January 23, 2007

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul

Filed under: Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 6:38 pm


Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. ~Henry Ward Beecher

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do.
Henry David Thoreau-Walden

It had been the best of days, it had been the worst of days, but it was coming to an end. (more…)


January 18, 2007

Back side, front side: letter to Marthinus

Filed under: Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 3:21 pm


Kia ora tatou:

Some months ago, I received an email from Marthinus Retief, a photographer in South Africa, asking me some pointed questions about what I felt when I photographed, a pointed question if ever there was one.

Since then we have had an ongoing conversation which i felt( and Marthinus agreed) we should share.

Think of it as a work in progress. You can read it in the pages at right….



January 10, 2007

And soon I heard a roaring wind

Filed under: Story Posts, Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 1:04 pm


And soon I heard a roaring wind:

It did not come anear;

But with its sound it shook the sails,

That were so thin and sere.

The upper air burst into life!

And a hundred fire-flags sheen,

To and fro they were hurried about!

And to and fro, and in and out,

The wan stars danced between.

The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to…”;

– Frodo to Sam

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, to follow the wind. Sometimes a chain of events flows from a single decision, from a single choice, and sometimes that choice isn’t really one at all. (more…)

December 28, 2006

Kevin Jones on Art

Filed under: Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 4:31 pm

Kia ora tatou:

One of the reasons I moved to WordPress was this essay on Art (or is that art) emailed to me by Kevin Jones, which is LOOONNNGG. There was no easy way to post something this valuable and thought-provoking….until now. He writes:


I read a review of John Carey’s forth-coming book, “What good are the Arts?”, and immediately ordered a copy. I waited with eager anticipation to learn about a mystical subject that had eluded me all my life because the author is a recognised critic and writer who, it was claimed, was not hindered by conventional thinking. I looked forward at last to being informed on the fundamentals of art appreciation and the secrets of discernment.

The book arrived and I was profoundly disappointed. (more…)

December 26, 2006

Of positive and negative space

Filed under: Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 4:33 pm

The camera will never compete with the brush and palette until such time as photography can be taken to Heaven or Hell.
Edvard Munch
Photography has always reminded me of the second child.. trying to prove itself. The fact that it wasn’t really considered an art that it was considered a craft.. has trapped almost every serious photographer.
Richard Avedon

It had been raining and it was going to rain. We sat in a comfortable trough between the voluminous skirts of one front and the impressive splendour of the next. For the time being the weather was charging its batteries, taking stock, lining itself up for the next charge across the district. (more…)

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

Filed under: Technical posts, Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 4:31 pm

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
-Ansel Adams

Considered logically this concept is not identical with the totality of sense impressions referred to; but it is an arbitrary creation of the human (or animal) mind.
-Albert Einstein

Kia ora tatou:

A number of you have posted, asking if I would share a few of my secrets involved in making my images, or more specifically, what techniques I use.

Well, there aren’t any. Sorry, but it’s true. (more…)

Four photographs-One day

Filed under: Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 4:27 pm

Many Photographers are concerned only with the subject and they seek to render it as it is. Often they fail to observe that the lighting and the atmosphere adorn and transform even the most humble and commonplace objects.

Leonard Misonne (1870-1943)

As a photographer you enlarge or emphasise certain moments, making it another reality. In the photograph you can scrutinise all kinds of details, you can see things you would normally not pay so much attention to.

Rineke Dijstra (1959-)

The weather was shuffling the cards. After days of warm Norwest winds, the whole district knew a change was on the way. Everybody was talking about it. The whole district was holding its breath. As so often happens here in New Zealand, weather is a sure-fire topic of conversation. You can use it when you meet someone for the first time, or as a space-filler when you short of something to say. It’s a Kiwi thing. Up here in the Maniototo weather has a much greater significance, a much greater importance, plays a more significant role in the life of the district. It’s a rural community and life on the land turns on the whim of the weather.

What was coming became obvious late on Thursday evening. The sky was sinking into a kind of grey mournful torpor. The wind had died away, and the light was taking on a grim sombre appearance. Down at the end of the valley the storm was gathering, sizing up its foe before it struck. Then, as day and night changed guard, the storm raced into town. I went to bed and lay there, listening to it plucking spitefully at the building.

By morning it was gone. A blue hole had opened above the district, and only the remnants of the previous night’s ferocity prowled along the hills surrounding the basin. But there was more in store. We all knew that.

I couldn’t help myself. I hadn’t made a picture in a week and my 10-plus-a-day rule was well and truly broken. I needed to get out, to be along the land, to look at what had happened, what was going to happen. I packed the truck, so keen to get out that I didn’t bother with breakfast. Somehow I wasn’t hungry. The expectation more than filled me up.

The truck slithered and slurped her way along the yellow gravel roads out towards Wedderburn, occasionally waggling her behind coquettishly in the soft slushy surface and revelling in the fine yellow mud that quickly coated her flanks and wheel arches. I had driven this road often but always in the opposite direction. Now, in the early morning light, I saw it in a completely different way. I’ve noticed that. You can drive the same road for years and everything looks the same: drive it in the opposite direction and you get a completely new take on it. For that reason, when I’m exploring, I frequently check my rear vision mirrors; the perspective can often be quite surprising.

This particular leg took me out and across the flats at the head of the Valley. Instinct suggested I should take the narrow road to the telecommunications repeater on the top of Little Mount Ida. By the time I got up there, some 1500 feet above the valley, the Norwest wind was picking up. It was arm-wrestling the remains of the southerly storm and, from where I stood, I could look out across the entire valley and see almost out to Cromwell. It was breathtaking being this high and this close to the Hawkdun mountains The sun was doing its best to make a statement, but the high cirrus cloud held it in check. Nonetheless I managed to make a number of pictures before hunger and the soft light drove me back into town.

Although I had things to do, my weather eye was on standby. As I often do I walked down the end of the street and looked to the south. I knew something was coming. Then I saw it; a blue black presence along the bottom of the horizon, and drifting curtains of rain. Above me the hole in the sky was slowly but surely beginning to close. It was time to go out again. There was something new in the weather that I hadn’t seen before, that I wanted to capture.

I headed west across the valley towards the Rough Ridge Range, all the time watching what was happening to the South. Cumulo-nimbus clouds were gathering above the Rock and Pillar Range, giant roiling masses piling up thousands of feet, the advance guard for a storm that was only a matter of hours away. The light was beginning to shuffle in fitful patches across the landscape; the effect was both ominous and eerie.

I worked my way south photographing as I went, until somewhere near Patearoa I ran into the front edge of the storm and the rain on my windscreen turned me back towards Ranfurly. As I came into town, I could see a wall of rain slowly but surely advancing like a line of infantry towards the town. I drove out the other side and climbed onto the hill above the golf course, where I could look back across the town and watch it come. The wind was already beginning to shake the truck as I got out. Above the town, a huge blue black cloud was shambling along like some mythical Oliphant, dragging curtains of rain behind it, a thing of vast and terrifying beauty, a beast of war. I watched it ain awe, then, at almost as an afterthought, reached for my camera. I managed about six exposures before the first heavy drops of rain began to strike me in the face.

As I retreated, the full force of the hailstorm threw itself at the town. Within minutes there was a layer of hail 2 cm thick blanketing everything.

It was 4 pm; time for lunch.


Filed under: Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 4:24 pm


It is my intention…to present to the public, from time to time, my impressions of foreign lands, illustrated by photographic views -Francis Frith (1822-1898)

The physical object to me, is merely a stepping stone to an inner world where the object, with the help of subconscious drives and focused perceptions, becomes transmuted into a symbol whose life is beyond the life of objects we know and whose meaning is a truly human meaning – Clarence John Laughlin (1905-1985)

The storm sneaked into town around mid-morning on Wednesday behind the shirttails of the anticyclone that had been with us for a week now. It wasn’t one of those summer storms, the ones that take a deep breath, draw themselves up to their full height, flex their biceps and tower imposingly before venting themselves. No, rather it was one of those furtive southerly storms that creep up on you, the sort where the first warning of its arrival is a tentative gust of wind and a few spots of rain. You look up somewhat surprised from your cappuccino, realise with a sinking feeling you’re not dressed for it, and retreat for cover. Once it knows it has your attention, that you recognise it , it unloads itself upon you.

Within an hour the drops of rain head turned to sleet and then thickened out into softly drifting snow flakes. I retreated to my flat, wound up every heater I could find, and turned my back on it. Had it been one of those big-bosomed, buxom opera singer storms, I might have ventured out into it, to dance with that and the light. But it wasn’t imposing, it was a Gollum storm, snivelling around in the background, causing trouble in a sneaky, underhanded sort of way. It didn’t deserve to be noticed. Until the next morning.

All night it whined and wept, shook and wrestled with the town, doing its best to get under roofs and inside unwary spaces and looking to kick over anything not tied down. In the end, tired, I turned my light out and left it to its own devices, to do what it would. It didn’t stay long; it wasn’t a storm with guts, with any sort of perseverance. It soon tired of its spiteful game and went on its way.

I was out of bed and on the road early the next morning. I had to go down to town (in this case, a 1 1/2 hour trip to Dunedin) and then be back by midday, so I decided to leave my camera equipment behind. Big mistake. The air was settled and still, scrubbed squeaky-clean ,and the hills appeared as if they had been steadily closing in under cover of the storm. While my back had been turned, the rag-end of a spiteful winter had scattered itself across the hills along the horizon. The clearing cloud above the Kakanuis was still holding back the early morning sun but it was getting in nonetheless, along the gap above the Pig Root, and in the crawlspace above the Danseys Pass. For a moment or two, I wondered whether to go back for my cameras, then decided against it. I was running to a schedule and needed to get down to the coast. Perhaps later.

I got back around 2 p.m, and by now the snow was gone from the plains, retreating slowly back up the hill under the relentless thrust of the incoming warm front. I knew if I didn’t get out amongst it, I would miss out on an opportunity to make something of the event that was moving on. I packed my equipment and headed east towards Kakanuis, knowing it was time to make their acquaintance.
Down towards Kyeburn then back up the Ridge Road towards Naseby, out towards the Danseys Pass. Then, on a whim, I decided to follow the somewhat tentative gravel road up towards the Kyeburn diggings. The road ahead obviously hadn’t seen a grader in quite some time, and Hinemoa shivered and shook on its uneven surface. Ahead of me, off to the right, I saw the first of the clay cliffs that break so abruptly out of the landscape. Up behind them, the snowdraped Kakanuis shimmered and resonated in the early afternoon light. The contrast between the two were so visually surprising that I stopped to look, to take notes, to analyse. Like an insistent dog the scene was barking at me, demanding that I take notice, that I pay attention.

In the viewfinder the scene was even more surprising, and the results on my LCD only served to amplify and delineate what was in front of me. I must have made around 50 images working left to right, exploring, tuning, feeling my way to the Moment. And then it came.

My friend Freeman Patterson maintains that a great image has no less than two and no more than five significant compositional elements. I’m still thinking that one through. The iconoclast inside me, who rebels at any rule and looks for a way to beat it, feels that there may be a way round it. But I haven’t found it yet. This image contains four distinct compositional elements, (if you include the gorse on top of the cliffs as part of the cliffs) ranging from the soft relatively featureless clouds at the top of the photograph to the textured grass along the bottom of the amateur. The smoothness of the snow-covered hills contrasts with the clay cliffs beneath. It’s a composition that, 24 hours later, still satisfies me.

Over a glass of wine (or three), Freeman and I talked one night in Africa about how some images can be roadmarks, marker pegs like the small stone ones that used to line the Roman roads, that told you how far it was from and to the next town. These are points of significance, indicators on a journey. Londinium 24 miles (or whatever the Romans used to measure distance). From time to time, if we keep at it, we will all make roadmark images, photographs that tell us we’ve moved on, that we have come to a place we don’t really recognise, and yet which we know is significant. Freeman maintains the subconscious is always three to five years ahead of the conscious, that the photographs we are making now are the result of a process that began that long ago.

I cannot help feeling that the image I made out on the Kyeburn Road is a Roadmark, a pointer to a process that has been underway for some time; that in some way it is trying to tell me something.

What that is I have no idea.

But it has my attention.

November 21, 2006

Metamorphosis Chapter 33

Filed under: Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 4:41 pm

For over two billion years, through the apparent fancy of her endless differentiations and metamorphosis the Cell, as regards its basic physiological mechanisms, has remained one and the same. It is life itself, and our true and distant ancestor.
Albert Claude

It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.
Franz Kafka

Kai ora tatou:

In what seems like another life, I spent a week with master landscape photographer, Faye Godwin. At the time I wasn’t really into landscape; it was one of many genre choices for me. But I loved her work and the opportunity to learn from her was not to be missed. In the end, it really affirmed that what I was doing was the right path for me-at the time. What she did talk about, however, was the importance of getting to know your subject. In the case of landscape photography, it meant going back again and again, seeing it in different lights and weathers, peeling the layers off the onion. Only then would we be able to get to the essence of the subject. The thought stuck and, as I began to put more and more time into studying the works of the masters, I realised that the Greats inevitably seemed to do this. For Ansel Adams it was Yosemite, for Eugene Atget it was Paris, while Edward Weston favoured Point Lobos. They all seemed to have a place that spoke to them.

Then earlier this year I discovered Haast, in particular the Okuru Estuary. With the time and opportunity to visit and revisit, I began to see new things. At first I photographed the obvious and some happy meteorological accidents, but later as these possibilities exhausted themselves, and things got tougher and tougher, I had to find new ways to photograph the estuary, or rather, to look deeper. I wanted to dig beneath the surface and consider what I was seeing, to fit into some sort of framework. So I kept photographing, studying, analysing and reflecting on what I saw on my monitor. Time and again, I would be convinced that I had “done” the estuary, only to come upon a new line of approach. The estuary became a kind of litmus paper the direction my photography was taking. It was only later that I began to realise that it was an indicator for where my life was at and by extension, where I was at.

It helps, from time to time, to take stock. Last week I got out my photographs of the estuary, arranged them in order of date, and mulled them over. Then I went to the Coast to interview someone for my new book.

Once again I went to the estuary, trying to stay as open-minded as I could, to respond to what presented itself. I took the Leica lens and a tripod. I wanted to keep it simple, to remove as many technical decisions as possible. One lens/focal length, one ISO, hyperfocal distance focusing. I wanted to listen to the Moment.

I went down to the edge of the water at sunset. The tide was in, but the wind was blowing and, frankly its restlessness wasn’t what I was seeking. I wanted to find a point of infinite stillness, a moment of exquisite unity, where time and space held their breath, that precise but difficult-to-define point of crossover between night and day. That meant letting go and listening to the rhythm of the light, the movement of the air and finding the Centre of the Moment.

The Point of Balance. Once again I was brought face-to-face with a mediaeval concept I learned about at university, the concept of mésure (moderation and balance). The idea at that time was that everything should be in balance; light and dark, good and evil, pride and humility, that excess in anything was the path to destruction. That learning has had a huge influence on how I design my photographs and informed my arrangement of the picture space. I needed to feel for the moment and bring the elements before me into a state of balance. The yin/yang symbol, a visual metaphor for the Tao, says the same thing. There can be no absolutes, only degrees of relativity.

As I studied the scene and began photographing, searching for that point of mésure, the wind dropped and the light faded. Sky and water began to come into some sort of tonal balance. Before me the colour had faded away and what was left was a monochromatic blue landscape. The water had faded to a deep blue-black and the sky was a dusky blue. The only land was a a thin-lipped strip across the river, with a few tentative houses clinging to it. What intrigued me was the thin cloud hanging almost invisible above the village. Then, as day faded into night, as so often happens, there was a last flicker in the sky, much like the final flare before a light bulb burns out. For a moment a shaft of light struck the white holiday home across the river. It glowed incandescent and alive. Then it sank into the growing gloom.

As some you know, I have studied martial arts. For a number of years I studied a form of Wu Shu, commonly (and incorrectly) known as Kung Fu. I put it down while my children were little.
Lately I have returned and have begun to seriously study Tai Chi Chuan in its martial form (not the feel-good, watered-down form you see in Pilates or city parks at 6am). A fundamental concept is balance and the idea of finding the Centre then moving around that point, to put it one way. It sounds very simple; it is fiendishly difficult to achieve, because it is not just physical. And there are many years of training required to get any degree of competence. Mastery is a goalpost that keeps moving further and further away. Even the simple act of breathing contains a lifetime of study. In many ways Tai Chi bears an extraordinary similarity to the act of photography. There are infinite levels of understanding, and you have to focus to the point where you become what you are doing.

I continued on into the gloom, lost in Time and Space. As the balance between sky and water narrowed, I made more pictures. Directly before me the incoming tide was now covering a log in the water. The exposures had moved out to 30”, flattening and soothing the restless water. I moved the log into the frame. In the deepening shadows it had become a mysterious shape, a metaphor, a Doorway for the Dead. It sat there in the tide like some sort of key to a deeper mystery, raising one knowing eyebrow and challenging me to seek to know more. Then the remaining light, which had held on to the very last, sputtered and went out. It was time to leave.

When I edited the images a couple of days later, I was intrigued. In some way I have yet to define, my understanding had altered, had metamorphosed. It was as if a number of disparate but parallel threads were knitting together. The photographs had the simplicity I was seeking, yet they asked more questions than they answered.

As I edited the images, looking for the best way (if any) to crop them, I found myself moving the horizon closer and closer to the upper frame edge, compressing the sky into an ever-narrowing area of the picture. I began limiting the information along the top of the photograph. It felt right. It felt accurate.

Just now the future is full of uncertainty and possibility, and I am peering over the horizon of today, like the navigators of old, hoping to spy landfall soon.

Arohanui e

November 18, 2006

Rhythm of the Road

Filed under: Technical posts, Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 2:13 pm

There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones
-Dire Straits

The most important skill of the photographer is to know how to see. Yes, one sees through one’s eyes, but the same world seen through different eyes is no longer the same world; it’s the world seen through that individual’s eye. With just one click, the lens captures the exterior world at the same time as it captures the photographer’s inner world.
-Germaine Krull (1897-1985)

Sifting through the thoughts that lead you on
Find the door that’s open, now you’re gone
We softly say to our-ourselves
If we could be anybody else..

It had been one of those days. One of those frantically busy days where you have a lot to do, a lot to cram into a short space of time. But it was done and the road home was calling. Three days in Christchurch, three days of catching up with friends, three days of taking care of business. But it was done, and the clamour was behind me. I was looking forward to getting back to the open-armed welcome of the Maniototo.

I stopped for tea with some friends just north of Oamaru. Kathryn asked me which road into the valley I would be taking and naturally assumed I would cross over the Danseys pass. No, I replied, I’m going up the Pig Root. I really enjoy the surprises on that road.

I left just after 7 p.m., and by the time I turned off the main road at Palmerston, the shadows were beginning to claw their way east across the landscape, filling in the hollows in the landscape, putting day on the back foot. Night was on the advance, and the brazen bowl of the day was in full retreat. Changeover is a fascinating time for a photographer, a brief period when night and day seem to be in balance. I think being a Libran really makes me appreciate this time.

The road winds in and out of small river valleys, rising around 2000 feet over the 60 odd kilometres it takes to break into the Maniototo. It begins in the lower section of the Shag River and follows it, keeping a respectful distance and then dropping in from time to time to see what has become of it. The last glimpse, somewhere near the summit, shows a wide expansive trout stream that has shrunk to a nervous jittery creek. Every corner offers a new perspective, a new take, a new angle, a new surprise to be considered. It’s a driver’s road, with sweeping cambered corners that coil, that compress, that slingshot you on to the next, that allow you to dance with and build up a rhythm for the road.

It’s a beautiful stretch of road at any time of the day, but in the early evening the pointing fingers of shadow give it a mystery, a magic that is quite unique. It’s not one of those roads where you drive for hours and, somewhere near the end, realise you can’t really remember any of it. It’s a road with a vocabulary you have to learn, it’s a road that builds upon itself and offers you something new you every time you drive it.

The road builds and builds and climbs towards the light towards the shadow end of day lying along the horizon, lying above the hills to the West. It rises to a crescendo then, offering another surprise, drifts softly and knowingly away. The Kakanuis off to the right reflect the tail-end of day, basking in the last fading remnants of daylight.

Now the hills, which have held me in for the last 40 minutes, which have made sure I kept my eyes on the road, fall back to either side as I slide down into the wide-open swoop of the plain. The diesel relaxes its shoulders and drops happily into overdrive as we murmur our way across the plain.

The long slow angle of the light is breaking up the landscape around me, disassembling it, showing me a component view of what is around me. I’m itching to make a photograph, because I have a new toy. Hayden, who cleans the sensors on my cameras, has given me a 50 mm Leica Summicron lens machined to fit on my Canon. As he hands it to me, he gives me a quiet smile and says, I’ll be interested to know what you think of this. It’s the end result of a series of discussions we’ve had about the resolving power of the L-series lenses I’ve used since I switched to Canon a few years ago.

One thing I’ve come to realise is that a digital sensor can resolve far more detail than film. At 100%, micro-detail is rendered far more precisely than film ever could. But there is a corollary to this. To get this detail requires rigorous picture-making technique. The old 1/focal length rule, where the slowest speed you should handhold is the next one above the focal length of the lens you’re using, just doesn’t hold true for digital. To get that super fine detail you need when you’re making big enlargements, you should use 1/2x focal length. You need to use a heavy tripod and, where possible, mirror lock-up. Good filters, if you use them, are a must. Because I want to make very large works, I’ve had to get fussier and fussier about my technique.

But there’s still not enough. Shooting in Raw and correcting my pictures, I’ve come to realise that the weak link in the system is the lenses. A 16-megapixel sensor is capable of resolving incredibly fine detail. Once you become aware of that, nothing less will do, but to get it you need the best optics possible. Ordinary optics just mush the microcontrast necessary to bring that detail out. The higher end Canon optics, to my mind, just don’t do the sensor justice.

So call me anal.

For some time I’ve heard rumours about photographers who use Leica optics, generally accepted to be the finest glass in the world, on their higher end Canon DLR’s. I know of one leading New Zealand landscape photographer who does this very thing. And I wanted to find out for myself.

When I began in photography, every camera you bought came with a 50 mm lens. Of course, the first thing you did when you bought your camera was trade in the 50 mm lens for a zoom or a telephoto or a wide-angle. It took me some 25 years to realise that the 50 mm lens is actually one of the most useful focal lengths. You just have to know how to drive it. In the right hands it can look like a tele, or a wide-angle or something in-between. I have heard that it was Henri Cartier-Bresson’s favourite focal length, and a pretty much all the great photographer Ernst Haas ever used. Using a single focal length is also incredibly good discipline and helps you understand the unique personality it can give to your photograph.

Somewhere on the hill between Kyeburn and Ranfurly the opportunity came. The sun was just touching the old man range out to the West in the shadows for as long as they would ever be. If I was going to make some photographs I had little more than a couple of minutes in which to do them. As I came round the corner, off to my right light and shadow played against each other like interlocked fingers. The sky had that serene quality peculiar to this area. I made maybe 20 photographs my final images included the road sign; the very last of the sunlight, skimming the road, had picked up the sign and made it glow against the green fields in the blue sky.

It seemed fitting and somehow iconic end to a magic drive.

Oh yes, the answer to the question I can hear a number of you asking. When I processed the file in Lightroom I was somewhat stunned by the results. Yes, the ability of the Leica lens to resolve microfine detail is to my mind, at this stage, streets ahead of any Canon optics I’ve used so far. Frankly it’s quite staggering-and I didn’t have time to use a tripod. What I found distinctly interesting however, was the way that it renders colour. The processed image doesn’t have anywhere near the saturation and contrast that my other lenses deliver, and I found myself reaching for the vibrancy and saturation controls and tweaking them up. What it does deliver is a smoothness of tonal transition that is quite analogue in its characteristics.

I’m impressed.

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