Linking the new Olympus PEN with my Olympus past

Over the holidays I grew tired of lugging around 10+ pounds of photo equipment on the chance that I might make the chance make some photos. I found myself making excuses why I wouldn’t, rather than making good opportunities to take pictures. I ended up taking more pictures with my less than awe-inspiring camera phone.

Why? Because it was there, easy to carry and was bundled with something I use to keep me connected at all times anyhow.

I had heard a few years ago of systems that were being developed and with my combined birthday and Christmas gifts, and the generous giving of family and friends I picked up an Olympus Micro Four Thirds Camera, the E-PL3.

OM1 and EPL3

It reminds me, slightly, of my original Olympus OM-1. That 35mm film camera was given to me by my father when I was 12 or 13. With that camera I made some great memories of high school and college. I learned about depth of field, shutter speed, pushing and pulling black and white film and how that decisive moment when you fire the shutter can help to produce a variety of images.

Now I’m able to take that feeling of the manual focus camera and use it on today’s technology. It isn’t quite the same, and the lenses that are built for the micro four thirds system are infinitely more pocketable.

I’ve picked up a few pancake lenses to take with me. Three lenses, two batteries and the bag weight less than just the body on my Canon 7-D with the lightest lens I have.

I’m hoping to make some great images in 2012.

14mm Panasonic Lumix on E-PL3

Test of: Exposing to the Right with Olympus PEN system

As I first read here, Exposing to the right is an interesting theory. I had to test it.

I posted this at and decided to make it more publicly available.

Coming from a film training background, and shooting in raw ever since my 20d seven years ago; I first learned of Exposing to the right via and pekkapotka.

No way, I thought. That can’t be true. I liked the grit of my old TMAX3200 at concerts in Los Angeles. I always underexposed. It worked.

I was determined to prove someone wrong about ETTR. It turns out, I only proved myself wrong.

I performed this test on a stairway at home.

I did this test handheld, at night, with one light source at ISO 1600. Given my one week of experience with the PEN system so far, I expect lots of chunky grainy noise as the ISO is pushed higher.

Under these circumstances, ETTR shines as the way to shoot RAW for: low light, handheld, high iso. Feel free to click through and check my EXIF data.

And yes, my focus point changed for the correctly metered image, giving a softness to the detail area, but for the purpose of illustrating ETTR, it wasn’t necessary to shoot again.

All of these images have zero post processing other than adjusting 1 exposure to compensate for the over / underexposure in ACR. No sharpening, nothing.

First, exposed to the left:

Just like I learned on my first Olympus OM-1 in grade school. Sometimes you gotta under expose. And the result:
Exposed to the Left

Ah the noise, so familiar.

Second: Exposed like a meter reader must:

Exposed even

Not bad. Not sharp either. But were looking at detail here.

Third: Exposed to the right like a mad scientist:

Exposed to the Right

What the What? That worked?

What, you say? You want detail? OK.

100 percent crop of all three are here for your review

Exposed to the left:
Exposed to the Left 100% Detail

Exposed center:
Correct exposure 100% detail

Exposed to the right:
Exposed to the Right 100% detail

Just a reminder, to make it more clear.

These were 3 different raw files. I used the same aperture and adjusted shutter speed to expose to the right and the left of correct exposure — according to meter — by one stop.

Each file was then pushed or pulled one stop in Adobe Camera Raw, depending on which direction it needed to go, to return to what normal would have been. The then correctly exposed image remains unmodified.

Proof enough for me. Won’t use it all the time. But this experiment was well worth it for me. Certainly a test worth trying for yourself if you have an Olympus PEN system.

Hunger versus comfort: How I lost 45 pounds in three months.

This is a short story of how I lost 45 pounds in three months

Hunger, for most of us in the U.S. isn’t a real feeling – or at least few of us can readily say we ever really felt hunger. Comfort – or the lack thereof – would be the closest thing to hunger most of us has ever felt.

When it came to food, I was always very comfortable feeling full. When I didn’t feel comfortably full anymore, I’d eat to feel more comfortable – even if it was sometimes an uncomfortable amount of food. When a craving popped up on my radar, I comfortably indulged.

I just so happened that comfort began clashing with discomfort, setting off alerts in my brain.

My father, nearing is late 50s, suffered a heart attack in 2010. He had a stent placed in his artery and has since mostly recovered. It changed his entire life, and ours. That was uncomfortable.

Stress levels surged with new responsibilities and I often consoled myself with comforting food.
Then the holidays approached with comfort food. Pictures were taken at the festive occasions. That was uncomfortable in front of the camera.

Sometimes my wife would nudge me awake at night when a unwitting snoring session kept her awake. That was uncomfortable.

I saw a picture of myself with my wife after hiking on New Year’s day. Everyone said it was a cute couple photo. It made me uncomfortable to see myself.

When I turned 30 at the end of 2010, I was heavier than I had ever been in my life.

That made me uncomfortable.

All of this discomfort led to me tipping point for change. I pledged when i turned 30 to change my eating habits, my activity habits and improve my self-image.

It all started for me, when I made it a game.

I like to play games. Really, I like to play any kind of game. Board games, videogames, word games are all right up my alley. They make my brain work hard and help improve my memory and thought processes.  So I took the only method that put me in control.

I counted.

By figuring out my basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories it takes my body to maintain itself) I calculated how many calories I would need to consume in order to lose weight at a healthy rate. Since January 3 I have not put a single piece of food in my mouth without being cognizant of the caloric value.

This worked like a game for me. I had an account of calories I could spend and I needed to stay within limits. The plus side being that I could always consume more – as long as I exercised.

By limiting my calories, but not my food types I gravitated to natural food selection. Because, like it or not, an apple is a lot more filling that a quarter of a candy bar or bag of chips – and drastically fewer calories.

I ate vegetables, fruits whole grains and less processed foods because, again, fewer calories. My food prep took less time because I used simpler ingredients and cooked much less.

This food limitation also drastically reduced my serving size. Those extra large portions and fried foods disappeared from my regular food.

I also began moving my body. I’ve struggled in the past with excuses saying it is difficult to find time. But just like saving money, making time isn’t automatic. Unless I decided to make time to exercise – it would never just present itself to me. Lost time can never be found.

From January 3 through March 31 I ran, walked and elliptical’d my way through over 250 miles, using GPS to log my miles.

Since January 3 I’ve never eaten more than my daily goal of calories. If I ever got close, I would go for an evening walk/jog. And yes, I have gone out to dinner. I’ve even had a cheeseburger.

From January 3 through March 31 I lost 45 pounds. It melted off in sheets at first but then stick to a steady and healthy 2 pounds per week over the past 10 weeks.

From six years ago (when I was last tested) until this year’s free biometric health screening program showed my weight loss efforts have transformed my  borderline high cholesterol levels to ideal levels – in every category.

My wife has also benefited, even if it is merely secondhand. Due to my usual meal planning and cooking (as I’ve done since we got married) she ate less too. She also joined me in an occasional walk or abdominal workout.  She was down a belt notch this week.

I still have four weeks to go in my employer’s weight loss competition and I feel great. I’m currently about 5 pounds away from losing 20 percent of my total body weight. I’m more comfortable in my own skin.

My overall weight goal may take six more months to achieve, but when I get there I know that I will then know my hard work has been for something worthwhile. I will know that I’m not doing this for a competition. I’m doing it for my future and my family’s future.

I’m doing it for health, and comfort.

Turning 30: Not as bad as the cliches.

Three months ago I turned 30.

The age everyone dreads in the media. The age people have mini-mid-life crises. The age where you become old enough to be experienced, but young enough to still be considered young by working professionals.

I’ve changed a lot over the last 15 years, as most people do. But one thing has been pretty constant… the steady weight gain.

So I’ve been working hard for three months. My previous goal to control portion sizes and count calories has been working even better than I would have expected.

I've lost 45 pounds in the last three months.
45 pounds down

I have a neck, my waist is more even to my hips and I’ve stopped snoring altogether (not that it was too bad before).

I’m running and walking at least 4 miles a day, and everything I consume is a conscious decision.

I’m still about 30 pounds from my goal weight, but I’m feeling great.

I’ve also been working hard to pay down all of the debt I accrued living in Orange County while making almost no money at all. I’ve managed to get the credit cards down to zero this week, and my small student loan is just on the horizon and should be paid off soon.

Turning 30, so far, has been all about hard work for me — and that hard work paying off.

Eight more months to see what I can completely achieve before I’m past 30.

It will be interesting to see what happens before then.

As far as the cliches go, I don’t know if I will ever understand the great concern with aging. It is pretty inevitable and provides invaluable experience.

Maybe turning 40 will be different.



My new favorite camera bag: Domke F6

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller
Nice solid clips

I am pretty good at finding almost anything on the internet. Chances are, if I am going to be involved, was involved or am thinking about becoming involved in something — I have looked it up online.

I searched the internet for hours — not hyperbole here — looking for a Domke bag that would fit a 7D, 50D, 40d…. any of that family of camera with the battery grip attached and a 16-35mm f2.8 lens attached.

I couldn’t find a single image. There were lots of close bags. but not the F6 with my requiremets.

The closest I found was a forum of photographers talking about which Domke they recommended and photos of cameras placed lens-down body-back up in several types on domke bags. I would never feel safe toting a camera around like that.

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller
Just about as wide as a full-sized computer keyboard

I have had the Domke j2 ballistic bag for the past seven years and still love that bag, but it was a little too big. I rarely used the side pockets unless i was traveling. I also wanted something a little less black and a little less camera bag looking.

So I went for the olive-colored Domke F6, also known as the Little Bit Smaller Domke. I packed it up with my 7D with a battery grip and a 17-40mm lens (still waiting on my filter from B&H after having to return my other mis-order. )

And now for the photo which I spent hours scouring the intarwebs.

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller
7D with a battery grip and 17-40mm lens attached in a Domke F6: From the top.

What is in the bag?: 7D with batterygrip and 17-40mm on its side. 100mm f2.8 with hood stored vertically. 530exII flash in case, stored vertically. 50mm prime stored upright. Zipper front case has charger, small rocket air cleaning kit. The inside top zipper has the manuals for the 7D and the flash, along with a few compact flash cards (hence the square-looking nature of the top of the bag when closed.

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller

In all it is a great bag, malleable yet protective. Padded bottom but canvas sides. It seems to be just what I was looking for.