Don’t ever let those memories fade

It’s hard to take good photos in a rainy day, especially you don’t have those splash-proof cameras. But there are times that you won’t have another chance to visit the same place again (or not in a short period of time), so you have to do something – don’t ever let those memories fade.

Of course, one solution is to get one of those dust-proof, splash-proof cameras (like the latest Olympus E-M5), but still there is no decent weather and therefore your photos will probably look flat, moody and in worst case, off white-balance.

I have no bullet-proof solutions on the latter problem, but one of the approaches is to take photos in Black & White (again !!). Here are some photos (with Olympus E-P3) from Taipei in a heavy-raining weekend.

Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year !!

Guess all of you know that in Chinese Astrology 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. The Dragon is a creature of myth and legend; in fact, it is the only animal of the Chinese zodiac year that is not real. A symbol of good fortune and sign of intense power, the Oriental Dragon is regarded as a divine beast – the reverse of the malicious monster that Westerners felt necessary to find and slay.

Anyway, many of you must be eager to know if you will have better luck in the coming year than previous years. Let me tell you one thing – to get lucky, all you need to do is be a happy person and stay happy.

Following is a photo of the Chinese word “Happiness”.

Shades of grey

I like black and white pictures. A lot.

But I am not exactly know why, may be it’s like what the famous writer Stefan Kanfer writes – “There’s something strange and powerful about black-and-white imagery.“. Or may be just because I am now old enough, and the world is no longer colorful.

“Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see.”

Billy Joel

Unlike others, I don’t take photos in color mode and then process those to black & white with retouching software. (Yes, I switched to digital photography for quite some years) Instead, I toggle on the black & white mode with my camera (e.g. Olympus E-5, E-P3), and just take the photo as is. Many times, I used the “grainy” mode to add some textures to the photo as well.

So, what’s your story of taking black and white photos ?

From the oldest to the newest

I was told many times by my friends that … “I would take better pictures, if I had a better camera.”, or “I would take better pictures, if I had a more expensive lens”. And of course, many of them said “All I need is a newer camera.”.

In the good old days, you know, a new camera took years to design and make, and then a few years to master, and another few years to make it break. But now camera manufacturers can roll out new cameras one after another every 6 to 9 months. One reason is one can design new cameras easily with all the tools, but another reason is because the consumers also want new cameras every few months.

So even though my favorite camera company, Olympus, spent just two years to rework their E-Px series … people think the company was too slow. Frankly, I don’t get it, I don’t see why you need the latest and greatest camera, to take good photos. Anyway, just yesterday, Olympus announces 3 new cameras (E-P3, E-PL3 and E-PM1), 4 new lens and dozens of accessories.

I am sure these are great cameras and can make magnificent photos. However, I am also sure my two years old E-P1 (the oldest camera in the M43 line) can still take good photos … like a few photos below from Las Vegas I took in May.

Will I buy the new E-P3 ?

Errrrh … yes, of course. I need a newer camera to take better photos … 😎

Olympus E-5 test shots

It’s hard to write a camera test report without a lab like or writing skills like passionate photographer Robin Wong. But what I can do is to give you some first hand information from the point of view of an E-1, E-300, E-510 (I sold it already) and E-P1 user. First the new E-5 is very solid, as good as E-1 if not better. It’s heavier, larger, but also easy to handle.

All the controls are easy to access, and the control menu is no stranger to users from E-510 and E-P1. The 10 art filters are very useful, especially I don’t like to post-process the photos to get the same effect (but as we all Olympus camera owners know, we don’t need to post-process the photos because the JPEG engine is so good).

However, the major breakthrough is the sharpness of the photos, it’s unreal from a camera with “only” 12 Megapixels. I now truly believe 12 Megapixels is all I need but not 20 Megapixels, really. Here are some test pictures I took yesterday, all with the Zuiko 50mm F/2.0 lens.