Sunday, October 28, 2012

40mm 2.8 and some semi naked ladies.

Its not my usual thing to post reviews of lenses and cameras and such, I am not big into the belief system that  always having the latest and greatest lens or camera is going to make you a better photographer. I am more in tuned with the philosophy that the best camera available is the one that I already have. Regardless, I did pull out the newish Canon 40mm 2.8 pancake lens this weekend. I just picked up a new body and wanted to snap some shots at a burlesque show on Friday to test out ISO capabilities. I wanted to grab the 35 1.4 L, but I was denied access to that lens for an entire weekend, so I grabbed the far less expensive 40mm 2.8.

1st impressions of it were great. It is tiny, so small that my camera felt awkward  almost like shooting with one of my home made pin hole lenses. On the bright side though, it fit in my man bag with ridiculous ease! While still larger than my G12, it is nowhere the size it normally is when fitted with my 24-70. 40mm is a really unique focal length. I feel Canon really thought it out, and made an intelligent decision. This is a full frame lens, but it is primarily marketed for their aps-c cameras. This really gives it an unusual edge, it becomes a perfectly usable normal aspect at  60 on aps-c and a slightly wide normal lens on a full frame. It works well with both uses. Smart.

2nd impressions were not so hot. The auto focus, while super smooth, is definitely not fast. No big deal, a good chance to test out my cameras Al Servo AF mode, and it actually out worked really well. Tracked the dancers very smoothly, no moments of hunting or getting lost in the background. I was shooting at 3200 ISO and roughly 1/125th of a second, yet my shots all looked soft. The light was horrible, but this is how I normally shoot. The only time I shoot in good light is when I create it myself. The subjects I like are always lit horribly! So a lens that performs well in low light is a must. At this point I was wishing I could have grabbed the 35mm 1.4. Those two stops make a hell of a difference in shutter speed. Of course, had I grabbed that lens, I probably wouldn't be writing about the lens now. We all ready know what a fantastic lens that is.

Final impressions. I was pretty ho hum about the lens on my way home. It performed fine, but I shoot in extremes. Fine doesn't cut it. Next day I uploaded my shots, and went to work in Photoshop  Turns out, for the conditions, they came out pretty great. The lens is sharp as my zooms that cost wayyyyyy more. The auto-focus definitely takes its time more than my L glass, but it is super smooth. It doesn't jump around. I was really skeptical of the fly by wire manual focus offered by the stm motor, but in reality, it worked extremely well. I found the focus to be far smoother than on my 50mm 1.4 and easier to control. Color and contrast ... OK,  I can't judge that at all. The light sucked. The color sucked. Not the lenses fault. When you think about it, this lens costs $200. If I was between the 50mm 1.8 and the 40mm, I would take the 40mm no questions. Better build quality, faster AF, and sharper, all in a smaller package! This lens made my camera so small! I could easily see myself leaving my G12 at home to casually take pictures of my daily adventures.

So enough bull shit, here are some of the pics I took.

Tim Burton Burlesque at Bar Matchless.

I just really liked the green light.

Miss Poison Ivory as Mrs lovett.

Headless Horseman by ???. She was amazing. I really like fire.

Corvette LeFace as Emily from Corpse Bride.

The Penguin.

Our lovely host, Vampira aka Bambi Galore.

Another of my favs, Mr Oogie Boogie. Done fantastically, I even accidently took home a glow in the dark centipede which I used to scare the crud out of my gf the next day! Thanks oogie Boogie!

What would Tim Burton Burlesque be like without Beetle Juice?!

So much fun.

Thanks for read'n!

-  James

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New (old) project

I have been working too much, just barely paying my bills. That means I haven't been shooting anything new, so what am I to I do? Edit old projects. Actually, I re-edit old shots in preparation for editing a major project. I am going to in the near future begin putting my project "Unknown" into its book form. Something I have been meaning to do for a year or so now. Unfortunately  dealing with 50,000 + images from a period spanning 4 years and 75+ underground punk rock shows is somewhat daunting. As a warm up, I am editing all the shows I photographed at the Showcase Theater in Corona into a small book for myself. Of course, if anyone wants a copy of it, it will be made public. Gotta love self publishing.

These shots are from the Millions of Dead Cops show at Showcase in February 2008.

I should mention that none of the bands above is actually M.D.C., they are the Resistance Culture, Subhumans, and the Voids.

My love of black and white photography continues to grow. I convert almost everything to BW now just for kicks. BW is gorgous (I plan on shooting a BW/transparency film project starting this winter). One more step removed from reality, it becomes completely about tones and the image. The photographs become simpler and focused. Somehow emotion comes through so clearly, color versions of these almost get in the way of themselves. Completely contemporary yet vintage (Yes, BW is actually vintage!) inspired. I really love the way digital black and white looks out of the 5D.

Sorry about the watermarks, I compeltely agree that they are incredibly distracting, but whatcha gonna do? If someone steals my shit (and yes people steal my shit) at least I'll get some credit.