Spring is Coming

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.


Sun and Flower

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.

 

Olympus OM-D EM-5 with 14-150mm 4.0-5.6 lens.

Delicate

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. 

 

Long Exposure, a Pop of Flash, and Some Playful Post-Processing = A Creative Exercise

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 9-18mm 4.0-5.6 lens @ 9mm with shutter speed of 15 seconds.  Manually popped a flash at 1/128th power just under the flower at some point during the 15 seconds.  Processed with Lightroom (of course as always) and Perfect Effects 4 and Perfect B&W.

Let's Talk About Bokeh

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.  

Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 14-150mm 4.0-5.6 lens @ 150mm.  Processed with Lightroom and Perfect Effects 4

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

Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 14-150mm 4.0-5.6 lens @ 34mm.  Processed with Lightroom and Perfects Effects 4

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.