Sigma DP2 Merrill Memories

It’s hard for me to believe that it has been seven years since I spent a month using, and reviewing, a Sigma DP2 Merrill.  The little camera had amazaing output, and if I hadn’t already purchased two other cameras I had tested not long before, I would probably have bought it then and there.  I’ve always been a fan of the “look” one gets from Foveon sensors, which use a radically different technology than other manufacturers.  While others have different pixels absorbing and reporting different colors that are then merged to form the picture, each individual pixel in a Foveon sensor is sensitive to all of the three primary colors – red, green, and blue.  The Foveon formula blew other sensors away when it came to sharpness and resolving power per pixel.  The small camera came with a small f2.8 45mm equivalent lens that was a perfect match for the sensor and which have some very nice bokeh, to my eyes at least.

But that was 2012, and the bayer pattern sensors that have abandoned detail-smearing anti-aliasing filters,  and Fujifilm sensors that also don’t have such filters, have narrowed the gap on the Foveons these days.  Until the latest round of Sigma cameras, however, RAW images from Foveon sensors did not play well with Adobe products.  One had to use Sigma’s own rather clunky software to first convert RAW files into TIFF formats, and then import the TIFFs into Lightroom.  Also, Foveon sensors have always been, and apparently continue to be, very noisy about ISO 400.  In short, those Sigma cameras are (still!) capable of truly impressive images, but at the cost of more work and less versatility than their bayer pattern siblings from other companies.  At the time, while appreciating the special nature of the Sigma pictures, I opted for ease and versatility in my camera choices.

Here are a few of my favorites from the 2012 DP2 Merrill, taken while I had it.

Sigma DP2 Merrill-15 Sigma DP2 Merrill-10 Sigma DP2 Merrill-16 Sigma DP2 Merrill-17 Sigma DP2 Merrill-8 Sigma DP2 Merrill-14 Sigma DP2 Merrill-13 Sigma DP2 Merrill-12 Sigma DP2 Merrill-4

Sigma DP2 Merrill-3

Sigma DP2 Merrill-2

Sigma DP2 Merrill

Sigma DP2 Merrill-7

Sigma DP2 Merrill-6

Sigma DP2 Merrill-11

My Labor Day Walk at Paintsville Lake

I finally hauled myself out of bed early this morning for a short walk at Paintsville Lake.  It was quiet and beautiful, with the early  morning light, calm water, woods, and fog.  Beauty, like Art, like Literature, like God, is a mystery, and one that we should strive, not necessarily to understand, but simply to appreciate and experience.  And, of course, if we have a camera handy. . .

Sept 2_-2
The Dam
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The Copse in the Fog
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The Dam Control
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The Cone
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The Shore
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The Floating Leaf
Sept 2_-7
The Path

Assignment 1: Color

About five years ago I bought a book called The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes by Andy Karr and Michael Wood.  It really is about a different approach to photography, where subject takes a back seat to “flashes of perception” that are to be pursued with the purpose of creating a photograph that carries through that initial perception.  Part of the point is to find interest and beauty in new places.  I’ve gone back and forth over the years on whether this produces profound pictures or is just BS.  There is certainly much about the approach that I like, but many of the pictures I’ve seen, outside the book, look like poor imitations of the photos in it – hardly representing “seeing with fresh eyes.”  But then I remind myself that many of the pictures on Flickr and on websites featuring this approach (called “Miksang,” Tibetan for “good eye”) come from students of this way of photographing.  So of course these are not always perfect examples.  And I’m sure my pictures won’t be either.  But I’ve come back to the book (which is beautifully written, by the way) enough times to believe that there really is something to this approach as a fresh way of seeing, not just for photography, but in life in general.

I’ve been struggling with my photography for the last few months, having previously taken so many pictures near where I live.  I guess I’m just tired of my old approaches and everything I take seems a rehash of a prior picture.  So I went out this morning and worked on the book’s first assignment – Color.  The assignment requires one to disregard nature, parks, and pretty much anything else that we normally think of as “pretty.”  The point, at least at this early stage, is to make the student look for good pictures in places most of don’t usually look – to find the hidden beauty in this world that is actually right in front of us.  It is pretty much impossible to completely avoid “nature” in this part of the world, but I ignored more than usual at least.  Anyhow, here are some pictures from this morning, focusing on color.

Color-6Color-8Color-7Color-5Color-4

And here, I think, are my best pictures from this outing.

Color-3ColorColor-2