Sunday, November 17, 2013

Photos from an E-1 after a reset

On 11-5-13 I bought my third (not counting the two I gave my son) E-1. It had some marring and damage on the bottom and I had a question about whether the quoted shutter count was correct; so I've been testing it day after day on hikes. On my previous outing with this camera the reds were overwhelming and I had to back them off with Lightroom 5 in PP; so I did a factory reset and then used the settings that I had on my #1 E-1 except for one thing. I was reading Wrotniak's review of the E-1 last night and he wrote that the automatic setting for White Balance was excellent; so I tried that today and did not end up happy with it. It turned the sand ash-colored; so I won't use that again.

But I wondered as I often have how uniform these cameras are. We know some of every camera run, no matter the manufacturer, are rejects; so why not lesser problems that get sent along to the user. Perhaps Wrotniak's E-1 did do better with the WB set at Auto, but my E-1 clearly did not.

The photos for today are in the "The Newish Old E-1" gallery on the photo site, 12 of them, photos 271 through 282.  Photos 275, 276 and 277 show a bit of water.  We had some rain yesterday, not much, but San Jacinto drains what it can into little reservoirs like the one you see here.  The ducks like it.

I took photo 272 as a test, a house or trailer some distance away, using the 18-180 lens set at 180mm and hand held.  I had a discussion with someone about the value of Image Stabilization.  The E-1 doesn't have any and I'm of the opinion that it doesn't need it.  I did correct the WB in PP and I might have sharpened the photo a bit but I didn't use any noise reduction.  The photo looks fine to me, and I remain unconvinced that I need IS.

Also, along with criticism of the inadequacies of the E-1 (which I discovered on my own to be untrue -- at least to the extent that my eyes provide me with evidence), I have been happily using the Olympus 18-180 lens, an ideal lens for a hiker, at least this hiker because he doesn't like taking more than one lens on a hike.  Someone gave the 18-180 lens a bad review early on which scared a lot of people away, but I like it.  Most of the photos, perhaps all, that I've taken in "the Newish Old E-1" with my #3 E-1 were taken with my 18-180.

Perhaps my 18-180 is a particularly good copy, or perhaps I could run it through all the tests the reviewers put it through and find that it is a piece of junk -- but I don't know how to do those tests. I'm just a simple hiker.

Are people who keep old Olympus cameras nuts?

Psychologically we are all products of something, some underlying ideas, some inclinations, skills, faults. In my case I was an engineer for 39 years in Douglas which merged with McDonnell which was bought out by Boeing. My emphasis, if I had one was Systems Engineering, how things fit together to make the system work, but also whether the old system needed to be tweaked or was some vendor just trying to talk us into something.

In my retirement I have tended to take a hard look at the sales-jobs of reviewers (who get paid, many of them, by camera and equipment companies) and the magazines who seem almost entirely funded by camera and equipment companies. On this forum I see "nuts" panting after the very latest and wonder, "does he really need something that the latest has that his current camera doesn't?"

It's hard not to be influenced by "the latest is better" syndrome. It was only recently that I "dared" use ISO 800 on my E-1 because as any fool could plainly tell me, the E-1 was way too noisy at that ISO. But one recent foggy, cloudy morning I was out there hiking with just an E-1 so what was I going to do? I shot about 75 or so photos, all at ISO 800 and they were all fine. I uploaded ten of them to my "The Newish Old E-1" gallery in   I would defy even Ben Herrmann's eagle eye to tell which ones were shot at ISO 800.

Do I need a faster AF?  I would have difficulty accepting the AF speeds of the E-10 or E-20 but the E-1 is fine for what I do, i.e., shoot photos on hikes.  Every once in a while one of my Ridgebacks or Duffy will chase a rabbit in clear view and I'll only get 3 or 4 shots and think I should have had the camera set at C rather than S.  Or perhaps I should have a camera with movie capability, but I do have cameras capable of those things and have never used them: The occasion either hasn't presented itself or I don't think about which buttons to push until the excitement has run around a bend and into the brush.  So the E-1 can miss the good shots as well as any of my later cameras.

Returning to psychology, there is a valid reason for being involved with a camera company that does build newer and newer cameras.  One can feel more optimism about the future than if one is firmly committed to cameras and lenses a camera company no longer builds, especially to a camera, the E-1, that the company won't even support.  One can compensate by buying more than one E-1 (I have three), but one can also connect to another system.  Ben has purchased cameras from several different companies.  In my case, when I need to feel optimistic, I can take my Pentax K-5 for a hike and dream about the K-3.

An E-1 in the threat of rain

I've been using my possibly abused E-1 which has a superb mirror and sensor and therefore may only have the small number of clicks (800) advertised. Because of doubts about that camera I started a gallery for comparison. One can see it at "The Newish Old E-1."  I posted some earlier E-1 photos and then quite a number with this questionable camera.  In retrospect and despite the damage to the underside of the camera, I'm happy with it.

But I decided to return to my mint E-1 to put things in perspective.  However, the prospect for the day was rain and the sky was very dark.  In the past I would have taken my E-3 and 14-54II but decided to go ahead with my plan.  It never rained, but the sky was so heavily overcast I left the E-1 at ISO 800 for the entire outing.

You can see the shots I took this morning, at least 10 of them, in "The Newish Old E-1" gallery, photos 261 to 270.  I did very minor PP on some of them with Lightroom 5, a bit of noise control in some cases and a bit more exposure in some others, but that was it.

In recent photos I was having to do quite a bit more PP with my damaged E-1.  I used the same settings on my mint E-1 this morning and the photos were fine.  The problem with the damaged E-1 was that the red tint was overwhelming.  I had to back off on that with Lightroom to get a more normal look, but I didn't have to do that this morning with my mint E-1.  Since they are set the same I've decided to do a factory reset on my damaged one.

Photo 264 is a bit strange.  Something caught and ate a hawk, but the lower feathers are intact.  Someone else, apparently came along and set some sticks next to the feathers reminding me of an Indian ritual.  I didn't disturb it.

Luminous Dust on an Overcast Day

The last 10 photos in the "The Newish Old E-1" gallery from the above site were taken this morning.  Especially interesting, at least to me, is photo 235.  It shows Duffy kicking up some dust on the river levee which isn't especially interesting in itself except this morning the dust became luminous.

The photo was taken shortly after dawn under a heavily overcast sky.  I had the E-1 set at ISO 800 not really expecting much at that setting but all the ISO 800 shots came out well and I can't account for that either.  I was using the Olympus 18-180mm lens and the focal length of this shot was 86mm.

I'd be interested in any theories.

The Newish Old Olympus E-1

Even though, as Colin is often seen to say, this is a gear forum, someone often pops up and says something along the lines of, "Do all you guys just talk about gear?  Don't any of you take photos?"  Such a comment will usually convict someone enough to post a few photos.  In reference to recent E-1 talk I was self-convicted.  I now have three E-1s; surely I've taken a few photos with them.  I decided to create a separate gallery on my photos site (which can be found at ) called "The Newish Old E-1"

It wasn't until 2011 that I started indicating what camera I was using in my photo catalog; so that is where I started looking for E-1 photos and posting some of the more interesting ones.  My most recently-purchased and slightly damaged E-1 was the subject of a recent thread.  Photos taken with that camera are numbers 219 through 233.  If I go out again tomorrow I'll use that camera again.

Some milestones:  My dog Ginger (with the red collar) died in December of 2012.  My dog Sage (with the blue collar) died in September of 2013.  I have just little black Duffy at the moment but am expecting an adult Ridgeback at the beginning of next month.

I didn't do any additional PP of photos before posting them in this gallery.  Some of the earlier ones have a lot more noise than I would tolerate today.

I also gave a lot of thought to why I liked the E-1.  If I was simply concerned about gear, then why wouldn't I prefer to take out my K-5 which produces better IQ and is much better at high ISO settings.  The answer is that I am not just concerned about those things. I don't just want to record highlights of hikes.  I look for the interesting shot and the E-1 seems to have the soul for such an approach to photography.  Fie on high ISO settings and technically advanced IQ!  The E-1 for the person who can't paint but has an eye for a fine painting, who sees the beauty in his every path and stops sometimes to let his E-1 take it in.

Not that I have done great things I hasten to add, but I have striven now and again toward them.  I don't spend a lot of time in PP.  I get home from a hike tired, want to take a nap, but put my photos in lightroom anyway.  After my nap I edit them a bit and usually don't see any I want to post to my photo site; so I create a slide show on my computer and look at them over and over a few times.  Usually a few will eventually seem interesting enough to post.

Red Hawk Down

Not that far into our morning’s hike something crashed through a tree and in a flurry of wings and feathers landed on the ground near Duffy and me. It was (perhaps) a Red Tailed Hawk, probably a fledgling that was just learning to fly. Since it was right next to us it probably figured that there was no point in trying to fly away since that hadn’t worked all that well for him thus far.

You can see these photos at in “The Newish Old E-1” gallery, photos 244 to 255. When the hawk crashed to the ground Duffy ran toward it but soon changed his mind about getting too close. Photos 244, 245, and 246 show him warily walking around the hawk. After that (since I was using an 18-180mm lens) I decided to get some closeups. In photo 255 I noticed the Hawk looking menacingly at something. I took the camera from my eye and noticed that Duffy had decided to approach the hawk more closely and the hawk’s menacing stare said “better not.”

I called Duffy away. “Time to go. Let’s leave the hawk alone.”

A bit later I saw a Red Tailed Hawk in a tree, photos 256, 257 and 258. The Hawk was unfortunately on the other side of some branches so I couldn't see it very well, and a few seconds after 258 it flew off. I doubt that it was the same hawk that we encountered on the ground. In photo 252 you can see banding on the hawks tail that is an indication (according to what I read) that it is young, but I already guessed that.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sage in a dream


Last night I dreamt I was walking through a strange neighborhood, through back alleys and streets.  At last I got to where I was going, someone’s house that Susan and I were visiting.  Susan showed up a few minutes later by car and I asked, “Where’s Sage?”

She said, “I thought she was with you,” and began talking to the people we had come to visit, but I was worried.  I kept looking out the door to see if she was out there.  Finally, I announced, but no one seemed to pay attention, “I’m going to find her.”

I began walking back the way I had come.  I didn’t walk too terribly far before I entered a park.  It wasn’t a huge park but one like they have in San Jacinto, an obligation park that builders must create before they are given permission to build.  This one was surrounded by hedges and as I entered I could see a number of dogs.  Additional dogs popped up from behind hedges to look at me.  A huge shaggy reddish dog was the most formidable.  He was as large as an Irish Wolfhound and didn’t seem friendly, but I had no time to waste.  I kept walking until I reached the edge of the park and standing outside its boundaries was Sage.  Her head was down.  She’d come a long way and been through some brush which was clinging to her coat.  I was overjoyed and rushed out of the park as she sat there and hugged her.
And then I woke.  It took me a couple of seconds to realize that Sage had died two months ago.  Her being dead and the memory of the dream were together for a moment.  I didn’t long to have her back because that would have meant a restoration of her suffering.  By the time she gave way to her pain it was late Saturday and the vet was closed.  The vet was closed Sunday as well and also the next day which was a holiday.  I would have spared Sage that if I could, but the world and nature were inflexible.  And then it seemed that instead of a longing to have her restored to me, I was being given in my dream an opportunity to say good bye to her.

Later I thought of Dante and wondered about the significance of Sage being outside the park.  She and I had never been to a dog-park.  We hiked mostly at the river and if we went for walks it was at night when we rarely encountered anyone, and if we encountered a stray dog that seemed aggressive toward Sage, she discourage its intentions, whatever they were. 
Was the park a purgatorio or a paradiso?  If either, Sage was outside. 

One day years ago at the river, Sage chased after a rabbit and disappeared.   After a bit I turned around to look for her but couldn’t find her.  I called as I searched.  I was sure that by that time she had given up chasing the rabbit and was looking for Ginger and me, but we couldn’t find each other.  At last I returned to the Jeep to see if she would eventually come back there, and after about 20 minutes she did: very hot and with tongue lolling.  That happened one more time a few weeks later.  But after that I would wait at the spot where Sage left us.  I wouldn’t continue on until I could see her again, and she could see me.  

If my losing Sage in the dream had really happened then I would have taken her back to the house we were visiting and put her in the back seat of Susan’s car to wait for us.  But the dream ended there.  Not only did it end but it seemed the fitting end.  I didn’t wake up thinking that Sage should have followed me anyplace else.  We were together again for just that one last time, and then I woke.