I got myself a crystal ball!. Okay, just to make it clear, I’m not turning into “Mystic Meg” nor have I any desire to look into the future even if I could. What I have got is an 80mm crystal ball to have some photographic fun with whilst stuck indoors. I did a quick test shot with overhead LED lighting and my E-M1 mk 1 and M.Zuiko 30mm macro lens. I think that this will be a fun thing to pass some time. They’ve been around for years apparently but I’ve only recently stumbled across them. I’ve probably never come across them before because this isn’t my interest in photography and for a tenner from Amazon complete with stand I thought it worth a punt.
I know that it looks quite a bit like something out of a SCIFI movie 🙂 . A while back I bought one of those cheap helping-hand things and also some small battery-powered clip on LED spotlights. I thought I’d combine them and here’s the result for a fraction of the cost of a similar proprietary one that I saw advertised. Cheap and cheerful but effective. 🙂
PS. Mk II version I added some PVC tape to the cross bar so that the lights grip better, don’t slip and stay as set.
Hope that everyone is staying safe, greetings from my “Bunker in Bognor” or so it feels as I’ve not left it for over a week now, AKA my Man Cave 🙂 and I’m going more than a little stir-crazy. As I can’t get a haircut I’m also starting, more and more, to resemble a Yeti. 🙂 .
I’ve been giving some thought to my passion for processing my images (still hate the word). If someone offered me some money to spend as I wished on photographic equipment, as unlikely as that ever might be, I’d choose to spend the lion’s share on software. My passion for photography really starts when I’m working on my images, Subjective as of course it is, I just couldn’t go out, take some shots and not work on them. I’m fortunate that I don’t have deadlines to meet or have to mass-produce images to a formula but even a few simple adjustments will bring one’s imagery to life. I’ve raved several times before about Viveza, part of the NIK collection of software plugins now owned by DXO with it’s selective adjustment control point technology and I think that it’s an absolutely fantastic piece of software that has been the most useful and creative software that I’ve ever purchased, I use it at some stage in every image that I work on.
A while back I started experimenting with video streaming. I bought a couple of bits of kit that work very well. As some of my cameras don’t allow one to monitor the video in live view with and HDMI cable plugged in I bought a plug in HDMI to USB video capture device and also a 1 in 2 out HDMI splitter. This works very well as I can plug the HDMI output from the the camera in to the splitter with a suitable HDMI cable, plug one of the outputs to a small HDMI monitor and the other output to an HDMI cable plugged into the HDMI to USB capture device and this into the computer. The HDMI splitter device has a micro USB socket so that it can be powered by USB and includes a cable for this. This combination works great and allows me to simultaneously monitor the picture whilst streaming to the computer. So far I’ve used this setup with ZOOM and also with OBS Studio and it cost me approx. £33 UK plus a suitable HDMI cable to fit your camera’s HDMI output.
I have no affiliation with the companies that manufacture these products, as always, I share because I hope that it is of interest.
Hope you’ve all had a great Christmas. This morning to pass the time with no public transport running around here, nothing open, the weather dull, dreary and pretty uninviting and no way of getting anywhere interesting I thought I’d do a very lazy and simple macro shot of my new watch. Thing of beauty as it is it’s the only thing I can do with the watch as it needs quite a few links removed as I don’t have wrists like an Olympic weight lifter and, anyway, there’s no jewellers open in the foreseeable future until we come out of lockdown again. whenever that might be. I decided not to use my normal macro setup and just pop my Sigma ART 60mm lens, a very affordable and very sharp lens, plus Olympus M-CON macro converter on my Olympus E-PL5, stick it on a tripod with a self-timer and light it with an overhead LED light, it doesn’t get much more simple than that.
No focus stacking, just a plain and simple macro shot. Macro doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s like any other form of photography it can be (become) 🙂 as expensive and technical as you want to make it.
I share his thinking on size, weight and the difference between expensive, faster, and by definition, heavy, lenses and their more affordable counterparts as well as photographic philosophy. I own quite a few of the small lenses that he features in the video (Panasonic Lumix, 12-32mm and 20mm 1.7, Olympus 17mm 1.8, 25mm 1.8 and 45mm 1.8) and they’re all extremely good as is the Lumix 14mm 2.5, another great little pancake lens. Another bonus I should perhaps mention is that the 14mm, 17mm, 20mm and 25mm all have a 46mm filter thread and the 12-32 and 45mm have a 37mm filter thread so it’s economical on filters and interchangeability.
I might be able to get out today if our online shopping turns up early. It’s nice and sunny outside and I’m setting myself a bit of a challenge to only use my Olympus 9mm and 15mm body cap lenses which, given good light are capable of good results, on my diminutive EPL-5 camera. This is a very fun, compact and lightweight combination. I’ll take my TG-5 as an all weather backup in case the weather takes a turn for the worse and yes I do like red/black and silver . As my shoulder and neck are quite painful I’m not even taking a camera bag they can go in my jacket pockets.
Recently I’ve watched excellent videos by Olympus visionaries Robin Wong and Jimmy Cheng and also Rob Trek and I’ve found myself in complete agreement with the points that they make. I’ve been asked quite a few times about what cameras and lenses I would recommend and “what’s the best camera” as if there is such a thing as best. I’ve never owned a camera (and I’ve owned quite a few over the years) 🙂 that has revolutionised my approach to photography. It’s an impossible question to answer as just about any modern camera and lenses are more than capable of producing technically great results, the camera doesn’t choose the subject or frame the shot!. What it is about is composition, taking time to master basic techniques, developing an eye for a shot and one’s imagination, that’s it, plain and simple. The only thing that I will say is that my preference for lightweight, portable gear has greatly increased my ability to get to where I’m going and walk around for longer and thus get more shots to work with , the bottom line is that the camera is only a tool, simply a means to an end.