I am still experimenting with my new Samsung NX200 camera. This is my second one. The first one had a faulty lens and was returned to the manufacturer, so when I got this new one I immediately did some lens tests using brick walls at all focal lengths to make sure the lens was sharp. This one is much better than the one I rejected, but it has serious barrel distortion at wide angle, a common fault with zoom lenses, and pincushion distortion at telephoto, also a common fault with these lenses. Those problems can be photo-shopped out. At mid-range zoom, which on this 18-55 OIS lens is about 32, there is little distortion and this particular lens is sharp from corner to corner. The lens itself is more obtrusive and heavier than the camera, but a major problem I am having with it is the lens cap. The cap is unnecessarily difficult to get back onto the lens and will easily fall off if it isn’t on exactly right. Even though I am careful about this I expect to lose the cap. These annoyances don’t seem to be dealt with in the camera reviews, but they are real and should be mentioned and corrected by the manufacturers.
It was another beautiful day so we walked up to the top of Pilot Butte again. It’s about a two hour pleasant walk from our house, and we justify the time by saying it is good for our health. Also, it gives us some time to just chat, which we generally don’t do except over meals or when driving, or reading books aloud, where I like to comment on entirely too many things.
I took the picture below as an experiment. It challenges all sorts of typical dogmas about what a good picture should be except for one, the primary one by my observation, which is that it makes the viewer pause for more than a moment to look at the picture. This is kind of a spin off on The Wanderer Above the Clouds and Christina’s World, both of which I have blogged about recently.
The top half is an okay record photo of what is to be seen to the northeast of Pilot Butte, Oregon. But if you have little interest in looking out over the last remnant of civilization for some 200 miles, at a high desert sagebrush plateau, there isn’t much to see.
The shadow figure forces some interesting questions to arise in the mind of the viewer. Why is he there? What is he looking at and why? What are the other shadows? All sorts of conventions are being challenged with this picture. Why is the thing intruding from the lower right corner? What is the thing intruding from the bottom which casts a shadow? What are the strange square shadows all about? Why has the picture been divided in two in the middle, and not even straight across? Why is there a glow around the shadow’s head? Why is it wearing such a strange full length coat? Why does it have only one arm and that arm is in a challenging position on the hip? Why is his head dead center in the picture?
This is a terrible picture! No one will like it. Furthermore it has a quality of overbearing dominance of the scene. The shadow figure is more than just looking at this scene; it is judging and manipulating the scene. The shadow is nothing, it is the absence of something, but the shadow gives meaning to the picture, so it is something. The shadow is absorbing the viewer’s attention but there is nothing there; it is darkness and that is what makes it interesting to me.
It isn’t necessary for a picture to be pretty to be interesting.