Vincent Long and Panasonic Lumix G-Series Digital Cameras

 

ON SATURDAY, 29 May 2010, I had the opportunity to meet and listen to photographer Vincent Long (Australia) speak about his experiences as a brand representative of Panasonic’ Lumix G-Series of Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras. It also gave me the opportunity to listen and speak with similar enthusiasts.

The attendees were a mixed bunch and not all holding a Panasonic branded digital camera. It didn’t matter much as some of what Vincent Long had to share is quite universal for photo-taking. There are of course specific advantages that the Lumix G-Series has to offer.

I had not actually owned or touched a Lumix G-Series camera until a day before the event. So, I had been thrown into the deep end and coming to grips with the camera. However, since my intention for getting a G-Series was to shoot completely manual left me to deal with changing only a few settings and didn’t get too complicated with the automatic or semi-automatic shooting modes.

Vincent shared with us his mental thought processes, planning and waiting to take many of his travel shots which covered landscape (urban), people, architecture and general street photography. Here’s some of the tips he shared.

Recce (reconnaissance)

  • get maps of the location
  • do web research (wikipedia, google maps, etc)
  • find the high points
  • local guides (if you can afford – helps with language barriers and location barriers)

Preparation (Kit)

  • tripod (for a Lumix, small and light as they don’t have the heavy bulk of long lenses)
  • LED torch lights (for americans – flash lights)
  • Gels (useful for changing the colour of flash output to influence white balance of scene)
  • Bean bags (useful for steadying quickly and easily on uneven surfaces or even in your hand)
  • Filters – Polariser and ND filters (when asked he says he doesn’t bother with other colour filters)
  • Tape – gaffer tape (it is like duct tape is a mechanics lifesaver)

Of course Vincent had a lot more to share about his kit and often he rambled on in a way it isn’t easy to document in point form. Personally, I’d add that you need to understand what, where and when you are shooting to know what is best to pack in a kit. So, for me it varies and I have a variety of bags to suit the situation. Vincent did add that the Lumix has a distinct advantage of not having to necessarily carry a big backpack or shoulder bag which can be a big turn-off for street photography and a big attraction to would be thieves.

Rules

  • the “Rule of Thirds” is not a hard and fast rule
  • lighting rules (practice and teaching) is also one that can be bent

I felt that what was conveyed is that even though you may be schooled to follow a certain foundation of good photography you can always break them to achieve the end result. Vincent shared that his strength in not necessarily following rules is being able to reproduce the end result consistently.

Miscellany

  • shooting up-close and personal often makes better shots than far with zooms
  • time of shooting – early morning and late afternoon
  • speak to the people and try to do so in their local tongue

At the end of the seminar a group of us had the opportunity to take an assignment from Vincent and at the end we could review together and he would comment. The assignment, shoot at least ten photos, like a series that would tell a story of the area. We were at The Arts House near to Parliament House, the Singapore River and Boat Quay. We had one hour to shoot.

The time of day was not ideal and Vincent recognised this. It was scorching hot and blindingly bright. Here’s some observations while handling the Lumix GH-1 and seeing the other GF-1 users.

  • Bright sunlight makes using the external LCD almost impossible, viewfinder users win. Thankfully, the GH-1 has both the external LCD and the EVF (Electronic ViewFinder)
  • Carrying the small kit bag was essential because the humid and hot weather conditions would have made walking around with a full-sized DSLR with a backpack full of gear an exercise and not fun
  • It is easy to strike conversations with a passerby, tourist or worker when your gear isn’t sticking out all over the place
  • K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Sweet, often times we try to catch everything in frame and that can lead to a distracting and noisy result

I’ve summarised my end result into a montage of shots. I shot a whole lot more but I felt as did Vincent that these were the more interesting ones.

I enjoyed the day very much as I got acquainted with the Panasonic Lumix GH-1. I had a similar experience speaking with National Geographic photographer, Bob Madden. You can read that story over here.

If you think Panasonic Lumix G-Series cameras interests you now. Hop on over the Panasonic’s site here.

You can find Vincent Long on the web here.

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