This blog is mostly closed. Future posting is at Vavatch
Well, like I said in my post about the XA, I took some photos with the Mju while at the wedding in Cyprus. Nothing award-winning, but both photos remind me of wandering up and down Limassol's strip. I especially liked the palms on the roof of the hotel up the road. I stayed at the Arsinoe and had a great time. Thank you again, Fouey and Nick!
It's funny to think that the camera that took these bright, sunny, touristy photos is the same one that took this shot of Wenceslas Square, in Prague.
Olympus XA: the Mju's Mum
The Mju is a great little camera: autofocus, autowind, autorewind, spotmeter... It does it all for you.
Aha, but... Suppose you don't want it all done for you?
Suppose, in particular, that you didn't want the Mju to use flash? You can turn flash off, but it doesn't stay off once you've closed the camera and, while it's the only thing about the Mju that annoys me, it does annoy me.
Suppose you wanted something like a Mju, maybe Mju-sized, that you could control a bit more? No flash. Aperture control. Manual focus. You have to go back in time a bit, but it's possible.
Enter the Olympus XA.
Like the Mju, the XA has plenty of fans online, so I don't have to say too much. It's a compact rangefinder, with a 35mm/f2.8 lens (sounds familiar?) as well as the same sort of lens protection as the Mju. You set the film speed and the aperture manually. You focus using the lever below the lens (see below). When you release the shutter, the XA sets the film speed for you. Point, click and wind. Size wise, it's about the same as the Mju. XAs were produced between the mid-'70s and mid-'80s.
Guess what? I just got an XA for all the reasons outlined above. The Mju isn't going to be retired by any means, but I have noticed that most of the best photos I take seem to come from the Mju, so I wondered whether it's just because it's a small camera and I seem to worry less about what it's doing and more about what I'm shooting. Who knows. Anyway, I'll post a few XA photos when I get them. Time will tell.
You can learn more about the XA at diaxa.com's XA page
, at Camerapedia
, and also at the XA page
on Karen Nakamura's Photoethnography site. The Other Martin Taylor also has an XA page
. These links will also take you to FAQs and a manual in PDF.
OK. Now to scan some Mju photos. It's been a while since I had anything to show, but now I have some from Cyprus. Any day now!
Masters Of Photography
I've a roll from the Mju being developed at the moment, so maybe a new photo or two soon.
Meanwhile, I discovered the Masters Of Photography
site. If you haven't been there already, go there now and browse around. There's a huge variety of work from photographers old and new. Well worth a visit if you are interested in photography.
Prague: Admiral Botel and the Vltava river by night
Two more night photos from Prague. I did the same thing with these photos as I did with the photo of Wenceslas Square - flash off, put the mju on a wall, timer on, stand back.
The first is of the Admiral Botel
- a floating hotel I stayed on. I had a cute little cabin. Lying in my bed at night, I could hear ducks quacking quietly outside the hull. Olympus Mju-II, Ilford XP2
The other is of reflections on the river. I was walking back to the hotel around midnight and the reflections in the water were beautiful. Olympus Mju-II, Ilford XP2
Prague: Wenceslas Square
I went to Prague a few weeks ago. The first night I arrived, I went out for a walk. I headed up Wenceslas Square and ended up at the top end of the square, near the National Museum. In front of the museum is a statue of St (King) Wenceslas. I'm a complete sucker for the square. I've been to Prague twice, but before I was ever there, I remember seeing TV footage of the square in 1989, full of students and demonstrators, implementing the Velvet Revolution. Everybody clustered around the statue of Wenceslas. There's a photo of them here
. In front of the statue, there's a plaque to Jan Palach, a student who set fire to himself in the square in 1968, in protest at the Soviet invasion. The square is to Prague what Place de la Bastille is to Paris. This is where the people protest and where governments are overthrown. When you ponder all of Prague's history and especially the two big events of the communist period, in 1968 and 1989, it's hard not to feel emotional when you're looking down at this historical, beautiful, revolutionary square.
So - my first night. It was late - maybe 11pm - and I only had the Mju. I headed up to the Museum, walked onto the first terrace and looked down on the square. This is what I saw. The square is actually more of a long rectangle. I wanted to bring back a photo of the memory. It's one of my favourite places in Prague. So, what's the best way to photograph this? What I did was this: switch off the flash, put the camera on the balustrade, point the camera out at the square, set the timer and let the Mju do its thing.
And this is what I got, which I reckon was the best photo I took in Prague. Click it for a slightly bigger version. Olympus Mju-II, Fuji 400CN chromogenic b/w film.
On the print and maybe your screen, you can see all the way down the square. This is a very sharp print. I'm planning to blow it up to an 8x12 print and frame it. There's a bit of tourist info about the square here
It is somewhat annoying - although predictable in some ways - that despite the money I have spent on cameras over the years and despite the fact that I can take the occasional good photo with an SLR or TLR, sometimes even guessing the exposures, the best photos often come from this lovely little camera.
The English Market, Cork City, Ireland
I took this black and white photo from the Prince's Street entrance to Cork's English Market.
I'm from Cork. When I was a kid, this market was a dark, dingy place where people went to buy food at prices cheaper than the supermarkets. You could buy tripe, spare ribs, chicken, black pudding, fruit and veg, odds and ends. Customers were usually either the poor or people who were careful with their money. The ground seemed to be a sort of soft tar that had been ground into a dark substance over decades. Many people in Cork had their favourite stalls and might only go to the market to visit one market stall.
Nowadays, Celtic Tiger Economy days, the market has had a make over. The floors are tiled, the roof lets in light, there's a lovely cafe/restaurant upstairs. This is how it looks. If you visit Cork, go there. Olympus Mju-II, Fuji 400CN (Chromogenic b/w film), handheld.
It's been a while.
Well, it's been a while. I haven't used the Mju for a while and when I did, I typically left half a roll in the camera. Recently, however, I seem to used it quite a bit. So for those of you who love the Mju, read on up...
The Flickring Mju
If you're very clever, you can do a Boolean OR search on Flickr for photos tagged with either mjuii or stylusepic. Or you can just watch the slideshow from here
. You'll need a quick connection though. This is a lot of content.
Had a nice comment on Mju-Mju from a guy in Portugal who carries a Mju around regularly. Several of the photos on the blog are shot with a Mju and often on Ilford XP2 film, which is also a favourite of mine. Others are shot on a Nikon. Nice photoblog and nice to see people using Mjus with XP2. Have a look.
Cropping can be good
A quick crop and desaturate of one of the pics below and you get this. Which fills the picture more, I think. The Mju's viewfinder is offset and while I try to allow for this, in close-ups, it can be tricky to judge.
Then again, a "panoramic" crop can be fun too. The Mju's lens is sharp enough to let you play with stuff like this and still keep detail.
Paris... Mon amour II.
Today's second Paris post. I don't spend a lot of time in churches as a rule (and that's an ideological rule, not just because I'm a backslider). However, I'm a sucker for St Chapelle, the famous church in Paris whose interior seems to have been hard-carved from stained glass. That's a lot of glass and two thirds of the glass dates back to the thirteenth century. I don't have any cameras that could do justice to this fabulous place and it's only thanks to Steve's wife, CJ, that I ever saw it at all. Last time I was there, I took the Mju and this is what I got. From what I can remember, I'd switched the flash off and had the spot pointing at the statue.
Paris... Mon amour.
If you know me, you know I love Paris with a passion. These are two pics I took on my last trip. Both with the Mju. They're from the roll as the photo of the door in Tarragona below. These two ladies sit elegantly outside the Hotel de Ville - French for City Hall. If you look up at the City Hall behind them, you can see the basic principles of the French Republic chiselled into the stonework: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
Tarragona is an ancient walled city about an hour's rail journey southwest of Barcelona, in Spain. During the Roman era, Tarragona - or Tarraco as it was then - was the leading city in the Roman province of Hispania and one of the leading cities in the Empire. The emperor Hadrian, famous for the wall built across northern England, was born here. It's still a gorgeous little town, full of history, museums, nice bars/cafes and things to see and well worth a visit if you're ever nearby. The history museum and the (free!) museum of modern art are especially recommended.
The pictures below show an ancient door I saw in a sidestreet. The b/w photo is a desaturated version of the colour photo. I like both. The film was Superia 200, which I am beginning to love with a passion. It's fabulous in bright light.
No sooner said...
...than done. I have a new blog for medium format work. It's at http://6cmx6cm.blogspot.com/
. It will include photos from the Lubitel, Holga and perhaps a couple from my old Rolleiflex.