Feb 102016
 
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A Return to Film from the Leica Monochrom

by James Suojanen

Hey Steve!

I began making photographs in the 1960’s using a 35mm rangefinder and developing my own black and white film. I also made contact prints and did some enlargements. But I fell away from photography through college, professional training, career and early family life; no time, no money. And color photography eluded me. But when digital became affordable with the Nikon D70, I began again. Initially I went the SLR route, but as I got older I disliked the size and weight so I ended up back with rangefinders, eventually acquiring a Leica Monochrom to complete the return to my roots; or so I thought.

Using the Monochrom with just about any decent lens produced unbelievably sharp images.

This image was made using a 60+ year old 50mm Summarit during the Memorial Day Parade in my town (Summarit yellow filter, handheld) – Leica Monochrom

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I made this image I made at the Military Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts. Normally the graves can have NO decoration. But the father of a posthumous Medal of Honor soldier buried there won the right to have flags placed at every grave site for the Veterans Day and Memorial Day weekends. An amazing event in which hundreds of volunteers appear, place the flags and then remove them. (Monochrom with a 21mm SEM on a tripod with a yellow filter) – Leica Monochrom

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On a trip to my old stomping grounds in the South, I made this pic with the Monochrom and a 35mm Summilux FLE (UV filter).

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I like all of these images. The prints have a medium-format acuity to them. But I just found/find them a bit sterile; they lack(ed) a certain “je ne sais pas” for me. So when I saw an announcement of a Leica Akademie workshop on film photography coincident with a trip to LA, I decided I’d take a second look at film. What I like about workshops is not only the focused time devoted to learning and practicing, but also the people the people I meet. I wasn’t disappointed by the cast of characters who assembled. And I was given 2 36-exposure rolls of Ilford XP2 for a sojourn through Chinatown and environs. Great fun, great instructor and a real adventure! Film DOES make you slow down and think about the images you’re making.

XP2 is a Black & White ISO 400 negative film developed using the C-41 process for color films. The images shown here were commercially scanned at the time of development with a 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution. All images were made with my Leica M7 and Voigtlander 35mm Color Skopar, except for Bruce Lee – 90mm macro elmar. I used a yellow filter for about half of them. I post-processed in Lightroom and Nik. I think the color processing gives the files a good bit of latitude for digital post-procesing. The grain is very fine and uniform. For those do-it-yourselfers, I imagine that Kodak TMax would give similar results.

Peculiar – an open but very hostile gate.

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Church in Hispanic neighborhood next to Chinatown

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Building next to the Church. As I unloaded the second roll at the end of the day, I realized I had not rewound before I opened the camera. Steve can’t publish what I said at that moment, but I quickly closed the camera back up and hoped for the best. This bit of serendipity occurs with film and can make for some interesting images. The light from the sprocket holes provides celestial framing for this otherwise boring composition.

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My favorite image of the day. Simple story within a complex image – maybe a metaphor for most of us seeking to find a path through the complicated thing we call life.

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Statue of Bruce Lee. The sprocket light made a spotlight for his face. I had a very difficult time framing since I wanted to get his hand in-between the lanterns, like he was balancing them. I had to account for the lens/viewfinder parallax while I held the camera upside down.

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A bench. The Voigtlander lens renders very nicely on film. It’s as sharp as a 35mm Summicron (had one a while back) with very nice bokeh. Small and light, I find it’s short focus throw terrific for street photography. I spent about $350 for the screw mount lens and adapter. It also looks great on both my M7 and my Leica IIIf.

For me, I saw these images and knew I was home again – at least for B&W. They just breath more that the Monochrom pictures. I don’t really know what it is. Certainly a lens will interact with a 20µ thick film emulsion differently than a 1µ micro prism at the top of a photocell in a digital sensor. It may also reflect an analog vs digital tonal range. Perhaps some/most of you reading this (thank you for taking the time to read this piece and look at the photographs), will think me deluded. That’s okay. Art is art, and a wise man once said, “There are as many paths to God as there are people on the Earth”. I’ll paraphrase him by saying that each of us has our own path (i.e. camera, lenses, etc.) to making THE PICTURE which we all seek.

Cheers and blessings,
JNSuojanen

P.S. Given the rapid depreciation of digital cameras, I don’t think there is any significant cost between film and digital for most of us amateurs (except if you shoot action stuff). My Leica IIIf is 60+ years old and works perfectly (I can’t say the same about myself).

Feb 042016
 

Visiting the European Motor Show in Brussels

by Dirk De Paepe

A different approach to a car show.

1902 was the first year of the Motor Show in Brussels.

It has been a big event in our country as far as my earliest memories go (and far beyond that). I remember the black and white TV reports, showing the new cars of the late fifties. I still treasure the remembrance of visiting the show as a little boy in the early sixties, together with my parents and my brother, exchanging thoughts about what would be our next car. I also remember visiting with the last class of high school, around 1970, and later a few times to get information for my own next car. The event gets much attention in the Belgian media and provokes lots of traffic jams in the area.

This year, I didn’t visit the show because I was into buying a new car. I visited it because, being such a big event for so many people, I find it an inspirational place to take pictures. Yet this isn’t a typical Motor Show report, with lots of new car models in the lead role. I even carefully avoided to make it too obvious what cars are in the picture. Instead, I wanted to show the visitors. Perhaps you remember from earlier articles of mine, that “people’s behavior” is my favorite subject. Therefor I like to visit places where people behave in a typical, specific or remarkable way.

It always strikes me how people behave in a particular way, when visiting a car show. Well, that’s precisely what I wanted to picture. I’m looking for scenes that stimulate my imagination, that make me wonder what people feel – how they experience the event. I fantasize about their mutual relationships, what there intentions might be, what makes them act as they do, etc…
I hope it’s not too big a disappointment, having to miss all those car pictures, but I’m sure, if you wanna see those typical motor show shots, that you’ll find it not difficult at all to get tons of them on the internet. :-)

First the picture

I invite you to first look at each picture, before reading its title and story. With the title, I try to nail the essence of my personal thoughts about the scene and my intent with the picture. If the title is not immediately clear, the short story will clarify, I hope. Like I said, what I write is just my personal thoughts that go with the scene. I’m not at all saying that those thoughts are all the absolute truth. They’re just the reflections of how my imagination was stimulated by the scene. They are the reason why I took the picture.

It’s clear that I have no part in the scene itself. I’m merely observing and registering. My part is limited to the scene selection, viewpoint, timing and framing. So I didn’t have any power over the light neither. Many consider the light the most essential element in photography. I tend to not share that opinion completely. I believe the most important power of photography is its ability to freeze moments out of reality, giving that moment “a life of its own”. IMO no other art form can do this as easily as photography does. That’s why, again IMO, registering typical and remarkable scenes out of human life, is one of the main “tasks” of photography. Of course, if the light conditions are optimal, that’s wonderful. But I find being there at the right place and the right moment, to be even more important. I believe, when registering, the occurrence outweighs the light.

So each picture is a small story on itself. But let me be clear. I’m not proclaiming that my stories are the absolute truth. Indeed, some of what I describe actually happened. On the other hand, much of it is my personal interpretation of the scene. Which is truth and which is fantasy is completely irrelevant, because I have no journalistic aspirations with this article, not in the least. It’s merely a painting of general human behavior, feelings, reflections. Anyway, I always try to interpret the scene in a way, that very well could have been what actually happened. My goal is to make viewers reflect on human behavior, and thus to induce a better understanding. You are very welcome to interpret those scenes in your personal, very different way. I even strongly invite you to do so. That’s why I prefer the title to be put under the picture, instead of above – like Claude Debussy did with his preludes for piano, putting the title at the end of each score, inviting us to listen and have our own fantasy first, and only afterwards suggesting the subject.

Zeiss Loxia and Batis

When registering, one is first looking for a place that offers opportunities. Then it’s a matter of feeling: moving oneself to a favorable viewpoint, and acting as fast as possible – which sometimes requires cropping/reframing afterwards in pp. To be able to act very fast, is why I often apply zone focusing (with lenses up to 50mm focal length). The Loxia MF lenses are absolutely perfect for this application, IMO – great for zone focusing, thanks to their straightforward DOF scale and fantastic to manually focus very fast thanks to their super smooth focusing ring. Although, for these series, I also used the Zeiss Batis 85 – my first AF lens. I thought it could make sense to have AF in a tele, since its DOF is a lot smaller by definition, which significantly reduces the possibilities for zone focusing. But I have to say that, as far as now, I’m a bit disappointed in AF. I’m just having a hard time, handing over the decision to the camera. And I can’t say I’m experiencing that much “extra comfort” from the AF, compared to using a MF 85mm. It’s different, but on the whole… it’s not that spectacularly focusing faster or better (sometimes the focusing is worse than when performed manually).
Like I said, the other lenses I used were both Loxia’s, 50 and 35 (mainly the 50 here). Those Loxia’s are IMO simply perfect for the A7RII. When Zeiss will make a Loxia tele, I guess I’ll sell the bulkier Batis and replace it with yet another Loxia. (BTW, while writing this, my Loxia 21mm just arrived. The first thing that struck me is that it’s absolutely very compact for a 2.8/21. And I’m also immediately blown away by its IQ.)

OK, enough introduction. Let’s go to the pictures. I hope you’ll enjoy.

 

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Sheer Delight

American cars with big V8 engines are still pretty exotic in Belgium. To experience this is a real joy for many guys, regardless of their age – even if it’s only in a static way and for just a few minutes… at the motor show.

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Still Dreaming

Although already of very respectable age, this man’s mind is in another place. He’s not considering how much he can use this car – how much convenience he can get from it in his professional activity. Instead he’s dreaming about how much he wànts this car – how much pleasure he can get from it for his leisure passion. At the motor show, the dreaming is served for all ages.

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Not Sure

I admire this stylish lady. She proves that women can age beautifully, while still remaining completely natural. I noticed how she came to the show, watching and judging the cars. She wasn’t carrying a paper bag to gather brochures of so many different brands. She was only holding one catalog, the show catalog. A representative was explaining her the specs of a specific model. She was eager for the information. But I think that not all new, modern car features were immediately clear to her, which made her unsure as yet about what to decide. It was the duality of her motivation on the one hand and dubiety on the other that made me wanna take her picture.

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Matters into her hands

This remarkable lady was really into a new car. A few things stroke me. She was on her own. She was visiting the booth of a pretty exclusive brand. She was getting very specific information from this representative for her next personal car. She was connecting very targeted and without any restraint with this young(er) man. I even wonder if he was not taken slightly discomfited by her pretty assertive approach, not looking towards her, while she was absolutely focusing on him. It made me wonder about her place on the social ladder. For sure, she made herself a great career. She seemed to be at the pinnacle of her performance ability – in the stage of her life that she’s 100% self confident, going straight to her goal, fully aware of her exceptional competence. Scenes like this make me realize that we live in an absolute wonderful society in Belgium, where women can make a difference.

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The changing of the guard

Fathers teach their sons. That’s how we believe it to be. But at a given age, this changes, although we usually don’t dwell on it. The son, that I pictured here, wanted to visit the big Motor Show, and has invited his father with him, as a kind of treat. Of course he remembers, as if it were yesterday, how his father took him to the same show as a little boy, more than four decades ago, giving him the best day of his life. Today, he is pleased to return the favor – so happy to demonstrate the marvels of modern car technology, even though his father is at that stage of his life where cars are merely a means of transportation and a lot less thrilling than they used to be. In this scene, the son demonstrates how the lid of this heavy SUV can simply be closed by pushing the button. It’s obvious that the father didn’t know this feature yet. He’s clearly watching in fascination, as if a kind of small miracle is about to happen. I absolutely love this scene. It’s probably my favorite picture of this series. The profound love between father and son screams from it and really moves me.

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Athletism

This man has made it. He’s getting a special VIP treatment. He’s trying out the flagship of a leading brand, a state-of-the-art sports coupé, with all thinkable features and comfort and stunning performance. But merely getting in and out apparently is kind of an ordeal. Although in great shape, training his body on a regular basis, it took quite some time to figure out how to get back on his feet. I took several shots of him – one even showing him with the tongue a bit between his teeth, thinking of the best way to accomplish this task. I even thought of putting those pics in a series of five, for better illustration, but finally reckoned that this one shows a perfect synthesis. It illustrates the required body strength and control. It proves how, once found out the right way to go, one can “dismount” in complete harmony with the lines of the car – as long as one is kind of an athlete. BTW, next picture shows his collaborator (who takes profit from his “boss” to enjoy many exclusive cars on the show), having more difficulties.

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Suction Force

With a less well-trained body and being not that limber as his boss, this guy has great trouble getting in the cockpit. His body just seems much too colossal to ever succeed. At this stage, I almost expect him to be sucked in with a loud “pwah!”, by a big vacuum-cleaner-like force in the car. Well,… he finally got in alright, but the getting back out was just problematic. He performed like a dozen different stages, taking a good twenty seconds to complete the process in the most inelegant way thinkable, before finally getting back on his feet with a big smile on his face – just to conceal the shame of his fumbling. This car clearly is worth every penny – a show within the show.

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A Job to Love

Years ago the girls, working at the booths of a motor show, had kind of a pinup role. Nowadays, there are still (young) women working, but they do a terrific job in informing the visitor. All of them, as far as I could observe, were perfectly multilingual (in Brussels that means at least Dutch, French and English) and were professional in their approach. The young lady in this picture is clearly loving what she does. I spoke to her afterwards, showing her this photo and asking if I should delete it. Of course I could keep it. But the way she communicated with me in an open, friendly and welcome way (like she did with all other people) was simply telling me that she absolutely loves working at the motor show. And she does a great job indeed!

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The Decisive Test

I took four shots of her, since she gave me so many nice poses. When she realized that I was really shooting her, she stopped, looked at me and said (with a big smile): “You are taking my picture, or what?!”. I answered: “Well, I find girls much more beautiful than cars.” “Oh”, she replied with an even bigger smile, “a normal guy!” I can tell you, she is a very beautiful girl, playing a nice role in this scene, kind of how a movie star often has to play expressive scenes. What is the value of a car anyway, when you can’t properly check you makeup…! Her brother, sitting in the passenger seat, is just checking the dashboard. The representative, standing next to her, doesn’t seem to get the relevance of her test and is just patient.

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Tresspassing

When an exhibitor places a barrier around a car, he indicates that this is a very expensive and exclusive model. He expects the visitor to be that tactful, to stay behind the barrier, unless he is invited to approach. The two guys in this scene visit the show together, since they work together (like is the case with many male duo’s visiting a motor show). One is the boss, the other a privileged employee. The employee feels the need to prove his initiative and dynamism to his boss, by stepping over the barrier and elucidate some technical specs of this exceptional automobile. The boss absolutely keeps his reservation, being able to get all the information that he wants, from the place where he is expected to be. In a very controlled and subdued way, he’s perfectly mastering every situation.

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Ultimate Specs

This male duo is young friends, and are staying well behind the barrier. They are reading the specs of a Formula 1 car. And it’s not just any bolide, it’s the one that became World Champion in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. It’s a car that, for 200% sure, they will never drive. Still they are absolutely fascinated about those specs. Totally unrealistic of course, but still the ultimate car fantasy for sure.

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Inspection

Yet another duo of friends. But those are apparently really into the technique. I guess they know what they’re looking at and that it’s not just an act for show. Future customizers?

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On Facebook in a Minute

I guess about half of the visitors is taking pictures. Many with a camera, even more with their smartphones. Those two cars are in an enclosed environment. I didn’t see how this young man was able to enter “the premises”, but I could see him perform the “I was here” act.

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Enlightened Admiration

The exhibitors spare no effort to draw the visitor’s attention to their booth. Here, they performed a quite impressive light show at the ceiling. This young man is clearly loving it.

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Design

Some visitors have a double purpose: watch and be watched. This young lady drew a lot of attention.

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Keeping it beautiful

Those booth workers, both male and female, have different assignments: informing the visitors and from time to time cleaning up the cars, wiping away the dust and possible finger prints. Like I said, those jobs are done by man and women alike – and I shot them both. But who can blame me that I selected this picture as the most beautiful one?! BTW, again, the professionalism of those workers is remarkable. I was very obviously aiming my camera at here for about maybe a minute to get the right frame. But this didn’t change her attitude or her facial expression one single bit. All the time she just kept on cleaning, just as if I wasn’t there, not specifically posing, but giving me all the time I wanted for my shot! Indeed, the exhibitors still engage beautiful girls, but they are so much more than just looking good.

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The Essence

I noticed this scene, because, although this is one of the smallest cars of the show, it brought the biggest smile on people’s faces – like if it made them realize that it’s the feel good factor that matters the most. This girl clearly enjoyed this particular one a lot. So I wanted to catch her happy face in the rearview mirror. But her face immediately changed in a kind of wondering expression. I didn’t notice that her boyfriend was in fact trying to get a beautiful picture from his love, sitting in the driver’s seat of her dream car. He was waiting for me to leave, because he didn’t want me in his picture. I, from my part, unaware of his presence, was waiting for her happy face again to appear in the mirror. After some five seconds, she understood what her friend was referring to. She looked in the mirror and gave me a beautiful smile. Only at that moment, I understood what was going on, noticing (part of) her boyfriend with his camera in the very corner of my frame, so I came half a step closer. I pushed the button and thanked them both for their open and welcoming spirit. I believe the boy took his shot ten seconds after mine.

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Today and Tomorrow

This is not a typical motor show picture, but rather one that shows our present world. Since Bataclan, also the Belgian government pickets protection at every event where lots of people gather. This is what we see today, and it’s not gonna change any time soon. The shot was taken, while standing in the cue at the cloakroom, just before getting back home.

See more on flickr

You can get more technical details about these pictures, via the exif data, that goes with them on my flickr pages . I gathered all these pictures in HR in a dedicated album, with the obvious title “Visiting The European Motor Show Brussels 2016” (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/albums/72157663992622111), where there will also be black and white versions of them.

And I’d like to conclude with thanking Steve and Brandon for keeping this unique site online. I insist on mentioning with every article, that the opportunity they give us, by publishing our articles, is flat-out fantastic. We have a really great community here, thanks to their effort. And having been in the publishing business myself for over 3 decades, I know that this is far from obvious. I love to read the articles of so many of you, I also hope you liked mine.

Dirk

Feb 012016
 

The Vulnerability Of Self

by Greg Turner – His website is HERE

Over dinner with some friends recently I was introduced to someone who, while having a successful business career, also described herself as ‘an artist’. The deliberate use of that moniker was interesting and I asked at what point in her creative journey she had finally felt comfortable using that title. She acknowledged the validity of the question and explained that it had taken her completion of an under graduate degree in Fine Art before she finally felt justified in calling herself an artist. Ironically for me as an observer, all it took was a look at her work (she’s a sculptor and an incredibly talented one) to see the artist and not just the person.

Self-doubt has long been a feature of the creative process and of artists in general. For sure I don’t consider myself an artist and until recently the word ‘just’ was quite deliberately used before the self-description of ‘amateur photographer’ on the front page of my website. When asked why by a friend, I explained it was deliberately self-deprecating; I didn’t consider myself good enough to call myself an amateur photographer just yet. That term, to my reading at least, connotes some degree of proficiency and talent I wasn’t sure I possessed. We agreed I would remove after her reassurance that I was more than talented enough. As a graphic designer, she routinely works with and appraises various photographers work so she should know, and yet the doubts still linger…..

‘Tina’

‘Tina’

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I started this project as a way of examining the concept of the person and the three manifestations of any individual. The more photographs I take though, the more I realise that I am exploring that concept from the perspective of self as much as anything else and that process is similarly tinged with self-doubt and vulnerability. I guess I’m exercising my own demons such as they are; the little boy at Catholic primary school who while not subject to physical abuse, was exposed to prolonged and painful emotional abuse. It has an effect that is carried through to adulthood and at various stages in life is processed through different lenses, if you will excuse the pun. The current lens I am using is both metaphorical and literal.

There is a certain irony with using the camera lens to explore that vulnerability and self-doubt. Traditionally, it is the subject that is more nervous of the lens because it’s their vulnerability or self-doubt that is being observed if not exposed. For me, the fear and doubt is as equal behind the lens as in front of it, it’s that mirror phase again with the subject looking back at me, being me.

‘The Film Producer’

‘The Film Producer’

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The three portraits on this blog say a lot on this subject. In the first, ‘Tina’,  it was her tattoos that immediately caught my eye and why I asked if I could take her picture. Her immediate response was to ask for posed quite freely but her pose is at once both vulnerable and defiant. The way she holds her head shows strength, you can see the muscular structure of her neck suggesting that physical strength, the look in her eyes and of course, the obvious hand gesture, which I confess I did not see at the moment I took the picture and initially cropped out. And yet she is intensely vulnerable, after all she has just asked for money because of her situation.

The next picture is the polar opposite. ‘The Film Producer’ shows a man consummately at ease with himself. He knows who he is, he knows what he likes and he is very comfortable with that. There is not the slightest hint of vulnerability here or at least, any vulnerability or self-doubt that may have once been has long since been forgotten.

The last image, ‘The Bike Messenger’, the pose is relaxed but the cigarette and the off camera look show tension; he’s relaxed but not completely. The tension is probably the reflection that he’s just agreed to have his picture taken by some random stranger in Soho. I imagine he’s having second thoughts but isn’t sure how to get out of it. This is self-doubt brought about by the sudden vulnerability of the situation.

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Of course, all this could just be complete nonsense. The pictures could well be no better than something you’d have developed at Happy Snaps and my reflecting on them over intellectualized nonsense (actually that part probably is true; I hope the pictures are a little better than snaps though).

Greg

Jan 292016
 

MonoWood

STREET SHOOT: Hollywood Blvd.

By Darwin Nercesian

If you are looking for a target rich environment for a little street photography, there are almost always those local spots where we all know we can go to strike gold. Is this cheating? No, not really, but it certainly helps get the creative juices flowing. For me, well, I have the distinct pleasure of being both close enough and far enough from the famed Hollywood Blvd, home of Mann’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and of course, millions upon millions of locals and tourists that flood the street daily to get a glimpse, or perhaps just feel like they are in the thick of it. So when I got the call to accompany a few photographer friends into this jungle for a day street photography, it was simply an offer I could not refuse.

As always, I hit the street with my companions of choice, my trusty Leica M-P 240 an M246 Monochrom, and my 3 go to lenses, the 35mm Summilux FLE, 50mm Summilux ASPH, and 50mm Summicron APO. Ultimately, however, it was the M246 and the 50mm APO that saw the most action.

While Hollywood Blvd is thought of as more of an adult’s playground, apparently it can be fun for children of all ages.

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This kid was having a blast, the the Globetrotter could not be more entertaining to the little guy. This went on for some time andwas a joy to watch. Lets just hope he doesn’t grow up and take advice from this guy.

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And speaking of less than stellar advice, here is one I wouldn’t recommend, but then again, I take sides with Indiana Jones when it comes to the slithery in nature. Too bad this isn’t sin city because the symbolism really struck me here.

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But giant reptiles were not all that was lurking on this day, and something march larger, and perhaps much more sinister was afoot. It is always great to be aware of your surroundings, lest you be caught off guard…

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But no matter where evil lurks, there is always a watchful eye keeping the people safe. One need not look too far on this stretch of the boulevard to find a hero, and in this case, the calm fell over me when I noticed that we were under the protection of none other than…

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And so it was that people celebrated the day, paying tribute to the arts, each in their own way.

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While people from all walks of life shared common distractions…

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Because who doesn’t like a slice of pie?

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But in the end, after a long day amongst the stars (the ones embedded in the sidewalk), we found our true calling. In the midst of the glitz and glamour (not really), we learned that the lesson to take with us was, “Defend Democracy in Poland”.

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My name is Darwin Nercesian. I am an architectural, street, and travel photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. You can see more of my work at: www.dna-image.com

Dec 052015
 

AL JAZEERA AL HAMRA (The Red Island)

By Detlef

As with so many places of historic and cultural interest the United Arab Emirates is no exception to having its own folklore stories. A very interesting one centres around Al Jazeera Al Hamra in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Legends goes that decades ago a giant showed up who was so terrifying, villagers fled their homes never to return. On learning this, my interest was piqued up and I decided to explore the area further.

In the last 40/ 50 years the UAE has experienced rapid economic development. This development has naturally focused on modern, up-to-date attainments, particularly in architecture, with less focus being paid to the historical culture.
By accident, I explored an abandoned fishing village on the coast of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. A new village has been constructed just next to it and I assume, all the inhabitants of the old village got a comfortable, modern housing from the government – or may be it really was the giant.

The old village remains as a lapsed legacy. For years, the area has been left abandoned. However, recently some preservation work has been carried out to protect the heritage.

In 2014 I went there several times to portray the current situation and to capture the unique charm and the peaceful atmosphere of the site. As the intense sunlight bleaches out more or less everything, the play of colours are reduced to a range between black and white, which led me to the decision to do away with colour photos and I shot all pictures in black and white.
The derivation of the name “The Red Island” is still a mystery.

A first impression – some buildings are more or less intact while others are in a severe state of disrepair. In general, a plot consists of a group of buildings around a common courtyard and belongs to one family. Since every plot has a different size and shape the narrow paths between these plots flow in sweeping meanders and make the orientation difficult.

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The main building materials are coral stones and, from palm trees, wood and fronds. The disintegration starts from the roof structure as the rain washes out the mortar. Even so, rain is an unusual occurrence, damage caused by nature reclaiming its property is very minor.

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The entrance is always from the courtyard. The remains of a beautiful carving give an indication to the care taken by owners focus on the property entrance.

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Some of the hand carved wooden doors with original iron-work are still intact. What was curious to note was that the bolt was on the outside of the door (possible for animals).

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Especially in the older buildings windows are unusual as they would let in sand and heat; instead small decorative openings for air circulation can be found near the top close to the ceiling.

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To survive in the sweltering summers a wind tower was a necessity: The vents above the roof catches the air, leading it downwards and creating a pleasant airflow in the room.

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With the provision of electricity in the fishing village, modern techniques found their way to replace the wind towers by ceiling fans. Most buildings are one-room houses with a washing and ablution facility behind a decorated partition wall.

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Some walls have niches designed for storage of household items.

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In order to bring colour and design into the properties, repeated pattern wall drawings can be seen.

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Dangled frond mats from the ceiling structure. These would have been of the roof structure covered with mortar.

Photo 10


A remnant from the beginning of motorization, a Land Rover is seen in a wide open space like a monument.

Photo 11


A dry well reminds of the difficulty of water supplies in the past and is at the same time a warning to be careful with water resources today. Part of the well is made up of coral taken from the nearby Arabian Gulf.

Photo 12


The abandoned area is now used as a parking lot for traditional boats.

Photo 13


Ropes and fishing nets are everywhere – a reminder of the main economic industry in this area pre oil discovery. The purpose of the unique shaped tower in the background is unknown to me.

Photo 14

I do hope you found my report interesting, enjoyed the photos, and perhaps got a new glimpse of a place you have not been. All photos have been taken with a Fujifilm X E2 with Fujinon 27mm, Fujinon 56 mm or Zeiss 28 mm straight out of the camera, no image processing.

I would like to encourage you to leave a comment and if there is someone who knows where to get more information about the place, please get in touch with me.

Many thanks to Steve and Brandon for the great website.
Wishing you all a great day,

Cheers,
Detlef

Nov 182015
 
rx1rii

What camera (if any) is on YOUR Wish List? Tell me!

With all of these hot new cameras out in 2015, for many it has been tough deciding on what to get or go with. I receive e-mails daily asking “what should I get”? and I can never really answer those!

Unfortunately only YOU can answer that as a camera is a very personal thing. I always say “go with what feels right for you”….”the one that speaks to you the most”. This is a great way to pick because usually there is one camera that pulls you in more than another when trying to decide. So do you go with your heart or brain? Go with the technically best specs or the body and lenses that really pull at your heart-strings?

slback

I always say GO WITH YOUR HEART. These days, all cameras that are released for our market, the enthusiast, hobbyist and even pro, are all fantastic. They vary in size, shape, speed and performance but all are GREAT. The reason Leica stays in business is because most Leica users buy with their HEART and pay more money for the name, the history and the prestige of Leica. It also doesn’t hurt that their cameras they are releasing now are some of their best ever in their digital history. The Leica Q, the Leica SL, the M… all wonderful and while more expensive than other cameras, they are all built and made to a higher level than their competitors (especially the SL and M).

So buying with your HEART instead of worrying about tech specs will make for a more enjoyable shooting experience. It is important to truly love the cameras you shoot with because if you do not, it will never leave the house. So it is always good to go with a camera body that you truly love.

Leica speaks to many passionate photographers.

Then we have Sony who is breaking new ground and paving the way for new tech and performance hikes  – leading the way actually with the largest market share in the mirrorless market. Say what you will about Sony but they are innovating and releasing top-notch cameras like the A7II, A7sII and the masterpiece A7RII. While their bodies can not compete with the Leica SL or real “Pro” level bodies, I am sure something will come from Sony in the form of a true pro body…eventually. The rumored A9 maybe ;) Who knows, I do not so it is just a guess but bettering the A7 or RX1 series is going to be tough for any camera manufacturer entering the mirrorless world. They do so much and do it so well.

rx1rii

Then we have Fuji with their X-T1 and X-T10 but I see them losing some ground as they do not offer anything but APS-C cameras, no full frame. Those who wanted to upgrade and move up, well, many went to Sony for the full frame sensors with superior DR, ISO and Resolution. Fuji is cool and still doing well, and MANY love them and the IQ from the X-Trans sensor. I am looking forward to what the X Pro 2 brings.

This brings us to Olympus and Panasonic who both offer high end Micro 4/3 bodies. The Olympus E-M1 is their pro body followed by the E-M5 II and E-M10 II. Then Panasonic has the G series and the new GX8 which is their best M 4/3 photo camera ever IMO. The lenses available for M 4/3 are beautiful and small and they pack a huge WOW for much less cash than others. The Micro 4/3 bodies have a smaller sensor but are usually faster and more responsive than the large full framers. They also suffer at high ISO because of the smaller sensor size (when compared to full frame).

a7sii

Then we have Nikon and Canon and Sigma and Samsung who also are creating mirrorless cameras (though nothing to get uber excited about just yet).

The Holiday season is among us and many buy cameras for Christmas, either for themselves or for their loved ones. In fact, every year I get emails from wives asking me about a camera purchase for their Husband for Christmas.

A few snaps from the latest hot mirrorless cameras..must click them for better view and to see them correctly!

1st two, The Leica SL

debbybw50lux

frduce

Two From the new RX1R Mark II

DSC00068

DSC09723

One from the A7RII and 35 1.4 Sony/Zeiss Distagon

baby

The Leica Q

L1000294

Sony A7s – 12,800

DSC07946

So what cameras is on YOUR radar or wish list this year? ANYTHING? if you could have any camera made today, what is the one that tugs at YOUR heart and soul? Remember that all mirrorless reviews here are listed at “MIRRORLESS CENTRAL” here. Easy to find in case you want to refresh :)

Leave a comment below and let us all know what camera YOU want (IF ANY). Thanks!

Nov 062015
 
Venus 15mm

 

Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro Lens on the Sony A7RII

by Dierk Topp

Hi Brandon and Steve,

This is about a very special lens, the Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro from Venus Optics in Hefei/Anhui in CHINA.

To explain the specialty of this lens here is a quote of a short description from Venus Optics:

“The new Laowa 15mm f/4 1:1 Macro lens features an ultra wide angle of view of 110 degrees with 1:1 maximum magnification. Photographers can focus very close to the subject and let the foreground dominates in the photo but at the same time, have the background telling viewers about where and how the subject lives.”

and

” A shift mechanism is added at the rear end of the lens with a maximum adjustment of +/- 6mm, which is extremely useful for landscape/architecture photography for distortion correction.”

I love wide and super wide lenses and preordered it after it was announced. My lens has the serial # 761 :-)

The reasons for me:

I ordered the Sony E-mount version, Nikon and Canon mount is available too
the specs looked very interesting and the price for it even more
the main advantage of the lens is, that I can get a very close foreground and environment background
it could be a universal super wide angle lens
the design is for DSLR and color shift in the corners are not expected
of course it has a manual aperture
it does not have clicks for the apertures
the shift mechanism may be a bit soft, not like a tilt/shift lens

This is not supposed to be a review!

I don’t dig into CA and soft corners. I just want to share my experiences with this special lens with you and your readers.
If you are interested in full resolution test images, you may find them here on my flickr.

From the practical use I can say, it works great. If you really use it close to 1:1 you have to take off the sun shield but still may get problems with the light and/or shadows of the lens over the subject. The following picture of the lens attached to a Sony A7RII shows, how close you are in these situations.
And I would like to mention, that the aperture has no clicks, the following images are “about” f/11. The shift mechanism is a bit soft too, but it works.

Find the following images and some more here on my flickr album.

The lens mounted on the Sony A7RII

Venus 15mm

Comparison of the sizes: Sony Zeiss 16-35/4 – Laowa 15mm/4 – Sony Zeiss 24-70/4
(it is the E-mount lens, the DSLR lens will be much shorter)

Venus 15mm

On this picture the object distance is set to 1:1,  You see, that this is only useful for very specific situations! You will have problems to get enough light to your object!

on 1:1 there is no chance to get any light on this object
Ok. here are some examples of the practical use of this lens

On the architecture images below vertical lines have been corrected in PP the used aperture on most images is “about” f/11, you never know exactly, when you stop down while watching the focus magnification. Even with f/11 the DOF is very small at 1:1

All images made with Sony A7RII full format camera
On the following images the distance to the front lens is about 5 to 10cm! (I know, it does not look like this, but it is a 15mm lens :-) )

Venus 15mm

on the sample images of the vendor for this lens you find images with mushrooms seen from the below the mushroom, I had to try that as well :-)
(this may be difficult with a DSLR with a fixed screen)

Sony A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro


town hall of my home city

Reinfeld Rathaus

Venus 15mm

it seems to be an interesting lens for certain product shots:

Venus 15mm

FNT Seegeberg

FNT Seegeberg

The following two images with the use of the shift function. Both are stitched two images, one full shift down and one shift up,  you see the problems in the corners, the images are not cropped.
With stitched images I usually use the full shift and crop later. Again the foreground is a few cm away!
(no info of shutter and ISO in the EXIF)

Venus 15mm

Venus 15mm

Venus 15mm

The following images may show the normal use as a super wide lens
vertical correction in PP

from a visit to Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg City


the Hamburg Rathaus (town hall)

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Venus 15mm vs. leica WATE vs. Sony/Zeiss 16-35

and last but not least:
the gate was closed and I heard the train coming, I focused on the gate.
The ICE passed me at a distance of about 5 meters and with more than 100 km/h – I got it :-)

Sony A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

I hope, that you got an impression, what this lens can do.

Thanks very much for looking

regards
dierk

more of my images:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/

Oct 292015
 

The 30.001th Last Post

By Dirk De Paepe

1914-1918: World War 1 and the Ypres Salient

One hundred years ago the whole world was in the grip of the biggest and deadliest conflict in its history. From July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918 the First World War claimed the lives of more than 16 million people. A total of approximately 70 million soldiers were deployed. More than 1.5 billion people lived in countries that were involved in the conflict. They made for more than 80% of the world population, that at that time amounted to approximately 1.8 billion. The Great War (as WW1 is often referred to) paved the way for major political changes in about all participating countries. As such, it included the end of the prewar German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.

One of the main war zones, The Western Front, was largely situated in Flanders, Belgium. From October 1914 to October 1918 the battlefield was located just a few kilometers from the center of the medieval city of Ypres. The trenches were situated from north to south in an arc around the city: the famous Ypres Salient. During the four-year war the ancient city in the heart of the Ypres Salient was literally razed to the ground, totally destroyed. From the beginning of May 1915, nobody lived anymore in Ypres. Early 1919, residents reluctantly turned back to their former grounds and little by little they started the rebuild of their city. Many buildings were even reconstructed identical to the plans of their medieval example. After the earlier destruction during the invasion of famous historical Belgian cities, such as Leuven (with the complete demolishing of the world-famous university library), the inhabitants of Ypres had collected many plans of their important medieval buildings. Thus, eg. the famous Belfry and the Cloth Halls could be restored in all their authentic glory.

Picture 1: The medieval Belfry and Cloth Halls are faithfully rebuilt to their original examples

01 Belfry+ClothHalls

In that famous Ypres Salient, no fewer than five bloody battles were fought. A few months after the enemy invasion of Belgium on August 4, 1914, the front stagnated, which resulted in the first battle of Ypres. On April 22, 1915, the Second Battle of Ypres began with the first major gas attack ever. The chlorine gas choked thousands of allied soldiers, mainly French troops and many North Africans. It was the first time in history that a weapon of mass destruction was being used. Later in the war, the Ypres Salient proved to be an experimental battlefield on several occasions: it is here that, in July 1915, flamethrowers were deployed for the first time. In July 1917 the terrifying mustard gas appeared, also appropriately called “Yprite”. And from July 31 to November 10, 1917 raged probably the most terrible battle of Ypres, in its final stage sometimes referred to as the “Battle of Passchendaele”. (Passchendaele is a village near Ypres.) It was a massacre unprecedented. The sense and nonsense of this offensive are still under discussion to this day.

In the trenches and in the no man’s land around Ypres, about half a million soldiers were killed in action between 1914 and 1918. In addition to Germans, French, British and Belgians also Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, Senegalese, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans , Chinese, Indians, Jamaicans and many other nationalities were included. But especially the troops of the British Empire yielded around Ypres a very large contribution to the resistance against the enemy invasion. As the victims were often horribly butchered, many bodies could not be identified. But also many of the survivors suffered serious irreversible injuries, with often amputations of limbs and even parts of the face as a result.

Picture 2: even 100 years later, all kinds of explosives are still found on a daily bases by farmers in Flanders Fields

02 WW1Explosives
Picture 3: some of the trenches are maintained

03 Trenches
Picture 4: inside a shelter in the trenches

04 Inside Trench Shelter
Picture 5: outside a shelter in the trenches

05 Outside Trench Shelter

Tyne Cot and Menin Gate

In Passchendaele near Ypres lies the largest military cemetery of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC): the “Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery And Memorial To The Missing” is dedicated to the First World War dead of the British Empire, which fell in the Ypres Salient of Flanders Fields at the Western Front. Here also all missing soldiers and unidentified war dead are specially remembered and honored.

The land on which the cemetery is located, was voluntarily donated forever by the Belgian people to all those who are commemorated here. The names of the missing soldiers are engraved on the walls at the edge of the cemetery on the one hand, and on the other hand also on the walls of the Menin Gate in the city of Ypres, which was built by the British as a special memorial for their missing, even before the Tyne Cot Cemetery monument. In the Menin Gate, the names were engraved of 54.896 Commonwealth soldiers who died here, but whose bodies have never been identified or recovered. When it became clear that there was not enough space on the Menin Gate to engrave the names of all the missing soldiers, the arbitrary cutoff date of August 15, 1917 was chosen and the names of 34.984 more British missing after this date were inscribed on the walls of the Tyne Cot Memorial To The Missing. In total, therefore, 89.880 names of fallen soldiers are engraved. An incredible number, especially when you consider that this relates only to those soldiers of the British Empire who fell in the Ypres Salient and whose bodies have not been identified or not recovered.

Picture 6: Group arrival at theTyne Cot Cemetery

06 Group at Tine Cot
Picture 7: Grave of an unknown Australian soldier at Tyne Cot

7asg
Picture 8: Locals at the Menin Gate

08 Locals at the Menin Gate
Picture 9: The Menin Gate Memorial monument

09 Menin Gate Memorial Monument
Picture 10: 54896 names engraved

10 54896 names engraved

Never forget

The First World War is still very present in those Flanders Fields, where still every day unexploded explosive devices are found by local farmers. One hundred years later!

The Menin Gate, Tyne Cot Cemetery, the town of Ypres and the entire surroundings are an area of remembrance – for the Flemish, but certainly for so many British, especially those who cherish the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot Cemetery as the only place where they can commemorate their missing family members of yore, relatives who never could get their own grave. Their name on a wall, among those of their fallen comrades, is the only thing left of them.

Every day, visitors arrive from all over the former British Empire, of course most coming from England, visiting the cemeteries and the Menin Gate. Often it concerns young people, along with their parents, to come looking for a name of a family member on the walls of Tyne Cot or Menin Gate and place a little wooden cross with a poppy, or who are making a school trip to learn about the importance of those commemoration symbols. Every visitor, without exception, is heavily struck by the symbolism of these historical sites.

Picture 11: Looking for a name.

11 Looking for a name
Picture 12: He’s there!

12ht
Picture 13: Body language speaks volumes

13 Body Language
Picture 14: Nobody rests untouched

14 Nobody untouched
Picture 15: Comrades in death

15 Comrades in death

The Last Post Association

The “Last Post” is a tune of the British regiments, played on clarion, that announces the end of the workday. At the Commonwealth cemeteries, the performance of the Last Post stands for a final farewell to the fallen soldiers.

Out of gratitude for the tremendous efforts of the troops of the British Empire around Ypres, residents of Ypres founded the “Last Post Association”. The Last Post Association in Ypres is therefore a volunteer organization. The association was founded in 1928 and since then it executes the Last Post ceremony every evening at 20:00h, including the performance of the Last Post tune under the Menin Gate, by at least four buglers. The association has eight buglers among its members. Every day, four of them come to play the Last Post under the Menin Gate. They do this in an endless week regime, on and off.
The Last Post Association sets itself as its target to keep this tradition forever preserved and to contribute to anything that can enhance the significance of the tribute. The association also wants to arouse reverence for everything the Menin Gate represents: the sacrifice and suffering, but also the solidarity, the sense of duty and heroism of the soldiers who took part in the battle. Only during the occupation of the city by Nazi forces during World War II, this tradition was interrupted – for obvious reasons. But the very day that the Menin Gate was liberated, the tradition was taken up again, even though at that time some parts of the city were still in Nazi hands.

The buglers of the organization traditionally wear the uniform of the volunteers of the local fire department to which they belong. But the Association itself is separate from the Ypres fire brigade.
In the decades after WW2 the significance of the ceremony was expanded. The performance of the Last Post now commemorates not merely the casualties of the British Commonwealth, but also those Belgian, French and other allies who contributed to the battles at all costs. But also at the “other side”, many soldiers lost their lives. The enemies of yore, are now amongst our best partners and friends in today’s united Europe. Thus the Last Post under the Menin Gate represents not only a look at our past, but also a signal of hope for the future.

Picture 16: Four buglers of The Last Post Association perform The Last Post tune under the Menin Gate in the city of Ypres, Flanders, Belgium

16 Four buglers
Picture 17: Those volunteers have been playing every single day at 20:00h sharp since 1928, only interrupted by the Nazi occupation of the city during WW2\

17 Volounteers
Picture 18: The traffic under the gate is put to halt to allow for this daily event

18 Traffic to halt
Picture 19: Playing towards the Belfry for the 30001th time, before a daily audience

19 Playing towards the Belfry
Picture 20: Four common guys with exceptional commitment just played the clarion

20 Four common guys

The 30001th Last Post

Every day, a little before eight o’clock in the evening, the Ypres police puts the traffic to halt at the Menin Gate. Daily life stands still to return through the Last Post ceremony to 1914-18 and to remember and honor the fallen soldiers. The Menin Gate was specifically chosen for this daily event, because it was here that all the soldiers marched towards the front, many of them never to return.

On July 9, 2015 this performance took place for the 30 thousandth time. To this occasion, a special ceremony was organized, named ”Tribute to the Tribute”, upon which representatives from the at the WW1 Western Front warring countries signed present and laid wreaths under the Menin Gate. Already for many years, I had attending to the Last Post performance under the Menin Gate on my bucket list. And when, on July 9, I heard the radio journal about the solemnity of the 30 thousandth performance, I realized that the right moment had come.

But more than an elaborate ceremony in honor of a special commemoration, I’m more impressed by the fact that this performance takes place on a daily basis since 1928 – every single day, irrespective of temperature or weather, always with (at least) four buglers. Volunteers… There have been chilly winter days in the past, when the buglers were virtually alone and performed the Last Post anyhow, in all modesty. But, with the increased tourism and especially with the larger numbers of British visitors to the Ypres area, today this daily ceremony is attended by many. After the visit of the WW1 museums and cemeteries in the area, people gather in the evening under the Menin Gate, to enjoy the performance of the Last Post with the special acoustics, provided by the building that is so fraught with symbolism. These people of the Last Post Association do an incredible job here, with exceptional commitment, fully aware of the importance to continue this tradition. The lesson we should draw from both world wars and thus the importance of resolving conflicts through respect and tolerance, negotiation and cooperation, absolutely needs to be kept alive. Since 1945, we manage this fairly well, here in Europe. In the countries situated around the battlefields of the Western Front of WW1 and where during so many centuries the population was almost constantly plagued by so many military conflicts, nowadays the peoples work together, aware of the otiosity of war, and they experience an unknown period of already 70 years of mutual peace. More and more countries have joined the European Union, attracted by the success of this project. Often the cooperation is difficult and needs lengthy negotiations to reach an understanding. Sometimes even, for some it may seem as if the cooperation is about to burst, as has been recently in respons to the Greek crisis. But the union always ends up resolving the problems, because all parties agree to continue to negotiate firmly, to continue to cooperate, because everyone realizes that this is the best, indeed the only path to peace and prosperity. We can only hope that this will inspire more and more countries around the world.

Performing The Last Post commemoration literally every day, thàt is the true uniqueness of what happens at the Menin Gate in Ypres. And so I wanted to capture this ceremony – not the one of the 30.000th performance, but the one of the next day, a typical day like the other 29.999. On July 9, I saw the ceremony on TV and I thought the time was right to go to Ypres. So I rearranged my schedule for July 10 and we left after lunch to the Flanders Fields of the former Western Front, where we arrived around 16:30h. In Zonnebeke we visited the Memorial Museum Passchendaele to see the trenches, which are still kept in tact. Tyne Cot is just a stone’s throw from there and was our next stop. At 19:00h we arrived at the Menin Gate in Ypres, where there were already a lot of people gathered, to attend the Last Post performance. The 30001th, on a day like any other.

I hope (some of) my images can tell you something about the subdued and compelling atmosphere that prevails here, at the Menin Gate, but also at Tyne Cot. None of the visitors remains untouched here. Their body language speaks volumes. The symbolism really works.

Picture 21: The British Empire was the largest world power in those days

21 British Empire
Picture 22: One of the corridors of the Menin Gate

22 One Corridor
Picture 23: In remembrance of Benjamin Walker, killed in action on September 9, 1915. 100 years ago, Benjamin had only fews days to live. His family was here.

23 In remembrance

Picture 24: Sharing family feelings

24 Family feelings

Every day, without exception, and no matter what, four buglers perform the Last Post at 20:00h sharp, in honor of all fallen soldiers of WW1 and to promote peace and cooperation amongst all peoples. Thàt’s the special thing about the Menin Gate in Ypres. Therefore, it was not the special ceremony on July 9 that I wanted to attend. But I wanted to be there on the next day. Because there they were again! Like they were on every single day, since 1928. Four volunteer buglers of the Last Post Association. Along with a lot of people who visited Ypres and its historical sites and concluded their day here under the Menin Gate, to take part in the striking daily remembrance of what took place here one hundred years ago. The photographs in this report are taken on July 10, 2015, in honor of the 30.001th Last Post under the Menin Gate in Ypres. A Last Post like any other Last Post. Like on any other day. Unique.

Picture 25: The Menin Gate, monument for those with no known grave

25 No known grave

Epiloge

If you want to know more about the events, just google “Ypres”, “Ypres Salient”, Menin Gate or “Tyne Cot”.

All pictures were shot out of hand with the Sony A7r, most of them with the Canon FD 20mm, some with both the Zeiss Loxia’s. You can find those pics in full size here on my flickr pages (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/sets/72157656745636865), where you can check the lens that was used in the tags.

Sep 182015
 

Photo’s with a Story

By Dirk Dom

image011

When I show people my photographs many ask me what exactly they are seeing. That is a reasonable question, because I shoot quite a lot of abstracts. I generally tell them to appreciate the images on their own grounds. Most people, however, expect photographs to be representative and are not accustomed to having to use their imagination.

I made a booklet which originated as an exercise in playful interpretation of my photos. I picked out about seventy that I particularly liked and challenged myself to create tales inspired by the images. It proved surprisingly difficult. Some of my images seem so simple and have such an impact that I couldn’t think of anything. In some cases I made up stories; in others I wrote down impressions inspired by what I was looking at — what ever came to mind, and sometimes, when the creation of the photo itself was a good story, I shared that too. At random intervals I had left the reader/observer the opportunity to make up a story himself.

This is an excerpt of the book with ten photographs.

Enjoy!

The photo above is exercise one. What does it make you think of?

Alien Encounter

A Star Seed floats through space, on its way to the core of the Galaxy to reproduce. Its solar sail is folded up, so far away from any star.

A Guffaw, who normally eats cometary cores, sees the Star Seed as a delightful snack.

The Star Seed reacts to its approach with a giant electric discharge. Intense plasma wires light up in the interstellar medium.

The Guffaw changes its mind and its direction.

The Star Seed floats on, on its journey of millions of years, on track to another star.

With thanks to Larry Niven

image012

Brown Dwarf Life Form

DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b, part of an ultra cold binary system, has a mass of about 28 Jupiter masses. This brown dwarf is 67.7 light-years or 399 trillion miles from Earth. It was discovered in 2013.

The life which developed there consists of twenty-mile long single-celled organisms (hydrogen filled bubbles made out of polyethylene) who float in the atmosphere and are bioluminescent. These are colonized by photosynthetic organisms. Seemingly there are similarities with the life on Jupiter.

The photograph is made in May, 2144, by the Da Vinci atmospheric probe which flew through a life form, filming, during its descent to the core.

Exploration of brown dwarves is considered a low priority.

image013

Drowning Moth

Beginning of March, 2014, I walked in the Zevenbergen Forest, Ranst.

On the banks of the ditches you can make photographs with lots of contrast, so I walked along the water.

About six feet from shore, this drowning moth. I planned to save it, but first, a quick photograph. A first image without paying attention to composition. Then, this image, with the moth carefully lined up in the dark reflection of a tree. I wanted to take a few more photographs, but the wave pattern the wings made stopped after about five seconds and didn’t start again. I was disappointed. Suddenly I realized the moth was dying and it was finished.

Quickly I looked for a branch, but the only one I found was too short. Pity. The moth no doubt served as a protein rich delicacy to a bird or a frog. It’s a beautiful, but sad shot.

Life is so easily extinguished.

image014

Nuclear blast

I was happily taking shots of forest anemones when World War Three started. The bomb incinerated the Antwerp port at twenty miles distance.

I live, but what good does it do? The anemones bloomed for the last time.

image015

Microvilli

Microvilli (singular: Microvillus, lat. Villus “brushy hair (from animals), wool”) are microscopic protuberances of the cellular membrane which drastically increase the surface of cells. Microvilli are found in the brush border of the small intestine. Because of the large surface macromolecules and ions can be absorbed more easily.

The brush border is the homogeneous layer which is visible at the apical side of the enterocytes (absorbing cells in the small intestine) and the epithelial cells in the proximal tubulus. If this tissue is looked at through a light microscope, one can see that the brush border consists of a great number of very closely stacked microvilli. These microvilli make for a twentyfold increase of the small intestine surface. This increase in surface makes the intake of nourishment much easier.

image017

Me, as a Photographer

This is a fun one.

So I went to take this photograph. At first I wanted to go alone, but I took my sister Nadine along to take the shot.

I hung about ten camera’s around my neck and arranged them in such a way that they showed nicely. But this hopelessly entangled the straps.

After about five minutes the forty pounds of camera started to really hurt and I wanted to take them off.

I couldn’t unknot them. The weight became unbearable. In the end I had to lie down and make my sister disentangle them.

I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I had done this alone.

image025

Love is:
Putting your paws on the eyes of your beloved.

image026

Visisonor

This is how the Daft Punk music looks to Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

The Visisonor, developed by the University of Antwerp in 2017, translates the impressions of the other senses to a visual signal.

Apple bought the patent.

In 2019 110 million Visisonors were sold, despite the violent price tag.

With Thanks to Isaac Asimov

image027

Second Exercise

Oh, yes, believe it or not, this is a photograph!

I can’t make up any story with this.

Can you?

image029

Well, hope you enjoyed it!

And, my apologies!

Dirk.

 

Aug 262015
 
SteveHuffJoaoMedeiros 16

weddingmanual1

A Manual Approach to Wedding Photography

by Joao Medeiros

I’m not comfortable writing. Images, particularly photography are what drives me. Since very young Art was part of my life, I went from painting and waiting to be an architect to abandon everything for a life in the theatre, just to pursue a career in Jazz playing trumpet.

But at my twenties, I was struggling to make it and everyone was making sure I knew I had to earn money to be a successful individual. Money was never my interest, I’m passionate about Art, any form of it. But Photography had a degree of intimacy and control that I had never experienced.

I went to college to take a photography bachelor and complemented it with a bachelor in Fine Arts and a master’s degree in Visual Arts teaching, things went on for a while, drifting in teaching, corporate/event photography, restoration related jobs before I finally found the one area where I had complete creative freedom. A freedom that allows me to choose the gear that gives me pleasure while creating and expressing myself through Photography and eventually sharing my Vision.

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Weddings are something that has been with society since we had the need to express our love for our life companion. Happiness is something that needs to be shared and celebrated with our loved ones. And that’s what I like about them, it’s all about family and friends making the most of Life. When I was in college, I did the whole course with only an Olympus OM 1 and a 50mm, since then manual focus is second nature to me, even when I had top DSLR’s AF never grew on me. But when I used the first serious EVF (Panasonic GH2) I knew what I wanted and what I wanted to see while composing. Eventually, when I step up to weddings I needed the best dynamic range and colour I could get my hands on it, so I bought a Sony A99 and a Nikon D800e to figure out my needs. After a year the Sony won me, not because it was superior to the D800e, it was Sony’s approach to photography that made it. The fully articulated LCD, I. S and Minolta’s heritage all over the place made the A99 a superior tool in my hands.

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When the mirrorless Sony A7 appeared on the scene I had no doubts and bought one immediately with a set of Zeiss ZM and Voigtlander lenses with the VM close adapter. Since then, shooting has been a real pleasure. Nothing beats feeling your shots, even when we are capturing fleeting moments like kisses, exchanging vows/wedding rings or sharing a secret while on the dance floor at 4 am. Having a small, robust camera with the best glass in the industry makes me feel very confident and secure that when I get home, I have all I need to put together a body of work that reflect my vision. That’s the main lesson I learned, you really need to follow your own unique vision of things.

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We are all different, but you really need to push beyond the limits to reach for that inner voice. Recently I added the amazing sigma Art 35mm f 1.4 to my set, the only complain is its sheer size when compared to my little Zeiss ZM 35mm f2. My workflow is pretty straightforward, I use B&W mode to concentrate on composition and focus while having red peaking and magnify to guarantee that every moment is in focus. For 75% of all my work, I use the 35mm focal length with my Sony A7 and take advantage of the articulated LCD from the A99 to get more discrete and intimate portraits with the 85mm, also from Sigma. Just a little detail, I removed the slt mirror from the A99 and use it in manual focus, so it’s basically a big mirrorless camera. I’m more of a guest than a professional photographer, at least that’s how I’m perceived by my clients, family and friends. A friend who happens to make a living from photography. I really try to enjoy the wonderful day, conscious that I’m very fortunate to be at a private party while making a living. I’m always the first to arrive and the last to leave, it’s after all a body of work and not just a staged kiss with the golden hour moment. It’s people that drive me, the concept of family and friendship not staged moments.

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I’m looking forward to get the new Sony A7RII since it brings some new features like a new and stronger shutter that it’s better damped, the I. S, min. auto shutter, copyright embed info, better high ISO performance and even the silent shutter option although with some caveats.

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Thank you.

Regards

João de Medeiros

http://joaomedeirospamelaleite.tumblr.com/
https://instagram.com/joaomedeiros.pamelaleite/
https://www.facebook.com/MFotografia.JoaoMedeiros.PamelaLeite
http://www.joaomedeirospamelaleite.com/

Jul 242015
 
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Olympus EM1 + Sony A7s – Still my favorite Combo!

By Neil Buchan-Grant

Hi Steve

I thought I’d share some new images with your readers. I’m still loving the Olympus EM1 and Sony A7s although I have to say, since the Olympus 40-150mm zoom and the new 7-14mm zoom came out, the Oly has had more use. I also recently bought the Oly MC-14 1.4x tele converter for the big zoom and for me its performance in terms of resolution and sharpness underlines the big range now offered by the Olympus system. These 3 PRO zooms give me pretty much all I need for general travel work and the 12-40mm has all but replaced my wide primes with no loss of image quality. I still only tend to get the A7s + Leica M 35mm or 50mm f1.4 Summilux’s out when I’m out at night or I’m shooting low light work but with these lenses it still offers something a bit special.

My friend a few weeks before giving birth – EM1 – 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 25mm – available light and off camera flash

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My friend and her baby girl who had just had another lifesaving operation only days after her birth – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – mixed available light

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My friend holding it together by reading Winnie the Pooh to her baby girl who was still gravely ill only one week after her birth – Sony A7s – Leica M 35mm 1.4 – mixed available light

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My work here is a mixture of commissions and personal shots ranging from an architecture job in Oxfordshire, corporate portraits and a trip to Wimbledon tennis championships to some intimate portraits of my friend Scarlet and her baby, Frida. The baby had a traumatic and complicated birth and had to be resuscitated several times in her first few days. Thankfully she’s doing brilliantly now and is thriving! Thanks again for the opportunity to share these with your readers and keep up the great work! If anyone is interested, I have a new, short program of workshops on my website here:

My friend and her baby Frida who was finally out of harms way and seemed to be enjoying her new world – EM1 – Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light

 

 

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Frida just a few days ago, now 2 months old and currently my favorite model! – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light

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The Prado Museum in Madrid during a quick break – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 15mm

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A late night bar in Madrid – Sony A7s Leica M 35mm 1.4 – available light

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A studio portrait of the actress Hetty Baynes Russell, who was married to Ken Russell the British film director. – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – continuous light through 4ft softbox

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Another shot of Hetty – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – window light

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A photograph of a rather special Barn design in Oxforshire at dusk – my friends Arthur and Kate were the architects who designed it – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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The same building during the day – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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A model in Prague – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light and reflector

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A corporate shoot in London – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – Off camera flash

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Self portrait in the studio – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 35mm – continuous light through a 4 ft softbox and reflector

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Britain’s number one female tennis player Heather Watson winning her match at Wimbledon – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO with MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4

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Another self portrait in my garden – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 10mm – available light and off camera flash

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A tree surgeon working behind my garden – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO + MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4

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The same shot as above from the same spot, the tree surgeon is just visible – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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http://buchangrant.format.com/workshops where you can join me in Berlin, India or China/Tibet over the next 10 months!

Jul 222015
 
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LIGHT AND CONTRAST

by Michiel Faro

Time to get some of my own work out there, to be commented on and be criticized, instead of it all going the other way.

A bit about myself: I’m 62, Dutch and live in Holland, married, a stepson of 18 and two lovely two-year old girls. I work as a lawyer in Amsterdam. I have two potentially time-consuming hobbies: riding racing bicycles (I rode competitively for 25 years) and photography. I’ve been photographing since I was 14 or so.

My late father taught me everything, darkroom work included, though we never progressed to colour. I started with a Werra, which is more or less the most simple and wellmade camera one can think of. A Zenit slr was next, then a Yashica TL Electro (great camera), until a Nikon FM2n followed in 1990; a body I still have and use with great pleasure. FE2, an FM3a, a Contax RTSIII and a collection of used Nikkor and Zeiss primes round-up my analogue stuff. Digital started in 2008 with a D200, then a D700, then a D800 and now a D800E (both the 800 and the E can be underexposed routinely by almost up to a stop without any noticeable loss in image quality; a real bonus) with the 24, 35, 58 and 85 1.4G’s. I like the SLR form factor, prefer OVF’s over EVF’s and displays, dislike tiny camera bodies that may be light but have infuriating ergonomics and no viewfinder, and once you’ve gone full frame there’s no going back to a smaller sensor. Oh, and I don’t buy the next best thing every time it comes out, which can be quite frequent. Learn the stuff you have thoroughly, and that’s complicated enough in itself.

My photography can be divided roughly into three main categories: portraits (close, and possibly intrusive), situations/geometry/shapes, and emptiness. That last category is even more frustrating than the others and might be suitable for another post in the future. For this submission it’s situations/geometry/shapes and portraits.

Near the place I work in Amsterdam are two photo museums: FOAM and Huis Marseille. I try to go there on my lunchbreak every month or so. There’s always something to see. I may not like a particular exhibition or image, but it always sets your mind working: what is it I don’t like, what is it I do like, could I emulate it, could I approach that level of perception and technique, what sort of gear was used (ha!), etc etc. On the net, apart from the usual gear sites it’s AmericansuburbX and Lensculture I have a look at quite frequently; always something interesting to see.

Foremost in my mind (subconsciously no doubt) when taking photographs is light and contrast. Light because of what the infinite varieties of light can do to what the human eye (and film or sensor) sees. Contrast because of the inherent, subdued or loud, tension I wish to see in the images I take. Interest, tension, something that makes you wonder, makes you ask questions, is what I’m looking for. Always.

So here is a selection of B&W film images, made with cameras like the Contax RTSIII, Contax RTS, Contax S2, Nikon F2AS and Nikon FE2 and a variety of primes, usually Tri-X and HP-5, and colour images, made with the D800 and D800E. Two of the three portraits were made with the Nikkor 58/1.4G, an amazing (and sometimes frustrating) lens; the third one with the 85/1.4G, another gem.

The 58, to dwell on that subject briefly, is attractive as an everyday walkabout lens (I have a camera with me always; 1.4/35 this week) for its (comparatively) low weight, but you have to account for the almost “short tele” like focal length. It really shines as a portrait lens in ambient light. I think it is, for all it’s failings, a classic in the making that has to be used frequently to be fully appreciated.

Captions for the images are as follows:

B&W Situations

1 Man in FOAM museum: camera and lens unknown, TRI-X

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2 Man with hoodie: Nikon F2AS, Nikkor 2.0/35 AiS, TRI-X

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3 Man at Terry O’Neill exhibition: Contax RTSIII, 1.4/35 Distagon, TRI-X

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B&W Portraits

4 Cor: Contax RTS, 2.8/85 Sonnar, HP5

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5 Olivier: Contax S2, 1.7/50 Planar, TRI-X

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6 Rob Regeer, the artist and his art: Nikon FE2, Nikkort 1.8/50 AiS, TRI-X

 

 

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Color Shapes

7 Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G

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8 Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G

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9 Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G

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Color Portraits

10 Ed de Jong, photographer, with waitress held napkin reflector at his insistence: Nikon D800, Nikkor 1.4/58G

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11 Jan Maaso, friend, Nikon D800, Nikkor 1.4/85G

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12 Wessel, colleague, Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G

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Thanks to Steve and Brandon for posting this and, more importantly, for keeping this podium alive for many to post on and for even more to comment.

Best regards,

Michiel Faro

 

Jul 212015
 

Moment, Chaos and a Personal Perspective

By Shaul Naschitz

Hi Brandon and Steve,

I have been featured on your site more than once before, but hopefully you allow me to contribute a few thoughts once more.

I consider myself a savvy amateur photographer. I started with this means of self-expression about thirty years ago and kept doing it with more or less involvement ever since. Naturally, the digital revolution inspired a significant boost to my photographic endeavors; not least by the ever evolving technologies of creating photographs and “publishing” them. Between 2010 and 2012 I dedicated a lot of my spare time to writing about photography. The resulting blog, with its 900+ posts, never got much attention (maybe because it’s written in Hebrew…). One day, perhaps when I retire, I might try to make a nice and thick book of it.

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Anyway, in the past year or so my interest in photography has been progressively waning. I don’t carry a camera on a daily basis anymore and when I do use one I tend to do so more purposefully than before, so I shoot much less. It is not the cost that deters me like in the olden days; it is the tedious task of browsing through a mountain of rubbish to pick the few gems worth keeping. The paintwork on the Delete buttons on the backs of my cameras is always worn out.

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Another recent development is I don’t care anymore what others think of my work. Especially peers on web-based communities. I have long ago forsaken the aspirations of making a living of my hobby and finally accept the notion that I am not “better” than others. If anything, my sense for business is way below average, just like the pleasure I get from fulfilling the expectations of complete strangers. So why bother? I am old enough to serve as my own judge.

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I know that all of this sounds like old cynical bickering, but I assure you I have never felt happier, more light-hearted and liberated about my photography. After so long I feel free to explore this fascinating medium and create art, my own art. The charm in photography to me has everything to do with its inherent limitations and “flaws”. It is a great tool for observation, much less so for expression. In fact, any other art form is superior to photography in terms of sheer creation. Photography is so tightly embedded in the physical world it can’t really escape. So creating art using this medium must involve dismantling rather than construction, authorship rather than creation. Photography dissects the flow of time into distinct moments and allows us to concentrate on those fragments. That property is unique to this medium and gives it its strength.

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Cartier-Bresson coined the obscure and much debated “moment decisif” as an ideal of thematic and geometric order in a chaotic situation. But I am interested in the opposite: chaos itself. A bit of chaos makes things messed up, tense, interesting. Instead of fighting the ever-present, crude randomality I now work with it.

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The symbiosis of moment and disorder is what makes photography so fascinating to me. An extreme example of that are group dance performances, where despite the meticulous planning a lot of individual character comes through. You can’t usually observe slight synchronization errors or fleeting facial expressions when watching a live dance show, but a camera can reveal a lot. The same principles are obviously relevant to more reactive genres, such as street photography and photojournalism. It is just a matter of giving up control and letting chance play its role. And I didn’t even mention the fun in doing so.

Shaul Naschitz

Jun 082015
 
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The Mitakon Dark Night 50 0.95

By Isi Akahome

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Hi, my name is Isi, and I’m a bokeholic. It all started when I first shot with a rebel t2i in Target, and I fell in love with blurred backgrounds. Ever since then, I’ve chased after the widest aperture lenses. I remember drooling over the Leica Noticlux 50mm 0.95 when Steve and Digitalrev did their reviews on the lens. I wanted one, but unfortunately, the acquisition cost was laughable. My favorite lens on my old Nikon D800 was the 50mm 1.4, and then mirrorless cameras came out and that opened up the opportunity to get even wider apertures on a full frame sensor. Last November, I got the AMAZING Sony A7S and I started looking into moderately priced manual lenses with good optics. The thought of manually focusing was scary, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. The first lens I got was the Canon fd 58mm f/1.2, but it wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked and didn’t provide the amount of contrast I was looking for. This image below is a perfect example. The lens does render bokeh quite nicely.

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Then the Mitakon lens was announced! 50mm f/0.95 for under $1,000? It was like a dream come true. I remember scouring the internet for reviews and sample images for weeks. The comparison Steve did with the Noctilux was very helpful, because the difference in performance wasn’t nearly as close as the difference in price. In fact, in my opinion, it was negligible. After a lot of contemplation, I decided to get one. I found a demo copy on eBay for $750. The packaging was exceptional. It made me feel like I just purchased a priceless work of art. The box the lens comes in is quite spectacular, and the lens has a nice heft to it. It looks very well built, and for the price, I have no quibbles about the build quality. I decided this was going to be the lens I would use for most of my assignments. It seemed like it would be up to the task. I just had to master focusing with the lens wide open with that razor thin depth of field. The results have been nothing short of amazing. The subject isolation I was getting was just so unique that I was only shooting at f/0.95.

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Getting sharp focus accurately and consistently is quite challenging, but focus peaking comes in quite handy, and my accuracy has gone up substantially. Sometimes I just move a couple of inches back or forward as my subject(s) move, instead of turning the focus ring, and that makes a world of difference in getting shots in focus. When the focus is spot on, the sharpness wide open is very good, especially for portraits. Here a few shots I did for clients in varying situations.

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The one advantage that’s rarely mentioned about wide aperture lenses is the amount of shadow detail you get in situations when the subject is backlit. The faces of subjects are much brighter than with any of the other fast lenses I’ve used. Even in this photo with the harsh backlight from the sunset, the amount of shadow detail is quite impressive.

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Wedding season is about to start, and I’m both nervous and excited to use this bad boy to shoot full weddings. I think the difference between f1.2 and f0.95 is noticeable, it could be due to the fact that the lens has a certain look and character that makes the images unique to my eye. I don’t really have any complaints, except for the distracting bokeh rendering of foliage or busy backgrounds I sometimes get.

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I also shot the lens at smaller apertures because I had to in studio conditions, and it performed just as well as I would expect. These were shot at f5.6.

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I am very pleased with the results I have been getting with this lens. Even for random shots, it works fantastically. I took this as our plane was taking off from New Jersey.

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Mitakon has done something special with this lens. It is such a bargain considering what the lens can do. I would recommend this lens to anyone looking for a fast 50mm lens for their Sony A7 series camera, or other bokeholics who just want the shallowest depth of field with the added benefit of a versatile focal length. It’s a lot of fun to use, and you get all the bokeh you can handle. Don’t worry about manually focusing either. With focus peaking, it’s a breeze, and it almost forces you to compose your shots with more thought, purpose, and precision.

Thanks for reading. You can see more samples of my work on: www.isispiks.com.

Keep up the awesome work Steve! You’re a rockstar.

Isi Akahome

Apr 222015
 

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Uluru: Photographing an Icon

When you first hear of Uluru, you most likely imagine desert, Indigenous Australians, tourists and a very big rock. Conceptually you know that this is a spiritual place and that there is some pretty deep cultural significance when it comes to the land here. You may even realise that The Rock is one of Australia’s biggest (literally!) draw cards, hosting more than a quarter of a million people each year (amazing, considering how isolated it is).

What you may not be able to truly comprehend is the fact that big doesn’t even begin to describe this thing. Nor the fact that its spirituality will affect you, even if you are not a religious person – it is just that kind of place. So come on a walk with me as I share my (regrettably too short) visit to this magical, mysterious marvel.

5D Mkii with 17-40mm lens at f9; 1/40sec; iso 200; 40mm

At nearly 350m high and almost 10km in circumference, this truly is a big rock!

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The Red Centre is just that – red and right at the geographical heart of Australia.

5D Mkii with 17-40mm lens at f10; 10 iso 100; 40mm

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One of the first things you will most likely do (assuming you arrive later in the day, as we did) is to run up to the nearest lookout so you can get your first glimpse of Uluru – and a selfie, of course!

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When you arrive at the visitor centre, you will get a shadowed view of the rock face – if it’s morning – and the amazing colour will not yet be apparent. It is when you finally see the surface bathed in sunlight that you first understand how vibrant this rock really is. Red doesn’t quite describe it, but orange is too lurid a word. These pictures come close but, like the Grand Canyon, different light makes for different experiences.

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One of the next things you will notice will affect you in one of three ways. Seeing people climbing the face of Uluru can make you hunger for the thrill of bagging another unique peak. The sight may mean nothing to you – people can do what they want. Or you may feel a form of anger at people who so willingly decline to accede to the wishes of the traditional custodians of the land. As photographers we are asked not to record images showing this activity, however I feel that the image shows that individuals will always make their own decisions.

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For me and my wife the walk around the base was a revelation. As you start the circumnavigation, you are blown away by the height, more than anything else. At 348m at its highest point, Uluru is more than double the height of the Great Pyramid at Giza and even just pips the Eiffel Tower. Once you get over the height (you never really do) you begin to notice the textures and colours. Weathering from wind and rain and sand have left patterns in the surface – some of which are just pretty, but many of which are considered to be a form of scripture to the Anangu People who have lived in this region of Australia for at least 30 000 years. The patterns act as visual aids in the oral traditions of the Anangu and photography of many of the eroded areas of the rock is prohibited. Signage lets you know what you can and cannot shoot, but erring on the side of caution is recommended.

5D Mkii with 17-40mm lens at f7.1; 1/80sec; iso 100; 17mm

OM-D E-M5 with 75mm at f8; 1/200 sec; iso 200; 75mm

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One of the next things you may notice is how still and quiet the air is around Uluru. Yes, I do mean the atmosphere in more than one sense – on the day we were there it was perfectly windless (I am unsure how normal this is) but mostly I refer to the sense of peace and solitude that exists. We were there just before the peak tourism period begins and maybe that had something to do with it, but I doubt that was the only reason. Standing before this chunk of weather-beaten arkose, it is easy to understand why it is held sacred by the Indigenous people. There is an eerie sense that you are both alone and at the same time, not alone. Again, like the colours, it is more easily experienced than described.

5D Mkii with 17-40mm lens at f8; 1/40sec; iso 100; 17mm

Finally, the light and the way it interacts with the rock and trees. As photographers we are always chasing light and you will not be disappointed on your visit to Uluru. Be it harsh midday sun or soft pastel light and the edge of the day, Uluru’s grandeur absorbs the light and throws it back at you in myriad ways.

OM-D E-M5 with 75mm at f5; 1/250 sec; iso 200; 75mm

5D Mkii with 17-40mm lens at f16; 1/15sec; iso 125; 17mm

5D Mkii with 17-40mm lens at f10; 1/30sec; iso 400; 40mm

This iconic landmark was on my wishlist for many years before my wife and I finally visited. We always wondered whether the reality would live up to the hype. Now we know that reality’s shadow leaves the hype’s glitter just a little dull. The only thing left to do now is to visit again. And again…

5D Mkii with 17-40mm lens at f11; 1/60sec; iso 100; 17mm

A short list of things to remember:

May is a great time to go – fine weather and less tourists. Rent a 4×4 – you’ll see more places at your own pace. If you plan on using any of your images for commercial purposes (if you want to sell the images) you will need a permit. It’s a pain, but worth it – and you get park entry included for yourself and an assistant (my wife was my assistant!) so cost works out similar to if you just visited.
Some sites and viewpoints are restricted for cultural and religious reasons – respect these rules. Driving in the outback after dark is hazardous – hitting a kangaroo or cow at speed is potentially deadly. Be careful! Put the camera away for a least part of your trip – really experience this amazingly spiritual place for its own sake.

By Wesley Walker

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I am an Amateur photographer who dabbles in stock photography. Mostly I take images while hiking (particularly on holidays!) but I do occasionally set out to make specific images – still working on that!

SmugMug: http://walkerpodimages.smugmug.com/

Blog: https://walkerpodimages.wordpress.com/

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