I was in Tokyo this past week for some new work and was able to do some shooting during the weekend. Fortunately, I came across a couple trees that were in bloom with what I think are plum blossoms. An added bonus was all the birds that were flying and jumping around these trees sucking the nectar. When I saw this I stopped, pulled my camera out and changed to my Olympus 14-150mm 4.0-5.6 lens. I started taking pictures from about 50 feet away with the lens all the way to 150mm, but the birds were still too small. I started easing my way toward the trees, but all the birds took off to another tree. I continued to ease closer and then just stood there with my camera at eye level waiting for the birds to come back. After about 10 minutes they would slowly come back. Again, I kept the lens all the way at 150mm the whole time and started shooting with high speed continuous shooting to get several shots of the birds and catch the right one. I spent about an hour just hanging around this one tree waiting and trying to follow these birds who were jumping around very fast. This was a fun and difficult challenge and look forward to doing more of this type of shooting.
I was about to sell my Olympus 60mm Macro lens because I didn't think I was going to like macro photography, but lately I've come to really enjoy this lens and this style of photography. This lens is not only good for getting real close and capturing worlds we can barely see with the naked eye, but it is a fantastic portrait lens as well. Very sharp and superb quality images. You'll probably see more from me with this lens in the future.
It's early February here in Okinawa and the cherry blossoms have been out for over a week now. Cherry blossoms carry a special significance here in Japan, with it symbolizing the start of spring. One thing I've noticed different from the cherry blossoms here in Okinawa vs. the ones in Tokyo, they seem to be more red in color. The ones in Tokyo are a very light pink; almost white.
There are numerous festivals and celebrations in locations with lots of cherry trees. I decided I wanted to avoid the crowds and found a small park near my home with a few trees with cherry blossoms. I grabbed my camera and the 60mm macro lens and started shooting from a lot of different compositions. It was a fun time to practice getting focus with this lens when you are only a couple inches from the subject. Of course the beauty of macro lenses are the ability to get the wonderful bokeh (background out of focus). With a 120mm equivalent focal length and usually only 3-4 inches from the blossoms, I can get the background out of focus even at f8 - f10. I kept the processing only in Lightroom this time because there was no reason to use anything else. Please enjoy the gallery below.
This morning I was taking our dogs for a walk and shortly after we started, the rain started to come down. I quickly turned around and returned the dogs to our house, but as I was entering our building I noticed a number of flowers blooming. I then thought I would grab my camera and my macro lens to see what I could do before heading to church. The first one above is an example of using the water drop as a fisheye lens. You can see our apartment building and more flowers in the bubble (of course everything is upside down). Another thing I wasn't expecting was how the water seemed to encapsulate some of the pieces.
Often times you can go out and get ready for a new idea for a photo. I wanted to get a sunset with the flower in the foreground. The original plan was to have a more wide-angle view, but even though it appeared we would get a nice sunset when I set out, when I got there it changed for the worst. The sky got hazy and clouds disappeared. I changed the plan and went for a more closeup look with the sun in the background. It's a different style from what I normally do, but it was fun to try something new.
Working on trying to get better with macro photography. The one thing I learned was a tripod is important to get clear photos of such minuscule subjects. Fortunately, the built-in stabilization on my Olympus OM-D camera is very good so I was able to get this in focus.
The interesting part of this flower is that it looks like the stamen is radiating light
The title pretty much sums it up. Been bored with the photography lately, had to change things up a bit. Still waiting for some good sunset/skies here in Okinawa. Lately just a lot of rain and ugly weather.
In my continuing evaluation of my new Olympus OM-D camera, today I'm going to talk about the incredible sharp and accurate focusing of this camera. First let me talk about the back story of main photo I included in this post.
When we came to Tokyo during Spring Break, I was disappointed that we just missed the spring Japanese cherry blossoms. In fact, we were about two days too late because a storm came through the day before and the day we arrived and pretty much took out any of the last remaining remnants. I did have some hope of finding some cherry blossoms and that was when I was asked to drive my wife and mother-in-law to their family cemetery up near Mt Fuji so she could visit the gravesite of her parents. When we arrived, I was thrilled to see many cherry blossoms still on the trees, and I was fortunate enough to have understanding wife and mother-in-law who were happy to let me go out and take an hour or so to take photos of the beautiful area.
I decided to convert this one to B&W. I can't quantify why but I liked the look better than keeping it in color. I have a few other color versions of cherry blossoms that I will share another time.
Now back to a discussion about the camera... When I was researching this camera one of the most touted features was its fast autofocusing and it's touch screen focus capability. I also have a friend who has this camera and he was very happy with the touch screen focus/shooting as well. To be honest, I thought it was kind of cheezy and I would rarely use that feature. That's fine for an iPhone but not something I would use for a "real" camera. I would look through the viewfinder and focus using the shutter because that's what "photographers" do. I WAS WRONG! Shooting these cherry blossoms were a perfect example of how this touch screen focus/shoot was perfect for the situation. Here's why. When you focus using the shutter button the camera will focus on the subject but it's a real challenge to keep a moving flower in focus when its bouncing around due to the wind. Here's where the extremely fast autofocus and the touch screen are invaluable. I first prefocus on the flower using the shutter, but then as the flower is bouncing around I will wait for it to come into where I want it compositionally and then the flower on the screen; instantly the camera fine tunes the focus and takes the photo. The other part of this feature is the incredibly sharp and clear photos it takes. I included a 100% crop of the photo above but completely unretouched and you can see the stamen is dead on in focus. I rarely got this level of detail with my Canon gear; I get it all the time with the Olympus. The video below is a quick 30 second spot showing how the autofocus works on the camera
in addition, addressing the post yesterday "Let's Talk About Bokeh" because I zoomed all the way in, got very close and had it on its widest aperture, I was able to blur the background even with a Micro 4/3rds camera.
One of the biggest drawbacks or one of the most common claims from its detractors to the micro four thirds format, like the Olympus OM-D I recently bought is the lack of Bokeh that can be achieved with such a small sensor.
First, for my friends who are not up to speed on camera technical terms, Bokeh is the background blur effect used often to separate the subject from the background. This Bokeh is primarily tied to aperture. The wider the aperture the more Bokeh you can achieve. But... this effect is also related to sensor size. Full frame cameras like the more expensive Canon and Nikons achieve greater Bokeh at the same aperture than crop sensor cameras like the Canon 7D, which I've been using for the past 2 years, and even more so than micro four thirds cameras that I'm using now.
As you can see by the photo above and below, you can achieve great Bokeh with these cameras, but it admittedly it is more difficult to get that shallow depth of field look. The lens I used for these two photos was a 14-150mm lens. The top one was zoomed all the way to 150mm and set at its widest aperture of 5.6, and I got as close as possible to the flower. By doing this I was able to achieve a very shallow depth of field. The one below was at only 34mm and the aperture was at 5.1. As you can see the background is not as blurry. By the way, that was my intended look; I wanted the flower to stand out as the subject, but also wanted to be able to subtly see the Japanese house in the background
Bottomline, is if shallow depth of field or Bokeh is a strong theme in your shooting style, it is more difficult to achieve with the Micro 4/3rds cameras. Fortunately, as this format grows in popularity with serious photography enthusiasts ( and some pros) the manufactures are releasing high quality, fast lenses with low apertures so the Bokeh problem is becoming less of an issue.
Over the next couple days, I'll post some more images with Bokeh as the theme. All these images were taken at Gotemba near Mt Fuji. Tomorrow with by the famous Japanese cherry blossoms.
This was a photo I took during a family trip to Hawaii back in the summer of 2011. Not too much to say tonight; I hope you enjoy the photo.