Apr 262016
 

Twenty Four Hours with the Leica Q

by Andrew Gemmell

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I’ve been thinking of buying a digital camera suitable for street photography recently. I’ve been using film for the past 2 years and it does grow a bit tiresome after a while and sometimes it’s just nice to be able to shoot, adjust on the run and keep going knowing you won’t be up for film processing costs!

I was fortunate enough to be offered a Leica Q to borrow for a day. The owner had a window open so I grabbed the opportunity to see what the hype was about. The first thing I noticed, even though it’s not a rangefinder it was very Leica like with intuitive and simple controls. This camera really does make the process simple. Limited menu’s and certainly less controls than most other options in this class.

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Control – ideally as photographers if we can control our shutter, aperture, ISO and focusing it’s really all we need. The Q lets you do this very easily for the first three of those and as for focus the AF was fast and hit the spot 9 out of 10 times. Granted I didn’t use this camera during the evening so couldn’t comment on performance in very low light. Having used the Monochrom in the past it was like using a rangefinder, minus the rangefinder!

Features – the macro I tried a couple of times and I could see it being a feature you could call on from time to time. The frame selector down to 35mm and then 50mm was easy to apply on the run and personally I could see myself using the 35mm though rarely the 50mm.

Lens – Can’t complain here. This lens is superb and at 28mm is ideal for street photography and to an extent broader documentary photography. I usually prefer 50mm as a focal length. I did find this lens does force you to move closer to your subject and with that think about that challenge more as you walk through the streets. In that respect I genuinely think it could really help people, like me, to bring yourself into the moment more than I have in the past. If I’m learning then that’s a good thing.

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Conclusion

All in all it’s a very nice camera. I’ve used the Leica Monochrom, the original Fuji x100, the original Olympus EM5 and on pure specs, simplicity and suitability for street this would be no.2 for me behind the original Monochrom (Though even I admit that is an apples vs oranges comparison)! It’s now “getting on” in this fast paced world, so will be very interesting to see what Leica do next with the Q. I can’t comment on the x100T (improved alot from the x100 from all reports), Ricoh GR or RX1R as direct competitors and no doubt they’d all have there own strengths and weaknesses.

All images in this post were shot with the Leica Q.

Thanks Steve and Brandon for continuing to run a great photographic reference site.

Regards

Andy

Buy the Leica Q at Ken Hansen ([email protected]), PopFlash, B&H Photo or Amazon

Apr 252016
 

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Never Ending Love with Ricoh GR

by Lorenzo Moscia

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When I first purchase the Ricoh GR I never thought a camara of that size will catch me for so long time. It is almost two years now since I start to bring the Ricoh basically everywhere on my assignment trip. At first it was Cuba where I brought a Canon as well wich it was staying most of the time at home, just because that was more than a family trip than a real assignment. But right there I discover the beauty of walking all day around a city without look like a photographer and my back and knees were so happy by the end of the day.

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To begin with I was a little scared of sending Ricoh files to my agency. Would some editor buy and publish files made with a pocket camera? When I got on assignment I normally use two canon bodies (5d MkIII with a 16-352.8II and 6D with 50 1.2) sometimes I bring the little 28mm II and the 35f2.

If I m on assignment for a travel Magazine in Europe I will carry the Ricoh in a Hama pocket on my belt and I could barely take it out. But if I m doing something else like in Easter Ukraine,Thailand, Sri Lanka or Africa with ONG well I find out just using more and more the Ricoh, especially when I have some free hours in wich I m left to walk around a place with no fixer or driver. Canon stays home and I m free as a bird with Ricoh in my pocket.
After the Cuba experience I order one more battery and a wall charger.

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When I m editing even magnifying the image I cannot spot if is the Ricoh or a Canon with the 28. Colors are so great and dynamic range is even better than Canon!. Ricoh is just a bit more noisy.Of course I wont get the bokeh of the 50.1.2 or the 135 f2! When I was in Brazil for the World Cup back in 2014 my assignment was to follow the Colombian supporters for the Colombian football FEderation. My gear at that time it was two Canon bodies with 28 and 50 in a little Domke F5 XC. I was supposed to be all time on the road, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiabá and Rio. But when I get int o Rio and went back in to a Favela I regret so much to not have brought the Ricoh with me. Even if that Canon was a very light, effective combo I missed so many shots especially in some complicated streets were I dind have the balls to bring out any Canon at all.

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Bangkok, Thailand, feb 2014. Scenes durign the Chinese Lunar New Year.The political crisis in Thailand is afecting tourims as well.Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports Somsak Phurisisak recently predicted that february arrivals would fall by half to 1 million, with some hotels in the capital, Pattaya and elsewhere experiencing occupancy rates of just 30 percent. Much of that decline is thought to have come from the Chinese market after the nation warned its citizens to avoid protest sites and reconsider nonessential travel to Thailand over the popular Lunar New Year travel period.

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Kieve, Ukraine, March,11,2015. Vita diaria por las calles de Kiev.

It was the new GR, same sensor, same face,but the body-material more Anti Scratch and few improvements all around.I was happy man again. In Ukraine on the fire line of course I would use the Canon but as I walk around Mariupol with the Ricoh I felt like invisible and could catch so many shot without people even notice me. No sound it also very important. In Sri Lanka, Colombo during a assignment for a Canadian ONG I brought tow Canon, 28, 35.1.4 and 50 1.8 (the 70 dollars lens) and the Ricoh.

Ukraine, march 2015.

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Ukraine, march 2015. Escenas de vida diaria en la ciudad de Mariupol que s eencuentra a pocos km de la linea de combate entre ejercito ukranio y separatistas pro rusos.

Ukraine, march 2015. Escenas de vida diaria en la ciudad de Mariupol que s eencuentra a pocos km de la linea de combate entre ejercito ukranio y separatistas pro rusos.

Ukraine, march 2015. Escenas de vida diaria en la ciudad de Mariupol que s eencuentra a pocos km de la linea de combate entre ejercito ukranio y separatistas pro rusos.

My task there was to photographs students in school and in their homes. 35 1.4 I bought used in Rome it was performing just great and the combination with the canon 6d body was just going to be my best assignment lens. But too good to be true after a couple of days I notice that at 1.4 lots of shots were out of focus. they look all right when I took them but once open the file in lightroom I just find out that the focus was some cm over the front. It didn’t happen once with the 50 1.2 so what was that??! 35 was back int the hotel room. And once I was in Rome send it back to canon service but the problem didn’t go away. End of love with the canon 35. But back in Sri Lanka when I was not working for the ONG I just left the Canon at the hotel and went around with the Ricoh, inside a Hama belt case and two batteries. That was haven! So my bottom line here is that I would love to find another little body with a 50 2.0 or less, something like Ricoh that could give me a bit of bokeh. And going out there and shoot some assignment with just that combination!

Take care everyone!

Lorenzo Moscia

Apr 222016
 

Into darkness with Ilford film

cover photo – Pentax MZ-S, SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited

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Another day, another film and another report. And yes, I stole name of article from Star Trek.

Even in shrinking film world there are choices, possibilities and a lot of things to learn. Last spring I played with slow ISO50 film, and now I went opposite way – picked Ilford Delta 3200 film with incredible ISO3200 sensitivity and went to test it into darkness.

After three rolls I feel that I just scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of possibilities with this film. Why do I think so? Well, documentation of this film and internet if full of information about possibility to expose it from ISO400 to ISO12800, to make it less/more grainy or less/more contrasty with different development materials and techniques. As for me I don’t develop myself (oh I feel this will change soon, might be very soon, I’m so tempted), and I shoot it at box speed, or to be more precise DX code speed on 3200 ISO. But this film is already in my list of my favorites together with: Portra400 – go anywhere film, Cinestill 800T – low light film, Ektar 100 – film for sun. Ilford Delta 3200 in this list will be film for night.

To sum up my personal evaluation of this film I can say, that it was a first time for me when I had a totally analogue trip, I had a confidence to go for short vacation only with film cameras, one was loaded with portra for day and other with delta for night. Not saying that digital is bad, only saying that its not amount of light decides which medium to use, Its me who makes decision.

And now to list of observations and remarks:

– Its fast film. All shots here were metered at 3200 ISO, some of them were adjusted in PP, with minus half stop EV. I saw quite good or at least acceptable examples of this film shot at 6400, or even 12800.
– Its grainy. I like this type of grain. Read that it could be make less or more grainy depending on developing materials and techniques.
– Contrast is low. I like more contrasty view, so I took advantage from hybrid process and increased contrast in LR. Together with grain it gives me pleasant film noir look.
– Its possible to use this film in daylight as well. Two shots here I made with 3x ND filter. Then its like shooting 400 ISO film.

Thats it. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to share some tips regarding this film in comments.

Aivaras
https://www.flickr.com/photos/aiwalit/

Picture 1 – Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.7, Marumi ND filter

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Picture 2 – Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4

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Picture 3 – Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.7, Marumi ND filter

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Picture 4 – Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4

belgija, briuggė

Apr 132016
 

Photo trip to Peru

by Alec Fedorov

Hi Steve,

I am an amateur photographer who has been an avid reader of your website for three years. Thanks for the great service you provide to the community of photographers.

Recently, my wife and I returned from an REI trip to Peru where we hiked the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, and I would like to share our experiences with the readers of your site.

I brought two cameras on the trip: Fuji X100s and Sony RX100III, both of which are great for travel photography. My go-to camera was the Fuji because of excellent image quality and ease of use. The Sony was kept in my pants pocket and came in handy a few times.

We arrived in Cusco, where we spent three days acclimatizing to the altitude, since the Salkantay Pass is at 15,200 feet. Cusco has the population of about 450,000 and it was the historic capital of the Incan Empire until it was conquered by the Spanish in 1532. Nowadays, Cusco is a growing city, and it is a tourist hub for trips to Machu Picchu.

We arrived in Cusco a few days before the New Year and the city was full of tourists and holiday lights. The streets in the center of Cusco are cobblestone. Some intersections are so narrow that the cars have to back up half way through the turn in order to complete it!

One of the most noticeable aspects of Cusco are the stray dogs which are ubiquitous. Some of the dogs have owners but the majority of them live on the streets. This is often due to people purchasing the dogs as puppies and then losing interest as the dog gets older and the novelty wears off. In Peru, it is considered inhumane to neuter dogs, so the population of street dogs just grows exponentially.

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Cusco is a blend of ancient and modern. The food was excellent and some of the restaurants were very eccentric, the kind you would expect to find in Manhattan.

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One day, we hired a local driver to take us to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which encompasses the heartland of the Incan empire. The scenery was spectacular, with very few tourists. At the end of the day, we ran into many shepherds, bringing the sheep in. They live in primitive clay houses without electricity.

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After spending three days in Cusco, we hooked up with the REI group to begin the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. This trek is named among the 25 Best Treks in the World by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. It is an ancient and remote footpath located in the same region as the Inca Trail. The first few days of the 6-day hike traverses through a landscape of scenic views of the snowcapped 20,574 ft Mt. Salkantay.

We spent the first two nights at Salkantay Lodge at 12,600, and hiked to the Glacier Lake at 14,500 feet to further acclimatize.

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The hike over the Salkantay Pass began on a beautiful sunny morning. As we ascended, the green valley and blue sky was replaced by the grey lifeless rock and a dense fog. Shortly after reaching the top of the pass, a lone white horse emerged out of the fog. It was a very surreal experience.

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Over the next few days, we continued our descent into the high jungle, where we took our repose at three more lodges. The only traffic on the trek consisted of occasional packs of mules and horses carrying the luggage and the food supplies. In six days, we only ran across two other hikers. Photos below are of the local man who followed behind our group with the water and medical supplies.

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On the last day, before reaching Machu Picchu, we hiked through coffee plantations, and we visited a local family business. Many of these families rely on selling coffee to the tourists as their only source of income.

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Machu Picchu, in itself, was spectacular, and the experience of getting there by foot was unforgettable!

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Alec

Thanks,
Alec

Apr 072016
 

New York through the Olympus 7-14 Pro Lens

by Mohamed El Barkani

Hi Steve!

I hope you are doing great and had an amazing weekend. I’m a reader of your blog since I discovered it last year and helped me moving to the Olympus OM-D system. Based on your reviews and experiences I bought the E-M10 which I really love. A few days I saw that you do offer the possibility to publish guest reports on your website. I would love to publish one article on your website and help other people.

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Some background information to my person: I’m Mohamed El Barkani, born and raised in 1988 in Nador (Morocco), but I live in Germany (Rhine-Main area). I have always loved photography, but I have started to learn about photography since I bought my first DLSR during my semester abroad at the San Diego State University in California. The type of photography that I enjoy revolves around the urban and city environment and its stunning, often unnoticed architecture. I find myself photographing a lot of skylines, stations, building interiors and spiral staircases in cities around the world. In the field of architectural, night, cityscapes and long exposure photography I feel most comfortable, but I’m always keen to learn and try new photography techniques and always look forward to exploring new architecture and cities!

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New York City, the city that never sleeps is one of the most beautiful places on Earth is the center of much activity. From arts to business and science, a lot goes on in NYC. Many photographers have tried to capture the gorgeousness of the city. The city that never sleeps has me immediately excited! Special buildings like the Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, the impressive view from the Rockefeller Center, the peace in the Central Park, the lights of Times Square, the fantastic buildings such as the Grand Central Terminal or the Public Library on 5th Avenue. You can hardly find enough time for all the photo opportunities in the Big Apple and who likes skyscrapers will love New York!

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I will send you the images in the next e-mail. Let me know if you are ok with the text, otherwise I will make some changes to fit better for your blog.

Best regards,
Mohamed

www.moelbar.com
www.facebook.com/moelbar
www.instagram.com/moelbar

Apr 042016
 

The Leica SL. A studio session

By Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve and Brandon happy to share with you my recent work with the Leica SL

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Last week I was involved in a portrait session with a young and talented model and I was so lucky to use for the first time the Leica SL. What a surprise. I was wondering about this camera and working with it (and for the moment its only lens) is really a pleasure. Is a simple to use camera and to be the first of its kind for Leica, I think the achievement are really impressive.  Recently I was shooting with Medium Format camera so a bit afraid to be back to 35mm, but I am honestly happy with the SL’s files and the IQ is one of the best I ever seen recently.

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http://blog.massimilianotiberi.com/veronica-rossetti/

Massimiliano Tiberi
Journalist & Photographer

Mar 272016
 

Digital, Optical and Fixed. The Harinezumi 4.0

by Darek Meyer

Nothing changes here, in Indonesia, very much. Traffic also with no improvement, “horrible” is very polite expression to describe it. I`ll not make a deep dive into topic of safety, we all hear what is happening around, also in Europe. Unfortunately, Indonesia is not free from dangers, either. Rainy season is coming to an end, no serious flood this year in Jakarta. Bit of free time to refresh the webpage; update from Robert and me is already online, and as usually you can check it on http://where-were-we.com.

Luckily, camera manufacturers give us always something new to talk about. And, as result, to check how deep our pockets are. New gear from Fuji (oh, how tempting X70 is), Q (I treat it still as new camera, as availability is so poor), also lovers of DSLRs will have new beasts from Nikon and Canon very soon. As my trusted Ricoh GR died recently, there is new camera coming. But this is something for a post in future.

These days, digital camera with fixed lens, like 35mm, and optical viewfinder, does not sound any exciting anymore. Right??

Well…
Till time you realize, that among all these heavily branded cameras, with tons of functionalities and millions of ISO, you can also find tiny gem, which in addition will not force you to break the bank. I do not know whether you`ve already seen it, the tiny cam with hedgehog logo. You can be really surprised when you receive the box… Well, here it is: Harinezumi 4.0.

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One can ask: why the hell bother with a camera, which has 3 (yes, three) megapixels? if you happen to have 10 years old phone somewhere in the drawer, probably it will have better resolution.
The truth is, phones are for making calls, and cameras… just kidding.

I`m not really about to write an extensive review of this camera. All technical data you can find in the net. For the ones who would like to give it a try, couple of points to remember:

– it`s all plastic. As such, it is squeaking and cracking when you just keep it in your hand, pressing the shutter makes the sound even more interesting
– shutter lag is around 1 (one) second. So think before you frame and shoot, unless you are into slow mo, like continental drift
– battery / memory card cover is very weak. Rubber part covering USB got separated from the camera at first use. Bit of super glue keeps it in place; still possible to get to slots via plastic cover
– optical viewfinder – well, it`s just plastic frame. Unless you get experience, do not count on it to help you to frame
– rear screen: if I tell you that compared to it, Leica M9 has excellent screen, then you have the picture
– ISO 100 is great, other option available is 800, which , well, for BW can still be ok
– macro mode is great
– there is no flash
– BUT it does make movies, at 1, 8, and 30 frames per second! If you have seen a movie „Begotten”, then you can get very similar look for your productions
– there is no RAW… and 16GB memory card (micro SD) will hold for you almost 5,000 shots
– battery (installed and not possible to exchange) will last for about 100 shots; charging can be done from power bank and takes 2 hours.

After reading this, you can ask – why to bother? Answer is very short: FUN!

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This camera is tons of fun. Yes, it even brings attention when you try to use it on the street, BUT no one will have anything against. it simply does not look any serious. And the look of picture, already OOC, is, well, unique.

Below are some examples of what to expect. BW of course, as I`m this type of person. As a bonus, two in color, taken in small market in Jakarta. And especially here you can see, why some people call this camera “digital Lomo”.

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Of course, it is not camera for everyone. But I`m not surprised, that it exists on the market, and have so many fans. Harinezumi 2+++ (older brother) has cult status among many people; and I can tell you – it can be addictive.

Enjoy the pics! Bit more from this camera on http://darekmeyer.com/LOFI.html

best regards
take care

Mar 212016
 

Shooting portraits with a Phase One IQ250

By Andrew Paquette

About three years ago I started getting serious about photography. At the time I didn’t know what I wanted to shoot, just that I wanted the shots I took to be better than they had been. My first attempts to improve my photos involved getting better equipment. I upgraded my Nikon D70 to a Nikon D5100, then to a D800, and then an A7r (though it isn’t technically an ‘upgrade’). At the same time, I improved the quality of my lenses, eventually acquiring a collection of Zeiss, Leica, and Nikon glass.

The equipment made a difference in a few ways. Technically, I had more pixels, better colour fidelity, and more control over how the pictures were taken. However, for quite a while I wasn’t sure what I wanted to shoot. I started with landscapes, macro nature shots, street shots, and sports. Of these subjects, I actually got a few paying gigs to shoot outdoor basketball (a regular gig, as it happens). Sports were fun to shoot, but I was still looking for better quality images. This led me to start renting studios so that I could work with studio lights. The difference in quality was a real revelation. At that point, though it was expensive, I started plotting ways to get studio time and access to medium format gear. Last year I picked up a Phase One IQ250, some ProFoto B1 units, and then proceeded to shoot everything in sight with the gear.

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Although not made for sports, the colour produced by the IQ250 sensor was beautiful in the couple of basketball shoots I took it out on. It also excelled with the landscapes I tried it with. However, it really shines with portraits. I hadn’t shared those here to date because portrait shoots usually yield only one or two shots and it didn’t seem interesting enough to talk about such a small number of images. Now though, I have more—still not a lot—but enough to talk about. I am still working on making a portfolio, so these are not clients, but friends or acquaintances who have been kind enough to pose for me. All of the shots use between one and two ProFoto B1 units. Some also have a reflector or an in-shot light source. All but one of the portraits is taken with a Phase One IQ 250 back on a Phase One 645 DF+ camera. Lenses are either the SK 28mm LS or the SK 80mm LS. The sole exception to the Phase One group was taken yesterday with a backup camera (a Nikon D800 with a 15mm Zeiss Distagon) after I had a shutter failure with the 645 DF+. I was happy with the shot, but wished I’d had the Phase One because some of the shots from the shoot had to be discarded due to banding, something that would not have happened with the Phase One.

A comment on the lighting: I use the Nikon version of the ProFoto air remote but hardly ever use it on my Nikon. This is because I do almost all of my shoots with the Phase One now. When I have used it, I am usually annoyed with the TTL mode for ‘perfect exposure’. In practice, this usually means really bad lighting because it automatically adjusts the lights to get a nice histogram, but ignores every other factor in the shot. I much prefer shooting in manual mode with the lights so that I can make fine adjustments—even if the exposure isn’t ‘perfect’.

Below are some selected portraits:

Figure 1 Martijn, Nikon D800, Zeiss 15mm f/10, 1/250, ISO 100

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Figure 2 Bing (1), IQ250, SK 28mm, f/4.5, 1/160, ISO 800

HyperFocal: 0

Figure 3 Bing (2), IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/80, ISO 100

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Figure 4 Neville the mad, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO 200

HyperFocal: 0

Figure 5 Neville the gentleman, IQ250, SK 80mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 400

HyperFocal: 0

Figure 6 Neville the gangster (1), IQ250, SK 28mm, f/4.5, 1/160, ISO 400

HyperFocal: 0

Figure 7 Neville the gangster (2), IQ250, SK 80mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO 400

HyperFocal: 0

Figure 8 Martin, Sandy, and Les Paul, IQ250, SK 80mm, f/4, 1/80, ISO 200

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Figure 9 Martin with cycling goggles, IQ250, SK 80mm, f/6.3, 1/40, ISO 200

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Figure 10 Sally and Daisy, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/4.5, 1/160, ISO 200

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Figure 11 Parkour crew, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/8, 1/1600, ISO 200

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Figure 12 Alex, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/1600, ISO 200

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Figure 13 Bulent, IQ250, SK 28mm, f/7.1, 1/1600, ISO 200

Bulent

Mar 152016
 

Year of the Cat

by Hajdu Tamas

Hi Steve,

Usually I am not looking to photograph cats, but I seem to run into them every time I go for a stroll in town. They are rather cosmopolitan and perfectly adapted to the neighborhood life. I have selected a few of the most catchy shots.

all Photos were taken with Olympus EM5 + 17mm 1.8 , 45 mm 1.8

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regards,

Hajdu Tamas

Mar 082016
 

From iPhone to Sony A7RII

by Ryan Cole

Hello,

I have read your site now and again and used it as a good source of information before taking the plunge and buying a camera (Sony A7R2 and three manual Voightlander lens at 21mm, 35mm and 50mm) in November / December 2015. Before that I was using my iPhone for 4 months with the moment lens to make sure it was not just a passing fad.

Prior to August 2015 I was run down working two jobs totalling 55 hours a week in jobs I really didn’t enjoy. Circumstances panned out where I had a disposable lump sum of money and reverting to one job so I decided to use the opportunity of my new found free time and to buy a camera that I wanted (I know it’s not about the gear but if I went for an entry level camera, I would always be thinking would I be better with a better camera so instead I purchased the camera I was constantly looking at and I’m happy it will last me and only be added to if I ever get to the point where my hobby provided some income)

My three image submitted were from a day trip to Portmeirion, Wales, UK in February 2016 (first image was the road through Snowdonia national park on the way there).

Portmeirion is a weird little place in Wales and the creation of what most would deem a madman who commissioned all kinds of strange structures whilst limiting the impact on the natural surroundings. What it resulted in is a fairytale like village and whilst the images may be over-processed a little, they convey the sense of the place superbly (in my opinion but only been actively shooting for the last half a year or so)

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I think these three are in my top 5-10 images and I’m happy that I am making progress whilst also being critical and reviewing where I am and assessing where I would like to progress to (also happy that my best images seem to progress month on month as I develop)

I’d be more than happy for you to post an image, maybe it inspires someone or maybe I get constructive criticism but either way I’m happy to share.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I think I’ve followed the posting rules and apologies if I have not.

Regards,

Ryan Cole
Manchester, UK

His 500px is HERE

Feb 242016
 

A shoot with my new Sony A7II & Contax Zeiss 50 1.7

by Fede Ranghino

Steve & Brandon!

I follow your blog for several years. Your reviews and your advice has been useful for the last shopping: I am extremely pleased with my new Sony A7II. (From Steve – Thank You!)

In the spring I have organized a photo shoot with some friends: the theme was the tradition of our land, the Po Valley in the North-West of Italy and the vast rice fields near Vercelli. The rice culture is present in our countryside for nearly a thousand years, you can imagine how deep and how strong this has shaped the land and the people. In the mid-eighteenth century, the farms became small villages, where dozens of families lived. In the spring the weeders arrived: women working in the sweltering heat of the rice fields.

Since 2004 Mr. Mario Donato has created a museum of rural culture and tradition in the farm “Colombara”: the workshops of the blacksmith and the saddler, the apartments of the farmers, the school, the old stables, the dormitory of weeders that we used as a set. As models we involved the local company of actors “The Camalli” who were dressed and made up in the style of the Po Valley countryside in the early twentieth century.

All photos were taken with my new Sony A7II and a good old Contax Zeiss 50mm f1.7.

01_Rice_weeders_having_lunch

02 Rice_weeder_tasting_the_soap

04_Rice_weeder_reading_newspaper

05_Housewife_preparing_lunch

07_The_teacher

08_The_teacher_and_the_student

10_The_student_at_the_desk

12_Blacksmiths_at_work

15_Rice_weeders_at_work

16_Rice_weeders_going_out_from_the_farm

You can see the photos on my dedicated 500px gallery https://500px.com/federanghino/galleries/italian-rice-fields-old-lifestyle

Thank you very much for your work ;-)

Fede Ranghino

https://www.facebook.com/fede.ranghino
https://500px.com/federanghino

Feb 232016
 

What is cinematic?

By Aivaras Sidla

There is a style of photography where picture looks like a still scene taken from movie. I saw such look in other photographers work, managed to make several pictures myself and I’m drawn to learn how to create such pictures on purpose.

This style is usually called “cinematic”.

After reading a half of internet, going trough lot of pictures of several serious photographers, that use this style (would recommend to pay attention to  mr. Matt Osborne work) and experimenting a bit, I learn that there are several important aspects that helps to create this specific look.

I’m going to share a list of observations and some photos (please remember that looks is very personal and things which I see in picture you may see differently). Thing is that I don’t grasp all of important aspects, so this time I’m trying to make interactive post :) – please share your remarks and observations.

Picture1. Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited, Kodak Portra 400

Picture1

Picture2. Pentax MZ-3 (panorama mode), SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.7, Kodak Portra 400

Picture2

Picture3. Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.7, CineStill 800 Xpro Tungsten

Picture3

Picture4. Pentax MZ-3 (panorama mode), SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.7, CineStill 800 Xpro Tungsten

Picture4

Picture5. Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited, Kodak Portra 400

Picture5

Anyway, here is a list:

-Aspect ratio. Wider is better, but I dare to say that it is not dead necessary. 3×2 aspect looks OK to me.

-Its better when subject doesn’t have direct eye contact with camera. Not sure why, maybe we are used that there is no operator in movies, he has to be invisible

-There should be tension in the frame. I try to create it by looks, movement, composition, and emotional aspects.

-Depth of field. Limited depth of field works better for me, but it shouldn’t be just pone detail and a splash of bokeh in the rest of the frame. There should be context in the picture.

-Light. Proper directional good quality light is very important. But here I don’t see that much difference from usual still photography style. So looks like that there is no need to go into specific details.

-Lens flare. I didn’t tried to use it. I know that I have to learn how to crate it in controllable and suitable way. Like long lens flare that goes trough all frame.

So this is what I know. Now it’s your turn, readers; what would be your opinion, observations for creation of cinematic look?

O! Almost forgot, that this is gear site. Yes. I just have to get my hands on Hasselblad X-pan II with 45mm F4 lens and center ND filter. Yes, again. That should answer all my questions. He he he. J
Regards,

Aivaras

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

Feb 172016
 
Zeiss_03

A Tale of Two Lenses: The Zeiss Sonnar 50 f/1.5 ZM and the FujiXF 56mm f/1.2 – Fuji X-T1

Zeiss_and_Fujinon

Hi Brandon & Steve!

You’ve kindly featured some of my photos here before, I thought it about time I shared something new with you.

Last year I sold my well used Olympus OM-D E-M5 to buy a Fuji X-T1, and I wanted to test out the Zeiss 50 Sonnar C ZM (Leica Mount) alongside Fuji’s highly regarded XF 56mm f/1.2. Whilst the two offer a similar price point and focal length they deliver very different images and user experience. Both are superbly made, solid lenses with the manual focus Zeiss being far more compact even with an adapter.

The huge viewfinder in the X-T1 and innovative focusing aids make using manual focus lenses enjoyable, easy and accurate. With its 1.5x crop factor APS-C sensor, both lenses become short-telephoto portrait lenses (around 75mm and 84mm equivalent on a full-frame camera). I won’t get into technicalities, This is really a ‘just for fun’ comparison.

As for my own conclusions, I tend to like lenses that exhibit distinctive, interesting bokeh and falloff. To my eyes the Zeiss has the more unique patterned bokeh with the Fuji being smoother. The Zeiss just nicks it for me, but it’s subjective and everyone’s opinion will differ.

Zeiss ZM Sonnar

Zeiss_02

Fuji 56mm

V_Fuji_02-1

Zeiss 50 Sonnar ZM

V_Zeiss_Sea

Fuji 56mm

V_Fuji_01

Zeiss Sonnar ZM

Zeiss_03

Fuji 56mm

Sun_Peaks_Fuji_143-2

Incidentally, the switch from Oly to Fuji was purely to try something new after several years. I loved the Micro 4/3 gear and feel it offers unrivaled quality at such a compact size. I was won over by the design of the X-T1 though and have not been disappointed at all… but that could fill another article! I’ll sign off here and leave you with some images, have a great day!

http://www.jpstevenson.co.uk/photography/

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

Thanks – have a great weekend.

James Stevenson

Feb 112016
 
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Fellow-19

Documentary Wedding Style and telling a Story

by Mark Seymour – His Website

As a documentary wedding photographer, I record the day through story-telling images.

I like to use a lot of beautiful contrasting black and white, as this enhances the intensity and depth of the image, often likened to the work of fine artists in the renaissance period using a technique called chiaroscuro.

The panel here before us include moments from throughout the wedding day that are all totally undirected and therefore pure moments that have occurred naturally without intervention which is my signature style.

Great documentary photography is still about good composition, beautiful light with a third component of knowing through experience where to position yourself and capture that small moment in time to tell a story within a single frame.
The panel is assembled in chronological order from the tension the bride feels whilst preparing for her day, through various ceremonies such as bedekken, the tisch, and the marriage and finishing with the celebration party dancing. Mayfair fine art dealer William Lansbury recently came across my work and quoted “If Caravaggio had a camera these are the type of images he would take”.

Last week I was awarded the first ever Fellowship and Master Craftsman for Documentary Wedding Photography in the UK Here is the panel of 20 Images

Fellow 01

Fellow 02

Fellow 03

Fellow 04

Fellow 05

Fellow 06

Fellow 07

Fellow 08

Fellow 09

Fellow 10

Fellow 11

Fellow 12

Fellow 13

Fellow 14

Fellow 15

Fellow 16

Fellow 17

Fellow 18

Fellow 19

Fellow 20

Mark Seymour

Nikon Ambassador

Three time winner UK wedding photographer of the year

http://www.markseymourphotography.co.uk/

Feb 042016
 

Visiting the European Motor Show in Brussels

by Dirk De Paepe

A different approach to a car show.

1902 was the first year of the Motor Show in Brussels.

It has been a big event in our country as far as my earliest memories go (and far beyond that). I remember the black and white TV reports, showing the new cars of the late fifties. I still treasure the remembrance of visiting the show as a little boy in the early sixties, together with my parents and my brother, exchanging thoughts about what would be our next car. I also remember visiting with the last class of high school, around 1970, and later a few times to get information for my own next car. The event gets much attention in the Belgian media and provokes lots of traffic jams in the area.

This year, I didn’t visit the show because I was into buying a new car. I visited it because, being such a big event for so many people, I find it an inspirational place to take pictures. Yet this isn’t a typical Motor Show report, with lots of new car models in the lead role. I even carefully avoided to make it too obvious what cars are in the picture. Instead, I wanted to show the visitors. Perhaps you remember from earlier articles of mine, that “people’s behavior” is my favorite subject. Therefor I like to visit places where people behave in a typical, specific or remarkable way.

It always strikes me how people behave in a particular way, when visiting a car show. Well, that’s precisely what I wanted to picture. I’m looking for scenes that stimulate my imagination, that make me wonder what people feel – how they experience the event. I fantasize about their mutual relationships, what there intentions might be, what makes them act as they do, etc…
I hope it’s not too big a disappointment, having to miss all those car pictures, but I’m sure, if you wanna see those typical motor show shots, that you’ll find it not difficult at all to get tons of them on the internet. :-)

First the picture

I invite you to first look at each picture, before reading its title and story. With the title, I try to nail the essence of my personal thoughts about the scene and my intent with the picture. If the title is not immediately clear, the short story will clarify, I hope. Like I said, what I write is just my personal thoughts that go with the scene. I’m not at all saying that those thoughts are all the absolute truth. They’re just the reflections of how my imagination was stimulated by the scene. They are the reason why I took the picture.

It’s clear that I have no part in the scene itself. I’m merely observing and registering. My part is limited to the scene selection, viewpoint, timing and framing. So I didn’t have any power over the light neither. Many consider the light the most essential element in photography. I tend to not share that opinion completely. I believe the most important power of photography is its ability to freeze moments out of reality, giving that moment “a life of its own”. IMO no other art form can do this as easily as photography does. That’s why, again IMO, registering typical and remarkable scenes out of human life, is one of the main “tasks” of photography. Of course, if the light conditions are optimal, that’s wonderful. But I find being there at the right place and the right moment, to be even more important. I believe, when registering, the occurrence outweighs the light.

So each picture is a small story on itself. But let me be clear. I’m not proclaiming that my stories are the absolute truth. Indeed, some of what I describe actually happened. On the other hand, much of it is my personal interpretation of the scene. Which is truth and which is fantasy is completely irrelevant, because I have no journalistic aspirations with this article, not in the least. It’s merely a painting of general human behavior, feelings, reflections. Anyway, I always try to interpret the scene in a way, that very well could have been what actually happened. My goal is to make viewers reflect on human behavior, and thus to induce a better understanding. You are very welcome to interpret those scenes in your personal, very different way. I even strongly invite you to do so. That’s why I prefer the title to be put under the picture, instead of above – like Claude Debussy did with his preludes for piano, putting the title at the end of each score, inviting us to listen and have our own fantasy first, and only afterwards suggesting the subject.

Zeiss Loxia and Batis

When registering, one is first looking for a place that offers opportunities. Then it’s a matter of feeling: moving oneself to a favorable viewpoint, and acting as fast as possible – which sometimes requires cropping/reframing afterwards in pp. To be able to act very fast, is why I often apply zone focusing (with lenses up to 50mm focal length). The Loxia MF lenses are absolutely perfect for this application, IMO – great for zone focusing, thanks to their straightforward DOF scale and fantastic to manually focus very fast thanks to their super smooth focusing ring. Although, for these series, I also used the Zeiss Batis 85 – my first AF lens. I thought it could make sense to have AF in a tele, since its DOF is a lot smaller by definition, which significantly reduces the possibilities for zone focusing. But I have to say that, as far as now, I’m a bit disappointed in AF. I’m just having a hard time, handing over the decision to the camera. And I can’t say I’m experiencing that much “extra comfort” from the AF, compared to using a MF 85mm. It’s different, but on the whole… it’s not that spectacularly focusing faster or better (sometimes the focusing is worse than when performed manually).
Like I said, the other lenses I used were both Loxia’s, 50 and 35 (mainly the 50 here). Those Loxia’s are IMO simply perfect for the A7RII. When Zeiss will make a Loxia tele, I guess I’ll sell the bulkier Batis and replace it with yet another Loxia. (BTW, while writing this, my Loxia 21mm just arrived. The first thing that struck me is that it’s absolutely very compact for a 2.8/21. And I’m also immediately blown away by its IQ.)

OK, enough introduction. Let’s go to the pictures. I hope you’ll enjoy.

 

MotorShow2016_01

Sheer Delight

American cars with big V8 engines are still pretty exotic in Belgium. To experience this is a real joy for many guys, regardless of their age – even if it’s only in a static way and for just a few minutes… at the motor show.

MotorShow2016_02
Still Dreaming

Although already of very respectable age, this man’s mind is in another place. He’s not considering how much he can use this car – how much convenience he can get from it in his professional activity. Instead he’s dreaming about how much he wànts this car – how much pleasure he can get from it for his leisure passion. At the motor show, the dreaming is served for all ages.

MotorShow2016_03
Not Sure

I admire this stylish lady. She proves that women can age beautifully, while still remaining completely natural. I noticed how she came to the show, watching and judging the cars. She wasn’t carrying a paper bag to gather brochures of so many different brands. She was only holding one catalog, the show catalog. A representative was explaining her the specs of a specific model. She was eager for the information. But I think that not all new, modern car features were immediately clear to her, which made her unsure as yet about what to decide. It was the duality of her motivation on the one hand and dubiety on the other that made me wanna take her picture.

MotorShow2016_04
Matters into her hands

This remarkable lady was really into a new car. A few things stroke me. She was on her own. She was visiting the booth of a pretty exclusive brand. She was getting very specific information from this representative for her next personal car. She was connecting very targeted and without any restraint with this young(er) man. I even wonder if he was not taken slightly discomfited by her pretty assertive approach, not looking towards her, while she was absolutely focusing on him. It made me wonder about her place on the social ladder. For sure, she made herself a great career. She seemed to be at the pinnacle of her performance ability – in the stage of her life that she’s 100% self confident, going straight to her goal, fully aware of her exceptional competence. Scenes like this make me realize that we live in an absolute wonderful society in Belgium, where women can make a difference.

MotorShow2016_05
The changing of the guard

Fathers teach their sons. That’s how we believe it to be. But at a given age, this changes, although we usually don’t dwell on it. The son, that I pictured here, wanted to visit the big Motor Show, and has invited his father with him, as a kind of treat. Of course he remembers, as if it were yesterday, how his father took him to the same show as a little boy, more than four decades ago, giving him the best day of his life. Today, he is pleased to return the favor – so happy to demonstrate the marvels of modern car technology, even though his father is at that stage of his life where cars are merely a means of transportation and a lot less thrilling than they used to be. In this scene, the son demonstrates how the lid of this heavy SUV can simply be closed by pushing the button. It’s obvious that the father didn’t know this feature yet. He’s clearly watching in fascination, as if a kind of small miracle is about to happen. I absolutely love this scene. It’s probably my favorite picture of this series. The profound love between father and son screams from it and really moves me.

MotorShow2016_06
Athletism

This man has made it. He’s getting a special VIP treatment. He’s trying out the flagship of a leading brand, a state-of-the-art sports coupé, with all thinkable features and comfort and stunning performance. But merely getting in and out apparently is kind of an ordeal. Although in great shape, training his body on a regular basis, it took quite some time to figure out how to get back on his feet. I took several shots of him – one even showing him with the tongue a bit between his teeth, thinking of the best way to accomplish this task. I even thought of putting those pics in a series of five, for better illustration, but finally reckoned that this one shows a perfect synthesis. It illustrates the required body strength and control. It proves how, once found out the right way to go, one can “dismount” in complete harmony with the lines of the car – as long as one is kind of an athlete. BTW, next picture shows his collaborator (who takes profit from his “boss” to enjoy many exclusive cars on the show), having more difficulties.

MotorShow2016_07
Suction Force

With a less well-trained body and being not that limber as his boss, this guy has great trouble getting in the cockpit. His body just seems much too colossal to ever succeed. At this stage, I almost expect him to be sucked in with a loud “pwah!”, by a big vacuum-cleaner-like force in the car. Well,… he finally got in alright, but the getting back out was just problematic. He performed like a dozen different stages, taking a good twenty seconds to complete the process in the most inelegant way thinkable, before finally getting back on his feet with a big smile on his face – just to conceal the shame of his fumbling. This car clearly is worth every penny – a show within the show.

MotorShow2016_08
A Job to Love

Years ago the girls, working at the booths of a motor show, had kind of a pinup role. Nowadays, there are still (young) women working, but they do a terrific job in informing the visitor. All of them, as far as I could observe, were perfectly multilingual (in Brussels that means at least Dutch, French and English) and were professional in their approach. The young lady in this picture is clearly loving what she does. I spoke to her afterwards, showing her this photo and asking if I should delete it. Of course I could keep it. But the way she communicated with me in an open, friendly and welcome way (like she did with all other people) was simply telling me that she absolutely loves working at the motor show. And she does a great job indeed!

MotorShow2016_09
The Decisive Test

I took four shots of her, since she gave me so many nice poses. When she realized that I was really shooting her, she stopped, looked at me and said (with a big smile): “You are taking my picture, or what?!”. I answered: “Well, I find girls much more beautiful than cars.” “Oh”, she replied with an even bigger smile, “a normal guy!” I can tell you, she is a very beautiful girl, playing a nice role in this scene, kind of how a movie star often has to play expressive scenes. What is the value of a car anyway, when you can’t properly check you makeup…! Her brother, sitting in the passenger seat, is just checking the dashboard. The representative, standing next to her, doesn’t seem to get the relevance of her test and is just patient.

MotorShow2016_10
Tresspassing

When an exhibitor places a barrier around a car, he indicates that this is a very expensive and exclusive model. He expects the visitor to be that tactful, to stay behind the barrier, unless he is invited to approach. The two guys in this scene visit the show together, since they work together (like is the case with many male duo’s visiting a motor show). One is the boss, the other a privileged employee. The employee feels the need to prove his initiative and dynamism to his boss, by stepping over the barrier and elucidate some technical specs of this exceptional automobile. The boss absolutely keeps his reservation, being able to get all the information that he wants, from the place where he is expected to be. In a very controlled and subdued way, he’s perfectly mastering every situation.

MotorShow2016_11
Ultimate Specs

This male duo is young friends, and are staying well behind the barrier. They are reading the specs of a Formula 1 car. And it’s not just any bolide, it’s the one that became World Champion in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. It’s a car that, for 200% sure, they will never drive. Still they are absolutely fascinated about those specs. Totally unrealistic of course, but still the ultimate car fantasy for sure.

MotorShow2016_12
Inspection

Yet another duo of friends. But those are apparently really into the technique. I guess they know what they’re looking at and that it’s not just an act for show. Future customizers?

MotorShow2016_13
On Facebook in a Minute

I guess about half of the visitors is taking pictures. Many with a camera, even more with their smartphones. Those two cars are in an enclosed environment. I didn’t see how this young man was able to enter “the premises”, but I could see him perform the “I was here” act.

MotorShow2016_14
Enlightened Admiration

The exhibitors spare no effort to draw the visitor’s attention to their booth. Here, they performed a quite impressive light show at the ceiling. This young man is clearly loving it.

MotorShow2016_15
Design

Some visitors have a double purpose: watch and be watched. This young lady drew a lot of attention.

MotorShow2016_16
Keeping it beautiful

Those booth workers, both male and female, have different assignments: informing the visitors and from time to time cleaning up the cars, wiping away the dust and possible finger prints. Like I said, those jobs are done by man and women alike – and I shot them both. But who can blame me that I selected this picture as the most beautiful one?! BTW, again, the professionalism of those workers is remarkable. I was very obviously aiming my camera at here for about maybe a minute to get the right frame. But this didn’t change her attitude or her facial expression one single bit. All the time she just kept on cleaning, just as if I wasn’t there, not specifically posing, but giving me all the time I wanted for my shot! Indeed, the exhibitors still engage beautiful girls, but they are so much more than just looking good.

MotorShow2016_17
The Essence

I noticed this scene, because, although this is one of the smallest cars of the show, it brought the biggest smile on people’s faces – like if it made them realize that it’s the feel good factor that matters the most. This girl clearly enjoyed this particular one a lot. So I wanted to catch her happy face in the rearview mirror. But her face immediately changed in a kind of wondering expression. I didn’t notice that her boyfriend was in fact trying to get a beautiful picture from his love, sitting in the driver’s seat of her dream car. He was waiting for me to leave, because he didn’t want me in his picture. I, from my part, unaware of his presence, was waiting for her happy face again to appear in the mirror. After some five seconds, she understood what her friend was referring to. She looked in the mirror and gave me a beautiful smile. Only at that moment, I understood what was going on, noticing (part of) her boyfriend with his camera in the very corner of my frame, so I came half a step closer. I pushed the button and thanked them both for their open and welcoming spirit. I believe the boy took his shot ten seconds after mine.

MotorShow2016_18
Today and Tomorrow

This is not a typical motor show picture, but rather one that shows our present world. Since Bataclan, also the Belgian government pickets protection at every event where lots of people gather. This is what we see today, and it’s not gonna change any time soon. The shot was taken, while standing in the cue at the cloakroom, just before getting back home.

See more on flickr

You can get more technical details about these pictures, via the exif data, that goes with them on my flickr pages . I gathered all these pictures in HR in a dedicated album, with the obvious title “Visiting The European Motor Show Brussels 2016” (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/albums/72157663992622111), where there will also be black and white versions of them.

And I’d like to conclude with thanking Steve and Brandon for keeping this unique site online. I insist on mentioning with every article, that the opportunity they give us, by publishing our articles, is flat-out fantastic. We have a really great community here, thanks to their effort. And having been in the publishing business myself for over 3 decades, I know that this is far from obvious. I love to read the articles of so many of you, I also hope you liked mine.

Dirk

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