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Have you ever thought of embracing flaws instead of fighting them? We recently wrote about trying to correct discolored concert photos. While testing the Olympus EPL-2 at a Chiptunes Concert, I learned a valuable lesson: that to create better work, sometimes you need to break away from tradition and not take your work so seriously.
First off, this isn't the gear that I'd usually use, but it was available to me at the moment. Sometimes as a photographer, you need to adapt to a situation.
The Olympus EPL-2 is a Micro Four Thirds camera—which means there is no mirror or pentaprism. However, it has a DSLR (four thirds) sized sensor and interchangeable lenses. I used the 17mm F/2.8 pancake lens and the VF-2 electronic viewfinder. Since there is no mirror that moves around and thecamera has built in image stabilization, it is very difficult for camera shake to blur your photos. Here's what I'm talking about for reference.
For around the past month, this combo has been a constant companion of mine.
Now here's the tricky part: I like to shoot in RAW because of the added versatility I have in Lightroom or Photoshop later on. RAW files are like a special canvas on which I can edit one part at a time and tweak it to my personal liking.
Sadly, at the time of this writing, the EPL-2 is not supported in Lightroom 3 (my editing program of choice.)
This time around though, I knew that I couldn't rely on my editing skills to back me up: which meant that I was shooting all JPEGs. It also means there is extra pressure to get all of the settings, "right" in camera.
The JPEGs had so many issues that I would want to fix later on because of my OCD nature of trying to obtain better colors. After a while I just decided to try out one of the features packed into the EPL-2: the Art Filters. My Lightroom skills are decent, but post-processing these would be a nightmare for me. So I switched the mode dial to the Art Filters setting.
It can't hurt, right? This isn't what I would normally do, but the images would have a cool effect to them.
In my experience, almost no camera can shoot JPEGs that are acceptable in low-light conditions with the ISO cranked up into the danger zone. The exception is the Nikon D3s with its full frame sensor and low megapixel count. But by using the art filters like Dramatic Tone (seen above) I was able to create some really interesting photos that I wouldn't normally create.
The art filters helped give my photos a unique look. The above photo was shot with the grainy film mode and reminded me a bit of a couple of concert photos that you might have seen back around the 80's. As a punk rock guy, I've seen photos of this style all over fliers and album artwork, so it's almost like I'm right at home.
After shooting many frames with the art filters, I started to accept the fact that I couldn't fix the images in post-processing. Instead, the camera was doing a chunk of the work for me. That took some getting used to, because it meant that I wouldn't necessarily obtain the image I wanted or envisioned, especially since I can't predict the Art Filter algorithms. But the images I shot were actually really pleasing to my eyes and captured the essence of the concert very well.
Although I primarily used just two filters that night, I realized that as photographers, we have to stop being so uptight and technical sometimes.
Sometimes, we just need to embrace the moment.
Granted, I've heard all that before, but we need reminders every now and then.