Apr 222014
 

New 55 Film on Kickstarter. Check it out! 

Check out the video below on NEW 55 film, a new 4X5 film that is on Kickstarter. It needs your help to get funded so watch the video and check out the kickstarter page HERE to see what it is all about. So far they have $187k of $400k needed to fund with 13 days to go. If you love film, and have a passion for 4X5 then be sure to check it out.

New 55 is a new instant film that produces a positive print and an amazing negative. How cool is that?

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Apr 182014
 

Snapping Summer with Agfa Ultra 100

by Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve,

I’ve been enjoying myself this last year, and experimenting with different camera’s and formats; mostly my iPhone 5 and Hipstamatic, but also my Canon 700D, but mostly I’ve been enjoying photographing for my own pleasure, working on composition and trying hard to make things look and feel right to me.

I always find myself coming back to my old friend, my trusty Contax G2 – a camera I can use without thinking as it’s so intuitive, and such a pleasure to handle and use, and so reliable, and a camera which I prefer over any other.

I went to Barmouth in Southern Snowdonia in Wales this summer for a week, and shot a few rolls of Film with my Contax G2. Barmouth is a lovely secluded Sea Side town, at the southern end of Snowdonia. A dreamy place, on The Irish Sea dominated by the Mawddach Estuary, golden sand, the harbour and the wooden barmouth Bridge.

My Velvia and Sensia slides have yet to be scanned, but I took along one precious roll of Agfa Ultra 100 – a punchy and highly saturated print film which is very rare nowadays. It is quite grainy, but has an old world look and feel and obviously false colour which I think is perfect for Summer Holiday snaps. I have sourced quite a few rolls of Agfa Ultra 100 and Agfa Ultra 50 in both 120 and 35mm, and am using them sparingly.

These Films have long been discontinued, I prefer the ISO 50 version, but the ISO 100 version isn’t half bad.
Anyway, I submit a few snaps which I hope you can publish, as an ode to long gone Agfa Ultra 100, a Summer Holiday Film, where reds are really RED and the colour reminds one of a sunny seaside holiday and dreams of childhood.

Only snaps, but I adore this Film
Agfa Ultra 100
Contax G2 with 45mm Planar, 90mm Sonnar and 21mm Biogon
B+W Polariser
And a nice hot summer in Barmouth

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Apr 112014
 

Another Film Friday

By Mark Ewanchuk

Hi Brandon,

I realize that “people used to do this all the time” But thought it was presently kind of novel and exciting, and wanted to share (Sorry for the larger selection…feel free to pick and choose as you see fit!) We recently had the pleasure of a brief vacation to sunny Santa Monica, and I decided to try to leave the digital camera at home…Just old skool “pack the film and develop the pictures when you get back”. Armed with a Olympus OMG (loaded with Tri-X 400…) and a Zeiss Ikon with Nokton 35 f/1.2 (Using both Ektar 100 and Portra 160) I did the best I could to try to capture the memory of our getaway. I must say, I had quite a blast! These are all self-developed (using Tmax Developer for the B&W, or the Tetanal Kit for the Color) and scanned on the Pakon F135.

A much larger selection is available on my website at http://iftimestoodstill.net/the-analog-vacation/

Thanks in advance for looking!

All the best,

Mark

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Apr 112014
 

Film Friday with a Leica M7

By John Tuckey

Hi Brandon

Here’s a few more vintage themed film snaps from last weekend. As usual for me the primary shoot was digital, but here’s the film that we took ‘on the side’. This is predominantly Leica M7P with the Summilux 50mm ASPH (I was using the Sonnar C for the bulk of the digi shots). The film used is 35mm Ilford PanF+, home developed with Ilfosol DDX 1+4 and scanned on an epson v750. There’s been no dodge/burn/levels or other post processing on the film other than to clone/heal the worst of the squeegee marks off – the +10 squeegee of doom is just one of the many joys of home processing and it nearly killed these, but hey, thats part of the fun of home dev as far as I’m concerned ;-)

John Tuckey

http://www.jrtvintage.co.uk

http://500px.jrtvintage.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/jrtvintage

Leica M7, Summilux 50mm ASPH, f2 (Aperture Priority) Ilford PanF+ ISO 50

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Leica M7, Summilux 50mm ASPH, f2 (Aperture Priority) Ilford PanF+ ISO 50

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Leica M7, Summilux 50mm ASPH, f2 (Aperture Priority) Ilford PanF+ ISO 50

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Leica M7, Summilux 50mm ASPH, f2 (Aperture Priority) Ilford PanF+ ISO 50

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Leica M-Monochrom, Sonnar C 50mm, f1.5 1/3000 ISO 320

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Contax 645 and 80mm f2 at f2 (Aperture Priority)Ilford PanF+ ISO 50

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Mar 282014
 

A tribute to Kodak’s false colour Infrared films

By Tony Kajtazi

 

Sunrise over the Grand Anse beach (Grenada)

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The legend

Here are some of my favourite shots I’ve taken with a very special breed of near extinct film. Like many other great films falling victim to the digital age, it also, sadly, is no longer in production. There have always been disappointments in the past whenever manufacturers decided to stop making a certain type of film, and especially when there was no direct replacement for it elsewhere. For me, this sentiment is felt strongest with the disappearance of the colour infrared films, as there’s just nothing even remotely like it.

These films are capable of rendering crazy, psychedelic colours with tons of clarity and contrast. It can make the most boring of subjects look stunning. Get the exposure right, and you’ll get instant art through colour alone. Couple it with good composition and an interesting subject matter, and you’ll have a masterpiece.

 All photos taken with a Mamiya 7 and the 43mm lens

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Kodak was the only company I know of that used to make colour infrared film. Little of it that remains on the market is largely due to one man in Germany who bought up the last batches of Aerochrome film sheets, hand-cut and hand-rolled them onto 120 format spools ready to be used with any medium format film camera. From time to time some of these rolls would trickle down to the rest of us via his website* where he would occasionally put some up for sale, thus delaying the total extinction for that tiny bit longer.

The consumer variation of this film used to be called Kodak Ektachrome Infrared (EIR), and it came in the standard 35mm format. Kodak stopped making it long before they’d stopped making Aerochrome sheets, originally intended for scientific aerial imaging. I have never used the EIR, but I suspect the end-results would be quite similar. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that even though they do pretty much the same thing, they are not the same.

The method

 Shoot this film at f8 or smaller for best results, IR light does not behave the same way as normal light. You might have the shot focused precisely for normal light, but the IR light will most likely be out of focus at large apertures.

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A rough explanation of how Kodak achieves this special look is as follows: As with other common types of colour slide film, it has three image forming layers: the red-exhibiting layer, which is sensitive to IR light, so the Infrared light and its unique tonality is mapped as red on the slides, the green layer is sensitive to red light and the blue layer is sensitive to green light. All three layers are sensitive to blue and project it as blue. This is why the blue light is most often considered a “pollutant” and has to be filtered out with a yellow or an orange filter in order to achieve the intended look commonly observed here and elsewhere.

I personally prefer to use an orange filter with this film because it paints the skies dark navy and gives the foliage that deep red colour. The orange filter doesn’t just filter out the blues, but goes a step further and blocks most of the green light from hitting the film. Different shades of orange cut different amounts of green and since Aerochrome’s blue layer is sensitive to green light, a green-cutting filter removes the blue cast from the photographs, so magenta foliage you get with a yellow filter becomes red.

Using a red filter on the lens further limits the sensitivity of the film to only the red and the IR spectrum, projecting only green and red respectively. This makes the foliage orange and the skies green/cyan or even yellow. Nice but in my opinion it constricts the chromatic range a bit too much.

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The photos shown here have all been taken using the B+W 040 filter on the lens, which on paper at least, is identical to the widely recommended B+W 099 for this purpose. The former is a modern version of the latter, and they work equally well. The ISO rating of Aerochrome is approximately 800, with a Wratten #12 filter this goes down a stop to 400, and with the B+W 040 you should rate it at 200. IR sensitivity will wane pretty quickly with time even if the film is stored in a freezer, so the speed might need to be adjusted accordingly if you plan to use it in say, 2 years’ time, and even then there’s no guarantee that your photos will come out looking the same.

The end

Speaking generally, the future of this type of colour infrared look is closely tied to this film, so the day the last rolls get used up is the day we last see pictures like it. Unless someone can convince Kodak to start making it again or at least licence the technology to a manufacturer that is willing to resurrect it (Lomography?), the only option we’re left with is to try to replicate the look digitally.

For anyone that’s tried to emulate the look of any type of film in Photoshop knows that it’s no easy feat to pull off. Imitating Aerochrome convincingly on the other hand is much harder, because it might involve trickery such as double-takes, channel swapping and quite a bit of post-processing, and even then there’s no fooling the trained eye of an Aerochrome aficionado.

For the end, I’ll leave you with a couple of my best attempts at it, and maybe talk about this digital process in more detail some other time.

Picture taken with a full spectrum camera and post processed to achieve the Kodak EIR look

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Close but not the real deal

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Tony Kajtazi

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyc_photographie/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tonyc-Photographie/336343303149804

Mar 212014
 

‘A Night at the Opera’ with the Leica Monochrom & M2

By John Tuckey

Hi all, here’s another few film shots for you from my last shoot. We have Ilford HP5+ shot on an awesome old Leica M2 body with the Lux 50 ASPH attached and a couple of Contax 645 Medium format shots on PanF. I developed this lot myself so I think the PanF fans will be a little happier with how the PanF looks here ;-)

As usual the ‘real’ shoot for me was digitally shot on the M-Monochrom while the film was shot for fun and side projects. This time I’ve also included a few of the M-Monochrom shots that were taken as I think there’s an interesting contrast between the ISO 400 film and the digital shots also at ISO 400. To me, it’s not a question of better or worse, but as you’d expect they are very different.

For those interested, more from this shoot at: http://500px.com/jrtbloke/sets/carla_march_set

Attachment Captions and suggested running order:

M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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 M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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Contax 645 and 80mm f2, f/2, 1/3000, ISO 50 (ilford PanF+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/4000, ISO 400 (and ND grad)

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All images post processed in Lightroom, but all in line with my 10 minute promise… which is for the health of my eyes! I just promise myself to never spend more than 10 minutes on an image in post. My reasoning is that if its crap after 10 it’ll always be crap (crap in, crap out) so then I just chalk it up to go and take another.

All the best

John Tuckey

http://www.jrtvintage.co.uk

http://500px.jrtvintage.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/jrtvintage/

Mar 212014
 

A study in harsh light and tones

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve, would just like to share some Pictures (a small selection) of shots I took last summer when I was bored one day.

The sun was hot and the noon light was very harsh.

I thought it’d be interesting to get some nice tones using my nephews and niece as props to try to get some reflection of the heat of the light onto the celluloid. I wanted some very nice tones, and contrast with some feel of the shadow made by the harsh light. I used the white wall to reflect this. it was Tone which I was concentrating on, I wanted a nice balance between Zones 0 and X with the right levels and contrast where it mattered. I chose Rollei Retro 80s as it tends to lean towards the Red giving lovely contrast and that almost IR effect. I decided to use my Yashica 230 AF SLR with the 60mm f2.8 Makro lens – which i suspect is a rebadged Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar, and this 60mm focal length os very interesting for people – it’s an ‘almost’ focal length, too long to be a standard lens, and too short to be a portrait lens, but it’s very nice.

The Yashica 230 AF is a primitive AF SLR so the focus hunts and can miss – but it has a great Viewfinder and some lovely lenses and it’s dirt cheap! Anyway, I’m certainly no expert and I tend to photograph trees and static objects or people while travelling and have absolutely no experience in making people pose, so I focussed on the light and nothing more. I was relatively pleased with the results (by my own standards) – many of which were similar to the ones I am sending you, hence only a small selection of these snaps are included. It was all great fun, and part of my personal goal to try different stuff and to enjoy the experience and to try to play with Tone and attempt to improve on it.

All photo’s, Yashica 230 AF,Yashica AF 60mm Makro f2.8, B+W Yellow Filter, Rollei retro 80s, Rodinal and finished in Photoshop CS4.

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Mar 142014
 

One year with film

By Rikard Landberg

Hi! I would like to share my experience of one year with only film photography with you and your readers. My first rolls I shoot was poster on your blog about a year ago, ”How a 51 Year old Leica made me leave the digital world”.

In a month it has been a year since I sold the last of my digital cameras and went over completely to film photography. The change went surprisingly easy. It was almost as if I ‘ve never photographed with digital cameras at all. I felt the same joy as when I as a teenager switched from film to digital. I rediscovered photography!

What I like shooting with film is the slower pace. It may sound like a cliché but it’s true. Now I focus on the picture and what works, I wait out the right moment. I know I can’t take 10 frames per second (as I could with my digital canon ) which means that I have to learn to see patterns of the objects I photograph and predict what will happen. This way of thinking has not only (according to me) resulted in better pictures , but I have also begun to take in more of what I am experiencing while photographing. With a digital camera, I missed so much since I put a lot of time trying different exposures or retaking an image 100 times for not looking right on the small screen on the back of the camera. With my Leica M5 I do not have that option which allows me to see what’s going on around me instead of wasting time staring into a screen. I’ve learned to trust my eyes and my camera in a whole new way. In short, it’s simply more fun to shoot right now!

The equipment I use is a Leica M5 with a Zeiss 35/2.8 BIOGON. When it ‘s been a year so I will reward myself with a M6, M4-P or a Zeiss Ikon. I will continue using film and rangefinders for a long time!

/ Rikard Landberg , Sweden

My websites

www.rikardlandberg.se

www.flickr.com / Landberg

Some pictures from the past year.

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Brooklyn Bridge MAnTOYP

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Mar 132014
 

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Shooting & Processing Cinema Film in a Still Camera

by Brett Price

Hey Steve,

Thought I’d write up a quick little article on a recent set of photos I took. I’ve submitted several posts before outlining several photography related experiences with different equipment/techniques I’ve been playing around with, a lot of the fun in photography for me is the ongoing discovery of new techniques, equipment or processes. The latest addition would be my experience shooting motion picture film in a still camera. There’s a lot to do with something like this so Its not exactly something someone can just pick up and do but I figure that this article could be a first step to many who might be interested.

**See Brett’s other posts HEREHEREHERE and HERE**

First off, All of the shots below were rolled, shot, developed/processed and scanned in an at home process and were all taken with Kodak Vision 3 500t film. This is a fabulously versatile film that used a great deal in modern cinematography. This is the same film that you can also purchase online, called CINESTILL FILM that has had a special process to make it capable of being developed at a traditional film lab. (more on that later).

One of the reasons I wanted to play around with this film is because well, I still shoot a lot of film, and the choices for films are becoming more and more limited today for still photography. I still feel like cinema film has a place for a while until most of the more seasoned DPs give it up and its relatively more affordable to shoot considering how much more of it you can buy. You mainly just have to have the infrastructure to take it from beginning to end to make that work, something I have developed over the years. Another reason, like I mentioned is the cost. I purchased a 400ft roll of kodak film online for about 100 dollars. That’s enough color film to make over 100 rolls. That is a dollar a roll, not too bad. It’s also a film thats really not available in still format. Most still films are daylight balanced, which can be troublesome if you shoot it under any type of tungsten light. I’ve never really understood why films were made that way, with no high-speed stocks available for that type of light. It’s quite easy to take a high-speed film and add a warming filter to it to shoot outdoors if needed. Its pretty difficult to take a daylight film and shoot indoors, as the filters remove a great deal of light, and then you have to shoot it in a place where typically there isn’t a great deal of light.

But oh well. It’s a fantastic film. All of these shots were taken outdoors or by open windows without a filter so this is the look you can get when you shoot it outside. It’s very blue but able to be balanced nicely in the scanning process. It’s also a very versatile film if it’s all you shoot as all it really needs to shoot outside is a warming filter. I shoot a lot at night and in urban environments so this film really fits my daily Leica carry.

The first step is getting it into shootable cassettes. Bulk loading is pretty common with b&w film, as you can still buy 100ft rolls of it. All you need is to separate out about 100ft from the 400ft roll and load it into a bulk loader and then into the film cassettes. Pretty easy.

One of the reasons everyone hasn’t picked up on this film yet is the fact that it comes rolled with a layer on the film called REMJET. Remjet is a layer on the back of the film that is typically removed in the films native process but the C-41 process does not account for. You can’t just shoot this film and take it to a lab for development. Not only will the film ruin the lab’s chemistry, it will come out with a layer of soft black gook on the back. The CINESTILL film that is available for purchase has this layer pre-removed so the film can be developed in any lab, hence why its caught on with a lot of 35mm film shooters.

All of these shots were home developed and not taken from a lab. I actually used waste lab chemistry because I work at a lab but the same process can be done with any home c-41 kit. The biggest unknown for a lot of people, even me, was how easy or difficult it is to remove the Remjet layer after processing the film. There’s a lot of stuff online that goes into detail about how difficult or easy it is but nothing very specific of helpful. I actually found this to be super easy. The film comes out after processing almost totally opaque, if you touch the back of it you’ll get an inky black residue on your fingers, it comes off quite easily but the issue is you don’t really want to get it on the emulsion side. All I did was wet a microfiber cloth, grab the film from the top, and essentially squeegee it from top to bottom. This took off the rem jet perfectly. All that’s left is to restabilize the film so you don’t get water spots from the wet cloth.

I have access to a lab scanner so these were pretty straight forward to scan in but the process of scanning can be done after development like any other film. Also pretty straightforward.

I really like the characteristics of this film. I’ll probably pick up a roll of Kodak 250D (daylight) as well and then i feel like all my bases would be covered for shooting color 35mm. It’s a super versatile film and the process isn’t nearly as scary as many people make it seem. I would highly suggest checking out the CINESTILL website for side by side examples as to why this film is so nice. They lay it out between some more popular films like Portra and Fuji Pro, and the results are pretty easy to see.

Anyway, I post a great deal to various websites ill list below, please check them out for more shots. Hope you all like my photos with this film and my write-up on it as well. Happy shooting.

Brett Price

Instagram: Brettprice

Tumblr: Brettprice.tumblr.com

Website: www.iambrettprice.com

Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/brettprice

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Mar 072014
 

Respect Bali. Protect Bali.

By Nikko Karki

www.nikkokarki.com

http://blog.nikkokarki.com

The Balinese believe they were given the choice to live in paradise in exchange for supervising the spiritual world – a task requiring constant ceremonies and offerings to appease the Gods. Life goes on as it has for hundreds of years amidst sandy beaches and a turquoise ocean. With some areas suffering from disenfranchisement from cultural traditions, it is evermore important to respect the island and the Balinese people.

Respect Bali. Protect Bali.

Photographer’s note:

I focus on traditional aspects of life on the island that have remained unchanged despite the huge influx of tourism on our beloved island over the past years. In parts, it’s hard to tell the island has changed for hundreds of years, although that is all being constantly threatened by development. If you look hard enough, the island’s soul is still in tact. It’s important for me to address change from a positive standpoint instead of criticizing it. It’s important to focus on the good that we see and embrace it, respect it and protect it.

Hasselblad 500c Carl Zeiss 150mm f/4

Kodak Portra film

Nikko Karki © 2013 Respect Bali 01

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Feb 182014
 

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A Year in “M” Monochrom

By Ashwin Rao

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Hello, my friends, the time has come to reflect upon a year seen primarily in black and white (and many, many shades of gray, which really is life, now, isn’t it ?) through the eye of Leica’s amazing Leica M Monochrom. I have previously written about my experiences with the “MM” after 6 months of use, and following journeys with the camera in Paris, Italy, New York City, and the Palouse. In this world of constant camera turnover, where every M9 is replaced by an M240, with Sony and Olympus seemingly staking their claims to fame in the digital camera world in place of Canon and Nikon, and with Fuji surprising and delighting us with every turn, the MM is now a venerable camera that remains unique as the only current mass-produced camera with a black and white sensor. The camera’s sensor, stripped of any ability to see in color, rid of the capacity to block moire, ends up being a photon eater, proving and incredible tool for capturing light in its many presentations.

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While it has not yet been around long enough to be deemed “legendary”, the MM is already ascending that ladder, and for those whom have had the privilege of using it, you’ll see that glimmer in their eyes of the prize that rests in their hands. So come along with me for my ride, should you choose, in words and images, of this camera that is destined for legend.

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Over the past year plus, I have taken over 15,000 shots with the Leica MM. I can truly and honestly say that the camera has delivered me the most joy of any camera that I have owned. The camera’s incredible CCD sensor that seems capable of coaxing the very best out of nearly any lens that you could put on it. In particular, the sensor seems to play particularly well with older rangefinder lenses, which in some cases were designed and coated for black and white photography. It provides a rich modern look with today’s aspherical glass, almost providing “shockingly real” views of the world, which I have yet to see from any camera. For me, the look of the MM with most modern glass is almost surreal, and I have thus primarily stuck with using older, “cheap” rangefinder lenses with the camera to great satisfaction. What’s interesting to me, and what I have heard increasingly from users of the camera, is that the camera’s sensor itself seems capable of coaxing something special out of these lenses, even when the M9 and M240 may not be able to coax the same look, clarity, or detail.

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Seeing in Monochrome

First and foremost, the Leica MM is a tool for image capture, as is really any other camera that the photographer may use. However, the sensor’s capacities and limitations have forced me to change my creative perspective. As I began my journey with the MM, I had to accept the challenge of only “seeing” the world around me in black and white. Color was no longer an option, and could not be used as a crutch or a tool ton lean upon. Having converted many of my M9 images to black and white, I initially did not see an issue with the process of only seeing in black and white, but after using the M monochrome a few times, I suddenly realized at what I had given up. Shooting in color offers its own creative possibilities and limitations, and when I suddenly forced out of this option, I found myself jarred. I decided to re-calibrate and try my best to see the world around me in black and white, before I even composed or took the shot. In a sense, I began to focus on light and dark, highlight and shadow, essentially in luminosity. I began to “ignore color” to the best of my abilities and focus instead on the remaining elements of any scene that I wished to capture Over a few months, what first was a challenge soon became inspiration and motivation. I was starting to see the world in monochrome. Just as switching from the AF-10FPS SLR’s to rangefinders is freeing to many photographers who are stuck in a rut, shooting with the M Monochrom re-invigorated me to explore the world around me in new ways. I called it “Going back to finishing school.”

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Monochrom magic?

There is just something about the MM’s sensor that seems magical to me. I know that this may come off as overly dramatic, but for me and for others out there with whom I have discussed the camera, it is true. The images that I have been able to capture seem to defy my own meager skills as a photographer. Lenses that were forgotten or passed aside on the M8 and M9 suddenly took center stage in the manner of how they interacted with the MM’s sensor. Let me say a few more words about this (The following is entirely theoretical, so feel free to disregard)

I have said in many instances that the MM seems to play particularly well with older lenses. Many vintage lenses from Leitz, Canon, and Nippon Kogaku were designed and used in an area of black and white photography, where color options were rare, limited, or non-existent. Thus, such lenses utilized coatings and design that was suited to capturing monochrome images, or so I have gathered. Whereas some of these older lenses’ coatings provide poor color reproduction on digital cameras, they seem to offer subtleties in tonal capture that modern lenses of aspherical design, aimed at gathering maximal contrast and detail across the frame, seem to miss. I have noted than many modern aspherical designs seem to limit the M Monochrom’s abilities to capture shadow detail, in particular, while older lenses, which tend to capture much lower macrocontrast, save these shadows, and instances, highlights as well.

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Second, I suspect that some of the MM’s magic in interacting with old lenses actually may have come from within. When I consider photographers that have inspired me, I have tended to prefer the “look” of the works of the early Magnum photographers, Sebastio Salgado, and others who shot in an era where my “vintage” lenses was their modern options. In a sense, I learned to prefer a way of seeing in black and white in the manner that was reflective of their gear…i.e. older lenses.

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Third, the MM’s sensor seems to be unique in being able to hold incredible detail with post-processing. This seems to be due to the dynamic range that MM images seem to possess in the mid tones. The MM has been roundly criticized for its tendency to clip highlights, and this is absolutely a reasonable criticism. What is often not discussed, however, is the incredible detail and flexibility of tone that preserved in the midtones captured by the camera, as well as the shadow detail that the camera preserves. When I first used the MM, I was enamored by the near infinite shades of gray captured within the RAW file, and as a result, my initial images with the camera tended to look generally grey. Over time, I found myself exploring these greys more and more, and using Adobe LR and other post processing tools to extract the contrast and detail that I desired from this more “boring” grey. One can push and pull the images in any number of ways, and MM files will not fall part, especially those captured at ISO 3200 or less. When used in “decent light”, the camera does just fine at ISO’s as high as 5000, capturing fine detail and suppressing noise appropriately (not really like film, though, but still pleasing).

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Finally, there may also be something to the M Monochrom’s naked sensor that coaxes the most out of vintage lenses. Lenses such as the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 LTM, which seem soft and washed out on color rangefinders, simply sparkle on the MM, both in detail and tonal rendition. I was surprised in particular, by the amount of detail and resolution that some lenses, over 50 years old, are capable of capturing when paired to the MM. I theorize that the lack of the low pass filter and Bayer array allows for optimal capture of unfiltered detail. No blur or image loss is imparted upon the captured image, as light does not have to pass through any barriers.

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The journey from new to old

So here I am, a year later, a year older and hopefully a year wiser, and my journey with the MM continues. The MM continues to be my favorite camera and my preferred way to see the world around me. My aspherical lenses continue to be relegated to my M9, while the MM continues to be mated to classic rangefinder lenses. I feel that for me, what was a casual experiment with vintage lenses has turned into a serious enterprise in how I prefer to see the world around me. It mates the rangefinder experience with a unique way of seeing the world around me and brings me closer to my own idols in the photographic world.

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Onward and Upward

The journey continues, and I hope to report back to you as I gain even more experience with this wonderful camera. Obviously, I can no longer wow you with reports of impressive specs, more megapixels, and quieter shutters. I hope to bring you more images, as my explorations with the camera, its files, and my use of processing, continues. These are exciting times for many of us, as photographers. Gear these days is so excellent that it’s really up to you to choose what tool suits you best. For some of you, it may be the camera phone that is always on your person. For others, it’s the latest greatest offering, with ever improving dynamic range, color reproduction, detail capture, and camera performance. For some, it’ll be the increasing capacity of cameras to deliver images and an experience that can be instantaneously shared. For me, it’s the simplicity of a camera that’s not capable of any of this, not even capable of seeing in color, that will continue to inspire and challenge me to grow my photography in new directions and to new summits. All the best to you all in your own journeys, and I’ll be sure to check in again soon!

Yours truly,

Ashwin Rao

February, 2014

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Feb 172014
 

Myanmar in Transition

By Nikko Karki © 2013

www.nikkokarki.com

http://blog.nikkokarki.com

Adorned with thousands of temples, nestled in the Mandalay region of northern Myanmar, Bagan’s arid landscape has been preserved as if in a time capsule for the past 1,000 years. After remaining closed to the outside world, Myanmar is now open for business, bolstering Bagan as its flagship tourist destination. The children growing up in Bagan will witness unprecedented changes in their local economy and social landscape in the upcoming years.

How will tourism development in Bagan mirror Myanmar as a whole?

Now that the floodgates are open to flocking tourist populations, how will the region and its people react to an infusion of social and economic influences?

Hasselblad 500c  - Carl Zeiss 120mm f/4 - Kodak Portra film

Nikko Karki © 2013 Myanmar Transition 01

Photographer’s note:

I went to Myanmar with an old film Hasselblad, a digital Canon DSLR and an open mind. I had heard warnings about the political past and chose to ignore the history as it’s clear the country is on the brink of a new era. During my trip, I felt a strong connection with the people who welcomed me with open arms. Traveling with only a small pack containing all my gear, I was free to roam around the countryside on foot, taking time to talk with people, observe and feel the strength and beauty of this incredible country. I’m so grateful to the people of Myanmar for this experience and hope to return again one day soon.

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Jan 312014
 

Just some Friday Film photos

By Ondřej Caska

Hi Steve and Brandon,

It was a certain time ago, when I was going through your site and saw some film photos. I was amazed by their look and character in comparison to many digital photos, which we see every day around us. Like there was something “magical“. I have tried to simulate a film look on my digital photos in post processing, but the result was not often satisfactory. So I decided to buy a film camera. Firstly it was OM-1 and then Leica M6. Oooo, I really love it! I hope the film will last many following decades :)

The photos, which I am sending you, were shot with Leica M6 and Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 VII.

Best regards,

Ondrej Caska

 

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Jan 312014
 

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Shooting in Cemeteries

By Jim Fisher

Steve’s recent post on Post Mortem Photography got me thinking about one of my favorite photographic subjects: Old graveyards.

’m happy to live in a part of the US with a long settled history, the north east. I’m a short drive away from a few very old burying grounds, including notable ones like Sleepy Hollow in Tarrytown, N.Y. (the resting place of Washington Irving, the author who created the Headless Horseman), and Green-Wood in Brooklyn.

It was stumbling onto Sleepy Hollow that sparked my interest. I had spent an autumn day in 2008 visiting Irving’s estate, and wanted to tap it off with a visit to his grave. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore, light was getting scarce, but I’ve since returned to spend more time looking for interesting monuments and scenes.

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It’s interesting to me to see how the art of carving headstones changed over the years. Modern stones tend to be fairly conservative, squarish, and—to my eye—largely uninteresting. But turning back the clock to the late 1800s shows that large, carved statues were popular (at least for those who could afford them). When you move back to the early part of that century and into the late 1700s you see simple stones, sometimes with inlaid carved illustrations.

Of course, after a few hundred years, details give way to erosion, pieces of sculptures break off, and stones crack. There’s obviously some maintenance done to active graveyards, but for the large part you see what spending scores of years with constant exposure to the elements can do to sculpture and carved stones.

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There’s also a sense of peace. I commute into Manhattan five days a week. It’s a grind, packed into a overcrowded train, and braving the elements over the half-mile from Penn Station to my office (and back again in the evening). After nine hours I get to turn around and do it all over again. There are opportunities for photographs, but they are generally those fleeting moments that present themselves when street shooting.

Among the graves, I get to take my time, look for my shot. If I find an interesting monument I can take my time and think about how I want to approach it. Should I isolate a specific detail? Simply try to capture it in its entirety? Or go a bit wider and try and get a good landscape shot? (That’s an area where my eye struggles at times.)

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My favorite spot is the Deckertown-Union Cemetery in western New Jersey. It’s an old graveyard in a rural area. The grounds are wooded, largely on a huge hill. The terrain is rough, and the burials date back to the Revolutionary War. There aren’t a lot of ornate sculptures there, just more simple, weathered stones. The first time I went there I was working with some Lensbabies, but I’ve since shot it with more traditional lenses.

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As for gear (I couldn’t stop by Steve’s home without bringing that up!), it varies. If I’m shooting for myself, I love taking my Rolleiflex Automat K4, a 1950 TLR with a Zeiss Opton-Tessar 75mm f/3.5 lens. I’ve got a set of Rolleinar close-up filters for macro work, and the shallow depth of field that working close with a medium format camera gets you can create some really unique results.

Primarily I consider myself a rangefinder shooter, and one of the first places I took the M240 was to Green-Wood. But I don’t often use my M3. I’m more likely to take a 35mm SLR, if only for the sake of having depth of field preview available. (A Nikon F3, Pentax KX, or Canon A-1 may make the trip depending on my mood.) In the digital world, the Ricoh GR has become a favorite carry-anywhere camera over the past few months, and I’ve found that its 28mm field of view works quite well for me.

 

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And, if I’m shooting for work, anything goes. I’ve used graveyards as subjects for everything from the Nikon D7100 to the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 to the Lomo Horizon panoramic camera (and others that I’m forgetting.

Jim Fisher is the Senior Digital Camera Analyst at PCMag.com. He also posts photos, an occasionally finds time to write, at his personal blog, daguerreotyping.com

For more Cemetery photography check out Steve’s old Violin Annie post HERE

Jan 312014
 

The Friday Film: The Rolleiflex 3.5F by Ibraar Hussain

This isn’t really a Gear Site, but, if people want to contribute stuff about gear then gear will be featured. To carry on the Gear tradition, I bought myself a precious little Gemstone of a camera.

For those interested in the Leica and rangefinder experience – I suggest you also look to the TLR experience and the Rolleiflex experience as it will give you a completely different feel and vision in your photography. Just owning a classic Rolleiflex is a pleasure in itself, and using one gives a feeling of excitement and productivity and the feel of it all being an event – even if the subject is your cat lounging around the sitting room!

There are many Rolleiflex TLR’s to choose from; Automat’s, Rolleicord’s, 2.8 Planar’s, Tele-Rolleiflexes and many special editions.

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The Rolleiflex is still being made by DHW Photo http://www.dhw-fototechnik.de to this day, and is a work of art, with modern ground glass and super bright image – expensive, but cheaper than a Leica!

I bought myself a mark 1 Rolleiflex 3.5F – a Classic with a capital C and considered by many to be one of the best camera’s ever made.

A camera used by some of The Greats throughout the years and capturing some of the iconic photographs in history such as David Bailey, Richard Avedon, Robert Doisneu, Fritz hence, Eduard Boubat, Lee Miller, Diane Arbus, Robert Capa, Vivian Maie amongst many others.

And a Camera used by iconic movie stars and rock stars over the years .

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Marilyn Monroe with a Rolleiflex (2)

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Celebrities with Their Vintage Cameras (32)

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I’m not saying owning one will make one great or into a celebrity! But it’s apiece of history which is still a joy to use and can yield lovely results on par with The Best. I’m no expert on Rolleiflex TLR’s but I do know there are many user groups and lists of serial numbers. Buying a Rolleiflex of this type is an investment too.

The value will only go up (depending upon the condition of your Rolleiflex) and one can treasure it as one treasures a Rolex or collectors watch. Anyway, I bought mine with a Rollei bayonet II yellow Filter, lens cap and a Rolleinar II close up filter – a two piece filter with lenses for both viewing and taking lenses.

The close up filter is called the Rolleinar and comes in many different strengths. The Rolleinar I will enable you to shoot head shoulder shots with the 75mm f3.5 standard lens.

The Rolleinar II which I have will be face shots – or close-ups of other subjects.

I wanted a Rolleinar I but for some strange reason, the Bay II Rolleinar’s (along with ALL Bay II accessories) are 3 to 4 times as much as anything Bay I or III (Bay I for the Rolleicord Tessar and Bay III for the f2.8 80mm Planar) so I picked up a bargain Rolleinar II.

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If you have never used a TLR before, it’s easy peasy to use. Flip open the waist level finder to look into a big image of the square scene. Focus using the knob on the left, wind the lever forward and then back, and trip the shutter using the release on the bottom right front of the camera.

It is so easy and so straight forward without any settings getting in the way.

Mine is metered, the array of glass bulbs below the Rolleflex logo is where the selenium meter captures the light. I didm;t bother with the inbuilt meter and just used Light Meter App on my iPhone for the one roll I shot with this camera. The dials at the front are for Shutter speed and Aperture.

I took mine along to my favourite place – Brecon in Wales a few weeks back, and snapped a roll of 10 exposures at the ruins at Tretower Castle. A lovely desolate place in the midst of the Beacons. I shot a roll of Rollei Pan 25. A very slow 25 ISO BW Film which is basically Agfapan 25 rebranded.

I developed the roll in an Agfa Rondinax 60 daylight Tank – great idea, if a bit temperamental, with Rodinal developer. I Scanned using an Epson 4990 flatbed and used Photoshop CS4 to process.

The negatives were lovely with high contrast and rich blacks, and I was pleased with every shot (I wasted 2 by exposing them accidentally in the Rondinax while loading).

I include a selection of snaps here (minus family snaps of me and the Missus).

I have owned a TLR before: MPP Microcord TLR reviewed here on stevehuffphoto.com http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/11/02/the-mpp-microcord-tlr-by-ibraar-hussain/ But this was my first Rolleiflex TLR and it is a keeper and a pleasure to use and to own.

All photo’s of this first test roll.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Mk 1.

Carl Zeiss 75mm f3.5 Planar

Rollei Yellow Filter

Rollei Pan 25

Rodinal.

Rondinax 60 daylight tank.

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