*Wandering through a slice of time. Amsterdam and Bruges in the Fall.

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 GM1 + PL15mm – stitched panorama

As is the case for me every Fall, life found me traversing the blue marble for work.  This year was a little different in that Mrs Squeeze was able to accompany me.  Our two not so little any more offspring spent the time being doted on by their grandparents, which enabled momma and dada to do some partying.

Full disclosure, by “partying” what I really mean to say is sleeping, maybe eating a meal in one sitting and generally being able to drink a glass of wine or beer before 8pm, and let me tell you dear friends, we partied.

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GM1 + PL15 – 6 second exposure

My real job requires a trip to Amsterdam each year to attend the largest marine industry trade show on the planet which normally occupies me for a solid 4 days of meetings, dinners and more meetings.  That, combined with the jet lag from covering 8 time zones doesn’t stop me from getting up early to wander the streets.  A time often reserved for municipal workers or delivery drivers, this has become my favorite time to shoot whenever I travel and allows me to see a place without the hordes of commuters or tourists.

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GM1 + PL15mm – 4 second exposure

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GM1 + PL15mm – 60 second exposure

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GM1 + Voigtländer 42.5mm – 13 second exposure

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GM1 + Voigtländer 42.5mm

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GM1 + Rokinon Fisheye – 30 second exposure

This year found me toting around my new Voigtländer 42mm f/0.95 Nokton micro 4/3 system lens on the GX7, and the Pana/Leica 15mm f/1.7 Summilux on the GM1.  Just because I didn’t want it feeling lonely, I also brought along the old trusty GF1 with the Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye.  These three cameras and lenses easily fit in my converted shoulder bag and weighed no more than my old full frame with my 35/1.4 on it.  It actually still amazes me how much weight I’ve lost in my bag every time I travel.

I know I’ve not even introduced the Voigt Nokton on the blog yet, but just know there is a review post in the works.  I also have been working long and hard on a comparison between the PL15mm and the two Lumix pancake lenses as well, so stay tuned.

With a few days to ourselves, we chose to take the train down to Bruges for a nice, quiet overnighter.

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GX7 + PL15mm

When I have time while traveling, I tend to employ a variety of techniques.  I’m not one for a unified style which can certainly be a detriment to a photographer establishing a brand, but being a bit of an explorer by nature, I tend to become fascinated with many different approaches within the photographic spectrum of technique.

In the early morning, I tend to see much of what I shoot being complimented by long exposures.  Because there is less traffic and distraction, I can use a tripod without getting in the way, even times in the middle of the street.  Setting a self timer, and adjusting exposure to allow for a 30 second or longer exposure, I just wait for elements to align and fire.  It also helps if you find a coffee shop that opens early as you tend to have some nice wait time to relax and absorb your surroundings.

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GM1 + PL15mm – 6 second exposure

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GM1 + PL15mm – 5 second exposure

By getting up early, I can satisfy my photographic cravings without asking Mrs Squeeze to constantly wait for me throughout the day as we explore.  While I love taking pictures, if I’m honest, it would be a huge pain in the ass traveling with someone so focused on taking images, they ignored their company while they constantly had to wait.  I have been that guy, and we saw quite a few of those guys (and significant others rolling their eyes as they stopped to get yet another shot).  Having the phone cameras handy also helped for the passing shot.  The other thing that worked well for us this time around was forcing a camera onto Mrs Squeeze.  I’ve become good at the casual vacation wandering shot so as not to hold up our journey, and I found myself actually waiting on the Mrs more often than the other way around which made me feel much better about stoping every once in a while to get a shot.  She did love the GM1 and PL15mm combo (as did I going by many of these shots).  Small, light, discreet and intuitive.  If I can get her to provide me with the proper releases and usage agreement, perhaps I can show some of her awesome shots here as well🙂

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GX7 + Voigtländer 42.5mm

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iPhone 5s

Balancing my time photographing my trip, and enjoying the time we had in these beautiful places together was easy to do by finding time to get out and shoot on my own.  The light in the early morning or late evening is most always more interesting anyway which gave us time to meander together between without me constantly looking to capture something in an attempt to encapsulate our trip for posterity and memory while not being quite as present while making said memories…  See, I have learned from my past experience, so please remind my lovely wife of this if ever you meet her.

So, the gear?  I’ve been a big fan of the micro 4/3 system and this trip showed me again why my choice to slim down the camera bag while traveling was such a good one for me.  Not having a sore neck and back every night, to me is reason enough.  The Voigt and the Leica lenses were (are) awesome, and while I do wish I had a slightly wider (non fisheye) prime for some of my urban landscapes, I found that shooting in portrait orientation on my trusty little travel tripod, and stitching together made up for it in the situations where I had the time to do that, plus it has given me a few nice, really large panorama shots.

Here’s the gear I shot with, along with an article from the past with some shooting and stitching techniques for those interested in panorama shooting.  You can click the links to see these at B&H.

Cameras:

Panasonic Lumix GX7 (currently $698 w/14-42mm lens) Or $598 for Body Only

Panasonic Lumix GM1 (currently $748 w/12-32mm lens) Or the new GM5 w/lens for $898

Lenses:

Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye (currently $249)

Leica 15mm f/1.7 Summilux ASPH (currently $597)

Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 (currently $999)

Tripod:

Slik Sprint Mini II (currently $80 w/head)

Sirui C-10 compact Ball Head (currently $80, but has been a great upgrade for me)

 

If you want to see my approach to shooting and stitching large panoramas, you can follow along in this post.

The GM1, as has been said more than once here on this blog, was a wonderful travel camera.  It was small enough to throw in the coat pocket while out and about.  It handled really well on the tripod, and of course, the IQ is very solid.  The RAW files do really well in post, and provide me with all I need for my travel shooting needs.  It normally had the PL15mm on it, while as mentioned the GX7 pulled the heavier Voigt duty.  All in all, a great one two punch for me.  I really enjoyed shooting with both setups throughout the trip.

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GM1 + PL15mm

As you may know through previous years, I love visiting Amsterdam.  It is a home away from home for me.  It was our first time not just passing through Belgium on a train, and Bruges was a wonderful destination for us.  A medieval city with a fascinating history of its own, it felt, to us as decently traveled yet culturally stunted Americans to be a blending of the canals of Amsterdam and Venice with the storybook architecture of Prague.  Oddly, the weather seemed just like home in Portland, so we were well prepared on that front.

Thank you for the read, and as always, I’d love to answer any questions.  As mentioned, some more in depth review posts are in the works for the lenses.  Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, or add your email at the top right to stay posted.

Happy holidays to all, and happy shooting!

Cheers,

Tyson

 

19 thoughts on “*Wandering through a slice of time. Amsterdam and Bruges in the Fall.

  1. Thanks for sharing this Tyson…lovely images…but from what I saw here I prefer what the GX7 produces…there is one shot with the PL15 and one with the voightlander…both I really enjoyed…A great holiday season to you and your family . Namaste .

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    • Thanks Sven!

      I think it may be down more to the processing than a difference in the camera. While I was out in the mornings, I normally had the GM1 on the tripod because it was lighter and more discreet with the PL15. The sensors, to my eye do behave pretty darn close to the same, but I did find slight differences when I did a head to head, so maybe there is more to it than I’m seeing. Regardless, thank you and happy holidays!

      Best regards,

      Tyson

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      • Tyson

        I bought the GX7 on your review this time last year. Great choice and I have added several lenses–Oly 45, Pana Leica 25, Oly 60 from your recommendations.
        Your shots are fantastic and I was wondering if you have any special settings for the GX etc.

        Best,

        Richard

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      • Thanks Richard!

        You know, to be completely honest, I don’t think I have done anything to customize the GX7. One thing I really like about this, and most of the Panasonic cameras I’ve used, is that they seem to have everything I tend to need, via direct access buttons, switches and dials.

        I really appreciate the C1, C2 and C3 (2-1, 3-2, etc) on the mode dial. I have set up my “studio light default” on C1 as I do with any camera that affords me the ability which is set up for strobes on Manual, with a flash white balance, base ISO of 200, f/8 and 1/125sec shutter speed. I also have the flash sync set to second curtain, just because if I do slow the ss down, I like the ability to drag the shutter with the flash firing as the shutter closes.

        Other than that, I don’t think I’ve really done anything outside of the default settings.

        Anyone else?

        Thanks again Richard and enjoy. I think the GX7, for me, has been about as perfect a camera as I’ve used. I love it.

        Cheers,
        t

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  2. Nice report and photos Tyson. Looking forward to reading your Voit report. BTW, if you haven’t seen the film, In Bruges (2008), I’d highly recommend you track it down.
    Cheers
    Paddy

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  3. Those are lovely photos!

    I wish that I was so patient. I rarely take those sorts of photos.

    I was considering buying the GM5 the other day and they happened to have a GH4 and I bought that instead. It’s not quite as pocket-able.

    Given that I’m looking at doing video (again), I’m looking at buying low light lenses–or a Metabones Speedbooster with some Nikon-compatible lenses.

    I noticed that Panasonic has a Shoot w/o Lens option. Is that how you use the manual-only lenses?

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    • I’m really wanting the GH4 more and more and will probably grab one as it comes down a little. Yeah, the shoot w/o lens toggled to on will enable shooting with third party/legacy lenses in A or M modes. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you!

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      • At $200 off, the GH4 was a good deal–the same price I paid for the Olympus E-5.

        I went out today to shoot some video with the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens. Despite not having IBIS or OIS, I seem to have got some steady shots and video.

        I actually went to a store to buy the Panasonic/Leica 15mm f1.7 lens, but they didn’t have any. I didn’t expect the 12-40mm to work so well, when I didn’t have good luck with it and the E-M1 at the same store with skaters and half-pipe.

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      • While I do love some type of stabilization, I think it is really only necessary in a few specific situations, and of course can be helpful in others. I made it through a large majority of my own photographic journey with no added stabilization that wasn’t a tripod, and feel comfortable shooting without it in most cases. It does help in lower light, shooting static subjects and of course for video, but otherwise, I think it can be worked around without.

        I’m waiting for delivery on the 40-150 to test against my FF 70-200/2.8 to see if I can start to truly replace my FF system for more and more stuff. I’d love to get my hands on the GH4 eventually too. From all the tests I’ve seen, for RAW files, it is the top performing m4/3 cam for stills, and then of course there is the ability to pull frames from the 4k footage which seems fascinating.

        Have fun with it!

        t

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      • Thanks! I’m enjoying it so far. It’s much better than the GH3 and even better than the E-M1, for me anyway.

        I still have my full-sized Four-Thirds lenses and I’ll probably never give them up, even though a 77mm filter size is huge.

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  4. Fantastic Tyson, the place just looks stunning, I really should go with Ally (no excuse really, in relation to the distance you have to travel, Amsterdam is figuratively round the corner for me). The shots look great man and I love reading about your travels. Hope all well and you and Mrs Squeeze took in some well earned R and R. Thanks man, still the best blog going.

    Chris

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  5. Wonderful article, Tyson. I have the GM1, and plan on taking to Ireland in June for a 2 week vacation. These shots really show what is possible with this format. I need a second camera or body, so my wife and I can take our own pictures. I was contemplating the GH4, but concerned about the size for all day travels. The new LX1000 is enticing, being compact, fast wide zoom, and 4K video, despite not being ILC. Making a new equipment decision is always such a challenge for me.

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    • I know this conundrum well. I actually contemplated buying the LX100 for this trip, and opted for the Voigtlander instead. The lens on the LX is about the perfect travel zoom I think, I just wish I could use it on future sensors, and this is why I personally chose to pass on it. If I were to be shopping for a compact fixed lens, it would beat out everything out there for me. I might be tempted by the Fuji X100t, or if budget was not a question, the Sony RX1, but budget is a factor, so it would come down to the other two for me. Then it’s a question again about future compatibility. I have decided to invest in lenses for the system so at this point, I’m leaning toward the current bodies/sensors and lenses that I’ll have for years moving forward.

      While large by comparison, the GH4 is still remarkably small and light compared to most all DSLRs. Combined with lenses, it’s not an overwhelming or overweight package while packing quite the bang for the buck. I’ve yet to pull the trigger myself, and do really enjoy a camera like the GX7 for travel as a nice tweener, small enough to be unobtrusive, yet large enough to feel comfortable in the hand for long days, but I’d not hesitate to bring a GH4 out for full days while traveling.

      Always a balance of budget, features, personal feel and performance. Try to get your hands on them if possible, and honestly I don’t think you could go wrong either way. Just depends on what you want and need.

      Have fun with the decision!

      Cheers,
      Tyson

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  6. Tyson,

    Those are some great photos! I love the fact that you get up early and go out by yourself so that you don’t burden the wife and/or family during the day. I need to employ this technique (if I can get out of bed) as I always feel that I’m aggravating my family while they wait for me to take photos. Happy Holidays and I look forward to the upcoming reviews!

    Cheers,

    Bill

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    • Hi Bill,

      I try to stay up on responses, and I apologize that I missed yours! Thank you for the compliment, and appreciation. I, just this morning before settling in for work, got up early to catch the sunrise and took a little hike. While traveling, it works so well because of the benefit of satisfying the desire to shoot while sharing time with travel companions, but I also just love getting out by myself every once in a while, and forget how much I enjoy it sometimes.

      I am far from what one would consider a morning person, so if I can do it, I’m sure most others could too🙂 It’s tough for the first 30 seconds or so, but as soon as the shoes are on and you’re out the door, it gets awesome.

      Thanks for the read and comment, and hopefully my tardiness didn’t come across as me ignoring.

      Cheers,

      tyson

      Like

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