Time Well Spent


Richard, North Salem, New York © Steven Willard, 2013

I had a chance to accomplish three things at once with a visit to my good friend Richard. He is recovering from surgery and I wanted to stop by and try to relieve some of the tedium of being house-bound. I found him in better shape than I expected but beginning to chafe at the restrictions forced upon him as he heals. It’s the common case of the mind being willing to get up and do things but the body not being up to the task.

So as we sat in his living room talking about all sorts of things I had a chance to make some photographs of him. I asked him to change positions slightly so that the background was less distracting and in so doing placed him in better light coming through the windows to his right. The afternoon sun was softened by high overcast, and I don’t think I could have asked for better light.

I had with me a new camera that I’m trying to get to know. I used some Christmas money to take advantage of a sale at B&H Photo to buy a Panasonic Lumix G3 micro 4/3 camera body. The G3 has recently been replaced with a new version and I was able to get the camera for less than half its original retail price. I had been interested in the micro 4/3 cameras because with them and the right adapter I am able to use all of my Nikkor lenses left over from my 35mm film days.

I had brought along two lenses and this image was made with a wonderful 105mm f2.5 lens that has a well deserved reputation among Nikon users. The small sensor in the G3 produces an effective focal length of 210mm. I was handholding the camera and  needed a fairly fast shutter speed with such a long lens, so this photograph was made with the lens wide open at ISO 800. The small size of the camera makes it non-threatening, and I don’t think Richard was taking me seriously as I made a number of exposures from about ten feet away.

Getting home I wasted little time getting the files into Photoshop and was pleased to see the results. At a print size of 9×12 inches Richard’s face is rendered near life size and is sharp enough to to reveal individual hairs in his eyebrows. There is very shallow depth of focus which emphasizes his eyes and renders everything else pleasingly out of focus. This 30 year old lens is still up to the task, and works well on this modern camera.

It was a good day. We had a very nice afternoon talking; Richard was diverted for a bit, and I came away with the best photograph I’ve ever managed to make of a dear friend.

Panasonic G3, Nikkor 105mm f2.5 lens and Fotodiox adapter. Image processed in Photoshop CS4 and  converted to black and white in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.


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