Friday, July 27, 2012

Just another Sony Alpha blog?

The readership of this blog skyrocketed when I started writing about my experiences with the Sony A77 back in October 2011. Instead of 100 readers per day, I started getting 8,000! There are obviously more Sony Alpha fans out there than one might realize.

Most of my friends use Canons and some shoot with Nikons. I used both back in the analog days, having taken whatever I was given. But when I went out to buy my first DSLR, the Sony Alpha 300 seemed to suit my purposes best. I was perhaps short-sighted then, not having the faintest idea that I would be teaching digital photography seminars and leading photowalks a couple of years later. I had actually wanted to go with the Canon 450D because that's what my friend had, but it just didn't feel right. A year later I won that camera for my second place picture in a competition, but I sold it right away. After having owned six Alphas since 2008, I am known - for better or worse - as the Sony shooter.

My collection back in March 2010: A bit of everything

I still read about all the new developments on all photographic fronts, mostly at DPReview. I contributed to the SonyUserForum, for years, but the know-it-all attitude and negativity of most of the users has turned me  off. The other good German forum for Sony users, Club Sonus, seems to have fewer wet blankets in it. The always entertaining SonyAlphaRumors website linked to my blog back in October, and since then I've been following their daily posts about developments in the Sony Alpha line. 

Photography.Alltop.Com is also a good place to start browsing for news on photography. After a while, you get to know certain bloggers' styles, causing you to return every day or avoid their site. Many people enjoy the Luminous Landscape and Silber Studios, but I have found their style is not to my liking. The former has an awful layout which is difficult to navigate, and the latter seems to be for professionals only.
Beyond Megapixels, co-authored by one of my professional writers at Klett Publishers, is a great place for beginning enthusiasts, as is Improve Photography.
Never having been one to run with the mainstream, I am happy listening to Genesis and Mahler while others adore The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga and Mozart. The majority of photographers ("Canikon" users) like debating the advantages of their camera system, while I have little to say. "In the market for cameras with interchangeable lens, or single lens reflex cameras, Canon controlled 44.5 percent of the market, followed by Nikon with 29.8 percent and Sony with 11.9 percent," according to figures from a relatively recent Bloomberg article, though on overall sales of digital cameras (including Sony's successful Cypershot line), Sony is #2. However, when a friend of mine got his Canon 5D Mark II and told me about all the neat things it could do, I realized that my old Sony A700 could do a lot of that, too. As this article explains - and as I heard from a Sony sales rep last month - Sony wants its customers to have a fool-proof product in their hands. They want to sell a lot of their product in order to spread the R&D costs, allowing them to add lots of bells and whistles to their products. And that's what attracted me to them in the first place. Now I've got the Sony A77 which boasts a list of some of the most attractive features of any camera on the planet.
At my blogging and post-processing station
And as for my blog, I know I could get more involved with Twitter, LinkedIn, 500px, etc. and increase my readership, but I'm just happy right now knowing I'm writing these words for YOU alone. I write about things that move me. Putting stories together based on pictures is something I've been doing for 35 years and seems to be my Purpose in life. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

June light

With this title I don't mean that June is like a soft drink without sugar. I mean it in photographic terms. It seems that every season - every month even - has its share of unique lighting that begs to be chased.
In addition, different times of day require different ways of looking for motifs.
One evening I stuck my head out the door after dinner as I usually do - to check out the light - and saw some awesome clouds forming in the North. I dropped the dishtowel and grabbed my camera. I knew I didn't have much time because colors as beautiful as these change quickly. Some neighbors were standing out on their balcony having a smoke and enjoying the scene, so I asked them if I could take a picture of them.
By the way, I learned that bit of wisdom from Jim Palik, who told me, "When you have a sky like that, put something in front of it and make some good pictures!"
By the time I had walked up to the street behind our house to get a panoramic shot of East Stuttgart, the magic was gone for that evening. Sometimes there's just nothing as depressing as boring light!

A few days later, I headed out of the house in the evening, not having had time to do much photography the previous week and just itching to make some pictures. I figured I'd make the best of  the last rays of evening light.
Walking down to the footbridge over the Neckar River, I started doing double exposures by simply shifting my camera mid-shutter from one scene to the next. Then I realized that with my white balance set to a cool temperature, the street lights and the dark blue of the evening sky formed perfect contrasting colors.

Tilting the camera to a 90° angle resulted in swooping lines and alien-looking landscapes. Some DSLRs can create multiple exposures in-camera, as you could back in the analog days. With the Sony Alpha line, you have to get creative.

Swirling the camera around also created some very interesting pictures.

As I was heading back home, I tried my hand at a minimalistic shot. Minimalism in photography is not so easy when living in a large city. If you travel to the Arctic or live near the sea, it is probably easier. This time I moved the camera back and forth but the light source was the monochrome reflection of a streetlight on a huge heating pipe.

As June came to an end, the thunderstorms hit. One evening I watched - and photographed - the spectacle from my front porch for 45 minutes. At first, my eight-second exposures just missed the flashes of lightning. Then I got in the groove and captured some nice shots.

It really doesn't get much better than this for June light!