Oct 232014
 

Some Contax G2 love

By Ibraar Hussain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hi Steve, Brandon and stevehuffphoto.com lovers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See some of Ibraar’s other posts HERE. 

TriX400Istanbul455

KodakTMZ3200211

KodakTMZ3200208

KodakTMZ3200199

2849878172_aacec5c01f_o

pak246

ist

2865127445_9f7049035b_o

KodakTMZ3200206

KodakTMZ3200207

KodakTMZ3200197

Delta3200163

KodakTMZ3200189

Jul 112014
 

The Ancient Aegean Coast of Turkey, Film Friday

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve and Brandon and all Stevehuffphoto.com lovers!

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

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

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

IMG_6753

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

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

Kalaeci Mosque, Kusadasi. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100

CNV00010

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

Busy “Ladies Beach”, Kusadasi. iPhone 5.

IMG_68461

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

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

FP3000B158

FP3000B161

FP3000B154

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP3000B164

FP3000B167

FP3000B165

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

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

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

FP3000B138

FP3000B147

FP3000B150

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

FP3000B145

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

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

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

FP3000B137

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

Untitled-1

artemis2

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

A wonderful place for the photographer.

Jun 202014
 

Portraits from The Punjab

By Ibraar Hussain

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

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

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

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

All photographs:

Contax G2 45mm Planar T* Kodak Ektachrome e100vs

Scan-140520-00211

Scan-140520-00131

Scan-140520-00161

Scan-140520-00181

Scan-140520-00221

Scan-140520-00231

Scan-140520-00251

Scan-140520-00261

Scan-140520-00271

Scan-140520-00281

Scan-140520-00291

Scan-140521-00021

CNV000031

Scan-140521-00031

 

Jun 172014
 

The Camera doesn’t matter! The Kodak Easyshare Z990

By Ibraar Hussain

263925-kodak-easyshare-max-z990-angle

We tend to hear the old adage about the Camera does not matter, which means it doesn’t matter what Camera you have, the person makes the photo.
I agree and disagree, agree because a creative person or a talented person can make a good photo or masterpiece with anything, even a pin hole camera. But I disagree because not all cameras are capable of making any type or standard of photograph.

I tend to carry around a Kodak Z990 Bridge Camera, a small sensor Digital with a 30x zoom lens and a bright f2.8 equivalent (at 28mm) lens made by Schneider – Kreuznach.

I bought it as it has the 30x zoom which was pretty good when it was released, and I thought I’d be able to take some pictures of birds and animals with it, and I bought it as it’s a Kodak, and the last half decent budget camera they made before going belly up, and I’ve a slight bit of brand loyalty towards Kodak.
The first Digital camera and APS cameras I ever bought were Kodak, and my favourite Film of all time is Kodak Ektachrome e100vs, and I’ve always liked the Kodak Digital colours of their Jpegs.

I’ve been using it here and there over the last couple of years with mixed results. To be honest I’ve not use fit that much, and pretty much failed to use it effectively for what I bought it for – birds and animals.

The focus tracks well enough, but it’s too noisy at anything over 400 ISO.

The Image Stabilisation is pretty good, but at full zoom, unless I use a monopod, I need very good light and a well-lit subject.
it’s also too slow from one shot to another, the zoom is via a toggle and slow and not accurate enough, and the focus can hunt. So as a long zoom camera for birds – not good enough.

I ended up using it as a point and shoot and for that it’s not too bad, and for what it is and within limits, the old adage rings true, the camera doesn’t matter unless….

Anyway, it has an interesting array of features. it can shoot in RAW, which I can’t be asked with, I tried it once and it’s about 20 years between each shot – and anyway, I ended up converting to Jpeg and using the image straight out of camera with some photoshop touching up.

Sure, if I were a Pro or shooting for print or display purposes I’d spend much more time in Aperture or Lightroom, and wouldn’t be using a camera like this anyway, so RAW is a waste of time and a marketing gimmick.

It has Aperture priority too, which again is a waste of time as there’s hardly going to be a way of getting shallow depth of field at 28mm so another waste of time and a gimmick.

What I love about it is the Film Simulation Modes; we have Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Kodacolor, T-Max and Tri X. Kodachrome gives natural colour, Ektachrome gives vivid with Kodacolor giving a 70ies look and so and so forth. You can also select the metering mode and other variables common to most cameras. It also has a decent program mode. So I can set it to ISO 100, Kodachrome, Centre Focus, Centre Weighted Metering and Auto WB and shoot away. Focus is nailed but does find it tricky when at full zoom. Full zoom gives a shallow depth of field to portraits and birds. ISO 100, 200 and 400 are very usable. and the lens is sharp with decent enough detail but very pleasing colour and contrast.

And it shoots 1080p video at very good smooth quality with no choppiness! The only downside to the video is that you can’t have much more control over focus selection and you can hear the motor when zooming, but I shot a lot of footage in the Himalays and it was as good as my iPhone 5 and not far off my Canon Legria.

It is well made and takes AA batteries which last a long time! And it looks nice.

With this it’s pointless trying to expect majestic landscapes or expecting to use Filters, and expect a very narrow latitude with the sensor so limited dynamic range. But keep it within limits and with well-lit subjects and you’ll get nice pleasing pictures with good colour and contrast! And you can crop to get some pleasing compositions, and for Birds…well, I’ve included a few shots here, but to be honest, it (and I am too) out of our depths as regards Birds.

So does the Camera matter? yes it does.

Spend more and get a camera suited to what you want to use it for or your style of photography.
I know the latest Bridge cameras with 50x zoom are very good indeed – but for serious Wildlife and Birds – save up for a Mirrorless at least a decent telephoto and a Tele converter. For anything else get one of the Olympus XZ-1 type larger sensor compacts with a decent zoom and fast sharp lens.

Buy one of these for it’s quirkiness and as a challenge, and the camera does’t matter if they’re just snaps for one’s own enjoyment or for a laugh (as mine are) A small selection of travel shots. I managed to get some shallow depth of field by standing back and zooming. And Post Processing was Minimal (framing for effect).

Snotty nosed Kids from The Nagar Valley. Karakoram Mountains

snot kid bubble ginger silvereyes

Punjabi Village Life and Goats

Preparing the “Hukkah” Hubbly Bubbly pipe with black tobacco and unrefined sugar by the stove.

ghalib

a Village lady

simi

A Village snack shop

naseer

Goatherd and their Goats

goats

Ice Cream seller

Babur

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

three

Various Snaps from Wales

Raven on a Wall

7699440186_e256121834_o

Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire

7699437352_c14e861c4d_o

Sleepy Sheep, Brecon

7699426166_62bda89b73_o

Some Sea Bird

7699423376_6a54905c66_o

Rabbit Ears

7699422654_070b97e31a_o

Christopher Robin

7181235053_2651c4bd36_o

Clivedon Pier

7349679614_8af40e8921_o

The Wye Valley

7349543566_f3f2b1604a_o

Jun 132014
 

fridayfilmibraar2

Friday Film: Hunza And Gojal

By Ibraar Hussain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Scan-140518-00221

Scan-140518-00181

Scan-140518-00161

Scan-140519-00121

CNV000351

Scan-140518-00141

Scan-140519-00031

Scan-140519-00151

-

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

Scan-140519-00211

Scan-140519-00181

-

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

Scan-140519-00191

Scan-140520-00031

Scan-140519-00201

-

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

CNV000331

-

The Hunza Valley and Rakaposhi
Rolleiflex 3.5F 75mm Planar Agfa Ultra 50

CNV000311

-

The Baltit Fort and Ultar Peak Hunza
Rolleiflex 3.5F 75mm Planar Agfa Ultra 50

CNV000271

-

Atabad lake, Gojal, Upper Hunza. Rolleiflex 3.5F Agfa Ultra 50. lab Scan

CNV000121

May 302014
 

The Western Himalaya and Nanga Parbat

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PART ONE. THE WESTERN HIMALAYA, AND NANGA PARBAT

View Point – where three Mountain ranges meet.

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

CNV00015\

Sylph Clouds above Nanga Parbat with The Raikot Glacier

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

Nanga6

The Naked Mountain

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

CNV000371 CNV000571

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

CNV000591 CNV000601

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

CNV000631

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

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

CNV000191 CNV000201

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

Scan-140518-00081

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

Mujahid

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

Habib

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

CNV000441 CNV000431

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

CNV000421

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

CNV000271 CNV000218 barmouth2 beach CNV0000411 barmouthknots CNV000120 CNV000113

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.

daanish yashica230afrolleiretro8081 yashica230afrolleiretro8085 yashica230afrolleiretro8109 yashica230afrolleiretro8115

 

Jan 282014
 

The Contax RTS II Review 

By Ibraar Hussain

The Contax RTS II Snub-nose with 45mm Tessar f2.8

IMG_4638

Dear Steve and Brandon and all stevehuffphoto.com lovers, hope you’re well and a Happy New Year to you!

And those now bored stiff or sick to death of Autumn or Tree’s and Woodland – turn away now! As I had revisited an old haunt to try out this camera/lens/film combination (and for a walk)

I was looking for a camera, something which would not only be equipped with nice lenses, but which would also be extremely well-built, look fantastic, compact, an SLR, and Manual Wind and Manual Focus – the feel of thumbing the winder back and then focussing the Microprism is part and parcel of photography in itself. I spent months looking and pondering; having sold my lovely (yet flawed) West German Rolleiflex SL35 I wanted something else. The camera had to have, as mentioned, a brilliant range of beautifully made lenses, had to me MF and MW, be built like a Tank, with high quality parts and workmanship, ergonomically designed and beautiful to behold, own, use and keep with results to match. I had a look at the legendary range of Leicaflex SLR’s, they’re exceptional, beautifully built but alas, too expensive, too big, and lenses were out of my price range. The advent of adaptors has made lens price ridiculously high – not that these aren’t worth it, but they’re hardly superior to their Zeiss/Schneider counterparts yet they cost many times as much! I considered the Olympus OM3, but it was again too expensive, very rare so I considered the OM4Ti – but I have always looked upon the OM4Ti’s looks with a bit of disdain as the obvious electronic look to it isn’t as pleasing as the mechanical lines of the OM1/2/3 range and besides, I’d had a Olympus OM2n before and wanted something different. Nikon? Canon or Minolta? The Nikon F3 was attractive, as were the other options including the Nikon FE (which the new Nikon Df is modelled on) , the Canon F-1 but Never been too keen on these – or how about the appealing Asahi Pentax LX? No, I wanted German, so I had to look elsewhere.

So it was back to basics, to Contax, a range of SLR’s which offer everything and I don’t know why I ever looked elsewhere. Contax wasn’t quite the pre-War Contax of yore, but Kyocera/Yashica owned and Japanese built, sure they had the Contax German brand name, and the Carl Zeiss lenses – but then again so is the present day Zeiss Ikon – Cosina made but German branded. I have owned a Contax ST and also the Contax Aria – which had the biggest and brightest and most pleasing Viewfinder of any 35mm sized camera – Film or Digital, I have ever used. I cannot remember why I was foolish enough to sell my Aria (with 50mm f1.4 Planar) but I did. So the search was on – which Contax SLR should I choose? I eventually settled on the Contax RTS II. The RTS II is very special SLR, it is special as it is German designed and branded in every way with Japanese electronics, Japanese reliability and the option of a mechanical shutter release which does’t require batteries. It is special because it is a Contax, with the pedigree and lineage dating back from before The War, it had been specially designed by F.A Porsche in West Germany and lenses designed and made by Carl Zeiss in West Germany. The RTS II has the same design as the RTS, but with much improved electronics, reliability, larger brighter finder, a Titanium shutter and a is a camera the original should have been.

The Contax RTS II is a different best to any Contax camera that came after, as it is the only camera designed in Germany, and by F.A Porsche and thus has it’s German pedigree and connection to the Original Contax intact. It also features manual wind, manual focus, a beautiful contrasty Viewfinder, reliable electronics that assist but don’t overwhelm, and when felt and used, it is wonderful to behold. It is dense, heavy, solid and very comfortable to hold. It oozes quality and confidence, and every part of it is precision built and gorgeously damped. The ergonomics are absolutely spot on – everything from the layout and position of the dials, the AE lock switch and the way it handles was revolutionary and I have yet to see many camera’s come close to it. It is battery-powered, a battery which allegedly will last months of use, and can also be used mechanically with no battery at a set speed using a secondary shutter release. The designers at F.A Porsche sure know what aesthetics are, along with usability and performance, it shows in everything they design, and they pulled no punches in birthing this piece. The camera is small, very small for an SLR, in fact side by side with my Contax G2 – it is smaller in every way, and a much more handsome beast. I spent a while choosing the perfect lens to go with this compact 35mm SLR which rivals a modern mirror less in terms of size and compactness and a Leica M in terms of build quality and perfection. I chose the Carl Zeiss T* 45mm f2.8 Tessar, a classically designed 4 element Tessar lens which is extremely small, compact and suits the look, feel and size of the RTS II. I now have a Contax RTS II Snub-Nose and boy does it feel good wielding this and firing off the Ti shutter.

The Carl Zeiss 45mm f2.8 Tessar is different to the usual 50mm Planar’s that are standard on this Camera. The Tessar’s are slower, but more compact, and yield different results. The Tessar photographs have their own unique look, feel and sharpness with an old world charm to them. This particular lens has the more versatile 45mm – and as I hardly ever shoot at anything less than f2.8, the speed wasn’t an issue. The Tessar is, at optimum apertures, stopped down as sharp as anything with lovely contrast because of the T* coating, but wide open is softer than the Planar – and this I think adds to rather than detracts from it’s beauty. Anyway, shooting with this camera is a pleasure; handling it and holding it to the eye is part of the pleasure of this Porsche designed gem, and part of that human soulful and emotional attachment finds its way into the Photographs themselves. This makes the results, created slowly, with intent and thought, far more valuable and precious. Where does the pleasure in Photography lie? The end result? Megapixels? Resolution or Dynamic Range? Or does the pleasure lie in waiting, looking, searching, glancing and seeing -raising the camera, winding, composing, focussing and capturing forever on the organic silver halides of the gelatine based roll tucked away within the inner darkness of the light-proof box? For me the journey is part of the whole quest, and the goal isn’t any more important. The magic for me lies in the use of an instrument lovingly created and lovingly used, and the surprise and warm feeling of pleasure and pride when weeks or even months after the event when once a click and roll of the shutter – an instance in time, one day, forgotten, captured forever a treasure which I then have been able to find and keep as my creation. The Contax is one of many camera’s which, in my opinion, embody this feeling and produce the Magic. It took Contax over 7 years in redesigning the original RTS to bring us the RTS II, how many iterations of a certain DSLR/Mirrorless have been released since 2005 (8 years ago) ? How many Camera manufacturers will wait 8 years to bring out the Mk 2? Camera’s today have become as disposable as Fast food.

Sure, I’m stuck in the past, and most people have exceeded in terms of quantity and quality anything I could ever achieve with my antiquated equipment and slow processes but so what? I’m no pro – if I was I’d have nothing less than a Canon 5D Mk III with some L lenses and nothing else – making everything else worthless – as the 5D mk III is The Best current all round tool for pro’s, but I’m not a Pro – but someone who enjoys taking pictures as a hobby and only then photographs a roll or two after weeks or even months of idleness. I took a stroll through Epping Forest and Walthamstow Marshes the day the Lens was delivered, the Autumnal Fall colours were abound, and I was lucky that the light was good, the low November Sun was peering through the clouds and lit everything in a golden glow. All 36 exposures were keepers, and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and using the Contax RTS II. The Results, wide open were as expected quite soft with the combination of 45mm Tessar and Rollei CR200 Slide Film – a remake of Agfa RSX 200 but with a Pet plastic base — a grainy, warm Film with loads of character. I love the soft rustic way the Tessar captured the scene, and most of all enjoyed the experience. I think the warm grainy tones give some flavour to the season.

A smoother finer grained film would yield completely different results – I can imagine Rollei Pan 25, or Fujichrome Velvia 50, but that is the beauty of film, different film for a completely different look and feel without having to copy anything or add effects and filters. The metering is a Centre-Weighted type and most pictures were nailed. the sky and low sun and light did make some tricky – coupled with the limited latitude of the Film and some are a tad dark, but in my eye pleasing all the same. The same area has been presented here before when shot with my Rolleiflex, and again I point out that these are snaps (along with most of my stuff) and aren’t ever going to win any prizes for originality or creativity – but are here to give you a flavour of the day I had, my experience and to add to the review. All in all, if you’re looking for a manual Focus SLR and want it to be compact, beautiful and sound to use and own with lovely lenses than this would be an ideal choice.

All photographs: Contax RTS II. Carl Zeiss 45mm f2.8 Tessar. Rollei CR200 (Agfachrome RSX II 200). Scanned with Plustek Optifilm 8100 35mm Scanner. Epping Forest, Essex and Walthamstow Marsh, London., England. November 2013

backlight

trees1

tree22

tree11

Scann+1088781

Scann+108881

Scann+108871

Scann+1011

Scann+1001

noswimming1

Dec 272013
 

Mama, don’t take my Ektachrome away 

By: Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve, I hope you’re well and enjoyed Christmas. To kick off the New year 2014 I thought I’d send you an article and some pictures I hope you may find interesting and publish. This is especially for those looking to try some Film and to go traveling this 2014 to some exotic places in the world.

I do adore E6 Slide Film, and especially Kodak Ektachrome; released as a modern alternative to Kodachrome, it outlasted it’s ancient sibling by not even two years! So much for being modern, well Digital killed them both off.

I love Ektachrome, I wasn’t enthusiastic enough in days gone by to shoot Kodachrome – I only managed to shoot 3 rolls of K25 – and had those developed as part of one of the last batches from Dwayne’s. But I managed to shoot a lot of Ektachrome, and Ektachrome e100vs in particular.

I don’t think there is another Film or medium in existence and available today which can match Ektachrome e100vs (Vivid Saturation) as a medium to capture warm, exotic travel images which really pop. I still have quite a few rolls in the freezer saved (120 and 35mm) for future trips abroad to Asia and Africa where this Film can really shine.

It is great as an all round Travel Film – and works well with shots of sun-kissed dusty streets, railways, platforms, people and bright colours and flavours, and especially portraiture.

It’s portraiture I’d like to concentrate on, coupled with the Contax G2 which is The Best camera I have ever used or experienced, especially for Travel. The 45mm lens in particular is superb, versatile and renders each subject beautifully, along with the 21mm Biogon makes for a killer combo.

I’ve written and submitted a couple of articles before to Steve (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/02/21/the-contax-g2-travel-companion-by-ibraar-hussain/) (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/02/17/daily-inspiration-317-by-ibraar-hussain/) which feature this combination but those were more about the Contax G2 and featured other Film including Fujichrome Velvia. Sure Velvia has finer grain, and is unrivalled as a Landscape and Nature capture medium, but Ektachrome e100vs has different strengths entirely.

I tend to photograph static subjects, people I manage to talk to and build some rapport with – before asking them if I can take a picture. I think taking picture’s without permission is rude and insulting, I do not speak of candid street shots where the person doesn’t realise, but of more obvious in-yer-face pointing the lens kind of thing – whether at random people on the street, countryside or villages.

The best approach is if you already know someone – that way you can access and capture an intimacy which would be impossible for an outsider.

Children and women in particular can be tricky, so some rapport, friendliness and genuine willingness to talk and interest goes a long way.

I find that lady travellers have far more luck, as they are invited into house holds and given more freedom than men. As a man, I suppose I needed to try harder – but bear in mind, a mission to capture a frame wasn’t my priority – I have always been genuinely interested in people and of by the by I manage some picture’s than that’s a bonus.

 

Portraits with a black background and front lighting

 The following picture’s are of Elf like daughters of a friend of a friend who invited me round for Tea and I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph his family.(Contax G2. 45mm Planar T* @ f2.8. Kodak Ektachrome e100vs. Chak 11, Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan)

Scann+17 2

Scann+17

Scann+18

I have noticed that a person standing on the threshold of a room or house, where it is dark or with the lights off inside, and full front light sunshine means the subject is beautifully lit and stands out from the background which usually fades to black. This is a technique I often use and take full advantage of as I find it works.

I had to watch out for harsher light which tends to darken parts of the face leaving the eyes in shadow. The eyes of course are the priority, that catch light in the eyes is the key here and if I manage to catch them then the photograph is a success. I shot at f2.8 on the 45mm f2 for some of that 3D effect you get from the G Planar – and of course to make sure camera shake was at a minimum. f2.8 I feel is better than wide open, as a too shallow depth of field also means parts of a face lacking focus which looks rubbish.

The 45 is wider than a Portrait lens, so I had to make sure I wasn’t too close; as that would mean a strange perspective and possible defects like nose out of focus (because of the wide aperture).

The Kalash family and friends were great, again I was introduced by a friend who knew them and this way taking pictures was natural and great fun and a novelty for them to be involved rather than as curiosities. The little girl sitting on a bed wa stamen just at the doorway so the same lighting was pretty effective. the slow speed meant the picture is softer and slightly out of focus.

(Contax G2. 45mm Planar T* @ f2.8. Kodak Ektachrome e100vs. Balanguru, Rumbur valley, Hindu Kush mountains).

 girlsrgb

Scann+33

Standard shallow depth of field with diffused front lighting Portraits

The other type is obviously the normal shallow depth portrait, taken no matter where (rather than in a doorway for a black background) with some front lighting for some catch lights in the eyes.

Again, f2.8 for some shallow depth to help the person stand out enough from a distracting background. Slightly diffused light due to clouds makes for a softer light which illuminates everything is excellent for face detail, and catch lights in the eyes. The less light the less illumination (hence the final one is darker).

A young Kalash girl, a Kalash school boy in Uniform and Mr Munir Kalash proprietor of The Kalash Guest House Hotel. Here is one example of the 90mm f2.8 Sonnar T* .

The 90mm Sonnar is a superb lens, more natural for portraits in particular, but I seldom use it as I find the 45mm is so versatile and changing lenses is such a chore.

 

(Contax G2. 90mm Sonnar T* @ f2.8 (first one). 45mm Planar T* @ f2.8 Kodak Ektachrome e100vs. Balanguru, Rumbur valley, Hindu Kush mountains)

girl44srgb

Scann+13srgb

Scann+19

Harsher midday sun light and group portrait

Front lighting can be harsh, so a reflective item helping to illuminate the face and provide catch lights is good. A reflective item could be a white car, wall or even a white shirt worn by oneself to act as a reflector or anything which acts as such. Photography books tend to advising avoidance of harsh midday sun which gives too much shadows on the face, and I agree, though some reflective light illuminating the face helps combat this. If you’re keen you could try using a reflector, or even fill flash, but I don’t use fill flash as I don’t know how to as haven’t the skill. Another option would be to increase exposure compensation, but I find that spoils the background as it over exposes it.

Sometimes an f8 aperture is great if the background permits, the beauty of f8 is that everything is sharp and this is the setting I use for group portraits, f8 all the way to get all of them in focus – here’s an example of three brothers – there light was harsh midday sun and it was hot! The best light I think is on the chap in the centre – the other’s eyes are too dark.

(Contax G2. 45mm Planar T* @ f2.8. Kodak Ektachrome e100vs. Chak 11, Sargodha, Punjab)

Scann+28

Ektachrome gives the skin tones, and the colours a warmth and soft evocative feel, sure, it’s not Kodachrome, but it almost gives a feeling of looking through a Nat geographic or Time or The Sunday Times magazine of the 60ies, 70ies and 80ies look and feel which is missing from the clinical drab super sharp digital images usually seen these days. Ektachrome e100vs also gives me a sense of smelling and feeling the place.

 The shadows some may feel are blocked up, and the colours somewhat fake – but this is the beauty. And for a real feel of actually being there, there is absolutely nothing like seeing a real projected slide show of Ektachrome in a dark room in a huge wall size.

Environmental Portraits with a Wide Angle

I also enjoy taking a wide-angle Environmental portrait, the 21mm Biogon shot at f2.8 gives a shallow depth of field and a wide-angle.

The depth isn’t too shallow, but slight enough not to distract but focussed enough to appreciate the background and environment and home the person belongs to or the job they do.

I think the 21mm Biogon is brilliant for this and I recommend a wide-angle portrait to be tried by everyone.

Mr Noor at his garden in Ayun near Chitral along with Police Constable Khadim of the frontier Police and his issue Kalashnikov patrolling the valley’s.

 

(Contax G2. 21mm Biogon T* @ f2.8. Kodak Ektachrome e100vs. Balanguru, Rumbur valley, Hindu Kush mountains)

Scann+18 2

Scann+27

A Kalash boy posing with his pet Kid Goat in his village and a Kalash mother and daughters weaving cloth by her home.

All these show the Environment, which i suppose gives the viewer a general idea of the person’s home or situation.

(Contax G2. 21mm Biogon T* @ f2.8. Kodak Ektachrome e100vs. Rumbur Valley and Birmorgh Lasht – Chitral Gol National Park, Hindu Kush mountains)

Scann+21

Scann+24

Cutting legs off is a pet hate of mine, and I tend to focus on having the usual head and shoulders, or torso and up shots if not a full body one. But sometimes when needs must or when it’s appropriate I don’t mind trying one where the legs have been cut off – depending on background or composition.

Kalash child by her front door and Mr Fayzullah a large chappie who is the Chowkidar (caretaker) of the Summer palace at the Chitral Gol National park in the Hindu Kush

(Contax G2. 21mm Biogon T* @ f2.8 and 45mm Planar T* @ f2.8. Kodak Ektachrome e100vs. Balanguru, Rumbur valley, Hindu Kush mountains)

Untitled-2

girl6srgb

Anyway, I have a limited skill set, and limited technique, but what I have I use and I think I manage to use effectively, and when out in wild climes travelling, and especially when using Film and Ektachrome e100vs in particular, the last thing I want to do is waste precious frames or not capture the photo – to get home and see it’s blurry or dark or just crap, hence I think my simple technique’s help and I thought I’d share them with you.

Other’s are far more experienced and talented than I, so I welcome any advice and chat about the subject, and about using such exotic looking Slide film such as Ektachrome e100vs which I don’t think Digital can match in what it manages to achieve.

Anyway, Ektachrome e100vs is gone, but I hope one day Ektachrome is revived, and I also wish one day Kodachrome will be revived, until then I have my frozen stock of e100vs and am always sourcing more.

Happy snapping!

Dec 262013
 

Will the Smartphone ever replace the camera?

By Ibraar Hussain

For enthusiastic amateurs and those with more than a snap shooting interest in Photography, I’d say no, not now, not ever.

There are certain things Smart Phones lack, and even if you gave a Smart Phone Full Frame and a gazillion Mega Pixels; it’ll still never pass the test – I consider Ergonomics a powerful feature no amount of technical advancement can compete with.

Anyway, this isn’t a discourse on Smart Phones and Photography, it’s about Hipstamatic on the iPhone.

Hipstamatic, in my opinion, is the best thing about Smart Phone photography – and unfortunately at the time of writing it is only (to my knowledge) available for the iPhone, so sorry Androids and Windows.

If you haven’t used it before, it’s a Square Format Camera Application which mimics toy camera’s and vintage snap shot cameras of yore, with choices of lens, Flash and Film which one can select for so many different combinations.

The combinations and options are phenomenal, brilliant in simplicity, ease of selection and results.

We have BW Films galore, colour, cooked ones, XP, IR, expired, different flash types, and lenses ranging from soft ones, to vignetting or ones giving an illusion of shallow depth of field, ones that leak light and others that are completely bizarre – and the range vast, with creative possibilities limitless.

Want moody black and white Noir-ish Film with strong vignetting? Want a platinum look print with soft tones? Want a punchy Velvia like look with sharp lens? A burnt out vintage 70s look with a multi hued flash effect? Or a Polaroid look with loads of colour? It’s all there – and to make things even more interesting, you can order prints on-the-fly, from within the Application.

It’s all great fun and has a superb interface – simply look through the square viewfinder (on the screen) and press the yellow button – and press a button to flip over so you can change film, lens and flash with a swipe.

And of course, you can buy more and more stuff.

With use you’ll start knowing which combination to use for which subject and have personal favourites, and to be honest, even the most mediocre snaps can be made to look superb with the colour and effect possibilities.

There is some creative control – touch a part of the Viewfinder image and it’ll focus and expose for that, move the iPhone up and down and you’ll see the exposure change in real time.

Anyway, that’s all the fun and funky stuff out-of-the-way, you can have all the funky effect things in the world but ultimately, if you lack even a microgram of creativity and talent, it’ll all look somewhat like a turd rolled in glitter.

What I really love about Hipstamatic, is the ability to work on composition using the brilliant Square Format, and this is what I use it for (apart from family and friends and such snaps).

The 6×6 Square is a great compositional aspect ratio – there’s no room for messing around, and the simplicity enables framing to be easier than oblong aspect ratios.

One, with the large square view finder of Hipstamatic, can really go to town on working on composition, framing, using key subjects, lead in lines, rule of thirds – and one can do it with the minimum of fuss and headache – just open the Application and off you go.

And the user can select the appropriate ‘Film’ to take the scene using the different creative Film/Lens or Filters available, and interpret the scene however they wish and easily.

I have been working on composition with this Hipstamatic for a while now, and I think it has improved my ability to see and express a scene more so than traditionally (with a real camera Film or Digital).

I don’t worry about sharpness or resolution – as such things really don’t matter one iota to me, sure to others they may well do – colour, composition, mood, tones and subject matter make sense to me and for this, Hipstamatic on the iPhone 5 is what I enjoy using as and when I require it.

I’ve included several shots here, just detailing the sort of things I tend to work on, composition, arranging elements in a scene, subject matter, colour, light and tone. With some studies of different places (Stone henge for example)

Cheers!

IMG_1174

IMG_1208

IMG_1209

IMG_1456

IMG_1516

IMG_1517

IMG_1534

IMG_1538

IMG_1695

IMG_1826

IMG_2203

IMG_2224

IMG_2482

IMG_2538

IMG_2580

IMG_2612

IMG_3174

IMG_3198

IMG_3231

IMG_3340

IMG_3371

IMG_3852

IMG_3978

Dec 132013
 

Friday Film: One lens, One roll

by Ibraar Hussain

Hi Steve,

It’s been a good year, 2013 has almost rushed past and Christmas is on its way now, so need to get the shopping done and make do the preparations! :)

I’ve been out and about and have thoroughly enjoyed my (limited) photography this past Summer, and am looking forward to the Winter being a short one.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most of the reviews and contributions on your site! Been absolutely Great!

In response to many people who assume stevehuffphoto.com is solely a ‘Gear Site’ – I’d like to stress how wrong they are! Steve, your site is The Best photography related on the Web, by a huge margin, and sure it involves Gear and new stuff people want to read about, but it’s all encompassing – showcases older Film stuff, Art, technique and lucky for those to be published – some great photography of all sorts! (Thanks Ibraar! – Steve)

I’d like to finish off the year with a sort of Inspiration. The 23rd of November was probably the best time to see some Autumnal Fall colours here in Epping Forest in Essex on the outskirts of London.

So I took an afternoon stroll through my favourite woods armed with a Rolleiflex 6008i, a Rollei 80mm HFT Planar lens and one roll of Agfa Ultra 50 with 12 Exposures to see whether I could give myself a One Lens, One Roll Challenge to capture the colour, flavour and atmosphere of the passing of the year and the last display before the leaves vanish and Winter takes over.

I had a great walk and needless to say every one of my 12 exposures were ‘keepers’ (well, keepers to me anyway) and I have a nice set of 4×4 inch prints in small square frames which I’ve mounted – of the following 6 pictures I’d like to share with everyone here and perhaps inspire others to take a similar walk with similar intentions and equipment – or a challenge for Digital shooters to shoot with 1 lens and to shoot 12 pictures and ALL 12 have to be keepers! Let’s see how people get on :)

Regards

Ibbs

Ps. I’d include the other 6 here but you’re probably bored stiff of trees! :)

1 6 3a 6 11 5

Oct 112013
 

Friday Film: An ode to Agfa Ultra 100 and Goodbye Summer 

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve, it’s been a long time since I have written to you and a long time since I have submitted an article or photographs.

I’ve been enjoying myself this last year, and experimenting with different camera’s and formats; mostly my iPhone 5 and Hipstamatic, 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.

I also took along one precious roll of Agfa Ultra 100 – a punchy and highly saturated print film which is very rare nowadays.

Agfa Ultra 100 was released to replace the splendid and superior Agfa Ultra 50.

I do love using old world Films, especially Agfa emulsions which I find to be extremely pleasing with their own unique look.

Sure one can hope to get the technicolor look with Apple Aperture or Photoshop but there’s nothing like the real thing, my opinion of course.

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.

The prints are superb, luscious vibrant things, fit enough to treasure and mount, and the straight Lab scans (as I have here) are delightful in their vibrancy; all I did was adjust horizons and crop/frame.

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 Agfa emulsions are long gone and very rare, and I take great care in crafting every precious frame – slowly, taking my time and I was quite pleased that all 36 exposures were keepers.

Photography to me is about composition, balance and vibrancy, and colour is an essential element, and it plays a big role in what I find attractive and appealing – I don’t care one bit about bit depths, pixels or resolution.

The prints I have made (on paper and canvas) on 35mm are big and very pleasing to the eye, and are to be found mounted on the walls of friends and family – so I don’t understand this extreme need for greater and greater resolution and detail (though it helps if one is a Pro and makes mural sized exhibition prints).

I like the simple things, things which make me happy and give me a feel of the place and situation, be it white clouds, a blue sea, brightly coloured houses and boats.

I think many people have forgotten the joy and simplicity of photography and miss the point entirely, and for this I think Print Film and apps such as Hipstamatic on the iPhone are brilliant tools to use to express.

Anyway, I’ve submitted 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

Developed and Lab scanned by Forest Photographic, Walthamstow, London.

And a nice hot summer in Barmouth

barmouth2

barmouthknots

beach

people

Untitled-12

CNV0000411

CNV000120

CNV000113

CNV0002711

AGFA Ultra 50

Dear Steve, as an addition to the Contax G2 and Agfa Ultra 100 article, I’d like to add some snaps I took with a precious roll of Agfa Ultra 50 last summer with my Rolleiflex 6008i.

This Film, Agfa Ultra 50 is warmer and with more colour saturation than the newer Agfa Ultra 100.

Agfa Ultra 100 was made to replace Ultra 50 a few years after Ultra 50 was discontinued.

Last Summer I was lounging around in Dorset, on the South Coast of England and managed some Summer snaps with my Rolleiflex on one precious roll of Agfa Ultra 50.

CNV00006 CNV000051 CNV00007 CNV00001 CNV00003 CNV00012 CNV00010

Nov 022012
 
The MPP Microcord TLR by Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve, I thought I’d send you this article and a sort of inspiration too for those (like me) turning their noses up at the punitive and extortionate prices Leica want to charge us for their Leica M Monochrome. Sure it’s a great camera, but

Photography is about the Photograph, not gear….

….but I admit I do like old vintage camera’s, and their quirks, use and enjoyment is part and parcel of the whole process.

Why spend 1000’s when you can spend peanuts?

The 1950ies, a time when Britain was still an ailing Super Power, The Suez Crisis and The Malay Campaign were testament to this.

It was a time when the E-Type Jaguar was first designed, probably the most beautiful car ever to grace tarmac, The English Electric Lightning was first flown, in my opinion the most beautiful aeroplane ever to have reached for the skies, it was a time when Britain still had a manufacturing industry and in a small workshop in Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey just outside London, Micro Precision products engineered their Microcord and Microflex TLR camera’s.

MPP were famous for their Micro press Camera’s, based on Linhof designs and they also took inspiration from Franke & Heidecke with their TLR (Twin lens Reflex) designed Rolleicord and Rolleiflex.

I’m not going to go into the rise and fall of MPP, its history or relate the story of the Microcord and Microflex TLR cameras – this information is readily available from the Internet.

The week before last I was passing by a Camera shop behind the British Museum near Russell Square and decided to pop in.

My gaze instinctively fell upon the TLR’s the chap had in a glass cabinet, a Rolleiflex and a Rolleicord – they gleamed like jewels, the twin glass lenses twinkled and reflected the daylight from the shop window and they looked gorgeous, much smaller than I at first thought (I had never really seen a TLR before close up, and I had assumed they were probably the same size as a Medium Format SLR such as the Hasselblad or a Bronica) and I knew then I had to get one for certain!

I, being a Rollei lover was on the lookout for a Rolleiflex TLR, and seeing the expensive prices for these I sort of lowered my expectations and sought out a nice Rolleicord, at the same time I was also (and still am) on the look out for a nice 5×4 Press Camera to get me started in 5×4 Large Format photography, and that’s when I struck upon MPP. Upon further investigation I discovered that MPP also had a Rollei TLR ‘clone’, and that’s when I first read about and came to admire the Microcord TLR.

I then decided to, after reading some reviews of the Microcord (the Microflex is extremely rare) treat myself to one, I found a lovely example at ffordes and bought it!

My MPP Microcord is a mk II with a working and fairly accurate Prontor SVS shutter, and a super fast top shutter speed of 1/300 ;-) It has a 4 element Ross Express f3.5 77.5mm lens (which I have read is said to be of higher quality than the comparable Tessar in a Rolleicord)

It has its Microcord brown leather ever-ready case with neck strap, and a twin lens cap (a Minolta one) but the ground glass is clean as a whistle, relatively bright, with crystal clean optics and it all has been well oiled CLA’d and looked after.

It’s easy to load, by opening the hinged (removable) back ‘lid’ and simply winding a roll of 120 Film in, the cover is then replaced and secured.

You then have to wind the film on by depressing the button on the film wind knob, until the window shows ‘1’ and then have to do the same for every frame – press the button, wind the knob, focus using the forward knob, and then cock the shutter (located under the Ross Express) – press the shutter release and the shutter depresses with a snick – very quiet!

The Microcord is like a Rolleiflex ‘lite’ rather than a full blown Rolleicord type – as Aperture and Shutter speed are changed using the Rolleiflex type wheels (and the values are viewed in a small window on top of the viewing lens).

Anyway, the camera is beautifully made, everything about it is of very high workmanship, Rollei makes no junk, and neither did MPP.

The camera takes standard Bay I Rolleicord Filters and is very cheap to buy.

I spent £120 on the camera (from ffordes with a year warranty), £10 on two rolls of Rollei Retro 80s and £10 on a Rollei Gelb Hell Yellow Filter.

I then, (with my Missus) on Thursday (6th October) took the Tube to Embankment, forded the Thames by crossing the Golden Jubilee Bridge, made my way to The South Bank, turned left, walked past Gabriel’s Wharf, Festival Pier, and The Tate Modern, walked past The Millennium Bridge and towards Borough, past The Shakespeare Globe Theatre, the many Thame’s bridges, Francis Drake’s Golden Hind, around Southwark Cathedral, then over London Bridge toThe Monument and then the Tube home again. All the while I was under the watchful eye of St. Paul’s Cathedral – iconic landmark and Wren’s masterpiece; a building which is the most beautiful in England and the views of it are spoiled by ugly modern eye sores such as ‘The Shard’ and ‘The Gherkin’ and other sky scraping office block monstrosities.

I took along two rolls of a Film I have never tried before – Rollei Retro 80s, an asa 80 super-panchromatic sensitised Film, with high Red sensitivity all the way to 750nm. It comes on a clear base which makes it almost Agfa Scala like, but as i discovered it is also very E6 like when it comes to exposure and can be very unforgiving in regards latitude and highlights. It is a very contrasty Film, very fine grained and smooth but it’s a case of you’ll either love it or hate it. Shadow detail isn’t great and even with a Yellow Filter the photo’s look ‘Infrared – ish’.

I loved it, I shot using a Rollei Yellow Filter (as always, Don McCullin shoots with a Yellow permanently attached and he’s the Don) I metered the light using my Minolta Autometer III (Incident) and on the odd occasion I used the excellent spot meter on my iPhone ‘Light Meter’ app.

I had a great few hours, the camera is a real head turned, most people walking past noticed it, people looked and stared and quite a few people made friendly comments, a few photographers stopped and chatted about the ancient contraption around my neck.

Forget about being inconspicuous, everyone notices this baby – but I did notice that the nature of the camera, with the Waist level viewing, people aren’t too concerned about it, I’m no street shooter so my Street Photography and Reportage is at a minimum. I do however like the sights of London and love the Bankside of the Thames.

Anyway, I shot two rolls, and luckily most of the shots were keepers, I include a selection here – these were scanned with an Epson 4990 as Jpegs using Epson Scan – quick no nonsense scanning. The negative was developed in Rodinal 1+50.

The only Post Process I used was to clone a few spots of dust off and resized in Photoshop – ok, they’re hardly Leica Monochrome shots, a 60 year old camera is ultimately a 60 year old camera, but I wouldn’t get any better results with the Leica, I can only photograph as much as my capabilities and creativity dictates, (not very good) and I reckon it is the same for everyone else.

 

Tower Bridge with HMS Belfast, viewed from London Bridge. 
-
Southwark Cathedral
-
Pier at Gabriel’s Wharf. With St. Paul’s Cathedral. South Bank.
-
From the Golden Jubilee bridge, Eastwards towards St. Pauls. Embankment.
-
The Millennium Bridge towards St. Paul’s.
-
Buskers, South Bank. Out of Focus, but I quite like it.
-
Jazz Band. Under Blackfriars Bridge.
-
Outside Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
-
Band on the Millennium Bridge, by The Tate Modern.
-
Self Portrait, St Paul’s.
-
Under the Millennium Bridge. Tate Modern, Towards St. Paul’s.
-
Another one of the many Pier’s.
Sep 082012
 

The Rolleiflex 6008 integral 6X6 camera review by Ibraar Hussain

It’s difficult to review such a camera as the Rolleiflex 6008 integral, as it is very advanced, yet needs to be made the most out of by able hands, who can get the most out of the handling and astounding lens line up. I wanted a 6×6 camera and I ended up buying this instead of a Hasselblad 500CM.

The Rolleiflex 6008i is part of the 6000 series of Medium Format 6×6 SLR which Rollei released as competition to the Hasselblad 6×6 Cameras, which was a mistake, I was told by a friend to look out for a Rolleiflex instead of a Hasselblad, but I didn’t know he meant the TLR – and instead I end up with this!

Rollei had traditionally been famous for their TLR’s such as the Rolleiflex and Rolleicord series of Cameras.

But with Hasselblad striking new ground with their SLR’s and the gradual disinterest in TLR’s Rollei engineers set to work on a 6×6 SLR system which would leave Hasselblad years behind technologically.

The SL66 was released which was purely mechanical, though it is a beautifully crafted piece, it’s main downfall is its size, weight and the V series like structure meant ergonomics were not up to modern standards.

This was followed by the SLX, and it is a futuristic camera compared to the SL66. It lacks the traditional look of the Hasselblad V series, and instead is very modern in design and electronics.

The shutter and everything is electronically controlled, so without a battery it will not function – this could be a disadvantage to those used to mechanical cameras.

From Carn Llidi, Pembrokeshire Coast. Wales. 50mm Distagon HFT f4. Fuji Provia 100F

The SLX was followed by a series of 6×6 Camera’s which follow the same design ethic. Easy to use 6×6 Medium Format SLR’s with advanced features, superb build quality and stellar lenses.

There are many available, and some more advanced than others. They are BIG, boxy creatures, heavy, yet fairly compact (not behemoths like the SL66) with perfect ergonomics and very versatile – incorporating a ‘grip’ with features such as shutter speed control and shutter release on them. So these could be used in a Studio, and also on the move.

The SLX mk 1 has solid German engineered build BUT has quirky electronics, and collectors/dealers suggest looking out for Mk 2 version which is far more reliable.

The crowning glory of this series are the lenses; superb glass from Schneider, Zeiss and Rollei (Mamiya) are all beautiful and pin sharp.

The most advanced Manual Focus version is the Rolleiflex 6008 integral II, and this was followed by (I believe) the worlds first 6×6 Auto Focus SLR; the Rolleiflex 6008 AF.

Light, shadow and clouds over the Beacons. Wales. 80mm Planar HFT f2.8. Fuji Provia 100F

This I believe was a competitor for the Contax 645, as both had Auto Focus, yet the Rolleiflex had the better build, larger negative size and a much wider array of Lenses (the downside being that many were MF rather than AF), plus a more illustrious lineage (as Contax 645 was Japanese built and a Kyocera camera rather than a purely German made SLR). I’ve spoken to photographers who have had both, and by and large they all prefer the look and feel of the Rolleflex images rather than the Contax.

The 6008i and AF can take Digital backs, so are more than geared towards the Digital age (though I have never used, nor can I afford a Digital back)

Rollei’s last foray into the market was the Rollei F&H designed and built Rolleiflex Hy6 6×6 SLR, which was also funded by Jenoptik (spun of company from Zeiss Jena which, I suppose, makes this possibly the last purely German Zeiss camera)

This magnificent camera takes Film along with Digital backs.

Though you can find Leaf and Sinar badged versions of the Hy6 – it is a purely German built beast and is STILL manufactured in Germany by F&H under their new guise

Sunset over the irish Sea. Pembrokeshire. Wales. 50mm Distagon HFT f4. @ f16 Hitech 3 stop ND Hard Grad. B+W Polarizer. Fuji Provia 100F

DHW Fototechnik interesting article 

Anyway, I have the Rolleiflex 6008i. I bought it a few months back and my kit consists of the standard camera, 120 Film back, a Polaroid back, Grip, battery and 2 lenses; The 80mm HFT Planar PQ f2.8 and the 50mm HFT Distagon f4. I’m looking to purchase a 150mm f4 Sonnar portrait lens. I’m also on the lookout for any Schneider lenses, which can be very expensive.

The PQ lenses are geared towards the more advanced features of the 6008i, AF and Hy6, the non-PQ lenses are compatible with every Rolleiflex 6000 and Hy6 series camera, but they can only be metered using the ‘stopped down’ method on the 6008i and AF and Hy6, on other 6000 series and SLX they are perfectly normal.

Saying that, the non-PQ lenses are identical to the PQ optically and are Bargains, costing less than half that of the PQ.

I bought the 6008i for travelling! Yes, a big heavy beast to take around the Mountains of The Hindu Kush and Karakoram when I go to visit again next time (with my Missus this time, I know you’re reading this, I won’t leave you behind again!)

But this beast, it’s easy to carry, the Action Grip is a revelation, it has a camcorder like strap, and can be adjusted to suit, it has a shutter lock, exposure lock and power/motor drive switch – it means I can trek, climb even, and won’t be resorting to clunky holding and fiddling as on a Hasselblad and can hold and shoot with one hand!

Marching Sheep being herded. brecon Beacons. 80mm Planar HFT f2.8 Fuji Provia 100F

Focussing the waist level View Finder gives you a massive bright image, it’s quick to shoot, and can shoot at 3fps.

The ergonomics are second to none in a camera this size, and I can shoot on FULL AUTO with ease! yes, a MF camera with full A mode, that even a compact digital camera snap shooter can use as long as they can focus manually!

the 6008i features centre weighted metering, spot metering along with multi-spot (a la the OM4Ti)

The other superb feature, which tends to put people off from MF camera’s is the Magazine dark slide, a simple slider! And one can chop and change magazines with ease!

I have only shot two rolls with this camera, as I’m ‘saving it’ for holidays and treks – I can only imagine the portraits I’ll get with Ektachrome e100vs of exotic looking peoples in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram.

Until then, I’m including a few photo’s I’ve taken on a Roll during my recent trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales, where I thoroughly enjoyed using it, but felt like a bit of a twat walking around with it as I got so many stares!

So all in all, an electronic, versatile, very easy to handle and use, wonderfully built 6×6 SLR with stellar lenses in the right hands (not mine) whose quality will most likely blow any 35mm sized SLR, DSLR or RF from here to Timbuktu! With the legend “Rolleflex” boldly inscribed on it! Pure class!

Drystone wall across the moors. Brecon. 80mm Planar HFT. Fuji Provia 100F

The SLX mk 2 can be bought for as little as $400 more or less with WLF and 80mm Planar, other’s can be bought for even less or for very expensive prices. If you want AF (the AF is obviously not to modern standards) you can check out the 6008 AF but these demand high prices.

The SLX mk 2 can be bought for as little as $400 more or less with WLF and 80mm Planar, other’s can be bought for even less or for very expensive prices – much less than a Hasselblad 500C/M.

QUIRKS

I need to mention these, in case people start lambasting me for failing to mention these.

1) Electronics, as mentioned earlier, the SLX mk 1 suffers from Electronic issues. And earlier versions of other models (correct me if I’m wrong) are said to have issues too. Though later ones do not, well, they’ll have as many issues as any other electronic camera I suppose

2) Battery. The Battery pack is an old fashioned one, and over time holds less and less charge – BUT these days that doesn’t mean much any more as alternative battery packs compatible with the charger are offered by some camera show and Dealers, and you can get a car charger accessory plus spares.

3) Ultimately the SLX/6000 series is an Electronic camera, so don’t expect eternal ownership, one day electronics MUST fail on every sort of electronic camera, whether a DSLR, Leica M Digital or Contax SLR/645/G series and the Rolleiflex.

4) In heavy rain, I have heard that if the rain seeps in it MAY affect the electronics UNTIL the camera has dried.

Sunset. Pembrokeshire. 80mm Planar HFT Fuji Provia 100F

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
21