Abstracts and Abstractions Part 2

Have you Seen this new OM-D E-M1X by Olympus. Holy cow. I’m loving this camera. Let’s look at some of the details.

They claim “extensive weather sealing” which sounds like they’re really upping the weather sealing game. I love it. Rain, sleet or snow, they claim it can handle it with ease. That’s awesome.

Some Specs:

20.4 MP 4/3 sensor

4K video recording, with “live ND” to mimic the effects of a solid ND filter, nice.

7-stop shake reduction, or 7.5 with the new 12-100mm lens.

The integrated grip will hold two batteries.

It can shoot up to 120 frames per second in HD video mode.

Both SD card slots are UHS-II compatible, which is nice when shooting all those frames per second or 4K video.

Also includes a PC flash terminal, headphone and mic ports, as well as micro HDMI. And a USB-C port that can be used to charge both batteries in camera. 

WiFi and Bluetooth are supported for connecting to the smartphones.

Includes 121 Phase Detection AF points, and 121 contrast detect areas for AF as well. 

It also has “Intelligent Subject Detection AF” which they make it sound like it’ll learn the shape of what you’re shooting and it will prioritize focus on that. That’s amazing. It also has face detect and eye detection as well. And it’ll work down to -6EV which is very dark indeed.

If you use the electronic shutter, you can get 60fps shooting, or 15fps using the mechanical shutter.

If you want to use the electronic shutter and maintain full AF, you’ll be “limited” (a couple of air quotes there) to 18fps.

The buffer holds a varying amount of shots depending on how fast you’re shooting. If in manual focus and shooting 60fps, you’ll fill the buffer at 49 shots, that’s less than a second. Did I mention it has dual UHS-II SD card slots? You’re gonna need it! If you’re at the 15fps, you fill it up at 103 frames, so that’s almost 7 full seconds there. Either way you shoot, it’s impressive.

This part really interests me, the multi-shot HighRes mode. It’ll create an 80MP Raw image by using the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) system to nudge the sensor to different positions to capture the space between the pixels. It does this by taking 8 frames very quickly and then combining them in camera. 

Then there’s the hand-held mode, where it does the same thing with 16 total frames, but it only makes a 50MP image. Still, I’m loving the sound of this technology. The so-called limitations of the 4/3s sensor are all but eliminated now. 

It has the live composite mode which will build up a scene over time such as star trails. 

It also does in camera focus stacking. 

OK, just take my money already!!! I love this camera.

Along with this camera they have also announced the 150-400 f/4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO lens. 

This is a 300-800 equivalent length on a full-frame body, and it has a built in 1.25x extender. It can also be paired with a new 2x extender which would give you a 2000mm in full-frame speak. And they claim you can shoot it hand held due to the combination of the IBIS and the lens’ own stabilization. 

I would love to try this out. Olympus, if you’re listening, I’m here for you to put this through the paces. I’ll go shoot eagles or something like that with this setup. That would be so amazing.

They’ve already got a few really good lenses out there, the 7-14mm, 12-40 and 40-150 all look like my kind of lenses. 

I don’t know about you, but the Olympus line-up has suddenly gotten awesome, at least in my opinion anyway.

Sony A6400

Have you also seen that new Sony 6400? I won’t go into all the spec details, but that too is an impressive camera. I love the compact nature, the APS-C sized sensor and lens lineup. If I were to switch to Sony I’d give this on a serious look. In fact I’m actually considering buying this one. If Olympus releases a not-so-over-the-top option of that latest OM-D model then I might be tempted to go that route. One thing is for sure, we have so many good options in gear these days.

OK, now on to the images, and revisiting the idea of shooting abstracts, or abstractions once again. I won’t be writing as much in the show notes as I did on the previous episode. I’ll just talk a bit more conversationally about these.

Plants, Prague Castle.

Notes: I was initially intrigued by these plants, but as I was shooting I felt they could use something more. So I decided to put the camera into manual focus and completely blur out the subject, making a beautiful bouquet of color. I then punched color saturation in post to achieve the affect I was going for. I also had adjusted the exposure to +1 when I took the shot to give it a bit more oomph.

B&W Buildings, Boston, MA

Notes: I like to isolate the graphic forms and enhance the lines. By zooming in to the subject like this I’m able to eliminate any distractions that might take us away from the subject. Also, by removing the color, I’m able to keep the attention on the shape and form of the building and the glass frames rather than get distracted by the cool color and cloud shapes. Without color, the cloud textures become part of the building more.

Also, for the second image I tilted the camera a bit so the side of the building would align with the edge of the frame. Doing so makes the building’s angles even more dramatic and it has some strength leaning up against the side like this where if I didn’t turn the camera on angle, it would feel really balanced, but not as strong.

Segmentation series images.

I love this series. By shooting the subject in segments I’m able to make a different statement than is normally made. With the yellow leaves, I was able to make it feel like separate pictures laying on top of each other, while still really enjoying the contrast of the lines, the brilliant color of the leaves and the strength of the trunk. But by limiting the view the eye is focused on the specific items that I wanted to highlight and draw the attention too, and other distractions were eliminated.

For the black and white option here, the main subject is captured in those three images. They are very nearly evenly spaced and the texture is enhanced by the absence of color, and a little more clarity in Lightroom. The two additional frames in this set are to support and balance the composition overall. It’s important that these extra elements be shown there so we get a greater sense of place, but they are placed behind so as not to overly take away from the main subject.

With the twin sisters shot, I really like it because it emphasizes the clouds. This composition works by itself, but I found it a bit boring. But I knew I wanted to bring those clouds in somehow, and with the angled shots and a segmentation I knew I had something good going here. The composition remains simple yet there’s added strength to it because we get to have more of those clouds, but they still aren’t complete. That’s one of the great things about photography, when we crop an element the mind must work to complete it in its imagination. With this type of shot the mind gets an initial look, then it gets more with the added frames and we still don’t complete the clouds so our impression of the magnitude of the clouds is rather enhanced.

Grass image

I love the simplicity and complexity of this image all at the same time. It’s simple because the depth-of-field is so shallow. It’s complex because the grass blades are going everywhere and they feel rather chaotic. The monochromatic color is also enhancing the idea of simplicity.

Raining cottonwoods

I love doing camera movement images. With this set I started out with the camera mounted to a gimbal head and a 50mm lens. I used the gimbal head to restrict the movement to one axis. With a bit of practice I got it working quite nicely. The exposure is about .8 seconds to begin with, and then I get to 1 second for the last two images. For the second to last image I sent on two axis, and the result is a feeling of motion to the side, and it contrasts with the position and direction of the trunks. It’s truly an amazing feeling looking at this image in full resolution. The final image has me hand-holding and twisting. I must have tried this 15 or more times before I got the one that really worked and was what I was looking for. The off-center point of rotation gives it a good sense of balance that’s not perfectly symmetrical. I also appreciate the added movement on the far left side of the image due to the off-center rotation point.

Palouse field forms

US, WA, Whitman County, Views from Steptoe Butte.

The Palouse region is simply amazing. It’s also extremely popular with photographers. With a long tele lens you’re able to really pull out some great shapes, colors and forms from atop Steptoe Butte. If you get there about an hour before sunset you’re probably too late. So get there a bit earlier if you can. Then you can watch the transition of the forms and shadows as they elongate with the setting sun. If you can get a clear day you’re in luck. Sometimes it’s too hazy to get a good shot since you’re shooting subjects that are so far away.

Stacked Waves

I was testing two lenses and this shot is with the Sigma 150-600 Sport on my Canon 5D mkiv. I decided on a B&W conversion to enhance the effect of the deep tonality of the waves and the brilliant mist that is being blown off the top of the waves. The loan gull makes the shot really sing for me. I got some shots that have more birds, but in the spirit of abstracts and abstractions, this better fits the bill.

Palouse Falls thundering water detail

Palouse Falls state park is a great place to shoot. Just please be careful. The cliff is very high and the falls are 198 ft high as well. It can be dangerous if you’re not careful. For these shots I was at the top of the rim zooming down. I wanted to capture the energy of the water crashing down into the pool. The water in spring time is quite muddy, so I enhanced the contrast on these images and used a fast shutter speed to freeze the action.

Clouds lit rom within

Nature has some amazing gifts for us photographers. With this shot I was chasing a storm here in SE Washington. It was moving fast so I did more driving than shooting. I finally got ahead of it enough with a place that I could safely set up and shoot. But as it moved away the lightning was largely on the interior of the clouds, which enhanced the texture of the clouds. Being lit from within also makes for added drama with the foreground clouds.

Sun spots

The sun is possible to shoot with a 100–400 zoomed out to 400 with a 2x extender. I also used a 10-stop neutral density filter. I used that filter rather than a solar filter so I could render the sunspots. With a standard solar filter you don’t get enough detail to see the sunspots like this.


I’ve got some workshops coming up this summer. 

Shoot-n-Print in Walla Walla

Total Solar Eclipse in Chile, 

Composition, Culture and more in Croatia.

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