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 Zürich).

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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!

Witnessing an armed dispute in Santa Fe

Spring Break 2014: This is an account of an armed dispute I saw while vacationing in Santa Fe. It happened a while back but in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, I am sharing this story to add to the discussion on gun violence.

What I wanted out of spring break was to relax, if only for just a day or a few hours. I headed out by car for the mountains of Santa Fe with my mom, ready to get out of Houston and away from the constant stress of academic life. The first day as we were driving across the vastness of the Texas prairie I still felt leftover stress, but I was hoping I’d get over it. The next day we made a stop at a Torchy’s Tacos in Lubbock. A uniformed man in line for food had a gun in plain sight strapped across the back of his belt. Of course this isn’t the first gun I’ve ever seen and in the US its completely normal for police officers to be armed. It’s part of their job to protect people, but that morning the sight of it bothered me, how it was a bit larger than other guns I’d seen, how visible it was. I tried to shove away my nerves but they hung around as I ate my greasy (but delicious) taco.

We hit the Texas-New Mexico border at a town called Farewell, TX. Sitting behind the wheel I drove a bit faster and thought to myself, Farewell Texas! I’m going to the mountains now. I had never been to New Mexico before. As we drove past, the great plains turned to flat, lifeless, yellow grass with bright red dirt. Desert scrubs and yucca. We gained altitude and peculiar dark green pine trees dotted the rolling yellow hills. We passed between desolate highway lanes, and the small roads of run-down and forgotten towns.

Then we hit Santa Fe, with its majestic mountains. Well-to-do people walked around outside of fake adobe houses. Santa Fe was very commercialized, the rich of the town appropriating Native American culture, decor and customs. My anxiety was still in full gear, but was tinged with a sense of excitement. Santa Fe had the wealth that those other small towns we passed on the way did not. I felt myself wanting to live there.

Until we were driving to our hotel and were stopped at an intersection. In front of us was a black SUV and a white 80’s Honda Accord stopped on the road. We thought perhaps the cars got in a wreck and the owners were about to exchange papers. But two men got out of the SUV and surrounded the white car. One man pointed a very large black gun at the window. It was the biggest gun I had ever seen (and I grew up in West Virginia where a lot of people own guns). Inside a Native American man with long braided hair sat still and silent. Then the gunman turned his gaze and met my eyes. What I thought could be my last moment instead became the moment that the men headed back into their car and sped away.Had we saved that man with the long braided hair?

The next day we learned from a cashier we recounted our story too that the event we witnessed was not out of the ordinary for the area. He leaned in close and confided to us, “It’s the younger generation. They like to race cars in the streets and get into fights. Don’t take the backroads and you’ll be fine. And if it happens again don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t call the police. You just look straight and drive away and you’ll be fine.”

We didn’t see anything else out of the ordinary for the rest of our stay and I was eventually able to enjoy some relaxed time in nature like I planned, but because of what we witnessed, the Land of Enchantment had lost some of its enchanting qualities in my eyes. But gun violence is not an issue pertaining only to Santa Fe. Far from it. In the aftermath of the recent attacks in Orlando I don’t quite know what to say, only that we shouldn’t look away. When things of this nature happen we should never look away. We must speak up. Even when we are afraid, we must tell someone.