Mayan Adventures

I’ve been thinking about writing about my recent trip to the south of Mexico, but I’m short of words at the moment. I hope these 20 photos speak to you in their own way. Many are available for purchase. I’ll leave links to those that are, but also feel free to of course just take them in.

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Society 6

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My Personal History with Photography: From Point and Shoot and beyond

These days I’ve been doing a lot of camera day dreaming. I plan to do a separate post about cameras that I love but are beyond my price range. The more serious part of me is pretty sure that my next camera is going to be the Olympus OMD-EM10, which is more suited to my needs and desire to have manual control dials.

Photo from getolympus.com

While researching different camera brands I came across a number of comparison sites and photo blogs that I love, so I figure I’d share those links:

http://cameradecision.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/DigitalRevCom

Mathieu Gasquet (youtube)

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/

This list could extend on forever but I’ll just end it right here.

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m very brand loyal to Olympus. I understand that they don’t necessarily stay on the cutting edge of technology in the imaging side of things, but quite frankly I’m just used to using these cameras and their stabilization and focusing capabilities are quite fast. Olympus produces lightweight cameras that are durable and relatively inexpensive compared to other pricier brands like Nikon and Sony.

My first ever camera was one of those old Nikon Coolpix point and shoots. I don’t remember what the model was even called, but since it shot at anywhere from 3-6 mega pixels depending on how far it was zoomed, the model name isn’t even worth the mention. Regardless I loved that camera. I loved having the option to take snapshots wherever I went. I was ecstatic at the time that I could take more than the 25 photos I would have otherwise taken with a disposable film camera from the grocery store. I could even print the photos at home on our printer, which was cool because we’d just recently upgraded to a color printer.

When I began painting in middle school I used these poorly pixellated paper printouts as reference photos for my equally bad quality landscape paintings. (You’ve got to start somewhere right?) Initially no one foresaw that digital cameras would ever surpass film in definition, color depth, and so on. Even as large digital SLR’s began to enter the scene I always assumed I’d continue to take snapshots on crappy 6 megapixel point and shoots, simply because SLR’s were quite costly and much too big for me to hold up for longer than 5 minutes at a time.

Enter the Olympus EPen 1, which I believe came out around 2008. It was one of the first mirrorless 4/3 digital cameras. It took a while for people to understand that this technology would soon take over the digital photography world and make it less and less attractive to own a bulky, boxy SLR.

My first high quality camera was the famed Olympus EPL1, which my parents graciously bought me in the fall of 2011. When I think back, having a decent quality camera really boosted the quality of my paintings as I could now actually see the details in my pictures. The EPL1 shot at 12 mega pixels and retained these pixels even with zoom, since mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras typically are used with optical zoom lenses instead of digital zoom (which crops to the center to zoom and thus cutting out digital data as one zooms further and further).

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Beautiful Low light performance from the Olympus EPL1 (Seattle’s Discover Bay in Winter)

It was a beautiful camera and it turned out beautiful Jpeg files, even more beautiful than any of the Olympus cameras I’ve used after it. It did lag quite a bit so when I got to college I decided to sell it to buy a camera with faster performance. My next Olympus camera was the Pen-mini 1, which was indeed a very quick and small camera. Even though the specifications for this camera looked similar on paper to the Pen lite 1, the mini had horrible white balance issues. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix in iPhoto but I hated just how much editing I had to do to each file just to get the picture to look normal again.

Even with its small size the Olympus pen mini is still able to create amazing results. I loved having my pen mini with me in Europe (even when my kit lens broke on me in Z√ľrich).

This past spring I sold my mini to get an Olympus Pen Lite 5, which is an amazing camera. I barely have to edit the files unless I took them in weird lighting or at night. This model gave me an extra 4 megapixels which allows me to sell a considerable variety of print products on Society 6 and Redbubble.¬†I couldn’t have enabled nearly as many products with the 12 mega pixels on my pen mini or my iPhone (which has honestly become my second favorite camera since it is the one I’m almost always guaranteed to have on me.)

It amazes me how far digital cameras have advanced technologically since those first micro 4/3 cameras came out. Sometimes I wonder if my pictures would be better if I bought the fanciest camera on the block or some extra lenses but new products are always coming out. There’s no need to go chasing after the next new thing. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to have the latest gear, but for now I don’t necessarily want a bunch of high res ultra focused shots. I don’t want to distract my eye from the compositions and the colors of nature that first drew me to photography. I’d rather make small upgrades in cameras then jump up to some ultra capable camera right now when all I’m used to is small mirorless models with the kit lens the camera was sold with. I am excited though to see how these technologies progress over time for when it makes more sense for me to own a fancier camera.

Stay tuned for subsequent posts and if you’re into instagram follow me there at:¬†@colormeadri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on Old School vs. Modern Photography

I suppose I should preface this whole article by saying that I am a hobby photographer and I shoot currently with an Olympus Pen Lite 5, which is a great camera but honestly because the menu system is so complicated, it feels at times more like an over-glorified point and shoot with a lens screwed onto it. I do not possess the full technical vocabulary of someone whose life revolves around cameras and dials and technical specifications. I do however think I have a fairly good conceptual understanding of aperture, white balance, shutter speed and the like, but as my shooting priorities rest mainly on shooting as many pictures as possible while I’m out and about doing other things, I end up leaving my camera on automatic mode embarrassingly often.

Do I not want to improve? Of course I do. More than anything though I just want the shot.¬†In that primal moment where I see something shiny that catches my eye, I revert to caveman mode. I revert to the abstract painter who only cares about lines and frames and focal points. I could care less in those moments about my exposure or shutter speed, because frankly due to Olympus’s excellent stabilization system, most of the time I won’t even stop walking to take a picture. Occasionally I’ll even take pictures in a bus or a car, and those moments are all about timing more than anything else. If I have to go back into Olympus’s convoluted unintuitive menu system to adjust the exposure I’ve already missed the shot.

I have my eye on the Olympus Omd 10 Mark II. It’s almost identical in specifications to my current camera, only it comes with dials to adjust controls manually. I want to make this trade because I think there are times when it’s worth it to have faster more accurate control over lighting and exposure time, especially at night.

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This is what happens if you try to take photos at night with a UV filter on your lens. Say goodbye to the stars my friend.

(A few years ago I bought a UV filter for my 14-42 mm kit lens and basically never took it off for years. I’ve always been very disappointed with all my night-time photos, even the ones with longer exposures, but the other day it dawned on me that the UV filter was obstructing most existing light from entering my camera’s sensor. I’m excited to try to shoot some stars sans UV filter someday soon).

I have a study abroad friend who recently enrolled in a film class. I love the look of her pictures, but I just don’t feel like film is for me. I’d love to have a viewfinder on my camera, especially an analog one, but I do like being able to use new developments like autofocus. A few weeks ago I also realized that with my camera’s touchscreen I can select a manual focus point. Just touch the screen and the camera will lock onto your selection. You can’t do that on an analog camera, (though Leica is making some really expensive but fascinating digital hybrids like the M9 which hold onto many retro manual controls while implementing new technologies).

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Thanks Olympus for your touchscreen focus that helped me capture these deer. I even had time to spare to capture a video clip of them running away from me!

I don’t think it’s bad that photography is advancing in automatic functions. It kind of reminds me of the disagreements between oil painters and acrylic painters. Oil painters tend to be a bit more purist and look down on acrylics because they’re synthetic and cold and the newer pigments aren’t what the Old Masters used. I feel that if you understand the past of painting and keep it in mind in your work, you can still be considered professional even if your methods are unconventional. Similarly for photography, if you at least understand how your camera works, how light and color work you shouldn’t be regarded as an inferior artist when you use new automatic tools to assist you. Now, if the final product even after post-production isn’t good, then that’s a different story, but we all have to try out new things and fail now and then, don’t we?

Also be sure to check out my new Redbubble account to see some of my better paintings and photos.

And to see photos of my travels be sure to follow my instagram at :@colormeadri

Have a nice day,

Adri

 

Toronto

My trip to Toronto (August 2016)

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The CN Tower as seen from the  University of Toronto campus

Toronto is a multicultural city with approachable people, great transportation, and amaaazing ethnic foods. These were my favorite places in Toronto in no particular order:

  • Kensington Market (The Blackbird Baking Company in particular)
  • Having Dim Sum in Chinatown
  • Toronto University Campus
  • The Harbourfront
  • The Eaton Centre Mall

 

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Graffiti at Kensington Market (an excellent place to get local and ethnic foods in downtown Toronto) 

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More Graffiti (Kensington Market is a hipster paradise) 

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Shiny Lights on the Lake Ontario Harbor

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Harbourfront Centre (Canadians and their funny spelling of words like “harbour” and “centre”)

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Touristy Toronto Letter Sculpture at City Hall. Nearby is the enormous Eaton Centre Mall which takes up several blocks and has its own subway stops. The food court is amazing!

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Ryerson University 

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Ontario Parliament at Queen’s Park¬†

Rochester, NY and Niagra Falls

A couple months ago, my mom and I made a trip to Upstate New York to visit a study abroad friend of mine who lives in Rochester. One night we drove up to Lake Ontario to see a magnificent sunset on the beach.

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The next morning we stopped by Amanda’s house after eating a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant in Amanda’s neighborhood called Olympia. Then we went back to her house to meet her adorable cat, see the work her family had been doing installing new hardwood floors and to see her beautiful backyard.

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Surprise photo my mom took of Amanda and I 

Later that afternoon we drove up to see the famous Niagra Falls and it was even more beautiful than I expected it to be. The Canadians were friendly too as are most Canadians in general.

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After seeing the falls we stopped by the restaurant at the Niagra Falls Giftshop where I ate a soba noodle bowl dish and my mom had a butternut squash soup. Both were delicious.

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Stay tuned tomorrow for a post about our subsequent stop in Toronto!

I Caved Last Month and Joined Instagram

After many of years of pretending to be cool and unique by being a hobby photographer who didn’t have an Instagram account, I woke up and realized,¬†wait this is actually really cool. You can put up pictures and people will actually see them and care! I expected to make my account and then get over it pretty quickly, but I am more or less still committed to updating it and seeing what other people put up, particularly accounts with nature photography.

 

My all time favorite Instagrammer is Konsta Punkka, a nature photographer from Finland. I am even more in love with his work now because a few weeks ago I commented on one of his photos (along with hundreds of other fans) and he responded to me! It’s the little things in life right? I first learned about him watching a travel vlog from the Vagabrothers on YouTube. Konsta is a magical human being who gains the trust of wildlife creatures such as foxes and squirrels and gets them to pose for selfies, albeit very professional and well edited selfies, but selfies nonetheless.

I was worried before getting the account that if I joined Instagram I would put too much weight on how many followers I had or care when I lost them, but that should never stop you from sharing your work with other people if that’s what you think you want to do, that is, if that’s where you are passionate.

Plus, did you know that a bunch of Instagrammers apparently use apps that automatically follow and unfollow people and comment random generic things on people’s photos? I always tell my friends I am for all intents and purposes a social media grandma, therefore I did not know this. So that’s another reason why you don’t have to feel upset if you wake up one morning and realize you’ve lost a few of your followers, because Instagram is after all an instant gratification platform with finicky users who may or may not actually just be robots at any given time. I find this of comfort at least.

This “advice” can stretch more broadly to day to day life. People aren’t paying as much attention to your every movement and flaw as you think so just keep on moving through your life the way you want to. Put out there what you want to and strive for the goals that you set for yourself. Aziz Ansari said in an interview last month that if he were going to fail at something, he’d rather “fall on his own sword”, that is, he’d rather fail delivering his own writing and jokes than to play it safe following the directions of others.

So all you artists and movers and shakers out there: keep making cool stuff, keep sharing it with the people you love (and also total strangers if you so desire), and keep on dreaming, even if you don’t make your hobbies into anything more than hobbies income-wise. We create to express ourselves, whether people are watching or not.