My month in New York City

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
HOT day in the city today, so I took the train out to Coney Island and hung out by the water, where it was substantially cooler. Then the Jerry Springer aspects of Coney Island started to rise up as more and more locals decided it was too nice a day to work and headed for the beach themselves. So I headed back into town, stopped off in Soho to check something out, and took a few more shots on the way to the train. A little thin in the shooting the last few days, but I'm having a nice time and it'll ebb and flow as the muse chooses... All shooting with the X-Pro 1 today...

The modern roller coaster - the Cyclone is still there but looking a little beat in its little corner of the amusement park:
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Sun sacrifice:
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Brighton Beach, which I believe used to be mostly Jewish and now is mostly Russian, Slovak, etc - very little English heard or seen (on the signs) around here today:
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Yeah, I had a dawg and fries and a Lemonade at the original Nathan's. My folks took my brother and sister to Coney Island and Nathan's when they were kids, but that was way before my time - this was the first time I'd ever been there.
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And back in Soho:
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-Ray
 

krugorg

All-Pro
Sep 26, 2011
Minnesota USA
Kyle Krug
I am convinced that you are wearing some type of high-tech stealth suit for some of these, Ray. Love how close it seems you are to some of these people, yet they don't seem to notice you at all (i.e. look natural).
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
On another forum, someone once accused me of having a "cloak of invisibility" - I'm gonna have to start keeping a list! :biggrin: I think its just a matter of shooting from the hip with a camera that's quieter than the ambient environment (which in NYC can be plenty loud!). And knowing how to disguise your glance so they don't think you're looking at them. Because usually by the time I actually take the shot, I'm not...

-Ray
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
It is interesting Ray, to me at least, that I cannot tell from the pictures when you are shooting with the XP1 and when it is with the EPL, except for the night shots.
You know, I was thinking along similar lines :)

Ray, by your own admission you tend to treat an image fairly roughly in PP, and reducing an image down to web size is a big equaliser, but I'm curious as to how big an advantage you are seeing in the XP1 over the E-PL3 as it is coming directly out of the camera. As Dan said, unless you specifically say which camera took what there are no real giveaways here except in the high ISO night images.

Either way, you're getting some super images in the process. Keep them coming!
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
You know, I was thinking along similar lines :)

Ray, by your own admission you tend to treat an image fairly roughly in PP, and reducing an image down to web size is a big equaliser, but I'm curious as to how big an advantage you are seeing in the XP1 over the E-PL3 as it is coming directly out of the camera. As Dan said, unless you specifically say which camera took what there are no real giveaways here except in the high ISO night images.

Either way, you're getting some super images in the process. Keep them coming!
Nic and Dan - first Dan, sorry not to respond sooner. I saw your comment and meant to reply but got on to other things and it slipped my mind. But....

The camera certainly doesn't change what I'm trying for, what I see out in the world, and what I'm after in a finished image. So, in that sense, the finished images should look pretty similar. And unless you're specifically looking for highly specific details in relatively un-treated shots, I wouldn't expect you to see a difference. Except in low light shots which, if that was the only difference, would still be a HUGE difference!

But there's more going on here, in terms of GETTING the shot, both in terms of the comfort of the controls in physically geting the shot and also in terms of the incredible latitude the files have in dealing with imperfect exposures, which happen a lot in street shooting. I'm only working in jpegs to this point (and may never change that) and am only processing in Snapseed on the ipad for these files, which I find to be a really convenient and useable little program, but it doesn't offer NEARLY the control of its bigger brothers, Silver Efex and Color Efex pro versions (which I guess are the only versions). Yet, even with those two pretty significant limitations in mind, the differences between the X-Pro and the EPL3 are HUGE - even the differences between the X-Pro and the X-100 and GXR-28 are substantial.

First off, when I take a shot on a very bright day with a lot of shadows (which I've had a lot of during my stay in NYC so far), the dynamic range in the X-Pro's jpeg files is incredible, by design. I do keep the DR set to auto (to let it float between 100 and 400 percent, as the situation calls for) and the ISO at usually around 1600 for street shooting, so it can use the full 400 percent when called for. I use the high ISO for the DR and to keep both the shutter speed up and aperture small for optimal motion freezing and adequate depth of field for zone focus as I move in and out of shadows and the angle to the sun changes rapidly and I'm constantly working the exposure comp dial (which I LOVE having on the top of the camera with its own display!). 1600 on this camera might as well be base ISO on many, for any differences I can see! For non-street, I use auto-ISO with a top end of 3200 and auto DR and I get a lot of sunny daytime shots that come in at ISO 800, which is what the camera pushes it out to when it needs the full 400 percent of DR. Anyway, using high ISOs, auto DR, and the wonderful exposure comp dial on top of the camera, I'm GETTING more shots to begin with than I would with my other cams.

But inevitably, even with all of those advantages, you're gonna just blow some shots on the street, totally missing the light, burying some key detail in shadow, etc. And the latitude of these files, (even JPEGS processed in Snapseed!!) is pretty amazing. Here are two shots that I missed, the first with the GXR-28 (using RAW), the second with the X-Pro. In both cases, the faces I wanted were really badly buried in shadows. If anything, more buried on the X-Pro shot because it was taken on a sunnier day with much more contrast between the brighter area I managed to meter on and the shadow the women's faces were in. On the GXR shot, I was able to pull the faces up, but there's a LOT of noise. I got a shot that has its own charms, but its just barely on the borderline of useable, and I'd have prefered it cleaner. With the EPL3, this shot wouldn't have had a chance - you'd have never seen it. The X-Pro shot was from the first couple of days I had the camera and I figured it was a lost cause, but decided to have a play with it anyway. And I couldn't believe how relatively cleanly those faces came out of the dark! With a JPEG starting point and Snapseed! I suspect I'll do that much better with Silver/Color Efex once I'm home...

GXR:
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X-Pro 1:
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So that's the fairly large difference between the cameras for the type of work folks around here generally see. But I also like the occasional pretty snapshot of something scenic, which I do somewhere between little and no work on. Shots like this next one, where I pulled the clouds a bit and added a border, but nothing else. And the one after where I ONLY added a border. And what comes out of the X-Pro 1 is simply in another league, even better than the X100, which does this same kind of thing extremely well. Its funny, I've said and meant that I'm not much of an IQ freak - I don't look at test numbers or charts or read a lot of technical stuff (except as concerns high ISO, which I tend to obsess over a bit!). But the X100 and X-Pro 1 are two cameras that have made a liar out of me! There's just something undefineable about the files I've seen from these cameras that make me care - that I can even SEE without tests or numbers. Some of it is no doubt the jpeg engines, but that's OK, the X100 was the first camera with jpegs I've liked so much I never got into shooting raw after some early experiments. The X-Pro promises to do the same, but even moreso.

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That's the long answer to a short question. The OMD looks like it will have some of these same qualities, maybe even a lot of them (!), and if it even comes remotely close, it will be an amazing advance for m43 cameras and bodes well for the future. But I'll be very surprised if it can actually do what the X-Pro 1 does. If it really does, with the versatility and other strengths of the m43 system, it should be an absolute world beater!

In the meantime, I'm loving the Fuji. There's a feel to these cameras I just like and the results are all I could hope for. I've had one foot in the APS camp and one in the m43 camp for a while now. Its a nice balance - I don't see going completely one way or the other for the different strengths the two offer.

-Ray
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
Thanks for taking the time to explain that, Ray. It's just not always easy for us as the viewer to see the differences between cameras with images viewed at web size. I can get an idea of the capabilities of a camera from reviews, sample images, and user commentary but until I get my hands on it and see what it does for myself in conditions and places that are familiar to me it's hard to understand it's capabilities. For instance, the IQ on the new Canon G1X has impressed me more than even the largely positive reviews suggested, and certainly more than the modest DxOMark ratings would indicate. People are saying that the new OM-D has improved dynamic range, but how much better I don't know. A little? A lot? I'm not sure.

Thanks again,
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
My feet are the biggest physical casualty of this trip - I just can't walk around cities all day every day like I used to. Even a few hours a day catches up with me. So I meant to take today off and mostly did, but went out for a few things around lunch time and took my EPL3 and a few lenses. I took the 12 but mostly shot with the 45 and 14-150, figuring I'd zoom with something OTHER than my feet. And largely sort of stuck to that. Most of these are up on the High Line, which is my neighborhood attraction. I'm almost sick of shooting there but its SUCH a great facilitiy and is just jamming on a nice day.

The Maritime Hotel, just a couple of blocks down 9th Ave:

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Ahhh yeah, back to the 12mm:



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-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
After four or five pretty slow days of shooting not much of anything, I had a good day today. It was cool and beautiful and just a great day to be out and about in NYC. I had some street shooting, saw a few really unforgettable faces (a couple of them sort of horrifying), got to play with some cool shadow and light, saw Grand Central (again) and the UN (for the first time), saw a couple of pretty frightening faces, and just generally had a great time. The vast majority were shot with the Olympus 12mm, but a few with the 9-18, and one or two with the 14-150. I had a better than 10% rate of shots I liked enough to process (which is unheard of for me) and it would have been more but some of them were pretty repetitive.

Here's a pretty healthy sampling:

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This face was scarier up at face level than from hip level, but I think it can be fixed if the owner is of a mind to:
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I'm afraid this poor kid has done himself irreparable damage:
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A few happier shots to close:



I was changing lenses not too far from this guy's truck/trailer and he shouted me down and insisted I take his photo. OK, happy to!


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-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Great series. Is that plastic surgery on the young kid?
As far as I could tell. Some kind of Michael Jackson syndrome or something? A few other people walking in the same direction I was commented on it immediately after he went past. I guess you could give him the benefit of the doubt and figure maybe he'd been horribly injured and needed to have it done, but the way he was carrying himself suggested otherwise. Like something you'd see in a horror movie or REALLY bad dream. I feel VERY sorry for him if he finds himself in the midst of full-blown adulthood someday and realizes what he's done to himself.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
A great day of shooting yesterday followed by a thoroughly uninspired one today. A lot of OK scenic shots, a few ok street shots - nothing that really grabbed me. Didn't venture that far from my apt either. Here are a few. I'm pretty sure the first two were with the 14-150 and the rest with the 12mm.

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I've been fascinated by the abundant fire escapes in this town. I haven't really gotten a lot out of trying to photograph them, but I keep trying:
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The whole ensemble works pretty well, but the cell phone doesn't fit:
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-Ray
 

Crsnydertx

Top Veteran
Jan 21, 2011
Houston, TX
Chuck
Enjoying the Greenwich Village shots; I lived there briefly in a long-ago phase of my life. Went to a little below-street level restaurant on Bleecker Street, and at the table behind me sat a young up-and-coming singer/poet named Bob Dylan...
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
That's Mario!!!

And was that "real" person on the one where you wrote the caption, "I'm afraid this poor kid has done himself irreparable damage"??

It looks like a manequin - or at least his face does!
I assume by Mario you mean of Super Mario Bros??? If so, I thought he was kind of pudgy, no?

And, if that guy was a manequin, they're making them REALLY lifelike - he was walking down the street, surfing on his smart-phone, etc. And, yeah, that plastic, seemingly unmoveable face is what I was referring to. I actually didn't get a full look at him when he passed by - too busy shooting, but the folks near me on the sidewalk sure mentioned him. And then when I saw the photo, I just shuddered. Beyond surreal. Like I said, I almost hope he was horribly disfigured and that's what they HAD to do to put him back together. I'm just horrified at the thought that someone might actually do that to himself on purpose! Because it sure doesn't look like something that can be UN-done...

You get used to seeing pretty freaky people in NYC - I don't even notice most of them. It takes a lot to shock me, but this guy really freaked me out.

-Ray
 

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