Feb 082016
 

Editing Fujifilm RAW files with Iridient Developer for more WOW

By Axel Friberg

Dear Brandon and Steve,

It’s been a while since I wrote you last. As of today, I still shoot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and edit my pictures in Lightroom CC. I might upgrade to the X-T2 when it comes, this summer. The Fuji RAW files are still not fully supported by Adobe, which is a drawback. As I’m sure you are aware, some details like foliage for example, will looked smeared. Inspired by the amazing photographer Olaf Sztaba, I decided to download the trail version of the photo editor Iridient Developer and gave the Fuji RAW files a run for its money. Let me tell you, the difference is real. Like going from 480p to 1080p on Youtube. I used Olaf’s settings in Iridient Developer, choosing the unique sharpening method ‘R-L deconvolusion’ and setting the radius slider to 0.5 and the Iterations slider to 30.

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Then I exported the RAW file edited in Iridient Developer to Lightroom and compared it with the same Raw file edited in Lightroom only, where I had set the sharpness to 33, radius to 0,8 and detail. to 100. Additionally, I also set both pictures’ contrast to +15 and clarity to +10 in Lightroom and exported the same cropped part of the picture to emphasis the difference in sharpness of the pine tree’s needles. To me there is a massive difference. The pine-needles in the RAW file edited in Iridient Developer are crisp whereas the same pine-needles in the RAW file edited in Lighroom almost look like they have been painted. Hopefully, you will be able to see what I mean in the pictures I’ve sent you!

The photo was taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 and a Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 (via a Metabones adapter) @1/250 s, f/5.6, ISO400.

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Now both crops..

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Jan 192016
 
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A trip to the top of the mountain with the Fuji XT-1

by Mohamed Hakem (NOW THESE ARE GORGEOUS FUJI IMAGES! BRAVO to Mohamed’s beautiful eye and skill – Steve)

Hi Steve! I am back again with another adventure! I decided to climb the highest mountain in Egypt with my Fuji XT-1

First please visit my website http://www.hakemphotography.com
Follow my FB page on http://facebook.com/hakemphotography
Instagram: http://instagram.com/moh_hakem

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People who go Hiking knows what it means to have a heavy backpack on a rough mountain climb. The Hike here was up to the top of Mount Moses in Saint Catherine Mountain in Sinai, Egypt. Saint Catherine Mountain is not the toughest hike in the world, it is 2422 meters up, you have to walk 8 KM ion extremely rough grounds. The place is magical and full of culture and history that dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. They first built a city in the shape of a fortress at around 1000m high it as part of the road from Egypt to Jerusalem. This area was then converted to the famous Saint Catherine Monastery which has tons of religiously important heritage for Christians, Muslims and jews. There is also a place during the climb where it is believed that this was the place God talked to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him).
To prepare for such climb, the first thing you think of is weight you hold as a burden on your back. you take minimal things, energy bars and water, you should not take anything else. but what about us photographers!? the answer is simple, it was impossible for me , a man with moderate health and stamina to lug around a DSLR body, tripod and two lenses that would be around 4-5 kilos minimum, My D800 was 945g+ (14-24)950g +70-300 (700g) + a big tripod = a break in your back!
to solve this problem I took with me the XT-1, the 10-24, 8mm fish eye and the 55-200 lens + plus the 3leggedthing punk tripod. all of these combined did not cross 2.5 kilos.

The path is rocky and extremely rough but its not dangerous. We took 3 hours to finish the main stage then 1 hour to climb what the bedouins call the stairs, vertical rock formations that forms natural stairs. Its not easy at all but its doable. Your second enemy other than the gravity is the Cold! it really was cold. We were all wearing heavy coats but the thing is during the climb your body becomes sweaty, so whenever you stop you instantly feel the cold to your bones!. reaching the top! after finally reaching the top,we had two hours till sunrise so we took the most uncomfortable nap in the world. Your sweat is freezing inside and you really can’t wear anything more. After waking up extremely tired and cold I packed my equipment and went for the sunrise. Sometimes I couldn’t feel the camera in my hands, I wanted to press the shutter button but I can’t feel my fingers! somehow after managing and warming up you begin to see the magic! a sunrise that you will never forget! Stunning sky colors, stunning rock formations, the place really touches your soul! every minute the colors change and the scenery changes magically until you see the sun and all your problems are gone! you instantly become warm and energetic.

The experience was never to be done without a mirrorless camera. I sometimes held it on my neck to capture on the go, it was never doable with a DSLR. as for the quality I will leave the judging to you.

That is me on the top of the mountain (shot by a fuji X100)

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Note the Bedouins below…click images for better versions!

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Saint Catherine Monastery

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Jan 192016
 

Nashville – Escape from Trade Conference with my A7RII

by Jim Idelson

Hello!

This image was captured during an afternoon escape from a convention I was attending in Nashville, Tennessee last week. Having never been to Nashville before, I really wanted to get a taste of the downtown area. From 2 to 4pm, I did a solo pub crawl, listening to some music, having a couple of beers and making a few new friends. As the sun was setting, I noticed it was just a bit over the horizon and in full view directly up the street. It was starting to bathe everything in gold and create some the beautiful long shadows. There were a few clouds in the sky. I had a feeling there would be something good to capture in this moment. I was also carrying a rented Zeiss Batis 85mm, and wanted to give it an opportunity, so I made sure that lens was in place.

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At first, I aimed the camera towards the sidewalk cafes, but facing away from the sun. That was an ok streetscape scene, but not very exciting . . . then I thought about shooting back into the sun. I got into a position on the sidewalk looking directly toward the sun. But, I really couldn’t see much in this direction by eye due to the brilliance of the setting sun. But, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to capture the whole scene before me . . . the busy street and sidewalk, the setting sun, those long shadows, and the eclectic mix of honky tonk signs – all somewhat compressed with the 85mm tele. So, I exposed simply by minimizing zebra to just a ring around the sun, making everything else in the frame go very dark . .. and hoped there would be enough DR to be able to bring it back in LR.

Camera and settings were A7RII, Batis 85mm, 1/2500 f2.5, ISO100. Processed in LR5. The primary edits were crushing highlights (a lot) and enhancing shadows (a lot). I also applied some vignette, a sprinkle of Clarity and Vibrance, and little NR. It was a pleasant surprise to see the yellow traffic light and the gold light shining through the windows of the clock tower in the distance on the left.

I’ve attached the before-processing version of the image, plus a google map snap to show where the image was shot, and another snap of some great musicians whose music I got to experience that afternoon. A fun break from work. I can definitely recommend a visit to Nashville.

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Jan 182016
 
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New E mount and M Mount Ultra Wides from Voigtlander!

YES! Voigtlander has once again announced new glass and this time the new lenses are not only for Leica M mount but now Sony E mount as well! It seems Voigtlander has taken notice of Sony’s popularity in the full frame mirrorless world and have created a 10mm, 12mm and 15mm lens for the E or FE system. Yes, these are manual full frame lenses and they look as beautiful as can be ;)

The new lenses for Sony FE include a 10mm f/5.6, 12mm f/5.6 VIII and the ever so popular 15mm f/4.5 VIII. These versions will work perfect on the Sony system as they were designed for the Sony system. No more issues using these ultra wides in M mount on the Sony. So THIS IS AWESOME as the 12 and 15 are fantastic pieces of glass that can go up against any Ultra wide in the same Focal Length. See them below:

The 10, 12 and 15 are available for pre-order at CameraQuest NOW. INFO HERE!

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Voigtlander is also releasing new M mount lenses. The 10 f/5.6 and the 12 f/5.6 VERSION III which is improved yet again like they did with the 15 Version III. I can not wait to see the 10mm in action as 10mm is WIDE.

The new M mount Ultra Wides. The 10mm f/5.6 and the 12mm f/5.6 VIII. Available HERE

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I am thrilled to see Voigtlander start making lenses for the Sony FE system. Especially well made manual lenses such as these as it adds a unique twist to the usual auto focus experience. Reviews will be coming soon!

Jan 152016
 

Fuji X-Pro 2 Unveiled. Finally. Here is the lowdown.

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Pre-Order the X-Pro 2 at my fave and most trusted dealers: B&H Photo or PopFlash.com. Amazon is clearing out the X-Pro 1 at $499

FINALLY! The all new long awaited Fuji X-Pro 2 has now been announced with full specs, images and details. What has Fuji delivered this time as an upgrade to their 1st huge mirrorless, the X-Pro 1? Well, I will predict that this will be the coolest, hippest and most desirable APS-C camera available today. With its sleek rangefinder-esque appearance to the hybrid viewfinder giving a unique experience, to the much much faster AF and low light capabilities, the new X-Pro 2 will be huge for Fuji as Fuji fans have been waiting for this one. I was a fan of the X-T1 more so than any other Fuji camera but the X-Pro 2 looks  to be even better with the new sensor and speed and capabilities. I look forward to reviewing it with some of the latest Fuji lenses. Now, let’s take a look…

Well, here is what it looks like. To me, it looks like a more refined X-Pro 1. It keeps the same design but the new 2 has a more polished look about it. 

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The Specs:

24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
X-Processor Pro Engine
Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder
3.0″ 1.62m-Dot LCD Monitor
Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
Built-In Wi-Fi, SHARE Printer Compatible
273-Point AF with 77 Phase-Detect Points
Up to 8 fps Shooting and ISO 51200
Weather-Sealed Design, 2x SD Card Slots
Film Simulation and Grain Effect Modes

My Thoughts?

I am happy to see a new Fuji, and I have been waiting for the Pro 2 to see how far Fuji would go. Would they make it full frame? I already knew this was a NO but what they did do was up the Megapixels to 24 with an all new X-Trans III sensor, up from the 16 of the X-Pro 1. They have improved everything from the 1 and the new 2 has everything any Fuji fan would want. The AF will be blazing compared to the X-Pro 1, which is good as I remember my review of that one and having some focus issues…not only speed but accuracy. Fuji has really stepped up their AF capabilities over the years since the original X100 and Pro 1. So AF will be great here. I expect Fuji fans to jump on this body as it will be the best Fuji digital yet. I will be reviewing the X-Pro 2 as I enjoyed the X-T1 quite a bit and while I have moved on to Full Frame with Sony and Leica for my personal use, there are THOUSANDS out there who love their Fuji’s, so stay tuned for a full review soon!

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MORE DETAILS ON THE NEW FUJI X-PRO 2

The long-awaited successor to Fujifilm’s first X-series mirrorless digital camera, the X-Pro2 sports a high-resolution X-Trans CMOS III sensor and redeveloped X-Processor Pro, along with the tested rangefinder-inspired design now synonymous with the X-Pro system. Now weighing in at 24.3MP, the APS-C CMOS sensor incorporates the proprietary X-Trans technology and its randomized pixel array to afford a high degree of sharpness and accurate color reproduction, along with high expanded sensitivity to ISO 51200. When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the camera is capable of recording stills at up to 8 fps and Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, along with quick focusing and overall performance speeds. Unique among camera designs, the X-Pro2 is also heavily characterized by its Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder that blends both optical and electronic viewing methods into a single, switchable finder, giving you the best of both worlds in regard to clear viewing and the ability to preview exposure settings prior to shooting. Cementing its place as a professional tool, the X-Pro2 also features a robust, weather-sealed body design accented by a range of physical controls for intuitive handling in any condition.

Besides image quality, the sensor and processor combination also avails a highly precise, versatile autofocus system that is comprised of 273 points and uses both phase- and contrast-detection methods.

The phase-detection system covers nearly 40% of the entire image frame with 77 points, which is beneficial to subject tracking and fast overall AF performance, while the majority of the frame is then covered by contrast-detection areas for accurate focusing from edge-to-edge. The imaging attributes also contribute to creative control over the look and feel of photos, such as through the use of Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes that replicate the look of specific film types, as well as a Grain Effect mode to mimic the textured appearance of film photos. Rounding out the feature-set of the X-Pro2, its design also incorporates a range of customizable function buttons along with a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD for image playback, live view shooting, and menu navigation, and built-in Wi-Fi lets you wirelessly share images to mobile devices, remotely control the camera from a smartphone or tablet, or wirelessly send images to the optional instax SHARE Smartphone Printer for on-the-go printing.

24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor

Utilizing Fujifilm’s unique, randomized pixel array, the 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor affords a high degree of image quality and sharpness due to the omission of an optical low-pass filter. Versus conventional pixel patterns, the X-Trans design more closely mimics the organic nature of film in order to produce nuanced colors and smooth tonal transitions, while also reducing moiré and aliasing.

When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the sensor is also capable of producing clean image quality with reduced noise values, along with a native sensitivity range up to ISO 12800 that can be expanded to ISO 51200.

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Aside from benefitting the low-light performance, the X-Processor Pro also contributes to fast performance throughout the camera system, including a start-up time of 0.4 seconds, shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, shooting interval time of 0.25 seconds, and AF speeds of up to 0.06 seconds. Coupled with the on-sensor phase-detection AF, up to 8 fps continuous shooting is also possible with full-time motion predictive AF for tracking fast-moving subjects while shooting. The ability to record compressed raw files also helps to expedite file transferring for longer continuous burst shooting, and both a fast top focal plane shutter speed of 1/8000 sec. and a flash sync speed of 1/250 sec. further contribute to shooting versatility.

Beyond stills shooting, the X-Pro2 also supports recording Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps with a 36 Mbps bit rate, along with the ability to work with 50, 30, 25, and 24 fps frame rates for greater recording flexibility.

Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder

Both optical and electronic viewfinder types are incorporated into the unique Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, which lets you select from the simplicity and familiarity of an OVF as well as the versatility of an EVF. Changing between viewing types is quickly performed via the dedicated finder switching lever on the front of the camera body.

The optical viewfinder provides a clear, lifelike view of the scene for easier composition and subject tracking. Its enhanced design incorporates an Electronic Rangefinder function, which mimics the functionality of a mechanical rangefinder, and simultaneously overlays information from the electronic viewfinder on top of the optical viewfinder for comparative manual focus control. The OVF is also benefitted by a Multi-Magnification function that automatically switches the viewfinder magnification according to the mounted lens’ focal length and a Bright Frame Simulation function, which simulates the varying angles of view from different lenses to confirm which focal length is needed, prior to switching lenses, for the composition in mind.

In regard to the electronic viewfinder, this sports a high 2.36m-dot resolution along with a fast 85 fps playback speed to reduce lag for smoother panning and tracking movements. The EVF lets you preview exposure settings prior to shooting and has a customizable display, for configuring the amount and type of information shown in the viewfinder.

Intelligent Hybrid 273-Point Autofocus System

Blending both phase- and contrast-detection focusing methods, the X-Pro2 is capable of acquiring focus both quickly and accurately. The entire system is comprised of 273 points, of which 77 are phase-detection points for faster performance that is beneficial to photographing moving subjects. Approximately 40% of the imaging area is covered by phase-detection points, too, to offer greater compositional freedom without sacrificing fast autofocus performance. The majority of the frame is then also covered by an apt contrast-detection focusing system that has been quickened by the camera’s refined processing power for more versatile control. For refined manual focusing control, a Digital Split Image function is available, that simulates traditional rangefinder focusing, as well as Focus Peaking to highlight lines of contrast in the scene to more objectively determine sharp focus.

Body and Interface Design

In addition to the Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, the X-Pro2 also features a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD screen for clear live view shooting, menu navigation, and image playback.
Supporting its use in harsh climates, the durable weather-resistant body design is constructed from four pieces of magnesium alloy and sealed in more than 61 places to protect against dust, moisture, and cold temperatures down to 14°F.
Dual SD card slots allow for a more flexible and reliable means of storing imagery, and the first card slot is compatible with UHS-II standards for fast transfer speeds.

The top plate incorporates a series of milled aluminum alloy dials and levers for fast, intuitive adjustment over exposure settings, including a shutter speed dial that offers a mechanical shutter speed range from 1 to 1/8000 sec., as well as bulb and time settings. An ISO dial is also incorporated into the shutter speed dial, for confirming the sensitivity setting without having to turn the camera on. The exposure compensation dial lets you choose +/- 3 EV in 1/3 steps, and a command dial position expands the range to +/- 5 EV for further control.

Front and rear command dials integrate a push function for easier use and settings selection and six different function buttons can be assigned to control a range of settings.
A dedicated Focus Lever provides faster, more intuitive control over selecting specific focus points while shooting.
An updated graphical user interface features a My Menu section, where you can register up to 16 items to quickly access. This pairs with the Q Menu, which also provides shortcuts to 16 oft-used settings, bringing the total up to 32 distinct functions, settings, or other controls than can be accessed in a quick manner without having to delve into a more intricate menu system.

Film Simulation and Grain Effect Modes

Taking advantage of Fujifilm’s vast history in traditional film-based photography, the XPro2 integrates several Film Simulation modes to mimic the look and feel of some Fujifilm’s classic film types. For monochrome shooting, the Acros mode offers smooth tones, deep blacks, and fine detail reminiscent of the Neopan 100 Acros film type. A refined Classic Chrome mode is designed to deliver muted tones and a deep color reproduction, similar to that of a dated slide film. Pulling from their more contemporary line of transparency films, Provia offers natural-looking tones for everyday shooting, Velvia produces a more dramatic and rich tonality with deeper color saturation, and Astia gives less contrast for a softer depiction of skin tones. Mimicking their negative films, Pro Neg. Std. gives smooth image tones that are suitable for accurate color renditions, while Pro Neg. Hi produces a more dramatic feel with the ability to draw color out of a variety of lighting conditions.

In addition to simulating specific film types, a Grain Effect mode is also available to replicate the look of old film photos with an organic textured appearance, which is especially noticeable when printing.

Other Camera Features

An electronic shutter function permits using shutter speeds up to 1/32,000 sec. for working with wide aperture settings in bright lighting conditions.
Built-in Wi-Fi enables wireless transferring of imagery to linked mobile devices as well as remote control over camera settings and the shutter via the free Fujifilm Camera Remote app. Additionally, this connectivity enables the use of the optional instax SHARE Smartphone Printer for wireless instant printing via the instax Share app.

An interval timer permits recording time-lapse sequences and can be configured to record up to 999 frames in time spans ranging from one second to 24 hours.

Multiple exposure mode gives you the ability to overlay imagery in-camera. When working in this mode, subsequent exposures can be paired and the final appearance can be previewed on the LCD or in the EVF before making the final exposure.
Additional Advanced Filters can also be used to creatively enhance the look of imagery in-camera, and include Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High Key, Low Key, Dynamic Tone, Soft Focus, and Partial Color (Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue/Purple).

Jan 072016
 

NEW Zeiss Mobile Phone High Quality Lenses

Looks like Zeiss is entering the mobile phone market! Well, LENSES made for phones that is. Zeiss is promising new high quality lenses that will be above any other phone lens made. IT’S A ZEISS and they look pretty cool in the photo below. Zeiss says these will be available 2nd quarter of 2016, so soon. I look forward to testing these out, and I will as soon as I can get a set to test.

You can see and learn  much more on this system HERE.

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Dec 142015
 
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DEAL OF THE YEAR: Save nearly $6000 on Hasselblad (Sony) – NOW!

SEE THE LUNAR DEAL HERE

SEE THE STELLAR DEAL HERE

Christmas gift alert!

Remember when Hasselblad took a Sony RX100 (V1) and a NEX-7 with 18-55 Kit Zoom and dressed them up with rubies, premium woods and an exotic cosmetic overhaul? They put in their own firmware (from what I understand) and released these special high-end versions of the then great Sony cameras. Problem is, someone forgot to tell Hasselblad that these models would be replaced yearly, and now we are on the RX1oo MKIV and the NEX line has been abandoned all together in favor of full frame in the A7 series.

Well forget paying $7000 for the Lunar and $2300 for the stellar. Today at B&H Photo you can get the once $7k Lunar for $1199 and the once $2300 Stellar for $649! 

Save close to $6000 on the Hasselblad Lunar. Once sold for $7000, you can now get this exclusive kit, with exotic box, and the entire Hasselblad makeover for $1199. Yep, $5800 OFF, right now…this is OK if you want a pimped out deluxe NEX-7 that NO ONE else in your hood will own ;)

YOU CAN SEE THE PRODUCT PAGE AT B&H PHOTO HERE!

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My favorite though is the Stellar, of which I bought one last year in the special edition ORANGE. BUT this year we can get a new Stellar in CHAMPAIGNE/OLIVE for $649 and these sold normally for $2200. They even have the carbon fiber version and the Zebra Wood version in stock. Yep, $649 gets you the RX100 V1 in the Hasselblad shell, wood grip, exotic box and all of the fancy stuff you would expect. Compare this to the Sony RX100 which is still being sold at $398 and you are now paying $249 more for a very unique RX100 with a much tougher shell, the exitic wood grip and custom leather strap. NOT BAD for  this one as the Stellar is indeed pretty stellar. $649 is more in line with what it should cost today.

These are great cameras but they were made fun of globally at launch for the insane prices ($7000 for a NEX-7) but at these prices, they are great buys, even today. Especially the Stellar.

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SEE THE LUNAR DEAL HERE

SEE THE STELLAR DEAL HERE

Dec 052015
 

AL JAZEERA AL HAMRA (The Red Island)

By Detlef

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Some walls have niches designed for storage of household items.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,
Detlef

Dec 042015
 

Hong Kong With Nokton 35mm 1.2

By Fahad A

Hi Brandon,

Thanks for posting my previous submissions, this is my 4th submission and hopefully the 5th will be on the way soon.

Last summer I decided to go to Hong Kong to spend my vacation and of course to explore the streets along with my camera. I only took the Leica (typ240) along with the Voigtlander nokton 35mm 1.2, thinking that i might buy a 50mm from HK if I felt limited with the 35mm (given that I broke the 50mm summicron and for some reason didn’t remember to send it for a repair until the day I traveled)

Luckily, I managed without having to buy a new lens, the images had the usual nokton softness, which I don’t mind at all.
Hong kong is very dense, and streets are tight and narrow that i couldn’t imagine using a 50mm over there, the 35mm focal length served me very well.

Most of the images I am sharing here are not uploaded to my photostream yet, as you can see they are all in B&W, which is the total opposite of my current flickr photostream, however i might upload them soon.

I never thought I would convert any of these photographs to B&W when i was capturing them, it only happened when i messed around with one of the images and felt that nokton softness along with B&W treatment appeals to my taste.

For now, hope you all enjoy the images as much as i enjoyed capturing them.
Fahad A

Hong Kong album on Flickr:
Hong Kong

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Dec 032015
 

TWO STRANGERS, ONE CRY
Paris, Friday 13 November 2015

By Olaf Sztaba

First, there was shock, disbelief and numbness. Then there was a fierce anger and the urge to talk, but no words came out.

I did what I usually do in such moments of deep sadness. I decided to act in the best way I know. I grabbed my camera.

It was a miserable day in Vancouver – pouring rain, cold and windy, the kind of day when you want to stay at home, safe and warm. But not today! When we arrived at the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a large crowd was already assembled.

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A sea of people stood shoulder to shoulder in soaking rain, in silence. Hundreds of umbrellas opened in harmony as if they were all somehow synchronized – how strange, I thought.

At first I didn’t notice but then I realized almost everyone was holding a candle, their hands protecting the flame from the rain. They knew these candles needed to burn. Someone started playing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Then I started climbing the stairs of the Art Gallery. Normally this would be almost impossible in such a crowd but somehow people were letting me in and in doing so, they smiled.

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At the top I raised my camera and looked through the viewfinder as people one by one started climbing the stairs, leaving their candles, cards and flowers at the top. I saw older people, I saw a young child leaving her drawings, I could see people’s faces, crumpled with grief.

Then I saw her. Her face was unlike any other. Her hands were wrapped tightly around a candle protecting the flame. She was climbing the stairs more slowly than others as if this climb was a ceremony itself. She approached the top of the stairs and the glow of hundreds of candles lit her face. The emotions on her face were overwhelming. She didn’t make a sound but you could sense the grief. Then I noticed a tear in her eye…

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I couldn’t hold it any more. My heart started beating faster, my hands were shaking and my tears fogged the viewfinder. Through this fog I saw this stoic Muslim woman praying and placing the candle gently among hundreds of others.

We both stood there for what seemed to be an eternity. We never met, we never spoke but we had so much in common. A Christian man and a Muslim woman crying together.

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“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.”

Lyrics by John Lennon
All images were taken with the Fuji X-T1, XF 35mm F1.4 & XF 56mm F1.2, processed in LR6. The Classic Chrome film simulation.
Olaf Sztaba
www.olafphotoblog.com
www.olafphoto.squarespace.com

Dec 032015
 

Why do I still shoot digital?

By Aivaras Sidla

Despite fact that film photography is slowly killing digital imaging, despite fact, that digital cameras produce poor results in good and moderate light, there is still fair amount of people shooting digital.

I was always intrigued about this issue and found out there is belief that digital could still produce better results in poor light and darkness. At least some people say so. I suppose this is temporary, until fast evolving film technology will close this gap. Or, on the other hand this could be only illusion, a want-believe of folk, who want to be different from the crowd. Those damn techno hipsters… Btw. I have a beard, but I shoot film, so I’m not one of them.

Being curious person, I found one of those dwindling and dusty new digital camera shops and bought camera. I tried it, I hocked. You know, maybe folks are right; maybe digital still has a slight edge in low light… For now at least.

See it for your self.

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All shots (not to much? J) are made with Fuji-X cameras (X100, X-E1, X-T1). Some with native XF35 F1.4 lens, some with Mitakon lens turbo adapter and Pentax lenses.

Readers, hope you have a sense of humor. J

Thanks,
Aivaras

More here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aiwalit/

Dec 032015
 
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Camels, turbans and the people of Rajasthan with the new Voigtlander Ultron 35/1.7

by fiftyasa

You might remember my previous post about traveling in the sate of Rajasthan in India with some film cameras (here). This year I came back to Rajasthan with a Leica M9 and would like to share some images with you and the readers of your excellent blog.

A few weeks before leaving for this trip I acquired the new version of the Voigtlaender Ultron 35/1.7. I was in search of an affordable, small, sharp and fast 35 mm lens as main travel-photography lens, and gave the Ultron a try. I wrote a user review of the lens on my website here, mainly talking about sharpness and the use of the Ultron on the Leica M9 vs the Sony A7, but the first real use of the lens was going to be in this trip to Rajasthan.

The images below, unless otherwise stated, are shot with the new Utron 35/1.7 and Leica M9.

Bathing and preying in the sacred waters of the Pushkar lake:

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Although I was carrying around also a Planar 50/2 and a Biogon 25/2.8, the Ultron stayed on my camera 90% of the time. 35mm seems to be the perfect focal lens for me for travel photography: not too wide and not too short, excellent for environmental portraits and easy to manage when composing the scene.

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Pushkar also hosts a very popular camel trade fair which offers amazing opportunities for portraits and rural life scenes:

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I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but I have to say that I am very satisfied with the Ultron. Sharpness, bokeh, pop, micro-contrast are top. My only complaint is that my version seems not correctly calibrated. It back focuses. Before the trip I just glued a piece of black tape on the rangefinder cam and that solved the problem. Unfortunately achieving precise focus on a digital M system is in general a pretty difficult task, no matter how many times you send your M body to Wetzlar for calibration…

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In a temple in the countryside of Pushkar, Aloo Baba grows his potatoes (aloo) and kindly poses for a portrait:

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In Ajmer I visited some projects of a local non governmental organization (NGO) called RSKS (http://www.rsksajmer.org/about-us.php). RSKS is active in developing the rural areas around Ajmer with various programs, such as educational programs and income generation activities. I visited one of their schools in a poor rural village, a sewing training center for young women and a micro-finance program in a remote village.

The following picture portraits a student of the school (this time shot with Zeiss Planar 50/2):

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Here a woman who took part of a micro-finance program:

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After visiting Pushkar and its surroundings, I moved to Bundi, a small city in the South of Rajasthan. It looks like the blue city of Jodhpur but on a smaller scale. Its people are extraordinary friendly:

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For those interested in seeing more images of this trip, please visit: https://fiftyasa.wordpress.com/portfolio/rajasthan-again/

 

Dec 022015
 

Steve’s Picks: Unique Products of the Year from Cameras to Gadgets to Audio

It’s no secret that I love tech, gadgets and gear. I love photography and great camera gear. I love Hi Fi audio and all things Paranormal. Basically, I live my life as happy as I can be, and always try to do the things I love and try things that bring pleasure to my life. I test and try so many gadgets every year I am toying with the idea of branching off to a 2nd review website for Gadgets, tech and Hi Fi. Maybe one day. Until then, below is a list of cool items I tried this year, some with reviews you may have ever realized I wrote ;)

CAMERA:

Leica SL – My camera of the year for 2015! (full review here)

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The Leica SL is a masterpiece in the world of Mirrorless Cameras. Why? Well, read my review if you missed it (here) and bask in the beauty of the SL. Leica got it so right here and for so many reasons. First, it’s built to a level like I have never seen in any camera. Weather sealed, solid metal construction without being overly heavy and a solid and pro feeling to all the buttons and controls. The shutter is so smooth, the response nice and fast, the EVF is class leading…best in the world at this time. The ISO capability is beyond anything Leica has ever done and the IQ, color and DR is all at the top of the heap. The only real competitor to the SL in the Mirrorless world is the Sony A7RII (review here) and while close, it just can not compete with the SL in build, feel, speed, control, AWB/color, EVF and inspiration/joy of use. With that said, The Sony A7RII is my #2 camera of the year for me and would have taken it if not for the SL being delivered mid November. 

The Sony A7RII – Camera of the year Runner Up – Buy it HERE

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In 2nd place for the cam of the year, for me, is the Sony A7RII. For the money, $3200, you get very close to the Leica SL in performance and with its full frame 42 MP sensor, you get class leading resolution (but use good lenses to get the most from it). With its nice EVF, tilt LCD and growing collection of lenses there really is nothing quite like the A7RII in the Mirrorless world for the price and what it offers. See my full review HERE.

Honorable Mention – Leica Q and Sony RX1RII and Olympus E-M5II

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HiFi Audio

Focal Sopra #2  – My Speaker of the Year 2015 – Review is HERE

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For anyone into HI end HiFi Audio, the Focal Sopra #2 is a groundbreaking speaker. if you thought Leica cameras were pricey then do not get into high end Home Audio! The Sopra speakers while not cheap are very cheap when you consider what they offer, which is sound that normally is reserved for $35-50,000 loudspeakers. Coming in at $13,000, these are the most amazing speakers I have heard up to $50,000. For 15-20 years I have been into high end audio, and today in 2015, due to these speakers my system is 100% amazing and complete leaving me wanting for nothing more. The Sopras are backordered by 6-9 months right now, for good reason. Best bang for the buck in high end audio today.

McIntosh MA8000 – Integrated Amp of the Year – Review is HERE

With its amazing 110lbs of serious American Muscle the McIntosh MA8000 is built right here in the good old USA and it is built to last a lifetime. Much like Leica, the McIntosh brand has a reputation for being one of the “best” by many and for some the brand is not authentic HIFI as in the past McIntosh offered a sound that was warm, thick and direct. Today the sound coming from the MA8000 is absolutely amazing. 3D, holographic and plenty of weight while never being warm, mushy or old school. I have had amps in my room from Audio Research, Devialet, Line Magnetic, Cary, Leben and so many high end brands and products. For me, the MA8000 is the best integrated I have ever heard or owned. In 2nd comes the Devialet I used to own.

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The McIntosh is a serious piece of Audio gear offering a great built-in DAC, a fantastic phono stage for MC or MM carts and of course those huge blue meters. You can see the full review HERE for details on this 300WPC powerhouse, but this is an all new McIntosh sound that is absolutely gorgeous. Also a perfect match for the Sopra #2 above.

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GADGETS and GIZMOS

DJI Phantom 3 drone. Amazon has them HERE

This is an amazing piece of tech my friends. Sure, I know about the DJI Phantom 1 and 2 as well as the Inspire. I know about every drone made available under $4000 and have tried many. The Phantom 3 Professional is the best bang for the buck in the drone world, period. With its familiar form factor and design, the 3 is so simple to use and fly it almost flies itself. Not sure how anyone could crash a Phantom 3 Pro as it truly is phenomenal, and with its included 4K camera the video you can capture is out of this world. Smooth, cinematic and crazy good quality.

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With a range of 1.2 miles, the Phantom 3 pro can be flown far away all while you view the real-time video feed coming back to you so you can pilot by line of sight or on your display. The Phantom is rock solid stable in the air due to GPS and if you let go of controls it will just hover wherever it is. You can do a one button press to return to home and land and even if you get out of range or your controller runs out of battery the copter will return home  to where it took off from and land.

For me it is about the footage one can capture with the Phantom 3 pro and I already started to implement it into video’s I do/shoot/create and my 1st tests have been wonderful. Well worth the $1200. I had mine out on maybe 12 flights so far and never an issue. One time it did get out of range and lost up in the clouds. I thought it was gone so I turned off my transmitter and within minutes it was back and landing at my feet. Incredible technology from DJI.

You can order a Phantom 3 at B&H Photo or Amazon and they are a BLAST. Below is one of my Paranormal videos I did while testing the DJI and you can spot the drone footage in the beginning.

Yes, I also run and own Huff Paranormal and have also had software developed for what I do. In fact, I have 2X the following in the para world than I do here! You can check me out on YouTube HERE or at my Para Facebook with over 135k followers HERE. I have been featured and interviewed on the nationwide COAST TO COAST AM and several radio shows across the country. I have been featured on TV and been offered TV shows from many cable networks, all of which I refused for ethical reasons (they require staging and faking which I will never do). My software is used by thousands of individuals, teams, and paranormal researchers around the world who are always looking for answers. I just completed a documentary in Key West FL with another team that will be released in 2016. You can see my software that I designed and had developed for me HERE and HERE. Of course, only those with a paranormal fascination will get it :)

This DJI Phantom will be used in future productions and I am happy to have it. For someone looking for a much cheaper drone for around the house, I recommend THIS ONE at $32. Yea, it’s a toy but it works decent and records ok video.

Video Stabilizer

DJI Osmo camera and stabilized Gimbal – See it at Amazon HERE

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The DJI Osmo is a handheld 4K camera and gimbal that allows you to get smooth and fluid video much like you see in films and Television. It’s quite incredible on the video front but the OSMO has a huge weakness in the audio because the built-in mic is the worst I have ever heard, ever. It was not until I purchased this RODE Video Micro mic that I fell in love with the OSMO.  The video is incredible though… and as I do more and more work with it I will be reviewing it here at stevehuffphoto.com. NOt cheap at $650 but it offers a stunning 4k camera, a beautiful gimbal that keeps your video rock steady and gorgeous and a comfy handle as well as an app that allows you to use your iPhone or smart phone as a real-time monitor of what you are shooting. You WILL need a mic, and after trying 6 mics, the best I found was the above mentioned RODE MICRO.

You can find the OSMO at B&H Photo or Amazon. I will be shooting my family Christmas with the OSMO and my footage will look so so cool and so so good. While flawed in the audio area, once a mic is added the OSMO is quite fantastic.

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New Acoustic Guitar Amp Tech

The Fender Acoustic SFX Acoustic Guitar Amp – More about it HERE

Wow, this guy is not only beautiful and well made, it is getting attention from many as the best Acoustic guitar amp ever created. With its 3D sound, 4 speakers that surround the amp, left, right, center and back you get a crystal clear sound that is sweet and rich with stereo effects like delays, chorus and vibrato. This looks furniture grade quality and sounds so good, better than any Acoustic amp I have ever heard, I had to buy one for my acoustic/electric. If you play acoustic/electric and am looking for an amp, look no further. This is the best I have ever heard or used. I now own one. You can order or see more about the Fender Acoustic SFX HERE.

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Headphones

HiFiMan HE-1000 – See them at Amazon HERE

In 2015 what I feel to be the best Headphone ever created was released. The HiFiMan HE-1000 was released and not only was the design crazy cool, the sound, with the right amp was UNREAL! If you are into HeadFi and want the best try the HE1000 and an ALO Audio Studio 6 Amp. Delicious. At $3000 they better be amazing, and they are. Amazon sells them via prime ;) My review is HERE but one needs “Golden Ears” to appreciate these and an amp is mandatory.

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Bose QC25 NC Headphones – See them at Amazon

Also, for travelers and those needed noise cancelling headphones I found the latest version of the Bose Noise Canceling tech to be the best yet. The newer QC25 are my #1 choice for air, subway, train or any travel where you need to cut the noise as they block out the noise better than any NC headphone I have used, and now we can use them without battery or using the noise reduction. Comfy, long battery life and looks that work when traveling :) If bose can do one thing very well, it is noise canceling headphones.

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There are so many more gizmos I have tried out in 2016 but the above are my faves and the ones that stick out in my mind. These days I get so many things sent to me to review and test, and it’s always loads of fun.

Nov 252015
 

FIRST LOOK! The SLR Magic 50 1.1 For E-Mount at $349!

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I have been checking out a new lens from SLR Magic and it is a 50 1.1 for the Sony FE Mount, and yes, this is a full frame 50 1.1 for $349. It’s metal construction, rangefinder like lens build and smooth manual focus ring make this a pretty great buy at $349. It is not going to be a “perfect” lens wide open but gives a unique character for sure. I have been shooting with one for a few days but I had Andrew at SLR Magic convert mine to Leica M mount. This way I can use it on Leica or Sony (via adapters) but the lens is the same through and through and for the FE mount you are getting a unique lens to add to your kit with gobs of character wide open, and sharpness and snap stopped down to f/2-2.8.

The lens feels great, looks nice and is small. Very well made for the price point for sure. I will have more of this lens in my upcoming Leica SL review..soon!

You can buy the lens at B&H Photo HERE and take a look at a couple sample shots below ;)

Wide open at 1.1 with very careful focusing! Click it for larger.

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Stopped down to f/1.4

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Again at 1.4

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f/2.8 – it sharpens up dramatically here, focusing was on the trees in the mirror

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Here is one at 1.4…

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and now at f/2.8

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Nov 172015
 

Hong Kong with the Voigtlander Nokton 35 1.2

By Fahad A

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Hi Brandon,

Thanks for posting my previous submissions, this is my 4th submission and hopefully the 5th will be on the way soon.

Last summer I decided to go to Hong Kong to spend my vacation and of course to explore the streets along with my camera. I only took the leica (typ240) along with the nokton 35mm 1.2, thinking that I might buy a 50mm from HK if I felt limited with the 35mm (given that I broke the 50mm summicron and for some reason didn’t remember to send it for a repair until the day I traveled)

Luckily, I managed without having to buy a new lens, the images had the usual nokton softness, which I don’t mind at all. Hong kong is very dense, and streets are tight and narrow that I couldn’t imagine using a 50mm over there, the 35mm focal length served me very well.

Most of the images I am sharing here are not uploaded to my photostream yet, as you can see they are all in B&W, which is the total opposite of my current flickr photostream, however I might upload them soon.

I never thought I would convert any of these photographs to B&W when i was capturing them, it only happened when I messed around with one of the images and felt that nokton softness along with B&W treatment appeals to my taste.

For now, hope you all enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed capturing them.

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Fahad A

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