Photography

Fave or Like – Flickr or Instagram?

One of the joys of photography is the sharing of photos with friends and on-line contacts. My site of choice for quite a while has been Instagram, but I’ve grown increasingly frustrated by needing to process small sized images, and also the speed of the feed, so I thought I would have another look at Flickr.

I joined Flickr back in 2013 when I regularly went on photoshoots with a friend and we used Flickr to share our photos. I didn’t really explore the site at all and my use gradually diminished over time.

I was really prompted to have another look at Flickr after receiving a letter from them around Christmas time. I now find that the site has been making a financial loss, that SmugMug have taken it over and are planning to develop and grow it. The letter was really a plea for money, by becoming a Pro Member and enjoying various privileges. SmugMug also indicated that they would continue to develop the site for photographers. We shall see!

So I started uploading some photos and decided to try to learn about the site and the best way to use it. And I must admit that I have really liked it and think I will continue using it.

One of the main reasons is that I don’t have to think about the small size of the photos on Instagram. I know that people will still view Flickr on their phones, or iPads or tablets, but personally I prefer using Flickr on my computer, as I trust others do, and so I am viewing and posting images more suited to the larger screen.

I publish my photos directly from Lightroom and my Keywords become Tags in Flickr. I have also joined quite few groups which revolve around my interests in photography:

and these groups come up on my feed, which I enjoy scrolling through. Whereas I feel that photos come up on Instagram and then disappear quite quickly, the pace on Flickr seems slower, particularly with some of the groups. Maybe I should learn to be a better Instagram user, but I think I will be spending more time on Flickr.

Lastly, as a student of photography I am enjoying viewing photos in a large size in the groups I enjoy. I think I will spend most of my time in Flickr, but will still post photos to Instagram and Facebook. You can see me on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ianmarks/ .

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Resurrecting an old lens – Tokina 35-200mm f3.5-4.5

Those of you who follow my Instagram account (@ianmarksphotos) would be aware that recently my photography has been focussed on flower photography, including some macro photography. As I explored this interest, I viewed a B&H video where the photographer used a telephoto lens to make close up flower photos. This led me to look at various options for purchasing a suitable lens, including purchasing a vintage 135mm lens. I looked at various options including Leica, Mamiya and even Canon.

But then I recalled that I had an old zoom lens from my Minolta film camera days. While it is quite large and heavy compared to a Fuji X prime lens I thought it was worth trying it out. Unfortunately the lens had mould in it and it looked quite dirty inside. Following a search on internet, I found a page describing how to clean this lens – thanks to Daren Sefcik. http://www.sefcik.com/2013/08/tokina-at-x-35mm-200mm-fungus-repair.html.

It was quite dirty inside but after some careful cleaning and some very fiddly little screws, the lens was back together and I looked forward to using it. I attached the lens to my FujiXPro2 using an adapter and made a few photos of some Frangipani flowers from my back deck. Here’s a photo slightly cropped, but with no other editing at 200mm zoom (equivalent to 300mm on the XPro2) with the Fuji Astia film simulation. I then converted it to Acros film simulation using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro, again with no editing. I quite like the results (even with the slight green colour cast). What do you think?

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Photography

Re-exploring flower photography

Over the last week I have returned to making photos of the flowers in our garden, not that there are many of them. I wish I could say this was a careful decision, but it was more logistical and sheer chance.

The previous blog described the first flower photo I made recently. I then felt I needed to spend more time with the camera and it was easy to wander around the garden and explore the flowers which were blooming.

I also wished to continue with my journey in black and white photography using my vintage Leica 90mm lens (made in 1959). While it may seem counter-intuitive to make flower photographs in black and white, I enjoy exploring the lines, shapes, textures and patterns in these photos.

I also felt that I wanted to get closer in to the flowers and decided to buy some macro extension tubes, which can be mounted between the camera and the lens. The top photo was taken with the tubes behind the Leica. I also puta tube on the back of the much maligned 18mm Fuji X lens and took some macros with the subject about 1 cm from the lens. The results are below. I hope you enjoy them!

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A symbol of life and hope

As I sat on the deck this morning reading yet another photography book, I looked down and saw this rose glimmering in the sunlight. The light was filtered, by dust and smoke from recent bushfires, which seemed to enhance the light on this rose and the one below.

I was struck yet again by its beauty, the wonder of creation, and how, even in drought, this plant just keeps on flowering and bringing light and joy into our garden. As you look carefully you may see the light shining on a thread from a spider’s web, and even the spider in the top left hand corner. This symbiotic relationships in nature reminded me to rejoice in the close relationships we enjoy with our loved ones and ….

After I made the first photo I was drawn to this bud as it seemed to be reaching out to enjoy its life. It seems so perfect and yet it has a small imperfection which is hidden somewhat because of the black and white. It seems eager to grow and develop. To me it represents hope in the future, even in the smokey and hazy light. Just like life really.

For those interested, the photos were made on a Fuji XPro2 with a vintage 90mm Leica lens. I developed it using SilverEfex Pro2 in Photoshop applying an Acros 100 Film Simulation and a Green Filter.

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Why black and white …

Over the last few weeks my Instagram posts have all been black and white photos. Which of course leads to the question above.

Just as legitimate is the opposite question, “Why not colour?” – a good question. Here are a few photos from July.

I enjoy processing in colour and having vivid and rich tones, but I enjoy black and white even more. When I am making photos in black and white, I find that I spend more time composing the photo, and thinking about brightness, texture and contrast. It slows me down and helps me to be more reflective, even contemplative, in ensuring that I convey my thoughts on “the moment of impulse” which caused me to take the photo.

At times I miss the “pop” of colour, but I believe that black and white has led to growth in my photography, and also in my enjoyment, even though at times I think it would be so much easier to process in colour.

Ultimately my answer to why black and white is because it brings me challenge and joy. I hope you enjoy them too!

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Photography, Travel

A tentative start to street photography

My first Fuji camera was a Fuji XT1, which I bought in Melbourne. I like trying things out, so once I got home, I put on the 35mm lens (50mm equivalent) and headed out to Box Hill Central, which has a strong Asian focus. After the Canon 5D, the camera felt small and so I didn’t feel like I would be noticed as much, even though I probably just looked like a tourist.

For all that, I happily made a few photos worth processing, which I am pleased to look at again nearly a year later. I used the camera pretty much as usual apart from zone focusing and thinking about the composition without using the camera. Then lift it up and press the shutter quite quickly. I felt like I had made a good beginning and felt quite comfortable using the camera, maybe because it was such a busy, bustling environment.

A year on, I don’t feel as comfortable. Maybe it is because the XT1 covered my face much more than the X-Pro2. Perhaps it is because I am using my camera in less busy environments.

Over the last two weeks I have visited the Queensland Art Gallery and also spent some time at the Mt Coot-tha Lookout which overlooks Brisbane City and thought I would have another try at street photography type photos.

On both occasions I used the much maligned, but very small, Fuji 18mm lens (27mm equivalent). I also decided to shoot from the hip. I tend to zone focus, and then with the shutter on electronic (silent) mode I take photos quietly and hopefully without drawing attention to myself. Using the wider angle lens I find I need to get closer but with the bigger sensor on the X-Pro2 I also have more scope to crop the image. I turned the back screen off too, so I only see how the photos turn out once I start editing. A surprise (or disappointment) much like the film days.

With a wide angle lens, I can also include people in the scene which also leads to more interesting photos.

After looking at this last set of photos I thought I would find out more about shooting from the hip. I searched it on Duck Duck Go search engine (it doesn’t track you) and discovered Johnny Stiletto. If you know nothing about him check him out here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8749783/Banksy-with-a-camera.html.

Until next time

Ian

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Bushwalking, Photography, Travel

The switch – from Minolta to Canon to Fuji!

I remember my first camera well – a Minolta XE1 film camera which I loved using with the MinoltaMD 24mm f2.8 lens. I still have the camera and Minolta lenses and recently learnt that the XE1 was made in conjunction with Leica! Wow! Unfortunately one day the shutter jammed and the camera went into retirement. At times I dream of repairing it and shooting film, but I’ll write about that another day.

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This signalled the change to digital – a Canon EOS 300D with a 50mm lens. As time passed I upgraded to a Canon 40D as well as buying an assortment of lenses. I remember my favourite was the 17-40mm lens, which was used a majority of the time for landscape photos. When photographing with a friend (a Nikon owner), we often discussed how good it would be to own a full frame camera and eventually I became the owner of a Canon 5D Mark II and 4 Canon lenses. It was an excellent kit and I really enjoyed making photos with it. I was also happy with the photos and thought that this was all I needed.

And it was for when I went on a photoshoot. All the gear fitted into a camera backpack and I could hang the tri-pod off the bottom. It worked well!

One of my other hobbies is bushwalking, and it is here where I wasn’t sure. I had a little Canon 50mm f1.4 lens which I often used, taking multiple photos to stitch together, or else cropping a photo to zoom in. Or else I would use the 17 – 40 f4.0 which I enjoyed using, but it was still big and heavy. I have also travelled in NSW and Victoria over the last couple of years and gradually became disillusioned with the size and weight of this equipment. I loved the quality, but was looking for a quality product which was smaller and lighter.

And then one day I discovered the “Aladdin’s Cave” of camera gear in Melbourne – Camera Exchange. You could spend hours here.

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And so one morning, my Canon gear was exchanged for my new Fuji kit, an X-Pro 2 and 3 Fuji lens equivalent to 27mm, 50mm and 90mm! Much smaller, lighter and still great quality! I was hooked.

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More next time!

Ian

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