#568. Monday Un-Post

By philberphoto | Monday Post

Mar 13

DearSusan posts tell a story. A story of photography and situations/things/people to photograph, to process, to share and to remember. Therefore this cannot be a post, it must go down as an un-post. Un-kind, un-inspiring, un-amusing, Un-Susan. The un-post.

Pascal can be such a drone sometimes (many times). He gets antsy when he sees brilliant landscape pics, and that gives him GAS. His dream? An Alpa camera with a 100Mp (for now) Phase back. Then he compares the end result to what we get out of our Sony A7RII, and moans. That the pics he admires are the best from some of the world’s best landscape ‘togs doesn’t stop him from moaning, on the contrary. That he rarely (very rarely, actually) goes out on his own for a dedicated shoot, and that most of his photo entreaties are caught on-the-fly as members of his family press on regardless, and he has to run to catch up, doesn’t count either. He moans, and moans, and moans some more. And I know for a fact that the Alpa, with all its qualities, requires just the sort of timeframe and effort that he doesn’t have available right now. So it would be a fool’s errand to buy one, it would just sit on the shelves while Pascal is out with his (by comparison) Micky Mouse Sony cum Zeiss ZM 35 f:1.4. So he is liable to go on moaning for quite some time. Ugh! This is the sort of picture we can get out of our gear. Not so bad, IMHO.

I try to tell him that the results we see out of the Alpa/Phase are wonderful not so much because of the exquisite equipment, but because a pro can (must?) afford all the time in the world to get the perfect shot out of every landscape. Wait hours if necessary. Come back multiple times to get that moment when the light/clouds/sun/sky/stars do the perfect dance. Not exactly what he can talk his family into. They are all karate black belts, and he not, so he is rather at a disadvantage.

I tell him to go out commando-style -meaning: alone- in the early morning, and he tells me that, while he doesn’t mind rising early, going out alone doesn’t set his creative juices in motion. No-win. More moaning.

Back to me. Saturday morning, I got up at 6:30, the crack of dawn, and it looked seriously promising. I felt like hell, but before a groan could pass my lips, I thought I couldn’t do a Pascal, and pressed on regardless. I thought I’d take care of e-mails and get back to bed, but then I’d have to live with the fact that I’d missed a nice dawn, and that I couldn’t do what I was preaching to others. No way out, I had to go out and shoot. I took my bag (always ready), my tripod (how better to convey to viewers my suffering and sacrifice in the name of photography than with a hideously long exposure, indicating I had used one?), an extra fleece, which I didn’t need, but which proved cumbersome, and forgot my wool cap, which would have been very comforting (I am bald as an eagle, my only resemblance to that mighty bird).

I could have gone to my best-location-close-to-home (see pic below), a 10 mn drive in between 2 5-minute walks, but that would already have compromised getting best light. It was already a bit late. Here is what it looks like on a misty morning.

So I thought I’d explore and try to get something new, not such an easy task when you’ve lived the last 15 years+ in the same apartment. But, consciously or not, doing what I said Pascal wasn’t doing egged me on. Not the finest of motivations, I know, but, hell, this is an un-post after all.

This is what I saw. Not bad, dawn-wise, thanks to a set of lights that had stayed on by oversight. And, already, no need for a tripod, which joined the fleece as dead weight I’d have to carry….

So I left my car behind, and started walking my way down to the river. 200+ steps, plus 500+ steps of steep incline. And thinking all the way down how much fun it will be on the way back up. What a genteel way to start a Saturday morning. Grrrrrr…

Next sight. Promising. Sadly, no excuse for turning back. Ugh!

OK, I head down the incline and the steps. Why, oh why does my pride have to cost me so much?

First attempt at a new spot. Is it the lack of enthusiasm that transpires into the picture, or the mediocrity of the picture that kills any enthusiasm?


I am NEVER going to tell Pascal about this failed shooting. He wouldn’t let me live it down. Not in a million years.

OK, second attempt, pointing the other way…

It is getting a bit better. An “ugh” shot progressing into a “yawn” shot. Dawn into yawn. Not good for my karma.

Then I remembered my friend Boris’s mantra. A shot without foreground, shtunk! Where could I find foreground? Ah, going down close to the water, might there be something?


Of course, Boris would barf, because there are contrails, and even, in the background, a train bridge. But, hey, this is minimal-expectation day, right? Pascal probably wincing. His hopes of ridiculing me recede ever so slightly. Maybe I didn’t come for nothing, after all.


Last attempt at getting something from this spot…


That is actually a lie. Of course I shot it more times, and worked the spot, though my freedom was limited by my stupid reluctance to take my camera for a swim. Yes, the flesh is weak, and Sony’s waterproofness even more so. But I did get a couple of decent shots that show the Sony’s dynamic range, and the amazing colours from Zeiss’ Otus 28. Not great, not by any stretch of the imagination, but not that bad either. I might even come back at some point.

But the sun was now out, time to go back, and I had the prospect of climbing the 200 steps, and the inclines. Yuk! Pascal will have the last laugh after all.


Except for this!

How unexpected is it to find a grazing ram, on the hillside of a royal castle in a suburban area?

So, who has the last laugh, after all? A pretty picture it isn’t. But fun? Yes!


So, finally, I’ve had my fun, Alpa/Phase or no Alpa/Phase. Take that, Pascal! Oh, wait! What if his constantly looking at superb photos and moaning, while I produce the results above, actually drove/drives him to being a far better photographer than I? And this is something that no amount of gear can change. If you ain’t got the subject,the light, and the ‘tog, you’re toast. With expensive gear, it’s expensive toast. Caviar anyone?


Pascal adds …

Give me a few seconds to cool down from this wicked burn 😉 😉 😉

About that Alpa / Phase topic … stay tuned, my pitiful attempt at self-justification is waiting to be published.

More importantly, we’ve been experiencing technical difficulties. A recent WordPress update has deleted all recent comments (thanks Pete for being the first to point this out to us). After some fighting with backups we are now back to normal except for the Leica M10 review, which some of you may have received twice in their mail box and for which all comments prior to backup restore were swallowed by a black hole. Apologies for both issues (and for whatever comments we might have failed to publish, reply to …) If you had something to say about Paul Barclay’s interesting review, please repost the comments now, they should be safe 😉




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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Hmm – I think I see why comments were deleted – but they’ve now been restored . . . You’re welcome to the early morning light, Philippe – very trendy, we’re all urged to do it, and I sleep through it on a regular daily basis. Except when my pup stands beside my bed, whacking me with one of her front paws, demanding to go for a walk to the park at some hour before God turns on the lights again. And being incapable of denying a child (or a dog, for that matter) whatever it demands, we stagger out into the early morning light together. When she drags me down the street, to the park, to do whatever inspires dogs to get out of bed so early.

    To sedate me, I hang a camera around my neck. I understand the motto of the Boy Scouts was “be prepared”. Not sure what they wanted to be prepared for, but for me it means never moving out the front door with nothing to take photos. And SOMETIMES while I’m struggling to adjust to the fact that being vertical at that hour means I’m not asleep, in bed, I actually take a photo. You are all fortunate that I don’t know how to post them on DearSusan – they seem to reflect the mood of the man and the moment – a perfectly innocuous sunrise takes on a sombre militaristic appearance. Strengthened, not softened, during post processing.

    I am thinking I should call the last one I took “The end of the road” – it’s a view from my front door to the end of the street, where it disappears into a pile of bushes, because the Main Roads Department cut through it with a highway extension, and although the street continues on the other side of the highway, the level drops and the rest of the street is no longer visible from our section.

    I think you are lucky, Philippe, to have mists and fog to soften the image and capture some of the pre-dawn light. Moisture in the air is a wonderful substitute for all those reflectors the portrait ‘togs take into the field – and captures the softest tones of blues and pinks in the early morning light. And draws a cover sheet over some of the ugliness that humans shove into the view, with their crumbling buildings and related bits & pieces.

  • David Mack says:

    Thanks for the ramble and gear geek visit. Will we ever be happy with our gear? As much as the purists tells us that all we need is 24 MP, I say bah humbug!!! Numbers, like size do count; more detail, greater dynamic range and a larger color gamet at 16 bits. I keep hoping Nikon will come out with a 900 series with 60 to 75 MP. I was disappointed with Fuji’s 50 in their mid format model, but trials will be necessary for sure.

    Actually, I really like the potential of your first shot, which could well have been a painting of 19th Century artists, after a lower cropping of course, and maybe a few ever so slight “enhancements.” The mystic nature of the haze and the early morning colors are really captivating.

    David Mack

    • philberphoto says:

      Thanks, David! And I am on your side, I, too, believe that numbers matter, and I confidently await visible performance upticks as resolution, DR and bit depth improve.

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Well – actually yes, I AM happy with my gear – and through most of my life, I’ve been able to say that, too. Of course, for that odd shot, a 300-800 zoom with a max aperture of no less than f2.8 would come in handy – occasionally – like, hardly ever, but it would be nice to photograph the moon, or some pelicans down by the river – or something – who knows what? – photo opportunities just suddenly leap out of the undergrowth, don’t they?

      My point is, I sat down and considered what photography normally means to me, and equipped myself to deal with it. So of course, I was happy that I bought what I needed – anything else would have been madness. 🙂

      And I don’t get jealous when someone else has gear that I don’t. I simply enjoy their photos, too.

  • Gianfranco says:

    Hello Philippe,
    Heureux de vous savoir en forme de nouveau.
    Joli passe-temps que le nôtre, armés de nos jouets les plus attrayants. Cela nous permet d’immortaliser des moments furtifs, mais combien savoureux.

    I’m getting a 7rii this week, fed up from mirror flap with my D750 at slow speeds. Could you and Pascal lead me with a choice of AF lenses for the new baby. I’ll need wide angle, medium tele and maybe a normal fifty (price not in the equation). Unless you talk me into manual focus lenses!!!

    Au plaisir de vous lire.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Having a meltdown here – took the dog to the park – it was raining, so I left the cam in the car – it stopped raining, the dog found two friends and next minute there was mine (a back Dobe bitch) and two Old English sheepdogs (one male, one female) flying around in all directions. And NO CAMERA!!! Swore under my breath – trailed back to the car, after the other two dogs departed – mine disturbed a couple of birds, as I put her in the car – looked up, and one of the birds (a magpie) was standing on the roof of my car, less than a metre from my face – and the blasted camera was still in the back of the car. Went to get it out, and of course the bird flew off. NEVER going ANYWHERE, EVER AGAIN, without a camera! Which of course has nothing to do with dawn light – I just had to get it off my chest :’‑(

    • philberphoto says:

      Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone, Pete, and you can safely live in a glass house. Except, in Pascal’s case, it might that he has his camera with him, but no battery, or no card. And, for Leica M shooters, wonderful shots with the lenscap still on. That said, the world would be a slightly different place if Abraham Zapruder had left his 8mm camera at home on that November day… So, yes, I try to have my camera with me at all times. And not a small one, either… And, yes, i am sure that, one day, on that rare moment when I violate this practice of mine, something of value will happen….

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I just wish it wouldn’t happen so often. Or maybe it’s just that it always happens when there’s something SUPERB to photograph, so it just FEELS worse.

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