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Customer Reviews: 38
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Michael Haspert RSS Feed (Mountain View, CA)

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Uncommon Places: The Complete Works
Uncommon Places: The Complete Works
by Lynne Tillman
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $122.63

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First, read the interview at the back., September 25, 2013
(So, this is me coming up to speed on Stephen Shore.)

At first I didn't get it. Page after page of what seemed snapshots except for the high level of detail. I was ready to dismiss it as a mystery-- "The Case of the Missing Point", to be precise.

HOWEVER, some of the shots brought me to a stop-- evocative far beyond the apparent ordinariness of the image. This made me suspect that I had missed something in the images I had dismissed. I didn't learn until the interview at the end of the book what he had been trying to do, or that he was using a view camera to do it. All these shots were 'deliberately trying to look casual', but were also very deliberately composed, with some kind of hook, usually in the detail. Aha. My second time through the book was much more enjoyable.

So if you are studying photography, this book is like a textbook in at least one way: It has some of the answers in the back-- Read the interview first.

Ernst Haas (Photofile)
Ernst Haas (Photofile)
by Ernst Haas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.28
68 used & new from $5.74

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like Leiter, you'll likely like Haas, July 19, 2013
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This review is from: Ernst Haas (Photofile) (Paperback)
I discovered Ernst Haas because Saul Leiter caught my eye and a friend said, "If you like Leiter, you'll love Haas."
Photofile seems to make their books with attention to what matters to a photographer: Reproduction quality is good.
Interesting intro/bio by Virginie Chardin.
All in all, a good value with just a single annoyance: the book contains pictures that span two pages and the alignment is off on some of these.

by Lee Friedlander
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $34.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friedlander + a guide to his work., June 5, 2013
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This review is from: Friedlander (Paperback)
I'll comment on something other reviews haven't yet mentioned: Peter Galassi's 70+ page introductory essay. He apologizes for its length, but in fact it's crucial. He refers to at least 100 of the ~800 photos in the book. Without his commentary I would have been lost. I would have missed the games that Friedlander played and dismissed many interesting shots as 'the case of the missing point.'

Yes, pictures are supposed to speak for themselves. Nonetheless, for someone new to the territory, a native guide like Galassi is extremely valuable.

Once you learn to spot Friedlander's game-du-jour, he is mind-boggling.

Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art
Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art
by John Szarkowski
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.61
80 used & new from $13.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pictoral index to the history of photography, May 26, 2013
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"The Online Photographer" tipped me off to this excellent book, and boy were they right.

This book discusses 100 photographers (100 shots with no artist twice). They are in approximately chronological order. The author discusses why the shots are the way they are in terms of technological limits, expectations/assumptions/conventions of the time, and composition; though not often all three for a single photo.
Following up on each photographer via wikipedia and image search was my roll-my-own version of a History of Photography. (but only up to 1969, which is the date of the last photo in this book.)
When I started, I didn't know that this was what I wanted, but it was.

Sigma C78900 DP2 Merrill Compact Digital Camera - Black
Sigma C78900 DP2 Merrill Compact Digital Camera - Black
Price: $530.00
23 used & new from $474.49

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This camera must be from a parallel universe., May 21, 2013
So much of what other cameras routinely do, it is abysmal at.

1. No image stabilization
2. 100 and 200 are the only satisfactory ISOs for color IMHO.
3. Saving the picture after a shot is slow, probably because of the extra processing Foveon sensor data needs.
4. Raw conversion works but is slow-- same reason.
5. No live overexposure/underexposure warning and jerky LCD, again probably because of the extra processing needed. (There is overexposure warning when reviewing. This is the clue that shows the sensor data has been significantly massaged before being stored.)
6. The camera comes with two batteries. They drain fast--they charge fast. Either get more batteries or a car charger.
7. Does not do well with the sun in the frame: The flare is a particularly weird diamond pattern.
8. One in-camera choice of aspect ratio-- 3:2

********* NONETHELESS **********
When it succeeds, in its narrow niche of landscape or art shot in good light, it is so crushingly good that it earns five stars in spite of its list of flaws.
1. Amazing detail.
2. Smooth gradations in B/W
3. Unique saturated color in highlights.
4. Does a better job of rendering reflections in water and surface of water. It is hard to describe why I think it is better and it's a weirdly specific thing to be better at. Just go look at image samples and see if you see it too.

Miscellaneous advice and encouragement.
1. I wrote this review because in the weeks since I bought it, it has accounted for 10% of my total shorts and 40% of my favorites. hey, that could happen to you.
2. I bought the Hoodman hoodloupe so I could see the LCD in the sunlight. It was either that or throw a towel over my head as if I was shooting a view camera.
3. I actually use a tripod with this camera.
4. The Luminous Landscape website has a long running thread "Merrill DP experiences" which is worth reading from beginning to end to see what you are getting into and to get the consensus on what's worth trying and what's not.
5. The interface seemed clunky at first, but it works oddly well, probably because it has a short list of features to control. You can get to everything you need at shooting time through the QuickSet scheme. I was used to the setup in a half-day of practice. (The exact opposite of wandering through my OM-D's menu maze for a week.)
6. Some people will buy this and will hate it, so check for it used. (Do not confuse it with the old DPs. )
7. Do not get sucked into the meaningless mexgapixel debate. Not all pixels are created equal and who cares how many Bayer pixels equal one Foveon pixel. Just look at the images and see if you like them.

Good hunting.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2014 5:21 PM PST

The Human Division (Old Man's War)
The Human Division (Old Man's War)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $8.99

167 of 175 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is a volume not a complete novel., May 21, 2013
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I enjoyed reading Scalzi's humorous pacing and smart-assed aliens but my joy diminished as I watched the pages-remaining shrink until I finally realized that this was not going to wrap up in one book. It ends, for one sense of the word, like one of the serialized chapters. Furthermore,the end came even more abruptly than I had expected. I got to it and learned that the remaining pages were an extra, not a continuation of the story except in the most tangential sense.

I had skipped the serial method of delivery because I wanted to be able to read through to a conclusion and because I did not want to have one story split into 14 titles on my kindle. So I guess I am still ahead if this is volume 1 of 3, or whatever it turns out to be.

I wish it would have been clear before I bought. This seems so near the border between an honest miscommunication and sleazy marketing that it is irritating.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 27, 2013 5:31 AM PST

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer
by Henri Cartier-Bresson
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from $80.11

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 more stars + why only 11 reviews?, May 21, 2013
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I thought there would be more reviews about something this good.
So many photographers and so few want to invest in lessons from a master?

I bought it as a Christmas present for myself. (I had seen plenty of HCB on the web and wanted a closer look.)
The book has
1. Large duotones in a sturdy binding.
2. A high percentage of the shots I wanted a closer look at.(which I presume means his more popular ones.)

Since Christmas 2012, the price has gone up from $75 to $105. I'd still buy it.
So, in a phrase: Expensive but more than worth it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2013 7:08 PM PST

Perception and Imaging: Photography--A Way of Seeing
Perception and Imaging: Photography--A Way of Seeing
by Richard D. Zakia
Edition: Paperback
Price: $38.83
41 used & new from $6.85

4.0 out of 5 stars A textbook is pretty useless if you don't do the homework, February 5, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a textbook. The end of each chapter has keywords you should have learned and exercises for you to do.
If you believe that you will pick it up, read it and thereby learn something you can immediately use, you will be frustrated.
On the other hand, if you take your time (for example; a semester's worth of time) and explore the exercises--even the ones that seem childish-- you will have learned by applying concepts.

Remedial material and foundation level facts frequently seem like a disconnected 'pile of stuff'. But later, when you try some more challenging task and realize that you are not brought to a stop by details you don't get-- then is when you realize what the basic knowledge is good for.

In summary: It's only worth it if you do it instead of reading about it. Good hunting.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 16MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3.0-Inch Tilting OLED Touchscreen [Body Only] (Black)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 16MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3.0-Inch Tilting OLED Touchscreen [Body Only] (Black)
Price: $599.00
34 used & new from $380.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 thing missing... No buyer's remorse., January 9, 2013
Back in the day I used an OM-4 with a Zuiko 50mm f1.4 to do available-light photography. So, the looks of the OM-D took me on a forced march down memory lane. I read every review I could find as of June, 2012 to reassure myself that I wasn't making an expensive impulse buy.

The evening of day 1 with this camera, I was in front of my house, spinning the controls for ISO, custom WB, and exposure compensation and watching the results of my guesses in the EVF. I was trying to get a plausible rendering straight out of the camera of dusk sky, porch lights, passing cars, and the weird yellow street lights our town has; all in the same shot.

Summary of experimental results:
1. Wow. I can see approximately what I'm doing to color and exposure in the EVF. Off-the-sensor trumps through-the-lens.
2. Holy crap! This thing works in available darkness.

After six months, I have these somewhat more sophisticated thoughts about some failings of a great camera.

1. It has MySets, which is a way to jump to a previously customized setup with one button push. However, you can't name the Mysets, save them elsewhere, or see what is in them after you create them. You can't even determine from the manual which settings are being controlled.

2. You can customize what appears in menus and the functions that buttons and dials perform but you can't save your customizations. The only way to untangle things if you make a mess is to reset all functions and start again.

3. Features sometimes get in each others way. For example, if you want to view already-stored pictures in the EVF, it is possible, but only if the EVF auto-switch is off. If you want to conserve battery by leaving the back screen off except when you want to use it as the super control panel, it is possible, but only if the EVF auto-switch is on. So, if you want both features, you are stuck with an obscure set of button pushes that includes holding a button for 8 seconds to toggle auto-switching.

Luckily, these flaws seem like ones that can be solved in software. Olympus, are you checking reviews? You have a 5 star game-changer camera and some trivial software cleanup to do.

********Edited on 2/20/2013*******
I still very much like this camera. However, when I started using the little kit flash regularly I discovered one more 'unfortunate' design choice. This one is not as easy to remedy as software.

To insert and remove the flash, you have to keep track of 3 small pieces. There is a piece of plastic inserted in the hot shoe to protect it. This is as expected. However, the flash has another connector and both the flash and the camera have little protectors for this connector. This brings the number of things that have to be fiddled with and kept track of in order to simply mount the flash up to five. It's amazing how inconvenient the two 'extra' pieces are if you don't have a place to set things down.

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f1.8 (Silver) Lens for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f1.8 (Silver) Lens for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras
Price: $899.00
23 used & new from $640.00

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 more stars + I can't believe there are so few reviews about something so good., December 31, 2012
I'm an enthusiastic amateur whose lenses do not 'pay their own way' so I was nervous about spending this much. It turns out that even an amateur like me can tell the difference between this and lesser offerings.

Since I'm an engineer it bugs me to say that something is intangible or not quantifiable. Nonetheless, I really like the look of much of what I get with this lens without being able to attribute it to a particular spec of the lens. Maybe it's the overall combination of sharpness, color, contrast, and bokeh. Maybe it's a happy accident of this lens working particularly well with my OM-D's picture-mode settings. Maybe it's what some reviewers refer to as 'rendering'. I just keep thinking, "Wow."

In a phrase: "Expensive, and more than worth it."

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