Thursday, October 27, 2011

Playing with Pop Art

Friday of last week I was itching to shoot something. Seems to happen whenever I go too long without photographing something meaningful for myself - the images resulting may look like crap, but it's the act, and the zen state of mind associated, that calls me back behind the lens. The day job consumed just enough of my morning to let the good light shine in, and then it was off to one of the calmer, more low-key locales to hike and snap a few for enjoyment.

I'd had Olympus' 45mm f/1.8 lens on order for nearly 6 weeks, and would have much rather been out and about with that speed demon mounted on the E-P3, but instead I made do with Panasonic's 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom dialed all the way in to 45mm to try and force myself to learn and think with the 45mm (90mm, really) focal length. Locked in at f/5.6 as my best speed, the only method I had of isolating a subject was through proximity, so I pushed the lens as hard as I could to behave in macro fashion. And it held up surprisingly well, with a fairly close distance available in manual focus. More often than not, I found myself focusing by moving myself in and out rather than turning a dial. Novel method of focusing, really.

This Autumn has been the most colorful. Likely due to the incessant, pummeling rainfall that has plagued the Northeast since early Summer, a majority of the vegetation was in a black-and-white state of either alive or dead. Disappointing, really, since Autumn's defining aspect is the flood of warm color associated with it. Utilizing my own custom color profile for the E-P3's JPGs, everything looked depressing no matter the framing. Let down by my own presets, I decided to give some of Olympus' art filter modes a whirl.

Typically I avoid built-in, canned filter effect modes, but I remembered having a good amount of success with them when using the XZ-1. Olympus really does work some magic with its JPG handling - not only is every facet of how the camera generates a JPG available for your tweaking pleasure (all the way down to tone curves), but its preset options work like some genius magic. The first art filter mode on the list of the E-P3 was "Pop Art", and swtiching to it, the color on the back of the LCD exploded into an array of deliciously autumnal hues that blew the real-life equivalent away. Contrasty reds and blues invaded the world as seen on that little LCD panel, and suddenly I was inspired to shoot everything for sake of seeing how gorgeously the E-P3 would render it.

That camera is really spoiling me.

Aside from the array of filter-augmented JPGs I did try some RAW shooting. Curiosity got the better of me, and since ACR finally acquired RAW format support for the E-P3 I knew I wouldn't be content until I tried it, so I shot a few bracketed RAWs for assembly into HDR images later. Far less satisfying than simply getting a great JPG while there on the scene. The HDR images came out okay, but were not nearly as thrilling to capture knowing that most of the work would require slavery to post. But for sake of making the process easier during shooting, the E-P3 again impressed me by seeming abnormally quick from shot to shot. I remember shooting the GF1 bracketed for RAW capture and the process began with 2 quick shots and 5 more lumbering and slow ones. With the E-P3, each shot came and passed as quick as the last with no lag time associated with shutter reset. Nice. But I was more excited to be cranking out awesome JPG after awesome JPG.

Nothing is more pleasing than having a strong image right out of the box needing the most minimal touch in post to electrify with beauty.

As fortune would finally have it, my 45mm f/1.8 arrived in the mail this past Tuesday. It's rainy, but I'm slated to meet with some good friends at the local coffee house to enjoy some conversation and candid photos. I'm lucky to have a group of friends versed enough in my company to ignore the camera. I get the best shots with them.

Hopefully I'll have some nice samples to share after today.