Monday, April 30, 2012

This Would Have Been the Day I Forgot My Camera

Moose by Nome_Alaska on dpreview
Image Source:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens

Poster Nome_Alaska on dpreview posted this shot of the morning traffic in his homeland. I can't remember the last time a moose held me up on my way to work here in Virginia.

(Click Here) to read the original post.

Sometimes, you just want to be sure to have a camera, any camera, on hand to document your day. These couple of images could have been made with a point and shoot, or an iPhone. The important thing is to have a camera with you.

On those days when you see something creatively intriguing, something you would like to develop artistically, rather than just documentation, it's nice to have a better camera. The Micro 4/3 kit presents a nice compromise in size and capability in that case. Nome_Alaska's GF2 is a very small camera, and the 20mm f1.7 an excellent, bright, sharp, fast lens. Easy to carry, highly capable kit.

It's fun to see how our days differ from those we're connected to by the internet.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Stove Eye Lifters Rock the Barns at Rose Hill in Berryville, Virginia

April 28, 2012 was the first public showing of the new band Stove Eye Lifters, made up of some of the members of two other great local bands, the Acoustic Burgoo (Melissa Wright, Rudy Bzdyk, Ben "Benjo" Walters), and Dwayne Brook and Jesse Shultzaberger of the Woodshedders. They were joined on-stage for a couple of songs by Erik Burnham, also of Burgoo fame.

By the way:

(Click Here) to get info on Acoustic Burgoo's new album, "Word." Support this local band, get a great CD in the process! I bought my copy yesterday.

The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5
iso1600, f2.8, 1/30 sec
Nissin Di466 flash, manual fill setting

The show opened with an acoustic mandolin and guitar set by the Spruce Brothers, Marty and Stuart, who work together at Fairbuilt Guitars in Neersville, Virginia. In addition to being wonderful musicians, these guys build some beautiful stringed instruments! The highlight of their set (for me) was “Pastures of Plenty,” by Arlo Guthrie.

The Spruce Brothers, by Reed A. George
The Spruce Brothers, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso1600, f2.8, 1/30 sec
Nissin Di466 flash, manual fill setting

The Stove Eye Lifters played a wide range of tunes, most memorable for me being “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry, “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Don’t Come Home Drinkin’” by Loretta Lynn, and the topper for this child of the sixties through eighties was “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones!

The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso1600, f2.8, 1/30 sec
Nissin Di466 flash, manual fill setting

The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso1600, f2.8, 1/30 sec
Nissin Di466 flash, manual fill setting

The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso1600, f2.8, 1/30 sec
Nissin Di466 flash, manual fill setting

The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
The Stove Eye Lifters, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
iso1600, f2, 1/30 sec
Nissin Di466 flash, manual fill setting

Keep your (stove) eyes open for this band. See ‘em if you get the chance!

Thanks to Cheryl Ash and The Barns at Rose Hill for another great show.

Shades on Piano, by Reed A. George
Shades on the Piano, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5
iso1600, f2.5, 1/30 sec

Now for some photography-related notes. I have written before about the challenges of photographing in venues with the new style high intensity LED lights. The Barns at Rose Hill has them as their main lighting source. LED lights emit a very narrow wavelength of light, which plays hell with my cameras' white balance. I have tried many white balance settings, to no avail. The first tip for shooting in LED light is ALWAYS shoot raw images. You will definitely want to adjust them later. 
You can see in the image of the Spruce Brothers the effect of mixed tungsten and LED lighting. It's not too bad, and gives a pretty reasonable mix of colors. When the Lifters came on stage, Dwayne asked for the house lights to be turned off - he wanted it real dark. I have figured out that shooting at iso1600, f2.8 (or thereabouts), 1/30 sec, with fill-flash (manually controlled, which is impossible with the G3's built-in flash, but easy with the Nissin Di466 add-on flash) does a pretty good job of compensating and filling in some of the other wavelengths of light. I hope this is helpful to others faced with this significant lighting challenge.

It's Worldwide Pinhole Day 2012

Worldwide Pinhole Day, by Reed A. George
Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, Nikon Mount Adapter, Nikon Mount Pinhole (f180)
iso100, 6 seconds

Today is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. So, I had to get something up here for it.

(Click Here) to read about Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

You may ask, how can Reed take a blurry pinhole picture, when pinhole cameras are supposed to have sharp focus and nearly infinite depth of field? Well, the answer is simple. Take a pinhole body cap for a Nikon camera, which already produces blurry images due to diffraction effects with the "small" full-frame 35mm sensor, and use an adapter to put it on an even smaller Micro 4/3 sensor camera. That's what I did.
You can only enter one picture in the official gallery at, so I won't be entering this one. I took a couple earlier with a much better rig, my 4"x5" film pinhole camera. How's that for a bigger sensor? But, it requires processing, which won't happen today.

So, please accept this as my image for Worldwide Pinhole Day! And, I even took it with a Lumix camera.

Would you like to make blurry pinhole images, too? Here's an example of a Nikon pinhole body cap (different manufacturer from mine):


New Fun "Salon" Contest on

First Train Departs, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso100, f7.1, 1/6 sec
There is a fun contest being hosted at The current theme is "Motion."
(Click Here) for the contest announcement and instructions for entering.
My entry is the image above, of the first train leaving Gora Station in Hakone, Japan. This is the Japan Tozan Railway, which follows single-track switchbacks up the mountain from Hakone Yumoto Station.
(Click Here) for more of my images and information about the railway.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Panasonic Lumix and National Geographic Collaboration Report - Counting Species in India

As I've reported in the past, Panasonic and National Geographic have formed a collaboration, which is super exciting to me. They have just issued a brief report about working with a researcher who studies biodiversity in India's Pakke Tiger Reserve.

Image Source:
Hornbills Are One of the Most Important Seed Dispersers in the Indian Rainforest
(Click Here) to see the first episode, which includes a link to a four page pdf document.

The Lumix team worked with Dr. Aparajita Datta, who has spent over a decade studying and working to conserve the tropical forests in Northeastern India. Her research focuses on the "phenology" of the forest, which is the flowering and fruit bearing behavior of trees, to understand the baseline patterns of the forest, and detect any changes. The phenology includes study of trees whose seeds are spread by mammals, birds, and wind. Following is a quote from the report:"“Understanding connections and interaction between animals and plants is the part of my work I find most exciting,” Dr. Datta says. The area is home to five different species of hornbills, and Dr. Datta studies their role as seed dispersers. In tropical forests, 80 percent to 90 percent of tree species bear fruits that animals disperse so these birds are critical to the ecosystem. In addition to her scientific work, Dr. Datta has a passion for educating the next generation of engaged citizens. She has co-written two books for children on hornbills and rain forests and produced other educational material to foster a greater awareness and appreciation of Indian wildlife among urban and rural children." In addition to a short video with Dr. Datta, and eleven still photos, the site includes a second gallery of images from India.

I very much look forward to the coming episodes two and three, which promise to include many more exciting images from the collaboration.
Working in Science and being an avid photographer (and Lumix fan), I can't imagine a better match-up of my interests.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Carl Weese - Documenting America's Drive-In Theaters

Carl Weese's Drive-In Project
Image Source:
I enjoy documentary photography. That includes everything from the straightforward imaging of scientific specimens for future reference (see my post on the Calvert Marine Museum), to war photography, a very dangerous proposition for the photographer (you won't see any war pictures taken by me).
Today's post is about Carl Weese, who lives in Connecticut, and travels the country documenting America's vanishing drive-in theaters. Drive-ins have been on the decline for a very long time, but are being dealt the death blow by digital technology. Sounds familiar (camera stores, bookstores, ...).
(Click Here) to read a piece about Carl's project on The Online Photographer.
(Click Here) to see a post on the NY Times blog.
Carl's big sweep across the western part of the country was funded within three weeks on kickstarter
( This is a great site where you can support projects that you believe in.
(Click Here) to see more of Carl's pictures on kickstarter.
Apparently, Carl has plans to sell exhibition-quality prints and maybe a calendar of his work.
Nice job, Carl! I hope the kickstarter funds will cover some coffee for those late night drives between theaters.
By the way, if you like the kickstarter idea, consider funding one of my favorite Virginia Bluegrass band (and photography subject)'s effort to fund their new album:
(Click Here) to fund Furnace Mountain's album.
To see the band, (Click Here) to see my previous post on their recording session.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beautiful Obsolescence

Beautiful Obsolescence, by Reed A. George
Beautiful Obsolescence, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux
iso160, f5.6, 1/160 sec

What is it that makes some run-down, obsolete, abandoned things attractive? I'm truly not sure what it is. But, I find myself attracted to scenes like these, old rusty cars, falling-down barns.
Anyone got a theory? Surely, someone does.
Update: In between when I wrote this post and when it went live, this photo was selected as Photo of the Day for the Asia Society's blog.
(Click Here) to see the announcement.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Burnouts Down Under

Burnouts Down Under
Image Source:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Lumix 45-200mm lens

Member DownUnderDog on posted a series of shots with his telephoto zoom and G1 from a burnout event in Australia.
(Click Here) to see the full post.
It's amusing to me that the Ford Cortina was a popular "motorsports" car in Australia. My brother's first car, given to him by a neighbor in the early 1970s, was a Cortina.
DownUnderDog did a nice job of covering this event in journalistic style, capturing not only the main attraction, smoking tires, but also the drivers and others involved in the event. The collapsed tires after burnout, the team pushing a blown engine car away, and the drivers celebrating were all interesting additions. The only thing I would have tried to add would be the spectators, and maybe a wide angle shot or two (tough to do when the only lens you bring is a 55-200).
Thanks for bringing a little Australian smoke to me here in the USA!
Support this blog. Order from Amazon by clicking below.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Never Never - DMC-GH2 On Four Day Hike Through Tasmania!

nickthetasmaniac's Tasmania, shot with Lumix DMC-GH2
Image Source:
I have cross-posted some of "nickthetasmaniac" 's work in the past. Tasmania is such an exotic place in my mind, and he goes to the coolest areas there.
This time, he went on a four day hike, ending up in a place called "Never Never." How cool is that?
Nick uses the Lumix DMC-GH2, Nokton 25mm f0.95, Lumix 7-14mm f4, and Olympus 45mm f1.8.
You will definitely want to (Click Here) to see the whole post. There are several great pictures there.
They even ended up with a late summer (remember, Southern Hemisphere) snow! The picture of their camp looks mighty cold to me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More From Less - Interesting Article by Nick Fleming on Digital Photography School

Exclude Unnecessary Elements From Your Compositions
Image Source:

In an article on the Digital Photography School website, photographer Nick Fleming describes the importance of excluding extraneous elements from our compositions.

(Click Here) to see the article.

There are several great examples of powerful pictures, where more novice photographers would have been tempted to include more. In the image above, just the grass, boots, and drill instructor in the background are needed to communicate what is going on in the scene. No doubt, the recruits' faces would have been interesting elements as well. For this picture, they just weren't necessary.

The article also shows examples where excluded elements are obvious, even though they're not part of the picture. An ox pulling a plow is excluded; we know what was there. One wooden boat in another picture is enough; we don't need to see the one in the immediate foreground to know what it is.

This article reaffirms a commonly-taught point: in photography, simplicity rules. This article goes beyond the normal description by offering several interesting examples that make the point very well.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carl Zeiss 2011 Photo Contest Winners!

“Wrestling with Gravity” by David Mor
“Wrestling with Gravity” by Israeli photographer David Mor
Image Source:
Carl Zeiss has announced the winning images from their 2011 photography contest.
(Click Here) to see all of the winning images.
The contest entries were hosted on flickr this year.
I find the first place image above to be very deserving of the prize. There are many great elements to this image, both obvious and subtle, in my opinion. The obvious struggle to push the cart nearly straight up a stairway is the obvious part. For me, the bread loaves overhanging both sides add to the precarious feeling. The bread itself is also important; I can imagine it still being warm. The way the wheels lean on the cart, the worn stones of the stairs that have been used for so many years. Wonderful.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Micro 4/3 With Nikon PreAI Classic Lenses

Image Source:
User wlewisiii on the mu-43 forum recently shared some nice black and white images, taken with classic Nikkor lenses:

(Click Here) to see the full post,

and (Click Here) to see wlewisiii's picasa albums.

These images were taken with an Olympus E-P1, and Nikkor 24mm/f2.8, 50mm/f1.4, and 105mm/f2.5 PreAI lenses.

I love the fact that all Micro 4/3 format bodies (be them Olympus or Panasonic) accept adapters for so many lens mounts. I find it interesting that the PreAI lenses are more compatible with Micro 4/3 bodies than they are with current Nikon bodies. I have two PreAI lenses - the 50mm/f1.4 and the 28mm/f2.8. I have not used them extensively on my Lumix bodies. Maybe I will give them more exposure time.

I find myself missing many of my old cameras. I wonder if using the old lenses on a Lumix body will help to scratch that itch? I will give it a try.

(Click Here) for a lively forum post on about using older lenses on digital bodies. This includes lots of nice example images from my friends there.

Get your adapter here:

Friday, April 20, 2012

On Critical Focus, by Tesselator of GetDPI


Image Source:
Tesselator's DMC-GH1 and Worn Manual Focus Assist Button
Forum member Tesselator on GetDPI posted a recent entry about achieving critical focus. Interestingly, while he uses legacy manual focus lenses almost exclusively, and does not own a single native Micro 4/3 lens, he is a dedicated Lumix DMC-GH1 user. Apparently, he's on his fourth unit.
(Click Here) to see Tesselator's post on Get DPI.
It turns out that Tesselator achieves astonishingly sharp focus not through any tricks or technologies; it seems he's just plain obsessive about careful focus and camera stabilization. The only kind of new tip he shares is using the automatic magnification for assisting manual focus that is available on the Lumix 4/3 cameras. In fact, you can see how he has worn the label on the button away through constant use, in the image above (small button to the left of "Menu/Set").
In this post, Tesselator also describes his extensive use of tripods. This is something we all need to hear again, once in a while. Of course, we all know that tripods are required for ultimate sharpness. But, it sure is easy to leave it at home.
I found it useful to read his experiences, including those with vintage Linhof tripods. I hope you find something useful in his post, as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts On How iso6400 Has Transformed Photography

Virginia Ramblers, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, iso8000

Rangefinder Forum writer BobYIL recently wrote a post about how enabling the ability to shoot iso6400 on the latest digital cameras is.

(Click Here) to see the original post on Rangefinder Forum.

This was a very lively thread, with plenty of good responses. The first of two links included in the post includes a series of sports images. They are great, and deserve a click to look through.

I know that I used to occasionally shoot Delta 3200 film, but only when there was no other alternative (shooting available light in very low light situations). It was very grainy, though I did perfect shooting it at iso 1600, and adjusting the development time, to get very good results.

Now, I shoot iso 1600 with what I consider to be very nice output with my Lumix DMC-G3. I can shoot iso 3200 on the G3, but it takes some post-processing to control the noise. Not a big deal, especially with the excellent noise reduction now resident in Adobe Lightroom. Rather than miss a shot, I will shoot the G3 at 6400, but it's definitely pushing the noise situation.

My Nikon D700 shoots at iso 3200 with no problems whatsoever. I can reliably shoot at iso 6400 (or even 8000, as shown above).

One reply to the post notes that the results certainly look better in images downsized for posting on the web than they do in printed pictures. While I must agree with that statement, I would also submit that has always been true. That said, I recently printed some iso 3200 images from the DMC-G3 for a band I photographed. I was quite pleased with 8x10s, and think they would have held up well at 13x19.

I love the fact that I can shoot in very dark musical venues and not worry too much about image quality. I have found that it's better to go ahead and crank up the iso and shoot at full exposure, rather than underexposing at lower iso settings and trying to bring the levels up in Lightroom. That's when the noise levels really go crazy.

Anyway, it's a great time to be a photographer. The equipment just gets better and better.


Jared Soares - Virginia Photographer Documents Local Music Scene

Poe Mack lays down
Rapper Poe Mack in His Hotel Room, by Jared Soares
Image Source:
As you probably know by now, I have a few ongoing photography projects that I am putting a lot of effort into. One of the most exciting for me is photographing the local DC/Virginia/West Virginia Bluegrass, Roots, and Gypsy Jazz scene. There are several really great bands, covering experience levels from young people barely out of high school (and maybe some still in school) to seasoned professionals, many with significant studio experience.

Because of my own music project, I was happy to find a story on the New York Time's Lens blog about Jared Soares (, a young photographer who decided to document his own local music, in this case Rap performers around Roanoke, Virginia.

(Click Here) to read Jared's story on the New York Time's Lens blog.

Jared's story sounds similar to mine. He describes how the musicians were skeptical at first, wondering about his true motives. As they found that he was a true music lover, and wanted to make his own form of art related to the local music scene, he was increasingly welcomed to photograph them. To use Jared's words, he says:

"We're both trying to say something."

Mr. Soares' photographs will be shown at an upcoming exhibit in Charlottesville, VA.

(Click Here) to get information on the exhibit.

I am still working on improving my own chops at photographing in small, poorly-lit clubs and coffee shops, as well as the professionally-lit bigger venues. I am also enjoying the process of getting to know some of the musicians, who are without exception good people.

Jared has succeeded in documenting not just the performances, but behind the scenes life for the musicians. I aspire to add more of a personal connection with the musicians to my own work. This will come with time and trust between the musicians and I.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Civil War in Virginia - Shot With Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm Kit Lens

Union Soldier at Mount Zion Church, by Reed A. George
Union Solder at Mount Zion Church, Aldie, Virginia, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
iso160, f5.5, 1/400 sec

I recently attended a local civil war event with my good friend Stan. Stan happens to be an avid Nikon photographer, and a Historian.

We attended an event entitled "Mosby: A Scout Along the Turnpike," which included three distinct historical sites here in Northern Virginia. The first stop for us was at the historic Mount Zion Church in Aldie, where we received detailed descriptions from re-enactors (one playing John S. Mosby, the famous guerilla leader fighting for the confederacy in the area, and another playing a Union soldier, above). The church, built in 1851, at various times in the civil war served as the first rendezvous site for Mosby and his Rangers, a field hospital, a barracks, a prison, and an actual site of military action. Union troops convalescing in the church as field hospital left graffiti on the walls that remains today. Also at this first site was a nice display of period-style weapons, like those shown below.

Muzzle Loader, by Reed A. George
Muzzle-loading Springfield Rifle, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
iso160, f7.1, 1/500 sec

Colt and Remington Style PIstols, by Reed A. George
Colt and Remington-Style Pistols, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
iso160, f7.1, 1/500 sec

The next stop on our tour was the Aldie Mill. The mill was owned and operated during the civil war by John Moore, who was genuinely against Virginia's secession from the Union, which put him in a bad situation with his mostly-rebel neighbors. He explained how because there was no room for neutrality in this part of the country during the war, both armies caused him problems at one time or another.

Miller John Moore, by Reed A. George
Miller John Moore, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
iso400, f6.3, 1/350 sec

The old mill is still operational, and was running for the event. Here are a couple of shots from inside the mill.
Mill Works, by Reed A. George
Mill Works, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
iso800, f4, 1/40 sec
Grain Detail, by Reed A. George
Grain Detail, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
iso200, f5.3, 1/160 sec

The final highlight of the Mill site was a slave's tale of the "Aldie Races," where Union soldiers nearly freed Aldie slaves. They had a glimpse of freedom before being returned to their Rebel owners.

Glimpse of Freedom, by Reed A. George
Glimpse of Freedom, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
iso200, f5.4, 1/50 sec

The final stop on our tour was at the Caleb Rector House at Atoka. In this house, John Mosby formed his group of rangers in 1863. Our interpretor at this site impressed upon us how similar Loudoun County is today to what the Rangers knew 150 years ago. He stated that you could drop any one of the rangers in Western Loudoun County today, and they would know exactly where they were.

Rector House Interpreter, by Reed A. Georeg
Rector House Interpreter, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Zoom
Nissin Di466 flash (bounced)
iso160, f5.6, 1/160 sec
That wrapped up our civil war lesson for the day. It is great fun to have access to motivated historians with a depth of knowledge of our local history. Each site has its own special charms. For me, the mill is really something. The fact that it is still operational after all this time is very impressive.
That said, the church is also deeply interesting, with a cemetery that holds remains of both Union and Confederate soldiers within its walls, and approximately 60 unmarked African American graves just outside. While the Primitive Baptists allowed African Americans to worship in the church, they were always separate, with the whites seated downstairs, and the African Americans upstairs. This separation extended to the burial grounds.
Now on to the photographic discussion. I decided to limit myself to a single lens on this trip, the Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f4-5.6 kit lens. I must admit, I regretted this during the day, and it cost me some nice available light shots inside all three sites, particularly the mill. I found the slowness of the f-stop particularly limiting; it has been a long time since I used a kit zoom for any length of time. And this was a bright sunny day, so conditions don't get much better for a lens of this type.
I find the image quality acceptable, but qualitatively lower than I would have gotten with the much more expensive Lumix 14-140 f4-5.8. That's not surprising, given the difference in price. However, since I have the 14-140, the only advantage of the 14-42 would be size, which to me is not worth the trade off in image quality. The 14-140 is not that big, after all. And, if I want small, I'll go for the Lumix 20mm f1.7.
In summary, I'll say that the 14-42 is acceptable for a kit lens, but any other native Micro 4/3 lens will yield better image quality. I'll also say that over-constraining myself was instructive, but did cost me a decent image or two.
For comparison, and a nice post about the Nikon 18-55mm kit zoom, see this post by my friend Graham Serretta over on Nelson Foto:
(Click Here) for the post on Nikon's kit lens.
I hope you find the history interesting, and the photography notes useful. It was a great day out for me!

Tyson Robichaud Writes About Creativity and Inspiration

BUTTerfly by Tyson Robichaud
Image Source:

(Click Here) to read a recent entry on Tyson Robichaud's blog, regarding how to get out of creative ruts. I find his thoughts interesting. His approach is to grab a subject, anything interesting enough to spend some time with, and explore variations on perspective, lighting, etc.

I have a couple of other techniques I use. One is to go to a new place, without any real idea what I'm going to shoot there. This can be very hit-or-miss. In fact, you may come home more frustrated than when you left.

Another approach for me is to grab a camera, lens, or system that I haven't used in a long time. My recent post of some Rolleiflex images was a result of exactly that exercise.

Finally, I have written about the book Contemplative Photography, Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes, by Karr and Wood. I find their series of exercises very refreshing.

(Click Here) to see my post about the book and methods. By the way, I don't know the authors, or have any other connection with the book (other than I'll get a little support if you happen to order it through Amazon's link below).

Anyone else have useful ideas for breaking the creative logjam? Comments appreciated!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dave Martinez's Micro 4/3 "Trinity" Travel Kit - What's In Your Bag?

Some of us don't want to look like this when we travel with our photography gear. Heaven knows I've injured my back with Nikon DSLR kit, especially when I had a carrying-age child with me. Things are better now - she's independently mobile, and I have Micro 4/3 gear!
Image Source:

Fellow blogger Dave Martinez writes that his normal travel kit is now a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 7-14mm f4 (wish I had one of those), Lumix 20mm f1.7, and Olympus 45mm f1.8 (another great lens I don't have). This covers a huge range of focal lengths, and makes for an amazingly small carry-on bag.

(Click Here) to read Dave's post.

I wrote last week about what I recently carried on an overseas trip.

(Click Here) to see that post.

I tend to like fast prime lenses, so my normal travel kit is now two DMC-G3s, Lumix 14mm f2.5, Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux, and Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit. The Oly 45mm is faster (2x more light gathering capability than the Pana-Leica), but the Pana-Leica has macro capability. I find I use that quite often on travel. I also typically throw in the Lumix 14-140mm f4-5.8 zoom, just because it covers so much ground in a single lens. And sometimes, I want more reach than the 45mm offers. Having a second body really adds very little weight, and provides a back-up in case of camera problems. It is also nice to have a wide or normal lens on one, tele on the other, minimizing the need to change lenses in the moment. This whole kit, two bodies and four lenses, fits easily in a padded messenger bag, which even has room for filters and other accessories. Pretty nice. Of course, a tripod is extra.

If I want to save a little space, I may use the Lumix 20mm f1.7 instead of the Summilux. Both lenses are great, in my opinion.

See below for links to the messenger bag and padded liner that I prefer. They fit together perfectly, even though they're provided by different manufacturerers.

My next decision is whether or not to carry a flash.

Anyone else have a favorite travel kit? Share what's in your bag!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Here's a Post to Keep Your Eye On - Lumix Macros

Macro by StudioHeraBell
Image Source:

User StudioHeraBell on mu-43 started a new macro image post. Using a legacy Pentax macro lens and DMC-GH2, this looks like it could be interesting.

The image above is a closeup of tulip petals. I find it very attractive.

Macro is one of those types of photography you can do anywhere, any time. It's fun to play with lighting approaches, and make ordinary items seem anything but.

I have subscribed to the thread.

I did some macro photography of my own recently, of the new spring blossoms and flowers. I'll have to post some...


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another Great Place To Write Your Blog - In Hakone, Japan

Maurice Utrella, by Reed A. George
Coffee Shop "Maurice Utrillo," Hakone, Japan
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux
iso400, f1.8, 1/40 sec
Today, I decided to take the easy way out, and show you where I stopped to write my daily blog entry. This is a gourmet coffee shop on the main drag in Hakone Yumoto, Japan called "Maurice Utrillo." If you're seriously ever looking for it, it is easy to find; there is a big red Fuji Royal Coffee grinder out in front.
Maurice Utrella Coffee Grinder, by Reed A. George
Coffee Shop "Maurice Utrillo," Coffee Grinder, Hakone, Japan
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux
iso400, f2.8, 1/800 sec
Maurice Utrillo was a French artist, who specialized in painting cityscapes. Here's an interesting entry about him from wikipedia:
An apocryphal anecdote told by Diego Rivera concerning Utrillo's paternity is related in the unpublished memoirs of one of his American collectors, Ruth Bakwin:
"After Maurice was born to Suzanne Valadon, she went to Renoir, for whom she had modeled nine months previously. Renoir looked at the baby and said, 'He can't be mine, the color is terrible!' Next she went to Degas, for whom she had also modeled. He said, 'He can't be mine, the form is terrible!' At a cafe, Valadon saw an artist she knew named Miguel Utrillo, to whom she spilled her woes. The man told her to call the baby Utrillo: 'I would be glad to put my name to the work of either Renoir or Degas!'"[5]
This shop's coffee menu includes "blended," "weak," (500 yen each) "Cafe Au Lait," "Viennese," (700 yen each) and "Dutch Coffee, High Roast Strong" (850 yen). Since I plan to sit here and take up space for a while, I threw caution to the wind and ordered the Dutch. Let's see, 850 yen, at 80 yen per dollar, oh well, it's somewhere North of $10. But boy, does it live up to its description! Lovely, dark, strong.
"Dutch Coffee, High Roast Strong" by Reed A. George
"Dutch Coffee, High Roast Strong"
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux
iso400, f1.8, 1/125 sec
The lady serving coffee is very nice, and even dug up an English menu for me. My Mom would love this place; it is full of old dolls, mostly from Europe I imagine.
This is a place I can relax, unwind, write, and read. Perfect before getting back on the train for Tokyo in about an hour, heading directly into Friday night rush hour...
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Love Gun! Something in Common to Laugh About With a Stranger.

Love Gun! by Reed A. George
Love Gun! by Reed A. George
Panasonic DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso160, f2.8, 1/320 sec

I've told you before that one of my objectives is to better connect with people in the places I visit. Well, here is an example.

Japan is not the easiest place in the world to meet people casually. This guy was the exception. We met in Hibiya Park in Tokyo, where we were both admiring the spring bloom (see the background). He was happy to practice a little English, and was surprised to find that I could speak a little Japanese. "You have shocked me," I believe was his expression.

Anyway, in quickly looking for things we may have in common to talk about, he brought up the rock and roll band "Kiss." He then proceeded to sing me the lyrics from their song "Love Gun," which I had all but forgotten. He was a little shy about letting me take his picture, but by the second exposure, above, he had gone back into his Paul Stanley (Kiss guitarist and vocalist) act.

It brightened my day to have this little conversation, and get this picture of him. We walked away not knowing each other's names, but both with smiles on our faces. Good fun.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hey Mister, What's in the Bag? Or, What I Took on My Spring Vacation

So, I got into Micro 4/3 camera gear in large part due to the compactness of the system. I used to carry around a very heavy bag of Nikon gear, which consisted of one body and a few lenses, flash, etc. Because I didn't want to be changing lenses in the field all the time, and could only carry one body, I depended largely on zooms, usually with one fast normal prime along for the ride.
So, what has Micro 4/3 done for me in terms of my travel kit? Maybe this will give you an idea:
Reed's Travel Kit

My Travel Kit - LowePro CompuTrekker AW,
Giottos MT9241 Tripod, Velbon QHD-41 Mini Ballhead

While this is the same backpack I used with Nikon, what I carry inside, and the resulting weight, is very different. Being able to use a small travel tripod and mini ballhead is an immediate advantage of lightweight camera equipment.

Here's what's inside:

Travel Kit, Exploded

Let's see here:
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 bodies (2X), batteries (4x)
  • Panasonic Lumix 14-140 f4-5.8 zoom
  • Panasonic Lumix 14mm f2.5
  • Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux
  • Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
  • Panasonic 46mm filters (2X - 1 Polarizer, 1 3 stop ND)
  • Nissin Di466 flash
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, batteries (3X)
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 waterproof camera, batteries (2X)
  • LowePro Messenger Bag (fits inside Computrekker AW)
  • Mountainsmith Camera Cube (padded divider pack, fits inside messenger bag)
  • Panasonic remote shutter release
  • Apple iPad2
  • Shutterhat camera rain protector
  • Hakuba mini-tripod
  • SD cards, pen and paper, passports, etc.
All of this together, including the Giottos tripod, weighs in at 19 lbs. I don't have a weight for the Nikon pack, but imagine it's quite a bit more.

While this pack is not exactly lightweight, there is significant capability and redundancy here. For a big, expensive trip, that's what I want. Having two interchangeable lens bodies makes me much more comfortable. Not only that, it allows me to shoot mostly with primes, which I really prefer. I found on this trip that I kept the 25mm Summilux on one of the G3s, and alternated between the 14mm and 45mm on the other. I only used the zoom a couple of times, when I wanted longer reach than the 45mm would afford.

What would I leave out if I were going again tomorrow? Not much, actually. I would probably leave out the LX5, but that said, I did use it exclusively for a day of family activities. Yes, I could have used one of the other cameras, but the LX5 sure is a great balance of size and capability. I may leave out the flash. I don't use flash a lot, and they do weigh quite a bit, especially with an extra set of batteries. I might leave out the 14-140 zoom.

The fact that the padded messenger bag fits inside the Computrekker is great. That allows me to only be a packhorse for the whole kit when I'm making major moves between hotels, etc. Once on location, I can put just what I need in the messenger bag, and travel much more lightly.

The DMC-TS3 turned out to be fun on this trip, as I did shoot a few underwater pics. I'll post those in the coming days.

So, I hope you can see that I have a lot more capability with Micro 4/3, at reasonable carrying weight. If I were to limit it to one body, a couple of zooms, and a single fast prime, it would really be a lightweight kit. Sometimes, while my back is aching, I do feel that I challenged myself to fill the volume of the Computrekker.

What do you think? Am I over-prepared for an overseas one week trip? Under-prepared? What would you pack differently? I'm always interested to learn from others.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kirk Tuck (Visual Science Lab) Returns, Renewed!

Martin Burke, by KirkTuck
Actor Martin Burke, by Kirk Tuck
Image Source:

Kirk Tuck, blogmaster at the Visual Science Lab ( recently took a break from writing. I must admit I was a little worried about what that meant. I've come to enjoy his blog regularly, and didn't want to see it go away.

Well, not to worry. Kirk is back, and with renewed creative drive. In this first entry since returning, Kirk discusses how he's working to add his own creative edge back to his professional photography work.

(Click Here) to read Kirk's story.

In addition to his current professional digital equipment, Kirk is now carrying a Hasselblad and single roll of black and white film. When he's met the needs of the job, he then plans to grab the 'blad and do a little more with his subjects - for his own development.

While I am not a professional by any means, I can understand Kirk's point. Focus is important, but I am feeling some loss by focusing so narrowly on Panasonic products. As you may know, I did sprinkle in a little film work recently, on an outing with fellow blogger Aboud Dweck. I need to do more of that.

I just returned from a trip to Japan, which was exclusively shot with Panasonic equipment. It served me very well. But, as I will write in the near future, I had the experience of going to a flea market in Tokyo, where I found a piece of gear from the past that really got the gears turning for me. It reminded me of a part of photography that I have not been focused on. So, you may see more from some of my other gear in the coming weeks and months.

I will not lose my focus on Panasonic equipment; it really is a great set of tools. However, if focus is important, variety is the spice of life. And I like things a little spicy.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Manipulated Images - "Grunged Japan" by Reed A. George

I warned you - this post contains manipulated images. I just arrived home from Japan. For most of my trip, I had weak or no internet connection, so you can expect to see several posts about Japan now that I'm back and reconnected. On the airplane ride home, I experimented with some fun manipulations of Lumix images I took on the trip, using an iPad app called Snapseed.
(Click Here) to find out more about Snapseed.
Here are some examples:
Grunged Japan #1, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #1, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #2, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #2, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #3, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #3, by Reed A. George

Grunged Japan #4, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #4, by Reed A. George

Grunged Japan #5, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #5, by Reed A. George

Grunged Japan #6, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #6, by Reed A. George
Now I know these are not my normal images. That's the point. I wanted to do something a little different. Snapseed was just the ticket to accomplish that. I've used a pretty stochastic approach to these, and didn't follow any recipe. They include combinations of "Vintage Film," "Organic Frames," "Center Focus," and "Grunge" (hence the name of the series).
They are so manipulated, I think it suffices to say that all are Lumix photographs, taken with either a DMC-G3 or DMC-TS3.
Grunged Japan #7, by Reed A. George
Grunged Japan #7, by Reed A. George
I hope you don't mind indulging a little break from my normal style with me. I wouldn't want to use these effects every day, but they were a nice little diversion on the flight home.
Let me know what you think!
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