The liberated camera

John Kennerdell wrote for The Online Photographer a two part essay called “The Liberated Camera” about freestyle photography.

Part 1 is making a strong case for the back LCD as a camera viewfinder. Here is how John introduce it:

I’d like to talk about another approach: the handheld camera as an extension of the hand, or simply as an unobtrusive device off to the side as we engage directly with the scene before us, both eyes wide open.

And he is damn right. It is just a different shooting style. Not a replacement, albeit most camera force you to view that what.

I have issues with LCD as viewfinder. Maybe most of them are unfounded and linked to the fact I taught myself to shoot with a SLR and therefor with a camera brought to the eye… which was the case of every film camera. Habits die hard, and using my E-P1 actually made me change my mind despite not being in my total zone of comfort.

“No serious photographer,” announced one online guru at the time, “would ever compose on a screen held out in front of him.” Er, why not? The biggest criticism seemed to be that it didn’t “look professional.” That of course immediately suggested a fine reason to try it.

Also the discretion: most modern compact digital camera don’t have a viewfinder, thus when shooting, people use the back LCD as a viewfinder. This makes you look like a tourist, instead of the person with the obnoxious camera.

This is not without ignoring other complaints like steadiness when holding close to the body, or the useability in full sunlight.

The second part is about another gadget: face detection.

It sound like a gadget, but it actually is a useful tool for freestyle photography, where you can’t control the focus precisely or have the time to do so.

In a word, it was a slam dunk. OK, that’s two words, but seriously: I got hundreds of shots that I probably wouldn’t have without it. By the end I was attempting things I wouldn’t have even considered without it, and a lot of those worked out too. It wasn’t perfect of course, but it raised my percentage. Ultimately, what more do you want?

You get it. It is a tool that helps the chances of getting a good a picture. It does not frame or compose for you but it helps the auto focus system to determine what your subject is: people. Off course it might be convenient to disable it, and I can on my E-P1.

Ricoh GRDIII for everyday street shooting

Josh White wrote Ricoh GRDIII: walking to work, or how he feels with using the GRDIII as a street shooter when he walks to work. The GRD is one of these small P&S camera that advanced camera user seems to appreciate. Full control and fast prime lens.

Josh preferred camera seems to be a Leica M9. Here is his conclusion on the Ricoh:

Honestly, I wouldn’t trade my M9 for anything. It’s a beautiful, beautiful camera and it’s easily the best camera I’ve ever used. However, for 90% of the photography I do the GRDIII would be enough. If you’re a street photographer who doesn’t want to break the bank I highly recommend this little Ricoh. Needless to say I’m a big fan.

I personally have a GRDII which is not much different – older sensor, a bit more noise, basically. I have used it a couple of times for street shooting. Honestly I think I should give it more love ; it is time I give it a real ride in that field.

Don’t forget to check Josh’s set on Flickr.

How much longer can film hold?

NPR has a piece titled How Much Longer Can Photographic Film Hold On?:

At the turn of the 21st century, American shutterbugs were buying close to a billion rolls of film per year. This year, they might buy a mere 20 million, plus 31 million single-use cameras — the beach-resort staple vacationers turn to in a pinch, according to the Photo Marketing Association

Basically, film is not dead, but it is far beyond in term of market. The biggest risk for film is not that big companies stop producing it but rather that they hoard the technology to make it. Agfa Scala was the first example, albeit salvaged by the makers of DR5, still repeating the mistake. Polaroid is the second example, and the Impossible Project did the impossible with it. Kodachrome is the third and hardest example: a very complicated and undocumented process without any alternative. I believe slide film E-6 will be next. Time will tell.

Polaroid, something that was impossible

Technologizer relate the story of the Polaroid’s SX-70: The Art and Science of the Nearly Impossible:

Most important, unlike any other Polaroid, the SX-70 asked the photographer to do nothing more than focus, press the shutter, and pluck the snapshot as it emerged from the camera–and then watch it develop in daylight. It was the first camera to realize what Edwin Land said had been his dream all along: “absolute one-step photography.”

This was in 1972 and it was a landmark towards the true instant photography. Long before digital.

Open letter to Leica

Lloyd Chambers wrote an open letter to Leica:

The M9 felt like 2 year old technology the day I got it, with many disappointments.

And yes you are allowed to bad mouth Leica. I believed that the M8 was a mishap – evidence that Leica didn’t really know what to do. Apparently the M9 is too. And very expensive. Chambers has already written very extensively about the M9 (sorry, paywall).

And I have read a lot of praise about the Leica M9 too.

Vivian Maier

On Mother Jones: The Best Street Photographer You’ve Never Heard Of:

Four years ago, a Chicago real estate agent stumbled upon a box of negatives. Little did he know that he’d discovered Vivian Maier

See alsoThe Secret City of Vivian Maier.

Vivian Maier was still living at the time of the purchase, Maloof didn’t know, nor did he know what her name was until he dug more in the archives. Only recently her work started being shown after being cataloged and processed.

It is the ordinary story of a nanny that filmed, photographed and documented life. She was a private person and seen through her passionate eyes we discover New York and Chicago in the 50’s and onward.

About the Maloof Collection:

The vast scope of the archive is impressive. It consists of more than 100,000 negatives, over 3,000 prints, hundreds of rolls of film, home movies, audio tape interviews, and various other items, representing roughly 90 percent of Vivian’s work.

Ricoh GR-D III for street photography

Using the Ricoh GRIII For Street Photography: A Review by Eric Kim (from The Phoblographer):

Without spoiling anything, it is truly the best compact camera for street photography, and everybody who is serious about shooting in the streets should have one. Keep reading to read my in-depth review of the Ricoh GRIII digital.

I have a GR Digital II which is almost the same. The Ricoh GR Digital series have a lot of fans. I believe this family of camera is greatly underrated, maybe because it does not have a zoom making it some sort of pariah for consumers. I have yet to get myself on using it in that situation having used the E-P1 more often. Maybe soon for a more complete review.