Oct 192015

The Palouse – The Elysian Fields of Visuals

By Olaf Sztaba

The last time we visited the Palouse region lush greens dominated the scenery. This time was different. Greens and yellows blended into browns and sand dune-like hills spread across the horizon as if a painter had replaced all the colours with just one. Despite this change, the placid beauty of the land captivated us once again.


The rising sun revealed an abundance of shapes and patterns, creating dream-like visuals. The lack of colours simplified the visuals and emphasized the beauty of the lines. The Palouse in the fall was very different from the loud and colourful Palouse of the spring but somehow equally beautiful, equally captivating.




Our initial plan was to welcome the rising sun at Steptoe Butte – the usual place for sunrise photography. But we got up late and instead captured the beauty of the place from random dirt roads. We were glad we did.

While well-known parks such as Yosemite or Grand Teton National Park have their own mega-popular spots, the Palouse offers you the unknown. Every dirt road hides a visual gem and it is up to you to discover it, which is what makes this place so special.




This is why Kasia and I believe that the Palouse is the best place in North America to learn composition. Sure, you can go to Steptoe Butte and the morning light will provide you with beautiful vistas without much effort on your part. No question, you will end up with one more photograph of the same. However, if you would like to see and feel YOUR WAY, take any dirt road around Palouse, think creatively, put in some effort and you will be rewarded with a creation like no other. That’s the beauty of the Palouse. That’s why the Palouse is a photographer’s Elysian Fields. Indeed, it’s a place like no other.

All images were taken with the Fuji X-T1 & XF 50-140mm F2.8 lens, processed in LR6.


Oct 162015

Some fun with solarizing.

By Dirk Dom


Thirty years ago I spent a great deal of time in the wet darkroom. I finished one print about every six weeks, and I was fascinated by the Sabattier affect. I exposed hundreds of sheets of paper trying to control the effect and making interesting images. I also got out there a great deal to get suitable negatives. Photoshop can also solarize.

The next photos are solarized and those with a white background are made negative.  It’s an extremely simple process, taking no more than a minute. The shots I did it on, however, are my very best flower shots, I put a great deal of time in them, shooting and simplifying. Only extremely simple images work. Amongst my collection of flower shots, only about ten lent themselves to the process. Is this kitsch? I don’t know. I’d very much value your opinions on that. I personally think, that, if I did only this, it’d be kitsch. My work is so diverse, however, that I think I can get away with it. Well, enjoy! And, don’t be alarmed, I did this just for the fun!









Oh, yes, images taken with a digital Olympus PEN and a 200mm macro lens and a Canon F1, with 85mm f/1.2 and some extension tubes.

And, yes, I’m getting them printed!


Sep 212015

A night of Post Processing

By Dirk Dom

What a night!

I did ten black and white shots of my San Francisco trip.

At first, I got all crazy about printing big and I wanted drum scans made. Since that, and printing four feet would see me bankrupt, I used my own scans and enjoyed these.

I’ll print 12 x 18 inches, 30 x 45 cm, on Baryta paper. With my own scans I can go to 24 inches, 60 cm at 300 DPI.

This was a night of calm creativity and intense concentration.

Ansel Adams, the greatest printer that ever lived, said: “the negative is the score, the print the performance”. I performed tonight.

I’m deeply grateful I can do this.

The tools I use would make any Photoshop specialist laugh so hard he’d get cramps, but I use them until I can’t make the print any better. I do burning and dodging, a little bit of levels, mainly to check if I reach the black and white limits (ALT key), that’s all. Of course the images need spotting. Photoshop is as refined as you want, no limit.

Usually I have a very vivid idea about the potential of the print and what I want it to become, getting there is usually not difficult but takes lots of time.

Well, here they are, I didn’t include shots of the city because buildings don’t fit in this series.

This one I made very high key to offset the jet black charred stump and the rest of the Redwood forest.


Here I think I got the range of light in the forest.


Another jet black stump.


The bank of a creek in Ukiah. This shot is so sharp you see every thread of moss on the trees. It screams “Enlarge me BIG!!!”


My son.


One afternoon, the clouds were just magic in Ukiah. I was out for hours watching it all evolve.





Finally, I include this city shot, because of the nice sky: San Francisco from Bernal Heights. I think that’s the best view of the city.


I’m so glad that last year I decided to go for film and not for digital black and white. There are always beautiful structures in the negative, often totally unexpected.

Like the cloud in the San Francisco shot:


No way you can get such a thing digitally! (Does Nik software emulate this? I’d like to know) Such structures make a print glow. A print shows this sort of detail, to discover and enjoy.
I think there is nothing more beautiful in photography than fine black and white.

Well, enough.



If it doesn’t look good as a thumbnail, it’s no good.



Sep 182015

Photo’s with a Story

By Dirk Dom


When I show people my photographs many ask me what exactly they are seeing. That is a reasonable question, because I shoot quite a lot of abstracts. I generally tell them to appreciate the images on their own grounds. Most people, however, expect photographs to be representative and are not accustomed to having to use their imagination.

I made a booklet which originated as an exercise in playful interpretation of my photos. I picked out about seventy that I particularly liked and challenged myself to create tales inspired by the images. It proved surprisingly difficult. Some of my images seem so simple and have such an impact that I couldn’t think of anything. In some cases I made up stories; in others I wrote down impressions inspired by what I was looking at — what ever came to mind, and sometimes, when the creation of the photo itself was a good story, I shared that too. At random intervals I had left the reader/observer the opportunity to make up a story himself.

This is an excerpt of the book with ten photographs.


The photo above is exercise one. What does it make you think of?

Alien Encounter

A Star Seed floats through space, on its way to the core of the Galaxy to reproduce. Its solar sail is folded up, so far away from any star.

A Guffaw, who normally eats cometary cores, sees the Star Seed as a delightful snack.

The Star Seed reacts to its approach with a giant electric discharge. Intense plasma wires light up in the interstellar medium.

The Guffaw changes its mind and its direction.

The Star Seed floats on, on its journey of millions of years, on track to another star.

With thanks to Larry Niven


Brown Dwarf Life Form

DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b, part of an ultra cold binary system, has a mass of about 28 Jupiter masses. This brown dwarf is 67.7 light-years or 399 trillion miles from Earth. It was discovered in 2013.

The life which developed there consists of twenty-mile long single-celled organisms (hydrogen filled bubbles made out of polyethylene) who float in the atmosphere and are bioluminescent. These are colonized by photosynthetic organisms. Seemingly there are similarities with the life on Jupiter.

The photograph is made in May, 2144, by the Da Vinci atmospheric probe which flew through a life form, filming, during its descent to the core.

Exploration of brown dwarves is considered a low priority.


Drowning Moth

Beginning of March, 2014, I walked in the Zevenbergen Forest, Ranst.

On the banks of the ditches you can make photographs with lots of contrast, so I walked along the water.

About six feet from shore, this drowning moth. I planned to save it, but first, a quick photograph. A first image without paying attention to composition. Then, this image, with the moth carefully lined up in the dark reflection of a tree. I wanted to take a few more photographs, but the wave pattern the wings made stopped after about five seconds and didn’t start again. I was disappointed. Suddenly I realized the moth was dying and it was finished.

Quickly I looked for a branch, but the only one I found was too short. Pity. The moth no doubt served as a protein rich delicacy to a bird or a frog. It’s a beautiful, but sad shot.

Life is so easily extinguished.


Nuclear blast

I was happily taking shots of forest anemones when World War Three started. The bomb incinerated the Antwerp port at twenty miles distance.

I live, but what good does it do? The anemones bloomed for the last time.



Microvilli (singular: Microvillus, lat. Villus “brushy hair (from animals), wool”) are microscopic protuberances of the cellular membrane which drastically increase the surface of cells. Microvilli are found in the brush border of the small intestine. Because of the large surface macromolecules and ions can be absorbed more easily.

The brush border is the homogeneous layer which is visible at the apical side of the enterocytes (absorbing cells in the small intestine) and the epithelial cells in the proximal tubulus. If this tissue is looked at through a light microscope, one can see that the brush border consists of a great number of very closely stacked microvilli. These microvilli make for a twentyfold increase of the small intestine surface. This increase in surface makes the intake of nourishment much easier.


Me, as a Photographer

This is a fun one.

So I went to take this photograph. At first I wanted to go alone, but I took my sister Nadine along to take the shot.

I hung about ten camera’s around my neck and arranged them in such a way that they showed nicely. But this hopelessly entangled the straps.

After about five minutes the forty pounds of camera started to really hurt and I wanted to take them off.

I couldn’t unknot them. The weight became unbearable. In the end I had to lie down and make my sister disentangle them.

I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I had done this alone.


Love is:
Putting your paws on the eyes of your beloved.



This is how the Daft Punk music looks to Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

The Visisonor, developed by the University of Antwerp in 2017, translates the impressions of the other senses to a visual signal.

Apple bought the patent.

In 2019 110 million Visisonors were sold, despite the violent price tag.

With Thanks to Isaac Asimov


Second Exercise

Oh, yes, believe it or not, this is a photograph!

I can’t make up any story with this.

Can you?


Well, hope you enjoyed it!

And, my apologies!



Sep 042015

Meta35: Embed EXIF data in film-shot images, tweak Custom Setting Menus.

By John Crane


Have you ever wondered how to embed EXIF data into your film-shot and computer scanned images? Are you one of the newly enlightened 35mm film shooters recently in possession of your dream, quasi-vintage film camera (think Nikon F100, Nikon F5, Canon EOS-1V or Minolta Maxxum) – but frustrated trying to figure out how to tweak its Custom Settings exactly how you want? You may have given up, resigning yourself to thinking, “some day someone will figure this out.” Well, that someone is Promote Systems, and thanks to the software company in Houston, Texas, your wait is over. Enter meta35, a new product allowing you to extract EXIF data your camera generates, import to the computer, then embed into the specific frame of film it corresponds to. Not only that, but Meta35 allows interaction with these old, beautiful film cameras Custom Setting Menus; tweak them, then re-export to the camera. Quickly, easily, and without any cryptic cheat sheets.

About a year ago I received an e-mail from a gentleman asking if the Nikon MV-1 Data Reader was the only game in town when it came to retrieving data off the Nikon F6. The answer at the time was, unfortunately, yes – as far as I knew. For those unfamiliar with the MV-1, it’s a glorified CF card reader in a black, velvet pouch that hooks up to the 10-pin ports on the Nikon F6, Nikon F5, Nikon F100 and Nikon N90S/F90X allowing the transfer of Exif data generated by the camera (when this option is activated, as in the case of the F100) – write that data as a tiny .txt file to a Compact Flash (CF) card, then transfer that data to the computer for further use. The MV-1 is perfect for what limited functionality if performs, but there are several downsides. One is cost; at close to $240 it feels dramatically over priced for what it is. Another downside is that it’s one-directional in the sense it’s designed simply to retrieve data stored in your camera and write it to a card. During that process it deletes the data from the camera’s memory. Yet another disadvantage to the MV-1 is they are tough to find – and will become tougher as time passes.

In the old days there was a piece of software called Nikon Photo Secretary, allowing interaction with the F5’s inner functions. I never used Photo Secretary so can’t speak precisely to what it did or didn’t do. It was released about the same time as the F5 and from the looks of things, designed primarily to interact with the CSM (Custom Settings Menu) of the F5, providing easier access to its inner secrets. Regardless, if you can even find it today, and/or a computer that’ll run it – you’d be lucky. So what’s left?



Fast forward a year to an e-mail from the same gentleman a year ago, asking if I’d be interested in trying a new product for extracting data from the F6. Enter meta35, from Promote Systems in Houston, Texas. Meta35 is a new product providing today’s film shooter with the data generated by their cameras, previously inaccessible. And in the case of a camera like the F100 where you actually have to tell the camera to record data (its default is “off”), meta35 is the only game in town allowing access to this function, buried deep in the camera’s brain to wake it up, fully realizing its potential.


Meta35 is a software/hardware solution for not only these vintage, Nikon film cameras (F100, F5, F6, N90S/F90X), but also Canon EOS-1V and Minolta (Maxxum, Dynax and Alpha) cameras as well (please see footnotes at end of article). The software component runs on both Windows and Apple OSX as a efficiently designed, standalone application. The 2-part hardware component consists of a small cable with the appropriate connecting head for your camera on one end and standard 3.5mm jack on the other that plugs into a small adapter which connects to the computer’s USB port. Meta35 is extremely simple to use, well designed and fully functional.

Think of the camera’s data in two separate buckets:

– First, the Exif data generated while shooting a roll of film
– Secondly, the camera’s Custom Settings Menus (CSM), allowing deeper, more custom interaction with the camera.

The one-driectional MV-1 is capable only of removing (and erasing) generated EXIF data from the camera. Meta35 is bi-directional in the sense it allows you to read and write information to and from the camera. In regards to Custom Setting Menus, in the past its been difficult or impossible to access that data without some sort of deciphering key explaining what CSM function is mapped to what code in the camera. Meta35 somehow cuts through to not only decypher each camera’s CSM info, but allows retrieval, editing on the computer, then re-exporting altered CSM settings back into to the camera.

In the case of the F6, Meta35 does not allow changing CSM settings on the camera – this is simply done using the F6’s Menu on the back. But if you’re an F5, F100 or N90S/F90X, Canon EOS-1 or Minotla Maxxum shooter you’ll appreciate being able to easily read and alter each Custom Setting in the camera, then push those settings back to the camera and be ready to go.

EXIF DATA: Retrieving and embedding Exif data


When it comes time to embedding EXIF data into your image, meta35 is more than up to the task. Here’s a quick snapshot of the process. There are also links to short, informative “how-to” videos available here.

1) Hook meta35 to the camera and turn the camera on
2) Launch the software
3) Import the Exif data from the camera
4) Locate and load the image directory you wish to work with
5) The software automatically matches the exif data frame with the proper image*
6) Enter the additional IPTC data at the bottom such as titles, locations, keywords, etc.
7) Click “embed data” button

and presto – your image now carries all the data generated when shot such as f-stop, shutter speed, time, date, camera brand/model, etc.

OK – that’s a best-case scenario. Here are a few things you’ll figure out during your use of meta35, each tied to the number above:

1) Hook meta35 to the camera and turn the camera on. Make sure when you’re finished using meta35 you physically disconnect the cable from the camera or it will eventually deplete your batteries.

2) Launch the software. No issues here. It will run on both Windows and Apple OSX computers and I never experienced a single stability issue.

3) Import Exif data from the camera. This begins a bit of a fork in the road: if you use the MV-1 for the F6 it’s set to actually delete EXIF data from the camera after finished writing to the card. This of course leaves no data on the camera for Meta35 to interact with. So if you’re in the position of having both the MV-1 and meta35, use meta35 first to extract the data from the camera. meta35 allows the option of leaving the data stored in camera after extraction. If you wish to go back later and use the MV-1 to extract the data file you can do it then.

*In case you’re wondering – as I was – whether meta35 can work with data already imported from the camera and living on your hard disc, the answer is yes (!)*

4 and 5) Locate and load the image directory you wish to work with. This is an important step that takes a lot for granted. Without getting into a workflow discussion, I’ll say this: for most compatible use across the board it’s best to work with JPEG images. Here’s why.

a) Though meta35 presently understands both TIF and JPEG’s, it’s more compatible with JPEG’s on both platforms. On the Apple platform there is an issue preventing the software from writing all the EXIF data to TIF files on Apple OSX. It does allow some information like shutter speed and aperture, but not other information like camera brand, camera model and some others. They’re working hard to figure this out and I have no doubt they will. But for now, use JPEG’s – especially if you’re in the Mac.

b) When you scan images from a roll of film, this process assumes a logical, sequential naming convention. I’ve written other articles on this in the past so won’t get into it again here. But if you randomly name your files willy nilly when scanning, it makes associating the proper image later with the proper frame’s EXIF data much more difficult. Meta35 uses a logical sequence-based method. It understands “frame 1” in the EXIF data – and expects you to identify “frame 1” in your image directory. Much of this is common sense – but Meta35 isn’t a mind-reader – it needs you to do your part too.

c) The good news is, once you’ve imported the image directory you want to work with, re-ordering images in the image pane is relatively simple if you’ve not been diligent in your naming conventions while scanning. It’s easy to re-order, or even omit and exclude images from syncing. It’s rare that I scan all 36 images in from a roll of film, leaving gaps between images. No worries for meta35. It allows you to either exclude the data file or the image, based on how you prefer to work.

6) Enter the additional ITPC data at the bottom such as titles, locations, etc. This is a nifty way of adding keywords, descriptions, titles to your images. In the case of the Copyright pane there’s an option to apply to whole roll, saving time of entering the same information repeatedly. Same with the time/date stamp – allowing you to time/date stamp the entire roll. It’s a bit laborious to copy and paste information across all 36 images, but it needs to be done at some point and meta35 provides the most concise and streamlined opportunity to work on a whole roll at once.

7) Click “embed data” button. As noted above, this action will embed all entered data into your images, with the exception of TIF’s on the Mac, which embeds only some of it. The image is then permanently joined to its shooting data. When you open the image in other software such as Lightroom, Photoshop, or DxO Optics the data is there.


CSM Settings: Retrieving, Altering and Exporting Custom Settings from/to the camera:


Working with the camera’s custom settings menu is a breeze with meta35. As noted earlier, when altering the F6’s Custom Settings you’ll continue to do so on the camera’s menu itself. But for other cameras such as the F5, F100 or N90X/S, meta35 makes customizing the camera’s functions a breeze. Here’s the overview:

1) Connect the camera to the computer
2) Launch the software
3) Once the camera is located by the software, click “Import from Camera”
4) The camera’s Custom Settings appear within the software. Make whatever changes you wish. You’ll see short explanations associated with each setting if you need more information.
5) When complete, click “Export to Camera” and the camera is now updated.
6) Disconnect the camera.

It’s really that easy. No deciphering cryptic keys, or trying to memorize codes in the camera and what they mean. All information is clearly presented in the software as readable, easy to understand information.


Meta35 is a combination of software and hardware that lets photographers download shooting data from compatible cameras, embed the data into the EXIF metadata of scanned images and configure the cameras built in custom functions to optimize settings to the photographer’s needs. For version 1 software it’s robust, stable, well thought through and fully functional. It will be exciting to see where Promote Systems takes it from here.


Meta35 is compatible with the following film cameras that record data: Canon EOS-1V, Nikon F100, F5, F6(1), F90X, N90S, Minolta Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 7(1,2) and Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 9(1 ,3).

1. Custom functions can be set directly on the camera.
2. Requires Minolta DS-100 data saver.
3. Requires Minolta DM-9 memory data back.


– transfer film shooting data from the camera directly to a MAC or PC
– embed the shooting data into the EXIF metadata of the scanned images
– set up and customize camera custom functions

Meta35 retails for $149 for Nikon, Canon and Minolta versions, and is available for both Windows and Apple OSX computers. For more information please visit Promote System’s web site at meta35.com

Also check out the Nikon F6 Project!

Sep 032015

Peru In B&W

By Roman

Hey Brandon,

I spend some time in Perú this year realising that it’s really difficult there to put away the camera for a moment: such a great landscape, such impressive building, for a European like me such an adventurous mixture of Europa (especially of course Spain) and South America and so many interesting people, expressive faces, fascinating moods. I send some of the faces (and people) I met with this email. (All images were taken with Sony A7 oder A6000 and prime lenses.)

Regards from South Germany,










Jul 222015



by Michiel Faro

Time to get some of my own work out there, to be commented on and be criticized, instead of it all going the other way.

A bit about myself: I’m 62, Dutch and live in Holland, married, a stepson of 18 and two lovely two-year old girls. I work as a lawyer in Amsterdam. I have two potentially time-consuming hobbies: riding racing bicycles (I rode competitively for 25 years) and photography. I’ve been photographing since I was 14 or so.

My late father taught me everything, darkroom work included, though we never progressed to colour. I started with a Werra, which is more or less the most simple and wellmade camera one can think of. A Zenit slr was next, then a Yashica TL Electro (great camera), until a Nikon FM2n followed in 1990; a body I still have and use with great pleasure. FE2, an FM3a, a Contax RTSIII and a collection of used Nikkor and Zeiss primes round-up my analogue stuff. Digital started in 2008 with a D200, then a D700, then a D800 and now a D800E (both the 800 and the E can be underexposed routinely by almost up to a stop without any noticeable loss in image quality; a real bonus) with the 24, 35, 58 and 85 1.4G’s. I like the SLR form factor, prefer OVF’s over EVF’s and displays, dislike tiny camera bodies that may be light but have infuriating ergonomics and no viewfinder, and once you’ve gone full frame there’s no going back to a smaller sensor. Oh, and I don’t buy the next best thing every time it comes out, which can be quite frequent. Learn the stuff you have thoroughly, and that’s complicated enough in itself.

My photography can be divided roughly into three main categories: portraits (close, and possibly intrusive), situations/geometry/shapes, and emptiness. That last category is even more frustrating than the others and might be suitable for another post in the future. For this submission it’s situations/geometry/shapes and portraits.

Near the place I work in Amsterdam are two photo museums: FOAM and Huis Marseille. I try to go there on my lunchbreak every month or so. There’s always something to see. I may not like a particular exhibition or image, but it always sets your mind working: what is it I don’t like, what is it I do like, could I emulate it, could I approach that level of perception and technique, what sort of gear was used (ha!), etc etc. On the net, apart from the usual gear sites it’s AmericansuburbX and Lensculture I have a look at quite frequently; always something interesting to see.

Foremost in my mind (subconsciously no doubt) when taking photographs is light and contrast. Light because of what the infinite varieties of light can do to what the human eye (and film or sensor) sees. Contrast because of the inherent, subdued or loud, tension I wish to see in the images I take. Interest, tension, something that makes you wonder, makes you ask questions, is what I’m looking for. Always.

So here is a selection of B&W film images, made with cameras like the Contax RTSIII, Contax RTS, Contax S2, Nikon F2AS and Nikon FE2 and a variety of primes, usually Tri-X and HP-5, and colour images, made with the D800 and D800E. Two of the three portraits were made with the Nikkor 58/1.4G, an amazing (and sometimes frustrating) lens; the third one with the 85/1.4G, another gem.

The 58, to dwell on that subject briefly, is attractive as an everyday walkabout lens (I have a camera with me always; 1.4/35 this week) for its (comparatively) low weight, but you have to account for the almost “short tele” like focal length. It really shines as a portrait lens in ambient light. I think it is, for all it’s failings, a classic in the making that has to be used frequently to be fully appreciated.

Captions for the images are as follows:

B&W Situations

1 Man in FOAM museum: camera and lens unknown, TRI-X

2 Man with hoodie: Nikon F2AS, Nikkor 2.0/35 AiS, TRI-X

3 Man at Terry O’Neill exhibition: Contax RTSIII, 1.4/35 Distagon, TRI-X


B&W Portraits

4 Cor: Contax RTS, 2.8/85 Sonnar, HP5


5 Olivier: Contax S2, 1.7/50 Planar, TRI-X


6 Rob Regeer, the artist and his art: Nikon FE2, Nikkort 1.8/50 AiS, TRI-X





Color Shapes

7 Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G

8 Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G

9 Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G


Color Portraits

10 Ed de Jong, photographer, with waitress held napkin reflector at his insistence: Nikon D800, Nikkor 1.4/58G

11 Jan Maaso, friend, Nikon D800, Nikkor 1.4/85G

12 Wessel, colleague, Nikon D800E, Nikkor 1.4/58G


Thanks to Steve and Brandon for posting this and, more importantly, for keeping this podium alive for many to post on and for even more to comment.

Best regards,

Michiel Faro


Jul 152015

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sunning it up with the Sony A7s and A7II

by Craig Litten

Hey Steve & Brandon,

And hello to all of the followers of Steve Huff Photo! I’ve totally switched over to the Sony system late last year, and have been loving the system since then. I have your review of the A7s to thank for getting me really interested. I have now shot about four big jobs with the Sony’s, and they have performed nearly flawlessly so far. I own the A7s and the a6000, but have rented the A7II and the A7r trying to decide which body if a good fit, and I may just go with the newly announced a7rII. Attached are a few shots from my latest shoot with my Sony a7s and a rented Sony a7r along with the Sony/Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8 and Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8. lenses. I really love the size and rendering of the FE 35mm f/2.8!

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

I also like to keep it simple: two bodies, two lenses, a bunch of batteries and memory cards and normally zero lighting. But this shoot was different. It was a catalog shoot for Sun Bum (www.trustthebum.com); makers of sun products and a hot new company who is sweeping the industry. The company started in surf shops, but are now nationwide in Target as well as other stores. I shot their last catalog two years ago…

… and the photos from that shoot can be seen here on my website: www.craiglitten.com/galleries/#sun-bum

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Since Sun Bum is a sun-based company, the plan was to shoot all day in the bright sunlight, but the weather wasn’t cooperating and we had two days of rainy weather as a big storm passed by in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. We had models coming in from everywhere, and Sun Bum staff members coming from California (the company is located in Cocoa Beach where we did the shoot), so scratching the entire shoot would have been very expensive. Besides, we also rented a house on the beach, so we had to improvise. My background is as a newspaper photojournalist (since 1991), so part of that job description was to make something out of nothing daily.

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

I also hate using strobes, and no longer own any lighting gear, but prefer to shoot in natural light. So one of the assistants went to Home Depot to purchase a couple sets of 500 watt halogen lights costing $35 each. These are the kind of lights that you utilize while working on a car in your garage or use at a construction site, but they were a perfect solution and created what I call “liquid sunshine” giving the gloomy day the warmth it needed. We still have to reshoot to supplement these photos with “fun in the sun” photos, but they were pretty happy with the results.

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

May 192015

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. 


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 ;) 


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 



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



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






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



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



May 152015


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


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.


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


3.Great natural skin tones.


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.


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


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


7. No tech data


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


24. No tech data


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


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


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


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,


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.




My ongoing album dedicated to this project can be found here:

And my other works can be found here:

Roy Teo

May 062015


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.


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.


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.



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.













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.


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.


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.


Mark Steigelman




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…


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…






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.




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.



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 ;)







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!!



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