May 192015
 
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Quick Photo Tip: Get to the level of your subject!

One thing I learned many years ago is that when taking a photo of someone or something, the image is usually better when taken at the level of your subject. The majority of you here know this, but some will not and it can greatly improve your photos. I see so may shots of parents who take photos of their children and the child is dead center of the frame, and shot from a high angle as the parents do not crouch down to get to the child’s level.

A quick way to improve those shots of your kids crouch down to their level and take the shot unless you are going for a unique angle. Getting closer and to the level of your subject will make the photo more interesting, intimate and will be more powerful most of the time. I remembered this yesterday when I was being lazy taking a picture of my dog Olive. I just pointed my camera down to her and snapped. Then I said to myself…”stop being lazy” and I crouched down to her level and snapped again. I much prefer the 2nd shot where I was to her level.

While  this is a pleasant image with great quality and snap, I am looking down to my subject. While I like this shot, I prefer the next one after I crouched down to her level. 

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Here we see more character in her face..her curiosity as to why I am in front of her with this black box in her face…it’s more personal and revealing I think. Works the same way with human subjects ;) 

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While I am not a guy who follows all the rules of photography (as I feel we should sometimes break the rules as this is how we can get out or ruts or even come up with an amazing shot) I do feel this one is a good one. Still, there may be some who prefer shot #1 to shot #2, which goes to show, we all are unique and like what we like ;)

Hope you are all having a great Tuesday! Later this week, the Sony 90 Macro lens review, A look at the Samsung NX1, a look at the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM on the new Monochrom and much more!

May 152015
 

Between Leica Monochrom & iPhone for street photography 

By Brigitte Hauser

I like looking at street photos and street portraits. That’s why I started to try myself.  I did these streets with following cams.

The Sony RX 1 is my good friend 

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I take it for travelling. The smoking guy is taken on the Azores island San Miguel and the blond lady in the Fernand Léger museum in France. The rx 1 is small, has a silent shutter and an outstanding image quality. It’s an astonishing versatile cam. I like also its macro mode and the high contrast b/w filter. If I had to choose only one  cam, I think I would take the RX1. 

Now a few with the Ricoh GR

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I have a lot of fun. I take it with me almost everywhere, working, shopping, walking with the dog. The coffee shop in the rain and the young man reading Richard Dawkins are taken in Zurich, my home town. The GR is so small, so nice to touch and so easy to use. It’s a joy. You don’t attract a lot of attention if you shoot in the streets with it. Focal length of 28 mm is perhaps a little bit wide for me. But you can set it on 35 mm.

About a year ago I had the opportunity to buy  a Leica Monochrom with a 50 mm summicron lens

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I call it my soul and bitch cam. The IQ is great very sharp  and it seems to me photos have a kind of an artistic  old-fashioned look. For street photography  I’m often not fast enough to compose properly or I miss the focus. But I adore this diva of cam.

The opposite of Leica MM is probably my iPhone 5

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The good thing for street photography with the mobile is: it’s always in the bag and you can really go close. People are not aware that you are taking a photo of them.  But  I just don’t like the experience to take photos with a phone. It’s also not a very courageous way to take street photos.

Thanks for looking
Yours
Brigitte

 

 

May 152015
 

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My First Wedding Photographed with the a7s and a7II

By Marc Weisberg – His website is HERE

Steve and Brandon, I’ve been following your blog daily for a few years now. It’s a great reliable source for photographers with no-nonsense reviews and great feed back from your readers.  A few years back when the Olympus OMD EM-5 was released, it was Steve’s review that put me over the edge.  I purchased two OMD EM-5 bodies, the Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, 75mm f/1.8 and then the 12-40mm 2.8.  I traveled through Paris, NYC and across California with them.  It was my entry into the world of mirrorless cameras.  The Olys were amazing! Lighting fast to focus, faithful in color rendition, even in Auto WB and the glass was tack sharp wide open.  I love the lightweight portability of the Oly system. I could now travel with a simple shoulder bag, with two bodies and three lenses that weighed less than my pro Canon body and two L lenses.

Around the time When Sony came out with the a7s and a7II I was intrigued.  It was time for me to upgrade my Canon system.  I’m a professional photographer making 100% of my income from my craft. For the last 15 years I’ve been a Canon shooter.  My last set up was a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and a D60 as a back up. Along with that I owned a lot of L glass:  85mm L f/1.2, 135mm L f/2.0, 24-70mm L f/2.8, 16-35mm L f/2.8, 70-200 L IS f/2.8 and the 50mm L f/1.2  However it was time to upgrade my entire system.  Lenses were getting older, and Canon was starting to phase out service on them.  Camera bodies needed to be upgraded.  But after shooting for two years with the Oly’s I just felt there had to be something better out there other than Canon.  I felt that Canon gear especially their Mark II lenses were getting profitably expensive.  Something with faster focus and sharper lenses.  Something mirrorless and null frame.

After a a few lunches with my friend and pro photographer Paul Gero, a Sony Artisan, and him showing me his new Sony gear I was past the intrigued stage and knew that the move was right for me. The Sony a6000 that he was using and the a7 were packed with technology that Canon didn’t have. I’d also grown used to the EVF and the WYSYWYG exposure view of my Oly’s.  My lunches with Paul and being able to see what the Sony mirrorless bodies were capable of for myself set a plan in motion for me. I sold all my Canon gear, every last bit of it and switched to Sony. It was an easy move for me. As a business person as well as a photographer, it was a logical sound technical and financial move.  I could make the move to Sony for about $10k and replace all my Canon bodies and the majority of glass. If I would have upgraded all my Canon gear it would have cost me anywhere from $15k to $20k out-of-pocket.
My initial purchase was the Sony a7s, VGC1EM vertical grip,a7II and FE 16-35 f/4 Z OSS, FE 24-70mm f/5 Z OSS, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA.  All financed with proceeds from selling my Canon gear.  Notes to all you shooters.  Keep your gear in top condition and put  quality UV filters on your glass as soon as you purchase it.  This way you’ll be able to get top dollar when selling you lenses.

My Move to Sony

Moving from one camera system to the other, especially when you’ve been with another system for 15 years does not come without a learning curve.  I shoot my a professional gig with the a7II only a few days after receiving it. You can read about that here: http://luxuryrealestateimages.com/sony-a7ii-real-world-review/  It took me about 2-3 weeks to become comfortable with the menu system for both bodies. You can see my Sony a7s unboxing video here and a few more reasons for my move to Sony:  http://marcweisberg.com/2015/01/sony-a7s-unboxing

Transparency

I spent my own money on purchasing all my Sony gear. After my A7II real world review and my a7s unboxing video I was put in contact with Sony and am proud to be aligned with them as a Sony Artisan of Imagery.  I am not paid by Sony to pimp their gear.  I could never personally endorse something or suggest to my friends or readers that a camera system, bodies or lenses are worthy of purchasing if they weren’t.  Its the quickest way to loose integrity and I just couldn’t sleep at night by hawking snake oil.  That being said:  I make my living using this gear and it works for me in ways that no camera system ever has.

The Proof is in the Images

Like Steve’s Real World Reviews, the proof is in the images….not necessarily in the tech data.  While I appreciate the tech data, it will never show you how the image looks, how the lenses and camera bodies work in unison, how naturally the skin tones are rendered, what are the real world results as far as chromatic aberration is concerned, is there moiré, how do high ISO images look, can you really shoot at ISO 51,200 and get usable images, is having an f/4.0 lens an issue, what is white balance like, how is the menu system, how does the camera feel in your hands and many more subtleties.

Photographing Weddings Exclusively with the Sony Alpha α7s and α7II

Just to be clear this wasn’t my first wedding I’ve ever photographed.  I’m numbering more in the 600 range  (weddings) photographed in the past 15 years.  That being said, 2 weeks ago I had an opportunity to photograph a wedding solely with the #SonyAlpha a7s and a7II.  I was faced with a myriad of lighting conditions that all wedding photographers come up against:  open shade, direct harsh sunlight, twilight, night time available light photography and off camera flash photography with the Profoto AcuteB600R and Pocket Wizard Plus III’s and the Neewer TT850 manual speedlights.  What follows is My First Wedding Photographed with the α7s and α7II.

How Did the α7s and α7II Preform?  

In a word….Brilliantly.  I was super impressed with how my a7s anda7II handled all the scenarios. Dynamic range is impressive as I was able to capture the entire range of shadow and highlights in glaring sun with ocean views. Color renditions are amazing.  I saw no CA {chromatic aberrations} in any images, even with extreme back lighting.  Focusing during the day was never an issue, with one caveat. Night time, available light only in near darkness was an issue. As the camera would hunt and seek.  But in my 15 years experience photographing weddings this is true of any DSLR without a flash attached to bounce of some kind of IR signal/pattern from the subject. That being said, when focus locked on, the images are dramatic, powerful and sharply focused. In hindsight what I should have done was use DMF {Dynamic Manual Focus}. Which would get me close to focus and then dial in the focus the rest of the way by manually fine tuning the image and using focus peaking and magnification.

Tech Notes 

What follows are singular images  processed in Adobe LR5 with adjustments to exposure, color, sharpness, clarity, tone curve, shadow and any other adjustment that is available in the LR5 modules. No Adobe Photoshop is used on any images unless specified. I’m amazed and impressed by how sharp the images are straight out of camera when shooting wide open and when stoping down. I used all the Sony glass that I own:  FE 16-35 f/4 Z OSS, FE 24-70mm f/5 Z OSS, , FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS,Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, plus the, E 30mm F3.5 Macro E-mount Macro Lens {on loan from Sony}, for the ring shots.  For pixel peepers, you should know that I’ve output all images at 20″x20″ @300 dpi.  Even the 30mm Macro images. There is no degradation, or pixelization noticeable on any images.

A few other technical notes

Skin tones are rendered faithfully, black and white conversion within Adobe LR5 from the RAW files is easily accomplished with a broad tonality range from deep blacks to gray tones and clean whites, I’m partial to punchy colors, easily bumped up with a +10 on the Vibrancy slider and +6  on the Saturation slider in LR5.

1. Left: Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA Right: E 30mm F3.5 Macro E-mount Macro Lens on my α7s.

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2. Sony lenses can handle harsh light with no noticeable CA.

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3.Great natural skin tones.

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4. Left: Notice how the dynamic range holds well showing the subtle high lights to the dark grey shadows in the bridal gown and window shutters. Right: Low light photography is never a problem for the Sony a7s, and beautiful bokeh with the FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS.

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5. Great color, dynamic range and sharpness from the a7s, FE 24-70mm f/5 Z OSS, f/10, ISO 100.

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6. Great color, dynamic range and sharpness from the a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, f/13, ISO 200. Hand held.

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7. No tech data

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8. Left: a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 640. Right: FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, ISO 125.

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9. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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10. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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11. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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12. a7s, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/5.6, ISO 100. Holding onto the dynamic range beautifully. This daylight lighting scenario is typical of what wedding photographers face at most out door weddings.

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13. Left and Right: a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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14. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 2500.

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15.Left and Right: a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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16 .a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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17. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 400.

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18. a7II, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/4, ISO 400. The bride’s face was dodged in CS5.

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19. Recessional: a7II, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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20. Family portraits. I always use some type of lighting. Profoto AcuteB600R with a 40″ silver bounce umbrella, Pocket Wizard Plus III. Induro CT314 tripod, RRS BH-55 ball head, and for the higher resolution I use my a7II, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/7.1, ISO 640.

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21. This is where things start getting interesting for me. When I was a Canon shooter I could never get the color right at sunset. Skin tones were ALWAYS too orange. Shot with the a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 800. Skin tones are natural with a slight orange glow from the sunset. Bokeh rendition separates the bride and groom form the background. At at f4.0 They are tack sharp.

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22. Black and whites render beautifully from the RAW files in Adobe LR5.

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23. I’ve included the same file here twice to show a B&W and color file processed by LR5. Keep in mind that NO RETOUCHING has been applied to these images. If you shoot in the right light and expose properly you won’t need to use Photoshop and if you do it will be minimal.

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24. No tech data

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25. Available light image. Illuminated by the glow of the tungsten lanterns with Dana Point Harbor in the background. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 2000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8

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26. Hand held. a7s, 24-70mm f/4.0 Z OSS, ISO 40,000.

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27. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 2000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8

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28 .Left: a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 2000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, Right: Available light, a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4.0, ISO 20,000,

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29. Available light. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 8000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, 1/1000th sec.

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30. Available light. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 32,000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, 1/1000th sec.

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31. Available light. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 8000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, 1/1000th sec.

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32. For this series of images I set up a 40″ umbrella with the Profoto AcuteB600R. Metered the strobe with a Sekonic L358. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/200th sec.

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33. For this series of images I set up a 40″ umbrella with the Profoto AcuteB600R. Metered the strobe with a Sekonic L358. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/200th sec.

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34. I’m loving the movement here of the bride and her friend dancing. A happy accident. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 500, f11.8, 1/60th sec.

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35.Using back lighting for the DJ. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 500, 1/60th sec.

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36. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS f/4, , ISO 51,200, 1/80th sec.

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37. To capture this image I set up a single Neewer TT850 speedlight in a 40″ silver bounce umbrella. The first step is to establish a base exposure for the sunset. I usually underexpose the ambient by about a stop. Then add the off camera lighting to taste. Make sure the camera is in Manual mode. You’ll want to lock in the exposure. Using the Neewer® TT850 speedlight, a manual flash, I dialed in 1/2 power and then added a bit more light while chimping to make sure the exposure was dead on. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/200th sec. It is coincidental the exposure it similar to the image above. Photoshop was used for skin smoothing.

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In Conclusion

For me {<— as Steve often says} the Sony a7 mirrorless system is the perfect versatile full frame mirrorless camera system for a working progressional photographer that offers amazing consistent results.  In a given week I will photograph a natural light portrait session, a wedding, luxury real estate photography, and studio lit executive portraits on location all with my a7s and a7II. Are there shortcomings?  Yes. Longer battery life would be one. Because I do allot of on location shooting I have 10 batteries. A simpler menu system is another.  The menu system is deep.  And at fist complicated.  And some of the functions are not easily discernible. Like turning off the camera beep sound when attaining focus.  Its labeled as Audio Signal…not intuitive.  

I’ve had to take some extra time figuring out things with help from other Sony Artisans and scouring the internet for answers. Focus tracking could be allot better on both the a7s and a7II.  The a6000 bests both cameras in the focus tracking department, and is dead on for its focus tracking ability and is a stupendous mirrorless camera for under $600!  Some skeptics have been quick to point out that there is a dearth of fast primes for the Sony a7 system.  Not any more with the addition of the Loxia and now the Batis full frame auto focus Zeiss lenses, the FE 28 F2.0FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA, FE 35 F1.4 ZA and the FE 90 F2.8 Macro G OSS have rounded out the fast glass department quickly.  For me the game changer is the a7s and the ability to put the camera in auto ISO and not have to ever worry about the lack of light.  The ability to get usable images at ISO 51,200 is something just a couple years ago would have been thought impossible. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and view the images.  

p.s. Oh yeah…I almost forgot: I left out one of the most amazing feature about the a7s. The a7s has a SILENT MODE. Essentially you are turning on the electronic shutter when invoking the menu command. And this renders that camera COMPLETELY SILENT when taking images.  As the photographer you are stunned that it makes NO NOISE at all when you are pressing the shutter. This is a boon for movie set photographers and wedding photographers who are told not to take photographs in certain settings because of the shutter noise, or simply to just be a fly on the wall…no one will even know you are creating images from just feet away.

Marc WeisbergSee his website HERE

See Steve Huff’s review of the Sony A7II HERE and the Sony A7s HERE.

May 072015
 

Project Compact Photography

By Roy Teo

Hi Steve and Brandon,I have been following your site for years but back then you were mostly reviewing Leicas which at that time was out of my reach. I’m not a professional photographer but just someone who loves taking photos as a hobby. I was a DSLR user for many years and most recently with the Canon 5Dmk3. It was when you started to review more mirrorless cameras that I got interested to explore that avenue and i got myself a used Nex6 to try it out. I was soon hooked on the small size and not long after, i made a complete switch and sold off all my Canon gear and got the Sony A7r and the A6000 about 2 years ago and have never looked back since.

Going mirrorless, I enjoyed the small size and light weight and was amazed at the technological advancement on these mirrorless cameras. There are plenty of amazing examples of the images these new generation of cameras and what they can achieve and I wanted to challenge myself to do something different. I wanted to see how far i can push the files from a mirrorless camera but not just any mirrorless camera like the A7r or any A7 series. I wanted to go even smaller, to push my own limits on how much I can edit the files in post production. Because all my photos go through some kind of post production, having a good enough RAW file capability is essential having used the A7r.

I gave myself 2 criteria, one was to go even smaller than the A7r and the other was the ability to use off camera lights. After researching, I decided on the Sony RX100mk2. there was the cheaper mk1 that you highly recommended and the newer mk3. However, neither had the hotshoe where I could use triggers and flashes on, so I had only the mk2 to go for.

I started this little ongoing project for a few months now. To do shoots only with this camera, leaving my A7r at home. Everything i shot, i had to do with this camera only.  To my surprise, although it only had a 1inch sensor, the files were incredibly easy to edit and the dynamic range from this camera was decent enough to push. An added bonus which i only found out after using it was that it uses a leaf shutter which means, i could gp up to its max 1/2000 shutter speed for flash photography. The A7r was limited to 1/160 and this was a bonus for me.

Here are some examples of the images from this camera and a simple one light setup using the Godox AD360 light.  And because of its small size, there wasn’t any filter adapter I could use but being small and light, i could easily hand hold any filter i wanted in front of it and shoot with one hand.  All these photos were taken with fast shutter speeds in daylight to darken the background.

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My ongoing album dedicated to this project can be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.723826737734682.1073741889.266838383433522&type=1

And my other works can be found here:
www.royteophotography.com

Thanks
Roy Teo

May 062015
 

JPDoublemoon

The Power of Symmetry

By José Pazó 

In this article, the third one I am sending you, I am going to talk about an unexpected camera: The Nikon S32.

It is a very simple, waterproof, Coolpix series, yellow piece of plastic. Probably, for many out there, one of the worst cameras anyone can buy. The specifications are incredibly basic: diminutive sensor, lots of noise and tones of glare. All types of chromatic aberrations and quirks of use. At least, very cheap. I bought it for my 2 years old daughter, but cameras are always nice temptations. At the end, like Homer Simpson does with his bowling ball for Marge, this camera was partially for me. Do not tell my daughter.

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My prior two articles have been about film, b&w film. I like mechanical cameras (Leica M3, Hassy 503), old glass and expected and unexpected results. I still keep some reservations about digital cameras. I have a semi-old Ricoh GRD and a Pentax K01 that I like because nobody likes it. Call me old-fashioned, but pixels are like gremlins in my deep reptilian mind. Preys for ghostbusters. So I bought the Nikon S32, and when into my hands this yellow piece of soap came (probably the most non-ergonomic camera I have tried –slippery as hell), and while playing with it, the miracle showed up in the ancient form of symmetry. ¡Symmetry!

I guess I am a very asymmetrical type of guy. Although I like and practice yoga, one of my legs is shorter than the other, and size and shape of my nostrils are very unequal. Maybe that is the reason why I love Japanese art so much, because of its tendency towards asymmetry. While asymmetry is humble, subtle, suggestive and dynamic, symmetry is solid, pompous, affirmative and static. Symmetry is in general very much related with power. Japanese art tends towards asymmetry, but Chinese art (and power) leans towards symmetry. Japan hides power; China shows it. So I guess that, with the Nikon S32, a Japanese camera, I discovered ancient China and its marks in the Western world and in my reptilian brain.

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Symmetry creates admiration, or at least aw (The White House, the Taj Mahal). It also produces endless decoration (the Cordoba’s Mosque, the vegetal decorative motives of the Alhambra). Symmetry is also present in almost any altar or oratory in the world. Our bodies also tend towards symmetry (at least some bodies), our faces too. Studies have shown that babies prefer symmetrical faces, and religious iconography indulges in it. Greece was almost symmetrical, Rome was over symmetrical, gothic cathedrals and Viking homes were too, the Empire State Building is symmetrical. Butts are. Busts too. Eyes, fruits, shells… (When they forget Fibonacci, another aurean way of symmetry). Monsters and extraterrestrial beings are usually symmetrical. Hearts not so much. That is probably why they keep us unbalanced. But they produce rhythm, and rhythm is symmetrical. Trees are rotationally symmetrical and so are kaleidoscopes, one of my childhood loves.

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Nikon S32 can produce symmetrical images. If I were a fashion photographer, I would be using it to play with models to create enticing, almost religious, visions. Since I am a mere dilettante, I am sending you a batch of everyday pictures. They are technically terrible, but visually addictive. Interiors, monsters, altars, flying trees and perfect landscapes. Etscheresque, for those who enjoy Etscher, the painter. At least for my obsessive brain. This first batch includes photos related with the vegetal world. I do not know if you are going to find enough merit in them to be published, not to even mention other batches. If so, thank you in advance.
As always, regards from Madrid to the whole Steve Huff’s clan. Keep your vision and very personal approach, I find lots of value in it. And the same for all of you who write or visit here. Tons of talent around. I do not have a webpage or similar. Thinking of making one but, for the moment, I enjoy just sending pics to others. So, hasta la symmetrical vista.

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Apr 272015
 

The View from the Rearview

by Mark Steiglman

As I was recently interviewed on the Leica Blog, I thought I would submit here as well.

Spending hours a day commuting in my car has made me acutely aware of my surroundings. One day while looking in my rear view mirror I became very interested in the comings and goings of the cars behind me. The scenes unfolded like little vignettes of humanity, people laughing, arguing, crying but mostly just looking bored and trapped within their heads as well as the glass and metal box they confine themselves to in their daily commutes. I wanted to capture what I was witnessing.

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After working out the technical aspects, my first attempts lacked the direct, unreserved look I was after as people were recognizing the camera. There is a long history of documenting people without them noticing. Walker Evans shielded his camera within his coat while making his subway series. Ben Shahn, while documenting for the WPA used a right angle mirror attachment on his lens pretending to take pictures of his wife while actually shooting what was off to the side. I solved this problem by buying a small stuffed bird, ripping out the stuffing and cutting a hole for the lens. The bird cam has made it virtually impossible to know that I am photographing and my pictures suddenly became what I had seen on that day I conceived of the idea.

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The imaginary line of public verses private space that the windshield seems to represent became my “monitor” for both real and imagined tableaus that raise so many interpersonal and social questions during the moment of exposure. Coming from the whole “social landscape photography” genre, these are the kinds of pictures I have always taken except now I am within the confines of my car taking photographs of my subjects within the confines of theirs.

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Mark Steigelman

marksteigelman.com

marksteigelman.wordpress.com

https://instagram.com/msteigelmanThe

Apr 102015
 

JB Designs Leica M 240 Grip & HoldFastGear Roamographer Mini in the house!

It’s Friday and what a great beautiful sunny mid 80 degree day here in Phoenix AZ! Also a great day as I had several surprises in the mail today. First up, a slew of new hand-made in the USA grips for my Leica M 240, my A7II, the Olympus E-M5II and the Olympus E-M1, and JB Designs has been stepping up their game lately with BEAUTIFUL new designs. The Leica M 240 Grip is FANTASTIC and beats Leica’s own grip at a much lower price! It fits perfect, it looks beautiful and it feels so natural and smooth. The smell is amazing to boot. I also received the new Roamographer Mini bag from Hold Fast Gear. WOW, what a stunning bag. A work of art.

Up 1st…

JB DESIGNS LEICA M 240 GRIP

I was sent a slew of new designs from JB Designs and have to say, I love the M 240 and E-M5II grip the most. Gorgeous. But do not take my word for it, take a look for yourself and see what it looks like on my Safari M…

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Makes the M feel so much nicer. The best part? He sells these on Amazon for $85 and each one is hand made in the good old USA.

You can see it or buy it on Amazon HERE.  

At the time of this writing he has 6 in Bamboo left. The version you see here is his latest creation, with the darker Brazilian Chestnut wood. Stunning. You can see more at the JB Website HERE.  If you own an M 240 and want a unique, great feeling and beautifully made wooden grip, this is IT and it is a GREAT price for a wonderful hand crafted product.

He also has a fantastic grip for the E-M5II as well..on Amazon HERE. $85 and in stock in the new dark Brazilian Chestnut. Six left in stock there. A bargain.

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JB Designs is fantastic. A USA company that takes pride in their work, keeps prices decent and delivers a super good looking and functional product. Awesome.

HOLD FAST GEAR – ROAMOGRAPHER MINI

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The new Roamographer Mini from HOLD FAST GEAR is a stunning “mini” version of the original Roamographer that I reviewed a while back. GORGEOUS bags but the original is LARGE. The Mini is PERFECT. Hand made in the good old USA, I may not have seen another bag like this that was under $1500. This one comes in at $525 but it screams beauty, quality, pride, and is quite functional as well. Sure, you can go get a canvas bag for $50 but this is for the discriminating enthusiast or professional who wants a bag to last them their lifetime, and then they children lifetime. This is one of those bags that will be handed down generation to generation. Imagine what the bag above will look like in 50 years ;)

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I love this company and what they stand for and the owner, Matt Swaggart is a super nice guy. I own the Money Maker Strap, the large Roamographer and now the Mini. Along with Wotancraft, this is one of my all time fave bag maker (and straps). Check out all they have to offer at HOLDFASTGEAR.com!!

THIS IS QUALITY and as I always say, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

Apr 022015
 

There is no “I” in Team

by John Tuckey

Team Efforts

I wouldn’t advise anyone to overload a shoot with unnecessary bodies. The fewer people cluttering your space, the better. The less people to organise the better. It’s an absolute if you’re trying to create a sense of intimacy or intrigue and a simple practicality when you’re working to a budget or a tight time scale as most of us are. But ‘one man and his lens’ is not always enough – indeed, modern professional work is hardly ever created so. It’s a creative collaboration between the photographer, an art director, a stylist, a make up artist, a hair stylist, a lighting technician and possibly a set dresser. That amazing image in magazine ‘X’ is usually the result of a tight team who have a good working dynamic – not ‘one man and his lens’.

If you’re thinking about crossing this river and working your shots with a team it can be daunting at first. My advice is to keep it simple and pick your team carefully, don’t waste your resources and know who you can and can’t live without. I get my moments, but I’m still no pro – so I won’t worry about an assistant until i try a complicated location set-up. And a stylist isn’t even on my list unless I get involved in a commercial fashion shoot and the client specifically requests one – and even then they will probably be chosen by the art director.

So I’d suggest that for an amateur or hobbyist, the bodies to make sure you have covered on a model orientated shoot are the make up artist and the hair stylist. Sometimes the model can cover this off herself, but indispensable doesn’t even come close to describing the best I’ve worked with. And without even thinking I can give you three very good reasons why they’re always worth stretching the budget for.

Transformation

A skilled makeup artist can simply transform a face. Try these two of Emily, one with ‘normal’ self done makeup and the Next from a Make Up artist.

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The Devil is in the Detail

Much of my work revolves around vintage themes. Having the right make up or a particular hair style makes the world of difference. In these portraits of Olivia, the lighting may well have achieved the look on its own, but the work of the hair stylist in those thirties style fingerwaves added the polish – making the vintage feel of the final image effortless and complete.

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Tricks, Shortcuts and FX

These Lonsdale shots aren’t just about beauty and boxing, but also strength, character and control. The make up artist on this shoot pulled the FX off with ease: Jammy the model was engaged with the concept and we got some great shots as a result.

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Saving Time in Post

Doesn’t digital mean make up artists are a waste of money? If you don’t think of the hours you’ll spend in post-production as money, then I’ll grant you that a hair or make up artist might not be your best use of budget. But I’d rather get it right for real on the day and trade that time in front of a screen for more time with a camera thanks – a good MUA allows that.

If you are interested in my images or my workshops you can follow me on facebook at http://www.facebook/jrtvintage, on twitter where I’m @jrtvintage, at my own site at http://john.tuckey.photography or on my gallery page at Saatchi Art http://www.saatchiart.com/jrtvintage

Credits:

Models: Emily, Olivia Harriett, and Jammy Lou
http://purpleport.com/portfolio/oliviaharriet/
http://purpleport.com/portfolio/raspberryjam/

Emily and Jammys Make Up: James Minahan

https://www.facebook.com/pages/James-Minahan-Makeup-artist/482722908502345?pnref=lhc

Olivia’s Hair: Le Keux Salon
http://www.lekeuxvintagesalon.co.uk/
Best regards

John Tuckey

Mar 122015
 

How To Shoot Kodak Ektar 100 Film

By Marlon Richardson – HIS WEBSITE IS HERE

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Kodak Ektar 100 is one of my all-time favorite films. It’s a punchy daylight film that can be shot into the sun with grain smoother than your baby’s bottom. Color and detail rendered from Kodak Ektar 100 in landscape photography is second to none.

When I tried Kodak Ektar 100 for portrait work, I was amazed at how beautiful it is. For some reason Kodak Ektar 100 has been tagged as a poor choice for portrait photography. Among other issues, it’s been criticized for rendering skin tones too red, too contrasty, and too saturated.

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 I disagree. Kodak Ektar 100 is an excellent professional film for portrait work. (I’m not the only one! – url: http://www.wendylaurel.com/shoot-kodak-ektar-100-film-tutorial/)

Maybe you haven’t tried Kodak Ektar 100 or perhaps you tried it and didn’t get the results you expected. This “How To” is designed to help portrait photographers interested in this film stock to consistently get great results.

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Why I Shoot Kodak Ektar 100 

Color Rendering: More than any other film, Ektar shows the most accurate rendering of the tropical environment I live in. Kodak Ektar 100 is a bright and contrasty stock that performs extremely well under intense South Florida sunlight.

Ease of Use: Kodak Ektar 100 is very easy to use. Unlike any other fine grain film of this speed or slower Ektar retains remarkable detail, consistent color characteristics, and low grain with 2 additional stops of exposure latitude (-1 to +2).

Fine Grain: Kodak Ektar 100 is grain free. 16×20 prints from 35mm negatives of this film show an almost imperceptible level of grain. In 120, resolution rivals low ISO settings of the latest medium format digital sensors.

Easy To Scan: Shot correctly, this film is super easy to scan. Most of the time, I only need to do very minor adjustments to get the look I want.

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TIPS: Shooting Kodak Ektar 100

Shoot It Box Speed: Some color negative films need to be overexposed several stops to not only look their best but also maintain consistency. Kodak Ektar 100, doesn’t need such trickery. It’s a true IS0 100 speed film that looks it’s best when exposed properly. Ektar handles up to a couple of stops of underexposure without any problems. However, being a naturally contrasty and vivid film, overexposure over a stop will noticeably increase those characteristics and color may not be consistent from shot to shot.

More Light Please: As I’ve mentioned a few times Kodak Ektar 100 is a light loving contrasty and vivid film. It excels in settings that would benefit from those characteristics. As long as the setting is bright, even harsh light, whether from the sun or controlled lighting you’ll be fine.

I See Red People: Kodak Ektar 100 renders red, green, and blue even more vivid than it does with other colors. This characteristic could cause Kodak Ektar 100 to exaggerate the redness in the skin of fair skinned people that have a naturally pinkish complexion or noticeable redness caused by sun exposure. In this case a low saturation and low contrast film like Kodak Portra 160 will be a better option. For any other complexion, including darker skin, Kodak Ektar 100 is great!

Indoor Mixed Lighting = Flash: When shooting indoors in poor light or mixed light use a flash

Thank you!

Marlon

 

 

Mar 102015
 

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Road Trip – A video from 8000 stills and the Sony RX1

by Ofer Rozenman

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I’m a frequent reader of your blog and really like the content you post. Last year you shared a video of mine and recently I’ve finished working on a new stop motion road trip video which I thought you might also like:

On September `14 my wife and I traveled with our friends to eastern Europe. As designated shooter I’ve tried capturing the road trip with this stop motion video made of 200GB and 8000 stills. Enjoy! Sony RX1 for the stills!

Showreel: rozenmanofer.wix.com/showreel

Route: Sarajevo (Bosnia) – Mostar (Bosnia) – Dubrovnik (Croatia) – Lokrum (Croatia) – Cavtat (Croatia) – Prcanj (Montenegro) – Split (Croatia) – Sibenik (Croatia) – Baska (Croatia) – Postojna (Slovenia) – Venice (Italy) – Plitvice lakes (Croatia) – Zagreb (Croatia)

Equipment: Sony RX1.

Music:Big Jet Plane (Radio Edit)” by Angus and Julia Stone 

As themselves: Sanda Krsho, Milen Debensason, Liran Hadaya

Everything else: Ofer Rozenman

Mar 052015
 

 

4DAYS

4 days in the life of a Magnum photographer

by Sebastien Bey-Haut

Dear Steve,

I just came back from what has been one of the best photographic experience of my life and would like to share it with your readers.

I indeed had the privilege to attend a Magnum photography workshop mentored by Stuart Franklin in Panjim, a small town in Goa State, India.

It all started while browsing the Magnum website a couple of months ago: I saw a post calling for applications and having nothing to lose I sent a portfolio without too much hopes as they would accept only 12 participants worldwide… I received the good news a few weeks later: I was accepted! Living in Switzerland it meant a long trip (40h) for only 4 days of fun… But no way I would pass on it, so I booked my tickets, packed my gear and here we go !

The workshop was quite intense with mornings dedicated to discussions with Stuart and peer reviews, afternoon to shooting and evening / night to post processing. Our objective was to present a coherent 10 photographs story to be showcased at the Goa Photo festival… If possible without putting too much shame on our mentor’s name.

Of course having someone like Stuart reviewing your work is an incredible experience, his critics were always constructive but he would not miss the slightest default. Composition, tones, alignment of the different elements, everything has to be perfect or the photograph will be rejected without mercy.

The focus of the workshop was in building a coherent story and in editing our work so in order to give you a sense of what we went through I’ll first present the final 10 photographs we selected with Stuart:

10 selected photographs 

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Then here are some other “Stuart approved” photographs which did not make it into the final cut

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And to finish some of the images that I personally liked but were rejected by Stuart:

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As you can see the “image quality” is not what really matters, Stuart was looking for images which would invite the viewer to imagine a story behind it, transmit emotions, and more generally have their own strengths. Anything looking more like a nice “tourist postcard” was discarded, which is what happened with most of my portraits…

As a conclusion the main outcome of this workshop was to teach me how to be more demanding with my own photography, which is highly inspiring and will for sure be very useful in the future.

The gear I used is quite irrelevant to describe this experience, so I’ll let you guess what it could have been. One hint: Stuart was using the same camera “hipster” camera…

You can find more of my work here https://500px.com/Sebastien_Bey_Haut

Thanks for reading

Sebastien Bey-Haut

PS: I’d like to take this opportunity to send a big cheers to the Secret Magnum 12, keep the good images coming!

Mar 022015
 

Travel Photography with Medium Format Color Film

By: Logan Norton

www.seeingthelightworkshops.com

As someone who has done quite a bit of photography oriented travel, I have experimented with many different gear configurations in search of the most suitable solution for my travel needs. I have found that using medium format (120/220) color negative film (c-41) offers me the most versatility while ensuring that I can achieve the “look” that I desire. I know that many of you will probably have serious doubts about the practicality/convenience/wisdom of this choice, but I can assure you that I have tried just about every other format and, for me, this is the one that fits the best.

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Knowing that the digital vs. film debate will inevitably arise from this post is, I would like to address that a little before we get any further. This is not meant to be an endorsement of film over digital. I don’t believe there is a universal truth that one format is better than the other. They are both tools with advantages and disadvantages and the beautiful thing is that they both exist. You have a choice as to how you will achieve the goals you seek through the use of one or the other, or both. I have taken a Nikon D800 and a Think Tank bag full of lenses on a two week Costa Rica trip. I’ve spent a week shooting in Austin, TX with a Fuji X100s and I took a Leica M9 and a 1950’s 50mm summicron on a roadtrip up the west coast for two weeks. Recently I spent a couple weekends in San Francisco with nothing but a Leica MM Monochrom and a 35mm cron and these days, the majority of my shooting is done with a Leica M2 loaded with Kodak 400tx and an older 35mm summicron – a setup that I love for its simplicity.

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The point I am trying to make here is that I have enjoyed an assortment of equipment configurations, both film and digital, and I have been able to create wonderful images with each, despite that fact that all of them have unique challenges. Anytime you seek to find the most appropriate tool for a specific job you have to weigh the negatives against the positives for each option. I spent quite a bit of time doing just that before a recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I wanted to simplify my travel setup; I didn’t want to carry multiple cameras with different film format, battery or memory card needs. I wanted something that would not distract me from enjoying the process of traveling and photographing.

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The first question was film vs digital. I realized that I didn’t want to be tempted to spend my evenings poring over the thousands of images I had downloaded into my computer, or to spend my lunches thumbing through pictures on my camera screen. It was important to me that I enjoy the experience of traveling while also taking pictures, rather than being preoccupied with the pictures I was taking on my travels. I also knew that I didn’t want to be reliant on batteries as I often spend long days shooting without any opportunity for charging. Another consideration was that a huge amount of travel photography occurs during the brightest part of the day in very changeable light conditions. Film is able to handle these changes more consistently and pleasingly than any digital format I have experimented with. The latitude that film allows, along with its ability to smoothly control transitions between shadows, mid-tones and highlights makes it a more effective tool for mid-day shooting, in my opinion. I also considered the difference in the way I work with film as opposed to digital. With digital I have a tendency to shoot everything knowing that I have virtually unlimited capacity for recording.

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When I’m using film, however, I find my process slows substantially. I search each setting/situation for the right moment, knowing that my shots are limited. I find that film forces me to really get into each moment and to stay there longer, something that I find incredibly important when I travel. In the end, these considerations led me to choose film as the medium for my travel photography needs.

Next I had to settle on the format. 35mm would allow for smaller, lighter gear and many more shots per roll. Medium format would give me incredible dynamic range, detail and latitude while forcing me to be extremely critical while shooting. In the end, the technical advantages of the medium format option won out over the convenience of 35mm. I knew it was going to be medium format film, and because I was going to the amazingly colorful town of San Miguel I knew I wanted color film. I chose to bring Kodak Portra 400 as my only film stock as it affords exceptionally smooth renderings at low iso while also providing excellent push-ability, fantastic highlight retention (imperative for the bright Mexican sun), and great colors. It also translates very well to black and white Continuing my theme of keeping things simple, I chose a Fuji GW670ii rangefinder camera for the trip. These “texas leicas” are all mechanical so there was no battery life to worry about. Since rangefinder cameras are mirrorless, they are nearly silent in operation and they allow the user to utilize slower shutter speeds with less vibration than slr cameras. These cameras all feature a fixed 90mm Fujinon lens that is incredibly sharp with fantastic bokeh characteristics and color rendition.

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Armed with my newly simplified kit I headed off to San Miguel de Allende for 12 days of exploration and shooting. I would be lying if I said I didn’t immediately question my decision upon leaving the rest of my gear behind, but after the first day I was convinced I had made the right choice. The Portra performed as well as I’d hoped in capturing the beautiful colonial architecture and brightly colored haciendas of San Miguel. When shooting in the mid-day sun I was able to rate it at 100 iso without any need to pull the processing when I got home (which was critical while using the Fuji which has a top shutter speed of 1/500) and it produced amazing results pushed as high as 6400 iso at I spent countless hours walking San Miguel’s beautiful cobblestone streets, sampling the local cuisine, meeting locals, and capturing amazing images. I found it to be one of the most welcoming and warm environments for travel that I have ever experienced. My days were spent exploring the magnificent el Charco del Ingenio Botanical Gardens; the el Tianguis Tuesday Market, a huge bazaar that features a little bit of everything; and the central square known as El Jardin that sits right next to the beautiful Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel cathedral, the main architectural landmark of the city. During my trip I was privileged to witness two daylong celebrations in and around this immaculately maintained square, as well as a traditional Mexican wedding at the church. These events provided further insight into Mexican culture and afforded me some amazing photographic opportunities.

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Spread around the city are a number of other spectacular cathedrals, as well as a number of other squares where people gather. I could not help but fall in love with the uniqueness and beauty of the city and its people; and I returned home with 53 rolls of film filled with amazing memories from my time there. I cannot wait for Ultimately I was incredibly happy with my decision to simplify my travel photography setup. I believe that the careful process of selecting the right tools afforded me the ability to be in the moment more during this trip than any other before it.

Feb 272015
 

Kids & Flash

By Warren Street

Love the site and look often. Very informative and fair in an unpretentious way. So right up my alley.

I recently bought a flash cord for my D3100 after seeing some of Larry Finks photos and loving the look and feel that to me really highlight emotions.

Being a 9 to 5 Dad of 3 kids means I’m not home a lot but when I am home it’s my job to get the kids ready for bed. One of the things that strike me is the number of different emotions we go through as we get ready and it’s a perfect time to put the camera in one hand and the flash in the other. I’m always amazed at the results I get. When you look at these you can really see so much. From what’s obvious to the subtleties between the kids.

From a technique perspective I shoot manual so I can stop motion(it’s action after all) and also have a decent depth of field as focus is not always so sharp. I’ve shot a couple of parties just for friend(I’m not a pro) and they always come out interesting and unique.

I hope you enjoy.

Warren Street.

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Feb 262015
 

Using Sony NEX cameras as a digital back for 4×5″ Sinar

By Dierk Topp

What do you get:

The possibility of the use of most of the movements of a large format 4×5″ camera!
And to get very high resolution images (300 MPixel or more) for very large prints. I printed up to 2m wide, I love to “walk” around with my eyes on high res prints :-)

Where and for what can it be used?

for any static object, ideal for studio work and stills
the weight of my set up with tripod is about 10kg, not usable for hiking (the gear of Ansel Adams was 20kg and more, as far as I know)
Therefor for landscapes I use the normal technique shooting hand held or with a tripod and just shift the whole camera.

but:

you should have some experiences with large format and/or want to learn more about it
you have to invest some time for set up and camera alignment
you want to slow down for taking pictures

How do you use it?

set up the camera on a tripod
set the camera on all manual and RAW
use the ground glass of the Rhinocam for rough positioning (the normal ground glass of the Sinar is useless, it is not at the position of the sensor)
move the NEX into position
use the display of the NEX for first focusing
move the camera to the outer edges of the Rhinocam and control the framing of the whole image
use the shift and tilt mechanics of the camera for the desired plane of focus
control the framing again
use the focus lope for exact and final focusing
stop down the lens and do a test shot of an important area for exposure control
adjust flash and or aperture or exposure time for outdoor shots
if necessary, do a test shot with gray card or Colorchecker for color management

You may just shoot the 6 or 8 images by using the movements of the camera within the Rhinocam and get a high res image. If you want or need higher resolution, you move the camera closer to the object. In order to cover the same scene you have to shoot extra rows and columns by shifting the camera rear standard in x and y direction and will end up with 20 or 30 images. The parallax is no problem, as all the images are coming out of the same image circle! Using large format you will know, that the lenses have a huge image circle, in which you may shift the film or today the digital camera.
For example the image circle of the Rodenstock Sironar-N 150mm is 214mm at f/22! (more here: http://www.prograf.ru/rodenstock/largeformat_en.html )
More on Schneider Symmar lenses is here: http://www.schneiderkreuznach.com/en/photo-imaging/product-field/photo-lenses/products/large-format-lenses/analog-lenses/apo-symmar-l/

Sorry, if this is not clear enough, but I tried my very best (and sorry for any strange English :-) ).
The different image sizes of the following images below depend of the use of this shift technique and multi row shooting.

What gear do I use?

a Sony NEX camera (I use the NEX-6)
a 4×5 Sinar P (or Gandolfi Variant) with standard back mount
I prefer the Sinar P, as all movements are geared and can be controlled perfectly
a Rhinocam adapter (there are other adapters, that could be used as well, but I only know and use the Rhinocam today)
a large format lens with 150mm or more for infinity shots,
for studio or close up shots 120mm or less is possible
a good tripod with a good head (Manfroto 055 with Arca Swiss Monoball P0)
two soft boxes for studio work and a remote flash trigger
the X-rite Colorchekcker or gray card for perfect color management
a software for stitching images (ICE from MS for Windows, PTGui, PS or many others)

How much does it cost?
Here are my “investments”:

the price of a APS-C NEX depends on the model and condition
the Sinar P was about 650€ used in perfect condition
the price of the Rhinocam depends on where you buy it
the price of my Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm/5.6 was 350€ (like new)
the price of a tripod and head depends on many factors (if you don’t have a tripod)

you may find more images in my Sinar album at flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/sets/72157641670093123/
and the Gandolfi album:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/sets/72157641081324295/

There is not much more to say. Here are some of my results:
all images are multi row and multi columns stitches images. That is the reason, why the image sizes vary.

Table Top Examples

This is about my standard set up. Only the flash trigger is not mounted. With flash trigger you can only use the camera in landscape orientation as the trigger will hit the ground glass, when you try to rotate the camera into portrait orientation.

in this case the rear standard of the camera is tilted by about 15°, as you can see it on the scale at the bottom of the image

lens used: Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm/5.6

This is the result
Sinar 4×5″ with Rhinocam adapter and Sony NEX-6, Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm/5.6@ f/11
stitch of 20 images, 15.000×10.000 pixel  = 150 Mpixel

Sinar tilted, f/22

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 5,6/120mm @f/11,
13.000×8.500 pixel = 110 MPixel

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a 1:1 crop

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NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 5,6/120mm @f/16,
12.000×7.000 pixel = 91 Mpixel

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NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 5,6/120mm @f/11,
10.000×7.700 pixel = 77 MPixel

80 MPix, stitch of 9 images

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with  Rodenstock Sironar-N 150mm/3.5 MC@f/13,
13.200×7.500 pixel = 99 MPixel

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NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/16,
13.200×6.000 pixel = 80 MPixel

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This is a test image for the ultimate control of the focus plane by tilting the front and/or rear standard, the focus is exactly parallel to the surface of the book and it looks like the apple was “photoshopped” into the image, but the apple really lies on the book!

Besides control of exposure and contrast this is, what comes out of the camera after stitching the images!

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/8,
11.500×7.800 pixel = 90 MPixel

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NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/8,
13.300×7.600 pixel = 100 MPixel

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NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/16,
19.000×8.000 pixel = 150 MPixel

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another set up for the following picture

making of

NEX-6 on Rhinocam adapter on Sinar P with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm@f/11
stitch of 15 images, 13.400×11.500 pixel = 154 MPixel (I would like to print it in 2x2m :-) )

f/22, stitch of 15 images, 150 MPix

and a 1:1 crop

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this is one of a few outdoor imagesthe set up

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the result, tilted for the focus plane on the ground
NEX-6 on Rhinocam adapter on Sinar P with  Schneider APO-Symmar 210/5.6
13.600×7.800 = 106 MPixel (printed 1,80m wide)

stitch of 2x4 images

this is a comparison of two different tilt settings, where you can see, how easy it is to control the focus with focus peaking
while you tilt the camera, the focus is moving till you see the whole desired plane in focus peaking color
compare this with a dark cloth over your head and a magnifying glass on the ground glass.

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and just for fun, if you want to take your 4×5″ camera into the field, there is a nice “little” box for all that stuff :-)
you may find the tiny NEX somewhere on this picture

my "new" camera bag, very handy for my nex hicking tour :-)

and an explanation, how to use this box for shooting :-)

my "new" camera bag, very handy for my nex hicking tour :-)

and last but not least my little large format camera collection
left the Sinar P, in the middle an old wooden camera and on the right the Gandolfi Variant field camera

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I hope, you enjoyed it and thanks for looking

dierk

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

Jan 292015
 

USER REPORT : The best tool ever for black and white photography

by Elie Bescont

Hi Steve, hi Brandon,

Happy new year to you and your loved ones, and to all of you reading this article. Thank you again for having me writing on your website.

Today, we are going to talk about black and white photography, but I would recommend you to read this even if you are not into b&w photography because what I am going to discuss here is an important step for color photography too. I will be dealing with black and white photography here because it is the most simple way to explain what I am going to teach some of you.

I have been thinking about writing an article dealing with post-processing for a while now because while it is a key step in creating your own images and developing your own vision, most articles dealing with post-processing on the internet are totally incomprehensible and useless. Most articles I found deal with a particular Photoshop or Lightroom tool, like “today, we are going to show you how to use the liquify tool in Photoshop”. That’s cool, but not really helping actually. You want to develop your own vision to give your images their own character that will allow anyone to identify any of your pictures as one of your pictures just by looking at it, and knowing how to use the “liquify” tool in Photoshop won’t really help you in that matter if you see what I mean. You need a tool to help you develop your style (which is you vision – your own way of seeing things) by using any Photoshop (or whatever) tool at your disposal. You need to develop your own graphic signature and you are tired of browsing the internet for the solution? Keep reading, your might find something interesting.

At this point, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Elie, and that’s how I see the world that surrounds me today: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92813485@N05/sets/72157636422545586/

We all have our own way of seeing the world. We don’t take the same pictures, you have your very own eye and you sould exploit this gift during the shooting process and during the post-processing process too. Today, I will introduce you to the best tool ever for post-processing, and I will apply it to black and white photography. I’m pretty sure you all read books and watched interviews of great photographers explaining how to think your pictures during the shooting process, they mainly deal with composition, timing and that sort of things. There is also a method for post-processing, no matter the software you are using, and no matter if you shoot digital or film. If you don’t use a method, prepare to improve the quality of your photographs.

So the other day, I was walking in Paris with my friend Stan. I brought with me the best camera there is for black and white photography: the Leica M Monochrom, and I decided to take a picture of him with a 35mm lens. Here is the RAW file straight from the camera

93038101L1021970SteveHuffRAW

Well, it looks nice. Focus is a bit off because the rangefinder wasn’t calibrated with the lens but it’s no big deal. What bothers me here is the ultimate flatness of this image. It’s all grey with nothing really standing out and that’s great because it means that I have a great latitude now in creating my own vision of this portrait. Well, what should I do now? Should I start to twist random buttons on Lightroom until I get a satisfying result? Should I just add more contrast and export the image as it is? No. The first thing to do is to take a look at it and think. What is important here? Please, take a look at this picture. Do it and ask yourself the question. What is important? What is key? What is not? Do it. Look at his face, look at his clothes, look at the different parts of the background. We have to select important things that we want to enhance, and unnecessary things that we want to turn the viewer’s attention from.

Here are my thoughts.

Important things:
+ Stan (my subject here).
+ His face.
+ His eyes, nasal base and mouth.
+ His clothes.
+ The ramp of the bridge.

Unnecessary things:
– The empty part on the right.
– The empty part on the top (the sky).

Take another look at the image to make sure you agree with me. What I want here is my subject to stand out from the composition. I also want his face to stand out even more, and particularly key details like his eyes, his nasal base and his mouth. I also think that his clothes are an important part of the subject. I think that all the part on the right of the image is not important except the ramp of the bridge that adds perspective to the composition.

There are basically three ways of enhancing something in black and white photography. You can lighten it, you can add more contrast to it, or you can add more microcontrast (i.e. structure, or clarity) to it. There are three ways of driving one’s attention away from something in black and white photography. You can darken it, you can lessen contrast locally, or you can lessen microcontrast locally. It’s amazing how easy that sounds.

In visual terms, here is my plan

91016902L1021970plan

Green circled parts are zones that I want to lighten. I want to lighten my subject, and I want to lighten his face even more so it stands out and gets the viewer’s attention. I also want to add more contrast to these zones for the same reason.

Blue circled parts are zones where I want more microcontrast to make little details pop. So I want details of his face to get the viewer’s attention, and I want more crisp on his clothes, I want it to look more real. I also want this ramp on the right to stand out.

I want to darken the entire zone further the red line on the right to center the viewer’s attention on my subject. I might lighten the ramp a little bit to balance this effect on the ramp only. I also want to darken the zone above the red line near the top of the image so the sky won’t burst.

What I just did is the logical continuation to the composition of my image, i.e. when I decided what should be in the frame and what shouldn’t. We just went a little further and decided from what’s in the frame, what is important and what is not. Now that we have a raw image and a plan to get the best from it, we can get to work on Lightroom a little bit.

First, we decided to add more light and more contrast to the whole subject so I selected the zone using the brush tool on Lightroom and increased exposure to +0.21 and contrast to +16 (which is a lot, but the files that the Monochrom gives are really flat). I felt that a touch of microcontrast here won’t hurt so I increased clarity to +2.

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Then, I decided to lighten his face so here we go. Exposure +0.14, contrast +16.

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I wanted his eyes, base of nose and mouth to stand out (it’s all on the plan above). Clarity +9.

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I also wanted to add more crisp to his clothes. Clarity +10.

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You can already see a difference between the raw file and what we have now:

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Well, let’s darken the whole part on the right using the graduated filter tool. Exposure -0.21.

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I will use the same tool to darken the top of the image. Exposure -0.14.

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Oh, and I wanted that ramp to stand out a bit. Back with the brush tool. Exposure +0.07, clarity +10. Don’t hesitate to use a big brush with a high gradient so you won’t see a clear separation of the effect.

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That’s where we are now, before and after:

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That was the really important part because you actually have to make a choice between what’s important and what’s not. What comes next is regular processing, like getting the tone curve to your taste (here, to mine). Highlights -1, lights +17, darks -7, shadows -10

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And now a final calibration of the image on Lightroom. Exposure +0.26, contrast +22, whites +13, clarity +3.

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This is where we came from in the begining, and where we are now:

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This is the image we have now

96870216L10219702SteveHuffFinal

You might wonder what is the real impact of the choices we’ve made during the first step. Here is on the left the RAW file with the same tonal curve and final calibration than the final image on Lightroom. On the right, where we are now. The only difference between these two images is the plan we elaborated for the image on the right:

154443Stanbeforeafter

If you can’t see the difference, you will notice it here for sure:

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Let’s finish that image with Silver Efex Pro 2:

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I like to add a bit of grain, it adds some texture to the image.

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On the left, the raw file out of camera. On the right, the final image after a bit of thinking and some work on Lightroom and Silver Efex:

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Who is flat now?

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You might like what I did with that raw image that came out of the camera, you might not, it doesn’t matter. What really matters is that I made my own decisions. I didn’t just twist buttons until the magic happens, I looked at the picture and thought how it should be. And then I applied my decisions to the picture using Lightroom. It doesn’t matter if you are a master of the paint brush tool or not. You don’t wake up in the morning grabbing a hammer and then wondering what you could do with it that day. You first come up with a project, and if it involves sticking nails in walls then you should start to learn a little bit more about that hammer you stored in the backyard cabin. That’s why all these articles about “that particular tool in Photoshop” are absurd. And that’s why the best tool ever for black and white photography is having a plan for your image before you start twisting buttons and playing with tools.

By the way, my friend Stan is a journalist and photographer. Check his images here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanaron/

Well, a few days before that day, I was still walking in Paris with the Leica Monochrom and I took this picture:

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Here we go again. What is important? The two characters are important, especially her face. The fountain is important too.

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I want more light to her face (the zone in green). I also want more microcontrast on both subjects and on the fountain (the zones in blue). I want more light to the entire scene, and I want the sky to be a little darker above the red line to keep some details there. To begin with, I will apply a correction to the angle of the image here. Angle -0.75.

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Now let’s add more light to the whole scene. Exposure +0.91, Contrast +5, Whites +20.

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I want to darken the sky a little bit to keep a few details there. Exposure -0.28 using the graduated filter tool:

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I will now reduce the highlights around these lamp posts.

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I wanted more microcontrast on this zone here. Clarity +9.

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I needed more light on her face. Exposure +0.28, contrast +3, Clarity +9.

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I wanted more microcontrast to her eye, nasal base, mouth and ear. Clarity +9.

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I also wanted the details of the splashes to crisp a little bit more. Clarity +5.

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Now let’s get the tonal curve to my taste:

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And we are done. Here is the raw image straight out of camera on the left compared to the final image on the right

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To show you the importance of the selective choices I made during the thinking process, here is the final image on the left with all the tonal curve adjustments and everything, but without local adjustments. On the right, the same image but with local adjustments too. See how her face stands out of the composition to the right.

379361Fountainbeforeafter

You don’t see the difference? Try this way:

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And that’s the final image we just created:

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Again, you may like what I did with the raw file, you may not. That’s not important. What really matters is that I made this image like I wanted it to be in the first place, and you should get your images like you want them to be too. This selective method is used in photography since around 1910 and was used to define most of the iconic images you know today. I hope this was a helpful read for the ones who struggle with post-processing. If you shoot color, it’s the exact same method except you enter a fantastic world called chroma which is a bit more complicated than black and white since you can now totally change the color locally. This is a good way to develop your own graphic style because you are the only person in the world who knows exactly what is important in your composition and what is not. I wish you all a happy new year and happy shooting to all of you.

Cheers!
Elie

© 2009-2015 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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