Jun 252014
 

Still enjoying my Leica M8

By Jochen Utecht

Dear Steve,

It has been a while since you published my latest “inspirational” email (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/01/14/daily-inspiration-494-by-jochen-utecht/). This time I would like to share a few images taken with my Leica M8, which I love and hate at the same time. If I had to decide which camera to keep, it would be the Fujifilm X100s. But the M8 is capable of outstanding quality. It only is a slow and quirky device, which sometimes is a good thing.

You can hardly push the ISO beyond 640. There is too much noise showing up. Focusing often takes too much time for snapshots. But prefocusing can make looking through the viewfinder obsolete. Compared to the X100 it is a heavy piece of metal. But it feels soo good!

I don´t have Leica lenses, because I am by no means rich if money matters. But I could get hold of a few nice lenses second hand:
Voigtländer 21/4, VC 15/4.5, Minolta 28/2.8 and Minolta 40/2.0. The Minolta´s are the same in quality as Leica glass. And the 15/4.5 is fantastic. Very sharp lens. I use the 21 and the 28 most of the time.

Usually I shoot RAW (DNG). The wide-angle lenses from Voigtländer get a treatment with CornerFix first. Then I develop a bit with Photoshop (Camera Raw). After that I go into Picasa and make some adjustments to the jpg´s. (First I try the I´m-feeling-lucky-button) That works well enough for me at least.

VC 21/4, edited in PS (correction of converging lines)

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They don´t earn much money, but are really childloving people.
Minolta 28mm/2.8, prefocused image.

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The forbidden city is always a joy to walk around. I usually hate images taken from behind. They are cowardish and mostly don´t say anything than that the photographer was there and didn´t have the guts to ask for permission. But sometimes you cannot do anything else and the picture still works.
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The same goes for this one. This Panorama was also with the 21/4. I stitched it from 6 portait-style images. There is barely any distortion in the VC21/4, so PS didn´t have problems putting it together. I don´t mind that some people appear as doublettes. Next time I might bring a tripod and blur the people.

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First of all I asked for permission to take a picture of these beauties. After a posing picture was taken they immediately went back to watching their smartphones and I could capture the scene I had been seeing before.
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Sometimes you get nice results if you hand the M8 to a stranger to have your picture taken. This was on the first of May. I even had to tell that chinese fellow which button to press, but made the settings prior to handing the camera over. It would have been a fun pic if my face had been replacing Mao. I will try that next time. That might not be possible with a rangefinder camera though.
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I hope you enjoyed the pictures and if you don´t want to show all 6 pictures, feel free to choose three of them.

Thanks, Jochen
5intheworld.de

Jun 132014
 

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Friday Film: Hunza And Gojal

By Ibraar Hussain

Part 2: NAGAR, HUNZA AND GOJAL – See Part 1 HERE

The farther north one goes, the more magnificent the Karakoram scenery becomes. Leaving Shina speaking Chilas and Gilgit and the green Alpine Himalayas behind, with only backward glances revealing Nanga Parbat dominating the southern horizon and the line of the Himalaya.

North from Gilgit along the Karakoram Highway one follows the Hunza River, flanked on either side by the Hunza and Nagar Valleys. These valleys are absolutely gorgeous, full of tall graceful Poplars, Cherry, Walnut, Mulberry and especially Apricot trees.

The way is dominated by Rakaposhi, a 25,551 foot snow Giant, and flanked by His peaks, including Spantik or Golden peak, Diran, Ultar and Lady Finger Peak. The people of these valleys speak Burushuski along with the lingua franca of the North – Shina.

Hunza is famous for it’s Apricots, longevity and lifespan of it’s people and the astounding beauty of it’s country. just as Vigne described Nanga Parbat 150 years ago as ‘the most awful and most magnificent sight to be met with in the Himalayas.’ The Greats Eric Shipton, HW Tilman and Francis Younghusband along with Lord Curzon all acknowledged (amongst other explorers) that Hunza was probably the most beautiful country in the world.

From Karimabad and it’s Baltit and Altit forts one crosses the KKH until it joins the ancient Silk Route and they merge into one through Upper Hunza or Gojal where the people speak Wakhi, and onto Gulmit and Passu where one has to ford the Atabad Lake by boat. (This is a new lake caused by earth quakes, as the mountain sides collapsed damming th e Hunza river, and destroying the KKH and villages in the process).

This area is dominated by the Passu Cathedrals; a line of unclimbed jagged peaks which are a thing of exquisite beauty. Photographs cannot do this area any justice at all.

 

Faces from Hunza, Nagar and Gojal
Contax G2 45mm Planar T* Kodak Ektachrome e100vs
Rolleiflex 3.5F 75mm Planar Agfa Ultra 50

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The Atabad Lake and River Hunza, Gojal
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The Passu Cathedrals, Passu, Gojal, Upper Hunza by the Karakoram Highway/ Silk Road
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The Altit Fort and The Hunza Valley from The Baltit Fort at Karimabad.
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The Hunza Valley and Rakaposhi
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The Baltit Fort and Ultar Peak Hunza
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Atabad lake, Gojal, Upper Hunza. Rolleiflex 3.5F Agfa Ultra 50. lab Scan

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Jun 112014
 

Take or Make

by David Lykes Keenan

Are you a taker or a maker? 

25_150_Parade, New York City, 2011

I had the pleasure of meeting photographer Robert Herman recently in my new home of NYC. We were meeting to compare notes about self-published vs. artist-funded photography books. These are probably the best two (the only two?) ways for artists not-already-famous to publish books of their work these days.

Robert, by the way, has self-published his book The New Yorkers to much success and acclaim. It’s been a ton of work for him but he’s now into a second printing which is almost unheard of for a self-published photography book.

During our talk, Robert suggested I find a book that has long been out-of-print. “You can probably find it on Amazon,” he said. He was right. My copy was either legally or illegally lifted from the University of South Carolina Museum of Art library and sold to me for $1. Only the library pull card was missing. The book is Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960 with an introductory essay by John Szarkowski, an untouchable if there ever was one, in the world of photography.

I usually just look at the pictures in a photo book, I call this the National Geographic Effect, but in this case, I read every word. My first impression was how timely to 2014 it felt even though it was written in 1978.

The first part of the Szarkowski essay focused on the impact that Robert Frank (and The Americans) and Minor White (and Aperture magazine) had on American photography after the 1950s.

The point of the essay (and the theme of the book) was to demonstrate how photography could be divided into two camps that Szarkowski referred to as “straight” (Frank) and “synthetic” (White). He was very careful not to draw to firm of a dividing line, leaving that open to artistic interpretation, but went onto discuss the new generation of photographers who emerged in the 1960s and how they were influenced by Frank and/or White to find themselves representatives of either straight or synthetic photography.

The photographs in the book are divided into two sections with many examples of each form. The names associated with this collection of photographs, we now recognize as a Who’s Who of iconic photographers. Erwitt, Winogrand, Friedlander, and Meyerowitz on the straight side; Capanigro, Uelsmann, Warhol, and Hass on the synthetic side. Among many others.

By the time I was nearing the end of the essay, the title of the book had completely slipped from my mind. In the closing paragraph, Szarkowski tapped his seemingly endless knowledge of the history of photography when he looked even further back than the 1950s and suggested that the father of straight school to have been Eugene Atget, and the synthetic to have been Alfred Stieglitz.

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Then everything about the book, about mirrors and windows, came completely into focus (pun intended) with the final sentence of the essay. “The distance between them (Atget and Stieglitz) is to be measured not in terms of the relative force or originality of their work, but in terms of their conceptions of what a photograph is: is it a mirror, reflecting a portrait of the artist who made it, or a window, through which one might better know the world?”

As I wrote earlier, change some of the names, add about 30 years to the dates, and Szarkowski could have been writing about photography of the 21st century, the essay would have a very contemporary feel. These two camps of photography haven’t gone anywhere.

I certainly have experienced this is my own photography and I strongly identify with my camp. I think this is why I found the Mirrors and Windows essay compelling enough to not give it the NatGeo treatment. I just never thought about it using the terminology adopted by Szarkowski, that is “straight” and “synthetic”, which does have a rather dated feeling in 2014.

I’ve always thought of this photographic divide to be between photographers who “take” pictures and those who “make” pictures.

As a street photographer, I definitely take pictures. Landscape photographers take pictures. A fashion photographer or a commercial photographer make pictures.

Of course, as Szarkowski was careful to point out, overlap is allowed. That, pardon my editorializing, ridiculous $7 million photograph of the Rhine River by Andreas Gursky was a made landscape.

Try as I might, any personal attempt at crossing over in the make camp has, well, not been pretty. My mind and/or photographic eye just doesn’t work that way. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing, I remind myself, it just is.

So, do you take photographs or do you make photographs? Are your photographs windows or mirrors?

David has been photographing seriously since 2006 when he left his software company in capable hands and has not set down his camera since. Presently he is managing a Kickstarter campaign to publish his book of street photography entitled FAIR WITNESS. You are encouraged to check the campaign and make an investment to assist in bringing FAIR WITNESS to the bookshelves.

From Steve: Please DO check out David’s Kickstarter and if you like what you see feel free to help get him to his goal. These things are tough and I applaud and respect those who go out there and make efforts to get it done. You can see his video below, great and passionate guy:

Jun 102014
 

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Yogyakarta Black Valentine with Ricoh GR

by William Christiansen

I’ve been using Ricoh GR for almost a year and the camera has always been in my bag. There’s no reason to not bringing the camera because it’s so small yet very capable. I use it alternately with the Leica M9 especially when the condition is so dark which requires me to bump up the ISO or use the flash.

On 14th of February 2014, which was supposed to be Valentine Day, Mount Kelud erupted. The mountain sent its ash and grit to nearby cities including Yogyakarta, my hometown. Coincidentally, it’s also the last day of Chinese New Year celebration which supposedly to be the biggest event as it’s the closing ceremony. It’s really a special day of the year.

Usually I will bring Leica M9 with 35mm Summicron ASPH with me when I go to the street or travelling, but this time I felt that the camera was not suitable for the current condition, so I brought my Ricoh GR to the street.

Ergonomically, the camera is so right on my hand and with the condition, dusty and gritty, because I need to hold the camera by using only one hand while the other hand mostly covering my eye to prevent the grit coming to my eyes.

I set the three customisable user slots to these settings:

Setting1 – For taking picture during the bright light – Aperture priority, F/8, ISO1600, Auto-focus.
Setting2 – For taking picture indoor or relatively dark condition – Aperture priority, F/2.8 ISO3200, Auto-focus.
Setting3 – For taking picture using flash or when the there’s almost no light – F11 , 1/10, ISO1600, Zone focusing set to around 1.5 meter.

For me, these three settings have already covered all possible lighting condition I might encounter. In the morning until afternoon, I will use Setting1, and then afternoon and night-time, I will use either Setting2 or Setting3. The auto-focus of the Ricoh GR is quite good especially when taking photo in the bright light but when the light is lacking, sometimes it will focus on the background rather than the object. It is the reason why I use the Setting3, to take photo quickly in the dark condition without relying on its auto-focus at all. I will surely miss the photo opportunity of the hungry cat if I had been using the Setting2 because there’s almost no light when I took the photo.

I always shoot in raw and process later in Lightroom. I am quite surprised seeing the files from this little camera because it’s really sharp. I converted all the images to black and white in Lightroom and even added some grain to bring more emotion to the images because at ISO3200 the file is relatively clean.

In conclusion, the Ricoh GR is a great camera if you are used to stick to the 28mm focal length. The flash metering is really great, the ISO capability is more than enough and it tooks a really sharp image. It is a really great secondary camera considering it is so small and quite light (you have no reason to not bringing it) and even as a primary camera (highly printable, sharp and great manual settings).

If you want to see more photos from my travelling and street photography, you can visit my website at http://www.touristwith.camera

Thanks, Steve!

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Jun 102014
 

Tibet with my M9

By John Kurniawan

Hi Steve/Brandon,

I am a frequent visitor of you side after I got my first M9+cron 35asph. I have not using rangefinder type of camera for 20+ years since my FM2 rest inside the drawer as I am busy building up my business.

Around 10 years ago when I got a second daughter I start to get D300 and shot occasionally not seriously yet till last Jun we are on a vacation trip where I have to carry bag pack, a DSLR+zoom lens and for sure shopping bags…..

Leica M9 has been my dreams since it launch but back and forth hesitate to get one as have the mind-set difficult to focus, everything else must be manually set, so last August I took the plunge and get a pre-owned M9 from a friend. The first 2 weeks quite frustrating to get use to it, but I determined must get over it and since then every where I travel only one cam and one lens to off some of the load.

Herewith I attached some shots of my recent trip to Tibet, hope all of you enjoy the colorful Tibet.

Cheers

Gangway

Prayers

MonksDebate

Nannie

Jun 042014
 

Make a List, Make a Wish

by Colin Steel – See his blog HERE

Where does photographic inspiration come from? Well for me it is usually triggered subconsciously through some innocent event or encounter that makes me think and see in a particular way. A good example of this is this City Diary set from the marvellous city of Rome which I visited recently for the second time. The trigger in this case was a visit to the excellent Pasolini exhibition that showcased his controversial life in Rome through letters, photos, video clips and stills from his movies.

I didn’t realise this effect at a conscious level and it was only when I looked at the shots from the weekend that I began to see the influence that the show and Pasolini had on me and the subjects and framing that I chose as a result. I think that it’s fair to say that this works best if you try not to rationalise too much and simply shoot what creates an emotional response or interest for you, no matter what the subject matter might be. I also find it best not to look at the photos as I shoot and often leave it for a day or two before I edit them afterwards. One thing that I do consider essential for this kind of fun shooting is a small, compact camera that is flexible and easy to use.

I have been using a Ricoh GR a lot recently and it absolutely excels for this type of City shooting with its snap focus and close focusing macro capability that I find very easy to use and control. At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, it goes without saying that the more you use and know your camera then the more you can shoot ‘internally’ without the conscious thought required to fiddle with controls and focusing. Finally, the real beauty of this approach is that you don’t necessarily have to travel to exotic locations to practise it, although in all honestly that is a huge part of the fun and motivation for me.

See Colin’s last poast HERE. Well worth taking a look at if you missed it! TRUST ME!

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Jun 032014
 

Anti-Coup d'état protest, Bangkok, Thailand

Covering the Anti-Coup Protests in Thailand with the Nikon DF

By Lee Craker

Covering the Anti-Coup Protests in Thailand with the Nikon Df

On the 25th of May, 2014 I covered the Anti-Coup demonstrations in central Bangkok Thailand. Thailand had experienced a Coup D’état 3 days earlier, and this was one of the first gatherings of people to show disapproval of the coup.

Using the Nikon Df on an important journalism assignment was literally a last-minute decision. I had arrived in Bangkok on the 23rd to teach a street photography workshop, and in my camera bag for the trip I chose 2 bodies and two lenses. I travel to Bangkok from my home in rural Thailand by public van to avoid the insane traffic in Bangkok and traveling light is a necessity. I chose my workhorse D3s and the Df as bodies, and a Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 along with the Nikkor 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 for lenses. The Nikkor 28-300 has all but replaced my Nikkor 70-200, it is a sharp capable lens, but that is another story for another day.

On the 24th, the day of my workshop I chose the D3s to shoot with as we were starting before sunrise and I wanted to have a fast focusing body for the morning darkness. I ended up carrying the D3s and the 28-300 lens for about 8 hours that day. I need to explain I am 62 years old and have been a professional for many years. Carrying two pro bodies and lenses has taken a toll on my body. After a day of carrying the D3s for 10 hours, I have had it. My back is sore and my neck is also feeling the pain of the heavy body. So on the morning of the 25th I decided to shoot with the Nikon Df for the day. For the reasons stated above, these days I carry one camera and one lens for fast moving assignments. I’ll leave carrying a bag of equipment that you may or may not need to the younger, stronger guys. I’ll rely on a good camera, experience, and maybe a little luck to get the job done.

I had two concerns in choosing the Df for this assignment. 1) Would it focus fast enough in critical situations? and 2) If it got knocked around would it hold up? As for #1, the Nikon Df does not focus as fast as the lightning fast D3s, but it did focus fast enough. I also knew that I did not have 9FPS available to me and on this particular day I never needed a rapid-fire machine gun of a camera. My other concern was durability. When in tight situations, when I was being shoved around by the crowd, I protected my camera as if I was carrying my Leica and had no problems at all. This is another distinct advantage of carrying one camera, it is in your hands and not at your side so it suffers much less abuse.

I have to report that the Nikon Df did a fantastic job on the 25th. It did everything I needed it to. Except for me being out of position, I did not miss any shots or walk away feeling I would have done any better job with any other camera. After this experience I am not afraid to use the Df as a journalism camera, when I need to.

One of the reports I filed is here: http://www.demotix.com/news/4840647/protests-against-thailand-coup-continue-central-bangkok

The following are some shots I made with the Nikon Df at the anti-coup protests in Bangkok, Thailand, May 25, 2014

Anti-Coup d'état, Bangkok, Thailand

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Anti-Coup d'état protest, Bangkok, Thailand

Anti-Coup d'état protest, Bangkok, Thailand

 

Website: http://www.leecraker.com
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Books: http://www.leecraker.com/wp/books
News Images: http://www.demotix.com/users/lee-craker/profile

May 312014
 

Making Time for photography

By D.J. De La Vega

Making Time…

In between running around getting a bunch of nothing sorted out, doing chores and running errands, I decided to take two minutes out and grab a cup of coffee and take a well-earned break. There I sat upon the sea front on a bleak summer’s day, watching the increasingly ferocious waves crashing upon the gnarly and charismatic rocks through the windscreen of my car. I could see many a potential shot unfolding but as my camera was currently rattling around in the boot, I was not too worried about realising any of the potential photographs. Being as blessed as I am with the current location of my humble abode, I have endless number of similar attempts clogging up my hard drive as it stands.

All of a sudden a little car pulled up next to me and out popped a fragile but cheery old man, suitable wrapped up for the inclement weather conditions. He leant back into the open door of the ageing hatchback, gave his smiling wife a quick peck on the cheek and threw around his neck an unremarkable superzoom bridge type camera. Off he then toddled along the promenade, disappearing across the harbour to take some photos of the waves now excitedly assaulting the pier and lighthouse. Meanwhile his better half waited patiently in the car reading a book quietly listening to the talk radio.

I was in awe of just how fantastic this little scene that unfolded before me really was. This chap was deliberately and diligently carrying out his preferred past time regardless of the unfavourable conditions, fully supported and seeming actively encouraged by his long-suffering spouse. I could not even make time to get my camera from the boot of my car to take one shot. This is when I had the epiphany; although I consider photography to be integral in my life, cementing all aspects of my day. I realised 99% of the time that is what my photography was… cement. I struggle so much to make the most of my time, between all the essential building blocks of what it is that makes me be: wife, kids, family, friends, work etc. Photography encompasses all of these things while never really taking president.

That is when I decided I needed to start trying to find a way to squeeze more time into my hectic schedule… to put my photography first, if even just at least once in a while. I am always shooting while out doing something else; taking the dog for a walk, walking to the shops or taking pictures of my kids on days out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these occasions for photography, but I felt I needed time to concentrate wholeheartedly and immerse myself into a shoot.

A couple of days passed and with a bit of organising I found myself alone with my camera in one of my favourite cities in the (currently) United Kingdom, Edinburgh. I had suitably cleared my day and found I nothing but time to dedicate toward submerging myself in the culture and atmosphere of the impressive Capital. Just like the inspirational old man with his superzoom in his chosen location, it was just me, my D7000 and a 50mm F1.8 D floating around the city streets like a wisp on the breeze. I found I could concentrate more and explore locations and subjects in much greater depths than my usual style of candidly shooting on the move, trying to capture that one “decisive moment” whilst simultaneously trying to stop my dog mauling/mounting a passerby as my attention was shifted. I hovered, lingered and simply relaxed, breathing it all in.

For over five hours non-stop I walked, explored and shot and even with a conservative haul of less than the equivalent of two rolls of film I was happy with what I had achieved. I really wanted to share this set as I feel there must also be a lot of people out there who cannot find the time of day to fully realise their passion for photography. Please do not mistake my satisfaction for superciliousness, I am not claiming that any of these pictures have broken the mould or that I have crafted anything close to a masterpiece, but I do feel on a personal level that have I have accomplished something by making time to put my photography first.

If we all spend more time taking photos than we do about talking and thinking about them, making time will surely reap rewards.

D.J. De La Vega

@DJ_De

dj_delavega on Instagram

https://www.flickr.com/photos/djdelavega/

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May 262014
 

Photowalk and Workshop Thoughts

By Ben

Steve and Brandon,

The first photography workshop that I attended was the street photography workshop you hosted in Chicago during September 2011. It was a wonderful experience.

I recently had the opportunity to teach a street photography workshop hosted by the local camera shop in my area. I met very passionate photographers and was able to share my thoughts with them. I learned from them as well. I think that workshops are fantastic and I wish they occurred more frequently. I wanted to share my thoughts with you and your readers regarding photowalks and workshops.

Photowalk is not a word that can be easily be found defined in a dictionary. I understand it to mean: An informal organized gathering of people whose intent is to stroll around leisurely taking photos, enjoying themselves, and learning from one another through interaction and observation. I think that photowalks are analogous to photography workshops. They can be considered one and the same.

Workshops and photowalks are great investment and idea for photographers at every skill level. Here is why:

Education

No explanation is necessary. We all benefit from instruction. Regarding workshops in general, photography related or not, I always take something away from the experience.

Interaction

Workshops allow for more individualized attention. Studies have shown that more is accomplished with a smaller teacher to student ratio. A smaller group size allows for more opportunity for communication. Sometimes individual student/teacher time is included during a workshop. Before a workshop I determine what it is that I want to get out of the workshop. I prepare a list of questions ahead of time. Many of these questions are naturally answered through the content of material presented. The other questions I will ask the instructor during a one-on-one session.

Informality

Workshops typically consist of ten or fewer students. In my formal career I have had the opportunity to present, teach, and mentor numerous times. There are benefits to learning in smaller groups. I have seen it with my own eyes. In larger groups and in classroom settings it is harder for people to speak up and ask questions. I once taught a night class at the local college that only had seven students enrolled. The restraint and sheepishness of students was almost non-existent. In that situation I felt less like a teacher and more like a big brother type of mentor. The atmosphere was very relaxed. People felt comfortable. I have observed the same type of social synergy in photography workshops. People interact, they speak up and communicate.

Time

Workshops are generally scheduled for a full weekend or less. I’ve heard time and time again that the best way to become a photographer is to keep your day job. Like most of us, I have a 9 to 5 career. There isn’t time available in my busy life to enroll in formal photography or art classes. Workshops are great because they generally occur over the weekend. They are usually held at a very great location and thus can feel like a mini vacation. One day workshops that are held on a Saturday seem to fit me well. My wife and I will generally travel to the workshop destination on Friday night after work. Saturday day is taken up with me at the workshop and my wife shopping or checking out the tourist attractions that are offered. We meet up in the evening for dinner and a night out on the town. I also use this time out with my wife to get some street shooting in as well. It’s great to multitask street shooting while out on a date with your love. The day ends up being a full day of photography for me.

Camaraderie

People like to spend time with other like minded people with the same interests. Workshops mainly consist of time in a classroom followed by shooting time. During this shooting time there is much interaction. This is where I approach or am approached by others to chat about what has previously discussed during the day. Conversations typically start with “I really agreed with your comment regarding……” or “I have the same camera. Do you like the lens you are shooting with? I’ve considered buying it.” Advertising for workshops should include “For sale: instant friends, just add cameras”. I have met many great people attending photography workshops. Someone usually facilitates email address exchange at the end. I can say that I keep in contact with some people I’ve met through email or simply following and commenting on their blogs, social pages, etc.

Attached are several photos that I captured during the second session of the workshop I taught. All photos were taken with a Leica M9 and Voigtlander 35mm Skopar PII.

You can view more of the photos at:
www.photographsbyben.com
www.photographsbybenmiller.blogspot.com

Thank you Steve and thank you Brandon for keeping such a wonderful website and giving all of us something to look forward to everyday.

Cheers,

Ben

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May 262014
 

NY with Fuji X Pro1

By Pieter Vermeulen

Hi Steve,

Long time reader from The Netherlands here, and I wanted to share some pictures.

After years of shooting with my Canon 5D and other big camera’s I bought a Leica M8.2 a little over a year ago along with two nice Elmarit lenses. In the end, it wasn’t for me. I loved shooting with and getting that Leica feeling, but the ISO performances were so bad that I could not justify it. Thought of buying a M9 instead, but even for the extra money I could not just do it. I also bought the Fuji X100S when it came out and loved it. I did sell it after 2 months because the fixed focal length wasn’t for me. So I sold everything and bought the Fuji X Pro 1 with the 18mm 2.0 and the 35mm 1.4. Fell in love with it. Wasn’t the Leica M but it was what I was looking for.

So when I went to New York for the first time in my life (actually flying for the first time in my life after being scared of flying my entire life) I brought the X Pro. One day… I will go back to Leica… but for now… the Fuji helped in capturing the people of New York. Just wanted to share!

Greetings
Pieter Vermeulen

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May 202014
 

Art of the Grind

By Huss Hardan

Grind: Definition: A skateboard trick where the skateboarder slides on the trucks.

Skateboarding is part of the scene in my home town of Venice, California. Most days when I’m not at work I’m down at the beach on a long board, with my dogs and a camera in tow.
There is a big skate park just off the board walk, which attracts dare devils as well as on lookers.

I took these shots using Leitz 18 and 28mm lenses on a Leica M-E. I found the manual focus rangefinder perfect for this work, as I would pre-focus on a spot, while the optical viewfinder allowed me to keep both eyes open so I could time the release as the rider came into view. This enabled a lag free experience.

I concentrated on the shadows created as I was going for a different look than the usual action shots. This also allowed me to shoot down removing distractions from the frame. I set the camera to add an extra 1 2/3 stops as the extremely harsh reflections from the concrete bowl would normally cause drastic under exposure.

Peace out
Huss

husshardan.com

Art of the Grind 1

Art of the Grind 2

Art of the Grind 3

Art of the Grind 4

May 082014
 

The best camera ever

By Etienne Schoettel

Hi Steve,

I am one of your daily readers looking for your like-no-other reviews and your passionate and crazy comparisons but sadly (for me) I never write a comment. Anyway, I’ve decided to send you this message because in this time when so many tremendous cameras are released (the Leica M 240, RX1, OMD, etc.) I’ve finally realized what I think has always been and will be forever the best camera ever. I think I have your attention but now I may look pretentious. I’ll try to correct that.

#1

But firstly first, let me just introduce myself. I am a French 29-year-old guy living in Paris (pretentious and French that is so cliché) who really loves cameras and smiles all the time. Five years ago, I started small taking pictures without any idea on concepts like bokeh, AF, OVF but with a compact digital camera and my dad advice. Then, I decided to move to a bigger camera (Lumix FZ18) and 1.5 year later to a DSLR (Canon 7D). I really loved all of those cameras because they allowed me to learn at my own pace. But like many people reading your blog, I think that I am a bit affected by what you’ve perfectly described as the Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Indeed, anytime the new killer camera is announced (which often happens these days), I can’t stop asking myself “Hey! What if…” Fortunately enough, for me and my savings, I am quite disciplined and I manage to resist most of the time.

#2

For more than 10 months now, we have decided my wife and I to travel around the world for one year (mainly in South America and Asia). So this means that we will need to leave our jobs, apartment and comfort. Anyway we are sure that this is worth. Of course, we want to share our “future” memories with our families, friends and travelers and that is why we have created a blog. With no idea on how to do this but with some good friends and wikis we managed to have our site. And finally, as any serious traveler blog, we have created a gallery where we will put some shots of our trip.

Now let’s go back to my point (it was about time!). As my wife and I didn’t want to publish an empty blog, we decided to put some old pictures taken during our last trips as an illustration of what the site should look like. Then started the exhumation of files lost in one dust-covered backup hard drive.

#3

What I’ve found were mainly noisy shots, sometimes miss focused but often cropped (due to bad composition). They were taken with the Lumix FZ18 when I was travelling in South East Asia in 2008. Attached to that (not in the EXIF data), there was the answer to my question: what the hell is the Grail camera? The truth is that I have just bought it recently. And my conclusion is that it has not much to do with sensor size, ISO or even IQ.

Let’s do some math. What can we get for $2,800 (which is quite something I must admit)?

A) The Sony RX1 killer-camera-that-fits-in-your-pocket-alas-not-in-my-French-undersized-pockets. Excellent camera no question about that. Please read Steve Huff review!

B) A Leica lens which is so sharp that it is considered as a weapon in some countries.

C) A one-year flight ticket which will offer you so many good moments and pictures that you’ll never regret it.

Yes, my answer is C. This is the price of the ticket (for one person) we paid for our one-year trip. But, you can change the amount for something smaller, even $300 my answer remains “C”. I will always prefer using my money to go somewhere I don’t know that any new camera and that is my Grail. Period (I love them).

#4

I prefer all the imperfect shots taken during my trips with this small camera in Asia that the one taken in Paris with my full stuffed Canon 7D. I just mean that, to me, my best shots are done when I am far away whatever the quality of the camera. I don’t know if it has something to do with me acting differently when abroad or maybe I just try to open my eyes and heart a bit wider… there’s some magic I can’t explain.

You can see some of my pics here: http://pack2life.com/galerie/

Thank you Steve. Please continue your wonderful work. Did you notice that Steve Huff sounds like Stuff (no offense but it always makes me smile)?

Apr 302014
 

organicrisinganthony

Organic Rising. Help Anthony Suau with his new Documentary.

His Indiegogo campaign is HERE, website for the new film is HERE

Hello to all! It’s Wednesday and what better way to get over the hump than to watch a new movie trailer for a new documentary that is looking for your help to get off of the ground. The film is being created by photographer and film maker Anthony Suau, who is not only a friend of mine but an amazing (one of the world’s best imo) photographer who has won multiple awards including two World Press Photo awards and the Pulitzer prize. I saw Anthony in Berlin a couple of years ago and met him again when he was in Phoenix. We sat and talked for almost two hours at a coffee shop. I remember it well as Anthony was out shooting for a project he was doing all across the country and he was very passionate about it, which is always good. I remember saying to myself, and yes, I really did say it..”WOW, this guy is amazing. He not only talks the talk, he walks the walk.” The project he was working on at the time actually hit home with me as I had interest in the same type of thing, but as I said..Anthony spent his life “walking the walk” and for him, this was and is his life.  He is an amazing guy that I was glad to get to know.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anthony has traveled the world shooting events and imagery that shows a true life dedication to his craft. While I just sit here and review cameras (which is what I love to do) he is out there using this cameras to share with the world, risking his life to do so.

The new film

Anthony is now making a movie, and after watching the intro about it as well as the trailer (and agreeing with his views on this subject) I thought some of you may want to see it as well. His passion for what he is doing is still here of course, full force. If you want to help him out with the films funding there are two cool ways to do so, one includes a new photo contest which is pretty cool (though does cost $6 per entry that helps to fund the film) and also the standard Indiegogo type of funding with rewards for those who help out, including an executive producer credit!

In any case, take a look at the intro and description of the project from Anthony below and if you like what you see head over the Indiegogo for the film HERE to see how you can help. The photo entry page is HERE.

Apr 302014
 

Big and small: in the field with a D800/55mm Otus and an A7r/35mm Summilux

Andrew Paquette

www.paqart.com

My background is as a visual artist, not a photographer. I started out as an editorial artist in New York, then became a comic book artist, a 3D artist in the video game industry, a special effects artist in the feature film business, and then an art director in video games. Throughout my career I have made extensive use of cameras, but only in a utilitarian way. For an illustration I did for Travel & Leisure, I took reference photos with a Polaroid. For an issue of the comic Nightbreed, I used my Nikon 2020 to shoot some friends in my loft, again as reference. For the movie Spider-Man, I used photos taken by one of my colleagues to build part of the 3d New York City set. For my paintings, though I preferred to paint subjects “live”, I sometimes took photos with my D70 for reference. On one painting in particular I had the nagging feeling that if only I’d had a better camera I could have skipped painting it. It turned into a fairly popular poster, but even today I think that a photo of the same scene would have done just as well or even better. Now that I have that better camera, I am fairly sure that is true.

I have read in many places that it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have if you have a good eye for a picture. I would say that if you don’t have a decent eye for what makes a good picture, it won’t matter as much what kind of equipment you use, but it will still make a difference. If you do have some experience making pictures, the equipment can make a huge difference.

At the moment, my two favorite camera/lens combinations are almost exact opposites. One is huge, the other is tiny. On the big end of the spectrum, I love my D800 when paired with the Zeiss 55mm Otus lens. On the small side of things, I am equally pleased with my Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH when mounted on an A7r. The difference between how these two kits handle cannot be understated. The D800 + Otus is so ponderously heavy that I literally injured my hand using it (and even had to go to the doctor as a result). The A7r + Summilux is so tiny that I can carry it in a hip pouch and forget it is there. At face value, one might think that the small setup is the way to go but I have found the images I get out of the D800 + Otus so compelling that I take it out for a walk just as often as I go out with the A7r. I have not put the Otus on the A7r as others have done because for me, the purpose of the A7r is to have something lightweight and discreet. If I’m going to use the Otus, it won’t be discreet no matter what it’s mounted on, so I may as well have the higher frame rate offered by the D800.

When I bought the A7r, I was planning on switching to an all Sony/Leica system so that I could travel more easily with my photography gear. At first, I thought that was how it would work out, but then the Otus was released and I got curious about it. The next thing I knew, I had the Otus and found that it was capable of a wonderful medium format look. The A7r/Summilux would have been a perfect combination to shoot the subject I painted that was mentioned earlier, but the D800 + Otus would have been better for another painting I made shortly thereafter. Despite the extra weight, I found that I wanted to keep the D800 (and all my Zeiss lenses) and the A7r. Now, I use the A7r whenever I travel by plane, have to stay in a hotel, or if my arm is not feeling up to walking around with the Otus. Otherwise, I almost always use the Otus. For special occasions, other lenses will get a ride on the D800, but these days I almost always use the Otus.

I should also give a plug for Zacuto viewfinders here. After using the Sony’s vastly superior electronic viewfinder on the A7r, I was too spoiled to be satisfied with the optical viewfinder or live view on the D800. I use the Zacuto Z-finder pro 3x on both cameras now, and hardly ever misfocus as a result. As an added bonus, my exposure is much improved thanks to the Zacuto’s ability to isolate the LCD from exterior light. For the D800, I leave the mounting plate attached to the camera body, then snap on the viewfinder when I need it. For the A7r, I do not attach the mounting plate, but wear the Zacuto on a lanyard around my neck instead, then hold it up to the live view panel when needed.

With all that preamble out-of-the-way, here are some photos. Most were taken in Amsterdam, but several were taken on a recent trip to Geneva with the A7r. See the captions for more detailed information.

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1 The A7r+35mm Leica Summilux ASPH

Carnival ride, Amsterdam. There was a carnival in Dam square a couple weeks ago when I shot this image. The ride was moving so fast that I was amazed I could get any shots at all with the manual focus Summilux, but got several regardless. The real problem was that the seats on this ride spun from the arm they were attached to, meaning that I only occasionally had riders facing the camera.

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Breakdancing at Museumplein, Amsterdam. There is a troupe of breakdancers that I have now photographed three times at Museumplein. The first time I shot them on an overcast day with a Zeiss 15mm Distagon, then with a 55mm Zeiss Otus, and here with the 35mm Summilux. Like the carnival ride, I was worried about shooting fast action because of the A7r’s comparatively slow shots per second, but it worked out fine. I didn’t get as many shots as the D800 would have provided, but it was enough to get the exact shots I wanted.

A7r-02

Indian magic trick at Leidseplein, Amsterdam. Although I avoid doing so with my other lenses, I love shooting backlit subjects with the A7r/Summilux combo. It isn’t that I never get decent shots of this type with other lenses, but this combination yields terrific contrast in these situations.

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Horse-drawn coach, Amsterdam  I’ve tried several times to get a decent shot of this horse, and finally got it with the A7r. One thing I love about the 35mm Summilux is its ability to provide context to a subject, as in this case by showing the environment around the horse.

A7r-04

Particle beam casing and magnets, CERN, Geneva. My friend, Dr. Richard Breedon, has been associated with one of the experiments at CERN for as long as I’ve known him. Recently he offered me an opportunity to come to Geneva and take some photos. I think he gave me something like two days’ notice, but I’d wanted to do it for quite a while, so I got the plane tickets right away and flew down. Taking pictures at CERN was made difficult by the poor lighting and the bizarre colors almost all the machinery was painted.

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Scientist calibrating panel at CERN, Geneva. This was one of a small number of shots I took at CERN that has a human subject in the frame to give a sense of the scale of the beam magnets. This scientist is standing at the base of one of these things, which are about 30 meters in diameter. Like most of the shots taken in this area, I converted it to black and white to get rid of all the brilliant green, red, and yellow painted objects.

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Skier at Chamonix. Richard and I drove down to Chamonix the day after photographing CERN, to have a look at the slopes near Mont Blanc. This shot was taken in an ice cave at the top of a perilous cable car ride. From here, it was all downhill. Most of the shots I took in Chamonix were taken with ISO 50, f 16, and 1/4000 shutter speed. This was one of maybe three shots that had more normal settings. I would post some of the others because I like them, but anyone who has ever been to this location will have very similar shots because there are only a few places to take pictures from unless you want to risk life and limb.

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Geneva auto show, Geneva. This shot looks pretty bright, but it was an indoor space lit with artificial lights, so it wasn’t that bright. This is where having a 1.4 aperture option comes in extremely handy. At ISO 400 I was able to shoot this at 1/400th of a second. One thing I should mention here is that I avoid shooting the A7r at less than 1/200th of a second to avoid shutter vibration, even if it means a higher ISO than I would normally use. In the 1/60-1/125 range, shutter vibration is noticeable, so I just don’t use those settings at all.

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Swan on Lake Geneva. I took about 20 shots of these swans, all in attempt to get one shot of water dripping off their beaks. After thinking I’d missed the shot every time, I found that the first shot got exactly what I wanted.

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Pedestrian, Geneva. This was taken after sunset. Streetlights were just coming on and it was starting to get difficult to see. Despite the lack of light, the Summilux delivered a very nice tonal range.

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Missing the pocket, Amsterdam. When I spotted this couple walking down the street, I had to get a shot of them. I turned around and snapped about five or six shots before they disappeared into a crowd. I particularly like shooting with the Summilux slightly after sundown because of the rich blue violet shades that permeate images made at that time of night. The same evening I took some other nice shots of boats and lights reflected in the canals. Absolutely gorgeous light.

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Roman Road golf course, Wales. I took this on the last day of a conference I attended in Wales. Until that morning, the region had been buried in deep fog that made it almost impossible to shot anything. I was grateful when the sky opened up a little to allow this image to be taken.

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2 The D800+55mm Zeiss Otus

Parked cars, Bergen op Zoom. In the Netherlands, it is very common to see trees trimmed like the ones in this image. Coming from the U.S., I think this looks a bit strange, but interesting. In this shot, I like how the shallow depth of field blends all the twigs together in the background, creating a kind of smoky bramble above the cars.

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Looking and not looking, Amsterdam. To get this shot, I parked myself in front of the violet lamp-post, focused on it, then waited for people to walk by. When I got home, I was fascinated by how sharp the lamp post is. I’m still not used to this quality the Otus has. The Summilux has terrific color and contrast, but the neutral color and outstanding sharpness of the Otus are mesmerizing to look at.

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Artist, Spui, Amsterdam. This shot looks about as cold as Siberia, but it wasn’t very cold at all, nor has it been all winter. We didn’t even have snow this year. Normally I don’t like to take pictures of paintings unless they are mine, but in this case I liked the large amount of white space interrupted by these couple of spots of intense color.

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Couple, Museumplein, Amsterdam. This shot, like many other shots taken with the Otus, looks like medium format photography to me. It also reminds me of the colors one finds in color photography from the 1950’s. The people in the Netherlands tend to be tall, and I like how this man looks like a giant in a tiny seat as he eyeballs my camera.

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Girl with braid, Amsterdam. The primary reason I shot this is because of the colors in this little girl’s clothing. While I think of the Summilux as being particularly good at dealing with blues and yellows, the Otus seems to like pinks and greens more. This may just be my imagination, but it has led me to shooting specific colors with this lens because I think they look better with it.

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Hands with tiny camera, Amsterdam. Unlike the monster I shot this with, the camera in these hands is barely visible. I had wanted to get a picture of this man because of the complex pattern on his jacket, but he ducked into an alcove, took a picture of a building across the street, then went back the way he’d come. I took this in anticipation of him coming out of the alcove in a moment, but he didn’t do it.

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Green and red, Haagse Beemden, Netherlands. I may be the only person in the world that likes this photograph of practically nothing, but I really do like it because of the colors. It is just a garbage can and a big red cylindrical building on the edge of a manmade lake, but I like the combination of red and green.

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Organ, Amsterdam. I have taken a lot of photos of cathedrals, but not as many of the organs, which are usually so high above the ground that it isn’t worth the trouble to shoot them with less than a 100mm lens. This one was lower than most and had great color.

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Breakdancer, Amsterdam. A problem had with the Zacuto is that the D800 live view screen will go black after the shutter is pressed until the image is finished saving. This meant that as I tried to follow the breakdancers with the camera, I could only frame the first shot by eye, and then the rest (if shot in continuous mode) I had to guess. For this reason, I have decided to use the Zacuto for initial focus when shooting action, but will remove it after it is focused so that I can track the action. For this type of shot, I thought the A7r was easier to use because I didn’t have to deal with the Zacuto getting in the way of the EVF.

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Skater, Amsterdam. To me, this skater looks almost like a superhero in this shot. I have at least a hundred shots of skaters in this park, but this is easily the most elegant of the group.

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Intersection, Amsterdam. It almost seems criminal sometimes to turn some of these images to black and white, but in this case I felt it was worth it to enhance the effect of the light falling between buildings on the opposite side of the street, silhouetting the man on the near traffic island.

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Bubbles, Carnaval celebration. This is another one of those shots that demonstrates how brilliant the Otus typically is. It’s pictures like this that have me wanting to think up some decent staged shots, find some models, then do some deliberate shoots to get a specific composition instead of hoping to find something interesting while walking around town.

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3 Conclusion

I have a hard time saying that I think either of these kits is better than the other because they are both clearly very capable systems. A funny thing about the handling of them is that while I wish the Otus didn’t weigh so much and was less bulky, using it is in some ways more comfortable than using the A7r. The A7r is easier to carry and less obtrusive, but I feel less in control of making the image than when I am using the Otus. I think this is because of the long throw on the Otus, which allows more fine focusing. With the A7r, I always worry that I’ve tapped the little focusing knuckle ring a little too far or not enough when taking a photo. Since I can tell whether it is in focus or not by using the EVF or Zacuto viewfinder, it is a silly concern to have, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling more confident when shooting the Otus. Having said all that, when selecting images for this article, I initially had almost twice as many Summilux shots as Otus shots as candidates. Is this because I unconsciously favor the Summilux? I wouldn’t know.

AP

Apr 252014
 

Sicily with the New Nikon D4s

by Mark Seymour

My passion for photography extends beyond recording weddings, it is people’s everyday lives, cultures, beliefs and religious practices that fascinate me and inspire my documentary photography. To develop this interest I schedule photography trips a few times every year to enable me to immerse myself in new places and experiences.

I have recently returned from what turned out to be one of my most fascinating photography adventures, capturing the incredible images of a tradition Sicilian Easter celebration in Trapani and was further enhanced by having the opportunity to meet up with some great documentary and street photographers such as Ernesto Bazan.

The trip was planned several months ago after my son Jonny asked to accompany me on my next documentary project and develop his skills behind the camera. We had an amazing trip together between us we took hundreds of images, impressing me with one real show stopper image of a Christ figurine.

The Processione dei Misteri di Trapani has been performed for over 300 years and retells the passion plays through the most elaborate floats being paraded from the church through the streets of Trapani for 16 hours. We joined them as they prepared and gathered in the church early in the morning and followed them throughout the day until nightfall. The immense effort under which the men carry the floats of Christ and Mary is clear in their faces, and the whole experience is incredibly powerful for even the non-religious visitor. It has definitely provided me with many stunning images to recall my memories from this visit.

The use of black and white documentary style photography really captures the emotions of the day highlights the facial expressions that tell the story of their belief and commitment.

I have selected the key images to retell the story of the day in the following slideshow, the background music is performed by a Sicilian marching band like the ones that accompany the procession.

All the images were taken on the new Nikon D4s which Nikon UK kindly sent me for this trip.

The full post can be seen here http://markseymourphotography.co.uk/trapini-easter-parade/

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