A Shift in Focus...

Well, the past year has been a very hectic one between my spouse losing, then finding, then moving to a even newer job, shake ups at work, and really terrible wet weather.  Due to this my usual outdoor photography  suffered a near fatal death this year with very few decent shots and minimal motivation to endure the wet and cold to attempt to get more.

  But, this has allowed me to search for more indoor related photo subjects and in the process rekindled a old love of mine from my childhood day.  Building Blocks.  Yeah go ahead and laugh.

  But seriously, I discovered that these little block sets, specifically from Mega Bloks/Mega Construx, are perfect photo subjects.    With my admittedly very limited and poorly designed studio I am able to do nice diorama scenes with the models and figures quite adequately, so mu photography has shifted pretty much exclusively to this genre for a while as I explore this new area.  Enjoy the new world!

Gear Follow up....Olympus OM-D EM 5

Back in December I wrote a post explaining my decision to commit to the Micro 4/3 format with the purchase of the Olympus OM-D EM 5 camera body.  I have been using it exclusively since it arrived and along with the purchase of two additional lenses, (12-50mm EZ and 40-150mm) I have been experimenting and learning the quirks and abilities of the new system.  I must admit, I am impressed.

 Coming from the APS-C format with my previous camera (Canon EOS M). I was a little leery of going to such a , comparatively, tiny sensor.  And I can now say that my worries were unfounded. As some of the images I have posted since I got the camera show, it is a quite capable system even with the basic 14-42mm cheap kit lens and the upgraded kit lens (12-50mm EZ) just improves on the capabilities, and makes the system weather resistant which is always a plus here in Chicago during winter. I have been posting my test shots over on my Facebook page since I don't really think they are worth posting here on Arcsylver.com just yet. But I have done some private headshot shoots for a couple of clients with very good results in the new studio setup.

 

  I am very pleased with the decision to go with micro 4/3 as my primary format. I of course still have and use the Canon EOS M as well as shoot on film using both my Canon EOS 1 and my Pentax K 1000.  I just tend to use the Olympus for my workhorse now more than the others.  

 

  Currently looking to save up for the Pro series lenses Olympus makes to take advantage of the stunning sharpness those lenses produce.  Those will take a lot of penny pinching to get but should make for a very good investment long term.

Nearly there....

With the latests additions to the pocket studio things are starting to really shape up nicely

  By the end of the month things should be rolling and the imaging side of things should be well in hand. The Audio section is getting a much needed update as well but that is for a future post once things are set up nicely.

Studio progress...

  Amazon.com and I are getting far too familiar lately.  

  Light stands, lights, umbrellas, backdrop stands, backdrop, music stand, mic isolation filter, pop filter on the way and much more still on the wish list for later.

 

  The good news is the beginnings of a studio are in transit. The bad news, my studio is in the hands of USPS and UPS.

Photo Studio....Phase 1

  On Christmas day, after the presents and requisite contacting of various familial associations, I spent quite some time in the train wreck that was our spare bedroom.

Photo Studio Before  

 

  After much time and enough effort to exhaust little ole me, the end result was a pristine space awaiting the first of the new studio lighting and other gear.

 

Photo Studio After

 

New Gear, New Beginnings...

With the new year comes a new studio.  I am awaiting the arrival of new lighting equipment as well as my first step towards that new direction I spoke of last post.  

I have decided to forgo the DJI Osmo for now and instead went with the Olympus OMD EM-5. 

The reason was simple really. The base Osmo is proprietary. The DJI Inspire Pro uses a micro 4/3 camera.  The Upgraded Osmo uses the same camera. So a micro 4/3 still camera just fits better in the overall scheme.  So the Osmo and the Inspire Pro have been pushed towards the end goal of things more than the beginning. Still on the table for now though.

With the new camera and the beginnings of a proper studio lighting setup things look promising in 2016.

My Disappointment in Canon... And my switch to DJI.

  Thank you Canon USA for making this decision much less painful to make.  I have really enjoyed your Camera. I STILL love my Canon EOS 1 film camera and will continue to use it any time I shoot film.  However, your recent sluggishness and refusal to admit that Mirrorless is where photography in general is heading and not your cherished DSLR stable.  Please. Get a clue before you are left behind by the companies who have embraced the smaller form factors and formats.

 

  As to the decision, I have been searching for a replacement for my Canon gear as my daily rig.  My little Canon EOS M has been a true pleasure to use but the continued lack of full support for the M series has lead me to think Canon isn't fully committed to the system, at least here in the USA.  This in turn lead me to look elsewhere for my imaging and audio needs.  I need a good, stable system that can do high quality video and photos.  It does not need to be some multi lens 100 pound monster I have to lug around with me as I explore my world and create my images.  It needs to be high quality. It needs to be easy for me to use so the equipment doesn't interfere with the process of creating my images.  A DSLR system sadly doesn't do this.  I wanted much more than what Canon has on offer utility wise. 

 

  This brings me to DJI.  Yeah, that's right, the Multi-rotor Aerial Camera makers.  I will be saving up to purchase three products from DJI to do nearly ALL of my needs for this site and my projects.  

  First the DJI Osmo. ( DJI Website ). A compact all in one unit that allows me to shoot 4K video as well as 12 Megapixel stills in a nice, non intimidating package.  Something I really appreciate as I wander the city looking for things to image.  

 

Second, The DJI Phantom 3 Professional ( DJI Website ). This will be my initial venture into Aerial Photography as well as video.  A truly idiot proof solution that will enable me to "rise above" the clutter to get amazing images from a perspective I have never before explored.  This brings me to the ultimate end goal.

 

 The DJI Inspire 1 Pro/RAW. ( DJI Website )  This unit will allow me a much higher level of aerial capability than the Phantom 3 with a much better quality camera that , if I choose to, can accommodate Micro 4/3 lenses.  Which goes along perfectly with my previous post from last year regarding the Olympus OM-D EM 1.  I can still get the OM-D and use the lenses on both the still camera or on the Inspire.  Both of which have that "Professional" look, many people expect.

 

  Not that this change will occur quickly, or soon.  These Item however will ultimately cost me LESS than the desired Canon EF system gear I had so lovingly wish listed over at B&H.  By about $5000.   So yeah, Thanks for the great images Canon.  I will see you in the air!

 

 

Time for a change

A while back I purchased a Canon EOS M, EF-M 22mm F/2, Canon EF-M 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 and the 90EZ flash unit.  I have loved using this little powerhouse of a camera but sadly Canon U.S.A. has decided to leave the users of it completely adrift in the US.  

 

 They have not continued with the M line since it's release and abysmal sales until Canon sold the overstock at fire sale prices to clear the inventory and no new M gear has hit the shelves since here in the states.  You can import the items from Canada, or any of the other countries that have it (read: Most of them) but you cannot get them here.  This is bad for me.

 

  I really like the M.  It is a fantastic little camera for how I shoot. It gets great images when I don't screw up.  Sadly Canon has made it hard for me to continue supporting the line when I need more.

 

  So with all that in mind I have been window shopping around the net and stumbled upon what may well be my next step in photographic progression.  

 

 The Olympus OM-D EM-1 micro four thirds system.  It has every feature I have been looking for, and drooling over in the big Canon cameras like the 6D, 5D Mark III, etc.  It is weather sealed. It has excellent quality glass up to "Pro" grade level. It is extremely well built. It has Wifi control.

 

 Everything I have been looking for in a camera since before I bought the  M.  Oh, I forgot to mention that it also costs less than the Canon Lineup.  That was the final push for me.  I need a good, high quality camera that is rugged, weather sealed and is capable of capturing great images when I do my part.  The OM-D EM-1 seems to be able to provide all that and a LOT more.  So hopefully in the future I will be posting the first images taken with one of these beauties.

Sorry about the dust...

I just finished a bit of rearranging and cleaning up on the site.  

I made a separate blog page for the Burnham Society Podcast, added a new Modelling gallery, reconstituted this blog by copying the old non Burnham Society Posts into a new page to keep the audio projects from cluttering up this blog.

 

  Also some under the hood keywords changes and other such internet hocus locus that only the IT guys care about.

 

  Thanks for sticking around during the redo and I look forward to posting more photos and audio over the summer.

 

Some of the things I Like...

  As I sit here in my humble Roger's Park apartment cleaning far too much leather I got to thinking what it was I like in this world.

 Over the years, my parents instilled in me an appreciation for well crafted goods and also antiques.  I love antique furniture, architecture, and craftsmanship.  A well made, wood and leather creation stirs something in me that modern vinyl, plastic, and metal just can't quite compare.  

 Over the last year, I have finally be able to begin to indulge my love of these sorts of things.

 I blame a good friend of my Husbands who bought, on a whim, an antique writing desk crafted of Mahogany and Brass with a beautiful leather inlayed writing surface.  This thing is monstrous and gorgeous.  It is also our podcasting studio's main station.  

 This was followed by locating new antique shops to buy a nice end table for our living room.  Then my saga really got rolling...

  My husband introduced me to a company called Saddleback Leather Company.  They make some of the best built leather goods on the planet in my opinion.  They are not for the hipster, fru fru crowd. These things are heavy, leather, and speak of a time when people traveled the world because it was there. An unexplored, wonderful, engaging world just waiting to be discovered.  I purchased my husband a very nice wallet and  iPad case ,then later got myself the same wallet, messenger bag, iPad mini case, iPhone sleeve, belt, and Macbook sleeve.  Needless to say, I was smitten by these wonderful leather goods.  I also purchased a Barmah foldable leather hat to wear.   These items are my daily carry every day and everywhere I travel in the great city of Chicago.

 I also spent my time digging through ebay looking for a good quality leather jacket for the winter and found a good deal on a decent one which kept me wonderfully dry and warm during this past winter's deep cold and snow.  

 My taste for high quality goods also expanded into my geekery for electronics.  I became an unashamed Apple fanboy.  I now own a 2012 Retina Macbook Pro, iPhone 5, Retina iPad mini, as well as a 2006 Macbook Pro, and a G4 iMac.  I loved the design of the iMac and bought it more as an art piece than a usable computer.  

  My love of all things antique also expands to the city of Chicago.  This town is chock full of history just waiting to explore.  So much wonderful architecture, culture, and food to explore I don't think I will ever see it all in 4 lifetimes.

  I also purchased a Canon EOS M camera.  This camera was Canon's first attempt at a Mirrorless digital system and I love it.  Such a tiny, yet high quality system it makes it incredibly easy to carry my camera in my bag without feeling like I am lugging a bus on my shoulder by the end of the day.

  Well, Enough of my ramblings.  Hope to see more of you coming to check my images and random wanderings in the future. 

Arcsylver's Future

When I started this website a year ago I envisioned a place I could showcase my photography and podcasting and not much else.  After a year of getting things going, a failed attempt to use a third party service to market my photos, and lots of life changes I have decided that the original plan still stands, with a slight twist.

 

  This year and forward this wite will become my showcase for my various works, as well as my place on the web for my thoughts, likes, dislikes and whatever strikes me to post about.  

 

 I am not a fan of Facebook.  Too much advertising and other annoyances to really be a constructive place for me to gather my thoughts and otherwise let my mental wanderings free. 

Because of this I am going to begin using my blog as my outlet and less the social media hubs out there that can be such a slog to find those gems of goodness.

 

  I hope those of you who have found my little hidden corner of the web continue to come and see my works as they progress and hopefully improve.  

Arcsylver Audio - The Burnham Society Podcast

The Burnham Society Podcast has been an ongoing recording project for Arcsylver Audio for a little over a year now and we are proud to announce that we now offer all Current and future episodes on the site available to listen for FREE!   

As each new episode is available it will have a blog entry here on Arcsylver.com announcing it available for download from iTunes.

 

 For those of you who do not know what the Burnham Society Podcast is,  It is a wonderful audio podcast about the hidden side of Chicago after the Columbia Exposition.  It involves monsters, Fey, Strange Recipes, Demons, lost artifacts, Much more interesting explanations for some of the oddball civil projects as well as one very opinionated Book Store Proprietor who is often your tour guide through this wonderful and weird world of alternate Chicago.

 

 

  Go to the Burnham Society Podcast section to have a listen for yourself. I bet you will be happy you did.   

 

 The Burnham Society is also availible on iTunes.  

Morbacon Theater Company Presents...

As of today, the first professional imaging project for Arcsylver Imaging has been posted to the site and is complete. 

 

 MorMacon Theater Company asked me to capture the rehearsals of the production of Terry Pratchet's Wyrd Sisters.  I was happy to oblige. The images are now posted in a separate gallery section of the website titled MorBacon Theater. 

Progression

I started taking photographs when I was 12.  My father was a newspaper reporter raised in the old school of fully manual film cameras where they would often give the reporter something like a Pentax K1000, a flash unit, and rolls of film and little to no training on how to actually use the camera and cut them loose on the world.  My dad taught me to "chase the needle", referring to the light meter in the viewfinder, to get proper exposures on his camera and I was hooked from that moment on.   

 

 Little did I know what dad DIDN'T teach me.  Things like what the camera does to get that proper exposure.  I didn't learn about ISO, Aperture, F-stops, Shutter speeds, etc. until MUCH later.  After those early days I went on to join my high school yearbook staff as a photographer and page layout guy.  I learned a lot, became the head photographer during my 4 years on the staff and made a lot of decent, if decidedly snapshot quality images.   

 

Then I had some downtime thanks to not having a job, or a camera for a year after high school.  I looked for work and finally ended up joining the U.S. Navy as a Fire Controlman.  Things went well and I even picked myself up a used SLR and started taking pictures again.  This is where I started to finally LEARN.  I tinkered and played with the camera dials and settings and began, through the process of trial and error (mostly error), to learn and understand what the various settings did.  But I had a long way to go still. 

 

  Enter the digital age of photography.  After the Navy, I ended up in Asheville, NC working at Radio Shack.  One day we got this new product in. An RCA 1.2 megapixel point and shoot digital camera that cost upwards of $400.  I just HAD to have this camera!  I saved up and got one and the shutterbug was unleashed in me once again.  I was amazed at what this thing could do.  I would do crazy things at the store demoing the camera like turn on the timer and spin the camera by the wrist strap to show people how accurate the images were even when moving. The darn thing would freeze the cameras motion even when spinning in a circle like a top!  To me, me this was truly amazing.   

 

  Over the next few years I had a few different, low quality, point and shoot cameras which produced adequate pictures but I really wasn't happy with them.  I ended up buying a couple of old Canon SLR's again and shooting film for a while until Christmas 2009. 

 

 This was when my true awakening to the wonderful world of digital imaging occurred. I had asked my father for a new camera that year and he surprised me by buying me a Canon Rebel XS (1000D for those of you not in the U.S.), and a 70-300MM zoom lens to complement the 18-55mm kit lens.  I was hooked once more.  No more film. I could instantly see the images I captured mere seconds after taking them. And best of all it came with software that I could use to not only view but edit and correct them! 

 

  I was finally able to begin to learn photography as a whole.  I have been voraciously studying any resource on the internet about digital photography and how to improve my skills as a photographer since that fateful day.  Today I have realized I have hit another of those milestones.   

 

  I was asked to take some pictures of my partners theater company during rehearsals and my trusty XS let me down.  It just couldn't handle the lighting conditions of the theater very well and I found myself actually embarrassed by the images I was producing.  This was a first for me. Up to that point, I was merrily snapping pictures and didn't really get too critical of those images.  This was different. I was expected to produce quality images for the company and I felt I wasn't delivering. Never mind that everyone loved what I was doing and how they turned out.  I didn't think I was delivering what I was really capable of making. This began to make me think.

 

  Enter my most recent camera.  If you read this blog you know I recently purchased a Canon EOS M kit.  This camera has the capabilities to make the images I couldn't on my XS due to it's limitations.  And I have experienced another growth in my skills as a photographer as a result.  I have found that I had outgrown the XS and with the new hardware new horizons opened up to me that I have been immensely enjoying exploring.   

 

As I learn more and more I discover that you never truly master photography. You evolve and adapt as things improve and change.  There is always some new aspect to learn, Some new experiment.  Something different and exciting to explore.  This is why I do this.  This is my passion. 

 

Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2.0 Pancake, EX90 Speedlite

on 8/8/2013 I purchashed from B&H Photo my next camera.

 

 A Canon EOS M with 22mm F/2.0 Pancake lens, EX90 Speedlite and an extra battery.

I purchased this camera after I did a series of shoots with the MorBacon theater Company and my trusty Canon Rebel XS I have produced most of the images on this site with really left me in the lurch on ISO performance as Autofocus reliability.

I paid $455 shipped. Not too shabby. This camera has been oft maligned for poor autofocus performance since it's release, but with the recent firmware update from Canon it appears this has mostly been solved and the camera is suddenly getting rave reviews even from jaded pros who hated it when it cost $600.  Apparently cutting the price in half is a great motivator! 

 

  Once the new camera arrives I will begin taking shots with it and post the results here on the site.  Here's to hoping that I didn't just make a huge mistake by not keeping the $500 I had saved up so far towards a Canon 6D.  I am pretty confident that I made the right decision.

New Galleries added

New galleries added today.

Fireworks for various photos of Fireworks

51st Ward for pictures that may or may not be associated with an ongoing audio project.

Nature for various flora and fauna shots

Urban for various shots of urban settings and interesting finding