Olympiholics Anonymous

2012-08-07 21.57.36
iPhone 4S

Does such an organization exist?  If so, tell me where to sign up…

Our family is consumed by an obsession every two years or so.  When the Olympics roll around we are glued to the TV/DVR in nearly every free moment.

Here are a few of my favorite photographic posts related to the Olympics.

It turns out that both professional photographers and professional athletes can suffer from lens cap dysfunction.

Sadly is doesn't take long for a modern Olympic site to become an ancient ruin.

Large format film photography has a place in today's Olympic coverage, both for portraiture as well as live action on the sideline.

If you noticed a particular style to shooting women's beach volleyball competitors you are not alone.

Photographers can be the most friendly lot, even helping a bunch of lost folks find their way.

It always rings true that you are what you eat, and these champion meals are no exception.

(And yes, it would appear the good folks at PetaPixel are just as obsessed as I am judging by all these Olympic-related posts coming from them…)

Truth be told, I have been consumed by more than one obsession lately.  Our pile of over 20 rolls of film from our Japan trip has encouraged me to further refine my batch scanning skills as well as fully embrace Adobe Lightroom into the core of my workflow.

I feel like I have been stuck in a cave for a month trying to figure this out.  But I think I am finally emerging and hope to share my experiences (and photos!) soon.

Back in Town

Canon S90, taken by my Personal Photographer (DSW)

As my personal photographer (Dear Sweet Wife) has already mentioned, we have been k-kinda busy lately.  We have just returned from a big family vacation, in fact the biggest to-date!

You may be able to guess from her post's image as well as the above where we may have been.  She took this photo of me while I was contemplating my next composition at one of several scenic locations we photographed.

One more hint: I toured the most amazing camera shops I have ever visited, all within a few subway stops from each other…

While we took some digital snapshots, we mostly shot film and we have only just begun processing it.  Look for more updates soon as we work through our digital images and start getting film back.

What if I Like The Noise?

Nikon F6, Nikkor AF 50/1.8, Kodak Porta 400

While I do love shooting film, I also enjoy keeping up on developments in digital cameras.  If you are looking for objective data on the latest digital sensors and lenses then you had better check out DxOMark.

They put most new cameras and lenses through their paces and produce a bewildering array of charts, graphs and performance scoring.

CNET recently sent behind the scenes at DxO Labs to take a look at their testing procedures.  Stephen interviewed chief scientist Frederic Guichard who had some interesting things to say about digital versus film.

Frederic says that "the dynamic range of film is eight stops more than any sensor on the planet", presumably speaking about color print (C-41) film which typically has broad exposure latitude.

He goes on to argue that with some minimal acceptable "quality" threshold (which he defines as 20 decibels signal-to-noise-ratio or SNR) that the latest DSLR's appear to beat out film.

Take a look at their figure 9 comparison of film and sensor dynamic range:  the digital sensor does achieve a higher maximum SNR, but it hits a hard wall clipping higher exposure levels while the film goes on to degrade slowly and gracefully.

I wonder what the "noise" is in this context.  If it is the grain, color tendencies, tonality, etc. of the film I don't personally consider it "poor quality".  The tested film was Kodak Portra 160, and I prefer the look of its photographs taken in daylight over any digitally captured image.

I guess the film versus digital debate at some level comes down to whether you like the inherent characteristics of a given film or the more neutral (or is that sterile…) look of a digital sensor.  I know where I stand in this argument, and I have to say I don't mind the bonus exposure latitude either!

Spinning Light

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6, @ f/4.5 and 2.4 second exposure

The lovely model in the above shot is my Dear Sweet Wife who is known to be an avid spinner of a different kind.  Our almost-three-year-old son is pretending to be Darth Vader in the background, waving his glow stick around (amazing entertainment value with young kids) saying things like “I am your father!” while making wheezing noises.

We spent a long weekend in Cayucos, CA as our end-of-summer beach vacation.  You may think that summer is just getting started, but according to our local school district it is almost over seeing as the school year starts next Monday.

The weather was a bit cold and the water even colder, but good time was had by all (us, kids, Grandparents, Aunt & Uncle, and cousins).  We got our kite flying, sand castling, boogie boarding, and seafood eating in spades.

Our culinary discovery of the trip was Taco Temple in nearby Morro Bay.  The home-made chips and salsa almost filled us up before the meal even came, my wife’s single “taco” dish of halibut was enormous as was my chicken-bacon chimichanga, and the chocolate-covered bread pudding was to die for.  (Burp!)

I had my big camera bag and tripod with me with serious intent to do some landscape photography for the first time in a long time.  It felt great just having it all in the trunk, although the weather barely accommodated one sunset outing in which I shot 24 exposures of Velvia 100 with my Nikon FA.

The sun was almost a no-show due to fog, but I managed to get some shots of the distant Morrow Rock as well as the local pier using wake-boarders, birds, or joggers to add some foreground interest.  Now I just need to come up with something creative to finish off the roll…

Back To The Future

Nikomat FTN, Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5, Nikon Y44 light yellow filter, Ilford HP5 Plus

My Uncle was asking a while back if I had heard about the Fujifilm FinePix X100.  It is perhaps the spearhead of a recent resurgence of “retro” styled digital cameras.  Of course, Leica has never strayed from their design aesthetic as well as traditional function with their digital cameras.  But the X100 does not require you to take out a second mortgage on your home to afford it so we may see more mid-range photo enthusiast pick it up, or the Olympus PEN EP-3 or rumored retro Canon PowerShot.

Is there a resurgence in classic camera interest behind these releases?  Are the camera manufacturers trying to appeal to those of us still clinging on to our film cameras?

I have to admit all of the above mentioned cameras have some appeal to me, despite some of their claims seeming false.  (The X100 is referred to as a “rangefinder” even though the focus-assist is digital, as is its manual focus control which has no mechanical linkage to the lens.)

My Uncle also pointed out an interesting opinion article by Froma Harrop where she speaks of this trend away from the high-tech and towards the high-hip and high-touch.  It really hit home with me, as I personally feel the exact sentiment she makes reference to about needing to escape high-tech.

I work with a computer all day, use a smart phone for all sorts of tasks, and am constantly swapping out my digital gear year-after year.  When I want to have fun with photography I get a big kick out of using a 40 year old camera which still works pretty much as good as the day it was made to take shots like the above.

But don’t worry, I am not crazy enough to try sticking my beloved manual Nikkors onto my phone using this abomination just to get better looking Hipstamatic shots.  (Thanks for that lead, Sharon.)  I may live in both high-tech and old-school worlds, but I don’t plan on mixing them up quite like that!