Sep 302014
 

A year with rangefinder camera 

By John Kurniawan

Dear Steve and Brandon,

Glad to see both of you doing great and happy as ever!

Appreciate that you post my report on Tibet a couple of months back and this is my anniversary flash back with a rangefinder. This is a flash back from a DSLR casual photographer to an enthusiast rangefinder photographer. My first 4 weeks full of disappointment from everything auto to almost everything manual (as was using A mode), from forgetting to take off the lens caps, mis-focus to wrong metering. Now I will take out the lens cap most of the time with the power ON, preset ISO, Aperture mode or manual, set focus distance to around 2-3 meter, see something interesting just take up the cam and click for street shot and do focusing for something static.

Here a few of my works during this past one year, am still learning to take better picture with this lovely M9 which now accompany me every where I go with 1 cam 1 lens policy. For a year 95% of the time use 35mm lens (35% with Summicron and rest with Summilux FLE) and lately trying out 21mm Elmarit F2.8 and settle with SEM F3.4 There is room to improve my works, so critic for improvement are welcome

Cheers,

John Kurniawan

Photo series :

 OldMonk

-Old Monk_Lux35Fle

-

 Nannie

Nannie_Lux35Fle

-

 Gondola

Gondola_Lux35Fle

-

 Delman

Delman_Lux35Fle

-

 Silent

Silent_Lux35Fle

-

 LovingParent

LovingPrent_Lux35Fle

-

 Lovers

Lover_Lux35Fle

-

 SealwithaKiss

SealwithaKiss_Lux35Fle

-

 SoSweet

SoSweet_Lux35Fle
 -

DontShot

DontShot_Lux35Fle

-

 SunBathing

Sunbathing_Elmarit21

-

 Golfers

Golfers_SEM21

Sep 292014
 

The Leica M-P. My first shots with the Noctilux f/1

By John Tuckey

Hi All, here’s a few shots with the new Leica M-P for those it might interest. I picked up the MP on friday, finally chopping in my old M9. Fortunately for me I already had a day set aside on Saturday with one of my favourite models, Victoria Bond, and a pile of costumes from the RSC Costume warehouse. Most fortuitous ;-)

This was my first time using a type 240, and I was keen to play with the EVF. For the last 10 months I’ve been almost exclusively shooting the Noctilux f/1 and the monochrom. Being B&W obsessed my love affair with the monochrom is unlikely to end soon, but the Noctilux? Well I’ll be honest, the Nocti has been love/hate for me. I love the look, that super soft dreaminess of the f/1 wide open, or I wouldn’t persevere with it! But for my portraits I’m usually right up at 1m range and focusing that close up with a 2mm plane of focus is such hard work using the RF viewfinder it too often felt like as much luck as judgement, the final image kept was too often ‘the closest I got’ rather than ‘exactly what i wanted’. So naturally I was particularly interested in how the EVF would assist with the M-P.

A day later I can say that it is indeed a world of difference, you are of course abandoning your RF ethics in favour of a more conventional ‘SLR’ approach – initially it leaves one feeling like a coward and traitor to a cause, then slightly soiled perhaps… but finally revelling in the ability to accurately focus f/1 on the right element of the frame, on the nose, and time and time again. Where I would have taken a dozen shifting position to hedge my bets on getting the shot i wanted, now i can just take ‘the’ shot – It’s an epiphany :-) And best of all I can take it off and go back to my RF comfort zone when i want to shoot anything other than f/1 point-blank – awesome.

Also worth mentioning the extra buffer speed of the M-P delivered too. I don’t use continuous mode, but I’d still find the M9 or Mono hitting their buffers on a regular basis and bringing things to a stop start, and thats a thing of the past finally as well.

The M-P and EVF have certainly delivered what I hoped they would. My only additional desire would be to have a monochrom based off the 240, now that would be my ‘ultimate’ camera, i suspect we’ll see one soon enough!

 

 ‘Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears a Crown’ Leica M-P, Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4 1/180 ISO200

jrt_vicseptRSC-5

-

‘Queen Vic’ Leica M-P, Noctilux f/1 @ f/1 1/180 ISO200

jrt_vicseptRSC-17

-

 ‘La Luna’ Leica M-P, Noctilux f/1 @ f/1 1/180 ISO200

jrt_vicseptRSC-21

-

 ‘Elegance’ Leica M-P, Noctilux f/1 @ f/1 1/180 ISO200

jrt_vicseptRSC-38

-

 ‘Romanza’ Leica M-P, Noctilux f/1 @ f/1.4 1/60 ISO320

jrt_vicseptRSC-45

http://john.tuckey.photography
http://500px.jrtvintage.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/jrtvintage

Best regards

John Tuckey ARPS

Sep 262014
 

Pahoa Lava Flow

By Tom Niblick

Every year my wife and I close our studio for a week or two and go to the Big Island (Hawaii) to house-sit a friends cabin while he visits friends and family on the mainland. Our friend’s home is about halfway up the slope of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. The cabin had just survived Hurricane Iselle last month with only one casualty, an albizia tree. He was lucky. A few miles away Iselle cut a swath through the forest downing countless thousands of trees, power lines and closing roads, leaving the Puna district (southeast) without power and water for several weeks.

A second natural disaster is slowly creeping down the volcano and in less than two weeks will sweep across the main highway and isolate thousands of homes and farms. The Puu Oo lava flow, which started on June 27th, has moved towards the sea at a rate of 250 – 400 yards every day. We could not see the hot lava while we were visiting Puna because the lava was moving through inaccessible forest land and near access was blocked to all but local traffic. All we could see was smoke in the distance. All of this has changed two days later, as the lava has enter the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision, putting countless homes in danger.

Around September 24th as the lava will cross highway 130 and, unless the flow changes direction, will probably destroy the town of Pahoa. This has happened before when a similar lava flow closed the highway at Kalapana, burning homes and isolating hundreds of residents. The current flow promises to be even more dramatic.

The town of Pahoa is a charming place with several nice restaurants, coffee houses and markets. Inhabited by young and old hippies, it is a tropical paradise where nature’s children go to escape civilization and live a simpler life. Land was (and still is) inexpensive and living off the grid is common. However, there is a reason why one can buy land in paradise for less than $10,000 per acre – lava. Black lava is only a few inches beneath the surface with a sprinkling of moss and decayed forest litter for covering. The subsurface lava is also why so many trees went down in the hurricane, the tree roots were close to the surface and with no dirt to hold them down, tipped over in the wind.

Nothing is being done to divert the flow as native Hawaiians consider this disrespectful to Pele, the volcano goddess. In fact they are all busy cleaning their homes and cutting their lawns in preparation for “a very important guest.” Doing these simple tasks often spares houses and property. We took a day and did the same. Our friend’s house is now clean, cut and ready for Madam Pele, should she decide to shift her flow.

Should anyone want to see this once-in-a-generation event, they should get to Hawaii soon. Once the lava closes the highway, only local traffic will be permitted on the dirt road by-pass now being plowed. Even this emergency road lies between the lava and the sea. Disaster is inevitable. It may be many years before the flow stops and this corner of the island becomes accessible. Rooms and lodging will be scarce in Hilo which is about an hour’s drive from Pahoa. Arnotts is an affordable combo hostel, camp and lodge. A real treat would be to stay at the Volcano House inside the National Park. Bring a tripod if you want to shoot the lava at night and good shoes!

We would have loved to stay to witness this once-in-a-generation event but had a backlog of studio work and our own house sitter had other engagements. Ten days was all we could spare.

Of yes, I used my ever-present Leica M9 with 21 SEM, 35 type IV Summicron and 50 Summicron (Tiger Claw) lenses while Debbie, my wife, used her favorite camera, an Olympus OMD E-M1 with 12-40 and 60 macro Olympus lenses. She loves her little camera!
Photos:

1) Debbie shooting what is left of a bromeliad garden after host tree was uprooted in hurricane. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

1 Debbie
2) Bromeliad. Olympus OMD E-M1 with 60 Macro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
3) Roads are closed except for local access. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

3 Road Closed
4) Lava is burning the forest about 1 mile from road. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

4 Lavainforest
5) Pele’s Kitchen in Pahoa. It is considered bad luck to name a business after Pele. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

5 Pahoa
6) Kaleo’s Restaurant in Pahoa. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

6 Pahoa
7) Kalapana Lava Flow. There was a road here once upon a time. Olympus OMD E-M1 with 12-40 zoom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
8) Kilauea Iki Trail. This 4.5 mile hike takes you across a hardened lava lake which is still steaming from the 1959 eruption. Leica M9 with 21 SEM.

8 Kilauea Iki Trail
9) Kilauea Iki Crater. Ohia tree and ferns dot the crater. Leica M9 with 21 SEM.

9 Kilauea Iki Crater
10) Land for sale… cheap! Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

10 Land4sale

Sep 252014
 

Country visions

By Doug Barry-Martin

Hi Steve,

Having followed your blog for some time now it is interesting to see its influence on my photography . I now shoot some landscape subjects with a narrow depth of field to focus more on the subject whereas before I probably may not have considered it.

I recently had the opportunity to stay at a farm in a rugged valley near Nelson, New Zealand.  It had been raining for a few days and the morning was cold and dark and a bit misty so I took the opportunity to get out my old faithful combo of 5D Mk1 and 24-105 L lens. It is still my best camera and I enjoy using it despite its primitive menu and hard to read viewfinder info. Yes the 7D is a much better camera to use but I enjoy the slower 5D more (and the image quality eats the 7D). My Fuji X100 is a great companion to the 5D and a useful hiking camera but again the 5D has better IQ. I have recently also bought a Panasonic LF1 and it is a very handy and fun pocket cam but not for serious photography.

The 5D handled the gloom admirably and gave me some nice moody images.

The shot of the shed is two images combined.

You can see more on my Flickr site. www.flickr.com/photos/dougbm/

Keep up the good work. It is great to have a photo site like this where we can get inspiration from many different photographers.

Regards

Doug

Your holiday accommodation awaits…

IMG_8728+

Beautiful girl…

IMG_8752++

140 year old walnut trees and happy chooks

IMG_8766+

Lovely views from the farm

IMG_8780++

The old shed

Untitled_Panorama1++

I am lichen this fence post. : )

IMG_8850++++

Deep in the woods…

IMG_8815+++

Sep 252014
 

LBGT London Pride festival

By dgd

Hi Brandon, Steve, Everyone

LBGT+ London pride festival is held every year-end of June. Thousands gather to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender

Begins at Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes’ :)), THEN makes its way through Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall and Trafalgar Sqaure. This was my first time.  I was near Trafalgar Square I have never experienced such a wonderful public gathering as I did in LBGT.  I felt the most free, happy, joyous amongst people like I’d never felt before. I have been to many festivals, outdoor concert, sports, Olympics. Been around people from over 100 countries. Sometimes I been to church, mosque, synagogue, Sikh Hindu Buddhist temples, Hari Krisha.  I’ve visited spiritual places.  None of these were as blissful for me when being around people as LBGT.

When I thought about it afterwards it is because only LBGT welcomes everyone with open arms. Whoever they maybe, however they may look, whatever their cultural religious social outlook.I am usually uncomfortable taking photos of strangers. This time I felt so at ease. I took over 200 photos with Olympus c5050 (2003 compact, F1.8 with swivel screen). From these 200 I chose those eleven which reflected the emotion, inclusivity, warmth of LGBT.

Best regards
dgd aka dougie digital dawg

1 P6290046

2 P6290085

3 P6290067

4 P6290510

5 P6290119

6 P6290118

7 P6290129

8 P6290265

9 P6290314

10 P6290398

11 P6290538

Sep 242014
 

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang012

Weddings through a Leica

By Bailey Wang

I’m one of those wedding photographers with very limited experience in the old world of photography, you know using film and rangefinders. Sure I got to muck around with my old man’s dust covered Canon EOS-1, that seemed like a great idea for him at that time to have, but it wasn’t anything really of substance. So you could say I’m a relatively upcoming, though after 6 years in weddings it doesn’t so yesterday, DSLR totting photographer.

After 6 years of gun-slinging two testosterone-induced DSLR bodies weekend after weekend, the wear and tear on my temple of love became so impeding that it was high time something had to be done. For quite some time, I had one of those creative impulsive ideas of “I’m going to make things hard for myself and go hardcore manual” and so it was an opportune moment to investigate on a smaller form factor system that would be viable for weddings.

The move from the bulky world that is DSLR to a more physically-asian-friendly system started with my ventures with the Fuji X100, Pro and the more recent Sony A7, all of which for sure that their benefits and quirks. Extensive field testings I carried out in tandem with my D3s worked a dream with the beautifully light systems, and I was this close to getting jumping ship over to the A7r system. Until I was silly enough to, funny enough, bump into the StevenHuffPhoto soon-to-be online bible of reviews. Though I liked what I had with the A7r, it didn’t quite fit the bill, it’s slightly confusing button arrangements and ergonomics wasn’t as pleasing as it was visually, so when I dug deeper into the trove that is the SHP website, I kept hearing about this Leica business. Woe is me for having been so foolish – at least to the wife’s constant um verbal battering of the soon-to-come spending spree.

Many a midnight oil burnt sessions later, I hungrily sought out a local supplier (in Sydney Australia) that would let me touch and feel one of these blasted bodies (Leica M Typ 240). I’d have to say it wasn’t a particularly easy thing to do! After all, what if the foolish potential customer mishandles this “overly-priced snob camera” (as some may call it)? Thankfully one such supplier was more than happy to spend the time to unfold it’s gorgeous packaging for a on site field test, that eventuated with my renowned impulse (to the constant annoyance of the Mrs) buy. What can I say? I fell in love.

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang000

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang001

Despite many discussions with my peers on this topic of going hard at it with the manual controls, on whether such a system would be suitable for a fast-pace photography discipline, I just had to have it. It was very much the case of once you go manual you won’t go back. I shoot manual anyway, just not manual focus. So for the next few weeks I lived and slept with the M Typ 240 and 50mm Summilux-R, she became my mistress (hey at least it was out in the open and the wife was always around).

The first wedding shot through the M was such a refreshing experience. It very much is the Apple of the camera world. Minimalist. Gorgeous. Functional. And it just works. With how technology is outpaces today’s technology, and marketing has become the guidance for product development, it is so easy to be lost in wanting the biggest and most badass specifications in one’s kit. Sure the Leica M system seems archaic with no autofocus, built-in USB, WIFI, touchscreen, 24 burst scatter gun shutter, and other plethora of marketing-tech-dribble, but what it does it does so well and for that I’m so thankful that I took the dive into the old (new) world.

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang002

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang003

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang004

It slows things down. A heck much slower than what the DSLR can do. I love that. Bringing photography back to what it should be, to composition, great lighting and pre thought before pressing down on the shutter makes things so much more pleasing. Not that I was ever the photographer that would put the D3s on burst mode and scatter the hell out of a wedding day to come back with 3000 photographs. Certainly it was frustrating on the first wedding, not knowing exactly how slow the shutter & buffer was in comparison, and certainly things were missed that wouldn’t’ have been missed with a DSLR. But then again, I wasn’t over shooting anymore!

So how did the first wedding go with all these slow-mo things happening? Very well! Considering it was a quasi Lebanese & Portuguese mix wedding, and if any of you have been to these ethnic weddings, there’s a hell lot happening on the day. They sure know how to party it up! Given most of my couples have the Middle Eastern background splashed with the Hispanic, a big high-five for team Leica on keeping up with the pace!

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang005

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang006

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang007

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang008

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang009

Concerns that surely the manual focus is not built for a wedding, that the rangefinder system is really for street (some say random) photography were totally dispelled. The experience of framing through a rangefinder became a beautiful perspective of documenting one of the most important milestones in life. And this is where I have come to enjoy photographing weddings through Leica.

I’m not overly concerned about all the technical mumbo jumbo of IQ, sharpness, lines, focus shifts…etc all that comes with any technology. I’m not really all that concerned about the individual performance of each spec, or rather in comparison to say what the modern world of DSLR can avail a photographer. After all I’m after emotion, after drama, not after winning awards for technical prowess. So if you were to talk to me about how each of my lenses fair for a wedding, well…buggered if I know how they technically fair. Hell looking at my photographs, you could probably point things out of whack that may not technically be awesome, but I’m not at all that interested in those aspects of photography.

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang010

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang011

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang013

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang014

Instead, what the Leica system has allowed me to do is to bring me back to the real reasons of why I left my IT job with HP, and onwards to the world of capturing…the world of love, romance, laughter, life and connection. Without all the geeky things to swoon over (funny for a IT geek to comment on), it gives me connection with the day. Not with the camera.

One thing I will confess to geek-love though is how beautiful the Leica swirly bokeh is! I’m a wide-open shooter at heart, even in the world of DSLR, and so having access to so much gorgeous light, bokeh and softness has become as far geek-love as it gets.

So 11 weddings now since having stumped up the cash for the Leica M system, my kit on the day looks like:

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang012

Soon to be added to this kit is a 75mm ‘lux and Canon 50mm 0.95 (damn you Steve), hopefully Fedex hauls ass so that I can have it on next weekend’s weddings. Slightly a kit freak, but each one has it’s own beauty. Oh I still have my 50mm ‘lux-r that I’ve been undecided on whether to sell off or not! The M6 is also on temptation’s list that may or may not make the cut, depending on whether I’m feeling impulsively daring enough to introduce film, but hey every other wedding photographer seems to be jumping on that bandwagon right now!

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang015

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang016

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang017

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang018

wedding_soul_story_bailey_wang019

I’m still learning about this wondrous Leica system, I’m still finding my way in composition and to bring more life into the weddings I shoot, and I’m loving it. Most importantly, my couples love it.

Bailey Wang

www: www.weddingsoulstory.com
fb: www.facebook.com/weddingsoulstory
twt: www.twitter.com/soulstorystudio
inst: www.instagram.com/soulstorystudio

Sep 242014
 

A Quick Way to Make Focusing a Rangefinder Easier

By Brad Husick

The other day I thought I had invented something new but it turns out that’s pretty hard in the photographic world. After doing some research it turns out that way back in the pre-war days of the Leica II and III series cameras Leica offered a small accessory (ORAKO) that matched the function of my “new” idea. Essentially it was a small round colored filter (yellow, orange or red) that you screwed into the front of the rangefinder patch window. It made the patch a different color from the rest of the viewfinder and improved contrast in many situations. You can still buy them on Ebay for about $100 but they only fit the II, III and IIIa cameras.

Since modern Leica rangefinder cameras have 1) a rectangular patch and 2) no threads there, I decided to try a DIY solution. I purchased a set of lighting gels from Amazon

(link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002GW000/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

for $4 and cut a small rectangle from the yellow gel. If you cut it just smaller than the rangefinder patch you can add a drop of lens cleaner and it will stick there. If you cut it too large the flange around the patch will cause it to sit just a little to proud and it won’t stick. I cut mine to be 9mm x 5mm.

I have found that this really makes focusing a lot easier in almost any situation. I am including a photo taken with my iPhone through the rangefinder on my Monochorm. You can see in the center of the frame there is a brass striker plate on the edge of my office door that clearly shows up in yellow in the rangefinder patch.

This package of gels includes yellow, green, red and blue gels in 7″ x 7″ size – enough for 50 people’s lifetimes of this use, so share with your friends who live close by.

I hope you enjoy this DIY.

-Brad Husick

patch

Sep 232014
 

The OMD EM5 in the Nation’s capital

By Jose Miguel Constantino

Dear Steve,

After reading the user reviews and watching your reviews about the EM5 and the Zuiko lenses, I decided to pull the trigger and replace my cumbersome Nikon D5100. After nearly 8 months shooting with the EM5, I am one happy camper! I love the size and versatility of the camera coupled with the 17mm F/1.8. The image quality is fantastic, and the OOC jpegs are great even up to ISO 3200. Parking in Washington DC is terrible, so I usually ride my motorcycle with a small backpack. The EM5 leaves plenty of room for my lenses and a change of clothing in my backpack. The summers in DC get extremely humid, and the heat of the engine does not help.

After a few months of eating ramen noodles for weeks to save money, I finally had enough to purchase the amazing 75mm F/1.8 lens. Wow! The images are amazing, and the bokeh is to die for! It does take quite a bit of getting used to because of the super long focal length, but I guess when I am wandering aimlessly in the city it isn’t much of an issue. The build quality is fantastic; it just feels exquisite and expensive like a piece of jewelry.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/49272116@N02/

http://streetsofdmv.tumblr.com/

13002561145_b1bfe2958e_k

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

14191986000_b41acc6d21_k

14301638224_77985bae33_k

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sep 232014
 

Holidays through 50 APO Summicron and Noctilux ASPH

By Miguel

Hi Steve,

I am an avid follower of your blog – thanks for constant fresh comments, ideas and reviews. Pls keep it up!

I’ve seen recently quite a few questions on the new APO Summicron 50 ASPH and wanted to share my thoughts after using it for a couple of months during holiday time. I’m lucky enough to also have at hand a Noctilux ASPH, so, i’m posting also a few shots taken with it w a M240.

I’m not neither pretend to be a pro photographer, but still hope my opinion will help others. Pictures are just a random selections of shots i took over the last months while on holidays. Objective to let you judge the difference between the lenses, so there is no specific thread or link among them.

Very simply put and at risk of repeating what has been said before across the web, i’m overall impressed with the APO summicron. The images really pop, specially when seen in a retina macbook or even an ipad retina. Sharp, alive, with rich colours that require little processing in lightroom. If you couple this with a small size, i believe it is frankly one of the best lens i’ve ever used, if not the best. Including the summilux 50 asph that i used a couple of years back.

The noctilux is outstanding as well, although in a different way. Shots are magical, with a real strong wow factor that your family and friends will be impressed on. I almost exclusively shot it at 0.95, definitely below f2.0, as the lens is to me made for that, and obviously at these apertures it is less sharp and contrasty than the summicron.

So there it is, both are absolutely jewels, each in its own way. I’m using the cron for overall day-to-day, mostly shots of friends, kids and family, portraits. And i’m using the noctilux when i want to wow the audience with shots they aren’t used to see or i am in a more creative mode day.

Pros for cron: realism of the shots (as if you would be there), sharpness, colours, size, min focus at 0.7 m. Cons: it is ‘only’ f2
Pros for noctilux: truly wow factor, narrow DOF/low light. Cons: size, chromatic aberration (it is significant), min focus at 1.0 m

Some would ask which one would you keep. Frankly the answer is i don’t know.

miguelec
www.m-journey.net (you can find a few of my pictures there; unfortunately with 2 little little kids i didn’t have the time to update it, now for quite a while…)

Cron 1

Cron 2

Cron 3

Cron 4

Cron 5

Cron 6

Cron 7

Noct 1

Noct 2

Noct 3

Noct 4

Noct 5

Sep 222014
 

Shooting with The Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 and the Sony A7 at Fisherman’s Wharf

by Doug Frost

I’ve been a happy owner of the Sony A7 since last December. For me, it won out over the A7r because of its slightly quieter and lower vibration shutter. It seemed better suited for handheld shooting than its 36mp sibling. And frankly, 24mp is plenty for me in most situations. I had been using the A7 with a variety of lenses with adapters. I have a few Zeiss Alphas which I love and I occasionally use it with my 50mm Zeiss Planar M-mount and a variety of vintage Nikon AI lenses. All great glass. I’ve always preferred shooting manual focus, and the A7 with its EVF and focus peaking makes it super easy to do.

1_DF_MITAKON_SHP

But the one thing I lacked in my camera bag was a native FE mount lens. I had been considering buying the Sony Zeiss 50mm f/1.8 FE. The reviews on that lens have been very positive, and I was on the verge on buying one when Steve posted his first look preview of the Mitakon Speedmaster last April. I was immediately intrigued by the Mitakon. It wasn’t the sharpest 50mm lens by any means. It suffered from some light falloff at f/0.95 the bokeh could be a little quirky in some situations and it didn’t come with a lens hood. But there was a quality to the look of the sample shots I was seeing on Steve’s site and elsewhere that I really liked, especially when used wide open.

2_DF_MITAKON_SHP

3_DF_MITAKON_SHP

So, to make a long story a bit longer, I decided to get in on the pre-order discount price, and waited. And waited. And waited. The June delivery date came and went. The revised date in mid-July passed, and still no lens. The distributor, MXCamera, was apologetic. Their factory was having trouble getting the lens coatings right and they were shipping at a fraction of the anticipated rate. Finally, on August 6th, three months after I placed my order, I emailed them saying I was tired of waiting. To my surprise they replied the next day and said they just got a few units in from the factory and they’d ship one to me ASAP and gave me a tracking number. I was delighted.

13_DF_MITAKON_BW_SHP

The following day, MXCamera dropped a bit of bombshell. The Mitakon Speedmaster had been discontinued! It was being replaced by a redesigned “pro” version of the lens that they dubbed “The Dark Knight”. Not only that, but everyone who had still not received the original version they ordered would now be getting a Dark Knight in its place!

Wow, I was taken aback. At first I was annoyed. Maybe if I hadn’t emailed them they would have sent me a Dark Knight instead. It was an odd situation, because a lens I had waited three months for, and was now finally enroute to me, had been discontinued before it even arrived!

4_DF_MITAKON_SHP

10_DF_MITAKON_SHP

But now that I have my Mitakon and shot with it, all is forgiven. I’ve decided that henceforth it will be known as the “Mitakon Speedmaster Classic”, a rare and highly coveted beast. Will The Dark Knight prove to be a better lens than the Classic (it has yet to be released as I write this)? Maybe. I have no idea, but more importantly, I don’t care. I love what my Mitakon does for me and that’s all that counts in the end.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s one of the most beautiful regions on the planet and San Francisco is one of the biggest tourist destinations of all. For this user report I wanted to show what the Mitakon could do when used wide open in low light. I decided on ISO 1600 for all of the shots, because the A7 does very well at that speed and at f/0.95 I figured it would be fast enough.

6_DF_MITAKON_SHP

11_DF_MITAKON_SHP

7_DF_MITAKON_SHP

I decided to shoot in the evening in a San Francisco neighborhood where there would be lots of tourists milling about on the street, so someone wandering around with an A7 would hardly be noticed, and that meant Fisherman’s Wharf. Me and my buddy Chris arrived at dusk on a Saturday to explore it with our cameras. As anticipated, the Wharf was swarming with tourists. Perfect for people watching.  I always shoot in aperture priority mode, and I’m happy to report that the A7’s shutter speed never dipped below 1/500 the whole time, even when I was shooting inside the Museé Méchanique arcade, where the light is low.

8_DF_MITAKON_SHP

12_DF_MITAKON_SHP

9_DF_MITAKON_SHP

I hope you enjoy these photographs. I had an absolute blast taking them.  If you’d like to see more of my work, I invite you to check out my gallery: http://dougfrost.tumblr.com

Sep 222014
 

AtlasIII-BTS-1001T

Shooting Atlas Shrugged Part 3 Behind The Scenes with the Sony A7 and Voigtlander lenses

By Judd Weiss

Great to be back here again so soon! I was very encouraged by the reaction to my Ephemerisle 2014 photos I shared in a guest post last week , so I asked Steve if he wanted another set of photos from me for another guest post, and fortunately he said YES! I’m a long time fanboy of this site, so that’s cool with me :)

Now for something completely different from that last set. And I’m sure there’s some people out there that might find this controversial. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Atlas Shrugged and the author Ayn Rand. So when I was asked to shoot the Behind The Scenes photos for the 3rd Atlas Shrugged movie, I don’t think I let the Associate Producer finish his sentence before I jumped all over this. It’s not just that I’m a fan, but the idea of having real production value and professional actors to capture was so exciting. I’ve been extremely prolific, and I’ve moved very fast, but I’m still relatively new to photography.

When I picked up a Sony NEX-3 four years ago, I first treated it more like a much better quality point and shoot. I had NO IDEA a few years later I would be asked to shoot all these events around the country, and now BTS photos for a movie that will come to theaters and bring my photos to a much bigger audience… wow. Behind The Scenes photos are usually boring, so I was determined to create memorable pieces at the best of my ability. I had earlier gained some notoriety for my event and conference photos. There’s now probably around 10,000 Facebook profile photos of mine floating out there, being used by people for all sorts of other purposes too, from Match.com to Speaker Bios to Wikipedia to Book Jackets. And now the Associate Producer is telling me “I want Judd Weiss photos. Can you deliver us Judd Weiss photos?”. Hell the fuck yeah! The pressure was on. Fortunately production was starting the following week in LA, so I didn’t have to wait too long to jump in.

AtlasIII-BTS-1002

AtlasIII-BTS-1003

AtlasIII-BTS-1015

Thank god Sony just released their earth shattering full frame mirrorless A7 right before filming started in January this year. I had been shooting on smaller sensor APS-C NEX cameras before, and I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the full frame mirrorless, following any shred of rumor and news story for the previous 2 years. I knew I needed to move to a full frame setup in order to take my photos to the next level, and the A7 did not disappoint! I had never shot photos of this quality before, and my love for the camera rose along with the excitement from the production team for the quality of photos I was delivering them. I was determined to push past my limits, and over deliver, but I didn’t expect to rise to this level. The producers were ecstatic about the quality of photos I delivered. I was later told by one of the producers that my photos are a blessing and a curse, they’re helping the marketing generate interest and credibility in the film, but there’s no scene of the movie that looks as good as these photos. I really wish I could say I’m in love with how the final movie turned out, but unfortunately I’m not in love with it. But I do love my photos. In January I still had plenty of room to grow, but these photos were a massive leap of a milestone for me. I’m so grateful for that opportunity.

AtlasIII-BTS-1005

AtlasIII-BTS-1011

And it might not be a good idea to reveal an on set skirmish I dealt with, but I’m going to anyway. There’s an interesting story I want to tell you guys. So, I live in Los Angeles but I’m not in the movie scene, and I’m definitely not union, the producers just liked my photos from other events and asked me to shoot this. If you know anything about Ayn Rand, it’s incredibly ironic that this was actually a union production, and there was a union photographer, and she was EXTREMELY territorial, and saw to it that I not be allowed near the filming. Which is bullshit because I’m not a wild life photographer. Far away crowd shots are fine, but limiting me to only that is intolerable, after I just blocked out 4 weeks of my life to do this.

I was excited and eagerly waiting to get started, only to arrive and sit on the bench off the field. What’s worse is the union photographer treated the job like any other union laborer, and despite her top of the line Canon gear, her photos were unbelievable worse than a 7 year old with a point and shoot. Out of focus, not properly exposed, her photos were unusable. But after a week on set my photos were REALLY impressing the producers; even though I was severely held back. The producers didn’t want a fight with the union that could shut down production, so they let it be, until I almost resigned after almost a week.

I don’t have a problem with the other photographer, she can do whatever she likes, additional coverage is a good thing, but just don’t get in my way, for stupid petty reasons, that’s crossing the line. So the producers ended up deciding to give her every penny in her contract and told her not to come back to the set. She was happy because she could sleep at home and get paid for the entire month of production filming. And I was happy because starting the 2nd week, the quality of my photos sky rocketed when I wasn’t held back any longer. Clearly that meant they wanted me there. The producers paid for 2 photographers just have me uninterrupted as the sole photographer on set. And most of these photos would not exist if the producers did not take that bold move on my behalf against a very entitled protective obstructive union worker. I’ll always be grateful for that.

AtlasIII-BTS-1010

AtlasIII-BTS-1019

AtlasIII-BTS-1022

Pretty much every single photo was shot with a Voigtlander 35mm f1.2; I used a Voigtlander 21mm f1.8 for some wide shots. I bought both lenses from Stephen Gandy at Camera Quest a few days into the production. The first couple days I was using a friend’s Canon 50mm f1.2 with a Metabones adapter. The Canon lens takes some beautiful photos, but I was much happier when I started using the Voigtlanders because they’re much smaller (than the SLR lens, but pretty big for rangefinder lenses) and because I just LOVE true manual lenses with focus peaking on the A7. I have never used the autofocus function on the camera, and I never plan to. Because of focus peaking I’m now faster with manual lenses than most are with autofocus. Especially with a true manual lens. I love the control you get from really feeling the lens elements move directly with the turn of your wrist, instead of focus by wire from electronic signals in an autofocus lens operating in manual mode.

And when you have lots of moving pieces around you that you’re trying to capture, it’s SO MUCH easier to compose the scene and surgically adjust the focus as people move, rather than autofocus on a subject then recompose, and refocus if anything moves, then try to recompose again, and then repeat again if anything moves again… screw that. The difference is night and day for usability. Personally I don’t ever want to use autofocus again. Autofocus is a downgrade for me. It definitely takes a little bit of practice, but if only most photographers could discover how much more usable manual focus is when you’ve got focus peaking, there would be more attention devoted to creating more compact fast manual lenses for us to drool over.

AtlasIII-BTS-1021

AtlasIII-BTS-1024

AtlasIII-BTS-1027

Also, the Sony A7 was a HUGE talking point on set. EVERYONE wanted to see it. EVERYONE used Canon for EVERYTHING! Who’s this kid causing all this damage with the Sony? And I would tell each of them to sell all of their SLR gear and all their SLR lenses; unless you just like to keep vinyl records and 80s cell phones, mirrorless is the future!

I’m still growing as a photographer, and I’ll keep moving along my path. I hope you like some of these shots I took back in January. I welcome any and all constructive feedback. Thank you for your attention.

Full album and original post can be found on my blog here.

You can follow me on Instagram at http://instagram.com/juddweiss

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/juddweiss)

AtlasIII-BTS-1006

AtlasIII-BTS-1007

AtlasIII-BTS-1008

AtlasIII-BTS-1009

AtlasIII-BTS-1012

AtlasIII-BTS-1013

AtlasIII-BTS-1014

AtlasIII-BTS-1016

AtlasIII-BTS-1017

AtlasIII-BTS-1018

AtlasIII-BTS-1020

AtlasIII-BTS-1021

AtlasIII-BTS-1026

AtlasIII-BTS-1028

AtlasIII-BTS-1029

AtlasIII-BTS-1030

AtlasIII-BTS-1031

AtlasIII-BTS-1032

AtlasIII-BTS-1033

AtlasIII-BTS-1034

AtlasIII-BTS-1035

AtlasIII-BTS-1036

AtlasIII-BTS-1037

AtlasIII-BTS-1038

AtlasIII-BTS-1039

AtlasIII-BTS-1041

AtlasIII-BTS-1042

AtlasIII-BTS-1044

AtlasIII-BTS-1045

AtlasIII-BTS-1068

AtlasIII-BTS-1084

Sep 192014
 

The Greek Holidays with a Fuji X100s

By Joao Marques

My name is João Marques i`m an amateur photographer living in Lisbon and i would like to tell about my experience, this holidays, in choosing which camera to take.

So this year my vacations were on the beautiful greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos. When i was making my bag i had a hard decision to make, wich gear should I take? My options were carrying my heavyweight equipment: canon5d2+zeiss 21 2.8+sigma 35 1.4+ canon 70-200 2.8 IS II+manfrotto tripod+ lee filter set. Or go with my every day camera, the small, beautiful and excellent Fuji X100s. Since I had to take 7 flights in total, the choice was pretty easy, those were not a “photographic” vacations, my plan was to relax and bathing on the warmer mediterranean waters.

I chose only to take the Fuji.

Let me say now that I made the right choice, this small camera is the ideal tool for an uncompromised work with a good image quality in a very light package, instead of carrying KGs of equipment and being worried all the time of being robbed in the hotels, the 500gr of the Fuji let me use it all the (at the beach, night, etc). Another reason that everyone has already talked about, is the casual look that you have when you photograph with one of this beauties on your hand, it’s completely different when you approach someone with heavyweight cameras and lens, people tend to be intimidated with that kind of equipment.

There were a few times that I missed my other gear, specially in some pictures were I wished more DOF and in some sunsets, but the happiness of being free of the extra kgs, surpass every tiny feeling for the canon.

One and a very important thing, my girlfriend loved the idea of me just having the small camera at my disposal, she knew that I wouldn`t take too much time setting the tripod, filters, lens etc. It was a winning decision in every angle :)

Now for the best part the photos, when I arrived I didn`t know what I want to photograph, but one thing I was sure, I didn’t want to go for the classic postcard photographs that you see from Santorini or Mykonos, and didn`t want also to have the pressure of photographing, so I decided to go with the flow and be alert to whatever events I might encounter. I set the camera to b&w and these were the moments that I was fortune to capture.

Hope you enjoy it.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/giamppiero/sets/

Wish you all the best,
João

DSCF0156

DSCF0178

DSCF8924-2

DSCF9896

 DSCF9476

DSCF9486

DSCF9735

 

Sep 182014
 

Five Weddings, Five Cameras, Five Images

Steve and Brandon, like so many others who visit your website, I want to thank you for providing a rich source of information for all of us who appreciate straight-forward, real-world reviews and insights about photography. You do a great job, and I appreciate all of your hard work to make such a wonderful website work so well.

My photography life was so much easier back in the days when I shot film. I had my Nikon F2 and Nikon FM, later to be replaced by an F4 and an FE. That was it. Three primes, two always on camera, and I was ready to go. No muss and no fuss. But, digital came along, I got older, and GAS crept into my life. I eventually wound up with five digital cameras (after buying and selling others!), and though I’ve wanted to thin the herd, I enjoy all of them and didn’t know which, if any, I could let go of to simplify my photography life a bit more.

Then, it happened. INSPIRATION! My wife and I got invited to five weddings over a seven weekend period this spring. Five weddings, all located here in North Carolina, but scattered throughout the state. I knew that each wedding would have a pro dutifully documenting each event, and many guests would have point-and-shoots, phones with cameras, and a few DSLRs. Everybody is a photographer, right?

What an opportunity for me! I had no obligation to capture the events. I had no responsibility at all other than to be there, be generous with gifts, and have a great time. So, I decided that I’d be selfish and take photos for myself and not be concerned with capturing images for the wedding couples or their families, despite the fact that each family knows of my passion for photography…the guy who takes a camera everywhere he goes. And besides, maybe I’d get a better feel for which of my cameras I should sell.

This was the plan. Having these five cameras and there being five weddings, I decided to use one and only one camera for each wedding. My goal was to create one shot from each wedding that I was really happy with. Of course, I took more than one shot at each wedding, but I didn’t take all that many. Remember, there was the professional and all those other folks with their image makers already doing that. Each of my five images was to be very different in content and rendition. I didn’t care what the subject was. All that mattered was that the shot had to be taken at the wedding. All shots would be taken in raw, and I would use Lightroom however I wanted to create my final versions. I wrote the names of my five cameras on pieces of paper, put them in a hat, and selected one piece of paper at a time for weddings 1 – 5. I was inspired!

For the first wedding, I shot my versatile Olympus EM-1 with 12-40mm lens. It’s ironic that my wedding one image turned out to be of the newly-married couple driving off to their honeymoon. One would think that that shot would be best if it was from the fifth wedding. But, this is not a photo essay. As for this image, I found it interesting that as I shot the sequence of the couple pulling away in the car, the two pros were fumbling with lenses and missed the entire thing. The newlyweds loves this shot. ;-)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

-

For the second wedding, I made a grave mistake! I brought my SONY RX1 with a low battery level. When the SONY went dead, I reached into my pocket for my backup battery only to discover that it was a battery for my Olympus. Don’t make this same mistake kids. Fortunately, I had already taken a few shots that I thought would be good candidates for my project. This one catches the mood and landscape for me, as we all relaxed after the wedding. There is something both formal and informal going on here.

WED2_SONY_RX1_Fran_DeRespinis

-

I brought my Leica M-E and 50mm Zeiss Planar lens for the third wedding. I have a love-hate relationship with the Leica. I love the files…love…love…love…, but my aging eyes really don’t like manual focusing all that much anymore. More about this later. The image? Well, you can’t tell from my photo, but the young bride was wearing her great-grandmother’s wedding dress. Wow! I decided that I wanted a “vintage” feel to the image, but to also include the modernity of the moment, a young woman in her 20s getting married. Thus, the tattoo emphasized along with the vintage rendition.

WED3_Fran_DeRespinis_Leica_ME

-

I would have preferred to stay with smaller cameras for each wedding, but my Nikon Df came up on the fourth pull out of the hat. I didn’t want to be all that conspicuous with a camera, so I stuck with my 50mm kit lens with no hood rather than my 24-120mm lens. Not a small package, but not all that large either. The outdoor location for the wedding was the North Carolina mountains, west of Asheville, and I just couldn’t resist the shot, even though it doesn’t have “wedding” written on it. Hey, it’s my project, right?

WED4_Nikon_Df_Fran_DeRespinis

-

The final wedding. The final camera. The final shot. I took my trusty SONY RX100 M2 for this one. I love this little camera. However, another SNAFU, but not with the camera, exactly. The wedding was to be taken outside near the water, but a storm was threatening and at the last minute, chairs were set up in the reception area inside the country club. It was dark (Where’s my Df when I need it?), cramped, and a lot of light was coming through those windows backlighting the couple. Nevertheless, I got this shot. With a lot of help in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro, I created an image to my liking.

WED5_SONY_RX100_M2_Fran_DeRespinis

Five…Five…and Five. DONE!

I’m not a great photographer, I just know what I like. I was moaning about having too many cameras when a situation presented itself that inspired me to do a photo project. I had a great time with it and learned some new things from each of the wedding experiences, some while shooting, some while working in Lightroom. Now, I look for everyday situations to inspire me further. I love it.

As for the five cameras, all served me well. I did sell the ME…but I ordered a Leica T!

Wedding anyone?

Thanks, Brandon and Steve!

Fran DeRespinis

Sep 182014
 

Discover your subject

By Dirk Dom

Hi!

I wanted to see if I could take some insect shots with my Olympus PEN. I took the Kiron 105 macro with me, an extremely good lens which I almost never use, for insects I prefer the Canon 200mm macro which allows me to take shots from a far greater distance. When we arrived, the sun was out and it was around five, so the sun was nicely yellow. I went to the back of the Put, and started looking. I put as a goal to come up with one interesting shot. There were lots of dragonflies, but those weren’t interesting.

I took this shot, just for fun.

image015

While shooting a spider squatting down I lost my balance and rolled backwards in the nettles, and I got nettled all over my body, straight through my blouse. There was another insect photographer, and I went to say hello. He asked if I had seen a certain heidelibel, but since I’m a dilettante who just shoots and has no clue as to names, I couldn’t help him. He pointed out a bush with three small blue butterflies with their wings closed. The bush was dead and brown and he didn’t think it made for an interesting shot. I got to work at the butterflies.

First, a standard shot.

image016

I got up and wanted to walk away, but then I thought: “Hey! What are you doing! Discover your subject!” and I put some real effort into it.

image017

That was already a little better. See how it looks like a little jewel? With the tiltable viewfinder of the Olympus PEN I can shoot at angles an SLR owner can only dream of, and with the 105mm I could shoot at a very steep upwards angle, so I could include the blue sky:

image018

That was getting better. With this lens I can shoot an image 18mm wide, but that gets extremely difficult because depth of sharpness is very thin. But I gave it a try, and one shot came out sharp.

image019

I decided to do a shot at the steepest possible upwards angle, as an ant would see it:

image020

And finally I took a shot from straight forward, because I’ve never shot a butterfly this way. See how pettable and yet alien it looks?

image021

The truly amazing thing is that these butterflies stayed in one place during all of this shoot. I moved ultra slow all the time.

“Discover your subject”: It worked out!

Dirk.

 

Sep 172014
 

fujix100sbw

The Fuji Monochrom

By James Conley

A major impediment most new photographers face is that color is the default mode of expression. Not only are we inundated by color images in every possible medium, but digital cameras presume color as the chosen palette. The tragic fact of these defaults is that it interferes with the development of seeing subjects and places emphasis on the impossible task of trying to capture a color reality which makes little natural sense in two dimensions. The result is a great deal of frustration when the captured image doesn’t match the experience of color.

Few cameras are available that address this problem. The Leica Monochrom is one of few. The Monochrom only records in black and white, and only displays its menus and previews in black and white. It’s the gold standard for capturing black and white—after film. However, the Monochrom body alone costs about $8k. That’s a lot of money to get rid of color. There are cheaper ways.

proxy

The cheapest way to shoot black and white, of course, is to switch to film. Using a film rangefinder is one of the fastest routes to improving the composition and content of images, and you don’t even need a darkroom if you shoot Ilford’s excellent XP2 C-41 process film.

But I’m unable to buy into a Leica Monochrom. The next best thing is the Fuji X100s. The X100s contains all the elements needed to work strictly in black and white. To wit:

• A rangefinder, with an electronic viewfinder which can be set to display only in black and white.
• A fixed lens with a 35mm field of view.
• Small and light.
• Silent. (More silent than my Leica M6.)
• Monochrome JPEG modes with yellow and red filters.

All the images in this post are JPEGs shot on the X100s.

Learning to see in black and white is the process of evaluating the luminance of an object instead of its color. Simplistically, luminance is how much light is reflected from an object. People are often surprised when converting a color image to black and white because a bright color often has more or less luminance than expected and doesn’t appear as one would expect. Through the practice of reviewing the monochrome images you make, you’ll develop your luminance sense and start to better anticipate how a tone will translate into black and white.

A way to speed up that process is by using a monochrome viewfinder. When set to capture monochrome JPEGs, the Fuji X100s will switch its LCD back and EVF displays to black and white. This makes evaluating the scene much easier, and will helps to quickly adapt and recognize luminance values.

proxy

Photographers are blessed with a nearly infinite variety of camera bodies and lenses, which can be shuffled into various combinations to address very specific needs. Photographers are likewise cursed with all those options. Options are choices, and choices are decisions. Having to make decisions is an active process in the consciousness, and it leads to a lot of distraction from the subject. In discussing the thought process behind a “decisive moment,” Henri Cartier-Bresson said:

It’s a question of concentration. Concentrate, think, watch, look and, ah, like this, you are ready. But you never know the culminative point of something. So you’re shooting. You say, “Yes. Yes. Maybe. Yes.” But you shouldn’t overshoot. It’s like overeating, overdrinking. You have to eat, you have to drink. But over is too much.

Making choices about lenses is just as distracting as making choices about color. One lens is enough, and your body can be the zoom. Having to move within space and time to frame your subject makes for far better pictures than standing in one place and letting a variety of lenses do the work of seeing for you.

proxy

The X100s’s f/2 Fujinon lens would be fantastic on any camera. Fuji has a storied history in making high-end lenses for a variety of camera makers, and Fuji glass is world-class. The X100s can use autofocus, or a very smooth manual focus. It also has an excellent macro mode.

Having a small camera means you’ll have it with you, which is the most important ingredient in making any photograph. The smaller and lighter a camera is, the more likely it will be with you. The X100s is smaller and lighter than my Leica M6.

Other than opera or a royal wedding, the best way to do things in life tend to be subtle. That’s especially true for photographers, who are dependent upon other people living their lives so that an image may be made. Unless you’re shooting in a studio, pay respect to your subject by being unobtrusive. Being silent is part of that respect, and an X100s shutter is quieter than my M6.

proxy

Photography is about capturing a moment and then capturing the next . . . and the next . . . and the next. Spending time tweaking and playing with images is decidedly not photography—modifying an image is working with software. The goal of any tool should be to do work so you don’t have to. As my dad always advises about using a saw, “Don’t push so hard. Let the saw do the cutting.” If your camera is making you spend more time post-processing than you do taking pictures, it’s either not a good tool, or you’re pushing too hard. Since we can’t get Adobe to make decent software, however, we can use the tool better by putting the work back into the camera and let it produce quality JPEGs that we merely need to review. This not only speeds up the process of selecting good images, but it also lets you learn the capabilities of the camera just the way you would learn about the qualities of a particular film. This is vital knowledge that helps you see better when you’re out taking pictures, meaning you get better results, which sets up a lovely, positive feedback loop.

proxy

proxy

With Fuji already announcing new X-Series cameras, ifyou don’t already have an X100s, you should be able to pick one up for a good price.

Once you get it, go to Shooting Menu 1 and select Film Simulation B with a yellow filter. (Red is another option, and will result in more contrast. Start with yellow.) Scroll down to Shooting Menu 2, and change Highlight Tone to +1, and Shadow Tone to +1. This will give you a decent starting place for your JPEG’s. They should require minimal development work after you import them into a computer. (**You can set the camera to shoot both RAW and JPEG files. This is a good crutch to get you comfortable with the idea of shooting only in monochrome. However, you’ll quickly discover that the Fuji’s JPEGS are very high quality and the RAW files are just a crutch.)

proxy

Use the EVF. It will display in black and white and get you started on seeing the world that way. (Later, you’ll be able to take advantage of the X100s’s rangefinder.)

As you’re taking pictures, keep your thumb on the Exposure Compensation dial and ride it like you stole it. You’re shooting JPEGs, so work at getting the final product the way you want while you’re shooting.

With a few camera setting tweaks, you’re off to a better world in black and white! You’ll now:

• See luminance instead of color
• See shapes, forms, and shadows
• Cut down on development
• Spend more time working on your ideas and making stories

proxy

proxy

The purpose of taking a photograph is to capture an image which conveys your impression of an event and tells the story. The purpose is decidedly not about tweaking, playing, collaging, and otherwise twisting the image into something unnatural. So, if you want to become a better photographer, you have to practice seeing what matters. Seeing what matters happens easiest with a rangefinder shooting monochrome images. Long live the X100s. (At least until those Leica Monochrom prices come down!)

website: fjamesconley.com
twitter: @Philatawgrapher

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
21