Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Images with the OM10

I got a chance to take the Olympus OM10 out over the weekend and put through a roll of Fuji 400 colour film.

The OM10 is a solid, easy to operate camera that will make a great back-up for my OM2 (which I still prefer).

I took the family back to Carew Falls (I shot there a few months ago with the Bronica medium format camera) and we all got our cameras out to capture the magnificent falls.

Luckily the day was somewhat overcast, which meant the OM10 had no trouble keeping details in the water highlights or the forest shadows. Shooting on print film has also helped in this respect, with a greater exposure latitude than slide would have offered.

My daughter Emily also took photos of the falls on her Canon 10D digital camera, and we will be entering one in the junior section of a local photography competition coming up soon.

On the way back from the falls, we drove through the small settlement of Kumara. I had one eye on the road, and the other on the fields as we passed by - a useful skill to have when you're a photographer ;-)

I spied an old van in the middle of a field, and I just had to stop and take a couple of quick photos. The 35mm Zuiko lens is almost permanently attached to both the OM2 and OM10, but in this instance I needed a little more reach. The 135mm Zuiko was perfect and is a beautifully balanced, small and light lens to use.

I've been trying out several HDR software programs recently, so I popped the scan from the lab into Photomatix, played around with the tone mapping a bit, and got the above result. HDR is perfect for these old grungy car images, and I'm pleased with the end result. I think it would be even better if I used a scan from my Epson 700, but I'll have to do that another time.

Another favorite place of mine to shoot at the moment is down at our local wharf. Since I needed to finish off the roll, I took Emily down there one afternoon and we spent an enjoyable hour or so just wandering around the jetties snapping images.

I think I took about 12 photos - just enough to finish off the roll - whereas Emily, who was shooting on her digital camera, took a couple of hundred!

On one hand this is great. She gets to 'play' with the camera and try stuff out in a way I never could growing up shooting film.

But, on the other hand, while I carefully compose and think about every shot - even when I shoot digital today - I get the feeling that with digital, the 'scatter-gun' approach to composing becomes a very real option. Take as many photos as you can, and you're bound to get a good one amongst them all - right?

Don't get me wrong, Emily gets some good photos. But I do sometimes wonder if digital doesn't encourage a bit too much slop and not enough careful composition? Just a thought.

The final image above is a fairly straight forward shot - just a bunch of ropes tied around a post. But I like the image because of its simplicity, its compositional techniques (leading lines), subtle color palette, and bold use of contrast in post-processing. I just like it :-)

So I had fun with the Olympus OM10, and liked its small form factor, easy controls, and build quality. It won't replace my OM2 - but will definitely get a work-out every now and then.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A couple of OM10's

Previously I have posted about how happy I am with my Olympus OM2 kit. So happy, in fact, that I think it will probably become my main film camera.

But, I have also pointed out the one flaw that my OM2 has - that eventually all OM1 and OM2's get - foam gunk on the viewfinder prism! Apparently OM1 and OM2's were made with foam placed around the prism to block light (an extra, unnecessary precaution apparently), which, over time, breaks down and starts eating at the silver coating of the prism. Mine is just starting to appear in the viewfinder and although it doesn't stop you from taking the image, it is slightly annoying - and will only get worse!

The fix is to get in and get the old foam out as soon as possible - although once it has started attacking the prism then the damage is done. If the prism is ruined, replace it with an OM10's prism (which apparently doesn't have the foam anymore).

So I've bought an OM10, for the purpose of using its pristine prism in my OM2 - but now that it's arrived, and is in such good condition, I don't want to butcher it for parts - even for my beloved OM2!

I won it on Trademe (where else) last week, and it arrived the next day! As you can see from the image at left, it's in great condition and everything functions as it should. The only thing missing is the manual control attachment that allows full manual control of the camera (otherwise shutter speeds are all electronically controlled).

As with the OM2, the OM10 is a beautifully crafted camera that inspires confidence when you use it. It makes a prefect back-up camera to the OM2 - another reason why I'm reluctant to have its prism removed. So I'm not going to. This camera is going to become part of my Olympus kit. Which leaves me with the same problem as before - a gunky prism in the OM2. Solution...?

I've bought another one - OM10 that is. This one has the Manual Adapter, but is a little worse for wear otherwise. So I'm going to butcher it for parts and I'll then have a fully functioning OM10 and OM2 with all the parts in tact.

I'm not doing the butchering though. Much too involved for me. I'm going to send the cameras off to a service technician and will get them to do it for me. Yes it will cost, but at least I know the job will be done properly.

My other addition to the Olympus kit is the Winder 2 that will fit both the OM2 and OM10. It takes 4 double A batteries, and automates the film winding process (up to 2.5 frames per second). I want it to add extra 'grip' to the cameras, so that my hand has more to hold on to and will be more comfortable to use. It will add some weight and bulk, but not much compared to other grips, and should make for a better handling experience.

All-in-all the Olympus kit is coming together nicely.  Now all I need is a Zuiko 24 or 28mm lens and I'll be a happy camper!

New scans from the Bronica S2

I have had a roll of processed 120 sitting on my desk at work for well over a month now, and finally today I got to scan it.

They were images I had taken while exploring the local coastline one evening in mid-summer. I'd gone out with a series of images in mind that I wanted to capture with the 6x6 medium format, but, as per usual, I ended up having to take a whole different tact. I had hoped for a stunning sunset, but it was obviously not going to happen. So I ended up exploring the shoreline instead. And I had some interesting finds.

Quite unexpectedly, I came across an old car engine washed up on the rocks! I got very excited by the possibilities, but it was very difficult to get an angle I was happy with - firstly because of the uneven nature of the surrounding rocks, and second because of the sheer weight of the Bronica itself. But I was happy with this overall view which conveyed the juxtaposition of the man-made with the natural.

I also liked the rock formations themselves, especially the way they split the square frame into thirds - a third for the bush, a third for the rocks and a third for the sand. This created an interesting textural interplay of spiky, rocky and smooth that I kinda liked.

Towards the end of my journey along the beach I came to this natural tunnel in the cliff face, and really liked the strong lines and contrast of light and dark that I was seeing. I took quite a few shots of this, because the lighting was very tricky. I wanted detail in both the rocks and the sky to remain, so bracketed exposures based around my hand-held light meter. This was shot in colour, but I knew I was going to convert it to black and white as I was seeing the shot. Turned out OK.

And finally, a shot from the start of the roll, that wasn't taken that night on the beach. This was shot on the way back from Christchurch after Christmas. We were driving home and I saw the sky starting to go orangey/yellow. It took me about 5 minutes to find a suitable place to pull over and then another 5 minutes to set up the Bronica on a tripod to get the shot. I took two frames, and then the orange disappeared.

I have more cameras than I know what to do with now, so I don't get the Bronica S2 out all that often. Even so, I really enjoy it when I do get it out and run a roll of film through it - so it will stay as a part of my arsenal of film cameras. Even though large, heavy and unwieldy - the negatives it produces are simply gorgeous when scanned. In fact, I have entered a shot taken with the Bronica in a local camera competition. I'll let you know how it goes.