Apr 282016
 

My Pentax 6×7 Experience

By Fahad A.

Pentax_6x7_(8169376210)

Hi Brandon,

I would like to share my limited experience with film. Sometime in 2010 I decided to try medium format, after a quick research I bought myself a Pentax 6×7 along with the 105mm lens. that one the heaviest camera I have ever held!

After purchasing the Pentax and exposing the films I bought (Ektar & Pro H 400), I needed to develop the film and scan it. i could easily find places that would develop the film, but couldn’t find someone to scan it. so I had to buy a scanner, ended up buying the canoscan 8080.

I like the outcome, however if you asked me today about developing and scanning, I would have preferred sending the film to a pro lab to do it. It’s obvious my negatives were dirty and my scanning skills are not the best.

Pentax 6×7, 105mm 2.4 lens

midnight_4904108561_o

night-lights-dusty-ektar_9371059852_o

Pentax67 Ektar 100 2

Pentax67 fuji pro 400 01 s

Pentax67 fuji pro 400 05

 

 

 

Mar 212016
 

Shooting portraits with a Phase One IQ250

By Andrew Paquette

About three years ago I started getting serious about photography. At the time I didn’t know what I wanted to shoot, just that I wanted the shots I took to be better than they had been. My first attempts to improve my photos involved getting better equipment. I upgraded my Nikon D70 to a Nikon D5100, then to a D800, and then an A7r (though it isn’t technically an ‘upgrade’). At the same time, I improved the quality of my lenses, eventually acquiring a collection of Zeiss, Leica, and Nikon glass.

The equipment made a difference in a few ways. Technically, I had more pixels, better colour fidelity, and more control over how the pictures were taken. However, for quite a while I wasn’t sure what I wanted to shoot. I started with landscapes, macro nature shots, street shots, and sports. Of these subjects, I actually got a few paying gigs to shoot outdoor basketball (a regular gig, as it happens). Sports were fun to shoot, but I was still looking for better quality images. This led me to start renting studios so that I could work with studio lights. The difference in quality was a real revelation. At that point, though it was expensive, I started plotting ways to get studio time and access to medium format gear. Last year I picked up a Phase One IQ250, some ProFoto B1 units, and then proceeded to shoot everything in sight with the gear.

iq250

Although not made for sports, the colour produced by the IQ250 sensor was beautiful in the couple of basketball shoots I took it out on. It also excelled with the landscapes I tried it with. However, it really shines with portraits. I hadn’t shared those here to date because portrait shoots usually yield only one or two shots and it didn’t seem interesting enough to talk about such a small number of images. Now though, I have more—still not a lot—but enough to talk about. I am still working on making a portfolio, so these are not clients, but friends or acquaintances who have been kind enough to pose for me. All of the shots use between one and two ProFoto B1 units. Some also have a reflector or an in-shot light source. All but one of the portraits is taken with a Phase One IQ 250 back on a Phase One 645 DF+ camera. Lenses are either the SK 28mm LS or the SK 80mm LS. The sole exception to the Phase One group was taken yesterday with a backup camera (a Nikon D800 with a 15mm Zeiss Distagon) after I had a shutter failure with the 645 DF+. I was happy with the shot, but wished I’d had the Phase One because some of the shots from the shoot had to be discarded due to banding, something that would not have happened with the Phase One.

A comment on the lighting: I use the Nikon version of the ProFoto air remote but hardly ever use it on my Nikon. This is because I do almost all of my shoots with the Phase One now. When I have used it, I am usually annoyed with the TTL mode for ‘perfect exposure’. In practice, this usually means really bad lighting because it automatically adjusts the lights to get a nice histogram, but ignores every other factor in the shot. I much prefer shooting in manual mode with the lights so that I can make fine adjustments—even if the exposure isn’t ‘perfect’.

Below are some selected portraits:

Figure 1 Martijn, Nikon D800, Zeiss 15mm f/10, 1/250, ISO 100

Martijn

Figure 2 Bing (1), IQ250, SK 28mm, f/4.5, 1/160, ISO 800

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Figure 3 Bing (2), IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/80, ISO 100

Bing-2

Figure 4 Neville the mad, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO 200

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Figure 5 Neville the gentleman, IQ250, SK 80mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 400

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Figure 6 Neville the gangster (1), IQ250, SK 28mm, f/4.5, 1/160, ISO 400

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Figure 7 Neville the gangster (2), IQ250, SK 80mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO 400

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Figure 8 Martin, Sandy, and Les Paul, IQ250, SK 80mm, f/4, 1/80, ISO 200

Martin-Sandy-LesPaul

Figure 9 Martin with cycling goggles, IQ250, SK 80mm, f/6.3, 1/40, ISO 200

Martin with cycling goggles

Figure 10 Sally and Daisy, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/4.5, 1/160, ISO 200

Sally and Daisy

Figure 11 Parkour crew, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/8, 1/1600, ISO 200

Parkour crew

Figure 12 Alex, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/1600, ISO 200

Alex

Figure 13 Bulent, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/1600, ISO 200

Bulent

Jan 062016
 

Two dim gyms with a Phase One DF+ and IQ250

By Andrew Paquette – www.paqphoto.com

Phase-One-645DF+_IQ250_55mm_back

This December I visited two gyms with my camera gear: R-Grip in Amsterdam and Codarts in Rotterdam. In Amsterdam, I shot a group of mixed martial artists and in Rotterdam, a circus artist named Leah Wolff. For both shoots, I brought a Phase One DF+, an IQ250 digital back, a 13” MacBook Pro, an Induro carbon fiber tripod, and two ProFoto 500 w/s B1 flash units. The problem in both cases is that the gyms were quite dark. To make it worse, the shoot days were overcast and dark, leaving very little natural light to work with.

The shoot in Rotterdam was a little easier because there was only one subject and the gym itself had a lot of interesting detail. The only real issue was that I had to crop the images carefully to avoid including distracting background detail. That said, focusing was more difficult than expected because Leah’s hoop kept spinning, making autofocus useless at the f-stop I was using. To get it right, I relied on my tethered MacBook Pro to check focus, AF to get a rough fix, and an assistant to hold the hoop while I used manual focus to fine tune it. One thing I like about shooting tethered is how easy it is to check exposure and focus. When I first started shooting that way, I was worried that the two meter cable wouldn’t be long enough, but it works for most situations. When it doesn’t, it is easy enough to move the laptop.

The ProFoto flash units are great to work with, though I am beginning to wish I had more light shapers to use with them. What I really wanted for the Rotterdam shoot was a large reflector to get a large area of soft light on the model. Instead, I had two 30cm octaboxes and one grid. These were fine for the moody shots I took, but I am thinking of renting the big reflectors and doing the shoot again to see what the difference is. For one shot, neither flash fired, but after digitally boosting the exposure, it made an interesting black and white, though it was grainy (figure 3). About halfway through, one of the batteries on a B1 unit died, again yielding an interesting though imperfect shot. After replacing the battery, I reduced the intensity of the light and modified its position to remove the rim light from the model and light the wall behind her (figure 4).

Figure 1 Leah at Codarts, Rotterdam SK 80mm, f/5.6 1/200s ISO 200

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Figure 2 Leah on parallel bars, Rotterdam SK 80mm, f/5.6 1/320s ISO 200

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Figure 3 Leah at Codarts, Rotterdam SK 28mm, f/6.3 1/250s ISO 400

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Figure 4 Leah in pink, Rotterdam SK 28mm, f/5.6 1/320s ISO 200

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Figure 5 Leah dangling, Rotterdam SK 28mm, f/6.3 1/250s ISO 400

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Figure 6 Leah at Codarts, Rotterdam SK 28mm, f/6.3 1/250s ISO 400

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Figure 7 Leah’s hoop portrait, Rotterdam SK 28mm, f/5.6 1/320s ISO 200

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At R-Grip in Amsterdam, I wanted to get close action shots. The models, Roemer, Samir, Leroy, and Roeslan were all game for the shoot, but the light outside remained dim for the entire day. I wanted a little natural light to augment the flash units so the athletes were all positioned about fifteen feet from the only window in the room. Despite that, even with a 4-4.5 f-stop and a 400 ISO, all of the shots needed exposure adjustments in Capture One Pro after the shoot. One group of images were lit using the dim modelling light on the B1 units. This was because it was the end of the shoot and I only had five minutes to reposition the lights. To my surprise, the modelling lights looked pretty good, and since they were for static portrait shots, the models were able to hold still long enough to get sharp images (figure 12).

Figure 8 Mixed martial arts at R-Grip, Amsterdam SK 28mm, f/4.5 1/200s ISO 400

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Figure 9 Roeslan at R-Grip, Amsterdam SK 80mm, f/4.5 1/200s ISO 400

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Figure 10 Roeslan and Leroy, Amsterdam SK 80mm, f/4.5 1/200s ISO 400

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Figure 11 Roeslan flips Leroy, Amsterdam SK 80mm, f/4.5 1/200s ISO 400

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Figure 12 Roemer at R-Grip, Amsterdam SK 80mm, f/2.8 1/4s ISO 100

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Figure 13 Roemer and Samir, Amsterdam SK 28mm, f/4.5 1/200s ISO 400

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Figure 14 Roemer and Leroy’s hand, Amsterdam SK 80mm, f/4 1/2050s ISO 200

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Figure 15 Roemer takes down Samir, Amsterdam SK 80mm, f/4.5 1/200s ISO 400

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Jan 042016
 
PROS

PROS

My experience with the Mamiya RZ67

By Prosophos  – See his website at www.Prosophos.com

Happy New Year to my fellow photography enthusiasts! To start off 2016, I thought it would be nice to put together a brief post and contribute back to the inspiring community that my good friend Steve Huff has worked hard to build and sustain. In the past, I’ve written about using the Leica M9 to photograph children’s sports  and family vacations . Similarly, I’ve written about the Leica M3 in the same context.

This time around, I thought I would switch gear(s), so to speak, and discuss something completely different… the Mamiya RZ67.

The Mamiya RZ67

Yes indeed, a discontinued medium format film camera.

Did I mention it’s 2016?

(Let’s proceed anyway.)

Now, you may notice something different about this camera vs. the previous gear I’ve used: it’s, um, ever-so-slightly… bigger.

Well, it’s not just bigger – it’s a whole lot bigger.

In fact, when I first decided a few years ago to purchase a used RZ67, I thought for sure I had made a big mistake. Besides being a lot larger and heavier than anything I’d previously used, it was decidedly slower. For a photographer who enjoys photographing Life’s Little Moments, I was embarking on a journey that would likely limit me to photographing Life’s Lagging Moments.

So why did I ever consider the RZ67?

The answer lies partly in the fact that I really enjoy creating images with film (something about the way the light is captured on this venerable medium that is simply wonderful), and medium format has always been a kind-of a “Holy Grail” format for me.

You see, I grew up in the pre-digital camera era where “real photographers” used medium format. Silly notion, I know, since many of the best images I’ve seen have been created on 35mm film (and 35mm digital) and these days impressive images are created using iPhones. Still, it was a mental block for me that I needed to push through. I had to scratch that itch, climb my personal Mt. Everest, (insert your favourite cliché here) and dive into medium format.

The rest of the answer has to do with my view that photographing family and friends is an important and worthwhile pursuit (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/04/02/photographing-your-family-with-the-best-photo-equipment-you-can-afford-by-peter-prosophos/ ). My research on the Mamiya RZ67 had brought me to the realization that images from this camera had a special quality to them that I suspected – beyond the inputs provided by the camera, lenses, and of course photographer – was attributable to the larger “sensor” size. I wanted to harness the qualities of this larger sensor to create images of my loved ones.

How large a “sensor” does a medium format film camera (like the RZ67) have vs. digital “full frame” cameras (or even medium format digital cameras)?

Here’s a graphic I put together to give you an idea:

2. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 (sensor size)

Now, not too long ago, 36MP digital sensors were introduced into 35mm (full frame) cameras. Not too long after that, many photographers concluded that these pixel-rich 35mm cameras out-resolved medium-format film cameras and rivaled even medium format digital cameras. That may or may not be true, but the resolution in an image vs. the overall “look” of the image are very different concepts, and the “look” you get out of a larger sensor is perceptively different: the tonal transitions are subtler, the separation of subject matter from the background is more natural, and the overall rendering is somehow “more grand”, especially in the context of portraiture.

…and this brings me back to what I wanted to accomplish with the Mamiya RZ67: to create images of my family and friends that were imbued with a quality I couldn’t replicate with either 35mm digital or 35mm film.

Did I succeed?

I’ll let you judge. We all see things differently, figuratively and literally, so I don’t expect everyone to agree.

Finally, since I prominently feature the name of my camera – the Mamiya RZ67 – in the title of this post, I suppose I should provide some information about it. However, getting into technical details would be beyond the intended scope of this post, so I won’t discuss any of that here.

What I will say is this: contrary to my initial apprehension, I’ve found this camera a joy to use. The RZ67 was obviously designed for photographers and it’s clearly engineered to mitigate the sometimes foolish things we do to mess up shots and ruin rolls of film. With this camera it’s difficult to get into any sort of trouble because it is virtually fool-proof.

I wish all modern cameras were as thoughtfully designed.

It’s a large camera for sure, but it’s modular, allowing you to switch film backs and lenses and viewfinders and film orientation, and so on… on the fly. But, it never gets in the way of the photographer and in the end he/she is left unencumbered to click the shutter and get the shot.

I’ve unfairly limited most of the discussion above to the Mamiya’s sensor size, but I would be remiss if I didn’t comment a little about the Mamiya 110/2.8 lens I use. Simply put, it is my favourite lens for portraiture. Combined with the built-in bellows function of the RZ67 – which allows you to get really close to your subject – it’s a portrait photographer’s dream.

Currently, you can pick up the gear I use for the price of a digital compact, so if you’re even remotely interested, I would certainly recommend that you “go for it”.

And now, some images.

7. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - H

8. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - C2

4. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - C

13. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - Honey

14. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67- E

10. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - D

11. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - G2

9. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - H2

3. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - H&N

12. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - O

6. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - B

5. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - G

15. Prosophos Mamiya RZ67 - R

All of these were shot within 200 feet of my house (inside joke) with the Mamiya RZ67 and the aforementioned 110mm f/2.8 lens using either Kodak Tri-X 400 or Portra 400 film. I develop the Tri-X myself, hence most of my photographs are in B&W.

(Disclaimer: If you are not impressed with any of my images, don’t blame the camera. Many other photographers have created hauntingly beautiful photographs with it and so I encourage you to research others’ images.)

Once again, I wish you all a wonderful 2016,

–Peter.
www.Prosophos.com

Nov 132015
 
image008

Spain, Costa Blanca with the Mamiya 7

By Dirk Dom

Mamiya_215_020_7_II_Camera_Body_169291

Hi!

Spent a week in Moraira, Costa Blanca, Spain with my folks and my sister and her husband.

I took the Linhof technical camera and the Mamiya 7 with the 65mm and 150mm lens. These lenses were newly bought and I hadn’t used them yet.

The 150mm has a bad rap, because it is supposed to be difficult to focus with the rangefinder. So far, I only had the 43mm superwide for that camera, which I always zone focused. This was in fact the first time I was really obliged to use the rangefinder.

It turned out that all my exposures were focused spot on. I think the bad reputation of the 150 is because many people buy this lens for street photography (it’s equivalent to a 77mm on full frame (35mm film) and focusing with the rangefinder on moving subjects may be difficult. You need something with good contrast.

Because I was enjoying this vacation with other people, I didn’t use the Linhof. I shot the 150mm all the time, except for one shot with the 65. All in all I shot eight films, 80 images.

Well, enough said.

For the tech people:

Mamiya 7, 6×7 format.
150mm f/4.5
65mm f/4.5
Kodak Tmax 400 exposed for 800, developed in Tmax developer at 24°C for six minutes
Orange filter
Scanned with Epson V750 at 2,400PPI, photoshopped (levels, burning and dodging)
Prints on Hahnemühle Baryta.

Here we go:

Here I had this diaphragm spot. I decided to make it more obvious and use it in the composition. I think it came out nice, but of course it’s not something I do every day.

image002

Underwater rocks are always beautiful. Black and white isn’t an obvious choice for this, because the brown rock and the beautiful blue water. I think this simple image came out nice.

image004

On the way to Denia this landscape with three clouds.

image006

This is the Ifach, the epic rock at Calpe which was a navigation landmark for the Phoenicians.

image005

When I saw this image, I only had a second. I grabbed the camera and fired. This shot for some reason was extremely difficult to post process, because the coastline in the back was a perfectly even grey. It took four tries to make it into something sensible, and even now I’m not fully satisfied. But I can’t make it any better.

image008

This tower I’ve been shooting for years. The sky happened to be beautiful this time.

image010

I just love cloudscapes. A few weeks ago, I thought: “Why don’t I take photographs of just clouds, without landscape underneath?

These are my first images.

image012

image014

Only shot taken with the 65mm on this trip.

image016

These cloud shots are a riot. I use the shot as a template and then I burn and dodge to taste. It may sound a little weird, but I take a great deal of time doing minute detail, going back and forth from a big image to a small one. I only stop when it looks perfect and balanced to me. I guess this is the ultimate “Negative is the Score, Print is the Performance” (the famous Ansel Adams quote) experience.

image018

Well, ten shots out of eighty. Not bad.

The Mamiya 7 is an ultimate fun camera. It handles extremely easy, and the negatives… Well, let’s just say half a year ago I really, really wanted a Sony A7S, well that want has just gone away, I’m on a different road. I’ve never had such a positive photographic experience as with medium format black and white. I must say the rangefinder experience is extremely positive.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the show, thanks for looking.

Oh, yes, got a website now: www.kridmod.zenfolio.com

Bye,

Dirk.

Nov 122015
 
Glen Coe Valley

Scotland in Medium Format with a Phase One DF+

By Andrew Paquette

www.paqphoto.com

For my autumn holiday this year I had wanted to do a fashion shoot at a nearby ruined castle. However, I wasn’t able to find the right models or styling for it, so I opted to go to Scotland instead. This is something I’d wanted to do since seeing Skyfall when it came out, and my interest was only enhanced when I saw Albert Watson’s photographs at the Isle of Skye. I mentioned this to a photographer I knew in Edinburgh, Laurence Winram, who helped me find a good assistant (a great assistant—Stuart McMillan) and loaned me a lightstand and incidental gear for the trip.

I shot all of my serious shots with a Phase One DF+, an IQ250 back, and an SK 80mm LS lens. In addition, I brought a Sony A7R, Leica 35mm Summilux, and a Zeiss Alpha 135mm lens. The Sony was there to take video of the excursion, though it did get used for some incidental shots. Everything was shot tethered. This made things a bit more complicated in the rain, but some of these shots wouldn’t have been possible any other way so I’m glad we went to the extra trouble of bringing a laptop, tray, and stand for the computer. All photos were processed in Phase One’s Capture One Pro v. 8.2.

It rained off and on throughout the trip, at times quite heavily, but for hours on the second day it was clear. A surprise to me was how important my new waterproof hiking boots would be. I didn’t know anything about Scottish bogs until I got there, but after walking through a few, am grateful to my wife for insisting I get a new pair of boots. It was like walking on wet sponges—and this was true almost everywhere we went.

Because the monumental rock formations of the Isle of Skye have been extensively covered by other photographers, I tried to avoid them (though I was curious to see them). Instead, we focused on the inner portion of Skye Isle, and the less obvious places around Glen Coe valley. As Stuart said at one point, almost at our last stop ‘Look! That’s the first tripod we’ve seen so far—we’ve done well’. He explained that if we’d gone to some of the more famous landmarks, we would have seen dozens of photographers with tripods.

On my first shot I managed to snag my trousers on a thorn bush, which tore out a huge section of the backside. I didn’t notice, but apparently it was pretty obvious to Stuart:

‘Looks like you’ve torn your trousers there’
‘Is it bad?’ I asked.
‘Yep, it’s pretty bad.’

I took a look and was surprised at the extent of the damage. Luckily I was able to obtain a sewing kit at the hotel to sew them up. It looked like I’d been the victim of a shark attack, but under my rain gear, it was invisible. Apart from that mishap, everything went pretty well.

My primary goal was to make photos that resembled some of my watercolour paintings that have a strong Chinese influence, as seen in this example I made at Yosemite:

Figure 1 Lee Vining, watercolour on paper, 37″ x 54″ 2002

LeeVining

Here are some of the shots, along with comments:

Figure 2 Waterfall near the town of Calender ISO 800 f/2.8 1/1000

This was the first major shot I took, on the way up to Glen Coe. It is also the shot I ripped my trousers to get. The goal was to get something that would resemble Chinese paintings from the Song dynasty of big dark boulders in rivers or fast moving water. To get that effect, I wanted the water sharp, so we spent most of our time balancing ISO, f-stop, and exposure to get what I wanted.

Waterfall near the town of Calender


Figure 3 Mini bogs ISO 100, f/10, 1/200

On the way to Glen Coe, we passed a big lake that had a number of small islands topped by small trees. I wanted to shoot them, but didn’t have the time at that moment, so we came back and got this on the way back to the airport at the end of the trip. I wish I’d had a longer lens for this, but I didn’t have one, so this is a crop, making it one of the smaller images from this excursion. Because the IQ250 produces such large images though, it is still larger than most full frame DSLR images.

Mini bogs

Figure 4 Cuilnacnoc Gate ISO 100, f/16, 1/80th

Stuart and I spent at least an hour at the top of this hillside, engaged in an effort to capture the vastness of it. However, none of the pictures were able to do the job, so we hiked down. Not wanting to get trapped at the wrong spot, I took note of this location and then we continued to the bottom before deciding to come back up and get this shot. It is about four images stitched together in Photoshop, one of the largest of the stitched images I made on the trip.

Cuilnacnoc gate

Figure 5 Glas Bheinn Mhor ISO 100, f/20, 1/25th

We stood on a huge spongy mass to get this. The primary difficulty was waiting for the light to peek through the clouds and hit this mountain. We waited about a half hour or more after this was taken, hoping it would get better but it didn’t so I finished with this. It is one of the few images that is inspired by a British rather than a Chinese painting. In this case, I recognized the mountain as one painted by the British watercolourist Francis Towne (one of my favourite artists), so I was quite keen to get it.

Glas Bheinn Mhor2738

Figure 6 Glen Coe Valley ISO 100, f/14, 1/8th

This is one of the first shots taken at Glen Coe. It was a tough hike (for me) to get up the slippery moss and rocks while carrying about 15 kg of camera gear, but we made it up and were rewarded with beautiful views in every direction. It rained quite hard at times, but all of the equipment performed without malfunction. That said, by the end of the day, everything in my bag was covered with condensation moisture and needed drying off.

Glen Coe Valley

Figure 7 Glen Coe Bog ISO 100, f/12, 1/20th

When I first saw this it looked like a field of lumpy grass like what I frequently saw around Phoenix. When I suggested going out for a photo, Stuart warned me that “it will be wet”. It turned out this was a bog and it was very wet, just as he said. All of the plants you see here are growing straight out of water, and beneath that, soil. The mystery question is “how deep is the soil?” In most cases the water was only an inch deep, but in others your whole foot could get swallowed by one of the red spongy growing things they had all over out there.

Glen Coe Bog

Figure 8 Glen Coe 2 ISO 100, f/8, 2.5s

This image is one of the few that really looks like a Song dynasty painting to me. It is shot straight across the Glen Coe to catch the lowering clouds.

Glen Coe 2

Figure 9 Loch Long Cliffs ISO 100 f/11, 8s

Another of the ‘Chinese’ images. We were headed to Loch Anna, but couldn’t find access, so we stopped at Loch Long instead to shoot this at the end of the day, at sunset or a little after. It was a real surprise to me how Chinese the landscape looked because I hadn’t expected it at all.

Loch Long cliffs

Figure 10 Maligar homes ISO 100, f/20, 2.5s

This was shot in the early morning of the first full day of shooting. It was quite windy, which led to quite a lot of motion blur in the grasses—and in almost all of the photos I took on the 3 days of shooting that we had. This scene reminded me of Edward Hopper’s watercolours of New England homes in the U.S. The way it is shot here though, it looks more like watercolours by Winslow Homer from his time in England and then later near Boston.

Maligar Homes

Figure 11 Maligar Phone Booth ISO 400, f/4, 1/6th

I had just finished telling Stuart about a shot I didn’t get in Thailand—of a phone booth in the middle of nowhere—when we ran into this phone booth in the middle of nowhere. Stuart was kind enough to be the model for this, using the reflected light of his pocket torch to illuminate his face.

Maligar Phone Booth

Figure 12 Portree Harbor, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/3s

This is easily the most difficult shot I got on the trip. We were driving back to Maligar for a second look at the houses, when I thought it might do just as well to stop in the town of Portree and shoot a church I’d seen there when we stopped for lunch earlier in the day. After getting out of the car with the equipment, we discovered that we didn’t have a good angle on the church. However, the harbour looked interesting, so we walked down there. As soon as I saw these boats, they reminded me of the watercolours of Paul Klee in the way they were arranged with very little overlap and simple colours. The boats were moving quite a lot as they bobbed on the water and there was very little light—less than it seems here because when we started the moon was not visible. We started by shooting at ISO 6400 to get the focus. The viewfinder was useless for this because it was almost pitch black, but the tethered computer allowed us to check focus there. Once we had the focus, we walked back the ISO until the graininess wasn’t an issue. After that, we did the same thing with aperture and f-stop. Then, the moon came out and we had the picture, complete with rays of light.

Portree Harbor

Figure 13 Sligachan Waterfall ISO 100, f/8, 1/3s

This is another of the Chinese compositions, near some of the most famous landmark rock formations on the Isle of Skye. Naturally, we didn’t see those or photograph them. To get this, we mounted the camera looking down a steep rocky defile. The terrain was quite spongy—giving me the feeling that I’d slide over any moment, but we got the shot okay and then headed back toward Portree.

Sligachan Waterfall2

Figure 14 Upper Ollach ISO 100, f/18, 1/6s

The original vertical composition for this image had a very Chinese feel to it, but I thought it looked better as a horizontal composition and cropped it. Now, it reminds me a bit of a van Gogh painting of windswept rocks that I saw in a catalogue for a show of his work in New York City.

Upper Ollach

Oct 272015
 

The terror of the Studio | Shooting Alice

By Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve and Brandon what a wonderful summer of review and inspiration by your site and community!

Here I am again but with something different from my usual Street Photography.

Three weeks ago, for the first time , I received an assignment to shoot one young model approaching the fashion system, the term seems to be “new faces”. I was honoured to be chosen for such work but at the same time my experience in shooting in studio was really limited. But when chance appear to let it go is not so clever. I had something like two weeks to prepare my self for the shooting and that time was used to look at the Studio, understand the light, read books and chat with the Make Up Artist to give a direction to my shooting.

I have to admit that nothing can help a photographer more than a good book and the web : those can unlock the imagination of anyone around the world and helped me so much to understand how to do what I want to do. The terror I had at the beginning day by day start to disappear as much I got confidence studying lighting books, watching video on youtube and following some lessons on platform as Lynda.com or Kelbyone.com.

But there was another problem the last problem, the BIG problem: THE CAMERA. I never used a medium format camera, never used a digital back. I took the chance to go one week before to try the camera hired by the studio and hold an Hasselblad H2 with Phase One P40+ digital back is really incredible and when I saw the first testing shoot in the studio I freak out. Yes today, 40Mp are going to be the “standard” on 35mm camera as Sony did recently but on a medium format camera is still something so beautiful to to see. The H2 is a great camera, so easy to use and with so many feature, When you hold it on the hand you understand it was created for the studio. Yes it is big but not difficult to handle, with the gear where you expected to find it. It was a surprise for me but at the end the last problem was fixed.

For the lighting I choose a simple set up with one light over the model and one for the background and some light modifier to reach the style I was looking for. All the rest were done by the Model, the MUA and the lens.

Here some shot I took in studio, wishing is liked by you all reader!

attractive_face_Alice

attractive_face_AliceAlice full face

studio15434008

Some more here:
http://blog.massimilianotiberi.com/alice-sabatini-by-massimiliano-tiberi/

Aug 282015
 

titlefilmyear

A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad

By Adam Laws

I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.

Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.

The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.

Sony images 1, 2 and 3 – 

Sony 1

Sony 2

Sony 3

However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.

So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.

Leica

I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.

My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.

I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.

Leica images 1, 2, and 3

Lecia 1

Lecia 2

Leica 3

Hasselblad

This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.

The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.

Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3

Hasselblad 1

Hasselblad 2

Hasselblad 3

Nikon FM2n

This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.

Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.

Nikon 1, 2, and 3

Nikon 1

Nikon 2

Nikon 3

Contax G2

The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.

The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.

Contax 1, 2, and 3

Contax 1

Contax 2

Contax 3

Conclusion

Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.

Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.

For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.

I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.

You can view more of my work on my website: www.adamlaws.com

However I regular update my Instagram with my newest work: https://instagram.com/adamlawsphotography/

Aug 212015
 

A Farewell to the Month of May, Bluebells and my Rolleiflex

By Ibraar Hussain

Hi Steve and Brandon,

Thought I’d share a few pictures with you which I took in May – a month I always love and look forward to as it’s when the weather is fantastic,  The tree’s have young leaves and everything is so bright and airy, and it’s a time when in some woods at home the English bluebells are in bloom.

I love this time of year and try to capture the Bluebells in all their glory as they carpet the clearings and patches of woodland bringing magic with them. They’re only fleeting though and after a couple of weeks they’re gone, not appearing again until the following Spring. I visited a few woods around Epping Forest, but the most amazing carpet was to be found in Wanstead park in East London which is a part of the Epping Forest. The Best time to capture these is at dawn or sunset when the sun is low and warm and illuminates these magnificent flowers and fills them with light, magic and drama.

I took my Rolleiflex 3.5F and a Rolleinar I and II close up lenses with a roll of Fuji NPH 400 Negative Film which has a wide Latitude/Dynamic range.
The Rolleinars are tricky as my eye sight isn’t the best at close up (need to get my eyes tested) and using a Waist level Finder while kneeling in bracken, brambles and stuff isn’t fun – But they’re great for portraits and head shots and give massive amounts of shallow depth in the photos when shot wide open.

I have just bought a Fuji TX-2 aka Hasselblad X-Pan II – a format I’ve been wanting to try for years, so my lovely Rolleiflex 3.5F complete with everything is having to be up for Sale to fund the purchase, and I think this was a fitting adieu to this legendary camera which I have used extensively the last few years and which has been with me to the Mountains of the Hindu kush, Karakoram and Himalaya.

One day I shall buy myself another, and for the time being my favourite Square Format photography will be performed with my Rolleiflex SLX II which I still have.

17063236933_24db05fb93_o 17065061173_1688eac104_o 17500813189_08d0140edf_o 17660764566_7025ea9b51_o 17685766021_1253f679ed_o

Aug 112015
 
Jungle Bike 001

andrew

Tethered in Thailand: Phase One portfolio shoot

By Andrew Paquette – www.paqart.com

In 2006, I picked up a Nikon D70 to take photographs of my paintings. At about that time I became curious about the creative potential of photography. In 2013 I picked up a Nikon D800 and some Zeiss lenses with the goal of using the gear purely as photography equipment, with no secondary artistic purpose in mind. The photos would be the product, period.

It was interesting to make compositions in camera instead of on paper or canvas because there are many differences in how it is done. For one thing, every element of a photo had to be present and doing the right thing in the right way when the shutter release was pressed. When making comic books, illustrations, visual effects shots, paintings, or drawings, any element of the image could be tweaked any way I liked, regardless what was in front of me. This was not an insignificant difference. Also, much of the appeal in the type of visual art I practiced came from my drawing and colour matching skill, both of which are irrelevant to a camera because a camera will always ‘draw’ an image perfectly and capture whatever colours are present. This opened the door to paying attentions to different creative issues, like content, story, lighting, texture, and so on.

By the present year (2015) I had practiced enough that I wanted to make a sports and fashion photography portfolio. Sports because I like to capture dynamic action and fashion because it reminds me of painting. The sports photos I had covered because I had plenty of shots from the Dutch Streetball Masters basketball tournament. The fashion portfolio however, promised to be more of a challenge.

The planning of this project was more extensive than I expected, but it had to be done and in the end it helped a great deal. The first step was to have an idea of what I wanted to shoot. To do this, I decided on three themes. The first set of photos would emphasise a model in several settings at a luxury hotel. For the second, I wanted a model to be a quiet magnet of attention surrounded by a busy and chaotic city. The last group would follow a model as if she were a college student on holiday in a rural part of Thailand. These themes allowed for different clothing styles, locales, and personalities among the models.

The next step was to figure out how I was going to find the people I needed to do this. After some searching on the Internet, I found the Fame Management Agency of Bangkok. They would supply models, stylist, MUA and hair stylist, catering, transportation, and coordination. With this done, I needed to pick the models, locations, and then make colour comps to give the stylist an idea of what I wanted to accomplish. In addition to these, I also found images of clothing, hair, makeup, and lighting to use as a style guide for each of the shots.

Figure 1 color comps

2-in-1

It took me about three weeks of evenings and weekends to make the sketches for the three shoots I had in mind, all based on location scouting done on Google Earth and street view mode. In the end I settled on three scenes for each shoot for a total of nine different shots. If I got a minimum of one good shot from each, the project would have been successful in my eyes. I hoped for more, but that was my minimum measure of success.

As the schedule developed for the shoot, I saw that I had enough time to squeeze in more shots. First, the stylist had found more outfits than I needed for one of the shoots, and then for the same shoot I had found more locations than I could deal with in one day. To accommodate this, I extended shooting by one day in that location. Then, I found a good Yoga asana performer and added one day to shoot her performing yoga asanas. Finally, PN Studio, the studio providing lights to the shoot, agreed to find a Thai boxing ring I could use for a boxing shoot. With that done, I now had six shooting days out of fourteen. The balance of that time would go to troubleshooting as needed on location.

My first day in Bangkok was tough. After about 36 hours without sleep by the time the plane landed, I had to quickly drop my bags at the hotel and then rush over to the Fame agency to meet with the producer and stylist there, Jha and ‘BM’, respectively. After that I had to go to the lighting rental place and meet with them. The entire trip was like this because, as it turns out, six days of shooting out of fourteen is actually quite a lot. For instance, once I was on the ground, I had to personally check every location to verify they would work. This meant re-scouting all of them and this meant a couple of days spent driving around checking out these places.

The locations proved to be the biggest problem for various reasons. On the first day, a location I had selected was suddenly unavailable so we had only a few hours to find a replacement. Luckily, a woman named Sirirat Traisupa from the Shangri-La Hotel was able to accommodate us by providing a couple of locations within the hotel. Another location that we got permission to use actually kicked us out halfway through because some other person didn’t want us shooting there. It was a public park, but he didn’t like the idea of a fashion model wearing fashion-y clothes in his park. That almost killed the entire day after only three hours of shooting, but our lighting assistant, ‘King’, found a wonderful alternate right around the corner. It looked nothing like what I’d planned, but we improvised and got some of my favourite shots of the trip there. The rural shoot didn’t present any permission problems, but the giant-sized biting ants didn’t endear themselves to the models, and the lighting assistants probably would have preferred carrying their equipment shorter distances in an air-conditioned environment. Another shot from this area that didn’t go as planned was one of a half-height orange telephone booth in the middle of the jungle. In street view, this looked like a great shot that would be interesting to western audiences not accustomed to seeing working phone booths in the middle of nowhere, but I discovered that the booth is almost sitting directly on a very busy rural road. The other side was jungle, but to get the shot I wanted, someone would have to be in the road and that would have been too dangerous. As an alternative I found another phone indoors and shot that.

The shooting went pretty well, but I had a serious technical problem with my Mac PowerBook: I simply did not know how to use the touch pad. I have used PCs for thirty years, but bought this, my first Mac, specifically for this shoot so that I could shoot tethered. For the most part it worked out fine, but my attempts to zoom in on images in Capture One seemed to drive the lighting assistant crazy because I could only do it occasionally by accident. This is because I was trying to use the spread finger gesture familiar to me from the iPad, but should have used the two finger drag gesture for this device. Unfortunately I didn’t discover it until all the shoots were over. If the assistant’s English had been better, he may have been able to explain the problem, but as it was it was just frustrating for both of us.

English language proficiency in general caused some communication problems from time to time. If I had known this would be an issue I would have hired a translator for the shoot. I was told that several of the people on the shoots would speak English so I didn’t have to worry about it, but in practice their pronunciation was very hard to understand just as they had a hard time understanding me. One of the models (Aim Nizayeva) once worked as a Russian to English translator, which really helped on her shoot but only in reference to directing her. The lighting assistant also spoke English, but only with serious effort could we communicate. On this issue, the best shoot was the yoga shoot. The reason is that the model, Betty Nitade, spoke flawless English and Thai. The lighting assistant at the studio (different from the other lighting assistants I worked with) couldn’t speak English at all, but Betty translated all of my instructions perfectly and I got exactly what I wanted with minimal fuss.

In comparison with my sketches, only one of the photos resembles the sketch that inspired it but all of the sketches were useful because they solidified in my mind what I wanted to get. This made it easier to communicate to the team and to make whatever adjustments were needed.

Equipment

Camera: Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, Schneider-Kreuznach 80mm LS lens and SK 28 mm LS lens.

Lights: Broncolor 2400w/s heads and 1200 w/s heads, plus reflectors, beauty dish, grid, and miscellaneous light shapers

The photos:

Figure 2 Overpass 80mm, ISO 100 f/9 1s

Overpass 001

Figure 3 Balcony 28mm, ISO 100 f/8 1/10s

Balcony

Figure 4 Cafe 001 80mm, ISO 200 f/4 1/100s

Cafe 001

Figure 5 Cafe 002 28mm, ISO 200 f/4.5 1/50s

Cafe 002

Figure 6 Jungle Bike 001 28mm, ISO 200 f/5 1/80s

Jungle Bike 001

Figure 7 Jungle Bridge 003 80mm, ISO 100 f/5 1/160s

Jungle Bridge 003

Figure 8 Jungle Doors 28mm, ISO 100 f/5.6 1/250s

Jungle Doors 001

Figure 9 Pier 004 80mm, ISO 100 f/2.8 1/40s

Pier 004

Figure 10 Pier Boxing 001 80mm, ISO 100 f/5 1/250s

Pier Boxing 001

Figure 11 Tea 001 80mm, ISO 200 f/8 1/30s

Tea 001

Figure 12 Yoga 001 80mm, ISO 100 f/6.3 1/160s

Yoga 001

Figure 13 Yoga 002 80mm, ISO 100 f/5.6 1/250s

Yoga 002

Figure 14 Yoga 005 80mm, ISO 100 f/5.6 1/250s

Yoga 005

Figure 15 Boxing 001 28mm, ISO 400 f/11 1/400s

Boxing 001

Figure 16 Boxing 002 28mm, ISO 400 f/10 1/500s

Boxing 002

Figure 17 Boxing 003 28mm, ISO 400 f/10 1/500s

Boxing 003

Credits:

Photography: Andrew Paquette

Stylist: BM

Models: Aim Nizayeva, Pair, Bow, Betty Nitade

Makeup and hair: Wuttichai Jaiyong and others from the Bobbi Brown agency/Thailand

Clothes by: Tandt Bangkok, Nicha, Greyscale Shirt, Thanaporn Lanthong, Anchana Veeradaechapol, Soraya Kwanharn, Purinutt

Lighting assistants:

Producer: Jha

Agency: Fame Management Agency

Lighting rental: PN Studio

Studio rental: Pirate Studio

Boxing gym: Jitti gym

Jul 232015
 

Getting Acquainted with the Mamiya 7

By Andy Gemmell

Hi Brandon

After “scratching my itch” with the Leica Monochrom, I sold it 18 months ago and decided to give “film only” a go for a while. At the time I wanted to also try a medium format option and coming from a rangefinder and wanting to enjoy a camera which I could still carry around easily the Mamiya 7 seemed like a great choice. The Mamiya lenses are also superb and although possibly over shadowed by Zeiss and Pentax to some extent….they really shouldn’t be!

The camera itself is in a 35mm “style” of layout (conventional winder, back door loading of film, shutter dial on top of the camera, etc) and although not built of metal or alloy it is still well built and sturdy and could take some knocking around. One of the big benefits of this MF set up (unlike the Hasselblad V series) is the shutter mechanism (quite a s mouse) and ability to given no mirror to shoot handheld down to 1/15th (and possible even lower!) without disturbing the image. The lenses though are not fast and come in at 4 to 4.5 depending on what one you are using. I have the standard 80mm f/4 and the 50mm f/4.5 (keeping my Zeiss 25/28mm finder from the M days to use with this lens).

Unfortunately for various reasons I have not been out and about shooting as much as I’d like to, though have run a few roles of Tri-X and Portra through the Mamiya in street photography situations in Melbourne where I live. I personally haven’t really gelled with it, to be honest and it may be not having used it enough. Also coming from the MM as a much smaller 35mm option the adjustment is more than I had imagined. All up though I’d highly recommend it as a serious option to consider in the MF film world.

Have a great weekend!

Andy

Starting Blocks – Tri-X 80mm

unnamed
Rest – Portra 400 80mm

unnamed-1
Sundays at St Kilda – Portra 400

unnamed-2
Breakfast on Spring Street – Tri-X 80mm

unnamed-3
Spare Change – Tri-X 80mm (testing it too the limits in very dark alley at f4 and 1/15th handheld)
The Jetty – Tri-X 50mm

unnamed-4
Morning Gold – Portra 400 50mm

unnamed-5

Jul 032015
 
Pentacon Six TL 6x6

Film Friday 6×6 images

By Dierk Topp

Pentacon Six TL 6x6

Hi Steve,

This is a small collection of analog images made with the Pentacon Six medium format camera, made in the GDR, German Democratic Republic, long time ago.
I used the Zeiss Flektogon 4/50mm  and the  Zeiss Sonnar 180mm/2.8 with the Kodak T-MAX 100 and Agfa Ultra 100 color negative. Scanned the negatives with Epson Photo 2450 scanner and digital processing with Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex.

You may find more of my analog and digital images here on flickr

Pentacon Six 6x6, Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/180mm, Kodak T-MAX 100

Pentacon Six 6x6, Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/180mm, Kodak T-MAX 100

Pentacon Six 6x6, Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/180mm, Kodak T-MAX 100

I could not resist to make a  triptych from these images

Pentacon Six

Pentacon Six

this series is in memoriam of Ansel Adams

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

eccaeadg

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

analog 1992

analog 1992

 

analog 1992

analog 1992

The next images are from La Palma, Canary Islands

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

 

6x6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

6×6 analog, Petacon Six, Zeiss 50mm

…and last but not least stitched panorama shots, that I made in 1995 in Hamburg
I planed to mount the prints but never did, now with stitching software it is easy and perfect

stitch of 3 images

stitch of 3 images

Pentacon Six 6x6, Zeiss Flektogon 4/50mm, Agfa Ultra 100 color n

…and again, as it is at the top of this post, this is the camera (with the 80mm Biometar)
it is blurred, but I have only this one. I sold it to Hong Kong long time ago.

Pentacon Six TL 6x6

thanks very much for your time and attention

regards
Dierk

Jul 012015
 
phaseonebball

phaseonebball

Phase One basketball

By Andrew Paquette – See his website HERE!

Three years ago I bumped into an outdoor basketball competition in Rotterdam while testing my new Zeiss 15mm Distagon lens. After getting a lucky shot of the winning basket at the end of the day, one of the organizers invited me to shoot more games the following week in Den Haag. Since then, I’ve been shooting the Netherlands Streetball Masters tour every year. This year I attended games in Amsterdam, Breda, and Weert.

In previous years I had used a Nikon D800 and a Sony A7r for the shoots. The two cameras had a variety of lenses mounted on them, each of which produced at least one decent shot. The most consistent performer was the Zeiss Otus 55mm, used on the majority of keeper shots. The least consistent was the Nikkor 85mm 1.4G, possibly because the Streetball games take place on small half courts, making the 85mm usable only for shots of players at the farthest end of the play area or torso shots. This year, I planned to bring the D800 + 55mm Otus and an A7r with the Zeiss 135mm mounted on them. However, I had some new gear and wanted to give it a stress test. This year I used a Phase One DF+ with an IQ250 back. I had already used it to take some action photos of parkour athletes in Rotterdam, and thought it might work out for outdoor basketball, though I wouldn’t have any control of the players and there would be no do-overs, unlike the Parkour shoot.

One of the reasons I decided to invest in the Phase One system was the high flash sync speeds (up to 1/1600th of a second). To test that, I brought two ProFoto flash heads to the parkour park, hid them from the camera, then tried to get as much frozen mid-air action as possible. It took a couple of hours to coordinate the athletes so that they all were in the right part of the frame at the right time, but it did work. Other shots that did not require the coordination of all four athletes were much easier to manage.

Figure 1 Parkour at Ahoy! Rotterdam, Phase One DF+ IQ250 and SK 28mm LS lens. ISO 200, F/7.1, 1/1600s and 2x ProFoto B1 500w/s flash heads

Parkour

I was a bit worried about using the Phase One kit to shoot the Streetball event because the camera has a much lower framerate than the 35mm cameras (1.2 f/s compared to 4 f/s on D800 and A7r), but I wanted to know what the extra dynamic range of the medium format back would capture. This was related to something that bothered me on previous shoots in Holland where the sky is almost always white or grey due to cloud cover. This has a tendency to result in a lot of clipped highlights unless the camera is pointing below the horizon. In some landscape photos taken with the Phase One, this wasn’t an issue, thus presenting the possibility that the camera could deal with an irritating problem experienced on previous shoots.

Figure 2 Windmills, Phase One DF+ IQ250 and SK 80mm LS lens. ISO 100, F/22, 1/320s

Windmills

I was tempted to take the D800 and a Zeiss Otus 55mm with me as a backup but went without to keep the weight of the kit down. The lens I used the most was the Schneider Kreuznach 80mm leaf shutter lens, but I took a few images with the SK 28mm LS as well. All of the photos were processed in Capture One Pro. I brought one ProFoto B1 flash and a 2’ softbox. The flash was only sometimes useful because I couldn’t guarantee it was always pointing in the right direction as the players ran all over the court. This was expected, but it was still disappointing that the light was only useful if the players were within about two meters of it and on the right side of the court.

I prefer shooting the DF+ to the Nikon or Sony. There are several reasons for this. In no particular order, they are: the extra-large viewfinder, simple menu layout on the IQ250 back, iPad connectivity (the A7r can also do this), and ergonomic design. It is heavier and larger than the other two cameras, but easier to hold and use than the Nikon, even when both have heavy lenses mounted (the 2.2 pound Zeiss Otus on the Nikon and the 2.4 pound SK 28mm LS on the P1). With the D800 + Otus combination, my wrist would consistently start hurting after about three hours of carrying it. I have never experienced any wrist or hand pain when using the DF+, even during an eight-hour shoot day for one of the Streetball games.

Figure 3 Weert 1, SK LS 80mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/1600

Weert 1

Figure 4 Weert 2, SK LS 80mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/1600

Weert 2

Figure 5 Breda 1, SK LS 28mm, ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/1600

Breda 1

Figure 6 Breda 2, SK LS 80mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/1600

Breda 2

Figure 7 Amsterdam 1, SK LS 80mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/1600

Amsterdam 1

Figure 8 Amsterdam 2, SK LS 80mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1600

Amsterdam 2

Figure 9 Amsterdam 3, SK LS 80mm, ISO 100, f/5, 1/1600

Amsterdam 3

Figure 10 Amsterdam 4, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1600

Amsterdam 4

Figure 11 Amsterdam 5, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/1600

Amsterdam 5

See more at Andrew’s Website HERE!

Apr 172015
 

Mamiya6-Title

Mamiya 6 with Rollei Crossbird

By Frank Stelzer

Hi Steve, Brandon,

Being a long time follower, I thought I submit a story for your Film Friday series. I have been enjoying your site since 2010, when I was soaking in your Leica M9 and lens reviews all night. It was the first time that I got to know about Leica in detail; what they are, what you can do and what you cannot do, and I have been infected with the Leica virus ever since. I also value your Daily Inspirations and Film Friday series as platform to get to know other approaches, techniques and cameras.

Mamiya6_Xbird_01_800H

Quickly about myself, I have been fascinated with the process of making photographs since I was a teenager. My first equipment has been a viewfinder film camera in the 1980’s. I basically clicked what I found interesting enough to preserve as a memory. In the late 90’s I made the move from an Olympus mju-I to a film Pentax SLR and a monster 28-200 3.8- 5.6, because I thought, the bigger the camera and the lens, the better my photos. Little to nothing I knew about film sizes, f-stops and most importantly light. This changed gradually over the past 15 years, but there is still so much to learn. Somewhere in between I jumped on the digital bandwagon, enjoying the instant gratification of seeing the image immediately.

Mamiya6_Xbird_02_800H

I don’t remember since when I had this growing curiosity about medium format film, maybe it was your GF670 review. But it really accelerated after getting Jonathan Canlas’ book “Film is not dead” two years ago. Since then I gathered information about MF from almost everywhere.
I thought a portable camera would be nice, so I can easily take it with me when travelling. This sort of narrowed it down to a couple of rangefinder cameras: Fujifilm GF670, Mamiya 6 and 7.  I went for the Mamiya 6, which ticked the boxes in my book. It just feels right in your hand. The grip is fantastic, letting your hand mold around it nicely. Not only while shooting, but also when just walking around with the camera in the hand and the strap around the wrist. That’s one of the differences which made me go for the Mamiya instead of the Fujifilm GF670. One reason I preferred the Mamiya 6 over the Mamiya 7 was the retractable lens of the former, making it easy to put into a messenger bag (with Hadley Pro insert) without getting too bulky.

I only got the 75mm lens. There are also 2 more lenses (50mm and 150mm) available for the Mamiya 6, making it a nice system. There is a dark slide in the Mamiya 6 that you have to open and close manually when changing lenses when there is film inside the camera. This could lead to missing shots if you forgot to open the dark slides after a lens change. But for me it was not a problem with one lens only. The RF patch had a bit less contrast for my taste, which made focusing taking a bit longer at times. I did not consider 645 format at that time, since I was intrigued by the bigger 6×6/6×7 format.

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When my wife and I visited Australia last year, I decided to try Rollei Crossbird film for shooting some urban landscape. I never did cross-processing before, but I was curious to see what color-shift effects I would get. This film is marketed especially for cross-processing, but at the end you can take any film and cross-process it. As it seems, this film has a tendency to develop a green cast and also some visible grain. Nothing you can’t do with a digital camera and Lightroom, but definitely more fun. I am more than happy about the result I got with the Mamiya 6 and Rollei Crossbird. It’s sounds strange, but limiting yourself can be quite liberating. When shooting digital, there are endless post-processing options, that it’s easy to get carried away if you don’t know exactly what you are aiming for.

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Many people say that shooting film is a different experience compared to a digital camera. And I totally agree with them. I take more time thinking about the composition and exposure settings. Then there is the uncertainty and waiting for the film getting developed. Well, you could put tape on your DSLR’s screen and wait a week or so putting the SD card into your computer, but it’s not the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to start any film vs. digital discussion. For me it’s both film and digital. Since I am an amateur, I have the freedom to decide depending on my mood, whether to go out with film or digital camera. I enjoy both. We live in a time where we have all these many different photographic tools and formats available, where everybody can find something according to his/her own interest and budget. The good thing about film cameras is that you can sell them almost at the same price you bought them, because they don’t depreciate anymore. This makes it easy to try different formats and systems until you find the one you like most.

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I should mention that I sold the Mamiya 6 meanwhile. Not because I didn’t like it, but because the shooting experience was very similar to the Leica, both being rangefinder cameras. I wanted something more challenging for my medium format adventures, so I traded it for a Hasselblad 503CX. Admittedly, it’s a not as travel-friendly as the Mamiya 6. In fact, it is a completely different beast and lets me discover photography from another angle. But that might be another Film Friday story.

My social media links:
Website: www.frankstelzerphotography.com
Instagram: https://instagram.com/frankstelzer
Twitter: https://twitter.com/frankstelzer

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Apr 102015
 

Medium format goes medieval: comparing a Nikon DSLR with the latest from PhaseOne

By Andrew Paquette – His Website is HERE

A couple weeks ago I started making plans to do a photo shoot at the ruins of a local castle. I intended to bring my D800 and a Zeiss 55mm Otus as the primary rig, along with an A7r with a Zeiss ZA 135mm for action and close-up shots. However, a few days before the shoot, my wife and I were talking about medium format systems, the photographer Jason Bell, and then PhaseOne medium format cameras. To find out more about PhaseOne, I performed a few searches on the Internet, but didn’t get very far with pricing information because every page led me to a form that I could use to get a free test drive of a PhaseOne system. I was primarily interested in knowing what a refurbished system cost, but since I had to fill out the form to find out, I filled it out. A few days passed, and then on the day before the shoot, I got a call from PhaseOne. Would I like to borrow a camera for a test drive? The rig suggested by the salesman was the 645DF+, the IQ250 50MP digital back (their first CMOS sensor), and a Schneider Kreuznach 80MM f/2.8 leaf shutter lens. This is the exact same rig Bell mentioned when talking about one of his shoots. Curious to see how it would work out, and with a little trepidation that GAS syndrome may have just had a peek in the room, I decided to try it out.

Dungeon corridor, shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8

Settings: f/2.8, 1/5 ISO 400
Considering the slow shutter speed here, I really should have shot this at a higher ISO

Dungeon corridor

—-

Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/3.2, 1/60 ISO 400

Robin in red

The primary reason I was curious about medium format in the first place had to do with my discovery that almost all of the photos I like the most were shot on medium format systems. In one case, a photographer had one shoot of many on her site that I liked a lot, while the rest were good but not as creatively inspiring. That one shoot was done with a PhaseOne. The more I looked, the more references to medium format and PhaseOne I saw. What finally decided me to look into it was a photographer who wrote how he had tried and tried to make images that had qualities he associated with his favourite photographers, like Annie Liebowitz, but couldn’t do it until he switched to medium format. Until then, he thought there was some problem with the way he was taking the photos, setting up the lights, or editing them in software. It wasn’t any of those things—it was the type of camera he used. After switching, he was able to get the look he wanted.

The D800 and the Zeiss 55mm Otus is a very nice combination for DSLR shooting. Short of the D800E or D810, it is about as good as it gets. The lens is the second-highest ranking lens rated by DxO labs (after the 85mm Otus), and the camera is one of the highest rated among DSLRs. The Phase One is similarly one of the best offerings from a brand that is popular among professional photographers. From my perspective, I wanted to know if the image quality difference would be noticeable, and if it would be worth the huge price difference between the two systems. Lately I have been gravitating toward portraits and fashion, both of which genres seem to benefit from medium format cameras.

Disclaimer:

This purpose of this article is to provide some information about how a high end DSLR system compares to a well-regarded medium format system, for those who are considering a switch. This is not meant to be a definitive scientific test. There are plenty of examples of beautiful work by professional photographers on the PhaseOne website, as well as on Nikon’s and Zeiss’s websites. These are great for showing the best possible results from the most highly regarded photographers, but it is hard to know from these gallery images what went into the shoots. What I found difficult to find were articles that compared DSLRs and medium format cameras by shooting something outside the range of normal technical tests, which are usually just a couple of distant buildings, a girl in the forest, and head shots of the camera salesmen at Photokina.

Expectations:

When I rode the train up to the PhaseOne dealer, I was fantasizing about getting some pretty amazing shots simply because I was using a PhaseOne. That said, I knew the possibility of that happening was remote. The D800 and Otus are an excellent combination and I had been using them for a year. Comparing that to an unfamiliar system automatically puts the PhaseOne at a disadvantage. Another problem is that the DSLR is much more useable in low light than the PhaseOne—or at least most medium format cameras, which operate best at 100 to 200 ISO (with 400 ISO the maximum). The IQ250 back I was using was different because it could go up to 6400 ISO. Despite this, I was thinking of the PhaseOne as a system that required studio lights, as opposed to the D800, which worked fine without them. I was planning on using a reflector and sunlight for the shoot, and had no room in my transportation for lighting gear. I hoped this wouldn’t compromise the PhaseOne too much, but that was what I had to work with so I’d just have to see how it turned out.

At the store, the salesman gave me a quick tour of the camera. During this short tutorial I shot a couple images of objects in the store. What I saw really surprised me: there were prominent green and magenta bands running along the edges of many white objects in the scene. Most of the Zeiss lens line have very little fringing problems, and the Otus has none. I literally hadn’t seen fringing for months because I have been using the Otus as my go-to lens. Even when I use other Zeiss lenses, like the ZA 135mm f/1.8, I rarely have fringing issues. Seeing fringing on the first couple of shots taken with the PhaseOne was disheartening, but on the other hand, the system I had in my hands was the same one used by the royal family’s photographer. There had to be a way around it.

Because of my concerns about the lighting and the lens, I was prepared for the test to go either way, but was rooting for the PhaseOne, if for no other reason but that it is always fun to discover a way to improve the quality of one’s images. It was a fairly dark day, so most of the shots were made with the camera mounted on a tripod.

Conclusions:

Ergonomics… The 645DF+ felt great in my hands, the menus on the touchscreen were easy to understand and big buttons were easy to press without accidentally pushing something else (as I do more often than I like with the D800 and A7r). The optical viewfinder was like looking into the detachable Zacuto viewfinder I use on my Nikon, but integrated with the camera and brighter. The live view screen was very nice, slightly higher resolution than the LV on the D800, and most importantly, the IQ250 has the built-in ability to transmit the live view and preview photos to an iDevice. I tested this on my iPad and it worked very well, using the free app provided by PhaseOne, Capture Pilot. This app can also be used as a remote trigger for the camera. This functionality makes focus checking trivially easy compared to the D800 (and probably the D810 as well) because of the much larger iPad screen. Overall, I felt that the camera was easier to hold, to carry, and to use in some ways than the D800. The only exception to this are the aperture and shutter control dials, which are smaller and thinner than their Nikon counterparts. This isn’t a big deal, but I found them more difficult to find and use than on the D800, probably because I’m not used to them.
The case this camera came in was much bigger and heavier than it needed to be for a camera that felt to be about the same weight as the D800 + Otus. As for overall dimensions, they weren’t much different there either. If I were to get one of these, I’d probably opt for a backpack instead of the gorilla-proof case I was handed for the tryout.

Image quality… Overall, I liked several of the shots from both cameras. In all but one of the examples where I shot exactly the same subject with both cameras, I preferred the PhaseOne result. I shot the PhaseOne in aperture priority mode because I wanted to avoid an excessively shallow depth of field in shots with multiple actors. This worked against the PhaseOne because I was able to use much faster shutter speeds with the Nikon. I initially had the impression that the Schneider-Kreuznach lens was softer than the Otus because the images themselves were softer overall, but the slower shutter speeds almost certainly allowed enough motion to lose some sharpness compared to the Nikon.
Despite the slight softness to images shot with the PhaseOne, in all but one example where I shot the same scene with both cameras, I preferred the PhaseOne because of the superior colours and tonal range. Both camera/lens combinations produced nice images, but the colours that came out of the PhaseOne were noticeably stronger.

I’m not totally convinced that the PhaseOne is hands-down better than the Nikon/Otus combination, but am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until I have the opportunity to test it again*. I do know that the colour from the PhaseOne system and richer tones are very appealing compared to the more limited range available in the Nikon system.

*Update: I have retested the Phase One system and answered some of the questions left with the previous shoot.

1) The colour differences between the two systems are partly attributable to having used Capture One to process the Phase One shots but Lightroom for the Nikon shots. Despite this, the greater dynamic range of the IQ250 over the D800 is obvious.

2) The CA problem with the SK lens is very real but goes away at higher f-stops. I did some shots of dark tree branches against the sun at f/2.8 (heavy fringing) and f/5 (no fringing) as a test. If shooting at less contrasty subjects, the bigger apertures can be used. The Otus remains the winner in this category.

3) The SK lens is very sharp when setup properly. It really doesn’t like low light situations, and ‘low light’ for the Phase One is a lot brighter than for the D800. I had been setting the Phase One to match the Nikon settings—a big mistake because medium format requires more light than a 35mm.

4) The Capture Pilot utility is really awesome to use. It helps get steadier shots, and allows high resolution exposure and focus checks in the field.

Below are some more of the images from the shoot (and at the end, a couple of bonus shots from the more recent test):

Brigands. Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/6.3, 1/15 ISO 200

Brigands

Dejeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the grass). Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/2.8, 1/223 ISO 200

Renaissance battle_4

Thom. Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/3.5, 1/111 ISO 200

Thom

Merlyn. Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/9, 1/7 ISO 100

Merlyn 1

Merlyn. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/7.1, 1/125 ISO 125

Merlyn 2

Unruffled. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/5.6, 1/100 ISO 1200

Unruffled

Sparring. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/7.1, 1/30 ISO 125

Sparring

Triple portrait. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/4, 1/200 ISO 125

Triple portrait

Robin. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/3.5, 1/100 ISO 200

Robin at the window

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The new test shots were made primarily to check CA and sharpness of the SK lens. All were shot with the 645 DF+, IQ250, and SK 80mm LS lens. Here they are:

Sunset fence 014

mirrored wetlands

RiverBend

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