Monthly Archives: June 2009
Agfa Optima 1
This little Agfa range finder was my second camera. But it also had several firsts to its credit. It was my first 35mm camera. It was the first camera I bought with my own money and it was the first time I used colour film.
As my interested in photography grew, I wanted to move up from the Instamatic 25 to something a little more sophisticated. By this time I had started at my first job and a colleague recommended that I find a nice range finder camera. Not being able to afford a Leica, I looked around for something used but in good condition and found this Agfa.
Agfa introduced the Optima 1 in 1961. I would have purchased mine in 1969 or early 1970. It has four distance settings for focus and an f.stop range from 2.8 to 22. The Optima 1 only took films up to ISO 200, but had a clever little device for indicating a correct exposure and it didn’t require a battery.
When you took up the pressure on the shutter, a dot at the top of the range finder either displayed green or red, indicating the light level for the shot.
I still have a number of boxes of slides I took with this camera. They are all either Fujicolor, Perutz or Agfa. I don’t think I ever put any of the nearly-departed Kodachrome through it.
The Agfa Optima 1 didn’t stay in use for very long. My interest in black and white photography and developing and printing my own film was growing. By 1970, I had moved on to my first Single Lens Reflex (SLR). But that is another post.
I am starting a campaign against phishing emails, enough is enough. I don’t mind most of the ones I get, I just click ‘Delete’ or the Junk’ button and get rid of them, but some phishing emails are so lame that they are an insult.
Today I got an email from the “Common Wealth bank” asking me to log in and confirm my details. Guys, it’s the “Commonwealth Bank”. And I am fairly certain they don’t send their emails from a private AOL account.
Please, if you want to scam me, at least make some sort of an attempt to make it believable. Spelling the name of the company incorrectly is just an embarrassment.
Update: 25th June
Nice try guys, but changing the email address to a Yahoo one didn’t fool me.
Resistance is Futile…
A little while ago I bought the excellent book ‘The War of Art‘ by Steven Pressfield. It is an excellent little book that examines the main problem that artists and writers have: sitting down and being arty and writey.
As a photographer and business writer with aspirations to become a ‘proper’ writer, I know only to well how easy it is to find distractions instead of sitting down to work. Cleaning out the fridge suddenly becomes very important.
Pressfield tackles the issue head-on and blames ‘Resistance’. Resistance causes procrastination. Pressfield goes on to explain all about resistance and how to overcome it and achieve what you want to achieve. people say it is a very good book.
I will probably get around to reading it soon.
A recurring theme on many photography forums is the issue, “my photos look like crap when I upload them to a web site, what’s wrong”.
Basically, the problem is colour spaces and how they are interpreted by different devices. There is a mass of information about colour spaces on the web, not all of it useful, or even correct.
I have seen a lot of different explanations for what causes the problem, and I have seen a lot of different explanations of how to fix the problem. Unfortunately, a lot of these are wrong; or worse, suggest a work-around that, while they might work for the poster, totally screw up someone trying to learn proper colour management.
The good news is that you don’t need to know everything there is to know about colour spaces. All you need to know is enough to do the imaging functions you want to do.
In my case, that’s ProPhotoRGB for working within Adobe Photoshop and sRGB for displaying the result on-line. I don’t know very much about either of those colour spaces, except for the fact that they work when used for the intended purpose.
ProPhotoRGB (in 16-bit mode) because several people who I admire and trust (they are long-time pros who consistently turn out good work) have convinced me it is the best colour space to work in to get the best out of a RAW file for printing.
sRGB because, if you want to display your work on the web or any other display device, it is the only game in town.
A point to understand and remember: A computer monitor (or just about any other type of display such as a camera LCD screen) is a low-resolution device. Most computer monitors are 72 pixels per inch and just barely able to display sRGB correctly.
Forums are filled with discussions about the ability of operating systems, different web sites and different browsers and their ability to display colour spaces correctly, and a lot of this is true, to a point. But, it all gets brought down to the lowest common denominator though, the display device. And a computer monitor is a low-resolution device.
A statement I often see is: “I want others to see my images as I intend them to look”; a nice sentiment, but impossible. You have no control over how another person’s monitor is adjusted.
I prepare my images at home on an expensive, calibrated colour monitor. When I view them on my work machine, they look too red. My work monitor isn’t calibrated, just operating the way it came out of the box.
You can’t control how another person sees your images, and if your monitor isn’t colour calibrated, you have no way of knowing if you are seeing your images correctly.
To give your images the best chance of being viewed correctly on someone else’s monitor; first make sure your monitor is calibrated with a reliable device, such as a Datacolor Spyder or a Gretag-Macbeth. Then, before you upload your image to a web site, convert it to sRGB.
ProPhotoRGB discussion at Luminous Landscape.
A discussion of colour management and colour theory at Image Science.
A Room Without a View
For our recent Venice holiday, instead of staying in a hotel, we booked an apartment for the 2 weeks we were there. After much searching on the Interwebs we decided we liked the look of Ca Rina in the Dorsoduro district. It was anything but bland, dull and boring like some modern apartments. We thought it would be fun, and it was.
Having had some experience with real estate photography I was expecting that the photos on the web site would turn out to have been very ‘flattering’ to the size of rooms. In fact I was expecting the bedroom to be a small shoebox with pillows.
We were very pleasantly surprised, not only was the room not as small as I expected, it was actually a little larger than the photo led us to believe. It still wasn’t a roomy room, but at least we could move about in it without bumping the walls, though walking past each other was a little tricky.
The whole apartment was decorated in rich colours with the best of the flamboyant flourishes saved for the bedroom. The photo doesn’t do justice to the richness of the colours with the deep reds and the gold trim.
And best of all was that cheeky little putto hanging above the pillows.
One very odd thing about the bedroom had us puzzled, but it took a while to work out what it was. We eventually worked out what was bothering us. The bedroom was upstairs, but it wasn’t above the single downstairs room, the lounge room was. We never did find out what was under the bedroom. Heard the odd noise and an occasional waft of music, but never sighted anyone.
For the technically minded, the photos were hand-held at 1600 ISO.