Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's nearly been a week already...

... How did you spend your 2016?

Mine was in the company of furries. Yup, those weirdos on that one dramatic Crime Show way back when (and I'm sure any number of other glamorous portrayals). Those guys know how to party, and frankly they are absolutely awesome company to keep.

Olympus OMD E-M1 paired with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and FL-600R flash.
7mm at f/2.8, ISO 800, and 1/60" exposure.

I've mentioned it before, I really do have a penchant for this sort of event photography. It's not enough to be wandering the calm of hallways snapping posed snapshots of costumers and their fans, not for me. A motto I often recited to myself but lost the reigns on in the last year or so was "live interestingly", and that's really what this kind of event photography is all about on a personal level. Getting into the mix, being on the dance floor with everyone and partying right in the middle of the crowd, not chilling out on the sidelines as a quiet observer (not that there's anything wrong with that methodology, it's just not a creative process I find personally fulfilling). For a photo to matter to me, to really matter, I have to be a direct participant in the action involved, and the frames I captured at the New Years Furry Ball in Newark, Delaware, were a breath of some sort of long missed fresh air.

Olympus OMD E-M1 paired with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and FL-600R flash.
9mm at f/2.8, ISO 800, and 1/60" exposure.

It's kind of funny, really, I always envisioned the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 fitting into my arsenal as a strictly real estate lens, but it is probably my least favorite optic to use in such a capacity. Only for reasons dictated by my contracts do I use it for any work on the interior photography front, but were the option open to me I would be using my M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 with a circular polarizer and stick to focal lengths from 15mm to 35mm. No, where the 7-14mm shines is in the kind of in-the-mix event photography exercised on New Year's Eve. And it makes complete sense based on previous experience using fisheye in the same sort of venue (in fact, I was on the brink of picking up the M. Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 specifically for this event, but retracted my wallet for sake of logic-over-impulse). Sticking to the wider end on the dance floor, typically between 7mm and 9mm, bouncing flash on the ceiling (cranked up by +2/3 stops since TTL seems prone to metering on the darker side of exposure), my evening on December 31st was spent weaving in and around a mob of some 300+ fursuit clad performers dancing without fatigue for some 5 hours to both live-mixed and DJ-curated house music. It was just a damn blast.

The venue played out well for breaking in the new (old) E-P5 as well, which spent most of the night fixed with the M. Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 and sticking to natural light. When not bouncing around on the dance floor and instead sticking to the array of room parties and less-bass-heavy shenanigans, it was the camera I wanted to have with me, and it felt beautifully diminutive to carry.

For the first time in a long while, I feel much more complete and content with myself, my tools, my methodology, and especially my company, than I have felt in a long while. Still need to send in my poor, busted M. Zuiko 12mm f/2.0 in for service (it's hopelessly unsharp, not soft, unsharp, no matter what I adjust), but for now I'm more than happy with the 17mm f/1.8 all on its own. Tried sticking the PanaLeica 42.5mm f/1.2 on the E-P5 body, it was... sub-optimal from a weight/balance perspective.

I don't tend to buy into the whole "New Year's Resolution" tradition because I'm too much of a realist to accept the concept of time and the calendar as anything more than an arbitrary, man-made fabrication to gauge crop cycles and regulate social activities. But to spit in the face of my own ho-hum outlook, I would (arbitrarily) state that my New Year's Resolution for 2016 is actually just to share more. No business goals, the business is doing fine and is self-sustainable. What I intend to accomplish is the abandonment of my addiction to the arbitrary number games of popular photo sharing sites which has indirectly discouraged my enthusiasm to share photos because of some ill-conceived impression that every shot needs to be a masterpiece to merit posting, and any image posted much endure a battery of group-bombing to maximize popularity, Reddit cross-posting, all sorts of dumb and frankly anal shit I somehow arrived at as necessary actions for every single image shared.

Currently, I think my best venue might simply be a private website, something to which I can post images without any self-inflicted impulse to rig as a "winner" in the numbers game. Lately, though, I've had a lot of interest in picking up a tablet again and converting to that hardware as my primary go-to for image editing and direct share, which in clearer terms means "I'd like to edit photos on my tablet and write little blog posts on the spot to go along with them". I have tons of ideas, just have to move forward on them. The real elephant in the room is the question of "Will I set aside the time", and at the moment I have some New Year's Gusto so my answer is an enthusiastic "Hells to the yes".

Frankly, I have no idea how I expect 2016 to go. I didn't plan much ahead of time, have no real expectations of where I intend to be come 2017. Perhaps I'll inaugurate 2016 as my Year of Mental Time Off. Because seriously, I've spent 2011 to 2015 dramatically wracking my brain over all sorts of banal problems under the guise of written introspection... Maybe it's time to just talk about all the cool stuff I'm doing, not all the bullshit stuff I needlessly worry about?

Olympus OMD E-M1 paired with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and FL-600R flash.
9mm at f/2.8, ISO 800, and 1/60" exposure.

Happy 2016, ya'll.