Redoubt Reporter Summer photo contest
It’s time for the third Redoubt Reporter, reader-submitted photo contest.
Photos will be judged and winners selected by a three-member panel. After each contest closes, we’ll publish and discuss some of our favorites in the Redoubt Reporter, space permitting. Some of the selected photographers will be invited to frame and hang their photos at a Redoubt Reporter June 2013 group photo show scheduled at the Sterling Highway Kaladi Brothers coffee shop.
The deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. Aug. 31, 2012. All submissions must be in high-quality digital format. Submit no more than five JPEG images by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Our theme is “Summer on the Kenai” and submissions must fit this theme. Summer is always interesting here in Alaska, with a vast number of photos taken. We encourage you to submit photos of what you observed over the summer. As always, we prefer photos that are fresh and unique. Frequently photographed subjects, like combat fishing, should be avoided.
2. Entrants must be amateur photographers who are residents of the central Kenai Peninsula.
3. Photographs can be of any subject fitting the theme but must have been taken of the Kenai Peninsula on or after June 1, 2012.
4. If you submit photographs in which people are recognizable, you must also provide us with their permission for us to publish any such photographs.
5. Please do not submit portrait photos. Do not submit photographs whose content would not be appropriate for publication in a family newspaper. Do not submit photos of illegal subject matter. All such photos will be deleted immediately without notice to you and at the sole discretion of the editor.
6. Photographers must include their name, telephone number, email address, town of residency and each photo’s date, location and description of subject matter.
7. Submitted JPEG images should be of the best possible technical quality. Good technique and technical quality are important, but originality, creativity, interesting subject matter, artistic merit and good composition are even more important.
8. By submitting photos, you agree to our publication of them in the Redoubt Reporter newspaper and on our website. The Redoubt Reporter will have the right of first publication of your photos. However, you will retain the copyright for all other purposes and your name will be listed if we publish any of your photos.
9. Our decisions about what’s published or selected for exhibition are final and are admittedly subjective. Space is limited, and the judging panel and editor reserve the right to choose photos at their discretion.
10. Retain your original digital files of all submitted images. We are not responsible for preserving copies of your digital images.
By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter
Digital imaging, an epitome of modern technocool, is currently experiencing a serious attack of nostalgia, to the point of seemingly adopting that old epigram, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The nostalgia for retro-designs and themes is just another example of the cyclic nature of society, culture and design.
Many of the “hot” new cameras, as an example, consciously mimic legendary equipment from the 1970s, a golden age of film photography. Take a look at Sony’s new large-sensor compact camera, the RX100, and Fujifilm’s comparable X100 and X-Pro 1 models.
On first glance, both product lines bear an uncanny resemblance to classic 1970s Leica M series rangefinder cameras. Olympus’ Pen and OM-D Micro Four-Thirds compact-system cameras intentionally bear a strong resemblance to Olympus’ “greatest hits” of the ’70s, the compact “half-frame” Pen F and the OM-1, a compact 35-mm film SLR that was a favorite of professional photographers on the go because of its compact size and excellent lenses.
Designers in the 1970s really did understand how to make cameras whose design helped photographers make pictures.
On a more practical note, many older lens designs were aimed at serious photographers and often outperform newer designs intended for casual use. Yet these lenses, bought used in good condition, not uncommonly cost less than more recent optics that don’t quite reach the same level. Canon’s pro-level L series lenses, for example, were usually designed a decade or more ago yet remain among the best available.
Serious Pentax users know that older Pentax lenses, particularly the Limited series prime lenses originally intended for 35-mm film cameras, frequently offer top-notch construction and optical performance.
Personally, I’ve been very pleased with the several older Olympus Four-Thirds lenses that I’ve purchased to use with my Micro Four-Thirds cameras, an Olympus E-P3 Pen and an Olympus OM-D. When older, prograde Four-Thirds lenses are used with Olympus’ MMF-2 or MMF-3 adapters, you’ll retain autofocus and correct exposure. The only drawback is the slightly greater bulk of older lenses.
Older Olympus lenses are often among the sharpest affordable lenses, yet do not have a more recent Micro Four-Thirds equivalent. In particular, Olympus’ 50-mm f/2 and 35-mm f/3.5 macro lenses are extremely sharp at all distances, so sharp that professional testing organizations use them as reference lenses when testing new Micro Four-Thirds cameras from both Olympus and Panasonic. Similarly, Olympus’ older 9- to 18-mm ultrawide-angle zoom usually produces sharper images than the newer M. Zuiko compact Micro Four-Thirds equivalent. A near-mint used copy of the older, 9- to 18-mm zoom usually sells for roughly half the cost of the newer version.
The recent trend toward using single-magnification “prime” lenses rather than zooms is another example of photo nostalgia that’s firmly rooted in practicality. It’s a rare zoom lens whose image quality approaches that of even a midgrade prime lens. Prime lenses are usually sharper and better constructed than equivalent zoom lenses. As digital photographers become more experienced and sophisticated, the popularity of “old-fashioned” prime lenses steadily increases. At this point, lens makers are introducing more new prime lenses than zooms.
Here’s another retro-example: Between about 1975 and 2000 or so, the dominant themes in fine art photography tended toward abstraction and minimalism. Traditional art themes, such as narrative and documentary photos, were disdained as old hat.
Now we have a new generation without personal memories of the earlier documentary and narrative trends of the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, documentary and narrative photography again seems fresh to our younger participants. As George Santayana famously noted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” On the bright side, though, if one has no knowledge of the past, then rediscovering it seems new, fresh and avant-garde.
Finally, I’m noticing a resurgence of interest in black-and-white photography among digital photographers for whom making high-quality, black-and-white images is probably more difficult than sticking with color. Because we see in color, it is the stuff of our memories, seeming more natural and direct. Black-and-white images, in contrast, have an abstract and moody quality. I’ve sometimes noticed a moody sense even in black-and-white lens tests that I shot of boring objects like overhead trees.
Leica now markets a very expensive M9 rangefinder that’s limited to shooting black-and-white images — its special sensor does not even recognize different colors. Higher-end printers, like the Epson 3880, include three or four neutral inks, black through very light gray, optimizing these printers for black and whites.
There’s even special software that ostensibly produces higher-quality, black-and-white images from your original color files. Of these, Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 is the best known and likely the best such program. I’ve used Silver Efex Pro 2 as an adjunct to Adobe Lightroom and I do like Silver Efex Pro, though I suspect that adept use of Lightroom’s many color channel, contrast and “brush” controls would work nearly as well.
While testing my new-to-me Olympus 9- to 18-mm ED zoom the other day, I found myself really enjoying the ultrawide-angle settings, equivalent to an 18- to 20-mm extreme wide-angle lens on a 35-mm camera. That’s really wide, wide enough to result in some startling perspective effects. This is not a “fish-eye” lens, just a really wide lens, the widest angle that I’ve ever used. Sometimes, trying new lenses and cameras can stimulate you to look at the world around you in a new light.
Local attorney Joe Kashi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and his law degree from Georgetown University. He has published many articles about computer technology, law practice and digital photography in national media since 1990. Many of his technology and photography articles can be accessed through his website, http://www.kashilaw.com.