Feb 052014
 

On Patience

By Khoa Tran

“Sometimes, the best street photos are taken while wearing a backpack full of groceries…”

Recently, I thought about the differences in approach and style between myself and a photographer friend whose work I admire very much. He’s very good with small details, and I can just picture him (and I’ve actually seen him) spending a heck of a lot of time planning, setting up, and “getting” a particular shot. In contrast, I readily admit to being more of a “snapper who gets lucky.” I will also, however, admit to making my own luck.

While I do have my share of editorial (concert and sports) assignments, and the odd portrait and event gig, my favourite kind of photography is just having a camera with me wherever I go, without necessarily planning to shoot anything in particular.

I am lucky enough to live downtown in Old Montreal. I choose not to own a car, and I get about by walking, riding bikes (motorised and pedal-powered), and taking public transit. Often, I’ll see something and think to myself: “it’d make a great photo if only…” The trick,of course, is in seeing it through, and sometimes, seeing it through takes a bit of time.

In the winter, buildings often make visible steam from exhaust vents, and I’d noticed one in particular, going up a small hill on la rue St-Pierre. Over the past couple of winters, I’d tried to take a few shots of this scene, and it always occurred to me that it would be just perfect if I could catch someone walking through the fog of steam. If I were a more dedicated photographer, I’d find out what was making the steam, and, if possible, find out if there’s some sort of schedule to it, and either plan a shot with someone going through it, or just wait there and be patient until some random person would come through the right place at just the right time.

qui sait?

Olympus E-P3 with the M.Zuiko 14-42 mkII kit zoom

qui sait

Or… I could just happen to have one of my trusty Olympus PENs with me while walking home with a backpack full of groceries. I pass by this particular building fairly often, and I guess in the back of my mind, I knew that eventually I’d just luck out and find myself there at just the right time.

I ride the metro a lot, and I very often have a camera with me. In getting from point A to point B, I might have a photo or two to show for it. Public transit and subway stations are fascinating places. They are never a destination; they are places to which people will go in order to get Someplace Else. There are always people, but they never stay. They disappear off Elsewhere in the blink of an eye, in the heartbeat-quickening door-closing chimes, and the noisy whir of the train’s acceleration.

Over the years I’ve taken a lot of photos at subway and rapid transit stations in various cities (to the point where I am in the very early stages of planning an exhibition of these photos). It’s actually more often than not that I come home without anything noteworthy, but sometimes, just sometimes, I get something like this.

Peel Station, Christmas Eve 2013

Olympus E-PL5 with the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This past Christmas was an odd one for me. Significant life changes and scheduling complications meant that I was to spend the holiday alone while most everyone else I knew had left town to spend it with their families. Thus, I decided that Christmas Eve was as good a day as any to replace my pair of worn and leaky boots. So I found myself in a metro station I don’t usually use, switched my camera to my usual “subway mode” (shutter-priority 1/8 or 1/6 of a second), noticed the stairs, and Got Lucky. There’s a weird sort of surreal, detached feeling to this particular photo that’s not entirely unlike spending Christmas alone.

This last photo is of a driveway/garage entrance to a building very very near my own. As far as driveway/garage entrances go, I think it’s very beautifully designed. There also happens to be a steam vent there, and as it’s a residential building, I suspect that it makes visible steam in the winter when someone is running the clothes-dryer. Like in this article’s first photo, I’d often wondered to myself what it would look like if someone were to be in this shot. I’d also tried to stage a couple of photos over the years, but short of going into the building, befriending a resident, and asking him or her to run the dryer on a given night in the winter, it was going to be a tall order.

la rentrée

Olympus E-PL5 with the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So instead, a couple of years after moving into the neighbourhood, it just so happened that I was leaving to go to a live music show, someone inside that building happened to be running the dryer, and another resident just happened to be coming home.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/khoa_sus2/

http://www.suspendedseconds.ca

Patience and Fortune, I thank you both.

 

Feb 052014
 

Quiet Light

By Mark Seawell

Hi Steve! My name is Mark Seawell. I live in Germany and work on Ramstein Air Force base, HQ for the U.S Air Force in Europe. Though I’m retired from the Air Force, I now work as a civilian employee for Ramstein. This area has the largest concentration of Americans outside of the United States, over 25,000. We arrived in Germany in Aug 2005 and I quickly fell in love with the land while taking long walks with my wife. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Germany but when the rain is not coming down (think Seattle) this is some of the most beautiful land in the world.

My fate was sealed when I decided to “bring a camera along” for our walks. Soon I was taking pictures and I haven’t stopped for 5 years! I’ve shot Lumix the entire time moving form the Panasonic G1 to the GH2 and in November of last year the GH3.

http://msphotoworld.com is my Zenfolio site.

I took the first picture on the 18th of January with my GH3. Something was there that moved me. I loved the quiet solitude of the tree standing alone. . This picture was taken close to Steinwenden and is typical for this area. I call it “Quiet Light”.

18 Jan 2014 Panasonic GH3 Lumix 45-200mm F/9.0 ISO 250 1/125 Adobe LR 5.3 SilverEfex Pro

QuietLight3

The next picture is from my village of Rehweiler, Germany. The morning was misty and I found myself alone close to the tracks. What I found inspirational about this was the mood of mystery. Where are the tracks going? What is around the bend? What is the destination? View to Eternity.

8 Jun 2013 Panasonic GH2 Lumix 45-200mm F/7.1 ISO 160 1/800 Adobe LR 5.3 SilverEfex Pro

View to Eternity

The last picture was taken on the back roads between Reuschbach and Obermohr, Germany. It had rained the entire month in Novermber 2011. It would not stop. Finally, on the last day of November there was no rain and that was enough reason to take my camera as I drove in. The mist was everywhere, covering the land. I had taken a few pictures above Reuschbach and was happy and drove the road to Obermohr where we lived for nearly 6 years but had recently moved. As I came around the bend I was struck by this site. The mist totally dominated my former village but rising majestically through it all was the church tower. I nearly ran into a ditch and the cars behind me were none to happy as I positioned myself, eager to capture this fleeting moment before it all went away. There could be only one name for this image that had inspired me so…”Heaven’s Gate”.

30 November 2011 Panasonic G1 Lumix 45-200mm ISO 100 72mm LR 3.2 SilverEfex

Gateway to Heaven

Jan 182010
 

The Panasonic 20 1.7 Lens Review for Micro 4/3 – I am back again with another lens review and this time it is one that I have had some real fun shooting for the past 3+ weeks on a daily basis. This review should be simple, right? Possibly the simplest I have ever written. Why you ask? Well, mainly because this lens is just a 20 mm 1.7 prime lens with a fast aperture. Nothing fancy, no features, and what I am going to write about is my time shooting with it on a daily basis. I am also going to share the images I snapped along the way. No scientific testing to be found here besides a crop or two.

You will notice I shot this lens on the Olympus E-P2 and not the Panasonic GF1 which is where this lens is usually mounted. The Panasonic 20 1.7 comes in kit form with the Panny GF1 and damn, it sure is a hell of a kit lens. That is one of the areas where Panasonic has Olympus beat. The kit lens. Both their 20 1.7 and 14-45 beat Olympus’s 17 2.8 and 14-42 Kit lenses but it is pretty cool that you can mount the Panny lenses on the Oly bodies and vice versa. Continue reading »

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