Oct 232014
 

Some Contax G2 love

By Ibraar Hussain

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Hi Steve, Brandon and stevehuffphoto.com lovers!

Thought I’d reignite the site with some Contax G love.

The G2 has been written about many many times, here and elsewhere so should need no introduction, but with the Leica fetish around I think it’s high time the G2 reared it’s head again encouraging people to try it out and spoil the Leica party!
It was and still is the most advanced RF camera with lightning fast AF (some people find the AF on the 90 Sonnar a bit hit n miss though – no such problems here!).

I am surprised no one has copied it yet, and I am very surprised that Kyocera Japan who own the rights to the Contax name and the G2 haven’t released a Dighital G which would, judging by the Fuji X100 love and the other retro styled cameras, especially of the RF style, would be a huge hit!

The G2 is a proper RF, not a wannabe – and is almost near perfect, my only complaint is the relatively smallish (yet bright ) VF – I say relatively, as on it’s own it is large and bright enough, but compared to a Leica  it isn’t, and no reason why Kyocera couldn’t have made the G2 VF the same size as the huge and bright one of their Contax T2!

Now Kyocera, please make a Digital G and revive this masterpiece!

I’ve had mine for 10 years now and I would never choose anything else of any type over it!

Here’s a selection of B&W photos taken with fast Film – Ilford ~Delta 3200, Fuji Neopan 1600 and Kodak Tmax 3200 with the Contax G2, of a street style – My street style which I suppose isn’t very refined and which includes some street portraits and cityscapes in Constantinople when it snowed.
All pretty high key, contrasty – not to every one’s taste.

All shots taken with a Contax G2 45mm Planar, 21mm Biogon and BW Yellow Filter.

See some of Ibraar’s other posts HERE. 

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Jun 202014
 

Portraits from The Punjab

By Ibraar Hussain

And onto part Three! (Part 1, Part 2)

I only spent a few days in The Punjab, mostly round my Grandparents old Village with locals I absolutely love. Some were kind enough to allow me to make some portraits of them while we were out and about in the village. And then back to England.

You can see all my other stuff plus the majority from this and other trips at my Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/71817058@N08/

All photographs:

Contax G2 45mm Planar T* Kodak Ektachrome e100vs

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Jun 132014
 

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Friday Film: Hunza And Gojal

By Ibraar Hussain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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The Atabad Lake and River Hunza, Gojal
Contax G2 21mm Biogon T* Fuji Velvia 100

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The Passu Cathedrals, Passu, Gojal, Upper Hunza by the Karakoram Highway/ Silk Road
Contax G2 45mm Planar T* Fuji Velvia 100

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The Altit Fort and The Hunza Valley from The Baltit Fort at Karimabad.
Rolleiflex 3.5F 75mm Planar Agfa Ultra 50

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The Hunza Valley and Rakaposhi
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The Baltit Fort and Ultar Peak Hunza
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Atabad lake, Gojal, Upper Hunza. Rolleiflex 3.5F Agfa Ultra 50. lab Scan

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May 302014
 

The Western Himalaya and Nanga Parbat

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve,

I hope thou rarest well along with stevehuffphoto which has as usual been full of wonderful stuff!

I’d like to write to you about my recent trip which would be an interesting thing to share with you and the viewers at stevehuffphoto.
I spent about 18 days in the Western Himalaya, Karakoram and then a few days in The Punjab (I arrived back in England last week Tuesday 13th May)

Needless to say, the trip was fantastic; it never ceases to excite and amaze me whenever I see high mountains and the wilderness. One of my ambitions or dreams as some people may describe it had been to one day gaze upon Nanga Parbat; that most beautiful of mountains and I’d go so far as to say probably one of the most wondrous sights in the natural world.

It is a 26,660 ft Giant, the 9th highest mountain in the world and what it lacks in height it more than makes up for it in terms of beauty and grace, and the fact that the Rupal face is the highest most sheer mountain face in the world, that it is only one of two (with K2 being the other) Mountains over 26,000 feet or “Eight-Thousanders” which has never been summited in Winter, and which has claimed many lives and which has been called the Killer Mountain amongst other names.

Nanga Parbat is the guardian of the Western end of the Himalaya, and it’s an anomaly as it lies to the north of the main range and beyond both west and north the Himalaya dwindles to nothing.
She rules over the Western Himalaya, and faces the Karakoram giants of the Rakaposhi range over a green Alpine country which is still typically Himalayan.
Beyond that the Rakaposhi and Haramosh ranges dominate, yet are nothing more than Demi-Gods under the gaze of Nanga Parbat.

The Karakoram is very different from the Himalaya; different rock, different country and climate. The Karakoram then expands both north and eastwards and towers into vast cities of towering ice and rock with massive glaciers and here can be found the Snow lake, The Ogre and Latok Peaks and Eastwards to The Baltoro, Broad peak, The Gasherbrums and K2.

Photographs cannot do it a justice, and any photograph ever made is but a rough echo and photostat of the reality of viewing this masterpiece of nature at close quarters, so my photographs are merely reflections.

Anyway, I digress, I was meant to give a rough outline of my trip and my gear and what I photographed, and to let you know that this huge area is a photographers paradise, as here can be found vast mountain scenery, glacial lakes and waterfalls, pine woods and forests, quaint villages and valleys and brilliant lovely people.

After a night in Rawal-Pindi I flew to Skardu from where I made my way to Gilgit. I should’ve lingered in Skardu as that’s where expeditions to K2, The Baltoro Glacier and the massed iced towers of the Karakoram begin and the scope for trekking and photography is limitless…next time though as I went to Gilgit to hook up with a couple of friends and to explore the mountains and of course, to see Nanga Parbat.

My trip took me to Raikot, then by a lairy butt clenching jeep up to 8000 feet then a 3 hour trek up tp 11,500 feet and Fairy Meadows, then along the Raikot Glacier to Beyal Camp and finally to the German Base Camp at over 13,000 feet. TI then went to The Nagar Valley and Minapin amongst the Apricot trees with views of Rakaposhi, Diran, Spantik and Ultar of the Karakoram. On to Hunza and Karimabad followed by Passu and Gojal then back to Gilgit. I then flew back to Rawal-Pindi and spent 3 days in the Western Punjab valley of the Jhelum River.

I left armed with my trusty Contax G2 – veteran of almost 10 years of rough trips and exploration and bearing the scars, dints and dents of many a fall and bash and trip. It works like a dream and the optics and mechanisms are clear and smooth all being a testament to how good this camera is.

I was supposed to take along with Rolleiflex 6008i with lenses and backs, but on my departure date I had a change of heart and opted for my Rolleiflex 3.5F with the 75mm Planar instead. The thought of being without electricity to charge batteries for a couple of weeks somewhat put me off from lugging the beast around and I am so glad of the decision as the 3.5F is utterly simple and once you get the hang of it; quick and easy to use.

I also had a Kodak Z990 bridge camera I used to photograph birdlife and to use as a Video camera, plus a canon Camcorder and my iPhone 5 for Video too (I shot a LOT of video).

I shot 5 rolls of Agfa Ultra 50 with the Rolleiflex, (I had another 5 rolls of the Agfa plus 5 rolls of Velvia 100 too, but I take my time with shooting, and don’t waste frames)

I decided to stick with the Agfa Ultra 50 as it’s easy to expose (I was using a Minolta Autometer IV incident meter), forgiving, has excellent latitude and dynamic range, it is also very interesting in terms of it’s palette and grain and I wanted a different look, feel and mood hence I didn’t shoot any Velvia with my Rolleiflex.

I shot 2 rolls of Fuji Velvia 100, 2 rolls of Kodak Ektachrome e100vs and 1 roll of Agfa Ultra 100 with my Contax G2 which makes it a grand total of 55 Medium Format Agfa Ultra 50 photographs, and 180 35mm Photographs – 235 Frames: pretty meagre amount for a 3 week trip in this day and age, and apart from the one roll of Velvia at Nanga Parbat (see below) which was a mixed bag, the rest were pretty good by my modest standards.

Slide film AND Digital (my friend had his Canon 40D which couldn’t cope) was at a massive disadvantage at Nanga Parbat, the mountain is HUGE and white and photographing it pushes everything to it’s limit.
Fuji Velvia 100 simply could not handle the exposure – the glaring white of the mountain relegated everything else to black – I expected this so only shot one roll of Velvia in the Contax, and instead focussed upon shooting the one roll of Agfa Ultra 100 in it, and a couple of rolls of Agfa Ultra 50 in the Rolleiflex.

The Agfa Ultra managed to handle the exposure latitude admirably, and I was very pleased with the results as the latitude is extreme!

We stayed in a wooden chalet in Fairy Meadows, over looked by Nanga Parbat, and everything about it was magic and unreal. At night the mountains glowed silver under moon and starlight and reports from Avalanches rumbled all around us.

Thanks to Mr Sabir and Mujahid of Fairy Meadows View Point for keeping their Chalet open for us and cooking our meals, as we were the only people there! Bliss!

It was a great trip, saw some wonderful sights and met some brilliant people, and I think this will be divided into 3 parts even though I can only include a small selection of snaps here (the rest can be found on my Flickr)
The first part is mostly attempts trying to capture the beauty and feel of this magnificent Mountain, plus a few of my friends there which I hope you enjoy. I thought I’d include most of the Rolleiflex squares as I like them.

These are only snaps, and the film IS grainy, and these are but Lab scans so I don’t want to get in to the Film vs Digital debate, yeah yeah, Digital is sharper and cleaner and this can be done with Digital, but as my Jamaican friends like to put it “..me no cyare about dat maan!…”

PART ONE. THE WESTERN HIMALAYA, AND NANGA PARBAT

View Point – where three Mountain ranges meet.

Looking at the line of hills, on the far Right, the Himalayas come to an end. They’re over lapped by The Hindu Kush range coming in from the left and to the rear, dark, grim and flanked by ice peaks is the Karakoram and in between snakes The River Indus. Contax G2, 21mm Carl Zeiss Biogon T*, Agfa Ultra 100.

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Sylph Clouds above Nanga Parbat with The Raikot Glacier

Contax G2, 21mm Carl Zeiss Biogon T*, Agfa Ultra 100

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The Naked Mountain

Rolleiflex 3.5 F, 75mm Carl Zeiss Planar, Agfa Ultra 50.

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View of The Raikot Face of Nanga Parbat from Fairy Meadows.
Rolleiflex 3.5 F, 75mm Carl Zeiss Planar, Agfa Ultra 50.

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Nanga Parbat, reflected, with Alpine forests and a Chalet.
Rolleiflex 3.5 F, 75mm Carl Zeiss Planar, Agfa Ultra 50.

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Mr Sabir and Mr Mujahid, of Fairy Meadows View Point.
Rolleiflex 3.5 F, 75mm Carl Zeiss Planar, Agfa Ultra 50.

I was very pleased with this top photograph as I could never expect anything to handle the exposure. (The print of this is very smooth) Thank you Minolta Autometer IV!

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Mr Mujahid.
Contax G2, 45mm Planar T*, Fuji Velvia 100.

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Mr Sabir and his Cock :) Poor thing was later turned into Cock Soup and Chicken Curry.
Contax G2, 45mm Planar T*, Agfa Ultra 100.

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Mr Habib, by The Raikot Glacier. A Friend and Alpine Guide.
Contax G2, 21mm Biogon T*. Agfa Ultra 100.

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Amongst the Forests and Snow Melt Lakes, below Nanga Parbat.
Rolleiflex 3.5 F, 75mm Carl Zeiss Planar, Agfa Ultra 50.

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Shepherds Huts, Western Himalaya, below Nanga Parbat.
Rolleiflex 3.5 F, 75mm Carl Zeiss Planar, Agfa Ultra 50.

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Aug 022012
 

Three Months of shooting film and here is what I learned by Ryan Lussier

Hello Steve,

A few months back I had sent you a few shots to see if I could be part of your daily inspiration. Thank you so much for posting that I was so happy to share some thoughts and hear back from some great photographers who read your blog. In that post I mentioned that I had ordered a Contax G2 and I was about to embark on a film journey. Well some time has passed and I wanted to share with you and your readers how the journey is going.

Kodak Portra 400 and Zeiss 50 f/2

First a quick recap…

I’ve grown up on digital I’ve never shot film and I love the fuji X series. For awhile I had been using programs like DXO film pack, VSCO, and others to try to emulate film and then having seen the post from Ibraar I had a feeling that despite some really good programs that are out there the look and feel of film is something all of its own. Now I am no expert in this and this post is to hopefully guide someone as new to film as I was (and still am) on some suggestions on work flow. Why shoot film in the first place, for those of you who haven’t I can only describe the results as a sort of creaminess that I haven’t been able to accomplish or see from digital files. There is a beauty in the transitions from highlights to shadows and a softness to the skin tones that I love.

I know that digital can resolve more fine detail in some cases is smoother and cleaner but there is a beauty in the imperfection of grain, and more importantly film has taught me that you don’t need a razor-sharp film or to be able to see the tiny hairs on someone’s upper lip viewed at 100% to have a photo with soul and character. Some of the results of film even when I’ve messed up have surprised me in their beauty despite their imperfections.This is not meant to be film vs digital as I use and love both this is more of me urging people to try out film if you haven’t or for those who have to come back to an old friend. The fact is with the recent announcement of Fuji cancelling Velvia 100f some of these wonderful films may be gone before you’ve had a chance to try them, and I truly think that is a shame.

Kodak T-Max 400 and 45 Planar

You can pick up a used film camera for cheap look around read reviews there are tons to choose from. Most of the examples that I’ve included are shot on the G2 and scanned myself so this is where I hope to add some value. I haven’t had any luck in lab scans they take control away from you and put in the hands of the lab so my first suggestion to you if you want to start shooting film is to buy a scanner. These can be fairly cheap I bought and use a dedicated film scanner OpticFilm 7600i by Plustek through B&H Photo for around 269 on sale not bad. So now you have the scanner what about the software I use and love Vue Scan 80.00 bucks for the professional edition.

My workflow is simple set up Vue Scan to scan your negative in RAW format which creates a RAW TIFF. I usually scan at 3600dpi, 48RGB and 16RGB Gray for black and white. Now that you have your RAW negative it’s time to turn that negative into a positive this is where ColorPerfect comes in, it’s a plug-in for Photoshop that will convert the negative file into a positive thus allowing you to skip the scanning softwares colour profiles that don’t really look good anyways. In ColorPerfect you can adjust the gamma (I use this for black and white) and they have a handy highlight recovery tool that works great if your scan has clipped some highlights. ColorPerfect has a ton of profiles for different films and I’ve been very happy with the results. I then bring my new tiff file into Aperture 3 to fix up any dust spots, do a light sharpen to restore what you loose in the scan and maybe tweak colours or curves but my intent is to be as true to the film as possible. Speaking of dust spots my first few months were filled with anger over the amount of crude I had to remove until I found Antistaticum by Ilford as well as canned air to help me out. I can scan 36 exposure and do some quick adjustments in about an hour, my developing costs 3.95 a roll.

Kodak Ektar 100

So all in all the costs of film are not bad. Skip the Starbucks in the morning and you can develop your film at a lab. There are cheaper ways by developing yourself and buying in bulk, but I haven’t done this myself. So there you have it! My thoughts and suggestions for someone feeling like I was that it’s time to get some film and give it a go. Most of these shots are very personal to me as I got into photography to photograph my lovely family and friends. The beautiful blond in the shots is my wife, she is ever so patient with a camera stuck in her face every time she turns around, and my constant stream of new and old cameras and all the time spent reading Steve Huff photo.

Cheers,

Ryan Lussier

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Fuji Reala and the 45 f/2

If anyone would ilk e to find a Contax G2 for themselves you can try Ken Hansen (email him at [email protected])  who always seems to have used film gear, or even PopFlash.com. B&H Photo has a used Titanium G2 for under $600 right now as well!

Mar 212012
 

Capturing Morocco with a Contax G2 and some film

by Jens Franke – Website Here

Hi Steve,

I really love the stories on your site! I’m a german based Designer and an avid photographer and I wanted to share my impressions of my last photo-journey to morocco with you!

Morocco – the strangest country which is so close to us. The cold country with hot sun, stone-old culture and probably the most open-hearted people you can imagine. During my preparations i was researching a little bit to get first visual impressions and inspirations for my trip. Everything i found there was suggesting me that the South of morocco must be an austere and dusty country with just a few people living there on the country side. In the main cities you could get the feeling that some people are just pleasant when you intend to buy something for the doubled price … It’s not! Behind the curtain you will be convinced of the contrary! You’ll find benevolence, friendship and real warmth beyond wealth and poverty!

In my pictures I wanted to capture a glimpse of the southern Moroccan spirit close to the western Saharan border. But a lot more I wanted to capture the people in their natural environment – Moroccos inhabitants are the real points of interest of the country!

The following pictures are made with my Contax G2 loaded with Fuji Velvia 50 and Portra 400vc mostly using a 45mm Planar. I’m looking forward to hear what you’re thinking about my photographs!

Thanks and Greets from Stuttgart, Jens

 If you want to share YOUR experiences with gear, travel or just photography in general and have it posted here for tens of thousands to see every day then e-mail me here and let me know what you have in mind! – Steve

Mar 132012
 

User Report: Choosing and Using a Black & White Film by Ibraar Hussain

With the demise of Kodak Ektachrome things seem to be getting from bad to worse for Film and options for film users seem to be dwindling. A shame, as I adore e100vs and nothing in my opinion can replicate it. But with all the doom and gloom, one thing, which in my belief will always be around, is good old Black and White Film. There are more B&W Film manufacturers than Colour these days, and a decade ago this would’ve been unthinkable.

So many choices are available for the photographer; we have Kodak, Ilford, Efke, Rollei and Agfaphoto to name a few. B&W Film has its own beauty, and each emulsion is very distinctive. Digital photography has progressed and has reached new horizons, but I think it still lacks the feel, look and character of Film.

Many digital photographers have been pushed and have striven for grain free images, their quest for the extermination of Grain has led to, in my opinion, more clinically flat images lacking depth and character. Sure, they’re very high-resolution and have a beautiful range of tones and qualify as B&W fine art, with some being far superior to others, but in the transition I think something has been lost. I’m no master photographer, and most may consider my skills and vision has mediocre at the best, but that’s not why I’m writing.

My aim is to try to demonstrate and show some examples of different film, their individual characteristics, and the use of Filters, which can give a different look and feel. Developer used and developing times also have a large influence, but my Negatives are always developed at manufacturers recommended times and temperature.

The beauty of B&W Film is that the choice of film/ filter/ lens/ developer plays a vital collective role in the creative process. A creative decision is made prior to the shots being taken, i.e. The subject and location matter, of course, but the photographer may decide upon a certain look and feel and for that will choose a certain Film and/or Filter to give them what they’re after. The choice will also be constant – i.e. once the camera has been loaded there’s no turning back! (Unless the camera is a MF with interchangeable backs).

Grain is a thing of beauty, it gives character, detail, and mood, and is used to good effect, and to portray a certain atmosphere or feel. I tend to try different fast films for a different look – Kodak TMNZ 3200, Ilford Delta 3200 and Fuji Neopan 1600 all have their own beauty. Pushing film, say Ilford HP5+ from 400 a couple of stops also heightens grain.

Some photographers may require lots of grain, to give the photograph a gritty reportage like feel, or to give stormy skies a more dramatic and moody look, others may require grain to give their nudes or models a certain effect. And this can be achieved to some extent with artificial grain adding filters and plug-ins, but it’s not the same!

Filters add a lot too. Some people shoot all day every day with a Yellow filter permanently attached. One such Great is Don McCullin – B&W photographer par excellence. His photographs are simply spellbinding, stunning, grim, dark but his vision is on another level entirely. Best known for his War photographs and pictures from Cambodia, Lebanon and Vietnam – his landscapes and documentary photographs are brilliant – utterly!

A few books to look out for are; In England, In Africa, Don McCullin and Open Skies.

Red filters add more contrast and darken blue skies and a light blue filter strengthens skin tones. A really good book to read and which explains a lot about B&W photography is The Art of Black and White Photography by John Garrett. I enjoy experimenting with Film, and my Contax G2 has helped me along in the creative process. The G2, being a rangefinder is superb for B&W. The reason why I say superb is because you don’t view ‘through the lens’, but through a Viewfinder, and attaching Filters – even semi opaque deep red filters doesn’t impede your vision.

The G2 is also quick, has a great meter and the lenses are very contrasty – some may dislike this aspect, others love it. As for myself, I enjoy photographing people – friends, family, people on the street, and travel shots and the G2 is great for this – and I love using fast films with plenty of grain (most of the time)

I’ve included various shots here, with a brief description of the film used and Filter/developer – they’ll give some visual information as to the feel of the different Film/Filters.

My negatives have been scanned with an Epson 4990 into 16bit TIFF. Loaded up into Photoshop, and then I use layers – new later – overlay – 30% (or as required) to use the brush tool to dodge and burn. I also use levels to play with contrast. I’ve also started playing with prints in my darkroom, and when I’m free, the weather is dire, I’m at home and the missus isn’t busting my balls I enjoy playing in the darkroom just as much if not more than going out shooting! There’s heaven and Earth difference between pratting around on Photoshop and in the traditional darkroom – if you have never tried it, give it a go!

I hope photographers can try out some B&W Film, and give developing a go. Developing is easy, as is scanning, and I believe there was an article on Steve’s website not long back about basics of developing Film.

Young lad in a suit. London. 45mm Planar T* Ilford HP5+ pushed 1 stop @ 800 asa.

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Guy on a  boat. Istanbul, Turkey 2008. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ 3200. Ilfotec ID11.

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Galata Tower Istanbul, Turkey 2008. 90mm Sonnar T* Kodak TMZ 3200. ID11.

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Istanbul by the Bosphorus. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ 3200. ID11.

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Kids on a Boat. On the Golden Horn, Istanbul, Turkey. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ 3200. ID11

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Turkish Market vendor. Istanbul, Turkey. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ3200. ID11.

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Amongst the Pillars.  In The Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey. 21mm Biogon T*.  Fuji Neopan 1600.

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Dad watching TV. 45mm Planar T* Ilford HP5  pushed to 1600 asa

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Mr Ali. London. 45mm Planar T*. Fuji Neopan Acros 100. ID11

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On The South bank of the Thames. London. 21mm Biogon T*. Fuji Neopan Acros 100. Red 25 Filter. ID11

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Elvis with shades on. People watching a street performer. South bank, London. 90mm Sonnar T* Fuji Neopan Acros 100. Yellow Filter.

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Homeless Guy on the Golden Jubilee bridge. Embankment, London. 45mm Planar T*. Fuji Neopan Acros 100. Yellow Filter.

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Heart on her lapel. Cranford, Middlesex. 45mm Planar T* Ilford Delta 100 pro. Red 25 Filter. From my first roll in the G2 2005.

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Storm clouds a Brewing. Twickenham, Middlesex. 90mm Sonnar T*. Ilford HP5+ @ 3200 asa. Red 25 Filter.

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Epping Forest. Essex. 21mm Biogon T*. Ilford SFX 200 with red 25 filter. SFX is a pseudo IR Film.

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Pashtuns. Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan. 2007. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak Tri X 400.

Feb 212012
 

The Contax G2, Travel Companion by Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve, I thought I’d write in again, just to relate some of my experiences with the Contax G2 around Northern Pakistan and the Punjab. I’ve been there a few times over the last five years and have had my trusty Contax G2 with me at all times. I know most people shoot with Digital, and finding an almost full time Film shooter is quite a rarity.

In Pakistan, my Contax was a rarity – people were constantly wishing to view the image on the rear panel, and much to their chagrin they were disappointed. The strange thing is that even in the most remote parts, the most remotest and rustic people expected digital cameras and an LCD screen! I was surprised at first and then realised that it’s been over a decade since digital cameras became popular, and many years since Film has ceased to be in use in places such as Pakistan.

Pakistan, as Flickr will show you, is rife with native photographers, and I’ve yet to see ANY photographer anywhere in Flickr, of Pakistani descent, using Film. In Pakistan and India I think Film IS DEAD, you may find the odd mini-Lab but trying to find a lab of any sort which develops E6 or even sells E6 Film stock is impossible in my experience. In 2007 I had to be driven all around Islamabad and Rawalpindi before I found the Headquarters of Fujifilm Pakistan – the only place I could pick up a few rolls of Fujichrome Sensia 100 – rolls which had been sweltering in the heat for Christ knows how long. in 2009 and 2011 I made sure I was well stocked up BEFORE I left England! :)

So I felt a bit privileged in a way, sure, it’s foolish feeling, but it was a feeling which had much of pride in it. I had to rely on the characteristics of the Film stock and my rudimentary ‘experience’ to try and grab the shots I wanted, with a long wait to see my results. I know digital gives a higher resolution and pixel peepers will probably get annoyed at the fact that I don’t care, I don’t think that’s important, I’m more concerned with contrast, colour and latitude, and trying to be more creative and artistic. (note the word ‘trying! :) )

I also use B&W and the Zeiss G lenses give fantastic results, though they are sometimes a bit too contrasty and sharp for nice gradual BW tone!! :) haha! I prefer the look of Film, and the fact that I’m beholden to the Film stock and have the option of choosing what I’d like to load up to fit the occasion. For example, trips to Pakistan always ensure my G2 is loaded up with either Kodak e100vs or Fuji Velvia, so I know what to expect from my Slides. I’ll get heavy contrast, vibrant colour and will have to be careful with exposure. That’s where I reckon experience comes into it, experience with the Camera in use. I tend to use Exposure lock on the G2 very often, and can judge the correct exposure by looking at and locking the shutter speed after noting the difference between shadow and highlight in a scene, and I never have any focus problems, any blurred shots are the result of camera shake (using slow film is a pain at times).

But ultimately, the Film stock gives me the results I want, the tone and graduation, the gentle granularity, the pop of colour and it’s all so pleasing to the eye. The colours also add to the ‘exotic look’ of the places, the dust, the red earthy tones, the dress – everything.

I use both Film and Digital, I currently own a lovely Olympus XZ-1, and am looking with lust at the OM-D (I like Olympus colour) I’ve been using a mix of cameras over the years; from Canon, Nikon and Konica Minolta DSLR’s to various Compacts, 35mm SLR’s and 35mm Compacts, but one thing has remained constant: when I wanted to capture something important and special I always resort to using my G2.

It’s about as perfect a travel camera as you can get, it’s solid (I’ve knocked it, dropped it many times and it has survived!), well-built and is fairly compact. Battery lasts a good long while – in heat and cold,, focussing is quick and accurate, it has a really good meter, ergonomics are as sound as you can get and the lenses are stellar! With the G2, I find I can lift the camera focus and shoot in a quick movement, and if I wish i’m able to zone/pre focus using the (crappy but effective enough) Manual focus.

I have a couple of manual focus cameras, and a manual focus RF – I’d love to own a Leica and perhaps one day I shall, but to be honest, it’s the AF which gives the G the edge when travelling, as time is usually of the essence.

FLAWS.

Firstly, the smallish VF, it’s not bad, things are clear enough, but one always wishes for a larger brighter VF. It’s a bit silly, as Kyocera put a perfect VF in the Contax T2, why couldn’t they replicate the size and brightness in this? Filters, using Polarizers can be a pain, and the thing about mountain environments, a Graduated Filter is a MUST, but square filters are a pain to use on a Rangefinder. And finally, the G2 is so quick with a nice snick and zippy shutter that it’s easy to blow your way through Film! So have got to slow down a bit!

I hope my, as well as others use of Film, and such tools as the Contax G2 encourages people who use or have been brought up on Digital, taken up photography fairly recently, during this last 10 to 12 years and others who long ago abandoned the medium and ‘went digital’, to use this beautiful medium and utilise fantastic Film cameras which are at bargain prices these days; such the G1 and G2 and T series, Contax SLR’s, Olympus OM, Nikon F’s and others including Yashica/Rollei TLR’s, and MF gear (and Olympus Pen Half frame – I have a splendid Pen F which I have bought recently and am loving using it) , and I hope exposure on your superb site encourages photographers to use Film, enjoy and create using the characteristics of this medium along with their usual Gear.

Keep up the excellent site, the reviews are brilliant, as are the offerings and contributions from Site users! Love it!

Local lad with striking eyes. Minapin, Nagar Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Karakoram mountains. 2009. Fuji Velvia 50, 45mm Planar T* @ f2.8
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A local lad trying to sell me some snacks, Malam Jabba, Swat Valley. NWFP Pakistan. 2007.
Fuji Sensia 100. 45mm Planar T* @f2

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The strain and tension of life shows in the eyes of this young lad from Swat Valley. 2007. Fuji Sensia 100. 90mm Sonnar T* @ f2.8

 

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Mulhon, Kalash girl, Grom Village, Rumbour Valley, Hindu Kush. 45mm Planar T* @ f2, Kodak e100vs. 2009

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Man with firewood, Chitral Gol national park, Hindu Raj range is in the background. Hindu Kush mountains. 21mm Biogon T* Kodak e100vs.
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A guy on horseback at sunset. Sarai Alamgir, Punjab, Pakistan. 2009
21mm Biogon T* @ f2.8. Fuji Velvia 50.
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Villager collecting firewood and fodder. Rakaposhi base camp trek, bang-e-das, Nagar Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan. 2009.  21mm Biogon T*@ f2.8 (I think) Fuji Velvia 50.
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Shepherds and their Dog. Swat Valley, NWFP. 2007. Fuji Sensia 100. 21mm Biogon T*
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Mystic/ Fakir at the Shrine of Pir-e-Shah Ghazi, Kharri Shareef, Kashmir. 2009. 45mm Planar T* @ f2.8  Fuji velvia 50.
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Two Kalash Girls, Grom, Rumbour, Hindu Kush. 2011.  45mm Planar T*, Kodak e100vs
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Rabi Gul, young Kalash girl in traditional dress. Grom, Rumbour, Chitral, Hindu Kush. 45mm Planar T* Kodak e100vs
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