the movies to see paintings. It sounds counter intuitive but Cineplex has been putting on a series of documentaries called In the Gallery.

‘In The Gallery is your cinematic tour of exhibits around the world, bringing you up close and personal to the greatest art exhibitions and galleries across the globe.’

 They are like events in that the have a very limited number of showings, in the instance just two for The Impressionists. So what was my ‘Impression’?  The documentary was good and shed new light for me on the role that the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel played in establishing the Impressionists in their place in art history. Your left with the sense that without Durand-Ruel it’s possible that they may have just been a footnote in art history or at least not have had the impact that they did without his support both financial and commitment in the face of opposition to change and outright derision. The documentary itself spends the first 30 minutes setting the stage for the Impressionists as you might expect. After this though as the story continues we are presented with wonderful close-ups of their work that form part of the exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay. These close-ups provide an opportunity to see the brushwork of the painters that even seeing a painting in person does not provide, you just can’t get that close in any other way. This is where the theatre as a venue is great. Perhaps watching a 4K video from 10 feet on a large TV would be similar but of that I’m not certain. Seeing the weave of the canvas and the strokes of paint pulled across it was wonderful. What detracted for the experience was the movie format itself. A movie by nature is a linear experience curated for time. There are no opportunities to linger on a particular painting, the tour must move along. Also rather than using translation when French is spoken subtitles are used. The problem with this is two-fold it requires you to move your gaze from the imagery to reading if you want to follow the story and the text overlays otherwise exquisite images. While others I spoke to after the show liked the cinematography I found selective focus was used more than I would have liked. I think the paintings speak for themselves as presented and did not require this particular effect. I found the experience good despite these caveats with the giant close-ups providing the element that no other medium provides.
Poplars (Autumn) 1891
Even a high quality book will only get you so far such as this detail above of a Monet painting. Morisot_woman

Try to imagine this Berthe Morisot painting 50 feet across and then imagine that a small detail is enlarged to that size and you get a sense of the experience.

Again unfortunately there are only two showing and those are only separated by three days so the opportunities to see this are limited.  I will keep an eye out in the future for similar movie events but that said a good documentary on Blu-ray can be watched more than once.   And on that note this documentary is produced by Seventh Art Productions where they appear to make these available for sale.

May 27 2015

Pentax K-3 DA* lenses

Originally I hadn’t intended to take the K-3 and the DA* 16-50 and DA*50-135 but it was a terribly rainy day and if its going to pour then this is the gear to take.  Besides the weather sealing the lenses are great optical performers and the K-3 is an amazing photographic tool with more technology packed into it than you can use in a day.  More images from this day trip are here K-3 Signs

Update: Pentax has announced and is soon to release an updated K-3II with even more features.  I’m particularly interested in the new pixel shift technology.


May 24 2015

The Story of the Megapickle Race


May 22 2015

Olympus IS-10


Digital super zoom cameras with a few exceptions have been looked down on by ‘serious’ photographers primarily because they tend to have tiny little sensors with large lenses.  The positive is that they are able to cover a multitude of focal lengths in a single package the trade off has been lower image quality.  Back when the Olympus IS-10 was released in 1994 though it used 35mm film just like almost every other camera available. Olympus called their version a ZLR or ‘Zoom Lens Reflex’ as it had a mirror and prism for viewing just like an SLR however it does not have an interchangeable lens.  The lens zooms from 28mm-110mm with apertures from 4.5-5.6 across that range.  The lens has 11 elements in 9 groups and is superior to any similar point and shoot lens.  In fact at the 28mm wide end the lens is amazingly good.  The program line for the camera will result in the lens being wide open for shutter speeds bellow 1/60sec at 28mm and 1/125sec at 110mm beyond that as the light increases the shutter speed will increase in step with the lens stopping down.  You can also quickly select an aperture using the button and the camera will respond by selecting the necessary shutter speed (aperture priority).  While full manual control isn’t possible further exposure manipulation can be accomplished by using spot metering.

Like any other lens letting a direct light source like the sun strike it will cause flare and reduced contrast.OlyIS10_Jan2015_009


One thing about one camera:  No matter what buttons you’ve pushed and if you’ve forgotten how to set the camera a quick push of the full auto button will set everything back to its defaults.

The digital bridge camera zoom war has seen the focal length range expand from around 28-500 in 2008 which was already impressive to 24-2000 in 2015 which makes film bridge camera zooms seem pedestrian.



May 18 2015

Pentax ZOOM 280p


The Pentax zoom 280-p is a beast of a ‘point and shoot’ weighing in at just over 1lb (467g with battery)  as a camera of this style it’s really only rivaled in size by the Nikon Zoom Touch 800 .  The 280-p though has a 28-80mm zoom lens rather than the Nikon 37-105mm. I much prefer the wide angle over the telephoto.  The Pentax 280-p lens is comprised of 10 elements in 8 groups with a reasonably fast f3.5 at 28mm and f8.0 at 80mm (when compared to other zoom point and shoots from its time)

The camera has a lot of features though that help to compensate for its bulk.

  1. remote control built into the grip which even allows for zooming to 28/50/80mm.
  2. step or continuous zooming
  3. +-3EV exposure compensation in 1/2 steps
  4. Image size tracking (it can zoom automatically for portraits)
  5. Multiple exposures (under the drive menu)
  6. Interval timer settable from 10sec to 60min
  7. Several flash settings (Slow Speed/Bulb Sync/Auto/Daylight Sync/Forced Off)
  8. Focus override for infinity and spot
  9. Bulb timer settable from 1 second to 10 minutes

When all is said and done though it’s the image that matters and not the camera and unfortunately the Pentax zoom 280-p does not provide that good of image quality.  I found it missed focus on a fair number of shots and the amount of distortions particularly at 28mm render all but the center of the image unusable.   The verdict is that it’s just too heavy and it doesn’t provide enough in the final image to make up for it for general shooting.  In 1993 it was one of the first point and shoot film cameras to provide this sort of focal range but it was surpassed by later models, and it’s ugly.


May 14 2015

Pentax UC1 75th anniversary

PentaxUC1-0924This camera looks like its had a tough 75 years but it’s only been 21.  Pentax celebrated its 75 anniversary in 1994 and produced a few limited edition cameras as well as ones like this. This Espio MiNi otherwise know as the UC-1 was available both in black and silver but  it’s only the sticker that distinguishes this one.  This particular camera looks like it spent some time around salt water or a nervous sweaty handed photographer with the chrome eroded away revealing its true plastic nature.  Just the same I thought it was worth a roll of film to see if it worked.  And true to its appearance it worked but not perfectly.  It seems that there were a few blank frames where no picture was captured.  When it did work and this is true of other Espio Mini’s it produced good results.  The lens is a simple 3 element design (32mm) that produces sharp images from corner to corner with accurate exposure.  For more post about my other non pitted UC-1 look here October 2014 February 2014  April 2013 or March 2012

One thing about one camera:   The Pentax UC-1 allows close focusing down to  1 ft and has LCD  frame lines in the viewfinder to help compensate for the parallax.


May 11 2015

Pentax K-3 Multi Exposure Bright Composite Mode

The Pentax K-3 has a number of new features not previously available on any camera.  While other cameras have had the ability to take multiple exposures none have come close to the versatility of the K-3.  In my case I wanted to use this feature to create the look of a long exposure with flowing water.  Light conditions were that even stopped down to f22 and 100 ISO the shutter speed was around 1/2 second.  That just isn’t enough time to give the look I was after, which ultimately is an averaging of the water. This GIF shows two images each captured using 20 exposures one using averaging and one with bright mode. _K3_4006-4007_composite

Primarily the difference between the two methods was that averaging did as it suggests and all twenty frames smoothed each other out where with the ‘Bright” mode of composition any bright reflection of water registered above the rest of the frames.  So it would appear that for smoothing out water averaging is the better mode.  Another difference though was that the Bright mode image was about a half stop brighter.  I could have edited to eliminate that but I’m not sure if it is something that always occurs and it also helps to differentiate the images.

I continued to use ‘Bright’ mode for the rest of the images it gives the look of a long exposure with the added stop motion of a fast shutter speed.  Which one is preferable is a matter of taste.  additionally I lowered the number of exposures I used to create each image to 9 which seems to give roughly the same effect as the 20 did with these shutter speeds.




Here is a detail from one of the above images which shows how using the bright mode allows for individual variations in the water to still register and not be smoothed away this would likely have created a more dramatic difference had I used a shorter shutter speed for each exposure.

My initial post and more information about composition here Pentax K-3 Multi exposure and Interval Composition

There is another way to use Bright composite that I haven’t been able to fully utilize yet and that is to use it to create multiple flash exposures. The idea is that with the camera on a tripod taking multiple exposures and a wireless flash trigger you can walk around a scene lighting it with a flash. I have done some initial experiments but haven’t had an opportunity to take it to the level I want such as lighting an entire section of a forest or other landscape. That will be a future post I’m sure





May 9 2015

Interactions 15


More posts in the series Interactions

May 5 2015

Petri Blue Majic Scope


Apparently the use of blue coloured glass on the rangefinder patch was enough to warrant marketing this camera as something unique.  Unfortunately other than the blue glass the camera is rather basic.  Not having a light meter isn’t that big of a deal but the shutter doesn’t offer anything particularly unique going to 1/500 second and the lens is 45mm at 2.8 just fast enough to be useful but a bellow average performer.  I’m trying hard to think of something nice to say about this camera but nothing is coming to mind and that is not a good sign as I’m often effusive about other cameras…wait wait I thought of something it makes cool Bokeh balls.Petri_Jan2015_016


May 2 2015

Contax RTS ‘the indignity’


After two issues with the film not advancing the final indignity the Contax RTS delivered to me was that for the one roll that had worked it was light struck through almost every frame.  So as far as I’m concerned I have a group of Contax/Yashica lenses and no camera for them to go on…Yes that’s right RTS you are not welcome here you may leave now.  Besides you are heavy and cumbersome, good bye I said!