Culture Magazine

Friday Fotos: Running with My New Toy, Part 2

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
Continuing from yesterday, I set my new camera (a Lumix used DMC-ZS7) to shoot in a 4 by 3 aspect ratio and went out for some evening and night-time shooting, mostly along the river. That lamp up there is one shot. I like it. The texture in the glass is nicely defined. Of course, there isn’t much problem with light, as I’m shooting directly into it.
I’ve been shooting street lamps for years. So this shot is a calibration shot, getting a sense of the camera. This whole run is a calibration run, calibrating the camera and of course the photographer, me.
This is a very different shot, south along the Hudson River, with the tip of Manhattan on the left, Hoboken and Jersey City on the right, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in between:
Here light IS a problem. And that’s the point: How’s the camera perform in low light? Well, if I were trying to sell photos to National Geographic or to airline in-flight magazines, then the answer obviously is: not very well. My Pentax would do better, but I couldn’t sell those photos to National Geographic either. This photo was very grainy as shot. To get rid of the grain I had to do quite a bit of smoothing, and that killed whatever detail the camera managed to capture.
I’m not sure what I think of the result. That’s OK. Next picture:
This is a pretty standard “shaky-cam” style photo, though I didn’t do any deliberate shaking. There’s a car moving across the foreground and some bottles in the windows. I like this.
Another shaky-cam shot:
I was pretty sure I’d be able to get these kinds of shots. It’s in the nature of low-light shooting along the New York skyline. Here’s a more stable shot:
I can work with these. Here I’ve turned around and am shooting toward Hoboken:
I might want to crop some off the right side as there’s not much going on there. Here, of course, is mid-town, with the Empire State Building on the right, new construction over there to the left, and Hoboken’s Pier 13 in the foreground:
Let’s return to the day:
And here’s my favorite shot so far:
There’s something about the softness that I find very appealing. I couldn’t get a shot like that with the Pentax. It’s got a different quality about it. The thing is, if I’d had my Pentax for that shot, it would have been a better photo in a certain (entirely reasonable) technical sense. But that’s not what interests me.
A camera is a tool for making images. What are the best images I can make with the tool that I’m using? That’s what interests me.
I learned that lesson back in the early days of MacPaint. As a conventional drawing tool it was worthless. But if you accept the nature of the beast, go with the flow, you can make nice images with it. So it is with cameras.

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