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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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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Closer Still(s) | PT.XVI | Orchid [B&W PT.II] | 35:Chronicle

black & white, close-up, macro, nature, photography

Light, Shadow & Form.


This is the penultimate post in this latest series of images from the humble orchid, which resides and, seems to be thriving, happily in my living room. I cannot say that I prefer the colour frames previously posted in PT.XV – for the light, shadow and form which I feel when I see these frames in black and white, grabs my attention without any distraction. The qualities which for me, make this subject so beautiful, are not enhanced one iota by their colour. I wonder how many might feel or see the same. If I have done any justice to this little flower in these few captures, then, maybe you will?

R.

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I. [33mm f8.0]

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II. [33mm f14]

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III. [33mm f8.0]

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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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Closer Still(s) | PT.XV | Orchid | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, macro, nature, photography

On Expiration (or, Breathing Out).


V.

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Before I write about the content of this post, I would first of all like to extend something to all of you who read and, follow my pages. I am never quite certain as to just why the the number ‘100’ is quite so significant, however, for some reason, it seems to be the case – for, yesterday, 35:Chronicle received its 100th follower. It’s not a number that I was waiting for, and, whilst I love statistics (though I don’t view them as often as I used to) – I do this for the love of it, the passion for photography and writing, if you like. Not only this, but to read so much wonderful work by so many of you, it’s a perfect way to relax, learn and engage the grey-matter simultaneously!) Nonetheless, whilst the number is just that, I wear a smile – one of gratitude to every single one of you who read my pages, enjoy any of my images, click, comment and, get involved even in the smallest of ways.  When I started 35:C back in March, I had no idea that I would be read by so many, or, from so many countries around the world. Today, I am so grateful to everyone who has contributed to these pages and, to you all, I would like to extent my most grateful thanks and, I hope you will return for a long time to come. I also wish to thank my friends who read my pages, offering encouragement and critique, and, whilst they are not WP members (they’ll come around, one day!) your input is utterly appreciated. To Amar, the thinker and the doer, I extend my deepest personal gratitude for the support, technical wizardry, patience and constructive criticism that you tirelessly provide. You’re the best ideas-man out there, barring none; and a good friend.

Without you all, these pages would be little more than an online diary. So, from me – a huge and warm thank you. You’re all completely (bloody) fabulous! This post is dedicated to each and every one of you.

R.

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VI.

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If you happen to love the colour yellow, this post is also for you. In truth, my frames would have been processed only in black and white were it not for their sunny disposition. The orchid’s form was in fact the reason that I wanted to capture them at all; their almost skin-like texture, their alien, possibly even deep-sea-like centres and, smooth curves. The black and whites speak to me – but how I exhaled in relief when, after only the smallest amount of processing (admittedly, I don’t do much) I looked at these frames. They are not perfect, they’re taken with old equipment but, they work for me.

I had spent the main part of the day preparing and constructing a macro-table in the corner of my spare room, a task which, if you saw it, looks like it should have only taken a few hours – instead, it took the entire day. With matte black covering (I used rolls of framing-card) on the table itself, and using a deconstructed, white plastic soft box, I created a high-ish walled corner which I also covered with the same card, clipped into place. Using a fisherman’s angled fly-tying clamp, a couple of small free-standing mirrors, clamped side lights, an overhead lamp, and an assortment of tripods of varying sizes and purposes, I was good to go. Rather than wait for the following day to shoot them, I waited for dark, doused all the lights I didn’t want, save for those on the table and, set to work. 

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VII.

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One thing that I do believe in when shooting anything to which you’re probably not going to return any time soon, or, ever – is – to shoot the hell out of it and from every angle you want. Use different depths of field, change lens-to-subject distance, exploit your subject to the maximum. Cut off from it’s host stem, this flower would last maybe two days in a shot glass full of water, at most. Therefore, I spent almost two hours with it. Just shooting. Recomposing. Re-shooting – and, loop! It’s a process that I become totally absorbed in; the rest of life disappears for a while, during which time my respect for the subject becomes all that is important to me. Casual has it’s time and place – but it’s not here. Some things are just too beautiful for that.  I hope that these elements come across in these frames.

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VIII.

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Thank you, always, for taking the time to view my pages. I am more grateful than I can write. 

[Frames V, VI, VIII – Ricoh GXR w/A12 33mm 2.5 Macro. Frame VII – Sigma SDQ w/18-35mm 1.8 Art, at 35mm]

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

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Closer Still(s) | PT.XIV | Orchid | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, macro, nature, photography

On Inspiration (or, Breathing In).


It has been a long fortnight since my last proper post and, a lot has been going on during this time. At the back of my mind has sat, constantly, thoughts of how I will move my photography forwards over the coming months and, whilst I have been pottering away trying my hand at making some kind of studio in my larger spare-room, I have been repeatedly inspired by much of the work I see here on WP, in the shape of writers, photographers and, artists whose work I follow and read regularly. It is short-sighted to think or believe that our works are, or could be, enough – or more ridiculously, the pinnacle of our achievements when there exists so much inspiration that can only ever serve, if we truly care about our art, to spur us on to more wonderful or beautiful things.

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I.

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This first post in my Orchid series, is, inasmuch as it could be, a doffed cap to a post I read and often return to, entitled Still Life with Tulips by Alena Shminke and, though my composition, focal distance and subject are all different as well as the tools of our trades, “Tulips” inspires me with its own tone and composition and in these elements  my attention was directed more greatly than with my previous shoots within the engaging genre of close-up photography.  (This is why my first post in this series is of solely black and white compositions, as opposed to colour which, will follow soon). Whether I have achieved more by such considerations would not be for me to say, but the process is all the more engaging when keeping elements of the works of others in mind. Inspiration is a gift to any of us who open our eyes and our minds to invite it.

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II.

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III.

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The Orchid itself was another gift, of a nine-year old girl called Maddison – who, upon returning home one afternoon during the autumn, proudly, smiling as she did so – wandered over to her gentleman neighbour who was sitting in the sunshine, to  give it to me.  Kindness, altruism and generosity are also inspirations but never moreso than the smile of a happy child.  So, for Maddie – thank you! I hope that this first series (and subsequent offerings) preserve what still is, a beautiful gift. (Tell your mum I use a little tomato-feed! Works a treat!)

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IV.

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Lastly, (and I should do this more often, I know) if I may mention another blogger, here on WP. Donald Reese has recently grabbed my attention with his utterly stunning low-light, light-painting street and environmental photography and, makes amazing use of rain, flashes and torches – as well as his cameras. If you’re interested, please take a look


[Frames I, II, IV – Ricoh GXR w/A12 33mm 2.5 Macro. Frame III – Sigma SDQ w/18-35mm 1.8 Art, at 35mm]

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

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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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Thank you for visiting. If you would like updates, please click Follow. All Images & Posts © 35:Chronicle (2018, 2019) except where specified. No Copying or Redistribution of any kind is permitted without prior consent from the author, unless links to original work is clearly provided. 35chronicle@gmx.com 
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Rootless Tree | Infrared | 35:Chronicle

28mm, 50mm, black & white, infrared, photography

Primary Outing | Ricoh GXR A12 28 & 50mm IR Conversions.


I’m extremely excited about these two primes and yet again, the Good Doctor has created something which for me, is truly special. The A12 28/2.5 has been internally converted to a 760nm wavelength and, the 50/2.5 to 715nm. Both focus just perfectly (as focus adjustments for IR wavelengths are performed during each conversion) and even the macro-focusing on the 50 works a treat, which I wasn’t expecting. To say that I am as happy as a rotund, pink farm animal rolling blissfully void of regard,  in deep, warm and smelly brown stuff, is a bit of an understatement. The 760nm wavelength will allow for slightly greater contrast than the 715nm and will lend itself moreso to black and white output and, the 50 should allow for not only good mono-output (something that the GXR is renowned for anyway) but, false-colour IR output, too. The latter isn’t my preferred finish but, it’s certainly an option, should I need it. 

At the bottom of my drive, at the far end of the wheat-field and next to the river, lay the dried and decaying remains of a gnarly old tree. It has obviously been laying there for a lot of years and, I had to capture it before long because I’d heard from a very reliable source that a party of  eager, local sculptors are more than a tad keen to get their chainsaws into it anytime soon. That said, I had no time to waste and, once the sun was well and truly over the yardarm, I had set off to make my first frames with my new primes. Here is just a small selection of my new cache of IRs from these fabulous conversions. I’d have preferred fewer clouds on the day, however, there’ll be other days. I’m going to have so much fun with these.


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I. | A12 28mm 760nm Infrared.

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II. | A12 28mm 760nm Infrared.

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III. | A12 50mm 715nm Infrared.

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… and a little something extra, just because I happen to like it (of course, you’ll see why?):

IV. | A16 (Standard) @ 55mm.

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[A.V – you’ve done it again. Thank you, my friend!]


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Thank you.

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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