Category Archives: Panasonic DMC-LX5

2922 – Jubilee Swing

This elaborate building was erected to celebrate the 50th year in the reign of “The Emperor“. And this is only one building. In Klagenfurt, my home town, it was a theater, and in the same way it happened all through his empire. And to make it even more absurd, I suppose most of these buildings he didn’t even visit once.

Oh, by the way, this image has been taken with my old Panasonic LX5 while the Olympus OM-D E-M1 was sent in for repair.

The Song of the Day is “Jubilee Swing” by Ella Fitzgerald and her Orchestra. Hear it on YouTube.

2506 – Postcards

It’s a pretty beautiful world, huh? At least in some places, and Croatia is definitely one of them.

Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, the ill-fated state that shattered to pieces after Tito’s death. I still can’t understand what perceived advantage it had for Yugoslavia’s people to fight each other, often to the death, but fight they did.

Croatia has recently become part of the European Union, Slovenia has been so for years. These two republics could be called the winners of the struggle. Slovenia had the overall soundest economy, while Croatia is a touristic wonderland with what is easily the most beautiful coast in Europe.

There are thousands of islands, most bleak, some very green, many unpopulated, some with villages, some with small towns.

Rab is smallest of the populated main islands in the Kvarner Archipelago. Its landscape is varied, its beaches are everything from rocky to sandy, and the main town, also called Rab, has a rich history.

Rab has never been destroyed. The island has of course been part of the Roman Empire, later of Byzantium, Venice, the medieval Croatian Kingdom, Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia, and since 1991 it is part of the independent Republic of Croatia.

Quite a long way, but the island has managed to steer free of all troubles throughout the centuries. By all means, this may be mostly due to the fact that it did not offer any riches beside those of its landscape, neither is it in a strategically important place.

Whatever the reasons are, today we enjoy the beauty of Rab’s beaches, its spires and its lush vegetation.

These images have kind of a postcard quality, thus the Song of the Day is “Postcards” from the 1998 Faithless album “Sunday 8PM”. Hear it on YouTube.

2319 – Goin’ Away Baby

We had a bleak day with occasional snow here in Carinthia. Definitely nothing worth photographing and not photographing is what I did 🙂

Here’s an old image, more than two years old, one of the first taken with the Panasonic LX5. I was on my way from home to work, a way that I won’t go any more in only a month. From then on I will live in a completely different part of Vienna, far away, less beautiful, less photogenic, but only two minutes away from the future location of my office. I had the choice of moving or spending almost two hours per day commuting. Well, I’m moving 😀

The Song of the Day is “Goin’ Away Baby” from Eric Clapton’s 1994 album “From The Cradle”. Hear it on YouTube.

2270 – If the Stars Were Mine

Ownership. It came up in the comments to yesterday’s post, and somehow a lot of my thought lately has circled around that concept of ownership, how we as a society have approached it in the past and how we do now, what it means and what it should mean in a perfect world.

What does it mean to own something? What can we own anyway? Are there things that cannot be owned, and if so, why?

If there is an intuitive answer to what we “can” or “cannot” own, who or what determines this ability or inability? Is this a matter of moral doctrine or is there some intrinsic law, and if so, is that law immutable?

Things have changed radically in the last 20-50 years. It has gone out of fashion to ask questions, to challenge the pillars of our political and economical system. On our way to a hyper-connected, hyper-monitored society we have lost the Brechts and the Sartres along the way. Here we are in the middle of the biggest machine mankind ever constructed, the Internet, and we leave it to the corporations and competing secret services, happy with cheap porn and mindless chatter. Meanwhile corporations and their owners begin to let us feel what they mean by owning ideas and concepts.

For me this means realizing that I know nothing. I have to go back, have to at least get a feeling for what at the beginning of another age, the Industrial Age, was discussed, what changes were predicted, were seen as historic necessities.

Immediately that means to read Karl Marx and his “Kapital”. Of course that is not enough. One would need to read John Stuart Mill, as Marx criticizes him, would need to read Hegel, as Marx sometimes builds upon him, of course all that must remain completely arcane without a profound knowledge of Kant and …

I’ve been there. Once I’ve tried to prepare for a role-playing game that would take place in ancient Mesopotamia, and in my desire to research some of the historic background, I read about all ancient history in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Egypt led to Greece and Rome, from there I ventured into Byzantium and the crusades, and that’s where I stayed for a long time. I read every history of the crusades and of Byzantium available on the market. The original purpose, the game, was long forgotten, and while it was interesting, I probably can’t do that with all of philosophy 🙂

The second time I immersed myself so totally into a subject, was when I bought Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. I had the desire to go back in time, find the roots of late Baroque music, and I went back via Purcell, Monteverdi, all through Renaissance, to the very specific topic of “L’Homme Armeé” masses, back to the Ars Subtilior of Ciconia, the Ars Nova of Guillaume de Machaut and my beloved Philippe de Vitry, back to the Cantigas de Santa Maria, the Trovères and the troubadours of long gone Occitania.

There I stopped. Music stopped as well. The Gregorian Chorale would have been left, but that did not interest me any more. Instead I went back to Baroque, to Haendel, Bach, and via Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Wagner (where I spent a long time) all up to Berg, Webern and my equally beloved Schönberg.

This unexpected journey, going there and back again, left roughly 1000 CDs on my shelves and took about ten years.

Again, I can’t do that with philosophy. My life is limited and we are well past a time when a learned person could read everything that matters. This may indeed be one of our central problems, namely the loss of our history, the loss of what has already been thought. It’s still there, you can download it from Amazon, look it up in the Wikipedia, but it is largely inaccessible to the masses, if for no other reason then for its volume.

I don’t expect Marx to give answers to the problems of our time. I expect him to give answers to the problems of his time, and I expect me to be able to see where exactly things went wrong. Maybe we can build from there.

The Song of the Day is “If the Stars Were Mine“, one of the few songs in my possession concerned with ownership, although in a decidedly non-Marxian way. The Image of the Day is an old image chosen because it fits the title 😀

Hear Melody Gardot’s song from her 2009 album “My One And Only Thrill” on YouTube.

2179 – Bag Man

The Image of the Day is from Wednesday. It’s another image taken while being on the run for the train. I processed it Wednesday night in Carinthia, too late for the Wednesday post, but I like it well enough to show it today.

The second image was taken yesterday. It’s that very same church in Villach, Perau, that yesterday’s “Opferstock” was from. It’s one of the best examples of baroque splendor and lightness in Carinthia. If someone told me it was a work of a pupil of Borromini, I wouldn’t be surprised. It is not though, it is the work of a local genius called Hans Eder.

The other two images were made today using my backup camera, the trusty old Panasonic LX5. I suppose I’ll spend one of the next weeks with it, only now I can’t. Now I have the new Olympus 12/2.0, a fantastic lens that I have tested superficially but that I still have not really used.

Of course the effective focal length of 24 mm is very well known to me, that’s what I get with the LX5 at its widest.

I have taken two shots of my new bag, a Hama “Canberra” Camera Bag, 140, black/red, a bag that seems to be not available outside of Europe.

And that’s a shame, really. The bag is relatively light, not too deep (which is important for those small EVIL lenses), and if you’re like me and you have some additional dividers to spare, it makes for an ideal bag for the OM-D, five lenses, cards, batteries, filters and what else.

The Song of the Day is “Bag Man” from Paul Weller’s 2003 album “Illumination”. Hear it on YouTube.

1942 – Certain People I Know

Where shall I begin? Probably at the beginning, right?

Well, that was Mark Hobson’s slightly provocative blog post “emotionally charged ~ a question“.

Basically his question was, why his fellow bloggers, people like Juha, Markus or, among many others, myself, don’t make pictures of people, and especially “emotionally charged” images, i.e. images that show people in situations that tend to disturb the viewer, tend to stir up emotions, tend to uncover hidden fears.

This is an important question, if for nothing else than for the fact that it is true: we don’t do it. We picture the rural or the urban landscape, graffiti and bicycles, and if people turn up in our images, they are not or only hardly recognizable.

If you have not been there, take the time, head over to Mark’s site and read his post. Don’t skip the comments, there’s some lively discussion with an extraordinarily long but excellent comment by Craig Tanner, and the discussion has also sparked an interesting blog post by Juha.

In my own comment I just stated that “I feel photographing strangers is problematic on so many levels, it simply does not give me the thrill or the satisfaction to compensate for the hassle“, and I feel that I probably should go into greater detail.

Craig is certainly right. I do fear asking strangers if I may take their photograph. No doubt about it and I don’t doubt Craig’s proposition that it may free the photographer to fight those fears. I may even try it, in fact it is on my list of things to do, it is only not high priority (How’s that for procrastination, huh???).

Thus I fully accept Craig’s point, I fully accept Mark’s (very different) point, but let me ask a return question:

What exactly is it that makes you take images of people?

Mark followed up his own post with “civilized ku # 2074 ~ picturing your life“, where he comes to the conclusion, that he “makes (his) most emotionally imbued pictures (sometimes highly charged) when (he) engages in the act of picturing (his) life“, an act in which he “must be engaged on some level – other than the simple desire to make pictures – with the people (he) pictures“. Thus Mark seems to strive for a kind of deeper authenticity in his portraits or simply images containing people, something that is absolutely in line with the way he pictures inanimate subjects or landscapes.

And Craig? I don’t know. Sure, I believe in the therapeutic effect of fighting one’s inner resistance and of asking people on the street whether it’s OK to take their picture. But then, what else is it? I mean, there are other ways of self or group therapy that are equally effective, and this raises the question what exactly the role of photography is. Is it a therapeutic tool? Or is it naive on my part to assume that you can analytically separate Art from the Artist’s soul? Again the question: what is it that makes you photograph people?

I take a lot of images of bicycles, but it is not that I am emotionally attached to them, they just happen to visually interest me. They are lines, circles, ellipses, and they are very pure forms of that, because they have the semi-transparency of wire frames. Thus my interest in bicycles is due to their geometric qualities.

In that light, again, what is it that makes you photograph people?

Regarding Mark’s post and Craig’s comment I have two answers and a promise.

The promise is easy: I’ll try it, only not yet, but I will. I guess Craig is right, I guess that doing this exercise (and even if one only sees it as an exercise, which I believe it is not) will enrich me.

The answer to Craig is, that things are probably different here in Europe. I firmly believe that the US are crazy as shit, but in certain respects we can more than compete.

Today I read a discussion on one of the most influential German photography blogs, Martin Gommel’s KWERFELDEIN. Basically his question was: Imagine that you find an image of yourself, taken on the street without your knowledge, on the internet. How would you react?

The majority of comments was at least critical, I’d say that about a third of the commenters suggested they would consider legal action against the photographer, sometimes depending on their own judgement of the artistic merits of the image.

Mind you, that is the same crowd that in majority clamors for for more CCTV surveillance and for more totalitarian power of government and police. Oh well. I’d be glad to have their problems.

But given that that’s the state of affairs, how exactly do you expect classic street photography to prosper? I often hear that our grand children won’t have a way to see how life in our streets was, simply because no one dared to picture it.

Yes, Craig’s way to approach people beforehand may work. It may work better in the US though, but that’s a gut feeling, that’s something I’ve yet to find out. On the other hand, I am absolutely sure that this does not cover the whole spectrum. There are images that you can’t have when you ask beforehand, no way, and among them are important images.

But again, this only touches Mark’s original question tangentially.

“Emotionally charged”?

I’ll show you what “emotionally charged” means.

Do you know Gary Woodard? I’ve been following his blog for years. You know how that is, sometimes I manage to keep up with people’s posts, sometimes they pile up (as they do now) and it may be that I don’t look into a particular blog for months.

Gary used to picture his wife Janet. Janet used a wheel chair, I don’t know the exact diagnosis, but I think there was a kind of dementia involved. Gary used to picture his wife when they went out to McDonalds or on any other everyday occasion, and sometimes I thought it was a little boring. Still, it fascinated me and, although irregularly, I kept seeing and reading. In a way I had a feeling of knowing Janet.

One time, after an especially long pause I came back and found that Janet was dead. I can remember my urge to condole and how I couldn’t. I was struck with fear. Gary’s posts about Janet’s passing, his pictures, all that was incredibly powerful – and it completely muted me. It brought up all my own fears of loss, all that I constantly fight and try to control, and they ran wild and they rendered me ineffective.

Every year Gary has made a photo book with images of Janet, three of them are still available on Blurb. Browse through volumes one and three chronologically, they are fully available in preview. Then go on to volume four and literally see Janet dying.

“Emotionally charged”? THAT’s what I call emotionally charged. Look at it, read it, and if you can credibly hold back your tears, I’ll happily attribute you a heart of stone.

“Emotionally charged”? It will happen some time, thank you, I am glad for every day in between.

Gary, thank you for the experience you gave me, even though I never commented, either because I felt too busy or because I was too moved to be able to.

The Song of the Day is “Certain People I Know” from Morrissey’s 1992 album “Your Arsenal”. Hear it on YouTube.

1941 – The Way You Look Tonight

Automatic white balance in cameras is an impossible thing. How should a camera know the quality of light? The Nikon D2x (and I suppose its predecessors) had a piece of milky white plastic with a color sensor behind, but as far as I know, that never worked as well as it should have. I don’t know the details, but I guess it will most likely have fallen apart in lowest, artificial light, exactly then when you need it the most.

Whatever the reason was, this was the last digital camera to feature such a sensor. I also suppose that today’s cameras, with their much higher processing capability, rely on some sort of scene analysis.

Take for instance the Panasonic LX5. Of all my cameras, admittedly not so many, it is the Panasonic, that has the best automatic white balance. Amazing. Yesterday I have taken some night images with snow on the street and all sorts of lights in the scene, and the snow looked exactly like it should.

And then there is this kind of yellowish/orange street light that completely breaks everything. As long as other sorts of artificial lights are present to balance it, there is no problem, but this sodium vapor light alone sets the camera completely off balance.

This is one such image. Had I not color corrected in Photoshop, the Song of the Day would have been Frank Zappa’s “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”, but thanks to Photoshop I can present you an amazing version of “The Way You Look Tonight”. Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk in 1954. Enjoy it on YouTube.

1940 – Clang Boom Steam

Billows of steam? Here they are again, back with a vengeance 🙂

And so is Nikon. I guess you have heard of the D800, have you? Well, if you have not yet seen the samples, just have a look here and here. 36 megapixels and nothing but shocking!

It’s also shocking how well Nikon’s lenses scale. Do you see any image that looks like the lens was not up to the task? I don’t. Amazing, but then, when you look at the technical data, each of those images was made with one of Nikon’s best lenses, all of them in $2000 territory. Still, I am surprised.

Do I desire this camera? Sure, who wouldn’t? I guess I could even afford it (with a very bad feeling), but will I buy one? No. Absolutely not! Buying the necessary lenses would kill me 🙂

To the contrary. I will even sell one of my cameras. Which one? The Olympus E-P2, but before I sell it sometime in April, I’m gonna buy a few lenses. Two days ago for instance I have bought an Olympus ED 40-150mm 4.0-5.6 R MSC on eBay for 150€, shipping included. I may also buy one of the Panasonic pancakes, the Olympus 12/2.0 or the much lauded Olympus 45/1.8.

Why, you ask? Of course to put them on the Olympus OM-D 😀

Yeah, that’s the other new camera, presented today, one day after the Nikon, and apart from the fact that it is much more in my league, monetarily speaking, it is exactly what I have always wanted: a smaller camera with interchangeable lenses, a tiltable LCD, an excellent built-in electronic viewfinder, a camera that shoots all aspect ratios, squares included, and that lets me compose in them, a camera with sensor stabilization, a camera that takes all lenses ever built, and as if that were not enough, it is beautiful as well.

As I said, I’ll sell the PEN and buy the OM-D. It’s only slightly heavier, has more resolution, likely a tad better high ISO, is faster, and ergonomics could probably also be better. April, May probably. We’ll see.

The Song of the Day is “Clang Boom Steam” from the 2004 Tom Waits album “Real Gone”. Hear it on YouTube.