Reflections during vacation

As I settling into a week-long vacation back at my parents’ place, then off to a friend’s wedding on Prince Edward Island, I’ve collected several thought tidbits as I unwind and take stock of longer term projects I want to tackle.

Photography

Maybe it’s summer talking, but I’ve been more eager than I can remember to get outside, in the city, through the mountains, nearly anywhere, and bring my camera with me. Unfortunately, starting not many months after I picked up a Nikon D600 and associated full frame zooms, 90% of the occasions no longer consist of tripod-mounted or otherwise nearly stationary photo excursions. Add to that the fact that the parallel micro-4/3rds system I started is able to produce 80% of the image quality using only 30% of the weight. Case in point, I came on this vacation with my Panasonic GX1, accompanied by the 14-42mm power-zoom and the 20mm f/1.7. Absolutely tiny, but a versatile kit for many shooting situations.

However, a few things irk me about the GX1. The first is completely of my own doing. I did quite the number on the touchscreen, having, at some point in my carelessness, scratched it ruthlessly, it would appear. Switched on, it’s barely noticeable indoors, but outdoors, where the LCD is already trouble enough to see when lighting is tough, the scratches only exacerbate the issue. The second issue is that while I love the size and weight of the GX1 kit, compared to the full frame D600, composing through the LCD (even if it weren’t scratched) at arm’s length is awful. I feel less involved in the shot, my composition and framing gets lazy, and good thing the combo is light, because there’s no added stability with it hanging off the end of my arms. Lastly, unlike its brethren over at Olympus, the Panasonic cameras have never been known for great out of camera image renditions, when it comes to colours, white-balance, or default noise reduction. I find myself shooting in RAW 99% of the time, then it becomes a chore to post-process, especially when many pictures these days are simply snapshots. It’s a significant contributor to why so few pictures appear anywhere from me and why I have something like 100GB of RAW photos, yet to be processed. I really want to get out of the business of being a hunch-backed, pixel-peeping, camera-computer nerd.

So, I’ve been on the look-out for something that:

  1. Has great out of the camera quality photos (let me use the OOC JPEGs, please)
  2. Is sized much closer to the GX1, rather than the D600
  3. Sits within a system that has great lens options
  4. Provides an eye-level viewfinder, electronic is fine, if it’s good
  5. Doesn’t have a scratched screen (hopefully this one’s a given)

Best I could come up with so far is the Fuji X-E1. It helps that it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at and reviews of it largely conclude at a singular point: it gets out of the way and allows a connection between photographer and subject.

X-E1_BLC-XE1-web
Doesn’t this hark back to the good ol’ days?

The upcoming Panasonic GX7 is also technologically very interesting, but it doesn’t quite satisfy my #1 criteria, assuming Panasonic’s in-camera processing doesn’t deviate from their current trajectory. The Sony NEX series, the NEX-6, in particular, is also attractive (tons of technology, great sensor squished into a surprisingly small and cheap package), but its lens system is quite mediocre. Contrast the 3-year gestation for the NEX lens line-up to the slightly-more-than-one, for the Fuji X-series interchangeable, and you’ll see why I’d rather put my money on the latter. Fuji still knows great glass.

Design

It’s been over a year since I’ve made much in the way of changes to this site’s design, and even at that time, it was but a minor bump in the architectural road. (sidebar: I’ve also just noticed, pathetically I might add, that I’ve posted a total of 12 times this year, a run rate barely surpassing the totally anemic 17 posts I wrote in 2012.  Shame on me for not putting my thoughts down into words more often.) WordPress has, meanwhile, moved on to add some pretty neat features in subsequent Three-Dot releases. For example, in this most current iteration (3.6 “Oscar”), they’ve improved the auto-save, multi-user editing, added HTML5 audio and video players, and integration with services like Spotify.

But above all that, the particular update that has spurred me on, at least in thought, is the Twenty Thirteen theme. My own lackluster attempt at creating content-aware styling (shorts, photos, normal writing) is showcased in the current design, but it was done with little time and effort. I can now see a wonderful starting point in Twenty Thirteen to take my site’s design where I want. I’m truly looking forward to it. I’ve not had a design project to sit down through the wee hours of the morning, essentially, since university.

front-page
Look at those colours, man.

It’ll probably also help to reinvigorate my use of this blog, photography and generally get me to better document what the heck’s been going on, year after year.

Cars

Combining my recent car search with photography, and you naturally get… photos of cars!

mbc300

I’ve had the C300 for just about a month, and it’s been a wonderful ride thus far. I have much to write about, but in a nutshell, driving the Volkswagen CC to its lease return appointment made that difference between the two cars all the more noticeable. That’s not to say the CC wasn’t a nice car; I really liked it; there’s simply more than the MB badge the extra money gets you. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on these mouthwatering images of a yellow Porsche Cayman running through Swiss and Italian scenery.

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