The Old Mountains
by: Edwin Curran
The old mountains are tall, silent men
Standing with folded arms, looking over the world,
Lonesome and lofty in their manner.
They have seen empires come and go,
Civilizations rise and fall,
Stars break on their breasts.
They are full of history like great books,
And are merely the stone monuments that the kindly God
Built for the human race, to mark its grave tomorrow.
Thank you to Elen Grey !, for suggesting I use the word “Phoetry” in my Poetry and Photography posts 🙂 🙂
In Praise of Winter Trees
Excerpted from Late Winter by Bill Brown, published by Iris Press.
A closed heart can’t greet
a winter sky. Even a rain puddle
is filled by it, and a horse trough,
and the slow current of creeks.
Winter trees, sycamore and oak,
reach for the sky to offer praise –
stark, hard praise, born from all
those rooted years of bearing
the sky’s weight. Some nights
an open heart is filled with vast
spaces between stars the mind
can’t grasp. The thought of heaven
is not so much mammothed by
the sky’s grandeur, but mystified
beyond our silly notions. Winter
trees aren’t arrogant; they praise
no flags, no denominations,
they owe allegiance to the soil.
My sister, when she was younger,
awoke in winter to hold her arms
up to the sky, shiver in the wholeness
of it, let shadows of winter trees
dance sunlight across her face.
Oak, beech, sycamore, maple, and gum,
reenact creation, drop their seeds
from the sky, make their homes
in star dust, and reach back
toward heaven. Trees suffer
drought and freezing rain, accept
the annual tilt toward shorter days.
Some ancient hope, like winter light,
is allied with the gravity of stars.
If anyone has read my other camera reviews you will have noticed that I don’t review any of my Pro level slr cameras from Nikon or Canon , the reason I don’t do that here is simple.
Here is a good reason why, I was out walking our golden retriever, one Sunday about two weeks ago and passed two photographers with Canon SLR’s, Tripods, all top of the range equipment. On passing I overheard one talking to the other about the lens he had just purchased “It the best in the country , the only one so far”, I am mostly very good at passing on these types of comments and I didn’t know them . However on returning past them again about an hour later, they were still talking cameras, pointing in the same direction and taking pictures of very little if anything.
If this is what they enjoy doing then good luck to them, it did however remind me of just how some people can be, when it comes to camera equipment and the need to have the best. For what reason though, for image creation or talking to friends about.
So I don’t believe that the race to the top of the camera food chain has anything to do with good or great photography, photography is the skill of good and interesting image making, it goes back well over a hundred years and in all that time photographers have been making images that are both iconic and outstanding.
You don’t need the perception of owning the best and greatest equipment to create good images.
While being into image creation, you do need a camera that you both like to use and can trust. For me out in the field the choice of which camera I would take for any given function is selective. I don’t think I have a best camera body, they all do something differently good and bad, they can be used in different ways.
So down to this review
The Sigma SD15
Firstly I think this is one of the most interesting, challenging and creative cameras to be produced for a long time, it will never be seen as the king of the food chain nor will many photographers, with the need for the best to boost their self esteem, stop looking down on it and the even newer Sigma SD1.
Sigma cameras contain foveon, ccd imaging sensors
Foveon X3® direct image sensor
Foveon has combined the best of what both film and digital have to offer. This is accomplished by the innovative design of the three layer Foveon X3 direct image sensor. Similar to the layers of chemical emulsion used in color film, Foveon X3 image sensors have three layers of pixels. The layers of pixels are embedded in silicon to take advantage of the fact that red, green, and blue light penetrate silicon to different depths – forming the first and only image sensor that captures full color at every point in the captured image.
A Dramatically Different Design
The revolutionary design of Foveon X3 direct image sensors features three layers of pixels. The layers are embedded in silicon to take advantage of the fact that red, green, and blue light penetrate silicon to different depths — forming the world’s first direct image sensor.
From point-and-shoot digital cameras to high-end professional equipment, Foveon X3 technology offers multiple benefits to consumers and manufacturers alike. At the same time, it opens the door for other innovations, such as new kinds of cameras that record both video and still images without compromising the image quality of either.
Having read about this sensor technology and the camera for sometime, in May 2013, I exchanged an old Nikon D200 for a Sigma sd15 camera and a couple lenses, ( 15-30mm f3.5 and a 70-300mm f4-5.6).
I was no longer using the D200 so felt, why not take a chance and try the claims for the Foveon sensor and the SD15 out.
Something that is less important than you my think to the pro/semi-pro photographers alike is images size or pixel counts, a much more important aspect of a digital image is the amount of details captured at any defined pixel location and this is something that I have found the Sigma SD15 to be wonderful at.
There is little point in crushing huge amounts of pixels on to an image sensor if the detail capture is low or poor.
The simple facts with the Foveon x3 sensor is that all possible colours are captured at each pixel location, this fact alone increases the level of detail some three fold over a traditional sensor, that splits colour detection into groups of three pixels, each of which can only see one colour from (Red, Green or blue), the effect on an image using this method are the creation of unwanted artefacts in the final image. So the use of a filter over the sensor is needed to stop this effect. This filter blurs the detail level in the image by a factor of around a third at each pixel group locations.
In recent times traditional sensors have increased in pixel counts to a point where the effects of artefact creation are less than before, so some expensive camera models have removed the needed filter over the sensor. This is good and produces better image resolution, however you need a three times bigger image file size to produce the same level of true detail that you find from the Foveon sensor.
Large image sizes take up more disk space are slower to process and longer to upload or email.
My final question related to printed and end results, if you print an unprocessed file from the SD15 at the same size as one from say a Nikon D700, do you get the same detail in the final image, well I have found the answer to mostly be yes, in most cases, yes looking at large prints I can detect very little difference if any.
Don’t get me wrong, I still own and use other cameras , however I have been amazed at the results from this Camera and its Foveon sensor, the colour definition is also wonderful.
Sigma and Foveon claim that the SD15 has 14 million pixels, but this is in three layers and that the newer Sigma Sd1 has 48 million pixels again layered, this is a difficult and controversial claim as each image size is only the given amount divided by three.
However if you take into account that they are only saying this because the camera market has taken as a standard, mega-pixel counts, image detail and colour definition are a much harder subject to sell, to the general public. So what Sigma and Foveon are doing with this claim of high pixel count is to say our cameras produce the same detail yet better colour definition than other cameras with traditional sensors at the level of 14mp or 48mp.
Is this claim true, well side by side A3 or A2 prints appear to say yes. This along with the fact that I just love the colour and image brightness and the great exposure produced from these cameras.
Pixel Counting Definitions
Prior to the existence of the Foveon X3 direct image sensor, there has been a 1:1 relationship between the number of pixels (photodetectors) and the number of pixel locations for a traditional CCD and CMOS image sensor. Given this relationship, the generic term “pixel” has been commonly used to reference both the pixel (photodetector) and the pixel location. Foveon direct image sensors are a new type of image sensor that incorporates three pixels(photodetectors) at every pixel location on the image sensor. The definition of a pixel as indicated below is consistent with standard industry conventions as applied to CCD image sensors, CMOS image sensors, and the Foveon X3 direct image sensor.
A pixel on the image sensor of a digital camera is a light absorbing element (photodetector) that converts light (photons) into electrons. A pixel is also referred to as a pixel sensor when there is a need to distinguish the pixel from its location.
A pixel location is the X,Y coordinate on the two-dimensional grid of an image sensor at which the pixel is located.
Below I have included some images from my first six months of personal photography while using this camera, I have grouped them into colour and black and white images.
I have also found the camera to be wonderful in the production of black and white photographs, the fact that it is naturally capturing colours in the way it is helps to produce a black and white result as a finish image.
One area that is possibly the only down side I have found is the fact that at higher than 800 iso, the images are noisy in low light, which is why you would need higher ISO, my reaction to finding this out is to say well so, every camera has its weak points. I guess what you could ask is , do the good sides of this camera out do the bad, in my own opinion yes they do, every single bit of camera equipment on the market today has good sides and bad sides.
This is what photography is about, learning what your camera is good at and bad at and working with these details in order to get the best results possible.
Can this sigma help you do that, yes it can and some !
Black and white Gallery
By : Ellen Ni Bheachain
Winter hills of white with silverish gleam,
Of winter season and colors that reflect,
The shades of Gray and silver,
From the suns reflection on natures winter,
Bleak and empty yet in a solitude way,
Resting or sleeping,
Hibernating and regenerated,
Till spring arrives,
Bringing back its florishing blooms,
What is pretty to watch is cold to indure,
The chills of winter from watching it indoors,
For the nature trial of winter will,
Chill and freeze,
And numb you till,
Your lips turn color,
The freeze and chills of real winter,
And then as you warm up,
And your nose and finger tips tingle,
And looking around you on natures trails,
Will be the reminding of the hiding buds and roots,
Laying buried beneath the snows of winter,
That too in the spring,
Like the birds will return,
Bringing color and birth back into the light,
With the sounds of nature,
Becoming more musical than winter,
As the birds and the bees,
And all that return or hibernate,
All wake up to wake us up,
To the spring,
When winter chills and freezes thaw,
Taking away the winter chills,
By bringing in the springtime breeze.
One Sunday during the summer I walked to the top of the hill at Tullaghought, County Kilkenny, in order to get some photographs of the stone circle that sits on it.
Well on arriving at the circle some cattle who had followed me through the fields then decided to graze around the circle for some two hours before the headed off down the hill-side. In the end I did get some images that I was very happy with, including the last image in this set.
It was great fun sitting and waiting and looking at the great landscape of Kilkenny.
Self-Portraits Tony O’Malley, Centenary Exhibition 2013
Over the last five years I have been working for Jane O’malley, a local artist and wife of the late Tony O’Malley , photographing all of Tony’s archive work along with some of Janes own paintings.
Tony is a very well know artist in Ireland and it has been a great pleasure to work with Jane and record and see most of Tony’s Career through his paintings and sketch books.
Some of these photographs of tony’s self portraits have just been used in a new book and exhibition being held in the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny.
The below images taken this weekend are from the exhibition.
The Exhibition, held in the Butler Gallery Kilkenny
“Tony O’Malley holds an important and distinguished position in the history of twentieth century Irish art. A highly respected and beloved artist, his works are represented in all major Irish museums and included in the most significant public and private collections of Irish art. Throughout O’Malley’s working life he made self-portraits. They became a way for the viewer to know him. O’Malley taught himself to draw and paint, and in the early days the self-portrait was a convenient immediate means in which to put marks to paper whenever a mirror was available. The mirror was a non-judgmental, reliable ally.
Through the diversity of his self-portraits, we see O’Malley’s practice evolve. The self-portraits stare back at us, mostly unexpressive and unsmiling, sometimes severe, sometimes with one eye closed. Always we see O’Malley’s distinctive strong nose, bearded face, and a bald head at times dressed with skull cap, in later years with sunhat, protection from the hot Bahamian rays. From time to time, we see O’Malley viewed from only the side of a mirror, with the studio or the garden taking prominence in the remainder of the frame. The monochromatic self-portraits are stark and economical and echo the words of the artist himself, ‘The more I paint the less of myself is there’. O’Malley has left us a great gift: a wealth of self-portraits by which to remember him.”
It’s the weekend so why not put on some walking shoes and get outside into the country, walk for as long as you like and lose yourself in the Landscape.
Images for the weekend a Gallery
by Robert Stephen Herrick
Wild whisps of torn clouds swirl
rising in energy from wicked winds
and create a surge in the speed
of spinning in succession
slowly at first, yet the terror
turns into an ominous element
yearning and beginning
to take its path.
Forces of nature may often seem
to be manageable to the untrained eye,
though the might and horrifying height
sets its sight and it towers
from the heavens down to the low earth,
terror fills the most hardened heart
as the deadly dread devours
living souls with its suprelative speed.
Unconditional surrender to this fear
is a forced humbling indeed
as homes are flattened like sheet metal
from the turbulent courses
descending in an enormous twisting,
spiraling and ripping of the world
within pieces apart and yet
waiting for no reply.
As the sky touches the earth,
danger is eminent and to be found
in gigantic proportions
tearing apart homes and localities,
shreading living beings and lives
then showering down dirt and debris
across a wide landscape
like a wicked child at play.
Tumultuous and catastrophic with its
destruction, this titanic giant of air
collectively rushed together
breathed in its peril by inhaling
that which once covered
the surface of the earth then
exhaled all it had, but miles away,
staying solid on its path
with determinded disruption,
on its way with its