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Archive 2022 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022

  
 
Kalainen
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p.7 #1 · p.7 #1 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022




darrellc wrote:
Congrats on kid, Toni! I’m imagining part of your decision to have another one was driven by photography… you’re going to need more subject matter soon.


Hah, you are absolutely right! 😄



Jan 28, 2023 at 04:22 PM
patotts
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p.7 #2 · p.7 #2 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


A late question @Kalainen did you end up keeping the Batis lenses and which one/s are you still using?


May 25, 2023 at 12:38 PM
rob_ww
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p.7 #3 · p.7 #3 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Yes, I'd like to know too!



May 26, 2023 at 09:07 AM
Kalainen
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p.7 #4 · p.7 #4 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


patotts wrote:
A late question @Kalainen@ did you end up keeping the Batis lenses and which one/s are you still using?


Hi there and sorry for the late reply. I noticed the thread earlier, but I’ve been really busy (and tired lately), so I needed to find a time to write a proper answer.

So, am I still using the Batis lenses and if I am, which one I use? I can happily say that I’m still using all the Batis lenses – I’ve even used the Batis 2.8/18, Batis 2/25 & Batis 2/40 CF today. In fact, when I started the Batis blog I already had the Batis 2/25, Batis 2/40 CF and Batis 1.8/85. With the agreement with ZEISS I created a blog and bought the Batis 2.8/18 and Batis 2.8/135 with some price reduction. It was really a perfect match for me: (1) I got to create a photo blog for the summer (which did active my photography a lot), (2) I got myself those last missing Batis lenses.

As I’ve already mentioned in the blog, the Batis lens family is very important to me as I’ve built (part of) my aesthetics on it. It’s the ZEISS contrast & colors which are a kind of ‘hardwired’ to my post processing giving me a very nuanced process which will always ‘land on the same target’. Change the lens to something else and I would (sort of) struggling with the outcome. I don’t want to do that since I’m super happy the contrast & colors. As I’ve tested the other lenses, there’s no real alternative, excepts maybe the Sony GMs. But even with the GMs the contrast isn’t always as good (but it’s pretty darn close) and while the colors are good (they really are), they just aren’t the ZEISS colors. So even with the super fast primes like the GM 50/1.2, I just don’t see enough the positives to break my setup.

I’m also very happy with the focal length gapping of the Batis lens family. I’ve got the basic setup ‘wide-normal-tele’ and the super-wide and medium-tele to go with it. If I would change, for example, the Batis 2/40 CF for Sony GM 50/1.2 lens I would have ask myself that what I would do with the Batis 2/40 CF then? The gapping would be different (learn the visualize it again), colors would be different (readjust the post processing routines for just one lens). Of course I would gain more speed, but I don’t really see the appeal of super fast 50mm in other shooting scenarios other than when the subject is far enough and one can still blur the background a bit – however even in these scenarios one still doesn’t reach ‘the large format look’ (I’ve tested it). Closer than that, it’s a wash. Further than that, it doesn’t matter. And I can make similar kind stuff with the Batis 85. So, even if the Sony GM 50/1.2 was interesting (it’s really the only Sony lens that I’ve been interested about), it just doesn’t bring enough to the table. The Batis lenses are already very very close the to their GM counterparts, especially in image quality, the other tech is different of course (like AF etc.). And in the end I believe having a consistent rendering over the whole lens setup – which the Batis lens family will give me.

Some short remarks:
Batis 2.8/18 – very competent image quality, perfect for creative shots
Batis 2/25 – beautiful rendering even though at f/2 suffers from some loca
Batis 2/40 CF – workhorse lens which has just a perfect focal length
Batis 1.8/85 – interestingly doesn’t get as much use as before, but technically a very competent lens
Batis 2.8/135 – such a beautiful lens, optically best of the bunch, but the focal length is challenging

But here’s the thing. I don’t think it’s useful to chase ‘the perfect kit’ because it can have so much negative effects on one’s photography. Worst of them all, it leads to this technically oriented way of approaching photography (instead of being subject/content orientated). There will always be the next ‘best thing’ (noticed how the new Sony GMs are already described as ‘perfect and boring’?) and it can lead one to never ending cycle where people are ‘preparing for their perfect kit’ for years. It’s a dumb thing to do because then one usually neglects what it important photography wise (ever noticed how some can perfectly describe the effects of 2nd order of aberrations but fail the describe what ‘context’ means in photography and how it can be used). Instead it’s much wiser to go with the one kit you already have (for example wide-normal-tele) and to concentrate on creating as meaningful photographs as one can.

When I finally got the all-Batis-kit (my personal ‘perfect kit’) I found myself asking if it was ‘too late’ for me. Maybe I had already lived past my own personal ‘golden age’ as a photographer and the most meaningful shots of my life were already taken. I kid you not, I had a bit of an empty moment there just to realize that ‘the perfect kit’ it just a mirage of some sort. What’s the use of the perfect kit if there’s no real meaning/reason for it? This can happen if one is always just chasing the perfect kit - the life doesn’t wait. Luckily for me I found that I still have important work to do (even had the third kid born into our family six months ago), so the Batis kit will see some real use. So, at this point, would I want to change or ‘upgrade’ something? Hell no. I want to create pictures and I’ve got a pretty amazing kit to just do that. So I’m working on with some pictures and not thinking about the gear. The last thing I bought for my photography was a small notebook. I use it every day to write what really spoke to my heart at particular day, what is meaningful, and I already know it will change my photography as I’m starting to see my subject (the life) in a more focused way.

There’s a saying that I heard some time ago: ‘(in photography) only amateurs change camera bodies and lenses’. The others, I guess, concentrate on making pictures.

I could probably share some recent shots/thoughts with my all-Batis-kit, but I cannot do it today. I would need to figure out how to share them and with everything else going on, it will probably take a few days, but I’ll see if can find the way.



May 27, 2023 at 04:24 PM
chiron
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p.7 #5 · p.7 #5 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Kalainen wrote:
Hi there and sorry for the late reply. I noticed the thread earlier, but I’ve been really busy (and tired lately), so I needed to find a time to write a proper answer.

So, am I still using the Batis lenses and if I am, which one I use? I can happily say that I’m still using all the Batis lenses – I’ve even used the Batis 2.8/18, Batis 2/25 & Batis 2/40 CF today. In fact, when I started the Batis blog I already had the Batis 2/25, Batis 2/40 CF and Batis 1.8/85. With the agreement with ZEISS I
...Show more

Words of wisdom!!!



May 27, 2023 at 04:59 PM
patotts
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p.7 #6 · p.7 #6 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Kalainen wrote:
Hi there and sorry for the late reply. I noticed the thread earlier, but I’ve been really busy (and tired lately), so I needed to find a time to write a proper answer.

So, am I still using the Batis lenses and if I am, which one I use? I can happily say that I’m still using all the Batis lenses – I’ve even used the Batis 2.8/18, Batis 2/25 & Batis 2/40 CF today. In fact, when I started the Batis blog I already had the Batis 2/25, Batis 2/40 CF and Batis 1.8/85. With the agreement with ZEISS I
...Show more

That is not an answer, Toni - that is a beautiful and insightful essay. Bravo!




May 27, 2023 at 06:37 PM
zoomo
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p.7 #7 · p.7 #7 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Kalainen wrote:
Hi there and sorry for the late reply. I noticed the thread earlier, but I’ve been really busy (and tired lately), so I needed to find a time to write a proper answer.

So, am I still using the Batis lenses and if I am, which one I use? I can happily say that I’m still using all the Batis lenses – I’ve even used the Batis 2.8/18, Batis 2/25 & Batis 2/40 CF today. In fact, when I started the Batis blog I already had the Batis 2/25, Batis 2/40 CF and Batis 1.8/85. With the agreement with ZEISS I
...Show more

Could not agree more!




May 28, 2023 at 09:26 AM
RexGig0
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p.7 #8 · p.7 #8 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Kalainen wrote:
But here’s the thing. I don’t think it’s useful to chase ‘the perfect kit’ because it can have so much negative effects on one’s photography. Worst of them all, it leads to this technically oriented way of approaching photography (instead of being subject/content orientated). There will always be the next ‘best thing’ (noticed how the new Sony GMs are already described as ‘perfect and boring’?) and it can lead one to never ending cycle where people are ‘preparing for their perfect kit’ for years. It’s a dumb thing to do because then one usually neglects what it important photography wise
...Show more

Toni, your entire post is a beautifully-written essay, but I wanted to “QFT” this paragraph, as it applies to all photography, and is brand-neutral, regarding equipment. I should re-read this, whenever I start to dream of yet another “grail quest.” Thanks!

“QFT” = “Quoted For Truth.” I have not noticed this acronym used much, here at FM.




May 28, 2023 at 10:01 AM
rob_ww
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p.7 #9 · p.7 #9 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Thanks for that, Toni. What a wonderful encapsulation of what so many of us think. We do look forward to you sharing another round of your photographic work as it emerges. Your approach and your sharing continue to take us in the direction of creating meaningful photographs.


May 30, 2023 at 05:42 AM
Kalainen
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p.7 #10 · p.7 #10 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


I’m coming back to this thread as I promised to post something that I’ve worked on recently with my Batis lenses. Sorry that it took so long, but I’ve been very busy lately as well as tired (ever since our third daughter was born six months ago, really). So I’ve had very limited time to concentrate on anything related to my own interests. But here’s something what I’ve been excited about lately. I purposely chose something very different than what I did with the Batis-blog as it would not make much sense to continue posting similar pictures (though I still make them as always).

Anyway, here we go:

Riding, growth & self-confidence

It all started with a simple stick horse. In spring 2020, I believe, one of the girls in the neighborhood had this brown stick horse and when Aura & Meri saw it, they immediately fell in love with it, as you can well imagine young girls to do. During that spring we made multiple stick horses and the girls started building horse stables out of cardboard boxes. Then they started reading books about riding and learning everything related to it. Eventually we realized that they need to experience real horses and we started to take them to riding lessons nearby.

When you start riding lessons the horses are so cute at the start and everything is lovely. After couple of months one realizes that they are also sometimes pretty difficult and that there can be some dangerous situations too if you are not careful. And at some point everyone falls into this ‘psychological pit’ where taking care of horses becomes stressing as there is so much that can happen. The climb up again from that pit and to get back there where you feel you have the control, is something everyone has to do at some point. This is also something Aura and Meri experienced and what set out to be a fun hobby actually became a very nurturing act requiring self-reliance and confidence. Yet this has not withered the girls' love for horses, for which I’m very happy about.

One key question that fascinated me from the beginning is related to this admirable attraction: why girls of a certain age are so attracted to horses in general? Horses are of course large, powerful and at the same time gentle animals that naturally inspire some admiration. But why are they so important especially for girls?

In my eyes the attraction of horses and taking care of them is related to the development and growing independence of a young girl. One could say that in Freudian context horses represent freedom, strength and sexuality. In this sense, taking care of horses reflects a young girl's desire to express her own independence and to control these powers associated with a coming age of adolescence. Sometimes overlapping with the emerging sexuality as well, as I’ve many times witnessed Aura & Meri discussing horse’s genders, genitals and breeding as they play with their toy horses. But in general sense, nurturing and taking care of horses gives them a way to express themselves and build a positive self-confidence.

I realized all this pretty late but still felt pretty strongly that I need to photograph and document all this as it represents such an important time in their development and life. But how to do it? Horses and riding are of course important, but I also felt that they don’t, as such, represent the real subject of story here. In addition, I didn’t see myself taking ‘the soccer-mum’ approach here where I would fill sd-cards with thousands of similar telephoto images of riding kids.

Instead I wanted to emphasize the growth, the journey from being afraid of real horses to a certain self-confidence where they can work with them on a weekly basis. This is the meaningful story here, but of course the horses would still be very important part of this as well. As a solution I realized that I wanted to show horses in another kind of light – challenging and a bit alien, as they really have been through the journey. It is also important to me that I never show them completely as it might take something away from their elusive power – a setup which is intervened with difficult emotions, psychological pressure but also with love and empathy towards the horses. Ultimately I hope to develop a somewhat unique visual/photographical approach toward horses that would also imprint my own interpretation to the work that I do here.

Technically this is all shot with the Sony A7III & ZEISS Batis lenses. This is an ongoing project (=not finished nor anything is ready) and there are still many picture types that I hope to get during the summer or later. One of the challenges here has been the fact I need to take care of the girls at the same time (like helping with horses and making sure everything is safe, etc.), so my photo opportunities are a bit scarce. And nothing is ever perfect and I’m trying to learn something here as much as anyone else (for example, there’s some banding in one image, I’m painfully aware of it). However, I think the most difficult part has been trying to figure what I need (photography wise) to tell the story, while contemplating about the story itself (like what it actually is). And I’m still a bit unsure about it and these are just some of the images I’ve been making along the way trying to solve it..

Another thing that comes to my mind here, as I’m posting this to FM, relates to lens rendition. It’s a topic we tend to discuss a lot in the FM. In some ways I see it a bit limited discussion as it only deals with the technicalities of lenses. How one decides to render his/her subject and what kind of artistic decisions one makes affects so much more than the characteristics of any lens. Like what I’ve tried to do here with the horses – to render them in (somewhat) unique way. In my mind this is the real question of subject rendition, and the technical discussion is something minor that goes underneath it. One can have great lens rendition, but if the chosen subject rendition (ie. the way one shoots the subject) is always the same, it’s not going to matter much. That being said, I’ve been happy with the Batis lenses here – mostly because they have given me excellent focal lengths and gapping to explore this particular subject.

Ok, next some images.

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/1.jpg
The stable - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/2.jpg
Introductory course - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/3.jpg
Nurturing - ZEISS Batis 2/25

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/4.jpg
Nurturing II - ZEISS Batis 2/25

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/5.jpg
The saddle room - ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/6.jpg
Riding high - ZEISS Batis 2.8/135

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/7.jpg
Brushing dirt - ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/8.jpg
Brushing dirt II -ZEISS Batis 2/25

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/9.jpg
Brushing dirt III - ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/10.jpg
Self-directed - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/11.jpg
Reaching - ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/12.jpg
On the forest trail - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/13.jpg
Saddle - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/14.jpg
Bridle washing - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/15.jpg
Bridle washing II - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/16.jpg
Debris - ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF

But like I said, it's an ongoing project..




Jun 07, 2023 at 03:55 PM
StoneCrop
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p.7 #11 · p.7 #11 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


A great start! I really appreciate the discussion of intention, and hope that influenced specific choices you made regarding framing, or other formal and narrative elements of image making. I wish there were more threads here that took a similar approach!


Jun 09, 2023 at 01:44 AM
rob_ww
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p.7 #12 · p.7 #12 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Wonderful work Kalainan. I particularly like the way the view is often from the child's perspective -- at a child's height or with a child's-eye view of the activity. For example, 'the stable' -- what is behind those rather forbidding looking doors? Or 'brushing' where the 18mm perspective emphasises the size and texture of the horse's hide compared to the child looking at it. And of course, emphasises the relative sizes of child and horse. That gives the pictures an extra charge of emotion.

Interesting that you decided to leave two of the pictures in colour. Was that an intuitive choice or did you have a rationale for making the decision?



Jun 09, 2023 at 09:44 AM
Kalainen
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p.7 #13 · p.7 #13 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Thanks for the kind words, StoneCrop & rob_ww!

I’ll add some thoughts about how I think a photo-project like this. Not saying that this is the right way to think about it, I’m just sharing my thoughts because I think it might be useful for others too.
So basically I think a photo-project like this as a book (which is something I intend to make from this). A book must have, at least, a beginning and an end. In this sample I shared ‘The Stable’ is an opening picture and ‘Debris’ is a closure picture. Then there can be ‘key pictures’ that kind of underline or create the meaning of the story. After those there are supporting pictures like details, etc. These are the building blocks in my mind which I try to create with my camera every time we go there.

But when it comes to story, I tend to think that the story need to work on a three different levels: aesthetic level, intellectual level and emotional level. There are different point of views into the story which I try to align with each other.

Aesthetic level – to me this means ‘the photography level’ of things and where I’m trying to find something that would interesting in terms of photography. Horses have of course been photographed in many ways, but if I think about what would be the most stereotypical picture type for horses, it would probably be ‘running horses in sunset’ or something similar like this. Photography wise this is uninteresting and repeats the same cliché of ‘aesthetizing’ the horse body. I’m not interested in that. Instead I try to find other ways, preferrebly something that goes a bit ‘against the grain’ as it usually makes things more interesting than just ‘making it look beautiful’. From these pictures the ‘Brushing dirt III’ kind of approaches that because you can see the genitals of the horse and Aura same time nurturing the horse. It’s of course a totally natural situation, if you have been with the horses, but as a photograph it is a bit disturbing in a (Sally Mann kind of) way. Again, the ‘out-of-focus’ picture ‘On the forest trail’, I’ve chosen it partly because of same reason: it goes against the grain of what is expected in general. But this is just me how I like my photography aesthetics; I’m not so much interested in repeating known picture types or genre conventions (which is something casual pro photographers do for their work basically).

Intellectual level – This the level where I think photography has bring table ‘something to think about’. In this (unready) work it is the idea that the attraction of horses and taking care of them is related to the development, emerging adolescence and growing independence of a young girl. With this idea I try to ‘lift up’ our casual riding days to mean something more profound in the eyes of a viewer. I’m hoping it will open up a new view to viewer and make him/her think differently about the riding and taking care of horses. It doesn’t need to be rocket science (ie. intellectual in its deepest sense), but something that elevates the work a bit (so it’s not just about we going riding every now and then).

Emotional level – In some ways this is the most important level. The emotional level has to ‘ring the truth’, meaning that Aura and Meri has to recognize their feelings and experiences from these pictures. To put it simply here, it might be, for example, that they were both in love with the horses and afraid of the horses at the same time – and that they can recognize these emotions from the pictures later on. In some ways emotional level will make photography ‘true’ and it’s important to get this right. I’m still missing all kinds of pictures related here, like love giving ones etc.

Regarding a few color pictures, there are couple of reasons really. First of all, the stable itself is pretty badly lit inside (lighting with bad/ill color spectrum and some blue light from windows), so I decided the more rough bw-imagery might be a better choice. But I still have some beatlful color pictures when we are out in nature, so I didn’t want to lose those colors by making the bw. I also thought that color pictures might work as a section dividers in a book or elevating beautiful small moments in color. Just trying out things here.

Regarding the whole project I’ve started to think that I might make a book which would have two different sections in it: ‘Play’ and ‘Growth’. The first section would concentrate on stick horses and the second section of real riding. But then again the ‘Play’ section might need it’s own intellectual idea of what it is about. I don’t know, but I’m definitely working on it in my mind..



Jun 10, 2023 at 03:40 PM
nepali
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p.7 #14 · p.7 #14 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Kalainen wrote:
https://muuttomoottori.fi/Downloads/horses/5.jpg
The saddle room - ZEISS Batis 2.8/18



This is an awesome picture!



Jun 10, 2023 at 05:10 PM
Earlstone
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p.7 #15 · p.7 #15 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022


Fantastic images. The only thing I've ever felt about Sony is it lacked soul. Zeiss and talent have proven me wrong. Filling my cart with Batis and hoping the loxia issues get worked out as I would love to own those as well.


Sep 12, 2023 at 09:54 PM
Kalainen
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p.7 #16 · p.7 #16 · 'a Batis story...' - a photographic sketchbook for the summer 2022




Earlstone wrote:
Fantastic images. The only thing I've ever felt about Sony is it lacked soul. Zeiss and talent have proven me wrong. Filling my cart with Batis and hoping the loxia issues get worked out as I would love to own those as well.


Thanks for the kind words! Actually I'm surprised to see, not only a comment in my old Batis project thread, but also that pictures still work. They are coming from a Squarespace site that I closed a long time ago (as it costs some money and the summer project is finished anyway). Nice that pictures are still available, but it's a shame that stories cannot be accessed anymore.

Not sureabout any piece of equipment having a 'soul', but I do admit that Sony isn't recognised the same way as Zeiss. Sony gives us great bodies, but it doesn't have certain culture or history. While Zeiss has exited the consumer business (hopefully not forever) and the new Chinese manufacturers are coming to market, I wonder how it is going to affect the gear/photography culture in a long way. Great budget lenses for everyone, but probably a quite shallow cultural connection..? Anyway the Batis lenses continue to be the only Zeiss lenses with AF (I'm counting Touit there too) and it's kind of special. Good luck with the Batis lenses!



Sep 13, 2023 at 03:16 PM
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