Internal Affairs | PT.V | 35:Chronicle

black & white, colour, full-spectrum, Indoor, night / low-light, photography, structures

St. Giles’ Cathedral – Edinburgh | PT.III.


This is to be the final part of my St. Giles series. In all honesty, I could have gotten way more value out of my £2 photo-pass that I purchased upon entry. I could easily have whiled away more hours here than the one that I did. Watching, looking, shooting, looking. The light was poor though, a very dull and overcast sky affording less quality and intensity through stained-glass – so diffuse that my fixed lens camera of choice made it much more difficult to grab a steady shot, the later the afternoon became. Insosaying, I grabbed my low-light camera. Actually, it’s primarily my weapon of choice for much of my IR compositions, but, removing the UVIR Cut filter from in front of the lens element, I was able to gather twice as much light as my primary, fixed-lens camera. Shot in true full-spectrum, capturing all available light (from UV-A through VIS to IR) renders even sharp details a little softer due to invisible lightwave pollution but I still think these make the grade. I hope you will enjoy these last few captures.  

R.

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I | The Dark Exit.

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II | Symmetry Divine.

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III | Symmetry Divine [II]

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2018 Photographic Review | 35:Chronicle

28mm, 35mm, 50mm, black & white, boats, close-up, colour, faux-colour, Indoor, infrared, landscape, macro, nature, personal, photography, review, skies, spring, structures, trees, waterscape

One Hundred, into One.


Seeing as how this post happens to be my one hundredth, it’s actually ninety-nine into one . Since I began this blog back in March, I have also enjoyed the works and posts of so many of you and, if there could be more hours in a day, there would be many more besides, too, providing me with no less enjoyable learning, entertainment or, food for thought. I have also, over the last ten months, hoped to provide some interest in the field of photography, my own takes from various genres of our art-form which I feel so passionate about. Without the love for it, the desire to (hopefully) create something a little different on occasion or, the discipline to stay true, it’s all for nothing. Insosaying, I hope with all the passion that I have for various genres of photography, that my sincerity is not only intact but also, perhaps more importantly, unmistakably evident.

As this year now tick-tocks on to draw its last, making way for the next, I would like not only to thank you most sincerely for your input, your comments, clicks, follows and conversations, but to wish every one of you a very happy New Year for 2019. Your presence here is just as important as my own works, because without a reader, a word or a picture – would be pointless. Therefore, if you will forgive my indulgence, I would like to share with you all just some of my favourite frames from this inaugural year on 35:Chronicle.  I truly hope that you will enjoy them.

Wishing you all wonderful celebrations and, much happiness from the coming year.

Warmest regards,

Rob. 

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Snowdrops | 35mm.

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Telford Woz ‘Ere! | 720nm Faux-Colour Infrared | 35mm.

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Double-Masted | 720nm Infrared | 35mm.

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Bluebell | 35mm.

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Broom | 35mm.

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Milkbank House Ruins | 760nm Infrared | 28mm.

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Talla Reservoir | 760nm Infrared | 28mm.

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Talla’s Monitoring Station | 720nm Infrared | 50mm.

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How the Other Half Live | 720nm Infrared | 35mm.

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Sir Duncan Rice Library | University of Aberdeen | 28mm.

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Moonrise | 720nm Infrared | 85mm.

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Grandeur | 35mm.

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Happy New Year 2019, to You All!

R.


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INTERNAL AFFAIRS | PT.IV | 35:CHRONICLE

35mm, 50mm, black & white, colour, full-spectrum, Indoor, night / low-light, photography, structures

St. Giles’ Cathedral – Edinburgh | PT.II


IV | Grandeur.  [X100T: 35mm – 1/12th – f2.8 – ISO:1600 – +0.7 – Matrix]

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V | Light. [GXR A16 (Full-Spectrum): 85mm – 1/125th – f5.5 – ISO:1600 – Matrix]

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VI | Blue II. [X100T: 35mm – 1/9th – f2.8 – ISO:1600 – +0.7 – Matrix]

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VII | Lantern. [GXR A16 (Full-Spectrum): 50mm – 1/30th – f4 – ISO:1600 – Matrix]

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(St. Giles’ – PT.I)
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Internal Affairs | PT.III | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, colour, full-spectrum, Indoor, night / low-light, photography, structures

St. Giles’ Cathedral – Edinburgh | PT.I


We’re all running short of time at this end of the year, so, let me say this off the bat in case you don’t have time yet to read to the end of the post – to all of you who read and follow my pages, I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and,  I extent my warmest thanks for your support, your comments and, your valuable time ever since I started my little blog, back in March. It’s been a superb journey thus far and, I hope to get at least one more post in before Hogmanay!

On Friday of last week, I had occasion to visit Edinburgh. As it’s that time of year again, I do like to get to Princes Street and do the whole Christmas Market thing, kind of a tradition and as I didn’t get to visit last year, I was very keen to get there before this Christmas kicked off, proper. Now, I resisted the temptation to shoot all things Christmassy so please do forgive me for the lack of tinsel, Santa-hats, seasonal pullovers, mistletoe and the like. Instead, I again only wanted to capture the feel of the place at this time of year. With that said, the images I have chosen for this post may feel a little off-piste or, at the very least, somewhat off-topic. The thing is, I’m not religious nor do I have any great love of this time of year, however, I do enjoy its essence, and – different things mean different things to different people. So, instead of capturing the shiny and commercial side of the season, per se, I decided instead to simply wander and shoot. 

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I | Blue. [X100T: 35mm – 1/13th – f2.8 – ISO:1600 – +0.7 – Matrix]

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Sadly however, the weather was bloody atrocious, nothing but dull light, blanket grey skies and drizzle for most of it, which, made things a little tricky, as is oft’ the case under such conditions when you’re wielding a camera. I decided then, that West Parliament Square would be a great place to grab some serious frames – at the Cathedral of St. Giles. In my bag I carried two cameras – my X100T and, my Richoh (True Full-Spectrum converted) GXR – see my Light Waves page for more info on TFS if you’re not au-fait with it). The Fuji handled outdoors just fine but, being a habitual ISO:1600 maximum shooter, it was sluggish here. I did grab a good number of frames with it inside St. Giles’ and in fact, two of them are right here – but when I really struggled, the GXR’s completely unhindered sensor came into its own. Especially when the light became really difficult. Of course – shooting in mixed light with a full-spectrum camera makes things extremely tricky when it comes to colour reproduction but it’s forte is really black and white output anyway – so, I was in my element. Shutter speeds were almost twice as fast as the standard Fuji when my ISO and Av were the same. A nice little bonus when shooting hand-held indoors and, it certainly helped me in keeping a few frames a little less shaky, shall we say? 

As an aside, the X100T frames have a rather HDR look about them, which I am surprised at. After extremely minimal processing from RAW (RAF converted to DNG) and not even two minutes consideration I am, though I do not enjoy HDR images, very pleased with the results here – and the subject matter does seem to pop, rather nicely.  

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II | Ornation. [GXR (TFS): 24mm – 1/25th – f4.0 – ISO:1600 – -0.3 – Matrix]

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III | Yes, I Probably Looked a Right Berk Laying on my Back on the Cathedral Floor for this One – but, I Don’t Care! [X100T: 35mm – 1/13th – f2.8 – ISO:1600 – +0.7 – Matrix]

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I hope you will enjoy these few frames, that you have a splendid Christmas, however you’re celebrating and, I hope to be here again with you before the New Year! 

Have a fabulous time, all! 

R.


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Closer Still(s) | PT.XVII | Orchid [Colour PT.II] | 35:Chronicle

close-up, colour, macro, nature, photography

Splash & Dash.


Before I head out to work, I want to quickly send up a final post of my images from this beautiful flower, still basking in low, early winter-sun from behind my living-room window. Any of you who read my pages even semi-regularly will know that my joy lays moreso with black and white photography, but it cannot be argued that sometimes, a combination of colours and shades that so beautifully complement form – can be the sole reason that a frame should be captured in the first place. I still can’t make up my mind, when it comes to this orchid, as to which output I prefer. But then, do I have to decide? Perhaps, not. There’s room for both, I think. 

I do hope that you will enjoy these captures, and, that you have a great weekend ahead of you. 

R.

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I | 33mm f8.0

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II | 33mm f8.0

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III | 33mm f4.0

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[To view other posts in this series, please click the ‘orchid’ tag].

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Back-lit Orchids | 35:Chronicle

black & white, close-up, colour, Indoor, nature, personal, photography

Is Three Really a Crowd?


Okay – forgive me, please! This is my third post on-the-bounce of the same photographic subject. I promise, I really was not intending to rip the arse out of this, however, the host plant from my last two posts was happily perched on my living-room window-sill, soaking up some of that gorgeous, bright stuff this afternoon – and, I just couldn’t resist a few casual frames of this beautiful plant. (Oddly, I have made some frames in colour today, that I am actually pretty happy with. Who’d have thunk it?!)

I’ll probably not be able to post again until almost the middle of next week, therefore, I’ll leave you with this smidgen of sunshine and, wish you all a fabulous weekend! 

R.

I.

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II.

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III.

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[To view other posts in my recent series, please click the ‘orchid’ tag].

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Sticking to the Rules | 35:Chronicle

35mm, autumn / fall, close-up, colour, nature, photography

Thirds: in Three Different Directions.


Crikey – a non infrared post; my first in a while, I’ll admit. It feels a bit strange posting shots taken in colour too, seeing as B&W is my much preferred output but, here goes. 

After summer and early autumn, I usually feel a little photographically-directionless for a while which, probably explains my silence over the past seven days – well, that, work  and hospital appointments, however – it takes me a while to get into a different rhythm, so to speak. It’s almost as if I spend so much brain energy (over an almost six-month period) on IR shooting that I forget how to shoot anything else for a while. Of course, that’s not actually the case, I just have to adjust. Insosaying, I have been out, doing my best to see a little differently and, no pun intended, these few are just some of the fruits of my labours. Not wonderful, but – it’s a (re)start. From composition and tone, to colour and balance – I feel like I have to start over, whenever I switch format or output. Now, I don’t know if that makes any sense but, it’s my excuse and, I’m sticking to it. 

Okay – so, also sticking to one particular rule, that of thirds, here are a few frames composed vertically, diagonally and horizontally – just to make a point. See? I haven’t forgotten everything.  Here, I’m shooting with an entirely new camera setup – one not familiar to me, so, more on that another time. (I’m not so happy with frame two but, I like the shot so, it’s here to remind me to pull my socks up!)

Enjoy, and I hope you have a great weekend ahead!

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Swallows  on a Wire | 35mm.

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On the Turn | 35mm.

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Pick Meee! | 35mm.

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Three Little Steps | 35:Chronicle

black & white, colour, personal, photography

… To the Light.


I. | Twist & Open.

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II. | Open & Lean Out.

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III. | Lean Out & – Breathe.

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While the Sun Shines | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, colour, landscape, nature, photography, summer

Making Hay.


As I looked out of my living-room window yesterday morning and, to the fields opposite, it was clear to me that it is again that time of year. Oddly, as the years pass, certain annual events seem to come more quickly than ever before, and, so soon, it’s baling season once more. Part of me would love to live in or close to a city, with amazing architecture and dazzling lighting; interesting folk too busy to notice another would-be street photographer, perhaps. But I live in the country and so, the country revolves around my life, I suppose. For years, I have been meaning to get out and shoot the fields dotted with their bales under warm evening, late-summer sunshine and I have always either missed the opportunities or, just been too lazy to create them. Until this year. Being right outside my door, for me to have not made these frames would have been a personal crime.

(The first three frames were obviously captured during daylight hours, but the last exposure (of 30″ at ISO:100) was captured around 10pm – as baling continued well into the night.)

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I.

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II.

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It is my plan to publish three posts in this series because, not only have I used visible light to capture the scenes (as in this post), but, as regular readers may well suspect, I have made a number of infrared captures of different wavelengths, too. Starting with the visible-light frames I believe is the more natural way to start this little series off but it will, I hope, become very clear as to how alternative wavelengths and focal-lengths can offer a very different visual perspective to similar compositions, in the posts to come. 

As one apt old saying goes – we must make hay, while the sun shines. (With camera in-hand, who am I to argue with that?)

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III.

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IV.

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(Part II can be visited here.)
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‘Between Moments | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

50mm, black & white, close-up, colour, macro, nature, personal, photography

(A Little More) Backyard Buffoonery.


Okay, nothing serious here – just a few frames I managed to snick from a mess-around this afternoon in the garden, with various Ricoh set-ups. 

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Waiting for the Bumble (that Never Showed) | GXR & 50mm (EFoV).

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An Unfolding Gladiolus | GXR & 50mm (EFoV).

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(For a Four-Legged Friend) Sweet William | GXR A16 & Hoya +10.

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Gladiolus | GXR A16 & Hoya +10.

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Closer Still(s) | PT.XI | 35:Chronicle

50mm, black & white, colour, macro, nature, personal, photography

Taking a Chill-Pill.


Heck, I can’t always take photography too seriously; without doubt it is and has been one of my biggest passions throughout the past twenty (plus) years of my life and, I dare say, by those who know me personally, I am known for it. But there’s another side to the seriousness of getting the image and that is, to simply get the camera out and just have a little fun with it – and to not worry or be so seriously preoccupied with perfect composition or, focus or, whatever else we look for. The truth told, I love to shoot freestyle, freehand, free-lensed and, I don’t do it anywhere nearly as often as I would like, and, I have been photographically rather lazy lately. I could make excuses about the weather or some-such, but I’d be spouting bollocks so, I’m not going to place a blame. I guess sometimes, we just need a little break from the – constant thinking? I don’t know if I am making any sense here but I promise, I’m not writing for the sake of it. 

For me, the real enjoyments of photography come from many aspects. It’s so engaging when you would want it to be, so technical in thought and deliverance at other times and yet, so passive and relaxing on occasion, too. Depending on any given genre, expectations, deadlines, or presenting difficulties, all are true. If you are yourself an enthusiast, you will know this already. But at the heart of every image is me, you, and how we see. I love to look; and see; and interpret; and steal a frame. What I don’t love – is to always feel like I’m overthinking because then, at some uncertain, invisible point of effort, a line gets crossed and, I don’t always enjoy it so much – especially when that line is completely bulldozed. Indeed, on such occasions, I can take a whole load of shit and know that I have before I have even depressed the shutter. Yet I do it anyway – like shutter-finger Tourette’s  Syndrome (hereafter referred to as SFTS). Damn, I hate it when I do that because not least, I know I’m just going to spend more time at home, after upload, deleting the crud. 

Most often, I find that when I’m making shots for the fun of it, with no actual goal in mind, when I don’t care so much about focus, or content – I tend to make images that I like, nevertheless. In opposition, as we all have – I have put so much effort and thought into a particular shoot or subject and come away with so much utter crap, it could make me cringe at the knowledge that my own brain decided that that capture was a good idea. Really? 

With all of this preamble out of the way, I decided, with plenty of time to kill today and, though the weather was not playing ball (I was hoping to get a little more of a tan on my chrome-dome – uh… no!) – to faff around with my favourite body & prime combo and, make a few frames; just to see what I might come away with. No, given the images I have posted here, you’d be forgiven and absolved for thinking that I have actually been yapping on for the sake of it, because technically these images are not fabulous, or varied. They are indeed unimaginative, poorly composed, a tad soft, but do you know what? Today, I don’t care. Today, I made some photographs; and I like ’em! Moreover, I hope you will too. Yes, I shot close without a tripod – I was chilling

By the way, the first image in this post is great in colour, because it really looks to me like a camouflage-act and, it may have been, in the mind of the Hoverfly. I wasn’t going to post it in colour because I really do prefer the mono-shot (moreover because I have genuine dislike for the colour orange for some barmy reason that I can’t explain) – but I caved in, and have included it at the end of this post. You’ll see what I mean when you get there, if, that is, you haven’t nodded-off already. Okay – time to wake up. It’s picture time!) Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a great week ahead. 

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Montbretia & Hoverfly | 50mm – Handheld.

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Montbretia | 50mm – Handheld.

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Camouflage? | 50mm – Handheld.

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[There’s a photographer in India called Rajeev Virmani – he makes some beautiful environmental flora photographs and I have to say, he has nowhere near enough followers for the work he puts in and puts out here on WP. Please, if you like the genre, do take a look at his images. He has an intimate and opportunistic approach that may well appeal to many. I don’t know him but I do love so many of his images. If you have a little time, you may enjoy a peek!]


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Barefoot in Bucharest? | 35:Chronicle

28mm, colour, personal, photography

Where Friends Once Met.


There is a cafe in Bucharest, the owners of which have a beautiful take on one forgetful aspect of their imbibing clientele. I know it is all too easy, on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, to kick-back with friends, lose the footwear and, just chill. A few drinks and a great time, feet, bare on the warm concrete underneath and, afterwards, a happy wander in any direction – maybe home; who knows? I wonder how long it might take for such a person to realise that they’re still barefooted? Nonetheless, those shoes found under tables, when unclaimed, are pinned to the walls outside. A reminder of those who have visited, or perhaps, just a novel way of keeping the floors clear? I don’t know – but it makes me smile every single time I see this photograph because it reminds me, of wonderful times. It’s from my archives, but I came across it again today and, simply couldn’t resist sharing. Have a great weekend! 

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Replay | Wall-Mounted Quality Goo… | 28mm

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Symmetry | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

black & white, colour, infrared, landscape, nature, photography, skies, structures, waterscape

It’s Personal.


Sometimes, when I am looking at new compositions and also, reviewing past images, I come across a simple idea that quite clearly formed the basis of those overall images in question. In fact, I can recall many occasions where I have actively looked for it and done my best to use it. Yet, though I have looked for symmetry so often in my compositions, I have never actually questioned myself as to why I do so.

Sticking to rules is not what I am best at – but some rules of photography can’t (rather, shouldn’t) be ignored. Clearly, composition is a highly key element in any photograph and, though none of us get it perfectly right all of the time, it has to be the mainstay of any serious photographer along with other obvious key elements. So why is symmetry such a valuable compositional tool and what does it say about us when we use it? 

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I.

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II.

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Symmetry can be used either vertically, horizontally or, more trickily, diagonally. In the main, it’s usually portrayed in 50/50 form rather than thirds (where symmetry would be a less accurate way of describing it than say, for example, repetition). Personally speaking, I love symmetry in composition for a few reasons: 

  • Composition of a strong or interesting subject can be made much more simply at the most appropriate FL.
  • It is highly probably that on viewing, the eye will be naturally drawn to this element, and therefore, the image may tend to ‘de-clutter’ itself.
  • It’s an excellent framing tool for creating isolation of a subject. 

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III.

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IV.

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Personally, I have a natural propensity to like things in order and I don’t enjoy chaos – certainly not in the images I make. This is applicable though, to most areas of my life because, my life is tended by this person with this personality or, hang-ups – and this cannot change without a life-changing episode. Nevertheless, I know that areas of my personality (or, persinility, perhaps?) are the reasons why I see how I do when I look to make a photograph. In a similar way, certain personality traits may compel one to create in vibrant colour, or say, use repeatedly similar subject matter. Yes, I think it is entirely personal, way beyond the rules – but then, no art can be anything but, can it?

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Closer Still(s) | PT.IX | 35:Chronicle

50mm, close-up, colour, macro, nature, photography

Cherry Blossom.


I.

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II.

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[Each image resized for web & may be tapped / clicked to open in a new tab / window]

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Gear Talk: The Ricoh GXR | 35:Chronicle

28mm, 50mm, black & white, colour, infrared, landscape, nature, personal, photography, review, skies, structures, trees, waterscape

Why Your Gear is Important.


I suppose in a way, having spent so long shooting with it (certainly when compared to other systems that have taken space in my bag over the years) I do feel especially attached to my Ricohs. What follows is my account of what I firmly believe to be one of the most usable, tank-like, versatile, enjoyable, ugly and yet most rewarding cameras ever made, not so much a review or a user-guide (we’ve had nine years of those already) but a personal reflection about why I still shoot with it. Whether any of this is relevant, or, of interest to you or not – well, that’s for you to decide, but I think that in some way, this could be written about most of us, with few changes of context. 

[From the off, I just want to get something out there before I get into the meat of this thing – I have shot plenty of crap on every camera or system I have ever owned. The longer I do this, the less crap I produce. With that said, it’s more about you than your camera but – your choices do matter.]

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Gestation | GXR A12 33mm / 50mm FoV.

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Birth | GXR w/A12 33mm Macro.

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Concept versus Reality:

On the 10th November 2009, Ricoh (before they became Pentax-Ricoh) released a number of unique ideas, in an unusual form. The ideas were thus:

  • A camera body doesn’t have to contain a sensor.
  • A camera body only needs to house the controls, battery, card, the screen and, a pop-up flash.
  • A lens doesn’t have to mount from the front of the camera body – it can slide from the side.
  • A lens can also house a uniquely matched sensor behind it, making each new lens-unit unique.
  • Serious photographers (outside of the East Asian markets) would catch-on.

With respect to points 1-4, Ricoh were right. On point 5, however, they were hoping for a little too much. Sadly, I believe, this was a real shame. A massive shame for Ricoh and, also for many photographers and enthusiasts who either just didn’t get the idea, or, even worse, never even got to learn of its existence and hence, its capabilities as a bona-fide camera-system.

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Frankenstein’s Monster? | GXR w/A12 18.5mm [28mm FoV].

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The idea was dubbed ‘GXR’ – and I am one who was fortunate enough to have availed my camera-bag with one back in late 2010. As I recall, on first release, the GXR was hideously expensive. Around £400 for a body alone and just shy of £600 a-piece for the two APS-C lens units (the A12 50mm / 28mm units) – left a lot of people stumped, scratching their heads and justifying their not investing in this new system simply (and rightly) because for the kind of money Ricoh was asking, it was far cheaper to look at other systems of similar capability or, further invest in currently owned systems. For the most part of 2010, I was in the same camp and, reading the continuous streams of negative reviews, forum-comments and discussions at the time did nothing to persuade me to bite Ricoh’s new, if slightly oddly-conceived bullet. But in late 2010, prices began to fall, and, how they fell. Ricoh marketing has always been a total disaster in the West, so I guess this was always going to happen, but for a new system to plummet so harshly in such a short space of time after release was almost unheard of. By the end of 2010, the two APS-C lens units that were released on launch of the GXR could be had for as little as £300 each and stockists couldn’t do enough to offload them to the consumer. Suddenly, there started to be a little more interest. Internet posts (or rather the increasing number of more positive reviews and images from the GXR) bore this out and, bore it out solidly. However, the GXR was still not catching-on like many other popular system-cameras, especially here in the West. I began to wonder – why are ‘popular’ cameras so popular? What aspects of the product are people attracted to? It can’t all be just marketing, surely? I think – possibly, that the answers are pretty obvious. 

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There is Always a Limit | GXR A12 28mm [FoV].

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Want, versus Need.

As consumers, photographers, enthusiasts (we’re all of these) – we’re attracted to new ideas (so long as we understand them and they appear to have the abilities that might work more in our favour) and, how we do all love new equipment. We’re attracted to system-functionality too, and, the prospect of (over)expansion, the idea that we have the ‘next great-thing’, that people may even envy us for using our chosen system. We want to show it off, wear it like a badge, but why, I don’t know; to extract the best we can from it, show off our images and even find ourselves professing that we now shoot with the ‘one size fits all’ equipment and we’ll never trade-in again. (Oh, the fibs we tell our spouses – and, ourselves.) It’s tosh, but it’s a truth, too. Ask any system-fan. What we also love, are looks. How our camera looks to us has taken on a ridiculous and unfathomable importance – perhaps for the image that we want to create of ourselves and, display. At this point (and I get it, because for a long while, I was of the same mind, too) I now know that such perceptions are ridiculous. I know this, because I shoot the GXR still – as it approaches nine years since release. There has been a veritable myriad of newer, shinier, faster, more button/dial-tastic systems on the market since from a number of manufacturers (the usual big-named suspects) with much more money invested in effective marketing than Ricoh ever has. However, I always felt that, though the GXR was, aesthetically speaking, a rather unattractive camera-system, the idea of it was incredible and extremely clever (or, brave) of Ricoh; and so eight years ago, because quickly dropping prices gave me the opportunity to, I bought into it. To this day, I shoot with it and (perhaps in part because it’s still going strong and new GXR modules and system-parts are like hens’-teeth nowadays) I appreciate it more and more. I enjoy it so much that I still expand my GXR systems from time to time. But almost eight years of image making with this thing has given me an insight into what the process of photography, is all about.

Enjoyment.

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Approaching Light | GXR A12 28mm [FoV].

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How the GXR Helped Me to See [the] Light.

Now, this bit is really quite personal, but seeing as how there are many who get themselves into far, far worse positions and never climb out of them, I can write this. Since 2000, when I first began to shoot with digital cameras (after a number of years cutting my teeth with film) I have, like most of you, owned a lot of camera equipment and systems. If I listed it all here (what I can remember anyway) I would easily run into another half-hour of typing, so I’m not going to. Suffice to say that I have used full systems by Pentax, Canon, Leica, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Sigma, in vast numbers of body / lens configurations, not to mention a whole slew of ‘capable’ compacts for those days when I couldn’t be buggered to carry the big-rigs around with me. Like many of you again, I have spent way more than a small fortune (of my own money, I might add) on the stuff and, lost again through falling / plummeting re-sale values. It used to truly hurt if I thought about the numbers too much.

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The Crows | GXR A12 50mm [FoV].

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When at first I encountered a certain auction site on the then still fast-evolving internet, I was of the impression that it was rather handy to have a site where one could sell unwanted items and use the proceeds to buy something more desired, all in the same place. It was a new idea then and crikey didn’t it catch on? The web too, was as now, awash with endless images, information, reviews about every commercial product known to man and that made choice difficult. It also meant that whatever we had – we would always find something better very soon after our last big purchase. Given too that digital cameras largely become almost obsolete (tech-wise, I mean) very soon after release, because of newer technology or ‘features’ – it meant that many of us were like mice on a wheel. It’s knackering, in more ways than one. But my, how the negative margins widened over just a few unmonitored years, without my even realising it (until years later, when I inquisitively took a look at my statistical history, you know, just out of curiosity, then, I started to think about that dream car that I could have had, if only…). No matter. Eight years ago, I did just that. I looked at the numbers, shat myself copiously, realised that a done-deal was just that, shrugged my shoulders and decided, no more. At the same time, I also made myself think about and realise that what I wanted from a system was, to make pictures. Pictures that I was happy with and as part of a process that I actually enjoyed – and enjoyment was missing for me. This was after all, the only reason I was doing any of this at all. That said, I stopped chasing a ridiculous dream (of finding my ‘Holy Grail’ camera, so to speak) pulled myself out of the rut I’d got myself into and, got a little bit logical. I then did my research.

As so many of us have come to realise over the years of carrying around cameras, lenses, bags, tripods, all sorts of superfluous crap, that (we hoped) would make us look purposeful, experienced or whatever we wanted others to see of us as we go about our shooting, it comes to each of us that as enthusiasts or hobbyists, it’s a real pain in the backside carting so much weight about for hours and hours, especially when most of the stuff we were lugging around wasn’t even being used. So much so that it tarnishes the enjoyment of what could have been a fabulous trip, event, day or week, for the sake of a few photographs (a large portion of which would inevitably get uploaded, viewed on the big screen, grunted at and swiftly deleted). I mean, what’s the point? That’s when you realise it’s time to downsize and just shoot with what you have. All you need is a camera and a lens and, perhaps a spare battery. Invest wisely – and keep your investment. Learn you’re tools to the smallest detail and keep your rig to a minimum. Ah, salvation! If you have done the same, you know exactly as to what I’m referring. It’s a great feeling isn’t it? By the time I downsized, I sold off two DX Nikon bodies, a FF Nikon, around 5 pretty expensive Nikon lenses, flash units and studio lighting gear with a ton of ‘freebie’ extras thrown in to nudge each sale along. When all was sold, I probably realised no more than 65-70% of their collective resale value but it was more than enough to start over with a smaller but capable system. I’d done a shed-load of reading up on the GXR reviews and comments from all speculative and user angles and, I decided (with some reserve and trepidation) that this may be the right camera for me, for the image qualities that I hoped to see and, for the way that I shoot. I had the body and both A12 units at my door within a week of making my decision. (It was around this time that Fujifilm had announced the development of the X100. Alongside copious GXR reviews, I was avidly devouring anything I could find about Fuji’s new, ground-breaking offering too. All these answers to my prayers coming at once!) Anyway, I embraced the GXR almost instantly.

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Cherry Blossom | A12 50mm Macro.

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It has always had a charm, physically not that good-looking but extremely well laid-out, rugged and solidly built, a menu system that a photographer would instantly be at home with, a weight and finish that instils confidence and best of all – few pointless bells and whistles that other manufacturers call ‘features’. In other words, it has what counts to make pictures and doesn’t handle like a child’s portable computer-game with a lens on the front of it, like so many cameras do.

I was beginning to seriously enjoy this new freedom of not only having a much smaller system to carry with me, but also, the restrictions that shooting only two primes inevitably brings and, with that, a more thoughtful approach to shooting; more imagination and with that, more possibilities of ‘seeing’ in focal-lengths that I had deprived myself of for years, most notably, 28. I was never a wide shooter. I’m not sure I am now but I am certainly used to and happy with it when I’m photographing. Less is definitely more. The layout and customisability of the GXR also won me over quickly. Any relevant review will give you the skinny in this department so I’m not going to, but I am going to mention now, briefly, the image characteristics of the GXR with the A12 units. To do this, I am going to compare if I can, in words, the images from the GXR to those from a much newer, faster camera, which, until recently, I also owned and shot with for over two years – Fujifilm’s X-T1.

The X-T1’s files can be superb – but as I found out, only for certain subjects. But what I saw when I looked at the best shots I’d taken with it were either (squeaky) clean, crisp, faultless images or, utter mush. So, when I say – can be, I do mean that. As a RAW shooter I found skin-tones of jpegs from the X-T1 very ‘waxy’ or ‘plastic’ looking often, which is another reason I shoot RAW, because this character only appears in the X’s jpegs. Still, properly focused and exposed foliage would present as horrible mush even in the RAWs. But this isn’t an X review or a bashing either. What I saw besides crispness and cleanness in the Fuji’s files were images with a lack of lens character. It was all just a bit too perfect which, is a testament to how well Fuji build their lenses and, a sadness at the generic appearance to digital images from most modern camera systems now judging only personally from what I’ve shot with over many years. I also blame the countless reviewers who verbally pray for ever more image perfection from the manufacturers. When I wanted perfect reproduction under conditions at which I knew that it would excel, I would reach for the X-T1 every time. When I want character though, I always reach for the GXR. As such, my GXR was still my main system, and now, it is my only system. (I shoot a GR alongside it or, if I am not wanting to cart any bags at all, the GR fills in nicely all on its own). It produces images with a certain filmic quality, sharp but not bitingly so, a grain that pleases as it increases with film speed (ISO / ASA) right up to 1600 (which is as high as I shoot with any camera) but there’s a warmth to the GXR files that relates not to tone or colour or balance – but a certain something I have never been able to put my finger on. But it’s there. There’s no ‘Ricoh’ look (besides, I think the sensors in the A12 units were made by SONY) – it’s just a quality that speaks to me when I see it. A quality that I love. As for the lenses, the A12s are painfully slow by modern standards and very noisy, especially the 50/2.5 Macro, but as one who doesn’t rush when I shoot, that’s perfectly fine with me. The corners and edges can sometimes be a little soft but I really don’t care; I try to concentrate around the centre of the frame anyway. There is no image-stabilisation, in-lens or otherwise, and actually, I like that. It makes me think harder about what it is that I’m doing. Simple. No excuses or concessions for poor technique, either.

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On the Rocks | GXR w/A16 [24-85mm FoV] at 24mm.

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As well as the two A12 units, Ricoh also developed and released the A12 Mount, onto which M mount lenses can be fixed and I have used this too with a few different lenses. It’s a fabulous piece of kit to use but in the interests of keeping my gear to a minimum, I don’t use or even have the mount any more. I do hanker for it every now and then because the image qualities attainable with various legacy glass are wide and wonderful. The two small-sensor units though (the S10 and the P10) are largely useless to me, certainly as far as IQ, anyway. The larger sensor units are what makes this camera an absolute must in my bag. Even the A16 24-85mm is a bit of a corker when it comes to IQ and set-up ability.

The set-up I’m using now is similar to a few years ago when I was using two of the three Sigma DP Merrills. Namely, the DP2M & DP3M. The GXR at that time was consigned to a drawer while I evaluated the Merrills and, whilst I loved the concept of taking two small fixed prime lens cameras and nothing else, I couldn’t get on with the DP2M focal-length. I don’t know why by I didn’t gel with it at all. The DP3M on the other hand, I loved from the start, but the limitations of shooting at a maximum of ISO 200 hampered me some, 400 at an absolute push (and then I’d have to have been desperate for the frame) therefore, I traded them. Currently, in my main bag I carry only a GR and two GXRs. I’m in the process of re-working my bag though, so at some point, I’ll fill in on new additions and / or subtractions. As brilliant as the GR is (it’s made a huge amount of frames over the past few months, mainly using the internal 35mm crop-mode at the expense of a few MPs) I still prefer the GXR with the A12s. Like the GR, it is possible to set-up the custom settings (MY1,2,3) for different MF distances and apertures making zone-focusing and freelensing an absolute breeze. No need for snap focus either – instant shooting with no lens shift at all. Monochromes from the Ricohs are adjustable and consistently wonderful too. Just to get this out there as well, the GXR has a really neat trick when it comes to Auto ISO. On no other camera have I seen this: go into the menu and set the Auto ISO to 1600 (with whatever change-over shutter-speed you like). Now, instead of the camera auto-bumping up the ISO in the usual increments (100 to 200, 200 to 250, or 640 to 800, for example) it actually increases the ISO in increments of 1. Yes, you read that correctly. It will only bump the ISO by as much as needed to maintain your fastest possible shutter-speed (and best possible IQ) and as a result, you may, as I have, find that the GXR shoots at ISOs of for example, 201, 387, 1004, 1234; any number you can think of, really. So, whilst the GXR doesn’t have the IQ of more modern systems (which I am largely glad about) – it does make the very most of what it has for the benefit of the one behind the camera. This is probably my most favourite feature of the GXR. I do wish that it was a feature of the GR but sadly – it isn’t. Nonetheless, the feature itself comes across as a real ‘cock-a-snook’ to any and all other camera companies. It really bloody works.

That Ricoh had continued to develop the GXR instead of abandoning it is another wish that I have always harboured. The fact that they didn’t only makes it more special but how I wish they would pick up the baton again. Yes, it has a kind of cult status – but even that will die as time moves forward. But I’ll still be shooting with mine until it dies on me. It may not look like much, but when I wanted a camera that was aimed at photographers, the GXR delivered and, still delivers for me.

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Candlelight | A12 Mount w/Voigtlander Nokton 40mm 1.4 Classic SC

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Not long after the GXR and the A12s were released, Steve Huff made a comment about it on his site saying something like “If a camera can make good images now, it will still make good images in years to come, no matter what new tech arrives in the future.” I subscribe to the very same thought and, after years of keeping up with modern camera-tech – I have stopped because I just want my camera to make pictures. Pictures that I am happy with, from a system that I enjoy using, that actually inspires me to shoot and, can work the way that I do. It’s not quick, it’s not quiet, it’s not pretty, however – it’s a perfect fit for my hands, works the way I want it to, it’s built like a brick shit-house and, consistently produces the goods.

Not bad, for an ugly ol’ thing… 

 

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