Jan 2015 garage sale: there’s a lot of interesting stuff here…(all gone!)

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I somehow managed to acquire a lot of gear during 2014. I suppose it’s something that happens to us all on a fairly regular basis; but there needs to be some rationalisation for a couple of reasons: firstly, I’ve got the hypothetical too many ways to get to Rome, but more importantly, we need to buy a house in the very near future. Sadly, since money is not an infinite resource, I have to prioritise and many things will have to go. That means you, my dear readers, will be the first to benefit. As with all lenses and bodies, you stand to gain not just the effort spent in hunting, but the effort spent in finding and QC’ing a good copy – sample variation does make a significant difference, and if I’m going to use it for my own work, I’m going to spend quite a lot of time making sure it delivers the results I expect. These lenses/bodies are all good copies.

As usual, first (payment) come, first served. Shipping is not included and will of course depend on your location, but I will only use an insured courier. PayPal is fine, but for items over $2,000, I will need a bank transfer as I land up taking a huge 8-9% hit after fees and exchange rates. Images were all shot recently and reflect current condition of equipment; no retouching has been done – visible white dots are dust, and watermarks are because I’ve had far too many equipment images stolen in the past. Black tape is because I like my cameras that way, and of course leaves no marks. If you’d like to buy something, please send me an email…

Update, 17 Jan: All gone – thanks everybody!

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Picking a tripod

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This article continues from a discourse of why a tripod is the most underrated piece of photographic equipment.

There is a lot of obsession online over whether camera and lens A is better than camera and lens B – forgetting entirely that the creative vision and shot discipline of the photographer using the equipment is not just a great equaliser, but can very well turn the tables entirely. Tripods and heads are one of the very few areas in which this is not actually true – i.e. better equipment is better equipment and there are no equalisers – and are almost completely ignored. No amount of creativity or technique can make up for a poor tripod, but poor technique can certainly spoil a good tripod.

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Why the tripod is the most underrated piece of photographic equipment

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Pentax 645Z with L bracket on Gitzo 1542T and Arca-Swiss P0.

Chances are, a tripod is actually one of the first bits of gear you got at the start of your photographic journey: they’re usually given away free with DSLR ‘kits’ as ‘value added’ freebies (you’re actually charged for them, of course). Like most people, you probably even carried it with you on every photographic excursion for a while, and then eventually got lazy or frustrated with it and gave up. At that point, you probably also wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between a good tripod and head and a poor one. I’m fully guilty of this, of course. I even bought my tripod – a relatively cheap Velbon thing for all of about $60 that included a head, and was light and relatively small but tall enough to be reasonably ergonomic and not induce too much back pain – jackpot! Of course, I would later learn that the only thing that’s worse than no tripod at all is a bad tripod.

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Photoessay: last of the Queenstown landscapes

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Trailing moon

We leave Queenstown today with my favourite images from the trip – a few you’ve seen before, most you haven’t, and all I feel evoke some sort of emotion – for me, at any rate. I don’t always think photoessays need a lot of description, sometimes they can just be appreciated as-is. Of course, one has to bear in mind the limitations of the web and the fact that for most of these, you’re looking at 1% or less of the total image…an Ultraprint or very large conventional print is really the only way to appreciate all of the information at once. Of course, these images are available as Ultraprints (except Tree and River, which is sold out from a previous edition) – please drop me an email or comment if you’re interested. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, and Nikon D810 with Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar. Files were processed with the techniques covered in Outstanding Images 5: processing for style and The Monochrome Masterclass

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I will shoot what I want

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Silhouette of a woman.

On the face of it, this seems like a very obvious statement of intention. For most people, this is not even something that gets called into question (see this article on why we photograph). Perhaps it’s an odd issue I’m personally facing, but the discussion of all things photographic and creative is the purpose of this site after all. Of late, I’m stuck between four places: photographing the commercial, as specified by the client; photographing what appeals to me personally, which is almost always not commercially viable at all; photographing what the audience of this site wants to see and photographing what the art world dictates I should be doing.

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The fast compact normal conundrum

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Diamonds

I’ve been receiving a lot of email lately. This in itself is not unusual, but it appears that something I quietly bought has stirred the pot somewhat. You see, I’m now a Fuji user (again; I owned the first original X100 in Malaysia, and an X20 and XF1 and XQ1 since). The Fuji fanboys have always said I was biased and paid by the other companies not to use Fuji; the other fanboys have now started emailing me saying I sold out. Sorry guys, the simple truth is nothing so exciting. I bought an X-T1 at retail from my usual dealer in KL with my own money. Two things changed: firstly, ACR in its very latest iteration appears to have changed something in the soup to make X-trans file workflow at least acceptable, if not perfect; secondly, the fast compact normal conundrum demanded a solution.

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New year’s resolutions: 2015

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2014 ending, 2015 beginning, or both, depending on your point of view?

Setting personal photographic and creative goals for the forthcoming year has become a bit of a tradition for this site – so far, I think I’ve done reasonably well in hitting my targets. Perhaps it’s a holdover from my corporate days when you had to set targets for the projects or divisions under your purview for planning, or worse, so you could later be judged against them. When it comes to running your own business and that overlaps with where you personally want to go with your own creative development, a little more careful thought is required.

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Photoessay: Havana reflections

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Imperial purple

A conceptually simple photoessay today, focusing on the difference between the real and virtual, hard and soft. Usually, the reflection of something is soft because it is indistinct and formed in a physical object that is clean, polished, crisp, and thus well-defined; however, in the case of Cuba, it’s the opposite. The physical objects are old, not always clean, have decaying or faded edges, and it’s the reflection that becomes more solid thanks to the hardness and intensity of the sun reflecting off them. The idea becomes more tangible than reality; it can be simply an interesting visual juxtaposition, or perhaps a metaphor for something politically stronger – especially in the case of Cuba. Beyond that, Havana itself becomes very visually interesting after a rain: the clouds don’t linger thanks to the sea breeze, and we land up with either a clear or Magritte sky and great texture in everything else. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D800E, 70-200/4 VR, Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 and Ricoh GR.

Finally, for those who haven’t seen it: How To See Ep.5, Havana is here, free and in full. :)

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Prague and Lucerne 2015 Masterclasses open for booking

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Prague

Prague, Czech Republic, 9-14 March 2015 (best suited to urban, architecture and street)
Lucerne, Switzerland, 17-22 March 2015 
(+/- a day or so; best suited to urban, architecture and landscape)
Duration: 6 days, four practical and two classroom
Tuition cost: US$2,300; $2,600 special bundle including Outstanding Images Ep. 1-5 and Intro to PS Workflow
(required, but most participants usually have some or all of these already)

Want to be challenged? Inspired? Push yourself to take your images to the next level? The Masterclasses are aimed squarely at you. They are for the photographer who already understands the fundamentals and is looking at developing their own style, evolving creatively and spending some time with like-minded individuals. The aim is no longer about building core fundamentals by exercises, but to work on vision, the ability to assess and curate one’s work, application of style, postprocessing, and being able to put together a coherent set of images to an objective.

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Post-Christmas humour 2014: photographic definitions

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As part of the ongoing annual tradition on this site…I present the 2014 Christmas Humor post: Photographic Definitions. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas everybody! May the gold and silver boxes under your tree not be empty and purely for decoration. MT

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