A good 30 minute tutorial about composition

Found this very good video on Andrew Price’s site. It deals with composition, not only in photography (Andrew is a user of Blender) but also in video or anything else which requires a graphical output.

As he states himself, it’s much more than just the rule of thirds. So if you have a spare half hour to burn, check it out either on his site (linked above), or on Youtube. I found it via the.me, and thanks to Daniel for linking to it!

The brick wall

We have several old and manual (or in newspeak: “legacy”) lenses which we bought over a period of 2-3 years. The first one I bought was for my Olympus E-520 digital SLR camera, to use a lens with a wide aperture for portraits. For that one I paid 36€, and the same amount for an adapter to mount the OM lens onto an E-type camera.

Then later I found an OM Zuiko 50mm 1.4, and I paid 70€ for that one – together with my OM-2N film camera attached to it. What a bargain.

Again a little while later I found an OM-1 (as a kit with a 1.8 lens) for Zuleikha to teach her some basic photography, and an OM Zuiko Auto-Macro 50mm 3.5 lens for Mitchie. With around 120€ or so, that was the most expensive of the bunch so far.

I always had a feeling that my 1.4 lens was the best of them all for general (not macro) photography. But since this was only a feeling and no verified knowledge, today I decided to shoot the proverbial brick wall to find out.

Ok; first here’s the complete image, in this case shot with my 1.4 lens mounted onto the E-PL5 “Pen”-type camera, manually focused on the wall which was 4.1 meters away:

Brick wall

Brick wall

I took this same image with all mentioned lenses at all the apertures you can set them to, and to compare with a more modern lens and without an adapter, I also took the same set of images using my M.Zuiko 45mm 1.8 lens.

The center of the image is pretty good on all of them, so I’ll show some corner crops here. On this blog, they will be sized 1:2, if you want to see the 1:1 sizes, you’ll have to get them from Flickr.

First, at an aperture of f/5.6 which they all can do:



Top left: OM Zuiko 50mm 1.8
Top right: OM Zuiko 50mm 1.4
Bottom left: OM Zuiko 50mm 3.5 Auto-Macro
Bottom right: M.Zuiko 45mm 1.8

Well I don’t know what you think, but I find them all pretty good at this aperture. You wouldn’t see much of a difference when looking at the whole picture, and even these corner crops must be inspected in 1:1 size to spot any difference. There are differences alright, but keep in mind that the macro lens was just 1.3 stops down from being fully open. So when using them stopped down like here, it’s not important whether you spend 36 or several hundred Euros or Dollars.

But what about using them fully open? Well here you go:



Top left: OM Zuiko 50mm 1.8
Top right: OM Zuiko 50mm 1.4
Bottom left: OM Zuiko 50mm 3.5 Auto-Macro
Bottom right: M.Zuiko 45mm 1.8

Well here you *do* see differences. And you see that my feeling about these lenses was just right – for general photography (means not macro distances which only one of them could do), of our old manual lenses the 1.4 one is clearly the best. And it’s also clearly out-performed by its newer and younger 45mm sibling which is pretty astonishing even used wide open like here, and simply awesome when used from f/4 to f/8.

So the macro isn’t that good wide open? Ha! Have a look at a real-world shot which I couldn’t have made with any of the other lenses. This was on Mitchie’s camera at f/3.5, and the in-camera sharpening was dialed down one stop:



All photos shown here except the last one are out of camera. And did I mention that I just like Olympus lenses, especially their fixed focal length ones?

Thanks for reading.

Selective lighting

A few minutes ago I took this photo:


Fairy figurine on stage

I had something like stage lighting in mind, which I tried to set up here. On stage, actors are often illuminated by a single spot light, so this is what I took:


Fairy setup shot

This is my Yongnuo YN-460II compact flash with a Honl grid added to its front, in a position – relative to the small figure – which would resemble a spot light in theater. The flash ist set to its lowest possible power output, so I could get it close to the figure without having to stop down my lens too much, here it was 1/64th power of the flash and f/7.1 on the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens.

As you can see, the “stage” is our dining room table, but with the gridded flash at this position the light pretty much ended less than 10 centimeters behind my object – so the white wall over our wooden bench went black. No backdrops needed at all, and the room light you see was even switched on while I took the photo – with a 1/160th of a second and f/7.1 at ISO 200, that room light is gone as well, and for the setup shot with the same lens on my E-PL5 camera, I needed 1/13th of a second at f/4 and ISO 800 (about 7 stops more or so).

It’s fun playing around with these “one strobe pony” setups. And with cheap Chinese stuff used like here, it’s not even too expensive. So if you haven’t done so yet, get some of these compact flashes and start – you’ll learn tons of new tricks, and you’ll also get good colours and sharp photos of your family.

Thanks for reading.

That macro lens on my “Pen”

Yesterday I took a photo of a very small animal on a grass leaf which itself wasn’t much longer than any of my fingers. For that I used my DSLR with the Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm/2 macro lens. I even prefer that lens on my Micro Four Thirds E-PL5 camera – and here are some pictures I took with that combination this morning:


Alice band with three roses


Clay cat


Clay owl, hand-coloured

I used two flashes for taking these – one was my 300Ws studio strobe with a beauty dish above to the left and slightly behind the objects (that’s the one which threw their shadows), the other was my Yongnuo YN-460II through a 24″ square softbox from the right and slightly behind camera to fill the foreground a bit. Both fired with Yongnuo CTR-301P radio remotes, so yes, on a “Pen”-type camera you have to remove the VF-2 electronic viewfinder to be able to mount such a radio remote. But since you focus a macro lens manually using the rear display anyway, that doesn’t matter that much. For quick portraits tho, I’d prefer an OM-D camera with a built-in viewfinder.

The lens is wonderful.

Thanks for reading.

Last of October

Two photos from today, one taken in the morning, the other during our lunch walk:





Update, short after midnight:

So the following picture was definitely the last one taken in October, maybe 10 minutes to midnight, and presented here 10 minutes past, in November already:


Balloon – a present from Zuleikha’s bankers

All three taken with the Olympus E-PL5 camera and the 14-42mm zoom lens.

Thanks for viewing. Hope you had a nice Halloween.

Two, out of camera

I took two photos today on film – and then again digitally. The film was black & white, the 50mm lens was set to an aperture of f/4. The digital ones are with colour, the 25mm lens was set to f/2 – so the depth of field might be comparable. Just two (times two) quick snaps. Here are the digital ones:


NG Kids


Zuleikha’s gallery

Cropped them in-camera to an aspect ratio like 24x36mm film. The first one was focused on Sharbat Gula, Steve McCurry’s most iconic and famous photo, better known as the “Afghan girl“. The second one was obviously focused on “Stupsi”, and it shows a series of photos taken by Zuleikha with her E-PL1 camera.

Thanks for viewing.

One from a short Sunday walk

We were out looking for the bridge construction works, which were planned to be finished in two weeks from now. Zuleikha found some stuff and showed it to me, so I took a picture:


Flower on a leaf bed. Olympus E-PL5 camera with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 lens at f/4. Almost like out of camera.

Thanks for viewing.


We had a short break and a three day family holiday, the first time this year that we weren’t home. And since we didn’t want to go or drive too far, we decided to visit the place where I was born. Here’s a 2.35:1 wide view of Bleialf (not the complete village; we didn’t have an airplane to get that):


For a quick view of just the photos I took, here’s a slideshow:

Or you can look at the album I created for the place on Flickr, or view photos tagged with ‘Bleialf’ there.

Of our combined photos, Zuleikha wants to make a book. Can’t wait to see it.

Thanks for viewing.