The Roadtrip

Recently me and Richard (my friend and fellow photographer whom I shot burnt trees and holes with) went on a roadtrip north. The primary mission was two-fold: to shoot family and pregnancy photos of wonderful Lea and her family, and for me to replace my server in the co-lo.

Both of these missions were successes, and you’re reading this served from the new machine.

Here’s some photos from the trip:

How I Spent My Weekend

Back in mid-september, me and a friend (and fellow photographer) had lunch together. During this lunch we lamented the fact that as a photographer, there’s just not a whole lot of good photos of yourself. We jokingly concluded that the best way to achieve this would be to gather a bunch of photographers in one site and simply shoot each other. Lightbulbs were lit above our heads, aha-moments were had and when we introduced the idea to a third photographer-friend the metaphorical wheels were set in motion.

Long story short, ten people gathered in a countryside-house about an hour or so outside Stockholm to have fun with photography. We brought everything we could carry and fit into the cars. Everything from large-format cameras to digital stuff, flashes and whatever we figured we might need.

A lot of fun was had. Below are a sampling of photos I took.

Fisheye or No fisheye?

Five years ago when I got back into photography and started being serious about it, I loved wide-angle lenses. I didn’t have a lot of money, but a superwide lens was on my wishlist. Back then I wasn’t quite as experienced and mature, and I’ve noticed how my compositions have grown and become better, as well as finding my own style.

Wide-angle lenses are a tricky breed and most photographers don’t understand how to (in my opinion) use them properly. Nothing applies to wide-angle lenses like that old Robert Capa quote.

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

As my style developed (hurr durr, photography joke) I became less and less interested in superwide-angles. Since I became more and more interested in portraits and people, I became more interested in longer lenses.

But a while ago I bought a Samyang 12mm/f2.8 fisheye, and I think it’s absolutely hilarious. First, it’s so wonderfully wacky and secondly, it’s a pretty damn good lens overall. I’ve often said that it’s impossible to take a boring photo with this lens. Bad photo? Hell yeah. Boring? Nope, that can’t be done. With a crazy fisheye like this, everything is hilarious and interesting, even if the photo is crap.

To me, this is a fun, creative toy. It’s mostly useless for “serious” photography, but it’s a lot of fun shooting with it. Since the distortion is so crazy, you can abuse it to take bizarre portraits of your friends, as demonstrated below with the help of an old friend.

In the photo to the left, taken at closest focusing distance for this lens which is a little more than 20cm, his face is almost pressed against the camera. It is really shoved into his face, you can’t be shy with one of these lenses. The one on the right is a little more sane, but his face was maybe 30 cm from the lens.

If you treat a fisheye right, you can use it for a variety of less laughter-inducing purposes. Landscape photography is one, if you make sure the horizon is fairly vertical and don’t have a bunch of trees at the outer edges, no one will know you used a fisheye.

Another possible use is for interior photography. This is not optimal though, you need to perspective-correct the photos afterwards so the rooms don’t have that hobbit-y look. This unfortunately throws away a lot of the photo – but in a pinch it might do the trick.

Below are the same photos with the same editing. The difference between them is the one on the left has been perspective-corrected in Lightroom. Note how it cuts off the door on the right, as well as making the perspective so much more long. The hallway seems to be several miles long, but in reality I shot it about two meters from where my dad is sitting in his chair, chuckling.

To me, there’s no mystery why some photographers and filmmakers love extreme wide-angle lenses. It makes everything seem distorted and surreal, even when you use a rectilinear lens and not a fisheye.

Should you get a fisheye? If you like that wild, distorted look then hell yeah. Samyang makes a variety of fisheyes for all kinds of mounts and formats. The 12mm/f2.8 that I bought is excellent and blasts even Nikons own fisheye out of the water.

Stockholm Pride Parade 2016

I love the Pride Parade in Stockholm. I’ve tried to shoot it every time the last few years. Last year I was too exhausted to do it, but this year I was full of energy and equipped with loads of new gear. I was ready to go to war, metaphorically.

Shooting the parade is very similar to being a war-photographer. At least I imagine it to be. The chaos is deafening and it’s incredibly difficult to keep up with the mayhem. The major difference is that the Pride Parade celebrates diversity and love, rather than creating death and terror as a war would do.

This is a small display of the results. It was a lot of fun, and I’m pleased with how it all turned out. The parade is a fun, exhuberant, lively and chaotic display of diversity and it’s wonderful!

(If you’re the subject of any of these photos and wish to receive a higher-resolution version for personal use, let me know!)

Again with the kit-zooms

I whined a long time ago about how pretentious and untalented photographers enjoy bashing the so-called kit-zooms. If you read that opinionated (and excellent!) piece of writing you’ll learn that I feel the kit-zoom to be an underappreciated workhorse, provided you accept what it is: a beginners lens.

I took this photo a day or so ago. It’s shot with the bog-standard kit-zoom (18-55mm/f3.5-5.6 with no VR or anything fancy) my father got along his Nikon D40x back in 2008-or-whenever. I simply mounted it on my D600 and used my know-how. It’s not even cropped or shot in DX-mode.

kitzoomsidebyside

Image on the left is straight out of the camera (converted from RAW) and on the right, with some minor adjustment of levels, lens profile. Very minor stuff.

I think it’s pretty good, for some random shot. Colors are good, bokeh is not awful and the image is crisp and sharp. This was shot at 55mm, wide open at f5.6. Since I shot it at 1/200th of a second my D600 upped the ISO to 720. Still perfectly usable in any scenario.

My opinion is still firm. Kit-zooms are not useless garbage. They are great learning tools for beginner photographers and can produce excellent results far beyond their build-quality and pricing.