Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Sunset on an OM-D EM-5 MkII

In my last post I pondered the oft quoted 'best camera is the one you have with you' line of reasoning in relation to using my Samsung Galaxy S3 to take sunset photos. My argument (and I'm sticking to it), is that unfortunately the 'best' camera is often the one you don't have with you, and you have to settle for second (or third) best.

Blaketown Tiphead Sunset. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII with Zuiko 12-50mm EZ. F6.3 @ 1/320th. ISO 400
Why do we spend large amounts of money on camera bodies and lenses? Why do we (some of us at least) agonize over different systems, kit configurations and accessories? Even if we aren't hung up on image quality to the extent of 'pixel peeping', why is it that many of our photography decisions have to do with technical considerations like noise, sensor size or chromatic aberration?

From Cobden to Blaketown. OM-D E-M5 MkII with 12-50mm EZ. F6.3 @1/200th. ISO 400
Maybe it's because in this digital age, these are the things that are more easily quantifiable? Let's not talk about composition, or subject matter, or story telling - these are far too subjective and ephemeral topics. Much easier to compare low-light images, sensor formats or lens characteristics. With all the agonizing over IQ or individual sensor pixel density (is that a real thing?), it's a wonder we have any time for actual picture making at all!?

Cobden Breakwater Sunset. OM-D E-M5 MkII with 12-50mm EZ. F6.3 @1/400th. ISO 400.
Or maybe, just maybe, these things really are important? And by that I mean individually important. Subjectively important. Important to me. Let me explain what I mean...

Photography is a visual medium. We are visual artists. We like to be visually creative. And so, just like a painter who chooses their paints carefully, we  - as artists - like to choose our tools carefully too. I've heard people say that some photographers spend too much time worrying about the gear and that painters never get together and talk about the brushes they use. Really? I guess these people have never spent much time with painters? All the artists I know have their favorite brands of paint/brushes/paper/canvas that they swear by (and that they have sometimes taken years of trial and error to perfect). So much so that they will almost refuse to use anything else. Does it mean that they can't paint with something else? No, of course not. But does it also mean that they should just paint with anything because surely anything will do?

Grey River Sunset. Olympus OM-D EM-5 MkII with Zuiko 12-50mm. F6.3 @ 1/20th sec. ISO 400
As a photographer, I have my own set of criteria for how I want my 'tools' to perform. I know the level of noise that I am comfortable with at certain ISO's. I have a sensor size and megapixel number that I am happy with, and certain tolerances within which I want my lenses to perform. I've come to these quality decisions from years of trial and error with different systems and configurations, to the point where I now have a set of expectations of how I want my images to turn out with the tools I've chosen. When I use tools that I know will produce an image inferior to my set of (subjective) criteria, then I feel a slight disappointment at the final result. Even if only from a qualitative standpoint.

Freedom Campers, Cobden. OM-D E-M5 MkII with 12-50 EZ. F6.3 @ 1 sec.(hand held) ISO 800
Let me be very clear  - my criteria for acceptable IQ is NOT your criteria. You must find you own. The trouble comes with photographers who try to force their own set of criteria onto others, as if it was some kind of law. "You must have a full frame sensor or you're not a real photographer. You must have at least 40 megapixels or you're not a real photographer. Your images must all be noise free at ISO 640,000  or your camera's no good" - blah, blah, blah....

Kingsgate Hotel at Sunset. OM-D EM-5 MkII. F6.3 @ 1/6th sec. ISO 800
I'd like to end by saying that my image criteria isn't set in stone. It's a fluid, evolving and changing thing - and technology plays a large part in this. A few years ago I couldn't have conceived of hand-holding a sharp image at 1 second. But thanks to the OM-D EM-5 MkII , I can. I was also a full-frame snob for a very long time (yes, one of those). But not anymore. I am also finding that the older I get, the less things like noise and megapixels seem to matter.

And yet they do matter. And I know that they matter when I use my smartphone as a camera and am somewhat unhappy with the results. In a way that I am not unhappy with the results I get from my OM-D EM-5 MkII.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunset on a Samsung S3

A week ago (as I write this) was my wedding anniversary (19 years). To celebrate, Joanna and I decided to order pizza and go somewhere to sit and watch the sun set. We've had a pretty terrible summer this year, but it just happened to be a nice evening, so we wanted to be outside enjoying the evening as much as possible.

Cheeky Seagull. Samsung S3 camera phone
We wanted to eat the pizza while it was still hot, so didn't want to travel far. I decided to drive to the Blaketown tiphead, a popular spot for spending an evening watching the sea roll in along the Grey River.

As we sat in the car and ate pizza, a seagull perched itself on the bonnet of the car and watched our every more. It seemed the most interested in my bread roll - which I was more than happy to share with him since it had been baked solid!

Because this was a social outing, and not a recreational one, I didn't have my camera with me :-(  But, of course, I did have my phone. So I was able to get a shot of the cheeky seagull, with the reflection of the brown paper bag that contained the bread roll clearly visible in the lower right of the photo.

Blaketown Sunset Reflection. Samsung S3 camera phone
While we watched the waves crashing around the rocks on the Cobden side of the tiphead, behind us, on the Blaketown side, things were starting to get colourful. The waves were taking on a golden yellow colour, and a quick glance behind us explained why. For the above image I literally opened the car door, stood up and took a shot of the golden sky behind us. The reflection is the sunset reflecting off the roof of the car.

Cobden Tiphead from Blaketown. Samsung S3 camera phone
This is the view we were concentrating on as the sunset was developing behind us. You can see the waves crashing against the Cobden tiphead (very mesmerising). It was high tide, so many of the crashing waves were so big they were spraying over the top of the rocks. The sky has a slight orange hue to it, but nothing like what was happening 180 degrees west.

Blaketown Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
Pivot 180 from the position that the Cobden Tiphead photo was taken, and this was the other side of the coin - a glorious sunset over Blaketown. We haven't had many of these this summer, but fortunately for my wife and I, we had decided to go out on the right night. Unfortunately, I didn't have a 'real' camera with me :-(

Blaketown Tiphead Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
I'm not one of these 'The best camera is the one you have with you" disciples. What a load of rubbish. I get the gist of the idea, but I don't believe it. The 'best' camera I have, unfortunately, was the one I'd left at home that night :-) And so I had to 'make do' with a smartphone camera. And that is really how I look at these images. I like them as photos, they captured something of the scene I saw in front of me, but they are second-rate images compared with what I could have captured with the OM-D EM-5 MkII. And that's just how it is.

Blaketown Tiphead Golden Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
The S3 camera is a decent performer at about 8MP, although it is obviously a very small chip, and doesn't have a huge dynamic range. The above image is ok, but has some blocked shadows and blown highlights. Without shooting in RAW, there's really not much else I could do. The phone itself has a very basic +/- exposure slider, which only seemed to 'approximate' some exposure compensation either way. Again it's ok, but a photo I would have much rather shot in RAW to pull out as much dynamic range as possible.

Under a Blood Orange Sky. Samsung S3 camera phone.
When you use the zoom function on the S3 (a digital zoom), things go from bad to worse. Most people are aware that a 'digital' zoom isn't really zooming anything - it's just enlarging the pixels to make the image appear bigger. Trouble is, when you enlarge already very small pixels, you just start to get digital mush. And that's really what I got with the above image. I'd be lucky if I could print a passable 6x4" print from it. The native (unzoomed) files are better, probably resulting in a passable 5x7" or maybe 8x10" print if you didn't look too close. But I could almost guarantee that they would 'look' digital.

Breaking Wave - Blaketown Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
So I'm unhappy with all the images -right? Well no, not really. Sure, I wish I had taken them on a 'better' camera. And yes, I would rather they were taken in a raw format to pull more detail out in post. But I still think they are lovely images - and a wonderful souvenir of a great night out with my wife. In fact, I love the above image - Breaking Wave-Blaketown Sunset. It's one of the best images I've shot in a long while (IMHO).

There are some people who carry around a 5D Mk3 with them everywhere they go, so that the 'camera they have with them' just happens to be the best camera they own. That never has been, and never will be, me. I like to turn photography off occasionally. Sometimes I'm in photography mode, other times I'm not. Sure, there have been moments in my life when I've regretted not having a camera on me (less and less now we all have smart phones). But I'm also enough of a realist to understand that some moments will (and should) pass us by without being recorded for posterity. I HATE going to an event and seeing thousands of people glued to their phones instead of enjoying the moment. It just doesn't make sense to me. Put your phone in you damn pocket (or better still leave it at home) and just enjoy the damn concert for crying out loud!

The Blue Hour - Blaketown Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
 I suppose I could 'upgrade' to a better phone with a better camera - but that's not really the point. As capable as they are, I don't want to take photos with a cellphone - at least not as my primary means of taking a photo. Phones are still (for me at least) primarily for texting and making calls. And cameras are for taking photos. Sometimes, however, beggars can't be choosers. And the only camera you will have on you, just happens to be in a phone. So be it...


Friday, 10 February 2017

52 Week Project - Week 3

Blaketown Sunset - "Red". Samsung S3
Week three of the 52 Week Project and the subject is 'Red'.

The more perceptive of you will realise that I'm a little (lot) late with the third installment - it's actually more like week 6!

No excuses - but I'm also not going to beat myself up about it either. I have had a few people join me on this project (thanks Bryn and Grace) a little late, so I've stopped to let them play 'catch-up'. We are probably back on track now - and anyway, who said that the 52 weeks of the Project had to be consecutive?! :-)

Is my contribution this week really red? Or is it more orange? Or maybe Orangey-Red? There's definitely a big spike in the red channel of the histogram (if that's anything to go by) - and that's good enough for me.

This is actually another phone shot, taken a few evenings ago when I just happened to be out to witness another glorious West Coast sunset (more on that next post). If not for this chance encounter with a beautiful sunset, I probably still wouldn't have a 'Red' image?

I can tell already that the 'creative' component of theses projects is going to represent the biggest challenge to me. Why is that? Am I not a very creative person? Do I not think very creatively when it comes to photography? Or have I got into a rut from 25 years of shooting? I guess projects like this are designed to get you thinking more creatively than you otherwise would have to if you concentrated solely on landscapes or portraits (not to say that you can't or shouldn't be creative with either of those subjects).

Have I been 'creative' in my interpretation of 'Red' as a subject? If I'm honest with myself, then 'no', I haven't been. I've just taken a shot of a beautiful sunset that just happens to have red tones in it (lucky for me). That's not to say that I wasn't thinking about other ways I could interpret the colour red - because I have been, a lot. In the end though, nothing really sparked my interest, and the above shot was taken and posted almost out of sheer desperation.

And maybe that's also what these projects/challenges are good for. Exposing weaknesses. Shaking us out of habits and ruts. Blowing the cobwebs, slowly but surely, out of the creative corners of the brain. If I can achieve that this year, then the challenge will have been worth it.

Friday, 13 January 2017

52 Week Project - Week 2

Traditional Landscape. Ilford Delta 100
It's week two of the 52 Week Project, and this week the theme is 'Traditional Landscape'.

The brief says to: "Shoot a beautiful landscape and share it with the world. Find a nice foreground and don't forget the sky."

The image I've shot for the project isn't my 'normal' approach to landscapes. For a couple of reasons....

I want to try and 'push' myself a little with these weekly challenges, and try to create something out of the norm for me. Otherwise what's the point - right? So for a start, the photo is obviously in portrait orientation - whereas I would normally automatically default to landscape orientation for, um, a landscape 😉

The other obvious departure for me is the use of black and white. I love black and white images, but I almost always think in glorious technicolor when I think of landscapes. I tend to reserve black and white for portraiture or documentary style work. But I didn't really have a choice this time, since the shot was taken on B&W film. Ilford Delta 100 to be exact.

We've had a shockingly wet and miserable summer here on the West Coast, with very little chance to go out and take glorious colour images. Even so, my wife and I still try to go for a morning walk every day, (in the rain) and one morning this week it looked like it might be clear for an hour while we walked. So I loaded my Yashica 230AF with Ilford Delta and headed out to see if I could at least get some photography done.

There's a farm just down the road where we live, and I have often wanted to stop and take some photos of the cows in the field. I was in luck this morning, as the herd was grazing close to the road where we walk. I loved the mist rolling over the hills, and the cows - true to their inquisitive nature - looked up to watch us pass by. I took about three shots and moved on. Two were in landscape, and one was in portrait orientation - and I liked the portrait one best.

Is it a 'beautiful' landscape? I think so. Is it a 'traditional' landscape? Maybe not - although I do get quite a Gainsborough or Constable feel from the picture. Did I find a 'nice foreground'? I love the cows staring back at the viewer (very cow-like behavior), and the way the centrally placed cow is  exactly in the middle and front-on, while the second cow is profile and off to the side. And finally - did I 'forget the sky'? Well, it's not your classic blue sky with puffy clouds landscape - but I love the mist rolling in over the hills. It transports me immediately to the same dull, drizzly morning of the walk. It wouldn't evoke the same feel with puffy clouds. So yeah, I think I nailed the brief. What do you think?

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Charming Creek Walkway, Ngakawau Gorge

Over the Christmas/New Year break we had planned as a family to do a few local walks (weather permitting). So we jumped at the chance to join some friends who were going on the Charming Creek Walk, half an hour north of Westport, in the Ngakawau Gorge (pronounced 'Nock-a-war').

Fortunately we chose the right day to go as the day dawned beautiful and clear (we've had a lot of rain this summer). It was, in fact, too clear, with harsh light that followed us around all day.

Charming Creek Daisy: Celmisia Morganii. OM-D E-M5 MkII
The track is an easy walk, with only a very gradual incline following old rail lines to a stunning waterfall about an hour in. Along the way, and depending on the time of year that you visit (December/January is ideal) you will come across the Charming Creek Daisy (celmisia morganii) growing along the side of the track. This highly localised species of daisy is found only in the Ngakawau Gorge - and grows abundantly along the Charming Creek walkway.

The Olympus Zuiko 12-50mm EZ f3.5/6.3 has a 'macro' setting on the lens that I find myself using quite a lot. It's obviously not 'true' 1:1 macro, but it allows for decent close-focusing at the 50mm end of the range, where the f6.3 aperture allows for a decent depth of field. The lenses 'bokeh' (out of focus background) is quite smooth and natural, making for some very pleasant 'macro' flower shots. My son Josh doesn't have this functionality with his 14-42mm kits lens and he really missed this on the walk. He seems naturally drawn to macro-type photo opportunities, so a dedicated macro lens (the 60mm f2.8 or 30mm f3.5) is the top of his lens wish list.

Tunnel exit. Charming Creek, Ngakawau Gorge
The Charming Creek Railway was a privately owned line built in 1912 by brothers George and Bob Watson, sawmillers from Granity. The original line was wooden and was worked by horses. It ran as far as Watson's Mill in the Charming Creek Valley. In the 1920s the line was upgraded to steel and rail tractors were introduced. Bob Watson established the Charming Creek Westport Coal Company in 1926, and from 1929 up to six coal trains used the line daily. By 1942, at the height of its operation, the Coal Company employed 69 men and produced 43,385 tonnes of coal. The line closed in 1958, after which wood and coal was trucked by road to Seddonville.

This sense of early New Zealand pioneering history is evident all along the Charming Creek walk. Old rusting train parts and the ever-present steel tracks that cut through the forest and tunnels, remind you of the walks historical significance every step of the way. Yet, as impressive as the history is, the crowning jewel of the Ngakawau Gorge has to be the impressive Mangatini Falls.

Mangatini Falls, Charming Creek Walkway, Ngakawau Gorge. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII with 9mm fisheye bodycap lens
On the other side of a suspension bridge, about an hour's walk in, Mangatini Falls can be heard long before it is seen. The rumble and roar of hundreds of tonnes of water makes for an impressive sound as you approach the falls - and the view does not disappoint. There are tracks that lead down for a more up-close-and-personal view of the falls, or you can take in the full vista from a lookout along the track.

Above is the view from the track, taken with the 9mm fisheye bodycap lens. Again, the conditions were quite harsh, with very bright highlights and deep shadows. I exposed for the highlights as much as possible, letting the shadows go black. Later, using ACDSee's Ultimate 9 software, I pulled out as much detail from the shadows as I could while still making it look natural.

I could have maximized the dynamic range by using the HDR function on the OM-D E-M5 MkII, or set up on a tripod and taken five exposures that covered a complete range of exposures. But to be honest, I didn't even think of using the in-built HDR function, and didn't have a tripod for bracketing exposures. Shooting in RAW, and knowing I could pull detail out of the shadows later on as long as the highlights were ok, was my best option. And it worked fine - although at ISO 800 the shadows are a little noisy.  

Fern frond. OM-D E-M5 MkII with Olympus 40-150mm f4/5.6.  F6.3 @ 1/60th sec, ISO 400
Because a lot of the day was spent shooting macro in the shade - hand-held - my ISO hovered around 800. I will take the E-M5 MkII up to 1600 without too much concern for noise, although it is definitely there at the higher ISO's. The great feature of the OM-D's is their incredible IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation) that can give you two or even three stops to play with, so you can wait longer before having to increase the ISO.

The fern frond above was taken at 1/60th of a second with the 40-150mm lens zoomed all the way out to 150mm. This makes it the equivalent of a 300mm focal length on a full-frame system. Conventional wisdom would claim that the shutter speed should be at least equal to the focal length if you want a sharp image - which would have meant shooting at 1/500th sec on a film camera.  Shooting at 1/60th instead has given me three extra stops (1/125th, 1/250th, 1/500th) to play with, allowing me to lower the ISO to 400. The resulting shot therefore has less noise, and is plenty sharp enough.

A family of Photographers. Charming Creek Walkway
Despite the overall harsh lighting conditions, we had a fantastic time, and took some great photos along the Charming Creek Walkway. It's one of the most spectacular (and easy) walks on the West Coast, and well worth doing if you are ever lucky enough to be in this part of New Zealand.

I'm certainly going to do the walk again soon - hopefully on a slightly more overcast day. I've got an 8-stop ND filter which I think would be perfect to play with in places along the track, and at the waterfall itself. Nicky, a friend and fellow photographer who came with us on the walk, used her 10-stop ND for some water images and got some beautiful results. Can't wait to give it a go myself.   

Saturday, 7 January 2017

52 Week Project - Week 1

2017 is here - so it's 'that' time of the year. The time to make those pointless (maybe) New Year's resolutions that you will break before you're even through January. Most of us do it every year - and most of us don't follow through on any of them...

So this year, instead of making new year's resolutions, I thought I would just make a new year's commitment. Isn't that the same thing? Isn't it just semantics? Maybe. Only time will tell. But this time around, my wife and I have made the same commitment; to be more intentional in being creative this year. For me that means a photography project, and for my wife it means more quilting projects. We are going to try and help each other with this commitment - and it will also mean being a lot more deliberate with our 'spare' time not being taken up with mindless activities like watching TV.

Confession - I'm hopeless when it comes to photography projects. Last year I decided to make portraits on medium format film of notable people in my town. Never happened. In 2012 I had an idea for a project - 12 cameras in 2012. I'd shoot every month for a year with a different old film camera, and turn the results into a book. What a great idea! Never happened. And then there was my pathetic attempt at a 365 photography project. It lasted about two weeks before I was so stressed from having to take a photo every day that I vowed and declared to never attempt a 365 project ever again! So I'm not going to.

But what I am going to do - which I hope (pray) is a bit more achievable, is a 52 Week Photography project. One photo a week, on a particular subject, designed to get you thinking creatively. More achievable than a 365 project? I certainly hope so. And added together with my new year's commitment to be more creative, I'm hoping that I'm on to a winner?

Selfie. Samsung Galaxy S3 with SketchGuru app. (Print filter)
I found a 52 Week Photography project on the web at Dogwood Photography's website, which outlines the subjects for all 52 weeks, and looked achievable (on paper at least). It's broken down into three main areas that keep repeating; portrait, landscape and artistic. Week 1 is a Self Portrait.

SketchGuru App (halftone filter)
While waiting for my wife to get some groceries, I decided to do my first weeks project sitting in the car. I have a few photo apps on my phone that I've never used, so thought this would be the ideal time to give them a go. One app in particular - SketchGuru - looked promising, so I fired it up, pointed the phone back at myself, and had a play. I had a lot of fun, and it was a great way to kill half an hour while I waited in the car!

So that's week 1 under my belt. Only 51 more weeks to go! 😊  Hopefully I can stick at it for that time, although I'm sure there will be some weeks that will be touch-and-go. I'm feeling pretty good and relaxed about it at the moment though, and actually pretty excited about this year's creative possibilities. I will post my 'final' shot for the week, every week, on this blog. So if nothing else, that should give me 52 posts on the blog for 2017! If I make it to the end, it will be great to look back on a year's worth of photography challenges and the images that this will produce.

Do you have any photography projects on the go for 2017? Are you interested in doing the 52 Week Challenge that I'm doing? The great thing about the 52 week challenge is that you can start it at any time - not just at the start of a new year. I've just done it that way so that it falls neatly within the same year. But you don't have to. If you're keen to do the same project, click on Dogwood Photography's name and a link will open that will take you directly to the project page. I'd love to hear from you if you start doing the challenge - or if you are doing something different? Drop me a line in the comments section below and let me know.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas from NZ Digital

'Tis the season to be jolly :-)

Yes folks, it's Christmas tomorrow (as I write this) in New Zealand - the first country to wake up to Christmas Day. So I thought I'd better post something 'Christmassy'.

Greymouth Christmas Tree Festival, 2016. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII with 12-50mm EZ. F5.2 @ 1/8th sec, ISO 800
Every year the local theater hosts a Christmas tree festival, where businesses and other groups can decorate a tree and the public comes to see the results and vote for their favourite. It's always a lovely place to visit on the week leading up to Christmas - it has a peace and serenity that is often needed at this time of the year. And it also happens to be a lot of fun to photograph.

Reindeer Light. OM-D EM5 MkII.
The last time I shot the event was several years ago, when I had the Pen Ep-1. The camera was fairly new at the time, and I remember I had a lot of fun shooting with the art modes. The grainy black and white was my favourite (and still is). The bright lights, dark backgrounds and multi-coloured trees invite you to experiment with ISO, shutter speeds and creative techniques, which I certainly intended to do this time as well. But to begin with I started out by capturing a 'traditional' view of the scenes around me, for a while at least, to get into the 'groove' and help the creative juices flow.

I didn't take a tripod, preferring to shoot everything hand-held, even though the light is very low. This is where the IBIS (in-body image stabilisation) of the Olympus system really comes into its own. By cranking the ISO up to 800-1600, I find I can still achieve sharp shots with shutter speeds hovering around the 1/6th second mark using the Olympus 12-50mm EZ f3.5/6.3 lens.

Christmas Bokeh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII with 12-50mm EZ. F5.6 @ 1/8th sec, ISO 800
This year, my 'creative inspiration' came initially from a mistake (which is often the case). I was trying to focus on the trees in the dark, and not surprisingly, the camera was hunting for focus. I took a photo while the camera was still hunting, and really liked the way the bright lights were turned into these 'bokeh balls' of light.

Bokeh Balls of Light. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII and 12-50mm EZ lens set to Macro. F5.6 @ 1/8th sec, ISO 800
I set the camera to manual focus so that I could control the degree of out-of-focus effect (I wanted very distinct looking circles of light), and also found that the best results were achieved with the lens set to macro mode. Then it was just a matter of moving around the room finding light patterns that looked interesting.

Abstraction in Blue. OM-D E-M5 MkII
Some photos worked well when the image was still vaguely tree shaped, while others worked as pure abstractions. I shot in this fashion for over an hour and thoroughly enjoyed making these abstract images. It was only when I got home and looked at them on the computer that I realised I could have taken this in so many other directions.

They would probably also work really well as zoom bursts - by zooming the lens in and out while taking the photo. This would add an extra level of dynamism in the image - if that's what you're after?

Or I could also have experimented with multiple exposures, overlaying different colours and sizes of lights to get some interesting effects?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disappointed with the shots that I got on the night. But often we are so 'focused' (excuse the pun) on what we are doing that we don't stop to consider if there are other ways of exploring the subject we are photographing.  Some of the other ideas might not have worked, and I may have ended up liking the images I initially took anyway. But at least I would have stretched myself a bit more, and experimented with a few more techniques.

Christmas Bokeh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII
I'm still very happy with the images that I did manage to create on the night - especially the more abstract ones. They work very nicely as backgrounds, as can be seen above.

So from me, to you, Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017. If you have been a regular (or even occasional) reader of this blog, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you've found something interesting from the last year of blogging, especially if you are new to micro four thirds and the Olympus system.

On a personal note, Blogger has informed me that my last post was number 200! I guess that's not setting the blogging world on fire, but it's something of a milestone for me at least. If you have read any of those 200 posts, I'd love to hear from you. Please do drop me a line and say 'hi'. And let me know if there is anything Olympus, micro four thirds, or just photography related that you would like me to cover in 2017? It would be my pleasure.