Dateline 25 November 2016

 

Saturday Natter - Denbies Vineyard - 5 November 2016

Report by Peter Flower

This event was attended by 10 members. For the first part of the meeting we were able to sit around one of the large round tables which was a much more convenient arrangement than pulling small tables together. As always there was a good deal of animated discussion on a variety of photographic topics. It is obviously impossible to be involved in all of them so I asked other members who were there to add to my own recollection of events.

Phil Johns was asking for advice from myself and Pete Welch on the potential choice of a prime (fixed focal-length lens) for his Nikon DSLR. He already has two kit telephoto lenses but was looking for a prime lens that could, potentially, give better image quality. The dilemma was what focal length to choose. We explained that the choice could be dependent on the type of photography but that for all-round purposes it was probably best to opt for a lens within the range of 28mm to 50mm (35mm equivalent). (For more on this topic refer to the following article) I also discussed and showed the effects of using Canon lenses with adapters on my Panasonic GX8 camera. Colin had brought along his recently acquired Panasonic TZ100 (the same model as recently chosen by John Fisher for his holiday in Brazil). Jill had her Olympus Pen E-PL7. As can be seen from the following photograph her model has the chrome finish body. Ironically, because we, and the general public, have become so used to the all-black finish of most cameras, someone recently complimented her on the excellent state of her old camera! Perhaps the leather strap also gave the impression of it being an old camera.


Lester Hicks gave details of some items being discussed on his side of the table. The images in the following collage were taken by Lester on his iPad.


Lester already has a compact camera but discussed with Pete Welch the options for a compact (or at least reasonably light non-DSLR) camera that offers proper control over focus/depth of field. Another topic discussed was the possibility of sending in prints to the SPA inter-print competition on 19th November, a matter which had slipped off the radar until a reminder from Steve Lawrenson on the matter. Lester reported that James Godber was trying via e-mail to organise at least an entry into the Nature class with images from him, Mick Higgs, John Fisher and Mark - who was picking all that up on his iPad and trading images back to James.

Colin Hodsdon reported on some other discussions, including how we could attract more visitors to the annual exhibition, maybe using a different venue and/or location; using a couple of presentations by members on (say) how to get the best out of digital cameras and camera techniques; focused advertising; involving a charity; inviting the mayor, introducing a competition for the public to enter an image to be judged by a small panel of members etc. Also thoughts about some additional external events to be held during the next few months, a discussion about some of Mark's images on his iPad (if they could be improved) and the excellent quality of photos taken with the new iPhone 7.

Choice of Fixed Focal Length Lenses

Peter Flower

In the following comments I will refer to all focal lengths relative to a full-frame (equal to 35mm) camera. APS-C cameras require a 1.5 times factor to give an equivalent angle of view. So, an actual 50mm lens gives the equivalent angle of view of a 75mm lens when fitted on this type of camera. With micro four-thirds models (from such manufacturers as Panasonic and Olympus) the factor is 2 times, making the 50mm lens equivalent to a 100mm one. The extreme example applies to many compact cameras which have a 1/2.3 sensor. These may have actual focal length lenses ranging upwards from 4mm. In this case an 8.9mm lens would give the equivalent angle of view of 50mm, and an actual 50mm lens would give a telephoto effect equivalent to 280mm.

The development of the zoom lens provided the photographer with a much simpler choice, giving a single lens that could cover a range of focal lengths. Early ones were generally limited to a 2 or 3 times range (say 30 to 60mm, or 28 to 84mm) In either case it could replace two or three fixed length (now referred to as 'prime') lenses. However, despite the improvements in optics design a prime lens is capable of the better image quality. Additionally, the prime lens can provide a significantly greater maximum aperture with lighter weight than the zoom lens. A zoom lens is unlikely to exceed a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at its shortest focal length, and generally decreases in maximum aperture as the focal length is increased. The weight penalty, and cost, of the heavy optics to keep the aperture constant is usually prohibitive. In comparison, it is not unusual for the prime lens to be supplied with apertures of f/1.4. (There are even Voigtlander Nokton f/0.95 lenses available!) Given the fact that most of us have become used to the convenience of zoom lenses, giving flexibility over the framing of our subject, it then becomes a difficult to choose a lens with fixed focal length. In reality we need to have a number of them to cover all our requirements. However, it is possible to compromise, having one or two prime lenses that cover the majority of photographic situations, whilst keeping the zoom in reserve. The following comments address the historic background and their relevance to decisions that we need to make today.

Note: You are welcome to skip over the sections before Prime Lens Choice if it is not of interest!

The earliest 35mm cameras were mainly of the rangefinder type, like Leica and Contax that provide exchangeable lenses, or folding cameras with simple optical viewfinders and fixed lenses. Whether exchangeable or fixed the most popular lens would have a focal length of 50mm, or close to it. The reason is that 50mm delivers photos with a field of view that feels natural to the human eye. Any shorter focal length tended to be referred to as wide angle and anything longer than, say, 75mm would be regarded as a telephoto lens. With rangefinder cameras there was the obvious difficulty of showing the framing for different focal length lenses as well as the practical problems of rangefinder accuracy with longer focal lengths. Taking Leica as the principal example, over the years a vast range of lenses was available. The following list is far from complete, but does indicate the extent of the range. I have highlighted what I believe were the most popular lens focal lengths. I should explain that in all the following comments I have deliberately excluded lenses for specific purposes such as macro and tilt-shift ones.

Leica

21 mm f/2.8 and f/4 28 mm f/2.8 and f/5.6 35 mm f/1.4, f/2 and f/ 2.8 50 mm f/1.2 f/1.4 f/1.5 f/2 f/3.5 75mm f/1.4 90mm f/4 135mm f/4.5

With single lens reflex cameras and the availability of through-the-lens focus capability it was feasible to provide a much wider range of focal lengths. Remember that these were originally still manual focus. I have taken Canon as an example of the typical range available. The 1959-1960 Canonflex came supplied with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. Over the years about three different bayonet fittings were supplied, but I have taken the FD range as being the most popular, and still in supply until the EOS camera range with EF lenses was introduced. The FD range went all the way from 7.5mm, up through the wide-angle 14mm, 20mm, 24mm and 28mm focal lengths, on to the popular 35mm and 50mm mid-range ones, and then from 85mm right up to 1200mm. The important factor was that there were lenses in the range from 24mm up to 200mm that had maximum apertures from f/1.2 up to f/2.8. In comparison the zoom lenses would rarely have a maximum aperture of more than f/3.5 at the shortest focal length, diminishing as the zoom was extended. With the introduction of autofocus, improvements in optical design and gaining popularity of the SLR camera the fixed focal length lens was largely displaced by the zoom lens, especially as supplied as part of the original kit. However, it was still likely that the first choice would be with a lens that covered the shorter focal lengths.

Prime lens choice. The most versatile lens is likely to be one with a reasonably short focal length. The 50mm lens is regarded as the the one that delivers photos with a field of view that feels natural to the human eye. (I recently came across the term 'Nifty Fifty' which sums up its universal appeal) However, it does have shortcomings for interiors, group photographs and sweeping landscape views. The slightly shorter focal lengths of 35mm or 28mm have distinct advantages in these situations. Being smaller and lighter they are also more suitable for street photography. Street scenes, either including buildings or people, are better catered for. The important thing to bear in mind is that you can always crop your picture to give a narrower view, but cannot 'expand' one taken with a longer focal length lens. Regarding the option of cropping, the old adage of 'getting it right in camera' is a valid one and it is best to position yourself at the preferred distance or angle of view. However, the availability of modern sensors with much higher pixel counts make cropping less of a problem than it was in the past. Additionally, if you are able to keep the ISO setting lower by having a prime lens with a wider maximum aperture there is likely to be less 'noise' in the image. A final consideration with lenses in this category is that of depth of field. As a general rule, the shorter the focal length the greater the depth of field, given the same camera to subject distance. In a landscape setting this can be a great advantage. However, it can be more difficult to isolate an individual subject from the background. This problem can be minimised by the the use of wider apertures and a careful choice of distances relative to the subject and background.

The comments above relate to general photography. Wider lenses, such as 24mm, 20mm and below, are readily available but do bring with them the potential problems of image distortion. For portraiture, especially head and shoulders shots, the 90mm lens is regarded as the best. The reason is that pictures taken with this avoid facial distortion that can be a feature of ones taken closer with shorter focal length lenses. (Think of the horrid effects in 'selfies' taken with the very short focal length lenses fitted in smartphones!)

Extra Event- Richmond Park Deer Rut – 15 October 2016

Peter Flower

Six members gathered at Richmond Park in the early morning to capture images of the deer rut. The weather was fine with a slight mist and the autumn colours provided a pleasant backdrop to the action taking place. A small selection of the photographs taken is shown below. The biggest problem we experienced was that this, being a Saturday, there were more photographers in the park than deer!


Peter Flower


© Photographs by Stephen Hewes, John Gall and Jill Flower

Set Subject Competition – Numbers

PF

Winner of this first competition in a new monthly series was Jill Flower with the following image.


© Jill Flower

Reminder The next subject, set by Jill, is The Journey

From iPhoneography To Fellowship: My Continuing Journey – 31 October 2016 – Viveca Koh FRPS

Report by Peter Flower

This was the second visit to our society by Viveca in recent times. She was last here in January 2014 when she talked about Urban Exploration, an activity that involves enthusiasts in visiting and photographing unoccupied and derelict buildings. I wrote an extensive report on that talk. Being so long ago the newsletter (Random Report 58) containing this is no longer available on our web site, but if you are interested it can be read on the Viveca Koh Photography Blog at the following link -

http://www.vivecakohphotography.co.uk/2016/03/13/report-of-my-lecture-at/

This time her talk concentrated on two aspects of photography. The first dealt with her use of an iPhone to produce creative images. As she explained, she had started her photography career using manual film cameras, both SLR and compact, followed by a DSLR Nikon D700 and Panasonic Lumix LX3. Whilst she had greatly enjoyed using all of these cameras she had, in recent times, recognised the advantages of using an iPhone. The improvements in image quality available from smartphones meant that the photographs produced were more than adequate for her purposes. Whilst it might have seemed a retrograde step down from more 'professional' cameras the iPhone, and apps that came with it, gave ease of use, processing on the go, and a sheer fun factor. It was refreshing to carry this tiny, lightweight camera, as opposed to a big heavy bag bulging with the lenses. Additionally, she enjoyed the discipline of having a single fixed focal length lens to work with. (It will be recalled that this use of a single short focal length lens was very much favoured for use in candid photography by people like Cartier-Bresson, which he described as 'an extension of his eye') This encouraged her to think more creatively regarding positioning herself for the best composition. She expressed her love of square format images. This came naturally with the application on her iPhone, whereas previously she had spent time cropping in post-production many of her photos to this aspect ratio.

Early use of the iPhone 4S with its 8 megapixel camera came about on a trip to Italy in 2012. She was revisiting Venice with other family members. The photographs taken on this trip were subsequently published in her book entitled Venice Snapbook . Images from this, together with a photograph of a wedding group that she took at the time, are shown below. It will be seen that there are a number of different treatments applied to these photographs.


© Copyright Viveca Koh Images from 'Venice Snapbook'

© Copyright Viveca Koh       Venice Wedding

Another interesting facet of this trip was the use that she made of another type of technology to help her in getting the images that she wanted. She used a translation application on her iPad to be able to speak in Italian to ask permission to take photos!

She had previously used photo apps for taking pictures and enhancing them subsequently with simulations of vintage cameras, pinhole and plastic cameras such as Holga (complete with authentic light leaks) The iPhone with inbuilt apps like Instant110 and Hipstamatic gave instant results directly of the lo-fi, square format, grungy photographs that she loved. The iPhone, being very discreet, was also an advantage.

Although she had used a wide variety of apps over the years to apply special effects to her images the favourite was Hipstamatic. This was only available on the iPhone (not Android-based phones) and the earliest version applied the selected effects at the point of taking the photograph. An update of this application, released more recently, gives the flexibility to change the effects after the photograph is captured. The following collage of pictures show more of the effects that Viveca has used.

© Copyright Viveca Koh

Visitors to Viveca's various web sites, but in particular her Flickr account, will see that her images cover a wide range of subjects and are not always subject to artistic treatments. However, I found her specific project on the subject of dogs and their owners particularly intriguing. I believe that this was triggered by the iconic images of Elliott Erwitt showing dogs alongside their owner's legs. One of Erwitt's images, together with a small selection from Viveca, are shown below.

Image from internet source. Acknowledgement to Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos© Copyright Viveca Koh

In the second half of the evening Viveca moved onto the subject of her experiences in obtaining her FRPS distinction and the images which were used to illustrate a book, Star Blossom, of poems by her uncle, Fergus Chadwick. The FRPS distinction came in 2014, following on from the earlier stages of RPS distinctions. The LRPS came in 2010 with a panel of 10 photographs taken in an asylum, images which appeared in a book Lost Asylum Sonnets, a poetic collaboration with Catherine Lupton. In 2011 she attained Associateship of the RPS with a panel of fifteen photographs, featured in the book Left Behind. The photographic prints that resulted in her FRPS award were shown on our large display panel. A small selection of these are shown below, together with an image of the title page of the book

© Copyright Viveca Koh

© Copyright Viveca Koh

Viveca's photographic skills were self-taught and honed in the days of film photography, but then readily adapted with the coming of the digital era. Since then she has developed photographic techniques that take full advantage of the technology that has come with digital cameras, and in particular with the smartphone. Although her two talks to our society have covered very specific subjects her interests go much wider, as will become evident if you go through the images on her Flickr site. Not all images have been subjected to some form of manipulation. Her style is not one that will necessarily appeal to everyone, but the talk was certainly thought-provoking and entertaining.

Many more of Viveca's photographs can be viewed at this Flickr link -

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vivecakoh/

Postscript

Not being an expert in the sort of image manipulation that Viveca carries out I turned to our very own guru on this subject, Les Dyson, for confirmation of my understanding about the various apps. Whilst doing research on Viveca's Flickr site for images I came across one which I knew would be of interest to Les. The reason will become obvious when you see the following two images!© Copyright Viveca Koh                                        © Les Dyson

The rise and rise of the smartphone

Peter Flower

According to a report one trillion photos were estimated to have been taken in 2015. The camera type that took 75% of those images was a smartphone. In other words, the best camera – the one that most people carry with them all the time. If you want to buy a smartphone the recently announced Apple iPhone 7 Plus should be a strong contender for one of the best. A fast f/1.8 aperture lens, 4K video, optical image stabilization, and water resistance are all significant features. Even more impressively, it has an innovative dual camera design that gives two focal lengths to choose from (28mm and 50mm), allows 2x optical zooming, and can use data from both to simulate narrow depth of field in a special 'portrait' mode. A word of warning! Prices are between £719 and £919 depending upon internal memory. (Admittedly, when buying this 'camera' you do get a phone and miniature computer thrown in for free!)

From another source I read an interesting report on the use of this smartphone by a professional photographer. This is not the first time that I have read of similar projects being undertaken, deliberately abandoning professional standard kit and limiting use to a smartphone. Resource Travel editor Michael Bonocore recently returned to Morocco, having travelled there previously. Although he normally travels with a Sony a7R II, Bonocore noticed that he always managed to come home with lots of photographs taken on his mobile phone, so he challenged himself to try a new approach to travel photography. The challenge - to tell a beautiful and cohesive story about his journey through Morocco using his new iPhone 7 Plus. You can judge his success by viewing his portfolio of images at the following link -

http://travel.resourcemagonline.com/2016/11/a-colorful-journey-through-morocco-with-an-iphone-7-plus/11763/

Nikon D5600

Techman


Nikon has announced the D5600, a DSLR for advanced beginners and enthusiast photographers. It retains the 24.2-million-pixel DX format image sensor, 39-point autofocus system and fully-articulating 3.2″ touchscreen of the previous D5500. It features an updated version of Nikon’s Snapbridge smartphone connectivity. The camera can be controlled remotely using a wi-fi connection.

Due to go on sale on 24 November, this model will be available at kit prices of £799 with the AF-P NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens, or £989 with the AF-S NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

Leica TL

Techman

In early November the Leica TL was introduced, an updated version of the company’s compact camera, the Leica T. The new model features chamfered edges for a more comfortable in-hand feel than the cutting edges of the previous version. There is also a new bronze-coloured titanium anodized finish, in addition to the silver and black versions previously available, as can be seen in the following image.

It may be recalled that one of the outstanding features of the Leica T was that the body was machined from a single block of solid aluminium. This, and the other features of the camera which remain largely similar, was covered in our report in Newsletter 60 (May 2014). The TL retains the same 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor and contrast detection-based autofocus system, but with improvements elsewhere. The internal storage has doubled to 32 gigabytes and there are improved autofocus capabilities, particularly in continuous mode. The T model was introduced with just two lenses available, but with the new model lens compatibility has been expanded, allowing users to mount legacy Leica R-Lenses to the Leica TL with an accompanying R-Adapter L. The updated mount will also power the optical image stabilization systems built into Leica SL lenses, all of which are compatible thanks the Leica TL’s L-Bayonet mount. The new model also has improved connectivity features that enable remote control and transfer of images to smartphones.

Night Photography – 14 November 2016 – Organised by Jill Flower

Report by Peter Flower

This was a similar event to the Photo Safari that Jill ran in May, but this time with the emphasis very much on capturing a mix of images. There were some still life objects set up in the hall. Going outside, members were invited to go into Priory Park to do some painting with light photography. Preparing to set up I was surprised at the amount of light that was being reflected back from the blanket of low cloud. The trees in the background could be seen clearly silhouetted. Sadly, it was this same cloud that killed any prospect of photographing the supermoon that was at its peak on that evening. Jill had brought two strings of fairy lights, one white and one multi-coloured. Assembling by the skate ramps a number of us took long exposures as Jill and Debbie Amphlett whirled the strings of lights around. We then went up into the High Street to join other members. In this area there were plenty of opportunities to capture interesting images. Shop windows were already decked out with Christmas displays, there were opportunities to capture the light trails of passing vehicles and plenty of interest in the tunnel and side access walkways.

We returned to the hall at about 9pm in order to have the conventional refreshment break while Jill loaded up images from the participants onto the laptop computer. This time members had been given strict instructions to have the images (jpeg only) on newly-formatted cards to avoid problems at the last event where she had been wading through cards with hundreds of images. Unfortunately, Stephen Hewes took this measure to heart but mistakenly formatting the wrong card. The images that he showed were from an event that was a night-time one, but not of this evening!

After the break we were able to view a large variety of images that had been taken. This had been an opportunity to take part in an activity that many do not normally involve themselves in, and was a very enjoyable event.

A random selection of images from that evening that members submitted to the Flickr site are shown below.

Photographs by Lester Hicks, Marion Gatland, Pete Welch, Grahame Singleton, Mike Weekes, Les Dyson, Peter Flower, Jill Flower, Stephen Hewes (not Reigate!) and Carol Hicks

TIME 100 most influential images

PF

Readers may be interested in visiting the following web site. The 100 photographs were selected by Time and an international team of curators as being images that changed the world. Image are accompanied by text explaining their relevance as well as some videos show background information. The link address is -

http://100photos.time.com/

And finally . . . . .

PF

Once upon a time, in the days of film and when most photographers produced prints in their own darkroom, our print competitions had a class called 'Trade Processed' (in addition to 'Standard', 'Advanced' etc) This recognised that the print being shown had been produced with outside aid. Move on to the digital age and we have images that are not as seen at the time but subjected to in-camera manipulation or post-processing. Perhaps we need a special class for these.

Not a really serious suggestion, but prompted by the CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) sequences in so many of the recent Christmas advertisements. These really are quite amazingly realistic. Still shots from the WWF and John Lewis videos are shown below.

Images captured from internet sources. Acknowledgement to World Wildlife Fund and John Lewis.