• Andy’s E-BOOK — Photography Travel Guides

  • PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS!!

    All Images and writing on this blog are copyrighted by Andy Richards. All rights are reserved. You may not, without my express, written permission, download, right click, or otherwise copy my images for any reason. Copying an image and putting it on your blog, website, or even as a screensaver on your computer is a breach of copyright, EVEN IF YOU ATTRIBUTE THE SOURCE! Please do not do so.
  • On This Blog:

  • Categories

  • Andy’s Photography Galleries

    Click Here To See My Gallery of Photographic Images

    LightCentric Photography

  • Andy's Flickr Photos

    Strafford Meeting House Strafford, Vermont 10052015000030

    More Photos
  • Prior Posts

  • Posts By Date

    February 2016
    M T W T F S S
    « Jan    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    29  

Photography is Hard

These days, it seems like every time I log onto an internet site (especially Facebook), I see “8 Simple Steps to make your Photographs Awesome,” or “Follow These Simple Guidelines to Become a Pro Photographer,” or “Learn to Shoot Like the Pros” articles. Some of the folks writing these articles are good photographers.  Some of them (maybe most) are selling their site-based “lessons,” U-Tube videos, and the like. And there are lots of shooters who are self-proclaimed “experts” (I may be one :-) ).  Unfortunately, in many cases, their own work belies the claimed “expertise.”   So don’t kid yourself.  Photography is not simple, and it is not easy.  If it was, everybody would be Ansel Adams.

Photography is a mix of technical knowledge, artistic vision, and “perspiration.”

Photography is a mix of technical knowledge, artistic vision, and “perspiration.” The pros I know work at it. They work hard.  They practice their craft daily.  And like all of us hobbyists, they sometimes struggle to find inspiration for their work.

I am not suggesting that there aren’t aspects of photography that are simple enough concepts.  There certainly are.  The technical aspects of photography are not difficult to teach or to learn. The intrinsic aspects are.  They can be learned (though I sometimes wonder if the artistic aspect is something some of us have and some of us don’t – maybe that left-brain, right brain — and in my case, no-brain thing :-) ).  But like anything done well, it is going to take some work and a lot of practice.  So sure, go on out an buy a “nice” camera, subscribe to those on-line “lessons,” and have fun.  But don;t be fooled into thinking that is going to make success “easy.”

The technical aspects of photography are not difficult to teach or to learn

I read an article yesterday which struck the chord that inspired me to write on this particular topic. It was something like “The [pick a number] most common excuses photographers make for not shooting; and the cure,” or something similar. One excuse was, “there is nothing to shoot where I live.”  The author’s response was that this excuse was absurd; that photography was about “storytelling;” and there is always a “story.”  I don’t totally disagree (there’s a “but” in there—obviously :-)). There is always a story. But is the story always worth “telling?” Spend some time in flat, brown, suburban, “middle America” for a while and tell me all about “storytelling.” Not that there aren’t stories. But altogether too often, they have already been told, or aren’t interesting enough to be told. So the challenge is finding a new perspective for the story. And while that is definitely possible, it isn’t “simple.” It requires effort and sometimes a little good luck.  A lot of times these website claims are illustrated with a pretty flower closeup, or a macro image.  That’s great, and they are a wonderful, backyard subject to use to learn all about composition, depth of field, exposure, etc.  But you can only do so many close-up flower photographs before they become “been there – done that.”

There is always a story. But is the story always worth “telling?”

One of my pro friends often says (and he is quoting another, famous, photographer when he says it) that in order to make great photographs, you have to stand in front of great subjects (or something like that). There is a lot of merit to seeking out and traveling to great photographic venues.  Or at least new photographic venues.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not mean to discourage finding and seeking imagery in your proverbial “backyard.”  For some of us who don’t have the luxury to travel to great places to photograph, it may be the only thing we have.  Just don’t give me the “rah, rah” pep talk that I should carry the camera out into my neighborhood and I will find great photographic images. Maybe I will. But maybe I won’t. I do think, however, that there is a lot to be said about never being far from your camera, and always being vigilant for the photo-op. But there is no “magic” there. Work at it and practice, practice, practice (and this is the same formula a pro golfer, a lawyer, an actor and an engineer must use – perhaps the only exception is the modern politician :-) ).

Photoshop is Not Evil!

I don’t rant much here.  But, it’s my blog, and I’ll rant if I want to:-)

I  just recently read something on Facebook that struck a raw nerve. It was titled “The best 100 photographs ever taken without Photoshop.” NEWS FLASH:  You don’t “take” photos with Photoshop. For most of us, Photoshop is nothing more than a post-processing development tool for our images.  And by “Photoshop,” most of these inane commentaries really mean post-processing software (so, Lightroom, PhaseOne, OnOne, Nik, “The GIMP” and others, you are all in the same basket).  When I say “Photoshop” in this article, lets agree that I mean post-processing software.

NEWS FLASH:  You Don’t take photos with Photoshop

The silly title of this Facebook post is like saying, back in the days of film, “the 100 best prints made without a darkroom.”

There isn’t any doubt that post-processing software can be used in an abusive way – as could the old wet darkroom. But am I the only one that is tired of the shrill howls of the would-be “purists” who cry foul any time anyone uses Photoshop to in any way change the image that came straight out of the camera? Did we pass a law in the U.S. that forbids changing or “working” images out of the camera? And is there some new moral “standard” (set, of course, by the shrill criers) for what is “natural?”

Photoshop is not some evil software that has overtaken the photographic world and destroyed all good photography.  C’mon, folks. Lighten up. My imagery (even my nature imagery) is predominantly artistic. I have yet to shoot new footage, evidence photography or something purporting to be an exact replication of what “was.” And, I submit, even those endeavors are probably less “accurate” than supposed.

No matter what we do, there are factors in photography that distort reality

And it is a matter of digital “science” that in most cases, the images render by the in-camera computer needs at least some post processing to make an image presentable.  And that processing can be done without altering the so-called integrity of the image.  But what if I go further with my artistic image?  Why is there so much angst about this from so many people?

I’ll trust the viewer to make her own conclusions about believability

No matter what we do, there are factors in photography that distort reality.  At a bare minimum, perspective and lens focal length are significant factors. But unless I am submitting my photograph as evidence in the courtroom, or as support of a news article, who really cares? If a shot is “believable,” it is worthy. And I’ll trust the viewer to make her own conclusions about believability.

Some Thoughts on Photoshop and “The Cloud”

I am, for many things, a creature of habit. I learn or develop a way of doing things, and pretty much always do it that way. Sometimes that is a good thing. Some “process” ensures consistency and often protects against important omissions. In my post-processing, I have tried to develop a process which involves the same steps in the same order every time. I have tried to establish a “best practices” process and follow it consistently.

But sometimes habit is a bad thing. This is especially true in the digital world, where those “best practices” are constantly evolving as newer technology surfaces. Keeping up can be a time-consuming task, and a technique learned or a process established may be adhered to for a long time before I embrace something new.

“Best Practices” are constantly evolving

In June of 2103, following what has really become the current software model, Adobe moved to its “Creative Cloud” (CC). For those who haven’t figured it out (welcome to the 21st century :-) ), this means that after CS6, subscribers no longer own the complete program, resident on their local hard drives. Instead, Adobe licenses software to be installed on the drive that accesses the program from the internet. The “cloud,” of course, is a euphemistic, marketing-driven name for a remote hard drive that is continuously connected to the internet.  So now, the Photoshop software is on a remote drive somewhere — their hard drive; not yours.  The software that is installed on our devices through the CC licensing process just gives us the ability to log into and “read” their software (a very elementary explanation — I don’t have the digital “chops” to do better than that).

One major issue for many of us is that we like control. We want to own the software, and set it up the way we want — on our own hard drive.  We want to control the cost to us (no annual subscription – just our “one-time cost of acquisition). And, we want the ability to tell Adobe to “take a hike,” but still own our version of Photoshop. Those are valid concerns. Many of my friends who I have spoken with about CC had said that they probably would never need or use a more advanced version than CS6 and they would just keep that up-to-date.

For me, there seemed to be two problems. First, the annual subscription cost seemed a little steep. Second, and more importantly, I was (and still am) concerned that if I decided to stop the subscription, I would have no access to my PS files and no way to “work” them. My current “fix” for the latter issue is that I still have CS6 and if I had to, could work with it. On the subscription costs, their current model actually seems reasonable to me – particularly when I go back and look at what I generally paid to upgrade every couple years or so.

So why move to CC?

One reason is their “real-time” updates.  I am probably misusing the term “real-time,” here a bit. It is not like the Adobe developers are constantly tweaking and adding to the software so there are “improvements” every time you open a new session (though perhaps they are to some extent). But when they add new things to it, you get a notification and then you just upgrade. To be sure, you are paying for the upgrades with the annual subscription, but but once you get beyond that part, the process is pretty painless.

But wait; there’s more. :-). The “upgrade” process above does not really answer the biggest objection most of the folks I have talked to have. They just don’t see the need to upgrade constantly. Many only upgraded every other time or less often (and before they shifted to the cloud-based only program, Adobe started making that more difficult).  And the argument: “what more can Adobe add for photographic post processing that we really need beyond CS6?” still loomed pretty strongly. There is certainly an economic incentive to Adobe (and other providers) to have us constantly upgrade. In fact, it may be the price of progress.

In 2014, I subscribed to CC, thinking I would try it and could always drop the subscription.  At the time of this writing, I still have CS6 fully installed on my machine, but it hasn’t been used in months now. I may be getting just comfortable enough to uninstall it.

You have to re-install all of your Photoshop Add-ins

Time and life got in the way, and I didn’t really start using CC until sometime in the Spring of 2015. One reason was the work involved in re-installing all my add-in softwares.  You will have to re-install them (like Nik and OnOne). And of course, there would be a (small) learning curve. But once I started using it, I have been doing so exclusively.  Here are just a couple items I have found useful in my own workflow.

Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)

Perhaps the biggest improvement in my view has been the constant upgrades to Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). We have, of course, had very much enhanced ability to make significant image adjustments in ACR since its process versions 2010 and 2012 (which are available in CS6). I only very rarely make image settings (like levels and curves and color correction) in Photoshop anymore, as they are so much better when made in ACR. But while Adobe is continuing to upgrade ACR for use with CS6, there are some new options in the CC version that I do not believe are available to non-CC users.

Manual Lens Corrections. This one is a bit of a misnomer in my view, as it is really perspective corrections which can be made as raw adjustments. I have begun using it, especially for my wide-angle, buildings and structures shots from my travel photography. When you are moving rapidly and often shooting handheld, it is pretty difficult to make the adjustments often necessary for good architectural shots, so this is a great tool. It has slider adjustments for leveling, for tilting both vertically and horizontally, among other things. It is designed with the lens correction data in the database in mind.

There is also a more sophisticated vignette control here.

Like it or not, Photoshop CC is here to stay

Radial Targeted Adjustment. There are a number of other new features, including the continually improving targeted image adjustments interface. They have added a “radial” targeted adjustment tool, which works somewhat similarly to the Nik control points (though perhaps not yet as sophisticated).
Sharpening and Noise Reduction. Again, much of this is available in the CS6 (and perhaps earlier) version. I don’t currently do any of my noise detection and removal or my pre-sharpening in ACR. I am not sure whether I am missing the boat here, or on solid ground, but I have been using the Nik add-in software to do both of these. I may experiment with the sharpening again, but probably will rely on Nik to do my noise control.  I am sure there will be more to come, as users demand it and technology supports it.

Photoshop CC

One really cool feature that is new to CC’s latest version is the ability to convert any layer to a smart object. Working with a smart object on an image you may plan to do a lot of work on is a good idea, because you can go back and re-do or adjust changes. This is particularly true for the more complicated adjustment layer process that the Nik software (and, I presume, OnOne) uses. Once you press the “done” button in those programs, you cannot go back and rework the layer – unless it is a smart object. Previously, when I wanted to do this, I would open the image from ACR as a smart object. But I found this cumbersome – largely because it seemed like the process was processor consumptive and make work slower. So often, I am lazy and don’t open smart objects. Now, if I decide I want to go back into, say, a Viveza layer, I can simply convert that layer to a smart layer and it works just great – after I have opened the image in Photoshop.

Photoshop CC now also allows you to add a layer as an ACR layer, providing some of the ACR adjustments (though at this time, I am not sure why you would do that instead of just originally opening the image in ACR).

We all have our own approaches and favorite software, tools and techniques for post-processing.  These are just a few of the things I have learned and am using.  Like it or not, I am afraid CC is here to stay and for the time being, I have embraced it.  I will try to come back here from time to time when I learn something new that might be of interest to other photographers.

The Sony RX100iv; An in-depth Review

Recommended

Sony RX100iv

Sony RX100iv

The RX100iv, is not a casual user’s camera – it is a serious photographer’s tool. That’s not to say a number of P&Sers won’t buy, and effectively use it. But if you are going to set it on the “auto,” or “scene” setting and shoot away, and/or posting images only online, you will be wasting 90% of the camera’s potential; and leaving a lot of money on the table.

My “path” to the RX100

Some of you may have read about my “saga” of equipment during the past couple years. For those who haven’t, I ‘ll briefly recap, as I believe it puts this review in perspective.  I started photography, shooting slide film with an all-manual, SLR back in 1976. I have since, advanced through a number of iterations of SLR and eventually DSLR cameras (“upgrades”?), have studied photography, and made a pretty serious run at it as a hobby. For most of my shooting time, I have been a Nikon owner (which is not a black vs. white commentary, but perhaps shows a level of seriousness), shooting their very good cameras and lenses, including a number of “pro” designated lenses and bodies.

The RX100iv is not a casual user’s camera

Sometime during late 2012 and early 2013, I decided to trade my “backup” Nikon D7000 for one of Sony’s “MILS” (mirrorless interchangeable lens) cameras. The series was the “NEX” line (now re-badged as the “Alpha” x000 series), and was often found in stores like Best Buy and Staples, in the lowered-numbered iterations. The higher numbered NEX-6 and 7, though, were formidable cameras, with viewfinders and all of the “bells and whistles” you find on the modern higher-end DSLR cameras.

Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The NEX-6 incorporated the identical APS sensor to the one in the D7000 and was a very compact form factor. I thought it would work nicely for a carry-around camera. It did – and more. In fact, it became my primary travel camera. It was light, small, inconspicuous, and easy to use (reminiscent of the Nikon-1 that was marketed for Nikon by Ashton Kutcher for a few years). I fell in love with smaller and lighter, but still felt “married” to the concept of carrying a “full-frame” sensor camera for my landscape imagery.”

I thought the NEX6 would work nicely for a carry-around camera — It did that, and more

Other than the limitation of the APS sensor size, the one “knock” on these cameras was the lack of “good” lenses. That was not my own experience. Not only did some of the Sony lenses perform very well, but Sigma made a pair of very cheap lenses that were extremely small, sharp and affordable. But the real draw was Carl Zeiss. Sony and Zeiss have developed a partnership and lenses are now manufactured for by Sony with Zeiss specs (and badged Sony/Zeiss). Zeiss also has manufactured lenses for the Sony line of camera, on its own. The best of these lenses were prime, very fast (f1.8 – 2.8 range) and rendered some wonderful, contrasty images with great bokeh.

Then, Sony announced its Full Frame a7 series and for me the rest was history. A chunky body which reminds of a very small SLR, and still relatively large lenses, this combo is still smaller and lighter than my older Nikon SLR, and the advances in technology are pretty great. My primary camera is the a7. My “backup” and walk-around was the NEX-6.

Sony RX100iv

But I am always looking at “new and improved.” And small is good. My a7 default rig is the a7 plus a Carl Zeiss f4 24-70 zoom lens.  The quality I get from this out fit is certainly second to none.  But it is still big and heavy compared to some of the more “portable” choices out there.  I am not sure where or how it captured my attention, but sometime during this past winter, I “noticed” the fourth generation of this little camera, the RX100iv. At the time, I didn’t know about the prior generations (i and ii did not have the same lens and had smaller sensors and less features, and iii had the same lens, but still not the advanced sensor of the iv).

Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

What first grabbed my attention was the built-in Carl Zeiss f1.8-2.8 zoom lens. I wondered how it might compare to other Zeiss offerings for Sony. DPreview, and other resources, said: “favorably.” Then I began to look at the other features of the camera. Sony is (in my mind) a developing camera company (as compared with, for example, Canon and Nikon). In that sense, as their mirrorless offerings began to take hold, they changed and “fiddled” with their menu system. For a while, each new offering had a different or changed system, which was annoying. When moving from camera to camera, being familiar with the consistent approach of a system is very useful. The NEX system was very different from the a7 (I believe the newer generation alpha 6000 – of the NEX series incorporates Sony’s newer, current, menu system). The RX100 has an almost identical menu interface to the a7.

Small is good

Note that the lens, a Carl Zeiss f1.8 24-70 zoom was first installed on the iii version of this camera. From what I can see, the primary differences between version iii and iv are the “stacked sensor” (more later), an electronic shutter, more resolution (3840 x 2160 vs. the iii’s 1920 x 1080), faster continuous drive (essentially, a non-issue for this type of camera in my opinion), and a negative, shorter battery life. Many of the improvements seem to favor videographers. I haven’t gone there at all, so I cannot comment on this camera as a video tool.  But the RX100iii is about $150 less than the iv.  This might be a factor for some with a budget in mind.  I would think you would get a pretty good camera in the RX100iii.

About the same time I was looking, my mentor from NOLA e-mailed me that he had acquired one of these cameras and he was duly impressed. I decided it was time to make another “leap of faith.” I boxed up the NEX-6, some lenses, etc., and made an essentially even “trade” for the RX100iv. My thinking was that if I was disappointed, I could still get back to the a6000 without a 2nd mortgage. I did do a “preliminary” review on this camera shortly after I acquired it, promising a more in depth review.

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

This is a “serious” camera, with all the controls resident in a “serious” DSLR camera; a Carl Zeiss lens; and the ability to capture images in raw format. At $950.00 it is a high price point for the P&S world, but it is not really a P&S camera under the hood. It certainly can serve as a backup (and maybe even a primary camera) for general photography at a “professional” quality level.  I have now carried it (nearly exclusively) on two out-of-country trips (Japan and the Mediterranean), and shot over 2,000 images with it. I think I can make some “hands-on” observations now:

Form Factor

Size. There is no getting around it; this is a P&S sized camera. The body on this diminutive camera is a mere 4” long x 2 ¼ high by 1” deep. The “lens bump” on the front adds an addition 5/8 inch, being the only thing keeping it from being a true miniature pocket camera. But pocketable it is! I have carried it in my shirt pocket, my front pants pocket, or in the cargo pocket when available. It would be a tight fit in jeans, but in looser fitting pants (I wear Columbia pants in the field), it fits well.

One thing that clearly distinguishes it from the field is its weight. Mine weighs 10.7 ounces, which equals a fair amount of “heft” — but not uncomfortably so, in my view.  It appears to be all or mostly metal construction and built for durability. It feels good in the hand (though I did purchase Sony’s additional stick-on hand grip for the lower right part of the body). My hands are medium-large and it gives me a feeling of added security when carrying the camera in my right hand. It is a matter of preference. I think you could do fine with out).

The RX100iv is a P&S camera in physical form only!

It’s Inconspicous. To me this is very exciting and important. Here is a camera that is tiny enough to pack anywhere and carry and has the potential to make near-DSLR quality images.  In addition to the fact that it is very small and light (maybe even the difference between an extra carry-on or not for airline travel); it is also very inconspicuous. When shooting with a group of photographers in a National Park, that is probably not much of a factor. But in travel situations, cities, and faster moving groups, it becomes a pretty big deal. I am generally able to move around and shoot as I wish, and I am just “another tourist.” People do not instinctively “freeze up” when they see it (if they see it). This is a phenomenon I never appreciated until my pro friend and mentor suggested that it would be an advantage (in fact, he has a funny story where a shooter with all the “big dog” gear, kind of disdainfully tried to “shoe” him away so she could get her shot – having no idea that this guy is a life-long pro, trained photojournalist, who has shot international music acts, books, and sells substantial stock photos, and likely could have taught her a thing or two about phography).

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Image Quality

In the final analysis, any serious photographer (at least in my own view) should be choosing her or his tools based on one primary feature: image quality. Perhaps said another way, a camera with all the bells and whistles which produces poor image quality, is a non-starter.  While my remarks below may read to some as at least mildly critical, I want to emphasize that overall, I find this to be a fine camera, worthy of carry, and I plan to keep and use it as a “workhorse” for a long time to come.

Mad River Warren, Vermont Sony a7 Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Mad River
Warren, Vermont
Sony a7
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

“Image Quality” is a Relative Term

I believe “image quality” is a relative term. If I am making poster sized, fine art, landscape prints, my “need” for IQ might be different than if I am going to post online. I don’t have unrealistic expectations (at least not currently) of using the RX100 for this kind of image (edit:  I drafted this before actually making some prints.  I have made a couple 13″ x 19″ prints now on my Epson Printer that rival anything I have made from larger sensor cameras). But I do want to be able to make a large print if I make an image I like well enough. When I first got the camera, I made some closeup flower images and printed one on my Epson printer at 13” x 19” and was impressed with the print – IQ. Enough so, that I opted to carry only this body on my trip to Japan.

Mad River Warren, Vermont Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Mad River
Warren, Vermont
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

In September, I packed both cameras, and carried the a7 on one shore excursion.  Learning that I essentially had all the same focal length and exposure solution ability, I decided to leave the a7 aboard the ship and carry the RX100 for the balance of the trip.  Nearly all my Mediterranean images were made with the RX100.  While in Vermont in October, on a photo-specific trip, I carried the RX100iv into the field and made a few side-by-side comparison images.  I have posted a couple of them here, for comparison (and whatever else you may want to do with them – subject, of course, to copyright :-) )

Robert Frost Cabin Vermont Sony a7 Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Robert Frost Cabin Vermont
Sony a7
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Overall Quality. I will leave the technical stuff to DPreview, Wilhelm Imaging Research, and the pixel peepers on line. My reviews are always intended to be more empirical, hands-on, “will this work for you,” kind of judgments. In that respect, the answer is a qualified “yes.” On a scale of Poor to Excellent, I would judge the IQ rendered by this sensor as good, leaning toward the “excellent” range on the scale. It is not as good as, for example, the Zeiss 24mm f1.8 prime lens on my NEX-6 was. But it is close enough for the intended use. Most of the imagery made by me with this type of body does not call for closeups, bokeh, etc. I am shooting cityscapes, buildings, etc., and when conditions warrant, shooting around f8 at low (100 – 125) ISO ranges.

Mad River Warren, Vermont Sony a7 Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Mad River
Warren, Vermont
Sony a7
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I should note that I capture raw images 99.99% of the time.  I set my in-camera settings to be totally neutral on every digital body I own.  When I first purchased the RX100iv, Adobe had not yet released an ACR version that would render the raw capture files from this camera.  So in the beginning, I set it to shoot both raw and Jpeg images, so I could see and work with them in Photoshop.  I did briefly use Capture One to render the raw images, but the new workflow was more than I wanted to learn, so I was glad that Adobe shortly upgraded ACR to include the newest Sony raw file format.

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Anyway, I cannot really comment on any of the settings for jpegs in the camera.  The jpegs I used seemed clean, sharp, contrasty, had good dynamic range, and seemed true to exposure settings I made.

Sharpness. I will give this camera an A- / – B+ for critical sharpness. As most readers probably already know, with digital capture, sharpness can be affected by a combination of factors. Aside from the human factors (shake, shutter speed, etc.), the two that primarily affect sharpness in digital capture are the lens and the anti-aliasing filter on the sensor. I don’t know which combination here affects the imagery the most, but I have been mildly disappointed here. It is rarely an issue, but occasionally I have seen a lack of sharpness in some images. I use AF almost exclusively and I am aware that it could be my specific copy of the camera. It is also a zoom lens. I may just have too high expectations after shooting with the a7 and the NEX-6/Zeiss prime combination, but it is a Sony-Zeiss designed lens and I expected more.  I am not saying it is unacceptable by any stretch.  It is, to me, comparable to the results I used to get with my Nikon D200 and the 28-200 f3.5-5.6 zoom lens.  I can (and will) certainly live with it (and as you see, my “grade” is really not that bad).

Sensor. Sensor size will always influence IQ, in my view. The larger the sensor (with other technical factors being correctly done – and nobody does it better than Sony) — the better the potential IQ.  Larger sensors tend to have less noise issues and capture more detail and dynamic range. Lots of reasons for this – I’ll let the experts explain it. Sony has done something interesting with this camera. At one inch, the sensor is significantly larger than most P&S camera sensors, but still small than APS. On the iv generation, they have introduced their “stacked sensor” technology. This has moved some of the essential “computing” technology off of the primary capture sensor to another stacked chip. I cannot begin to explain this, but they do a pretty clear job in the DPreview piece on this camera.

Bokeh. One of the challenges to small camera construction is that sensors are smaller, physical lens apertures are smaller, and this affects bokeh. It is much easier to get smooth, creamy, out of focus backgrounds with a wide-open (f1.8 or 2.8) on a full frame or larger sensor with a big lens. I had hoped that the ultra-small lens at f1.8 would get close to the larger a7 – f4 Zeiss 24-70 combo. Not quite. For those really impressive closeup shots, I am probably going to stay with my full frame camera. But for most purposes, this isn’t an issue. The general shooting I have done has rendered very nice imagery.  The daffodil shot below is exemplary of what the RX100iv is capable of.

Daffodil Sony RX00iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Daffodil
Sony RX00iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

IQ Conclusion. These comments aren’t meant to discourage a potential acquisition of this camera. For several years, I shot with a Nikon DSLR APS sensor camera and their “consumer” 80-200 zoom lens. I have many very good images from that combination. The IQ from the Sony RX100iv easily matches that IQ. Don’t let any comment above stop you from acquiring this camera. The numerous images I have put on my website should convince you that there is huge “bang for the buck” in this camera. One other thing I didn’t mention – the quality and sharpness appears to be very consistently good throughout the entire range of the zoom lens.

Usability and Controls

Have I mentioned that this camera is Small? For some, this might be a factor. But in this day of cell phone cameras, I doubt it will be anything but an advantage for most of us. I love the portability. This camera fits in a pocket, a purse (or “man bag”), a small backpack pocket, or a briefcase. This means you will carry it and if you carry it, you will use it.

This camera fits in a pocket, a purse, or a “man bag”

Viewfinder. I grew up in a viewfinder world. Starting with waist-level finders and quickly graduating to wysiwyg, pentaprism finders, my first 30 years of photography involved seeing through the viewfinder. Though I occasionally find the LCD screen useful, I “see” photographically when I have a view finder. So for me, a viewfinder is a must have option.

Sony has done this very cleverly. There is a pop-up viewfinder. It is a bit cumbersome, but you get used to it quickly. When you pop it up, it turns on the camera, and the default is that when you retract it, it turns the camera back off, though that can be turned off in the menu system (this was a complaint in the iii iteration and I understand that a firmware upgrade has now given iii owners the option to turn it off too).  In order to recess back into the housing, Sony has engineered a pull out/pushback part to this finder.  In order to retract it back into the camera, you must push it back. I haven’t had any issue with this, but it might be possible to break it by trying to force it down without pushing the optical part back in.  This is probably the camera’s weakest point, mechanically.  I have always been pretty careful with my gear (when you spend big dollars it makes you more careful :-) ). When you pop it up, if you bring it to your eye without pulling it out, you will get a blurry view. This is probably the camera’s weakest mechanical link.  For RXiii users (and the default behavior for the RXiv), when you clicked the viewfinder back into the body, it shut the camera down.  I read some complaints that Sony didn’t make this a user changeable feature.  Apparently, they listened, and the RXiv can be set to either shut down or stay on (and there may be a firmware upgrade that adds this feature for RXiii users).

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

There is a slider adjustment on the viewfinder to focus the finder. It is one of my “niggles” with the design/construction. This slider moves easily in use, and I find myself having to constantly re-adjust it. I wish there were some kind of click stop for it.

The viewfinder is, like all of the Sony MILS viewfinders, an electronic finder. This used to be a negative feature on digital P&S and mirrorless cameras. They looked like a grainy, B&W video cam screen and weren’t well integrated with the lens. Sony has not only fixed that, but in my opinion, has actually improved on the pentaprism viewfinder found in SLR/DSLR cameras. One really cool feature (when turned on in the menu system), is a kind of “real time” exposure view. As you adjust aperture and/or shutter speed, you can see the image in the viewfinder darken and lighten. Focus integration is instant. This is a very nicely integrated piece of technology by Sony. On my recent trip to the Mediterranean, I picked up my travel companion’s Nikon DSLR to take an image of them as a couple and immediately noticed that the viewfinder wasn’t changing as I made adjustments. I have grown to like this feature on all my Sony cameras.

Controls. The controls are similar to the a7, but a bit less handy for the traditional dial style camera. There is one dial on top which changes the shooting mode. I generally leave it on A mode (occasionally on M). I would like to see that dial dedicated to something more useful, like changing aperture or shutter speed.

Lens Ring. The RX100 has a nice, knurled lens ring. That ring can be set to use as a focusing ring for MF, a zoom ring (I use the electronic zoom on the shutter button) or – depending on which shooting mode you are using, to change aperture (A and M), or shutter speed (S). Another “niggle” I have with Sony is that this knurled ring (while smooth in use) turns too easily at the touch, and I find myself having to re-set my set aperture more often than I would like. I have gotten into the habit of checking that as I bring the camera up to my eye. But to my way of thinking, I shouldn’t need to be worrying about that. Settings should be, well, “set,” until I change them. Maybe more damping, or even a click stop might serve this well.

Rocker Dial. There is the traditional “joy-stick” rocker-dial on the back which makes other settings in those modes. It is generally well placed and damped and I haven’t had any issue with accidentally changing things with it when shooting (it is possible, if you carry the camera at your waist one-handed with your right hand, to move that dial, however).

There are also dedicated and programmable function buttons. The Sony menu system has begun to be more consistent, and it is very similar to the system on my a7 (and on the alpha x000 series).  A review of that is beyond the scope of this review and others have done it well already.

LCD Screen. The RX100iv has a very nice, articulating, 3” diagonal LDC screen. It is hi resolution and reasonably useable even in sunny conditions (though I rarely use it). I recommend only 4 accessories for this camera. One of them is a screen protector. This camera is going to get scratched up, particularly if you pocket it. The screen protector is a worthwhile investment (the other two are a small arca swiss plate for tripod use, a remote trigger, and the hand-grip, whose mileage may vary).

Flash. The RX100iv has a popup flash. Like most P&S flashes, it has limited utility and strength, as well as being mounted on the body, causing the probability of red-eye. I have not looked into the use of external flashes, or whether it is even feasible (other than remotely triggered flashes).

Tripod Use. Those who know me know I have preached and preached (and then preached some more) about the virtues of a good tripod. I carry 2; both carbon fiber and both fairly expensive (not to brag, but to point out that for the perceived utility of this accessory, really good ones are just darn expensive). There is a tripod socket on the body. I have a very small arca-swiss type dovetail plate with a small ridge on it that grips the back of the body to resist twisting. I have used the camera on a tripod and obtained results I could not have otherwise. The image of Tokyo Tower, at night, was taken from a tripod, through a hotel window.  It would be impossible to do this handheld.

Tokyo Tower Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Tokyo Tower
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Remotes. One disappointment for me has been Sony’s implementation of remote triggering. On the a7, I cannot use a wired remote without removing my L-plate, which essentially defeats the purpose of having an L-plate in the first place. I have had to resort to a wireless remote. They are quirky, and I struggle with getting it not to try to re-focus. But I have figured out the workaround.  Now, I find that I cannot use the wireless remote on my RX100. So I carry the wired remote for that and the wireless for the a7. So much for consistency within brand.  But these issues are minor, in light of the overall utility of this very small, very estimable camera.

Battery Life

In three words: not very good. But there is good news. The batteries are quite small (much smaller than DSLR batteries), and aftermarket versions seem to be just as good as the OEM battery. So I just carry extras and keep them charged. Won’t quite get a day’s shooting in on one battery (the way I shoot).

Things I would like to see in a newer software version: a battery and card “warning.” I know they are already there visually, but only if you have that screen turned on. If you are in the heat of things, its disconcerting to find the “decisive moment” and get the message “battery exhausted” or “card full,” and have your camera rendered essentially useless.

Another thing that I have found disconcerting is that the battery “meter” on the back screen of the camera is not particularly accurate.  Recently, I took my cam to an event and when I checked, the meter told me my battery was at least 75%.  When I went to use it, I got barely 2 shots before it was down to nothing and “exhausted.”  One think I have learned about these batteries.  If you leave them in the camera for an extended period, they will be exhausted, regardless of what the “meter” says.  Always start out with a freshly charged battery.

“Bells and Whistles”

My working gestalt when it comes to cameras is that they are a tool.  At its heart, this may be as good a small “tool” as I have ever owned.  The essential part of the camera is a pretty simple mechanism:  it gives us the ability to expose on a sensor, and the ability to control the variables of that exposure.  All of the other stuff is “bells and whistles.”  We have come to take AF (autofocus) for granted, and as my eyes continue to age, I find it a necessity.  I like the ability to set the camera to Aperture Priority or Shutter Speed Priority, but that is really just a convenience from the essential setting — manual.  And you really cannot effective use AP or SP unless you understand how to use Manual Exposure.

At its heart, this may be as good a small “tool” as I have ever owned

Like all modern digital cameras (and I really wish we had a choice to exclude much it what comes next), this camera is packed with bells and whistles for the less experienced or less sophisticated user (that’s my own view anyway).  And in my opinion, if you come within this latter category, the RX100iv is way too much camera for you!  It has the (apparently) requisite “Auto” and “Program Auto” settings, and within the menu, a myriad of “scene” settings.  For the life of me, I don’t see what a serious shooter would ever do with those settings and thus – would rather have them gone, have a simpler menu, and more effective use of the dials.  :-).

These cameras all seem to have in-body HDR and Panoramic Settings.  Interesting, but essentially useless to me (and many other shooters) because they default to — and only work in — jpeg mode.  To my way of thinking, all advance cameras are bloated with this stuff in my oh, so humble opinion. :-)

Panoramic; Florence, Italy Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Panoramic; Florence, Italy
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I was intrigued with the panoramic feature, and during our trips had 3 or 4 opportunities to capture a panoramic shot.  Since we never had time for me to set up a tripod and take the series of raw images necessary to stitch together in Photoshop later, I tried the in-camera feature, knowing I would have jpeg captures to work with.  It is basically disappointing.  First, it is set up only to take the image in “landscape” mode.  When stitching panos, most of us take our series in “portrait” format in order to have more top and bottom to crop and work with when perspective correcting.  Second, the in-camera perspective correction is almost non-existent.  My images have a pronounce curvature, and would take some pretty series surgery to fix.  Not anything I am willing to spend a bunch of time on.  I have found some very limited usefulness for that here (illustrations in my blog in very small image sizes).  If I am going to shoot a panoramic that I really want as a “keeper,” I will be taking a series of portrait-orientation shots and stitching them in PS.

Accessories

As much of a gadget guy as I am, I have learned that the old saying, “less is more,” is apt here.  The less you have to carry, adjust, attach, care for and think about, the more you can focus on your goal of making pictures.  On this camera, I have kept it to a minimum of 4 items.  I put the extra grip (it is very small, like the camera, and doesn’t interfere in any way with the camera – including pocketability) on mine.  That will be largely a matter of personal choice.  I have an arca swiss style plate for my tripod head, and a wired remote for tripod shooting.  I put a screen saver on the LCD.

There are other accessories (for example, I purchased a kit to install a polarizing filter.  It seems pretty “Rube Goldberg” to me and I doubt that I will use it).   There are add-on “telephoto” and wide angle attachments.  But the beauty of this little camera is that it is simple to use, yet has all the capability serious shooters will want to make creative images — without any accessories.

Conclusion

It pays to remember, here, what a very good friend of mine once said about equipment.  Every single piece of photographic equipment out there is a compromise.  There are minor things I miss about the NEX-6.  That wonderful f1.8 Zeiss lens is the biggest thing.  The ability to interchange lenses might be another.  While in Japan, I can identify two specific instances where I would have liked to pop a telephoto on.  But only two out of several hundred images is not bad, in my view — and an acceptable compromise.  There are – for sure – going to be times when “more camera” (i.e., a full frame or larger sensor and interchangeable lenses) is going to be warranted.

But I have now taken over 2,000 images with my RX100iv.  I am pretty well satisfied that it was a great choice for a general purpose and travel camera.  I think that if you are an experienced and serious photographer who travels or has a use for a smaller format camera — this is one you should look very hard at.

Recommended

2015; A year to Remember

As I thought about 2015 year in review, it struck me that this was a big year for our travel and perhaps equally so for photography. But I couldn’t help thinking back to some other big years. I have made many trips in the continental United States, including Vermont, Maine, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia, California, Wyoming, Texas, North Carolina and Florida over the years; as well as trips into Canada. But around 2009, we began to expand the travel.

Every Cruise has landed us at St. Thomas. We wanted to get off the beaten Path, so we took a boat to St. John's and spent a few hours here at Caneel Bay Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Almost every Caribbean Cruise has landed us at St. Thomas. We wanted to get off the beaten Path, so we took a boat to St. John’s and spent a few hours here at Caneel Bay
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sony RX100iv
Tokyo, Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

In 2009 we went to Acadia National Park in Maine. In 2010, we went to Alaska and Vermont. In 2011, I made my first trip to California and spent time in San Francisco and Napa Valley. I also made a trip to West Virginia and Babcock State Park to shoot the Grist Mill and fall color. In 2012, we were back Napa and briefly, San Francisco. We also did our first ever Caribbean Cruise (and have not missed one since). 2013 marked a huge change for us, as I made my first visit to Europe and Asia (indeed my first excursion outside the U.S. – assuming you don’t count Canada and the Caribbean) on a partly aborted, Mediterranean Cruise. In the late Fall of 2012, I had purchased the Sony NEX-6; a huge departure from my 30-year Nikon affiliation (most of it shooting SLR/DSLR cameras and lenses). I carried that camera in Europe and fell in love with its small size and ease of use. Later that year, I took a very deep breath, closed my eyes, and sold all my Nikon gear; trading for the new full frame mirrorless Sony a7. In 2014, in we spent 10 days in Ireland. Some pretty big years; and some pretty new things.

Seiryuden Temple Kyoto, Japan Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Seiryuden Temple
Kyoto, Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

But on reflection, 2015 will probably have been the biggest, busiest and widest-reaching of my lifetime. In this one year, we went for a week in the Caribbean. We then went to Japan for a week in August, and another 10 days in the Mediterranean in September. I topped that off with a 4-day trip to Vermont in early October. While I began saying to everyone that “I probably bit off more that I could chew,” and was just travel-weary, it was indeed and exciting and eventful year!  And now that we have turned the corner into 2016, a year with much more modest travel planned, I am looking forward to the next big adventure.  In  the meantime, here are some photos and narrative of 2015.

February

We began with our now-traditional week aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean in February. These trips have become less about excursions and photography and more about just getting some sunny warmth into our bones about ½-way through our long, cold, Michigan winters. But I do carry my camera. For reasons explained in other posts, I am mostly carrying “small gear” on these trips.  The Caneel Bay image is my favorite of the 2015 Carribbean trip.

Kyoto Temple; Kyoto, Japan Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Kyoto Temple; Kyoto, Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

August

Our son was married in Japan in August. This was our first trip their.  Once the long (14-hour) flight from Detroit to Tokyo (Narita) was behind us, the rest of the trip was an unanticipated pleasure. While we knew there were many wonderful things to do and see in Japan, we also expected most of our time to be taken up by wedding and family activities. While this proved mostly true for Tokyo, our new family treated us to a wonderful 2 ½ days in Kyoto, with some really great tours and some great photo opportunities. We knew and expected our new family would be nice people, but their warmth and graciousness exceeded our expectations and we left, feeling a close bond with them. Our distance is great, but we look forward to our next visit!

Sushi Restaurant with conveyor belt; Tokyo Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sushi Restaurant with conveyor belt; Tokyo
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

September

Our 2013, long-anticipated Mediterranean Cruise, as readers here perhaps remember, was at once, fantastic and disappointing. The disappointment came from the mechanical difficulties the cruise ship experienced in the middle of the cruise. As reported back then, the cruise line came through like heros, and we made “lemonade,” with what we had, seeing much of what we had hoped to see.

Kotor Montenegro Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Kotor Montenegro
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Better yet, we were able to book our “makeup” cruise this fall, and cover all the places we missed, and some overlap with places from the last cruise. And even better still, we were joined by our good friends, Paul and Linda and the four of us had a blast. They are great, easy company and it was nice to share this adventure. We spent 3 days prior to the cruise in Barcelona, and it proved to be as “cool” a city as it has been advertised to be. We followed in Provence, Tuscany (including Florence and Pisa), Rome, Montenegro, and Athens.

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

October

In 2010, a group of photographers and foliage fanatics who met and participate on the SOV board, got together for a “reunion” (since it was our first time, shouldn’t it have been called a “union”?). We had so much fun, we committed to another reunion in 2015. Sadly, one of our most notable group members died of cancer (some of us knew he was fighting it back in 2010) in 2012, and we named the 2015 reunion after him. I will never forget his support and his infectious optimism and infectious smile, as well. He was an inspiration.

Noyes Pond Seyon Ranch State Park Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Noyes Pond
Seyon Ranch State Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I will look back at this year and see a number of personal high points, though I am not sure I want another one like this. The travel was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. I captured many memorable images (and even some good ones).

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

In May, I took another “leap” of faith in Sony and in the advice of my mentor, Ray and traded the NEX-6 and interchangeable lenses for the newest “pro” “point and shoot” Sony: The RX100iv. I have done a couple reviews of this camera here for those who would like to see the detail. But suffice it to say that I am pretty much smitten with it and it has now become my travel camera. It is a joy to carry through airport security, and around the streets. Its image quality is so good that I am basically willing to leave the a7 full frame behind on all but dedicated photo-trip travel.

Sony RX100iv

Sony RX100iv

I am blessed to have our (now on our third winter) winter-retreat (our second – soon to be “first” home in Florida), and continue to travel there on a regular basis and find things to shoot.

Tokyo Tower Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Tokyo Tower
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I am looking forward to a great 2016 and hope all of you have the same. I wish you all the best, a prosperous and happy 2016, and am eternally thankful for your readership and support!

My Favorite Images from the Mediterranean — 2015

Florence Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Florence Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Looking back on the series on our Mediterranean Cruise, it occurred to me that I came away with some “favorite” images. I thought I would revisit and showcase those images in a blog all its own.

La Segrada Familia Barcelona, Spain Copyright Andy Richards 2015

La Segrada Familia
Barcelona, Spain
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I grew up in the middle Northwest of the United States (Michigan), and have spent a fair amount of time on its East Coast. Except for some brief forays into Canada and a trip or two to the Caribbean, until 2013, I had never been out of the continental United State. To be sure, we have many wonderful venues in our great country and I have yet to see all of them. But going to Europe, where history is seen in 1000’s of years, in contrast to our U.S. history of 100’s of years, is a humbling experience. There is so much to see, appreciate and photograph. One day, I will do a travel favorite images blog. But for today – images from Mediterranean Europe; 2015.

Museu Nacional D'art Catalunya Barcelona, Spain Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Museu Nacional D’art Catalunya
Barcelona, Spain
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

While it is certainly not my “best” travel photo and does not really capture the spirit of big, bold city of Barcelona, the first image I captured from our touring van of the Museu Nacional D’art Catalunya, resonates with me for some reason. It does rain in Europe, after all.

Palau De Musica Barcelona, Spain Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Palau De Musica Barcelona, Spain
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona is about modern art and architecture. But it is equally about Calalunya and Catalonian culture. So my shot of the Palau De Musica, with the Catalonian Flag prominently displayed, and the colorful art and architecture, represents Barcelona as well as I can.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

When I think of France, I think of wine and romance. My favorites for our short visit to Provence were the first vineyard we visited – Chateau La Dorgonne – and my shot of the fountain at Aix en Provence.

Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I love Italy. The food, the art, the architecture, the culture and it’s enthusiastic and at the same time, “laid back” citizens. We didn’t really get to know Tuscany in an intimate way. I really would like to go back and spend some time there, like we did in Venice in 2013. Of course, the big draw for tourism is Pisa and Florence, and my shots of the Tower and the Passageway/Bridge were my “takeaways” from that day. Historically, these visits were a highlight of the trip. Photographically, while satisfying, I didn’t really make any particularly unique images.

Bell Tower Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Bell Tower
Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

 

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Ponte Vecchio
Florence, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Rome speaks for itself. The ancient ruins; the Coliseum; the Vatican, and the many other historical places are amazing. It is again, a city I could spend a few days in with ease. I would like to see some of the neighborhoods, and leisurely enjoy its night life and its great restaurants and food. It is a magnificent and grandiose city, as one might expect. My favorite image was of a tour boat on the river with the Castel Angel in the background. Our driver stopped in traffic while I jumped out on the bridge to capture this shot. The boat was an unplanned bonus.

Castel Angel Rome, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Castel Angel
Rome, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The shot of the Roman Forum is different from the one recently posted in my blog, but is also one of my favorite images from this trip to Rome.

The Roman Forum Rome, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The Roman Forum
Rome, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I didn’t get to see much of Montenegro. I would certainly return there if the itinerary or opportunity presented itself. Hopefully my image represents the spirit of the place.

Kotor Montenegro Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Kotor Montenegro
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The trip to the Acropolis is always impressive. But the shot of the soldiers, coming out of the Agora after raising the flag for the day, was an unexpected and nice photo opportunity.

Flag Detail The Acropolis Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Flag Detail
The Acropolis
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Intimate shots have always been a draw for me, and much of my portfolio “favorites” are of such shots, rather than the iconic images (which I also shoot a lot of imagery of). This garden shot is probably my favorite of this trip to Athens.

Detail The Agora; Athens, Greece Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Detail
The Agora; Athens, Greece
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I am looking forward to my next trip to the Mediterranean.

Athens; Again

Athens, Greece Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Athens, Greece
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Athens was one of the cities we saw “all of” on our 2013 Cruise. Our guide, Constantinos, enthusiastically provided us with a very long day of sights, including the Acropolis, the Olympic Pan Hellenic Stadium, a panoramic view of the city of Athens, The Changing of the Guard, the Agora, Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeuss, and some wonderful old churches. He also took us into the old city to a restaurant for lunch that was locally owned and authentic.  There was enough to see that I covered it in two posts, “Where it all Started: Athens,” and “Athens; The Rest of the Story,” in 2013.  The old city has narrow streets and Mediterranean architecture, with pastel buildings.  It is “gated” by Hadrian’s Arch, the 100’s of year old archway named after Roman Emperor, Hadrian.  You can see it in the background of my image of the old city street taken on our return to the city on the 2015 cruise.

Old City, Athens, Greece Copyright Andy Richards 2012

Old City, Athens, Greece
Copyright Andy Richards 2012

So we went again, knowing that much of what we saw would be a “repeat” performance. We saw very little “new” this trip, but I did find some more intimate details of some of the places.

Detail The Agora; Athens, Greece Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Detail
The Agora; Athens, Greece
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Unlike our 2013 visit, this trip began with the Acropolis. This meant that we would have much nicer light on this visit, and I tried to take advantage of it. I was much happier with my shot of the theater in the Acropolis. I also was able to get some nice long view landscape shots of the city and the Mediterranean in the distance.

The Theatre in The Acropolis Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The Theatre in The Acropolis
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

 

Flag Detail The Acropolis Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Flag Detail
The Acropolis
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

 

The Acropolis Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The Acropolis
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

 

The Acropolis Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The Acropolis
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

On the first visit, we did essentially “drive by” of the Agora. This time, we stopped there for a couple hours, had lunch and an opportunity to walk around the old commercial shopping area (no shops there now – just ruins).

The Hall at the Agora Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The Hall at the Agora
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I really enjoyed photographically “working” the small old cathedral in the Agora. From the large hall, we were able to view another temple in the distance.

Church; The Agora Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Church; The Agora
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

 

Temple on the Hill above the Agora Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Temple on the Hill above the Agora
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

We finished up our day in the late afternoon in the old city. While the ladies walked the shops, my buddy and I found a shady outdoor bar and sampled some of the local beer. It was a nice day and a nice finish to our cruise. We all enjoyed our time and each other and vowed that we would do this again in the near future.

Old City, Athens Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Old City, Athens
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 505 other followers