Aug 192014
 

Shooting with The Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 and the Sony A7 

By Doug Frost

I’ve been a happy owner of the Sony A7 since last December. For me, it won out over the A7r because of its slightly quieter and lower vibration shutter. It seemed better suited for handheld shooting than its 36mp sibling. And frankly, 24mp is plenty for me in most situations. I had been using the A7 with a variety of lenses with adapters. I have a few Zeiss Alphas which I love and I occasionally use it with my 50mm Zeiss Planar M-mount and a variety of vintage Nikon AI lenses. All great glass. I’ve always preferred shooting manual focus, and the A7 with its EVF and focus peaking makes it super easy to do.

But the one thing I lacked in my camera bag was a native FE mount lens. I had been considering buying the Sony Zeiss 50mm f/1.8 FE. The reviews of that lens have been very positive, and I was on the verge on buying one when Steve posted his first look preview of the Mitakon Speedmaster last April. I was immediately intrigued by the Mitakon. It wasn’t the sharpest 50mm lens by any means. It suffered from some light falloff at f/0.95, the bokeh could be a little quirky in some situations and it didn’t come with a lens hood. But there was a quality in the look of the sample shots I was seeing on Steve’s site and elsewhere that I really liked, especially when used wide open.

So, to make a long story a bit longer, I decided to get in on the pre-order discount price, and waited. And waited. And waited. The June delivery date came and went. The revised date in mid-July passed, and still no lens. The distributor, MXCamera, was apologetic. Their factory was having trouble getting the lens coatings right and they were shipping at a fraction of the anticipated rate. Finally, on August 6th, three months after I placed my order, I emailed them saying I was tired of waiting. To my surprise they replied the next day and said they just got a few units in from the factory and they’d ship one to me ASAP and gave me a tracking number. I was delighted.

The following day, MXCamera dropped a bit of a bombshell. The Mitakon Speedmaster had been discontinued! It was being replaced by a redesigned “pro” version of the lens that they dubbed “The Dark Knight”. Not only that, but everyone who had still not received the original version they ordered would now be getting a Dark Knight in its place!

Wow, I was taken aback. At first I was annoyed. Maybe if I hadn’t emailed them they would have sent me a Dark Knight instead. It was an odd situation, because a lens I had waited three months for, and was now finally enroute to me, had been discontinued before it even arrived!

But now that I have my Mitakon and shot with it, all is forgiven. I’ve decided that henceforth it will be known as the “Mitakon Speedmaster Classic”, a rare and highly coveted beast. Will The Dark Knight prove to be a better lens than the Classic? (It has yet to be reviewed as I write this.) Maybe. I have no idea, but more importantly, I don’t care. I love what my Mitakon does for me and that’s all that counts in the end.

I’m fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s one of the most beautiful regions on the planet and San Francisco is one of the biggest tourist destinations of all. For this user report I wanted to show what the Mitakon could do when used wide open in low light. I decided on ISO 1600 for all of the shots, because the A7 does very well at that speed and at f/0.95 I figured it would be fast enough.

I decided to shoot in the evening in a San Francisco neighborhood where there would be lots of tourists milling about on the street, so someone wandering around with an A7 would hardly be noticed, and that meant Fisherman’s Wharf. Me and my buddy Chris arrived at dusk on a Saturday to explore it with our cameras. As anticipated, the Wharf was swarming with tourists. Perfect for people watching. I always shoot in aperture priority mode, and I’m happy to report that the A7’s shutter speed never dipped below 1/400 the whole time, even when I was shooting inside the Museé Mécanique arcade, where the light is low.

I hope you enjoy these photographs. I had an absolute blast taking them. If you’d like to see more of my work, I invite you to check out my gallery: http://dougfrost.tumblr.com

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Aug 142014
 

My 26 day road trip thru Australia with a Ricoh GR

By Gabriel Lima

Hello everybody!

I’m Gabriel from Brazil and the moment I write this article I’m in the city of Ubud, central Bali, Indonesia. I’m here to talk about my user experience for travel, landscape and long exposure photography using the RICOH GR and filter adapter with B&W ND filters.

First a bit of my background. I’m a 27 year old guy from Curitiba, South of Brazil. After I graduated in a 4 years Business degree in the Uni I realised that it was to boring for me and decided to pursuit 2 old dreams: Travel the world and be a photographer. So, my first steep last year was move to Australia learn english and photography.

My first problem was: Which camera should I buy? Oh god, its hard, there are heaps of models, sizes, sensors, lenses, brands, DSLR, mirrorless and all that history I sure you guys now about. What did I? I immerse myself in review sites and forums searching for specs, image samples and user reports. After long hours and days here in Steve website and searching for samples on flickr I got stuck in 3 cameras: Olympus EM1, Sony A7 and Ricoh GR.

My weapon of choice was the Ricoh GR because it`s small form factor, height, IQ and easy of use. I have to confess that I had to eliminate the Sony A7 cause its price got over my budget and the EM1 because its problem with noisy long exposures in the dark.

After 6 months of practicing with and testing the camera, on 6 of June I left the City of Gold Coast for a 4 weeks road trip sleeping in the back of a small 97 Daewoo hatch from eastern to western Australia, till the city of Perth, a 8000 Km trip always driving the coast and photographing some great Australian spots like the Sydney Opera House, The Great Ocean Road and the Bunda Cliffs. Now I`m in the start of a 2 months backpacking trip thru Bali, Philippines and Thailand.

So, How is the camera doing? How am I feeling about my decision? Even though I still want a Sony A7 (anyone interest in help me? just kidding LOL… Ok, maybe not…) I couldn’t be happier and i’ll tell you why in topics!!!

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SIZE:

Sleeping in a hatch and backpacking with a very small budget means I often have to carry my life on my back city and island hopping, hiking in the forests to a desert beach and even driving a scooter in Asia. The camera is so small that it packs anywhere. My entire kit with a Macbook Air, a MeFoto Backpacker tripod, B&W polariser and ND filters and a Mophie battery pack packs in a small backpacker and height less than 5 kg.

As most of my work is about landscapes i use the camera most at F8 and set to snap focus in the infinite what means i need i tripod most of the time and i found myself walking around Sydney or a forest in Bali with the MeFoto Backpacker with legs extended and the camera attached without any problem (ok, I often get some weird locks from the crowds, LOL).

EASY OF USE

The possibility of having 3 personal camera modes on the top dial is amazing and you can configure just everything there I have MY1 set to auto bracketing AE where i can set the exposure I want in each photo and even the order that the camera take/store the shots for my landscapes, MY2 set to F2.8 shallow exposures for temples, confined spaces or portraits and MY3 with my settings for long exposures. That means i don’t have to go thru the painful long menus of the camera, one of the disadvantages of the high user configuration that the RICOH GR allow, what would make me lost lots of shot opportunities. The camera even allows me to configure 3 other buttons for some functions, I use the effect button for shooter timer(use this a lot to eliminate the need of a non available shutter cable to avoid camera shake, just set for 2sec and everything will be ok), FN buttons for ND filter, snap focus distance or autofocus point and I have every thing I need easy to find.

AUTOFOCUS

The ability of move the focus point with the back dial makes me happy every time I have to compose and not worry about choose the correct focus point in a predetermined matrix during a shot in a confined temple.

SNAP FOCUS MODE

That`s one of the main reasons for me to choose the RICOH GR, just so easy to configure the distance I need and click. So easy, no shooter lag at all, perfect for street photography when you can`t miss the moment.

IQ

I`m very happy with the IQ i get from the RAW files in the Lightroom 5 but I wont talk about that as lots of people already did. The only think is that I felt that I need to expose to the right to get best results and avoid noise.

GW3 HOOD AND FILTER ADPTER + B&W FILTERS (LONG EXPOSURES)

I love for long exposures, specially in rock beaches and i got really frustrated during my road trip in Australia where i missed many opportunities cause the built-in ND filter wasn’t enough to produce good results during the day and I didn’t have the time to wait for the blue and golden hours on every location I stopped. So I got myself a GW3 adapter that fits around the lens and allow me to use 49mm filters in the camera and that changed my life, with the B&W ND 3,0 now I`m able to shoot long exposures and get cool effects from the water almost any time of the day and use a B&W XS-PRO MRC nano circular polarizer that have been helping me to increase the contrast of my photos and eliminate water reflections.

What could be better?

-The camera takes lots of time to process long exposures, almost the same time of the exposure itself, so when I take a 5 minutes exposure it takes more almost 5 minutes to process and show the photo;
-The button that hold the top dial in position got stuck after I felt climbing a dune and the camera got some sand;
-The display drains too much battery and I learnt it loosing an amazing sunset cause I composed the shot and kept the camera on waiting for the sun to set and the last bar of the battery was gone in less than 5 minutes.

That’s  it guys, I hope you like the reading and to help anyone interested in the RICOH GR for travel, landscape and long exposure photography.

You guys can follow my adventures in:

www.facebook.com/gabriellimaphotography

instagram.com/travel_gave – my iphone dairy

plus.google.com/+GabrielLima87/

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Aug 132014
 

roadtripsouthwest2014

OFFICIAL: Southwest Road Trip/Workshop. An Epic Photo Adventure awaits!

Antelope Canyon, Zion, Sedona, Horseshoe Bend and more!

UPDATE 08/14: In less than 24 hours we have received HUGE interest in this event with many sign ups! It is going to be pretty full, so if you are interested I would get in ASAP before it sells out!

As promised, I am posting details for this EPIC workshop/Road Trip that will take place November 6th-10th 2014. FIVE days of events, activities, photography, food, new friends, adventure and fun. I only do one or two of these per year now and only do them when they are done right and offer something special and unique for those who attend. This time, with the help of Todd Hatakeyama and Jay Bartlett I think we put together a wonderful trip that will give you a lifetime of memories and photographs.

We will start out meeting in Phoenix, AZ and will travel via either chartered bus or caravan style (depending on how many want to go on this trip). I am probably more pumped about this trip than any previous workshop I have done over the years. It will be the most scenic for sure, and we will be avoiding the blistering heat by doing it in November.

Breakfast and Lunch will be included (breakfast is included with hotels) but dinner will not be included. Hotels and all transportation will be included in this trip. Sony is also pitching in to this event and will be loaning out various cameras and lenses so we will have them on hand for you to test/use! How cool is that? How about testing an A7s on the sunset Jeep tour we are doing?

This will be a wonderful trip, probably my largest one yet packed with amazingly beautiful southwestern landscapes that you may have seen in photos but never been able to get to and shoot. Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Sedona and more.

We will be doing two full on JEEP tours in Sedona. One sunset tour and one during the day with pro guides. We will also be doing a full guided tour of Antelope Canyon.

Below is the full Itinerary.

Zion..

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Steve Huff Photo Road Trip – Southwest USA

All will meet at the Aloft Hotel in Phoenix, AZ on Thursday Nov. 6th. We will depart this hotel at 5PM SHARP on Nov 6th either by chartered bus that will hold us all or via 3 vans. The schedule is amazingly cool and if you have never been to these destinations, it will be jaw dropping beautiful to you. I am in Sedona 4-5 times per year and the beauty there is heart warming. I am telling you now, THIS will be an amazing trip and the photos you will get from it will be worthy of huge wall prints! I will be on hand for any questions or help and Jay Bartlett will also be on hand for instruction (he will be shooting medium format for anyone interested in this).

Price per person will be $1800 for a private hotel room all to yourself. If you want to bring a spouse then price will be discounted to $1300 each for a shared room. Single participants can also book a shared room at the discounted rate of $1300 but you will be sharing a room with someone else. 

This price will include hotel and transportation for entire trip, breakfast, lunch, tours and instruction. The only thing NOT included here are the DINNERS as everyone has different tastes in food and drink, so we did not want to put a limit on the food for dinner, and some may be tired and choose to eat in their room. Will be up to the individual for dinner but we will have group dinners for anyone  that wants to join in. Hotel stays are all included as is every single tour. All you have to do is get to Phoenix, AZ on the 6th of November and we will take care of the rest. 

Our bus for the entire trip. Yes, we will be riding in comfort and style :) 

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*We can also pick you up from the airport if needed but you can NOT be late as we will leave at 5pm sharp on the 6th from the Aloft Hotel*

Day 1 (Thurs, Nov 6)
5:00pm Depart Aloft Phoenix Airport Hotel
7:30pm – 9:00pm Dinner in Flagstaff
11:00pm Arrive at hotel in Page, AZ

Day 2 (Fri, Nov 7)
7:30am – 8:30am Breakfast at hotel
9:00am – 12:00pm Antelope Canyon Photography Tour (this will be a professionally guided tour)
12:30pm – 2:00pm Horseshoe Bend
2:00pm – 3:00pm Lunch in Page
3:00pm – 6:00pm Drive to Zion
6:00pm Arrive at hotel in Springdale, UT
7:00pm – 9:00pm Dinner in Springdale

Day 3 (Sat, Nov 8)
7:00am – 8:00am Breakfast at hotel
8:00am – 6:00pm Zion hiking (lunch in the park)
7:00pm – 9:00pm Dinner in Springdale

Day 4 (Sun, Nov 9)
7:00am – 8:00am Breakfast at hotel
8:00am Depart Springdale
1:00pm – 2:00pm Lunch in Flagstaff
3:00pm Arrive in Sedona
4:00pm – 6:00pm Sunset Jeep Tour 2 hours (these are AWESOME and will take us into places you would have never even knew existed)
7:00pm – 9:00pm Dinner in Sedona

Day 5 (Mon, Nov 10)
7:00am – 8:00am Breakfast at hotel
9:00am – 12:00pm Scenic Rim Jeep Tour 3 hours (another amazing Jeep tour, off road, hills, crevices, and all kinds of cool things to see as well as getting out and exploring)
12:00pm – 1:30pm Lunch in Sedona
2:00pm – 4:30pm Drive back to the Aloft Phoenix Airport Hotel

Antelope Canyon

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How to Sign Up

As you can see, this trip will be rocking so I hope to see many of you there with me! I am looking forward to this one and counting the days. If you want to sign up, and want in 100%, then make sure to do so quickly as these events tend to sell out quickly. The last one at Valley of Fire sold out fast and this one is an even better trip. That is not marketing hype, it is reality. Last trip we had to turn a few away as we sold out. If you want in, email me here and I will give you instructions on how to pay and set your reservation!

Driving into Sedona..

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Aug 132014
 

A Pair of Fujis in Paris

By James Conley

France’s importance in the history of photography cannot be overstated. Some of the most significant documentary images in the history of photography were made in Paris, and it was the home of photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau. Today, the city is full of commercial galleries dedicated to photography. During any given week there are dozens of elaborate exhibitions and public displays of images. Photography is respected as an art, and it is actively promoted. Indeed, France is home to Jean-François Leroy, the founder and sponsor of Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan. Paris is at odds with itself, however. It’s an easy city to shoot, but a frustrating city to shoot in.

~First, the backdrop.~

Paris is divided by the Seine. The right bank is to the north, and the left to the south. The left tends to be rather rich (read: touristy) and the right bank tends to be more artsy (and frequently seedier). The right has interesting places like the medieval-streeted Marais, and the left was Hemingway’s stomping ground. The right is hillier, the left flatter.

Regardless of where you go, though, Paris is a victim/beneficiary of Georges Eugene Haussmann. Until the middle of the 1800’s, Paris had the same structure as it had during the Middle Ages—small, interwoven streets and cramped buildings. In 1794, under the influence of the miasma theory of the day that the tight quarters were the cause of illness, a Commission of Artists came up with a plan for redoing the streets. Nothing happened with the plan until Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became emperor in 1852. He wanted the government to better control a capital where several regimes had been overthrown since 1789, and wanted wide avenues through which to move troops.

Napoleon III tasked Haussmann with reurbanization, and gave him broad powers to implement the plans. Haussmann used that power to seize property, require owners to make changes to building facades, and to completely level and rebuild parts of the city. Haussmann defined the maximum height of buildings, and their features—including balconies and roof pitch—was mandated. Neighboring buildings had to have floors at the same height, as well as matching exterior lines. Quarry stone was mandatory along the avenues. Wide boulevards, landscaped gardens, and monuments were designed to frame France’s imperial history. The plan and its result made the city look like an extensive palace.

What all this means from a photographer’s point of view is that the city provides a fetching backdrop for almost any picture, no matter what part of the city you’re in. It also means that no matter what part of the city you’re in, it runs the risk of looking remarkably like any other part. The buildings are beautiful in their own way, but they lack individuality. It’s as though Disney had the power to reface a major city.

Paris has some of the worst traffic of any major city. Cars are numerous, but mopeds and motorbikes are a close second. They are everywhere. Vehicles clog the streets and they park in any available place. Because of the chaos of so much traffic, Paris has placed a seemingly infinite number of three-foot tall poles to block walkways from vehicle parking. Parking on the streets is relatively unlimited, however, and there is almost no street that doesn’t have cars or mopeds lining it. This means that nearly every street scene will be blocked by either a pole or a vehicle.

Light is also an issue. Paris is a very northerly city. It is on a latitude similar to that of the U.S./Canadian border. In the autumn, this means that the sun is low in the sky, but it’s very bright. Shadows are strong, and highlights are glaring. Dealing with the contrast is not an insignificant challenge. Partly overcast is a friend to the limited dynamic range of a digital sensor.

Most of the traditional sites are worth seeing, even if their inspiration to make images is low. The Eiffel Tower is impressive. The Louvre is stunning. (Outside, at least. I think the Met is better curated, regardless of the difference in volume.) The city’s elaborate gardens are interesting and relatively attractive, if a rigid approach to horticultural design appeals to you. The streets are obtuse and there is no grid, which makes for convenient backdrops. The Latin Quarter and Ile Saint Louis stand out as particularly photogenic. As discussed below, however, many of the sites aren’t accessible to photographers. For example, Sacre Coeur doesn’t allow photography inside, nor does the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. The Louvre, however, does. Most storefront businesses do not allow photography—including of the street. Most people out on the street will wave you off if they see you taking pictures.

~Second, the law.~

Contrary to France’s very welcoming approach to photography as art, it is also the home of two laws which restrict it: Droit d’image and La Loi Vie Privée. Basically, a French citizen can sue a photographer for using any image which includes the citizen or his property in the picture.  So, for example, you see an interesting farmhouse in Versailles. You snap a picture, and then want to use it on a blog which has advertising from which you profit. Unless you have the written permission of the owner of the property, under French law you can’t use the image. And what if the property gets sold later? That’s right—you have to get the new property owner’s permission.

The law against using someone’s likeness commercially is not particularly different from the protection other countries provide: you can’t associate someone with a commercial product without a model release. The French people, however, generally fail to understand that taking pictures of someone in a public space and using it for an artistic or editorial purpose is allowed. The French assume they have the right to interfere with all photography.

This confusion has led many photographers to avoid France, and to not publish their work in France. Whether or not these laws would be enforced against a particular photographer with a particular image, it certainly casts a pall over the desire to make images.

~Third, the people.~

Paris is a busy city. The streets are full of a variety of shops. People live in the city, and despite their cars, they shop very locally. The Haussmann design leaves little interior space for working at home, so people are out and about. Cafe tables are plentiful, and people loiter for hours working or talking. Pedestrian traffic is heavy, as is bicycle and motorized transport. Shops tend to close around 6 p.m., but cafes and restaurants are open later.

Despite (or because of) the number of tourists, people tend to be fairly aware of photographers. More so than in cities like New York, Parisians seem to be constantly on the lookout for someone taking a photo. There are few smiles in Paris, and even fewer when a camera is around. Shopkeepers will confront you if they even see a camera. They’ll also come out of the store if they see you taking pictures in the street. Signs forbidding photography are everywhere.

Outside of stores, the people on the streets are less confrontational, but it’s wise to be aware and not push the issue. It’s best to follow the fancy footwork of Cartier-Bresson and blend blend. He was a master at taking photos fast, with his subjects unaware they were being photographed. Zone focusing and the use of the rear LCD display on cameras so equipped is required practice. Waiting in the right spot for the right time is also handy—people get used to your presence and pay less attention.

~The Fujis~

I took an XE-1 and an X100s to Paris for two weeks. and racked up over 100 miles of walking around the city and its environs. I shot with two lenses on the XE-1: an 8mm Rokinon and 18-55mm Fuji. The X100s has a fixed 23mm. I found the Fuji X cameras to be very adept at the kind of speed required for Parisian street photography. The small bodies go unnoticed, and as mirrorless cameras the Fujis are quiet. The X100s is particularly easy to adjust for zone focusing and is virtually silent. The rangefinder style X series in general are well-suited to be quick to the eye, making stealth shooting easier.

Like any city, the best way to approach Paris as a photographer is to walk. There are opportunities for images on the plentiful buses and metros, but the action (as always) is out on the street. Having lugged 35mm and DSLR equipment for more years than I care to remember, the small and light Fujis are much easier on the shoulder and the back for extensive city walking.

Paris is a great city. The air and the water make delicious pastries and bread. The streets are picturesque, and there are interesting places to see. The art is impressive and ubiquitous. It’s worth a visit to the galleries and museums. But it’s a tough city to work in. The people are not friendly to photographers, and the traffic and poles make it a challenge to find a clean foreground, much less a background. The pollution is horrendous, and the noise is incessant. The most photographed places are the most accessible, which means being original is not just a challenge—it’s risky. Having a street confrontation in a foreign language does not a good trip make. But Paris is worth the challenge, and forewarned is forearmed.

website: fjamesconley.com
twitter: @Philatawgrapher

—James

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A woman on the Paris Metro reads among a plethora of geometric patterns.

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Waiters take a break outside a cafe in Paris.

A Parisian couple has an intimate moment by a window.

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Aug 122014
 

Copenhagen with the Leica M 240 and 50 APO Summicron

by Howard Shooter

Copenhagen is a difficult city to shoot. The buildings are spotlessly clean and beautiful, the roads are spotlessly clean and beautiful and guess what…the people are spotlessly clean and beautiful.

This presents the street photographer with a problem; no urban decay, no old men with interesting creases which tell the story of their lives and therefore no photography which is focusing on the contrast of modern society. Denmark, like their most famous invention, Lego, is designed beautifully.

My wife and I managed our lucky annual weekend away without our gorgeous children to have a little of us time leaving our three children, happy as could be with the grandparents.

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Copenhagen is famous for Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid”, Canals that look like they are straight out of Amsterdam, (as a result of the Dutch building some of them), interior shops, posh designer food, beer beer beer, bicycles and a design ethos which is evident everywhere.

I was looking forward to using and testing my newly acquired Holy Grail of lenses, the Leica 50mm APO Summicron with the Leica M240.

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These shots are a miss mash of images and colours taken from around the city. I didn’t take hundreds of shots as I was there to relax and soak up the atmosphere rather than document it but I was pleased and I’m still learning all the time what this lens is capable of. I feel I always need about six months to a year to understand a lenses characteristics and this little gem is no different.

Now I think this is a lens which once purchased needs some financial justification as it is stupidly priced. I am not rich, I am quite sane (sometimes), and I am not a man who easily jumps on bandwagons. However I am a professional food photographer, I did sell two lenses to help pay for this piece of glass and I do use the Leica for the odd professional celeb chef portrait when the opportunity arises. I had ordered one of these, cancelled it and then six months later wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

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I think with lenses there is a misconception about what quality is all about when all of these graphs and charts and grids are produced by scientists who are comparing various tolerances across various apertures. I’ve seen enough shots of bookcases and scenes of toys with colour charts to last me a lifetime. Lenses are not solely about sharpness and yet this lens is sold partly because of its incredible sharpness. This, in the grand scheme of things definitely isn’t the main part of this lens that interests me. I did have a Leica 50mm Summilux and on the M240 it does display a little softness but it is a beautiful, quiet lens displaying subtlety and beautiful bokeh which is arguably nicer than the 50mm APO.

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What this lens does better than any other on the M240 is incredible dynamic range to the point where shots properly look like medium format film. The bokeh is nice but not incredible in my opinion, but the 3D pop combined with the sharpness and dynamic range is remarkable. It gives this lens a versatility like no other. Images can be deliberately overexposed and look subtle and beautiful without the whites bleaching out, and yet dark shots are rich and saturated with black blacks and eye popping colour. Black and white converted RAW shots look so authentically Bressonesque in their tonal values that the digital Leica feels like it has come of age.

The big question surely is “is it worth the money?”….. well for me it makes using extra lenses on the Leica seem superfluous and to that extent if you have a few lenses and traded up to the 50mm APO you wouldn’t be disappointed… I wasn’t… but blimey…. how much!

Howard Shooter

www.HowardShooter.com

Aug 122014
 

Traveling in France with My Leica

By John Ferebee

Bonjour Brandon and Steve!

After planning and saving for a couple of years I was able to travel to France for 10 days in July. I wanted to travel light with no checked baggage. The summer weather made clothes selection pretty easy. No checked baggage wasn’t an issue of cost but one of convenience. Once arriving at De Gaulle you’re traveling isn’t over. There are several ways to get into Paris and they all involve long walks to taxi stands, the train station, or shuttle. One rolling bag makes it easier. If you plan to leave Paris and travel by train to other parts of France one bag is also much easier.

The harder decision was what photo equipment to take. Point and shoot, 35MM film, medium format film, digital full frame, lenses, filters, etc. I guess we all go through that unless it’s a driving trip. That one is easy – everything goes. I have read Steve advising “one camera one lens” and as hard as it was I almost did that. I even left the tripod home knowing that there would be some shots missed.

After thinking it over, my kit was a 21MM Super Elmar, Leica M6, M9 for Paris, Normandy, and the Loire Valley. Although there were times when I wished I had this or that, it worked out just fine. I chose the Super Elmar because I was interested in landscapes and the wide-angle would work well with streets, bridges, rivers, valleys, and the beaches in Normandy. The quality of the lens is so good I could crop if I needed a close up. Being able to use one lens with both cameras was another factor.

I experienced several rainy days and used the M6 with TriX for B&W and I didn’t worry as much about getting it wet. Some might want to know about a wide-angle view finder. I don’t have one but if you use the 21MM regularly you don’t really need it. One of the nicer things about this simple kit, or one like it, is you see more of the country because your head isn’t in your camera bag all the time. I did learn a few things. I’m going to buy a light-weight travel tripod that will fit into a carry-on bag. The Seine River at first light, Paris streets at night, and Chateaus along on the river Cher cried out for long exposures. That being said, there are creative ways to deal with low light. Increasing the ISO is the obvious one but you can use all kinds of things to stabilize your camera like chairs, window sills, lamp posts, and car hoods for example.

I took four 8G Raw Steel SD’s for the M9 and rotated them during the trip but I wish I’d taken my MacBook Air. I could have done some basic editing, weeding out, and labeling of photos during down times on the trains, hotels, and the 14 hour plane ride home. It would have saved a lot of time after my return from France. The Air would have fit in a slightly larger bag. I took the Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 30i and it held cameras, lens, film, batteries, passport, tickets, kindle, iPhone, chargers, and adapter plug (don’t forget one of those) but it wasn’t big enough for the laptop.

Here are a few photos with brief commentaries from the three areas I visited.

Eiffel Tower in the rain. Lightroom spot remover took care of all the drops.

Eiffel Tower in the Clouds (1 of 1)

The Arc at Night. Used a light pole for stabilization.

Night Arc (1 of 1)

The Red Hat. Took a few street shots but it isn’t my thing but Paris is a terrific place for it

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Loire Valley Morning. Camera was on the window sill of our room using the timer

Loire Vally Morning (1 of 1)

Rue St. Jean in Bayeux. Set the camera on the street and used the timer

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Loire Valley countryside

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Omaha Beach monument honoring soldiers who pulled wounded to safety

Omaha Beach Monument (1 of 1)

The American Cemetery honors 9,387 and is impeccably maintained

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If any of your readers have an interest in seeing other photos from France they can visit My Photo Site

Thank you!

John Ferebee

Aug 082014
 

David Hockney, a Rolleiflex and The Road To Prescott

By Huss Hardan

Hey Steve and Brandon. As always, thanks for providing such a great forum.

A few years ago I was watching a tv show on the famous British painter David Hockney. One always wonders what goes through the mind of such an artist, the process and how they envisage the image. What struck me was one scene where he was walking down a grey, damp, almost monochromatic country lane. And describing the explosions of colours everywhere.

I couldn’t see it, but then they showed a painting of what he had described and it was stunning. It was almost like he was looking at a negative film image. That taught me a lesson – never just look at a scene – imagine what that scene could be if you just let loose your color palette.

Fast forward to the present time. I was taking a long weekend trip from Venice Beach, California to visit a friend in Prescott, Arizona. It would be good to get out-of-town and away from the crowds, but I wasn’t prepared for the emptiness, nor the heat! Stepping out of the Jeep into the searing brightness was an experience. Initially everything looked bleached out and colourless. But as my eyes adjusted, colours began to saturate and condense.

A Rolleiflex 2.8E was used with polarizing and warming filters to create the imagined scene.. The film was expired Kodak E100G from my buddy Jim at Studio3 in Portland, Oregon.
http://www.studio3.com/

Peace out
Huss

husshardan.com

Along the way

Evening cloudburst

Into the valley

Passmore Gas and Propane

Stop

Upon an azure sky

Aug 072014
 

My quick interview with Olympus on the E-M1

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When I was in Ireland with Olympus they sat down with a few of us at Castle Leslie and asked us a few questions about the fabulous and game changing E-M1 camera. Below is my short but sweet interview. Of course you can see my full E-M1 review HERE and my visit to Castle Leslie in Ireland to shoot the E-M1 HERE. I feel the same about the E-M1 today as I did the 1st week it was launched. Best Micro 4/3 made today!  Thanks Olympus!

Aug 072014
 

Shanghai Street Life

By Massimiliano Farinetti

Shanghai is a fascinating city.

It is not China, is also China.

The encounter between tradition and modernity lives just turning the streets of the old town, the part of town that is fortunately preserved from the modernization moving on … I am used to stay in Nanjing Rd. every time I go there (once every year) so it is not difficult to me to walk the narrow old streets Here you can see the lanes closed by gates within which everyday life and hard work of these people carry on If you do not go you can not figure it out.

Turn on the streets of Shanghai, from the photographic point of view, a continuous discovery of subjects, views ready to immortalize. It is not to do with a bulky SLR: you must have a device quick and discreet as only a modern mirrorless can be (or a Leica, if you can afford it). A camera that allows to focus on the photo to take and not on what you have in your hand to take it.

All shots made with all Sony Nex 6 + Voigtlaender Color Skopar 35/2, 5 MC, raw files converted to B&W in LR4.3 with a personalized preset

Massimiliano Farinetti

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Jul 232014
 

Japan with the OM-D M5 and FT-lenses

By Ingo Socha

Dear Brandon and Steve,

a carpenter in a small workshop in Kyoto, an ebullient shipyard worker, who took me for a ride, the smell of incense at Kompirasan – the reward for traveling, traveling not with the latest equipment, but with gear that allows room in the budget for the trip. A while ago your reader Etienne Schoettel wrote about „The best camera ever“ and argued that it was worthwhile to put money in travels rather than in gear — I could not agree more. As for me, I always wanted to go Japan and experience the country, Tokyo‘s buzz, Kyoto‘s temples and – the country side.

So this year I went on my dream trip: 11 days and 2.500,00 Euro is what I could shell out from the family budget and other responsibilities. Since I did not want to carry my trusty, but heavy Olympus E-3 along, I went out and bought an OM-D M5. After some consideration I decided on the Viltrox-Adapter to go with it, rather than the Olympus original (www.viltrox.com). During the entire trip I have not had any problems with the non-brand adapter. Of course the AF is not as snappy as with the original lenses, but it still works fine, at least with the lenses I used (all Four Thirds lenses rather than Micro Four Thirds):

* Olympus 14-54mm, 1:2.8-3.6
* Olympus 40-150mm, 1:3.5,-4.5 (don‘t smirk, this lens is very usable)
* Sigma 30mm, 1:1.4 (my favourite)

The Sigma I like to focus manually anyway.

I shoot RAW and process all pictures with Capture One. For black and white conversions I use DxO-Filmpack 4 mostly with Agfa APX 25 or Ilford Pan F 50 emulations. The APX is what I liked to use when I was shooting film.

Why aren‘t there any cars driving by Tokyo station? I don‘t know. While I was standing on the roof of the Kitte-Mall, I suddenly realized this was the moment — when the light turned green, traffic quickly spilled back into the place. The second b/w picture is the carpenter I already mentioned (I could not figure out what he was working on and my Japanese was just enough to ask if it was ok to take a picture). The only light source was a tiny desk lamp — with f/2.8 and 1/60 still decent results, I think. DxO throws in a little grain which camouflages sensor noise nicely.

And the girls? They dressed up to lure tourists into taking pictures and talking to them — which in my case worked fine.

www.flickr.com/photos/ingosocha

Ingo Socha, Lübeck

ingosocha.de

flickr.com/ingosocha

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Jul 212014
 

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The Olympus OMD-EM1 goes to Spain

by Neil Buchan-Grant

I have a few pictures I thought your readers may like to see, taken over two trips to Spain and Italy this year. These were all shot with the Olympus OMD EM1 camera, lenses specified below. I am still using the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH, currently on the Sony A7, but in general I find the OMD to be the camera I reach for first.

The first visit was to the village of Vejer de la Frontera near Seville in Spain. This hilltop pueblo blanco remains quite unspoilt compared to the towns on the costas further east. I was there to shoot the Feria, a 5 day-long party with fairgrounds, displays of prize cattle, equestrian displays, flamenco dancing, live music and many hospitality tents where everyone is welcome. Vejer is a special place anyone who wants to experience the real Spain should have on their list.

My second trip was to Venice where I and the professional landscape photographer Steve Gosling, ran a workshop for 9 students who came from all over Europe to learn about landscape and people photography. Steve concentrated mostly on the landscape and architecture and I focussed on the street photography and model portraits. This was an Olympus sponsored workshop so most of the students were using OMD cameras. It was a punishing schedule as Steve was up at the crack of dawn and the day would finish quite late, often followed by communal food and drinks!

Andalusia Spain – Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f2.8 23mm) This shot was made with the aid of a polarising filter in the village of Vejer de la Frontera near Seville. Its a traditional village but this is one of their newer buildings.

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Andalusia Spain – Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f4 12mm) This is Canos de Meca beach, which is about 15 minutes from Vejer de la Frontera, also made with a polarising filter.

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Andalusia Spain – Pana-Leica DG25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) This chap was visiting the Vejer annual ‘Feria’ a post easter spring celebration which combines music and dance with horse and bull displays.

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Andalusia Spain – Pana-Leica DG25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) The Paul Newman of cats! in the back street of Vejer de la Frontera

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Venice Italy – Olympus 45mm 1.8 (at 1.8) Professional model and television presenter Chiara Sgarbossa wearing her own Venetian mask, maintains her composure as she is surrounded by hoards of tourists during our shoot in Piazza San Marco.

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Venice Italy – Olympus 75mm 1.8 (at f1.8 1/30s handheld ISO 2000) A romantic moment caught at around midnight in the dimly lit Piazza San Marco

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4, 1/8000 with 3 stop ND) This shot was made through the window of a Vaparetto water bus stop.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Model and 3rd year law student Ira Lothiriel is captured in the basement of an old venetian house with natural light spilling in from the canal.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Model Chiara Sgarbossa was laughing because the gondoliers below the bridge we were shooting on were serenading her. She handled their advances with movie star charm!

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) This charismatic lady was looking around the superb Irving Penn exhibition at Palazzo Grassi. The large windows in here were covered in white muslin making huge softboxes!

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Ira Lothiriel in one of the sun-drenched squares, lit with a reflector.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Chiara Sgarbossa lit with a reflector

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Venice Italy – Olympus 75mm 1.8 (at f1.8) A wedding shoot in Piazza San Marco and a generous model/bride

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Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f2.8 40mm) On old lady taking some shade near Piazza San Marco as others are served iced tea.

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Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f2.8 12mm) This man was seen in Piazza San Marco at 5.30am, an Italian you’d think, but no, he was a Londoner killing time until his flight home that day.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) This man was very keen to help me scout for locations to shoot in. Nothing to do with the beautiful model that I was with of course!..:)

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f3.2) This Chihuahua was wary of my lens!

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Model Chiara Sgarbossa shot in a Venice alleyway, with the help of a reflector

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Ira Lothiriel posing on one of the many bridges that span the back streets of Venice

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Neil Buchan-Grant
http://buchangrant.com/
British Travel Press Photographer of the Year

Jul 132014
 

The best for me: Leica Monochrom!

by Francois Roosens

I think it’s the moment to send you some pictures from my Leica MM (Monochrom). Leica came into my life about 2 years ago, I sold my D4, D800e and all reflex kit to buy it.

The Leica MM is for me the best camera I have bought. I now own the MM(The best), M240,  A7r,  A7s (fabulous), and also the Lumix GM1 (it’s a perfect micro camera). I like your job.. Thanks for everything.

I am sending you some picture of « GILLES » from Belgium, it was in March for the « Carnaval » It was an important feast in my country. Early in the morning Gilles come pick  up other gilles and drink and eat at each house. in front of every house, they dance around… and lunch some oranges to give at children or at people for have a lucky year. I hope you like this.  The Leica 24 Summilux and 50 Noctilux 0.95 was used for that and I was up at 4AM.

Thank you!

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Jul 112014
 

The Ancient Aegean Coast of Turkey, Film Friday

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve and Brandon and all Stevehuffphoto.com lovers!

I thought I’d write a short article about Asia Minor, The Ancient Near East or rather Turkey and The Aegean Coast. I guess this is most likely a Film Friday post, but I am trying to make my posts more about Photography and less about Gear and whether Film or Digital.  I do love Photography and as you may have noticed, travel photography especially so.

Me and the Missus went to Kusadasi for a week and had a great time, and I went with just one camera, my Rolleiflex 3.5F and 6 rolls of Film, and my trusty iPhone 5. I spent most of the time relaxing, experiencing and soaking up the vibe, but I did get some time to take a few pictures here and there.

Me and my Rolleiflex, at Ephesus, picture courtesy of The Missus. iPhone 5.

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Kusadasi is a nice resort, a modern town with an ancient heart.

Amid the tourists, cruise ships, sun, sandy beaches and bazaars you’ll find some history and the resort is especially important as it is a base for exploring the surrounding country where you can find some of the most well preserved and glorious Ancient Greek, Roman/Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman sites in the World.

Kalaeci Mosque, Kusadasi. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100

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The beaches along Town are pretty crowded, nice and lively enough but too much for me, so we went over to Dilek Milli Park to explore the beaches down there.

Busy “Ladies Beach”, Kusadasi. iPhone 5.

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Travelling around is easy, just hope on the very frequent Dolmus or Mini Bus for less than a Dollar a journey and go where your heart pleases, the people are very friendly, hospitable and relaxed. For secluded beaches amongst pines, forests canyons and hills nestled along the Aegean and within sight of The Greek islands is Dilek Milli Park. There are three beaches in Dilek Milli Park and the first is a beautiful sandy cove – but pretty busy as this is where most of the families go.  The other two beaches are quiet and tranquil and here you can relax and enjoy the sea, sun bath, snorkel and just relax – but watch out for the Wild Boar!! And there are absolutely no shops or anywhere to buy anything within the park, so be prepared!

Beaches at Dilek Milli Park, with the Greek islands visible. Aegean Sea, Turkey. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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The ancient sites worth visiting include Ephesus, The Meryama – the House of The Virgin Mary where St John brought her after the Crucifixion of Christ, Ayasoluk Hill – in Seljuk; the site of St John’s Basilica and the Byzantine Fortress (along with Isa Bey’s Mosque and many other Seljuk and Ottoman sites), The Ionian Cities of Priene and Militas, Aphrodisias and Pamukkale.

We didn’t have time to explore everywhere so we will go to Priene, Militas, Aphrodisias and Pukkalake next time and I’m looking forward to it!

We did visit the Meryama and Ephesus, and impressive as these are, there were a LOT of tourists and the weather was hot! Beautiful places which i longed to photograph but alas the scourge of tourism meant that I could hardly take a snap without loads of people violating my vista so I include only a handful of shots of Ephesus here and none of the Meryama which I was reluctant to photograph as it’s a pilgrimage and holy site for many Christians and I found snapping it a tad disrespectful.

Ephesus was awesome, it really was awe-inspiring and amazing, the architecture, layout all worked with stone and utterly beautiful, yet again, a sadness came over me as I thought how it must’ve been like and how it has fallen into ruin. Ephesus used to be by the sea, but the sea retreated contributing to it’s downfall, but waves of marauding barbarians destroyed Ephesus ensuring it’d never rise again and will be just a monument and a place where tourists tread.

I think moody Black and White would’ve worked better for photographing these ancient monuments and cities, and for those interested, read the excellent Southern Frontiers by Don McCullin – a big book full of beautiful B&W Large Format plates of photographs taken in similar places throughout the Southern Frontier of The Roman Empire.

“Ephesus (/ˈɛfəsəs/;[1] Greek: Ἔφεσος Ephesos; Turkish: Efes; ultimately from Hittite Apasa) was an ancient Greek city[2][3] on the coast of Ionia, three kilometers southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital[4][5] by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. According to estimates Ephesus had a population of 33,600 to 56,000 people in the Roman period, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia Minor after Sardis and Alexandria Troas.[6]”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephesus

The Ruins of Ephesus, Rolleiflex 3.5F Agfa Ultra 50.

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did however go to Seljuk, and Ayasoluk Hill and explore the ruins of St Johns Basilica and the Byzantine fortress overlooking the hill – and resting upon where the Gospels were said to have been written down.
And at the base of the hill is to be found The Temple of Artemis; in ruin, with a sadness in the air but with a hidden majesty which befits one of The 7 Wonders of The Ancient World.
Walking around the ruins is an episode in itself, I could sit there for hours and reflect.

“The Basilica of St. John was a basilica in Ephesus. It was constructed by Justinian I in the 6th century. It stands over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. It was modeled after the now lost Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.[1]”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._John

The Ruins of St Johns Basilica from Ayasoluk Hill, Seljuk, Turkey. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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The Byzantine Fortress at Ayasoluk Hill. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Artemis

“The Temple of Artemis (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον, or Artemision), also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey), and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction in 401.[1] Only foundations and sculptural fragments of the latest of the temples at the site remain.”

The ruins of The Temple of Artemis, Seljuk, Turkey. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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In this picture you can see the Byzantine Fortress and St John’s Basilica atop Ayasluk Hill.

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A wonderful place which you’ll need weeks on end to visit and explore, I have only included a small selection of photographs here as there’s a wealth of things to see and experience, olive groves, peach trees, sleepy hillside villages, Greek Churches, boats and orange trees, and of course bazaars, market towns and fantastic food and people.

A wonderful place for the photographer.

Jul 102014
 

Leica Monochrome Mojo

by Matthieu Fassy

My name is Matthieu Fassy I am a French expat in Dubai. About a year ago I started getting into photography, encouraged by my dear wife and some close friends. I decided to acquire a Canon 5D Mark III and a few lenses and started carrying the whole kit in each of my trips abroad. Pretty quickly I got really tired of carrying a huge and heavy bag around… I am shooting Street, Landscapes, Architecture and Sports. I found that the 5D was giving me great results in Sports photography but that for my favorite type of photography, which is Street, it was just not convenient at all.

So I went Leica…

I am a fan of Black & White and I must say that the M Monochrom is making me really happy. There is something difficult to explain about the rendering of the files coming out the M Monochom… Some kind of 3D / Sharp magic mojo giving a unique touch to the images! The M 240 is producing mellow colors which suit my taste well but I must say that I often convert those color images to B&W… As for the lenses they are perfection! Fast and razor-sharp! I only shoot in natural light and often wide open so for night Street photography, these lenses are great!

Anyway, my last trips were in Japan where I was in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo and the Netherlands. Japan is a very interesting country, with great history, culture, food, art, architecture and traditions. It is a country of contracts in many aspects, very graphic and very photogenic. As for the Netherlands I was there during Kings Day (The King’s Birthday), which is a day of massive popular celebrations across the country! It is very colorful and full of orange, which is the Country’s color. Here are a few shots from these trips, which I wanted to share on Steve Huff’s WEB site, which is a great source of inspiration and a must visit site every day for me!

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Jul 042014
 

Death Valley with the EM1

By Goran Nikolic

WARNING Long intro =)

I am one of those guys that bought a good (canon 1100d) camera when he got kids too make good pictures of them while they are growing up. However, I was not aware of the d@mn possible photography addiction. They should come boxed with a clear warning, WARNING possible photography addiction (stage 1) followed by the more serious G.A.S. (stage 2) hehe :). I really liked taking pictures from the start and took the camera everywhere with me, everything was fine until I hit stage 2 of my addiction…

When I got struck with G.A.S. I told myself that I absolutely had to have a full frame camera, the main reason why my images were simply snapshots was because I did not have a fullframe camera with a 2.8 zoom and an awesome prime… So I saved up and got the Nikon D700 followed by a Nikon D800 (obviously! I mean come on… they were still snapshots I needed more Megapixels! That was the problem off course).

For some reason yet unknown to me I could not make a sharp picture with the D800 unless I used a tripod! It obviously was Nikon’s fault… so I switched to the Canon 6D because obviously Canon is far superior… I think by now you can image that I really had a bad case of G.A.S. and that my wallet was shrinking faster then that I could fill it up :). But it did not end here! Oh no… the next problem for my ‘dull’ images was obviously the big and heavy DSLR, so I got a Fuji XE-1 haha, yeah…. I know what you are thinking, dude what the…..?

So you would think thats it! He got the Fuji and this post would be full with Fuji pictures and those awesome fuji colours. Sadly no, I was used to some amazing DSLR’s and that little Fuji frustrated the hell out of me, it was a love/hate relationship because the images it chunked out were amazing! This was the first camera I was actually happy with the JPG images! If I could get the damn thing to focus… even with all the updates (why aren’t all companies like Fuji in this department?).

Luckily for me this was the end of the line and I saw that I was way to focussed on the equipment and not on the actual images that I made with them (or the experience!). I have had some great and amazing keepers from all of them but I went too far and had to stop (……. year right… by now you probably figured out that my wife got fed up with my gear obsession and told me to stop haha :). So I sold everything! I was actually quite amazed by the amount of money I was able to get back when I sold it all (except for the Fuji), the loss was actually limited to a few hundred euro’s (phew!).

I then spend almost three months to find the camera that would suit me best, and eventually ended up with the EM1, after having tried the camera a few times (even had it on loan for a few weeks) I decided to buy it with just one lens (the kit 12-40 zoom, probably should not call this a kit lens?), this report is my first experience with the camera (and next to that it is also the first time I am sharing my pictures outside of my friends and family too!).

Wow, now that was a large intro right? Well sorry for that :) but this was the path to ‘my style’ of photography. Through that process I learned that I was not a pro photographer, and it also is not my goal in life to become one. I just like to take pictures from time to time. So when a friend asked me whether I wanted to go to vegas with him (and leave our wifes at home) I obviously thought about the great pictures I could take with my new OM-D :) haha.

We took a plane from Amsterdam to LA (yes I am from the land of Heineken) and after a flight of almost 11 hours we rented a car to drive to Vegas. Not just any car….no no, a mustang convertable! Now I think that for Americans this is not really that special because they are quite common in the US, however Europeans love the idea of driving on the truly amazing roads (sorry have to exclude LA here….. that was no fun at all) in the US with either a Harley or a Mustang.

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After a rather long drive mostly due to the some brutal LA traffic jams we finally made it to Vegas and checked in at our hotel. And Vegas was …. well yeah I did not make a lot of pictures in Vegas hehe. Man what a place!

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But during the day I really had to buy a baseball cap for myself (I wear glasses and did not have my sunglasses with me) because the sun was really not what I was used to. Here in the Netherlands we are happy if we get 3 weeks of sun per year! It was a Yankees cap by the way which cause everybody to yell go Yankees at me, quite an experience :).

But what I did noticed was that the camera was actually handling itself pretty good! Both during the day was well as by night! That image stabilization is quite magical. The image of the new york new york resort was shot hand-held (1/60th @ 5000 ISO) and still looks pretty clean and sharp! I do not really use a lot of noise reduction because I also quite like the grain structure of the EM1, its pleasant, I think that maybe due to the high pixel density but I am not sure what contributes to the grain structure. Also when printed below A4 you see almost no noise at all.

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This image below I call arty farty, it was a bit of an experiment. We sat down for a moment to enjoy the awesome cars that were passing (camaro, mustang, charger, and more! Wauw!) that I just thought I would try something out, after freezing my brain with a slushy. So I stacked my ND filters (10 stop + 3 stop), set the camera to its lowest native ISO (200) and stopped down as far as I could (F22) and saw that still I only got a 5 second exposure (was hoping for 20+)… thats how bright the sun was that day! It was pretty easy to set the camera up and change all the settings without using any menus. I really love all the various dials and buttons that I can completely setup to my own preference.

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After a few days started passing by we noticed that Vegas was quite EXPENSIVE! Yes you would think that we could have expected that, and we did, but a few ice-cold beers @ twin peaks can do strange things to your brain :). So we decided to do some sight-seeing. One day we decided to go to death valley, so we packed the car with water and were off. Again the roads, it is simply stunning to drive on roads with amazing views for hours with only seeing a few cars pass by. So I could not resist to stop from time to time to take some pictures of the road! Which drove my buddy to insanity since we kept stopping so I could take another picture of the road… again and again … and again haha

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What really impressed me about the EM1 was also how it handled in the desert, and how it handled the images in the harsh sun (this is also dynamic range right?)! Wish I was as resilient as the EM1! When we first arrived in death valley and stopped for the first sight, I saw a small hill and thought ow man that looks amazing (actually that was what I said for the entire route because everything was amazing!). I decided to run up there to take some pics…. yeah people told me death valley was hot…. but damn… hot does not give it credit! I now know how a burger feels on the grill. Anyway, I made it up the hill but I felt like I was baking in an oven! I couldn’t breath and everything in front of me started turning white! So my first priority was to drink drink and get my ass back to the car and turn on the AC. My buddy was actually quite worried and told me afterwards that I really did not look so well haha but after some AC time and one of the best hot dogs I ever had @ Furnace Creek and about 6 or 7 liters of water I luckily felt much better. When we walked back to the car I saw the thermometer outside read 120 degrees! So I took it a bit easier from then on and took my time (and had even more water!) :).

We unfortunately did not have a lot of time in death valley itself, we had to get back in time, so we decided to pick a few points to go to and then drive back to Vegas. We stopped at Rhyolite (ok not really death valley but close enough) to see a real ghost town, and it was pretty cool to see how people in the area lived once. Images were made on a tripod.

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After Rhyolite we stopped @ Beatty (errr did time stop there?) for some gas (GAS! you get it? probably not the best of jokes….) and then drove back through death valley. Up until Zabriskie Point I didn’t make a lot of pictures at all. The scenery was so amazing that I was enjoying every bit of it. It is such an amazing place that I really hope I can go back to one day and spend a bit more time there to see more of it.

By the time we got to Zabriskie Point the sun started to set and I started to walk around in search of different perspectives. At first I thought damn… how can I make some landscape shots without having all those tourist in my pictures! Haha great isn’t it… a tourist that is taking pictures that is saying that about other tourist that are also trying to get the same pictures :). Anyway after a few attempts I got these shots. A small warning though! I like colors! COLORS!!! I like them but I can imagine that some might find it a bit too much :).

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But after making them I felt something was missing. I really liked the pictures even though I still think they did not do the scenery justice because that truly was AMAZING! Wow the colors and the mountains and patterns… just wow nothing more to say! Really have to go back there one day. But back to the pictures :), I felt something was missing, but then I saw a few girls sitting down near where I was taking shot nr. 4. And then I though but what if I include them in my shot? Would that be better?

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And there it was…. my favorite shot of the day :). How such a small element can make such a big difference, I like the fact that one of the girls just made a picture and is showing it to her neighbour. Now most probably not everybody will agree with me here but I really thought that including them in the shot gave a totally new feel to the image. I also tried zooming in a bit and getting a closer shot of the amazing sunset and the four girls enjoying the view but I still thought the first shot worked better for me.

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That was it! Our day in death valley with probably the biggest intro this blog has ever had! Sorry about that :), but I wanted to share my experiences and share that for me having better gear did not increase my joy in photography. I truly love making pictures, but I love doing it because it gives me the opportunity to freeze time. To hold a moment in my live that I wish to remember, to have images that can trigger my memories, that can take me back to the time when I made them and relive the moments I experienced. The gear I used to make the images with will most probably fade from my memory since they are not a real part of my experience (more of a supporting element). So what worked for me is to have a tool that is the most complete package for me. Good image quality, good build (I did not have a single speck of dust on my sensor using that 12-40 zoom lens!) but most importantly that I can operate with joy. I wanted a camera that I did not have to think much about when using it, and for me I found everything that I need in the EM1 and cured my G.A.S. to a certain amount as well. I say to a certain amount because I am looking forward to that 7-14 zoom from Olympus :).

I also do not really worry about the camera because it is built like a tank. I dropped it a few times (it has a few chips on the bottom), spilled some lemon water over it and banged it into several people while walking the streets. But I’m not really bothered with it because I know it will survive, which gives me piece of mind as well. And it was this blog that got this camera to my attention. Thank you both Steve and all of your readers for that because I found a piece of equipment that gives me a great deal of satisfaction and helped me to focus more on the images then on the gear I use to make them. I even shoot more pics with my phone now, which I never did before because of the ‘inferior’ quality of the photo’s. In the end it’s all about the moment and what that moment captured does for you, what feeling it gives you, and possibly even what memories it relives for you if it is a personal photograph. I got that now :).
I hope you will like (some of) my images, my style of editing and have enjoyed my first ever photography related article! I thought about also adding a few more details about how I processed my images but I think I will not bore you with those details :).

Now obviously while driving back to Vegas…. I still drove my buddy nuts (yes again… sorry mate!) by stopping constantly to take pictures of the road! Amazing roads!!!!

Thanks for reading!

GN.

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