Apr 222014

This is a successful image. It has been explored on Flickr. Basically that means it was favored (like a “Like” on Facebook) by a certain big enough number of people in a short enough time span, that some algorithm at Flickr was triggered, and that promoted the image to a list of “trending” images. Then things get interesting.

It does not take all that much to get over the “Explore” threshold, but for some reason it has never happened to my images. Basically I am a loner. I don’t use Flickr as a social network for the same reasons that I’ve stopped using Facebook. For me Flickr is just a fine place to store my images at full size and a place to communicate with a small number of people whom I know from elsewhere and who also happen to be on Flickr. I don’t actively “network”.

Experience with this photo blog, with the Fine Art Photoblog and with my programming blog has shown me, that it is possible to promote such channels and to considerably increase their reach, but it takes a lot of work and ceaseless effort to do so. Well, I have a job and a hobby and my music and my literature and a precious few hours a day. Some of them I have to sleep. Promoting my online resources for the sake of my vanity is probably not the best use of my time.

On normal days I get between 50 and a few hundred views on Flickr a day, with one or two spikes up to maybe 700-800 per month. Normally, successful images get 40 to 50 views on the day they are posted, ending up with a lower single-digit number of “Favorites”. That’s it.

This image has been posted Saturday night shortly before midnight. In the morning it had 440 views. Oops, I thought, I’ve got explored :)

At the time that I write this, Monday early in the evening, we are at around 8,568 views and 110 “Favorites”, and the view count is still slightly increasing.

Is this my best image? Hardly, I’d think. It is an image that I could have seen a thousand times before and that I happened to see on Saturday evening while dining. The tablecloth, a hand-made heirloom of dubious aesthetic value, got reflected in the Cola can, and suddenly I recognized a strange similarity.

I did not invest much effort. Lighting was dim, and although I went down to 1/10s, I had to use f8.0 to get enough depth of field. Therefore ISO went up to 800. I could have used a tripod, I could have used additional light, I could have experimented with different positions of the can on the cloth in order to maximize the effect, but instead I just wanted to take a quick image and then carry on eating, talking and later playing a game of Scrabble. It was not important enough to me.

In post-processing I could fix noise and the uneven color temperature, I’ve added some punch, and finally I found the image good enough to post on Flickr. Average, I’d have said. Some image with clear potential and shabby execution, masked by experience with image processing. It’s certainly not an image that I’m particularly proud of or something that I’d add to a portfolio. It’s just a rush job that happened to be surprisingly successful in spite of all its shortcomings.

And it is my most successful image on Flickr. Funny, huh? :)

The Song of the Day is “Success” by Iggy Pop. I’ve used it once in “1835 – Success” for a post of similar mood. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 212014

Weather was cool and rainy in Carinthia, but hey, it’s spring, there are always the flowers, right?

Or so I thought when I took the car and drove to a place in front of a church, a place where I had seen a multitude of beautiful tulips, red and yellow, among a host of daisies. I arrived, took a couple of uninspired images and quickly recognized that I was too lightly clad. Back to the car.

In the end the few flower images were embarrassingly bad, but when I converted this image of parking cars to black and white, I decided that there’s hope to get away with it :)

The Song of the Day is “Any Colour You Like” from the album “Dub Side of the Moon”. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 202014

My way from work to the train is not through the most beautiful of neighborhoods and neither through the most interesting, but then, what is beauty? What is interesting?

I tend to just see. Plain seeing, that’s what Mark Hobson calls it. April will exactly know what I mean. And then things happen.

The Song of the Day is “Asia” from Edoardo Bennato’s 1985 album “Kaiwanna”. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 192014

Last week we had some impressive rain in Vienna. It didn’t last long, but when it lashed against the window of my workplace on the seventh floor, it could get positively scary. Here’s an impression of the window sill, taken through raindrops on the glass, from near, with the aperture wide open and at slow speed. I like the pattern :)

The Song of the Day is “Every Drop Of Rain” from the David Byrne and Fatboy Slim concept album “Here Lies Love”. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 182014

This is an image taken with my cheapest lens, the plastic mount Olympus 40-150 f4.0-5.6. I can’t exactly remember where I bought it and how much I payed, but I know that I wouldn’t get anything for it if I’d decided to sell it. Why? Don’t know. It’s a fine, fine lens :)

The Song of the Day is “Cheap And Cheerful” by The Kill. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 172014

Not only is the tradition of hanging a lenten cloth in front of the altar alive in Carinthia and not only do we have some pretty old specimen, no, even new ones are created today. Sometimes they are created by artists, sometimes by school children.

At 7 times 5 meters, the artist Karl Wolschner’s face of Jesus in Maria Saal is the largest lenten cloth in Carinthia. It was created between 1990 and 1994.

One more time is “When the Curtain Comes Down” from Diane Krall’s album “Glad Rag Doll” the Song of the Day. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 162014

Do you know what a “velum quadragesimale” or lenten cloth is? It’s kind of a curtain that used to be hung in front of a church’s altar during lent. Luther did away with that custom in protestant countries, and even in the catholic parts of Europe it has become nearly extinct. There is only a small region in northern Germany where it is still alive and – where the tradition is most alive – that is my home country of Carinthia.

The small market town of Gurk is the the traditional and now only nominal seat of Carinthia’s bishop. It’s basilica is quite important though, and it has even been visited by Pope John Paul II. It’s lenten cloth, to come back to the topic, is the oldest in Carinthia, dating back to 1458. That’s only five years after the fall of Constantinople and 34 years before Columbus arrived in America :)

The second picture has been heavily corrected for perspective, and I had to add some fake background in order to not have to crop. It still gives a good idea though.

The last two images finally give you a full view of that awesome gothic vault. Hope you enjoy it.

The Song of the Day is “When the Curtain Comes Down” from Diane Krall’s album “Glad Rag Doll”. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 152014

Spring is great and life feels so easy now. This weekend I used a sunny Saturday for a short trip around Carinthia. The idea was to take images in two of our major churches, but in order to get there, I had to cross a lot of sun-drenched landscape. It was a pleasure :)

The Song of the Day is “Life Is So Easy Now” from Son of Dave’s album “O2″. Hear it on YouTube.

Apr 142014

This weekend someone on the Olympus forum on Photo.net complained about high ISO on Olympus MFT still being behind APS-C and “full frame”. Well, surprise, surprise, he’s right! And, shockingly, this will not change. Never, ever.

The reason is that nobody has exclusive access to superior technology. Canon for some time had an edge in sensor technology. This was at the time when I bought my Nikon D200, a camera that was almost a full stop behind Canon’s 20D, but was superior in every other respect. We know what happened then. Nikon caught up with the D300 and got ahead in the professional range with the D3. In the end I got into the Nikon system at probably the worst time. Did I survive? Seems as if.

Really, there’s no reason to think that any sensor advantage could be kept exclusively to one camera maker for any longer period of time. Thus it is safe to assume that, on average, all sensors of the same generation are of equal quality. Quality improves, but it does so for everyone and it does so at more or less the same rate.

Now, all other things equal, the sensitivity and dynamic range of a bigger sensor will always be superior to that of a smaller sensor. At the same pixel count the bigger sensor’s bigger pixels will receive more light, and at the same pixel size you will be able to make bigger prints for the same noise characteristics. That’s ok.

Therefore, the decision to use Micro Four Thirds can’t be based on sensor quality or the hope that MFT will ever catch up. It won’t and it can’t. Instead you have to look at it from another point of view:

At some time sensor technology crosses the threshold of what is needed for your type of photography. Once that point is reached, image quality ceases to be the deciding factor.

For me this has happened with the D300. While I found the D200 lacking, the D300 was good enough. So was everything that came considerably later.

I’d say the Olympus cameras before the E-M5 were not good enough. I had an E-P2 for some months and although I liked it a lot, it was a step back, compared to the D300. The E-M5 was good enough again. So is the E-M1.

When I bought my D200, I did it because I could not afford the one camera that I would have bought, had money not been a consideration. That camera was the Canon 1Ds MkII. If I look at it today, the 1Ds MkII has a DxO-Mark of 74 and the OM-D E-M1 is rated at 73. The Canon has an edge at high ISO, the Olympus at dynamic range, and if I look at the noise displayed at ISO 3200 in dpreview’s test of the Canon, it may measurably be less than that of the E-M1 (though it certainly does not look like that), but the noise does not look particularly pleasant. Less so than that of the E-M1, I’d say.

OK, you may agree with me or not, but if you do, we have demonstrated that the E-M1 is equivalent to a nine year old full frame camera. So what?

The point is, the 1Ds MkII was the pinnacle of camera technology. It had a whopping 16 megapixels (as incidentally has the E-M1) and it was what the most professional of professionals used to create mind-blowing magazine covers. In other words: it was certainly good enough. So is the E-M1 :)

By the way, weight of the Canon’s body was 1.2 kg, and I don’t know if that includes the battery weight of 335 g. It does not make much of a difference though, in terms of size and weight the comparison is ridiculous anyway.

The Song of the Day is “Wall Of Glass” by Don Ross. Hear it on YouTube.