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And the sky lit up

This week's photos have been about having a camera at your side at all times. I saw the clouds and the light coming together while driving my daughter to soccer practice. I dropped her off and went straight to the neighborhood park to wait for the light show!  While I wish I was out in the country or somewhere super interesting, I knew the park was all I would be able to get too before the color faded. 

I tried my hardest to get something super interesting but I didn't really get to pick from much. I had what I had when the sky lit up.  It was a wow moment and even if these pictures aren't great I am glad I had my camera with me.  

Nature wins. Wow. (These are 100% SOOC with jpeg vivid).  

And the sky lit up - Olympus OMD EM1ii with Panasonic 12 f1.4

And the sky lit up - Olympus OMD EM1ii with Panasonic 12 f1.4

And the earth was colored to match - Olympus OMD EM1ii with Panasonic 12 f1.4

And the earth was colored to match - Olympus OMD EM1ii with Panasonic 12 f1.4

Always have your camera at your side! You never know when you are going to need it.

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Good Friends

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Good friends - Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II with Panasonic 42.5 f1.2

This past week my place of employment held their annual Frostbike event. The event brings good people together from around the globe. While I carried a camera pretty much all the time, I did not shoot much.  But I did grab a few frames and moments like the one above. 

Always good to have a small and capable camera with you at all times.  

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Getting back out there

Since returning from Iceland two weeks ago I haven't shot a single frame with any of my cameras.  My motivation hasn't been there nor has my inspiration.  Yesterday marked the first outing again with camera in hand. My kids were off of school and we all went skiing.  I grabbed the EM1II and 12-100 in a small bag and hit the slopes.   

Nothing too special to share but it was a great start to getting back out there with the camera. The EM1II with 12-100 is so good and so versatile. 

Going up - EM1II with 12-100

Going up - EM1II with 12-100

Families lift - EM1II with 12-100

Families lift - EM1II with 12-100

And I know this image is overprocessed but I was just having some fun. That's my boy making one last run. Great day with family and good light.   

Snow Puff - EM1II with 12-100

Snow Puff - EM1II with 12-100

Hope you all are inspired and getting out too! 

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How did my new Olympus OMD EM1ii and other m43 gear work in Iceland?

A beautiful church near Olasvik, Iceland - Olympus OMD EM1ii with Panasonic 100-400

Before I get lost in the 1000 emails in my inbox for missing work for over a week, I wanted to write down somethoughts on my gear. If you missed my camera gear list for Iceland, that can be found here. The only change from that list is that I decided to not bring the Leica Q. It was too distracting as it's output is stunning, but it was also not weather sealed and given our repeated days in snow, ice and rain, I made a good choice. 

Regarding my m43 kit I brought, here is what I learned and what thoughts I have.  Given I am new to this camera, some of the issues called out below may be solvable by navigating the difficult menu system but maybe not. Leave a comment if you know how to solve the issue.

- I did use every one of the lenses and pieces of my kit that I brought. I was pleased about that.

- I fully tested the weatherproofing of all my equipment and never once did it disappoint or fail. I was blown away at how good this equipment is and what I put it through with ZERO issues!

- I wish I had brought two bodies with me. I was forced many times to leave the lens on that I started with, often the 12-100, because I just didn't want to deal with changing lenses in the rain, sleet, snow and wind. Thankfully, the 12-100 is so good!

- 2 second hand holding with the 12-100 on the EM1ii with good, sharp results is astounding. I often didn't have to use a tripod to show movement and flowing water and waterfalls. So amazing.

- Output on m43 is outstanding at base ISO of 200 and even at 400. Above that, noise does start to creep in a bit. Usable, but given how much we shot in the dark in Iceland, I often was above ISO 800.

- I also had trouble with understanding how accurate the EVF is?  In reviewing images, it appears that I underexposed images frequently. I did this because I was concerned that I was blowing out the highlights. In actually, I was actually just making it harder to pull detail out of the darks and added noise to the darks. Bummer on that. I will trust the metering a bit more going forward.

- Dang buttons on the EM1ii. I often would remove the camera from my bag and after a few shots notice changes to my settings including things like ISO changes, Raw to jpeg, etc. The only thing I can fathom here is that I was putting the camera away in my bag without turning the power off and as a result was hitting buttons and turning control dials. I am now making sure it is off when placing in my bag.

- Shutter button is too sensitive. Often before removing the lens cap, which I had to use always due to rain, I would start a long exposure. I have read many reports from the camera launch stating something similar. I can conclude it is real. The flipside though is that when the camera is on and I am ready to shoot, I appreciate the sensitivity.

- Olympus or someone needs to make a proper base plate with the standard Arca style fitment for tripod heads. I used something that was not designed for it and each day I had to reposition the tripod mount.  Come on Really Right Stuff. Get that thing finished. It is critical!

- For landscape, invest in a great tripod and a great ball head. There was one day while trying to shoot the Panasonic 100-400 that I could get a solid shot on the tripod due to wind.

- I used my ND filters a lot, but looking back I wish I would have invested in something like a Lee filter system so I could use an ND with a graduated and buy adapters to fit other lenses.

But honestly, other than a few rookie operator mistakes and wishing I had a rented a second body, I am very pleased the gear I brought and the results I came home with. I think that is the key thing.  

So....More to come, but I just wanted to write this stuff down before it fades from my aging mind and memory.

Layers of Ice and Rock - Olympus OMD EM1ii with Panasonic 100-400

 

 

 

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Northern Lights at the Black Church in Budir, Iceland

On our last night the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, finally came out. What a spectacle. I got some incredible photographs as we watched it dance across the scy. This is the one area I was pretty frustrated with my camera choice, more on that in the future, but I still managed to take home some shots that are meaningful to me.  This is a quick phone edit on a tiny iPhone 5s with no noise editing. There is certainly noise in the shadows, but I am pretty confident I can work with it and get a final image I am pleased with.

Also note, its very cold and hard on gear to stand outside for hours watching and waiting for the aurora borealis. The EM1ii handled that part with ease! I was not as fortunate and have some cold, cold, fingers and chilled to the core.

I am now home and can't wait to upload, edit and figure out how to share this fun adventure.  Working with the RAW files and seeing how good the final image quality output, both on the screen and in some prints, will be is important before I can really comment about my overall gear selection.

Hope you've enjoyed the few pics I have shared. I know I have enjoyed sharing them. Look for more in the near future.

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The Black Church at Hotel Budir

After a 6 hour car drive, we arrived at a new location in north west Iceland on the Snaefelsness peninsula. Wow. Another incredible landscape. Looking forward to exploring this area tomorrow. Here are three quick snaps from the evening.  It's of the black church at Hotel Budir. Quite a site.  Will shoot more tomorrow. More to come.

The black church - Olympus EM1ii with Panasonic 100-400

The Cross - Olympus OMD EM1ii with 25 f1.2

A little color at the black church - Olympus EM1ii with Olympus 25 f1.2

I really can't wait to take some time to look at my images as a larger body of work instead of the daily scan and transfer. Should be quite a good gallery and I've now shot the heck out of the EM1ii and feel I am really getting to know it's ups and downs and quirks. 

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The Spires in Vik, Iceland

Sunset in Vik, Iceland

Spent the day racing around south Iceland in the car chasing light. A second day of constant rain had a a bit down and out but at least today we found a few slivers of light and did not return to the hotel cold & soaked to the core.  I shot this photo of the famous Vik basalt spires with the 12-100 on the black sand beach in Vik, Iceland. 

Leaving south Iceland tomorrow to head north.  Can't wait to see what moments I see and what pictures I return with.   

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OMD EM1ii at Iceland's Glacial Lagoon

I can't wait to write more and share more but I am blown away by the Olympus OMD EM1ii. I have abused this thing in the rain, sleet and cold and it is working perfectly at all times.  The camera has been drenched repeatedly in freezing rain and temps and just keeps shooting.  This is an incredible camera capable of incredible results. Here are 3 shots from Icelands Glacier Lagoon.  I can't describe this place. It is like a living organism and changes every second and every day.  

Note: Images transferred to phone an edited on tiny iPhone 5s screen so may not be to normal standards.

Today's gray sky brings the perfect soft box - EM1ii with 12-100 f4 - (grain added in post with a snapspeed film preset)

Today's gray sky brings the perfect soft box - EM1ii with 12-100 f4 - (grain added in post with a snapspeed film preset)

Ice Eagle - Nature sure can create beautiful things  - EM1ii with 12-100 f4

Ice Eagle - Nature sure can create beautiful things  - EM1ii with 12-100 f4

Reflection, color and contrast - EM1ii with Panasonic 100-400

Reflection, color and contrast - EM1ii with Panasonic 100-400

So that's a wrap after a full day of shooting in freezing rain. More to come.  

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I Heart Iceland

I heart Iceland - OMD EM1II with Panasonic 12 f1.4

I heart Iceland - OMD EM1II with Panasonic 12 f1.4

I said I wasn't going to post but this place is too good not to share. Wow. What a landscape.  I can't wait to share my experience in more detail and with pics. Lots of them! 

 

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Panasonic 100-400 1st Shots on Olympus OMD EM1 Mark ii

OK...I can't stop posting. I had to do a couple of quick tests of the Panasonic 100-400 zoom I rented. I had to figure out how the OIS worked and get a feel for the image quality before using it in Iceland.

The main thing I wanted to see was how it compressed layers and landscapes. I had a specific shot in mind for test, that being a morning sunrise shot of the Minneapolis city skyline shot across Lake Nokomis. Lake Nokomis and the downtown are miles apart, but as you can see above, the lens does a pretty good job at the compression. I will say that the above shot was shot with lens OIS off and using the Olympus OMD EM1ii in body. I later found out that it appears that lens OIS works better than the in body and that is how I plan to shoot it; meaning in body turned off and lens OIS on.

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While there, I also stumbled onto a photo shoot on the frozen lake.  Its crazy what you can grab with 800mm.  Both of these were at 800 and they are cropped JPEG conversions. Again, I shot this with lens OIS off using in body IS. They are not tack sharp. But, again, it gives me an idea of the rendering.  

Nature Wins

Lastly, I shot the above concrete jungle shot on the way home from work today.  That is SOOC Jpeg. I call this one Nature Wins. This is where I experimented with lens OIS and it was significantly better than the in body IS.

Now, here are my quick, quick thoughts. 

  • Wow this thing is small for an 800mm equivalent lens!  I honestly think Panasonic could have made it one stop brighter on the long end and folks would have still wanted to buy it if it were a little bigger and a little more expensive. There is no other competition.
  • It isn't quite as sharp on the long end as the 40-150 Olympus pro lens at the long end. But the Oly can only go to 300, or just over 400 with TC, so it's not really fair to compare. 

OK....That's it. Off to Iceland in the AM!

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Headed Out

EM1II with Panasonic 12 f1.4 - Grainy II filter

EM1II with Panasonic 12 f1.4 - Grainy II filter

I am headed out soon and checking out of here. I may have a quick post before I leave for Iceland on the rented Panasonic 100-400 but no promises. 

Look for a snap or two from Iceland over the coming weeks and hopefully some good photos from a beautiful land. I also started penning a formal review of the EM1II. Look for that in early or mid February.  

Hope you all get out too!  

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Minneapolis Skyline - Live Time on the EM1ii

Minneapolis, MN - I love this city  

Minneapolis, MN - I love this city  

Was staying in the city last at my sisters house so this AM I got up early to learn and test the Live Time and Live Bulb on the Olympus OMD EM1II. I had the versatile 12-100 attached and I was using a tripod. 

 - turned off IS

- turned on Live Bulb in menu and set update interval

- set to M mode with either Live Bulb or Live Time shutter speed setting. I experimented with both. 

- went shooting

What a blast to see your image come to life in the LCD. It is like painting with light. I experimented quite a bit and found it is quite easy to overexpose, especially with the live bulb,  so watch the histogram closely and experiment. 

But, I found it both easy and fun to use. I encourage you all to get out and try it too!! You might be surprised with your results. I know I was. 

 

 

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I'll Wait

I'll Wait - Olympus EM1II with 12-100 f4

I'll Wait - Olympus EM1II with 12-100 f4

Yesterday I grabbed my small shoulder bag with the Em1ii inside for the morning dog walk. I didn't even know what lens was attached. It turned out to be the 12-100.  

What a joy it is to use the 12-100. It's got such a range. It's image stabilization is incredible. It's fast and sharp too. Such a good all arounder. 

I saw the shado on this one and played around with the composition a bit. This one with the unexpected composition is my fav.   Hope you like it too. 

 

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Be Still

Be Still - Olympus OMD EM1II with 12-100 f4

Be Still - Olympus OMD EM1II with 12-100 f4

Moving a little away from gear talk these days and trying to get back to taking and sharing photographs.  Here is another shot from my walk in the woods yesterday. One of my favorites of late.   

 

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Natures Rule Of Thirds

Olympus EM1II with 12-100 f4

Olympus EM1II with 12-100 f4

I Had another beautiful hike in the woods this AM. I will likely post some more images from today but here is a quick shot from today. Titled Natures Rule of Thirds with equal parts sky, trees and snow.  

This is my happy place. This one is getting printed for my desk.  

Hope you all are enjoying the weekend and takin photographs that please you.  

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Stuck on Gear - Analysis Paralysis

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Kinda like being stuck in traffic and not moving, my mind is going over and over gear for my Iceland trip and I feel paralyzed. I can't seem to move forward. I've approached my gear from every angle and I have settled on the following.   Some may call this way too much and excessive while others may call it incomplete. I focused on versatility, compactness and interchangeability of accessories (filters) between lenses.  I won't carry all this all the time, but I will have the option to pick & choose and pick what I need for the shot. But sharing it here is an effort to say it out loud and commit so I can move forward, here we go. 

  • Olympus OMD EM1II with prototype JB Camera Designs wood grip
  • Panasonic 12mm f1.4 (own - I exchanged the 7-14 I bought for the smaller, lighter, prime)
  • Olympus 25 f1.2 (own) 
  • Olympus 12-100 f4 (own)
  • Panasonic 100-400 f4-f6.3 (rented) 
  • Leica Q with JB Camera Designs Grip as second camera and back up (3 extra batteries for this)
  • 3 Legged Thing QR-10-L quick release plate and bracket (Really Right Stuff does not have baseplate available yet)
  • 5 extra batteries, 2 chargers and a power strip plug in with euro plug adapters
  • Sirui tripod with Really Right Stuff tripod head
  • 62 & 72 mm filters in graduated, polarizing and ND 6 stop. The 62mm filters fit both primes and 72's fit both zooms.  That was one main reason about choosing the Panasonic 12 & 100-400 over the Olympus 7-14 & 40-150 f2.8. I also wanted the extra range as others in my group do not have anything that long, giving me the possibility of returning home with some different images than my friends.
  • Mind Shift Rotation 180 34L pack. The EM1ii and all but the 100-400 fit perfectly in the rotating hip pack, making my gear both protected and easy to access. Given it will be cold I did not want to take pack off every time and mess with buckles/zippers with my gloves on. I have tested the mind shift in the cold with gloves. It's slick and works well for me.  

So that's it. I gotta stop spinning this over and over in my mind and make some forward progress.  One more weekend of shooting before headed out next week. Can't wait.  

 

 

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Olympus OMD EM1 ii Grainy II filter for landscapes

I love the therapeutic aspect of a good walk in the woods. Yesterday, I had another fun day in the woods hiking and shooting. I followed a canoe route through Lebanon Hills and hit 4 small frozen lakes. I love these walks because I just use the camera as a therapy tool and I never leave with a mission in mind. Sometimes I come back with some keepers. Sometimes I don't. But...I always come back inspired and refreshed.

Yesterday I was also trying a lens I will write about another time. I tried out the new Panasonic 12 f1.4 lens for my trip. I am trying to decide if it will replace the 7-14 Olympus in my Iceland kit to give me a lighter, and brighter lens, albeit not nearly as wide.  We have a blue ice cave tour scheduled in Iceland where I want a nice wide lens with the brightest lens I can get to keep my ISO's low, hence why I am trying this specific lens. Again, I will write about that another time, but overall pretty impressed by the first shoot.

After the walk and shoot, I processed RAW images in camera and I was playing around I ended up processing all of these with the new Grainy II filter and thought I would share these and give you a pretty good idea of how this filter performs for shooting landscapes. It has some grain and high contrast, but honestly when I shot film 20+ years ago, both grain and contrast were part of my early stages of photography and have stuck with me. I like it.  It's not for everyone, but I do get nostalgic and on occasion go see the world this way. 

Note: All images shot with the new Olympus OMD EM1 Mark ii with Panasonic 12 f1.4. Shot RAW, converted in camera and transferred to phone with only minor tweaking/cropping on phone.

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 And for my last photo of the day I will also share my favorite photo of the day.  Sometimes nature just delivers with perfection, simplicity and beauty. Nature wins. 

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Lastly I did not go out to make a bunch of pictures with sun stars! as you can see the Panasonic 12 f1.4 makes some great ones. I was testing the camera as many reviewers have noted that it flairs quite easily (and it does) . I need to see if this lens will work or not for sunrises and sunsets. I have some concerns based on initial findings but it's too early to tell.  More to come on the 12 f1.4!! 

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Product shots with the Olympus 12-100 f4

New enamel ware from Stillwater Summit Co - EM1 with 12-100

New enamel ware from Stillwater Summit Co - EM1 with 12-100

My good friend whom owns an outdoor store in Stillwater, OK by the name of Stillwater Summit Co recently gifted me some new enamel ware cups with their new logo. As you scroll through this blog you likely know how much I love coffee. I also love excuses to get outdoors with my camera so I grabbed the 4 cups he sent me, my Camera with the 12-200 and went to the frozen lakes near my home to play around a bit with some potential product shot ideas.  

I am more and more impressed with the 12-100f4.  It is sharp, it has a really nice out of focus look and the extra zoom gives a nice compression all while keeping the main subject in focus.  

 

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