Apr 072014
 

Seven years with one camera

By Amirali Joorabchi

Hi steve , hi everybody!

I’m AmirAli , a reader of this awesome blog for about two years. I’m 23 , live in Tehran. I do painting and photography as an enthusiast. I started photography when I was 14-15. As a gift my family bought me a Canon 400D and a 50 f1.8 and if I’m right I have this set and been using it for about 7 years ! Well it’s 10mps , ISO800 isn’t clean , ISO1600is only usability in monochrome , the LCD is 2.5″(240k). The camera and two lenses weighs in at about 850g…and yes I’m still using it !

This lest seven years that has passed by..well, photography has changed a lot (which you all know better than me). The wave in digital photography started with Canon 350D (affordable DSLR for everyone) then led to this following seven years. Companies got competitive with each other , introducing new models like a mad man ( canon 40D/50D… Nikon D80/D90… Canon 5D/5DmarkII Nikon D700/D800/D610 Sony A900/A800/A99 , then mirrorless Olympus , Panasonic , Sony , Fuji…).

The more technology went further , the more prices came down , which now you have so many affordable options (heck you can buy a full frame for 1600$ which weighs less than 500g). In theory this should help people but , instead , it turned out to be a huge problem for us!

For example it became like an idea that “because a pro photographer has that camera/lens then he can take pictures that I can’t”. So I started to blame the gear and I thought if I had better camera I would have made a better photographs. This is the point when your endless loop starts (even if you are aware of the fact that getting new gear won’t make you any better), where you buy new cameras when the one you have is already very qualified. Jumping from one system to another or jump from one brand to other. You fall into this endless loop where you waste time and sources on the wrong side of the photography.

I was about to fall , but a wise photographer told me this: “Changing your gear won’t change your view , it only replaces the last window with a new window to the same view , you’re the one who should change the view “ It hit me really hard. I still didn’t know about composition , lightening , color management… My VISION was weak yet I blamed the camera that I still have. He showed me that how much VISION is more important than gear , that your vision can create beauty , you have to train it to get the most out of it. Although the truth was clear but still resisting the new gears was hard. I get another advise : “loan and play with the new ones , the hype will come off of your mind”. I took the advice and it worked most of the time.

I tested Canon 40D , Nikon D90 , Canon 1DsII , Canon 5DII , Sony A900 with zeiss 85F1.4 (this lens didn’t came off ever) , Canon 17-55F2.8 , 24-70F2.8 , 14F2.8 , Nikon 80-200F2.8 , 18-135… . All of them are far better than my set , but using them I realized that my results weren’t that different… if not worse ! The brand was different , the format was different , the lens different , but my vision was the same. Yes , new gear makes it easier to take photos like more pixels , better ISO , better OVF/EVF… . These things are not necessary to capture a master piece. These are tools to help us create. But the features has spoiled lots of photographers’ minds. A slight change in light/composition can make a mediocre photo into a master piece , yet we waste our time wondering about gear…

Well , the question is , which is worth to you more ?

1.Having G.A.S and taking mediocre images , or

2.Mastering your vision and taking eternal images

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Mar 062014
 

Buying Leica M8 in London – First experiences

by Ruben Laranjeira

Hi Steve, I am Ruben from Portugal and I have 28 years old. I visit your site every day, since late 2008. And you have influenced me to be passionate about Leicas, and Leica look in photos.

So here I am, 5 years later, ready to buy my first Leica. Due to Leica high prices, I have chosen to buy a used Leica M8 in London, and a new Voigtlander 40mm 1.4.

This is a short story about a dream come true.

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Since I began searching for photography and for photo machines, it didn’t take to long until my search got into stevehuffphoto site.

This site amaze me since my first contact with its very best articles on internet about real photography. For amateur/enthusiastic/professional people interested in photography and it’s gear. We can find here very precise technical information, and principally how to get passion about this form of art.

So since 2008 I knew I want a good-looking camera, with strong capabilities to turn my day by day pictures into something memorable. I ended buying a canon 50d and started shooting inside water the surfers riding waves. But I knew one day my little Leica would ended on my hands. This moment appears when I realized that used Leicas on eBay, and no Leica lenses was cheaper than I thought.

So I tried to put all together and planed not to buy that online, but buy than in London.

One month planning the trip with my girlfriend, reading every single day every article about M8 or M8.2, about voightlander wide-angle or 40mm, etc etc… So my plan was first get the lens, and then get the camera, because I can’t imagine have a Leica in my hands for a second with no lens attached.

Ok, voigtlander 40mm 1.4 lens with me, let’s get to the Leica dealer. Two nice cameras to choose, one mint condition 1600 actuation M8 and one 36000 actuation M8.2 with strong sings of use and 200 dollars cheaper. For what I read online, I have chosen the M8.2 with 6 month warranty.

I never had used range finder in my life, or manual focus, but my first shoot wide open, on a LFI magazine was easy and in focus. So I have thought, so far so good! Let’s do the payment and get outside with this beautiful day in London.

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With this camera I really feel the inspiration to record the best moments I will find trough my life, and I can get the camera inside my coat easily with no big monster point to people’s faces. I have found this camera really easy to use, even with the big ISO issues, but you can do just awesome B&W when the colors are not good. I have used aperture priority on almost all the frames and tried to put ISO160.

All the photos have little LR process, some B&W haven’t nothing to retouch.

I found the photos super sharp, and you can see the CCD Leica look, and you can get beautiful black and white pictures. The camera is not perfect but “After all, a photograph that is technically perfect that has no soul isn’t memorable.”

The next photos shows you a little what I got with my very first experience in RF world with the best RF you can get in a big beautiful city with a beautiful girlfriend as a model.

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Curiosity Numbers:

The prices are around 1900$ US for the used Leicas M8′s

Voigtlander SC 40mm 1.4: 459$ New

I bought a new Leica batery for 150$

first day: 66 photos

second day: 59 photos

3th day: 30 photos

Focus missed: 15

 

And here is some of my other work:

https://www.facebook.com/clickbyuriel

Feb 072014
 

For me the king of them all – The Nikon D4

By Villager Jim

www.facebook.com/villagerjim

Hi Steve!

After many months of avid reading i thought it time if i may to put pen to paper from here in the UK and let you know my thoughts afetr owning a D4 for a year or more. I am lucky enough to also own a D800 and a Fujifilm X100S, both of which are fantastic cameras, but for me above all lies the quiet king of the all – the D4.

I enjoy with a passion wildlife photography , which of course, like sports photography requires at certain times the quickness and speed of reaction that cameras like this simply move away into a league of their own above the snapping and snarling frenzy of the mid range pack. But this short piece isn’t about those moments. This is about those other moments that other cameras can attain but somehow the D4 does without you or the camera taking a moment to think. I have owned 2 leica M9s , both of which i sold after trying so very hard to settle down into the world of the thoughtful and the structured, sometimes being in love with this special skill, sometimes driven crazy when so many shots went amiss because of lack of skill on my part of grabbing the moment. So many times i ended up just welling up with frustration over weeks and weeks of hard graft trying to calm myself and see this new world of photography where thought and composure fought against my constant need of seizing the moment .

So to get to the point my D4…. My D4 is simply the best camera in the world today, my D4 is by my side in 99 out of 100 situations , so strong is the need to have it with me, my D4 is simply a mechanical extension of my arm like no other. My D4 just is. And just does. I can find no better description than from a review i read someplace whilst waiting those painful months until release date, and it simply said IT JUST DOES. That for me after owning one for a year cannot describe any better the true genius of this camera, for me allowing all those ‘ thoughtful’ and ‘composed’ shots to be done , but just in a millisecond.

Thank you D4!

Jim

I am out in the wonderful Preak District countryside in the UK every single morning of my life and would ask anyone to follow my daily adventures on my facebook page at

www.facebook.com/villagerjim

Keep up the fantastic site Steve , fast becoming for me one of the top camera sites in the world today.

After The Walk

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Autumn Classic

Best Mates

Chatsworth In The Mist

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House In The Mist

Loving Swans

Napping Tawny

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Topsy Turvy House

Jan 072014
 

It’s all about Inspiration!

By Sebastien Chort

Hi Steve

First I’d like to deliver a huge THANK YOU

I’ve been working for a long time in the so-called “graphic/animation/movie industry” therefore I’ve been dealing with picture composition, lighting, framing for years. But I mainly spent my time behind my computer creating images in 3D for animation studio or VFX companies. I always had an interest for photography but when digital cameras appeared my envy to snap pictures kind of vanished (IQ was disappointing) and I gave most of my energy toward my pro activity.

Eventually I started to feel frustrated with the long process it takes to create Computer Graphic images and I started to lurk again toward photography with the high expectation to create spontaneous pictures. Then while I was looking for a decent digital camera 2 years ago, I stumbled across your blog and it opened the Pandora box. The flow of great pictures and great reviews you share helped me a lot to find inspiration and to renew my interest toward photography.

I bought a GH2 which caught my interest for its movie capacities and later on I couldn’t resist the OMD EM5. I loved using the GH2 but the OMD is such a great tool I can’t thank you enough for advising it so loudly. I started to go mental with photography gear to be honest and bought a lot of lenses (C-Mount, Canon’s FD, and pretty much everything I could on Panasonic and Olympus MFT).

Finally I started to look back to some film camera as well and I’m the happy owner of a Hasselblad CM with 3 lenses, a Rolleiflex from 1928 and recently I acquired a Leica M3. This might sound like a G.A.S. issue, but I don’t feel that way. I’m experimenting a lot with all my cameras, I love to carry them, to shoot with them, those are just symptoms of an ongoing passionate story with a great medium to create pictures.

I mainly do portraits of my relatives or street photography, but I feel like I’m barely starting to discover how much fun I can get with photography, so it’s a permanent excitement to know I still have to learn about landscape, sport or studio photography.

So I think you have a large responsibility in my renewed passion for photography and I can’t thank you enough for that. I hope you’ll like the few pictures I’m sending and I wish you the best for the years to come

Thanks for reading me ;)

Sebastien Chort

WebSite : http://sebastienchort.com

Flickr : http://www.flickr.com/photos/sebchort/

From Steve: Thanks so much Sebastien! I am glad that reading my site has inspired you but I must say that it is readers just like you that inspire ME in a day to day basis. Seeing so many great photographs helps to push me to get out there and shoot every week. So thank YOU! 

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Jan 042014
 

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USER REPORT: 9 Photos, 9 Places, 9 Cameras

By Dragan Arrigler

Recently posted Paris photo by Gianmaria Veronese here reminded me of my own photograph I made from almost the same spot in March 1985. It was my 35 mm b&w film era and 16 years later, in 2001 I started to work with digital cameras. I would like to present a short user report and briefly describe the 9 cameras I used to make 9 very different photos of 9 different places from 1985 to 2013.

1. In 1985 I was a photojournalist and I always carried around a lot of cameras, lenses, etc. Still, my favorite combination was Canon F, 24 mm lens, and Kodak TRI X, while the vast array of other lenses and accessories in my bag waited there “just in case”. In those days I used 24 mm lens for almost everything – landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, etc. It gave me such a broad and dynamic view at the world around me. I preferred contrasty, grainy photos and as a rule my b&w films were slightly underexposed and slightly overdeveloped. I still have one Canon F from 1980. In has been regularly serviced (three times in 33 years) and it works like new.

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2. I made the picture of Pontevecchio in Florence in 2001 with Olympus Mju (Stylus) Zoom Wide 80 (I have always loved Olympus cameras for their size and weight). It was automatic 35 mm compact camera with 28-80 mm lens, considered very wide for late ’90, when it was designed. It had autofocus, small LCD frame counter and was waterproof. A perfect travel companion. The camera even displayed some sort of metadata, as can be seen on the lower right side of the photo. The kids on the picture didn’t seem to be interested in the magnificent renaissance architecture around them, and neither was I.

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3. My first digital camera was Olympus E-20P, purchased in autumn 2001. Soon after that, in February 2002 I had to do a job on Bonaire, a amall island in the Dutch Caribbean. Digital photography being sort of unexplored territory at the time, I didn’t risk and packed my trusted analog cameras as well. Most of the work was indeed done on 35 mm color slides, but with my new toy I made some charming pictures, too. One of them was a photo of windsurfers in beautiful Jibe City on the eastern coast of the island, where constant trade winds and shallow turquoise Caribbean sea waters make ideal windsurfing spot. I sold E-20P the next year after purchasing my first Canon DSLR, but I still remember its perfect zoom lens 35-140mm f 2,0-2,4 with certain nostalgia.

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4. Canon PowerShot S30 was a terrible camera by today’s standards, but was a precious pocket compact in 2003. I took it along on my trip to Provence that summer. It is fun and more or less safe to make photos with such a small and unobtrusive camera – without using flash, nobody takes you seriously, especially when you work in relatively dark interiors or at night. Café de Nuit in Arles, once beloved Vincent Van Gogh’s motif, was a perfect place to prove this. In postproduction, inspired by master’s paintings, I slightly exaggerated the colors, just like he did in 1888.

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5. I was presented Holga for my birthday in 2006. Yes, it is a rickety, cheap plastic Chinese camera. It leaks light, the lens is terrible (60 mm f 8,0 – somewhere between normal and wide-angle lens for 120 film) and it incorporates only one shutter speed which is not defined precisely – it’s probably around 1/60. And B, of course. Exposure demands a lot of guesswork. But it gives you the basic thrill of photography: you can never really tell what you will get. If the predictability of digital photography has begun to bore you, get a Holga. For best results use very old films, expired long ago. And there is more: you will never again feel the urge to invest in digital filters which imitate corny emulsions, cross processing, picture frames, over saturated or washed-out colors, vignetting, as well as dust & scratches. Nothing of this was applied to the photo of the romantic old house in Vrhnika, Slovenia.

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6. Another Canon PowerShot, the A640 was used to photograph silhouettes in a small beach bar on Caribbean island Antigua in 2008. This camera had almost limitless autonomy, because it was powered by four AA batteries and I purchased it prior to a sailing trip where I didn’t expect to have any AC outlets at hand. AA are the most common batteries – you can buy them anywhere in the world. You just have to buy a large (and heavy) stock. Being so dependent on energy is digital cameras’ big disadvantage in comparison to analog ones. For instance, I replaced the battery of my 1980 Canon F maybe three or four times in more than 30 years.

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7. Yet, it’s a digital era and small cameras are so expendable. I only had the A640 two years and then I replaced it with the third Canon PowerShot, S90. It is even smaller than A640 and claimed to be better, a great third camera for professionals, with a lot of manual controls. But in terms of picture quality I never really saw a big difference – except that it has very usable wide aperture of f 2,0 at 28 mm (equivalent) zoom setting. The other side of zoom, 105 mm (equivalent) f 4,9 is much sadder story, though. Anyway, this camera was used to make the picture of the biker (luckily dressed in red) sweating uphill on endless winding road in literally and metaphorically breathtaking, exotic, hot, humid, Avatar-like island Reunion in Indian ocean. One final remark on this tiny device: it incorporates optical stabilizer, but being so small and light (just 175 g), it just can not match the stability of big and heavy DSLR cameras with big and heavy lenses.

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8. If you like red color, Denmark is one of the countries to travel to. Red is a dominant color in their flag and elsewhere. With a bit of luck and good weather you can make nice geometric pictures like I did in the small port of Struer in north-west part of the country. I used Canon EOS 5D, bought in 2005 (can you imagine that it has already been called “vintage”?) and good old zoom 24-85 mm f 3,5-4,5, designed in 1996. In spite of being almost ancient by today’s standards, it is still one of the best and most durable combinations if you want to travel light.

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9. Finally, I would like to share some observations regarding Voigtländer Nokton 25 mm f 0,95. Read some tests of this product, e. g. here or here and let me just add this: it’s a fantastic toy, a sheer pleasure, but not in the least easy to use. And more than just a toy, of course. It’s solidly built, it’s big and heavy, heavier than my Olympus E-P3, including EVF and strap. Now just think: a heavy lens plus f 0,95 plus in-camera image stabilisation – a photographer with steady arm and some experience can work in almost total darkness without even having to use high ASA setting. The twilight picture of exotic Lisbon funicular was made handheld with 1/25 s at f 1,4 and ASA 320. And there is even more: it can focus down to approximately 8 centimetres or 3,15 inches which almost makes it a macro lens, too. Unfortunately, it has two drawbacks: manual focus and manual aperture ring. It is difficult to focus it in darkness owing to its extremely shallow depth of field (probably this problem will be solved with the newer cameras incorporating focus peaking). In bright daylight, where circumstances call for smaller f-stop, it’s even more complicated; remember, the aperture is manual and you have to focus at working f-stop. This is not easy even at f 4, and nearly impossible at f 8 or f 11. Of course, it’s 25 mm lens and everything in finder appears to be sharp. Not so later, when you critically observe your masterpiece at 100% magnification on the computer monitor. In short, this lens needs some patience and a lot of practice. If you have no patience or not enough time to practice, go and buy Panasonic’s 20 mm f 1,7 lens. It’s a very good solution, too.

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Conclusion: the point of this user report (and hopefully the pictures) is to inspire the readers to grab whatever camera they have, go out and do with it the best they can. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will make good photos with the best camera and the sharpest lens in the world. But there is a fair chance that their pictures will be widely admired even if they were made with cheap, plastic, outdated three megapixel devices. Just consider: would the photo of Café de Nuit be better, had it been photographed with a good, 36 megapixel camera, like Nikon D800E or even 60 megapixel Hasselblad H5D? Perhaps tehnically; it would be sharper, with more details, the resolution would be substantially bigger. But would it match the atmosphere of Van Gogh’s painting? I don’t think so. Sometimes the photos are about mood, not tehnical quality. Buy any camera, get used to it, then just forget it and focus on the pictures. To quote Don McCullin, the famous war photographer of the 1960s and 1970s: “I only use the camera like I use a toothbrush. It does the job.”

Dragan Arrigler

www.arrigler.com

Aug 102013
 

Little Big Inspiration by Luiz Paulo

Hi Steve,

It has been a while since I wrote to you last year, and thankfully some of my pictures were featured on your site. It was a such pleasure.

Tomorrow (August 11) is Father’s Day in Brazil. As a father of a 6 years girl I’m so glad to visit her. She’s my little-big inspiration — even not seeing her as much as I’d like to — maybe you remember my story: she lives far away from me, about 1,000 miles. Time to dust of my camera — or not. With only 2 months my new Leica Monochrom didn’t collect so many dust and kind had been busy last month during my daughter’s July vacation. Please may I share with you my recent pictures from this intriguing gear. A camera which I’m loving and hating, loving as it produces so sharpen images… hating because it seems I have to think a little different while exposing and very different while processing its files… But maybe it’s just me.

Hope you enjoy my pictures.

And in advance, happy father’s day to you!

Best regards from Brazil,

Luiz Paulo

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May 052013
 

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One Giant Polaroid

by Brad Nichol – His website is HERE

One of the key questions I pose to my photography students is “why do we take photographs”. It usually leads to great discussions where all sorts of reasons are proffered,  commonly the answers centre around ideas such as recording events, serving as memory joggers and story telling.

All good valid reasons, but for me, photography is focused around two drivers.  First I shoot to create photographic art that is in the main “pre-visualised”, normally in bed at 2.00 am.  Secondly and of the most significance I take photographs because it heightens my visual senses and thus provides me with a benefit I carry with me 24 hours a day.  Simply photography has allowed me to enjoy the visual world to a far greater degree and as I tell my students it matters not whether you shoot with a Leica or a Powershot, the visual appreciation benefit potential is the same.

I happily work with any camera, but acknowledge that each tool subtly changes the way I see and guides what I look for, some days are iPhone days, some NEX days, some Alpha days and there are even film days.  I am not a camera buff as such, and certainly not dedicated to a particular brand but in the main I guess I am a mirrorless guy and the NEX series fills my general needs best at present because they are just so adaptable.

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One the other hand I am a bit of a tech tragic, I rigorously test equipment, develop editing and shooting processes and modify gear to suit my needs.  Perhaps later I will provide some posts on these issues.  All this geeky fervour is not however for mere entertainment, it is in fact for the purposes of preparation and practice so that my vision and projects can be realized without compromise.  I often find folk who want to believe they can create great work by just buying the right camera and lenses shooting on Auto,  just letting the creativity flow.  Let me just say, it’s pretty hard to be fully creative if your techniques and lack of planning are getting in the way of your vision and compromising your work. Some folk might jag the odd great shot but I’d rather not treat photography as a lottery, when I go off to shoot I fully intend to come home with the result I am after, so having full technical mastery is for me not just a nice additional option it is an intrinsic part of the process, hence perhaps my rather anal approach.

So here then is a story of a large 8 month  project that I have just completed, perhaps it will inspire some of you, perhaps it will confirm that I have a certain streak of insanity.

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I love Polaroids, but in particular ways. I am not enamored with the often poor colour,  unevenly processed edges and poor clarity.  But I just love square composition, I am stylistically at one with the layout of the square beautifully placed within the white border with that extra space underneath for imprinting.  I love that you can tag the image with title and date.  There is something compelling also in the slight edge vignetting of the frame of a well-developed roid, and then there’s the feel of the images in your hand, just lovely.  Most of all I love the subliminal message of the format, it says “hey, here is a moment captured in time and it is important to me”.

What I want however is roids without limitations, fauxlaroids in fact.

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Lets backtrack a little, 8 months ago whilst my body and mind waged war against one another a 2.30 am on cool winters night  I had an idea.  My wife and I were about to fly to the US and Canada for a 6 week holiday and having just moved into our new home I was planning the new artworks for the walls, around 50 in total and at this stage I had planned about 20 of them.

The hatched idea was as follows, shoot a set of 200 images that encapsulated what is different about North America.  Distill these down to 120, edit them to look like Polaroids, print them so they look and feel like Polaroids then mount them in a giant Polaroid frame and hang it in our front entrance way.

The project involved several stages:

Planning what to shoot ( it needs noting that I shot a raft of projects over the 6 weeks, so I had to be careful and efficient with time, after all it was a holiday for both my wife and I.)

Cull and Edit the images.

Have the images custom printed and mounted.

Cut up, name and coat the images, which is far more involved than it might at first seem.

Install the lighting for the final artwork.

Build the Polaroid frame.

Determine the final layout within the frame.

Mount the final work, which again is not straightforward as it weighs about 50 kilograms.

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All of this was worked out before a shot was taken, (I told you I have a mental problem) and it  pretty much went to plan, other than costing a little more than intended and being a bit heavier than estimated. The shots were taken on my iPhone 4S and my NEX 5n, and mainly shot at equivalent focal lengths in the 35-50mm range.

What I consider different between Australia and America may of course be very different to what you consider different, but remember I am an Aussie and this is a personal work.  Of course we found many unplanned  things to add to the collection along the way and often it was a case of finding the  subject that best typified the breed. Unfortunately I missed a couple of subjects because I felt I would find a better example and failed to capture the “bird in the hand”.

Compositionally  most images are quite parred down with strong simple elements, this was deliberate because when the final image is going to be only 10 by 10 cm or so and mixed in close proximity with others complexity will somewhat confuse the effect. Additionally all the images were intended to be colour so potential images that needed “monochromatic contrast punch” to work were not considered for the project donor set.

Editing involved colour grading, DOF simulation adjustments, 3D sharpening, etch sharpening, vignetting, careful cropping and some subtle non-constrained resizing to keep everything homogenous within the square frame format. I estimate around 30 hours of editing but it was probably more.

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In colour terms I aimed for a subtle look, no chromacities are pushed beyond the others which meant in some cases reds needed to be held back. All non-specular whites are fully rendered and blacks show neutrality and just a touch of detail. Saturation levels are stronger around the middle tones but at no point do they  get anywhere near MTV colour where it’s all turned up to 11. Printing was  handled by a local art printing business called Arthead who handle all my printing and we tried several papers to find the right one, I am also a paper tragic, but lets not go there now.

Once printed the images were mounted to mat board, which had just the right thickness for the task.  Once I had the images at home they were cut up with a knife and blade which was really straight forward as I had laid the images out on sheets of 40 with cutting guides added onto sheets. Once trimmed, the edges were blacked and then the images carefully tagged and dated with a very fine CD marking pen. Following on the next step involved etching into the edge of the image with a semi sharp knife to simulate the edge of the border paper on a Polaroid where it overlays the border of the image area. Finally the image areas were masked off and the perimeter matte sprayed twice, which makes the image area pop nicely and adds a subtle lift to the overall look.

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The frame was quite involved as the images actually float on 32 mm thick blocks with the cavities between them being painted flat black.  This makes the images pop better and gives a more 3D look but it meant cutting up 120 MDF blocks and perfectly spacing them out. The outer MDF frame is an exact match to SX 70 frame layout and proportions and has been thinned down on the edges with a router so that even when looked at in profile it looks quite thin and proportional. The frame surface is matte painted with several coats of water based white primer and ceiling paint, which have been sanded with very fine paper to give an eggshell like surface and then lightly Matt sprayed for protection.

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So there it is, I am currently very happy with the result but time will tell, as I often tell my students I am never quite sure if my work is any good until I have had it hanging on the wall for a couple of years.

But at the moment I think it does sum up the North American differences that we saw and over the course of our sojourn this specific project focused my attention on the visual feast that was America.

Brad Nichol

 

Jun 182012
 

“PHOTOGRAPHS ARE MEMORIES FROZEN IN TIME” by Norman Tjahanto

Dear Steve, I have been reading your website for quite a while now. And to be honest, I have gotten some inspiration of getting a Leica in my hands because of you, and a few other writers that have shared their experience. Now I would like to share mine, but not specifically about Leica, but more in general, about how photography is to me.

I have been taking pictures since 5-6 years ago, and I have never thought how it could change me into the way I am today. I bought my first dSLR because I felt “I needed one to record things and take pictures of things IN CASE I need it”  but as time goes on, photography has become my passion, it’s a never-ending excitement for me. Now, I can’t leave home without taking my camera(s) with me. It even inspired me to blog! LOL.

Sharing a little about the gears I am using, currently the most usage are between two cameras, the Leica M8 with the collapsible summicron 5cm, and the Olympus OM-D EM-5 with its kit lens and the Panasonic 20/1.7. I have found that setup gives me the best results (for me), and gives me the lightweight carry. There are of course, larger, and better gears with better specification. But I don’t want to carry all that weight, and get tired and feel grumpy and cranky during all my travels (like what happened to me when I visited Japan with my wife, I carried a whole backpack of gears). So, I chose to slim down the sizes.

Enough of the gear chitchat, I’m sure you can describe them better than I can Steve, but I personally think the gear is just gear. What’s most important, is the result that I am getting from it. Each and every single snap I take I think is a memory of my own, my wife’s, my families’ and friends’. They are those who makes up my life, and thanks to these cameras today, I can always look back and think back of all the things that has happened to me. I can smile, I can laugh, I can giggle, and I can shed a tear. And especially, we love to travel, so I think it would be a waste if we can only relive those memories in our heads, having pictures would *almost* be like being there all over again, or makes us want to go there again hahahaha…

Many people discussed what gear is good, what gear is better (and still does), but I hope they are not missing the point of what these gears are supposed to do. To record moments in life that can never happen twice, never. These are precious of the precious. I always think that we can never BUY time, we can never TIME TRAVEL (well who knows in the future), and God help us but we can’t avoid death either. But from all that, I believe these pictures compiled together will tell a story to ourselves, families, friends, or even strangers. These are those bits and pieces that stays, forever. So yeah, I always keep at least one camera ready in my car at all times, and if I hop off my car, I take it with me. Because I will never know if there is anything that would mean something to me in my day-to-day life. Well why not, with cameras so small these days, I think it’s worth carrying it around anywhere.

I even had a vision, if one day my wife and I passes away, these pictures and my blog can be continued on by our children, and their children and so on. As to make up a family story and share with generations to come. I would be very happy if one day my grandchild will look up to a collection of my pictures and he/she will understand slightly what kind of life that their grandparents have lived, and what is shared. I think it’ll be awesome if I can realize that, and make that come true. But, well that’s a long way from now, but we all gotta start somewhere, right?

Now I intend to take photography as my full-time job (right now it’s part-time, I have a few paid jobs here and there), as I think I want to do something that makes me happy, and something that means alot to me and I think photography is my calling. Well yeah I think many of my photographs are still crappy and I will need to keep learning, but as I said, we all gotta start somewhere, don’t we?

 

Jun 122012
 

JUST GO SHOOT! By Aaron Hardin

Steve, I’ve been a Leica shooter for a few years now and have used an M4-P and Voigtlander 35mm exclusively for one of my projects over the past 2 years. It would be nice to have an M9, but you can buy a TON of Tri-X for that kind of money (not to mention a few plane tickets). The following project called “Abyssinia” is a long-term project I’m working on in Ethiopia (primarily in and around Addis Abeba).

Though travelling internationally with film can be a real pain in the neck, I’ve managed to make it through without much hassle. I really wanted to shoot the project with all Tri-X due to the beautiful texture and longevity of its aesthetic. I also like T-Max 100 from time to time.

Now that the gear stuff is out-of-the-way, I wanted to encourage those frequenters of your site to GO SHOOT! I’ve spent countless hours researching gear, looking forward to the next big thing or pining over cameras far out of my price range (read “M9″). But what does it all matter if you aren’t going to take that little machine and produce something with it. We all have a voice and an eye and often times something to say. So don’t be afraid to MAKE A PHOTO.

I had many peers that thought I was crazy to fly halfway across the world with just a camera, lens, light meter and bag of black and white film. No digital camera. No color film. No excuses. We forget that Cartier-Bresson likely used the same body for many years and maybe 2 lenses for his whole career… and he changed photography forever.

Keep clicking,

Aaron Hardin

aaronhardinphoto.com

Apr 182012
 

SHOW UP AS YOURSELF

By Wendy Laurel

“Show up as yourself” is what I tell my clients when they ask me what to wear for a shoot.* The days of families wearing all white shirts paired with jeans smiling nicely for the camera are over. Or at least they should be.

Times have changed. People want to be seen for themselves. Modern Family aired an episode last year where Claire (the Mom) hired a professional photographer for an extended family portrait. She dressed everyone in white shirts (of course), but the “family picture” that Claire eventually chose was one where the kids were fighting, people were laughing, and life was documented much as it is lived. That is the family portrait I love to shoot and my clients love to buy.

Letting the kids dress themselves is the surest way to getting a fantastic childrenʼs portrait. That obsession with the Superman shirt will be gone before the parents know it. And who says that stripes and polka dots donʼt go together? It is the essence of their personalities that are important. Not their hair perfectly combed and dressed up looking like a child out of a catalog – a child the parents donʼt recognize. When it is all said and done, people want photographs of their children and family that bring them right back to that time.

Similarly, the focus should be on the people. People are the best detail in any shoot. The focus on details and props in people photography has spun out of control. Baby photography blogs are showcasing the best baby rooms and the cutest first birthday party decorations instead of the baby. Wedding blogs are guilty as well. I recently saw a wedding shoot where the photographer and/or the couple managed to work in almost every cliché prop there can be: balloons, scrabble board, chalk board, antique cameras, vintage soda bottles, analog records and a record player, just to name a few. The couple and/or photographer were so busy finding the hottest and newest props that they forgot about the couple. Who are they? Those details and the images told nothing about the couple, except that maybe they read wedding blogs. And it is a shame. Photographs of peopleʼs family and children or of their wedding day should show them as you really are. The love, the connection, the relationships, and the moments. That is what is important and what will be valued when they look back.

I love details as much as the next photographer. It is always fun to shoot people in cute clothes and with colorful props. I just love the people more. I think the focus should be the people and details that add to or help tell the peopleʼs story. If the girl loves her tutu and always wants to wear it? Well, thatʼs a relevant detail. If the couple plays Twister all the time together, then yes, it’s a relevant detail. The question is does the detail have emotional meaning for the client? Is it something that will trigger memories for them down the road? If itʼs yes, then yes itʼs important to shoot. In any case, the people are always more important. When is the last time you saw a photograph of table decorations up on the wall?

When my mom was first diagnosed with cancer, I hired a family photographer to come take photographs of her, her home, and my family. There were a ton of detail shots –shots of her straw beach bag hanging on the doorknob, shots of her holding some of her own pastel oil paintings, shots of her collection of miniature tea cups. But they were important details. Details that meant the world to her and tell her story. Details which combined with the wonderful family shots of us together gave us a full story. Details which showed my Mom and who she was. Those are the details that matter. Not details for the sake of details.

The trend is changing. People are showing up as themselves. The main focus is the people, the relationships, and the moments. As Babble.com recently said in talking about the top twenty baby photography blogs, “The emphasis on the people, unburdened by details or props, gives [Let the Kids] a touch of humanity that is infectious.”**

Showing up as yourself just means be YOU. If the family you are shooting doesnʼt walk around town in matching white shirts with collars, donʼt suggest to them to show up at your photography session in those outfits. Document their best selves if you like, but themselves. And the same applies to the photographer, show up as yourself, be real and be creative.

Written and submitted by Wendy Laurel  (http://www.wendylaurel.com)

Wendy Laurel is a wedding and family photographer in Maui. She runs the Let the Kids people photography blog along with Tory OʼLeary, a newborn and family photographer in Southern California. Let the Kids.com is a blog that features people photography of any kind (family, kids, couples, even weddings and fashion) as long as it is exceptional photography. Let the Kids is always looking for very creative and unique images where the photographerʼs voice can be heard and the subjectʼs personalities shine. You can find Let the Kids at http://www.letthekids.com. We also have a Facebook page where we run contests and talk about photography. Submissions are encouraged. Just email a link to your photographs online or images sized at 600 pixels width to [email protected].

* I have to admit I hijacked that saying from Jonathan Canlas, the premier wedding and family photographer.

** Babble.com (http://www.babble.com/baby/baby-care/best-photo-blog-mom-baby/? page=6)


Apr 022012
 

If you’re “just” photographing your family, get the BEST photo equipment you can afford (that you are able to use, or can learn to use).

— Peter | Prosophos.

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I was prompted to write the above after reading yet another, “if you’re just photographing your family, get a cheap point-and-shoot” comment on one of the internet forums.  It always leaves me shaking my head when I come across that sort of statement, not because I have anything against inexpensive cameras (which I’ve used and continue to use, and which can be used to take wonderful photos), but because of the implication behind the words, that – for whatever reason – your family is not worthy of the best* equipment.

Nonsense.

Documenting your family’s timeline – the various trials and tribulations, the tears, the joy, the exciting, the mundane, the…  the anything – is one of the most important things you can do with a camera.  The snobbery around exclusively using “pro” equipment (whatever that is) to photograph athletes, celebrities, or otherwise “important” individuals is laughable.  As if most of us are able to remember more than a handful of “pro” magazine cover images we’ve ever seen…

Instead, it’s all those images reminding us of the births, marriages, and deaths of our loved ones, that burn themselves into our brains.

—Peter.

Feb 182012
 

Hello to all! Hope you are having a great weekend. As I sit here at midnight on a Friday night/Saturday morning I am flabbergasted at the amount of information that has amassed here at this website, and I give so many thanks to all of you who come here to read and catch up every day and to those of you who contribute as well! I have been seeing more and more of you send in your reports and articles and it is GREAT, so keep on sending them in! (email me here if interested in contributing) – Seems like it was just last week that I sat down and write my 1st camera review ever.

When this site started almost 3 years ago I kind of had a dream..a fantasy. I envisioned starting a site that at the time did not exist. A site with real world reviews of cameras showing what we could really expect from it when we took it out to shoot real photos. Easy to read, easy to understand, genuine and honest. Sure there were a few mega sites out there but none of them grabbed my heart..none of them had me excited to read reviews. I would read them anyway but I usually skipped to the conclusions and samples. I wanted to see a site with all of the good stuff and none of the boring stuff. So I created the site I WANTED TO SEE and READ. Turns out I was not alone in my desires because right from the get go I have been hearing from so many of you who had the same thoughts as me.

People who love photography and have a strong passion for taking photos and shooting cameras. Even if you just shoot your kids, animals, family or whatever – doesn’t matter. You have a passion for something that makes you happy, excited, and yes, even sometimes BROKE, lol. I feel we all need a passion of some kind in life – something that drives us and adds to our quality of life. (besides love and family of course as those are always 1st) For some people it may be a fast car, a boat, a set of primo golf clubs, Hi Fi equipment (guilty on this one as well – want some real world Hi Fi reviews? Lol), computer gear or all of the above!

My passion is still as strong as ever for photography AND even more so for this site as it is growing in content and now this content is always here, for anyone to reference. I can’t wait to see what the next three years bring.

I also want to thank all of you who have been e-mailing me lately. One e-mail in general came in just today that touched me a bit. It made me realize that what I have been building here is indeed turning into what I have envisioned. For me it’s not about traffic , it’s not about money (though every little but helps)…it’s about the community..the art..the gathering of like-minded people who share information because let’s face it – none of us know EVERYTHING. It’s about honesty and truth. It’s even about love because so much of it goes into this site every day, It is about reaching out and about our common interest.

The fact is that without each and every one of  YOU this site would be nothing. It would be one of the thousands of blogs that shut down every week. I mean, I get decent traffic but it’s not even close to the big 4-5 sites, and I am OK with that as it keeps it a little more “intimate” – kind of like seeing a musical artist in an intimate venue. Keeps things flowing smoothly. I’d rather have 10 faithful readers daily instead of 1 happy and 9 miserable. :)

But the bottom line is that I am so proud, happy, and excited that there is now a large database of articles and information here, and it continues to grow each and every week. I did not even realize it until I started browsing the user reports section and the site that was just added a few months ago. Wow, so many great user reports on cameras, lenses and even film. So many articles here…written by not only me..but also written by you guys!

In case you missed some of them, check it all out at the links below…articles galore

 

USER REPORTS 

This section is filled with the best posts from the readers. YOUR experiences and views on cameras, lenses and photography in general. Lots to read and see so if you missed it, go check it out!

 

FULL SITEMAP – POST INDEX

Have hours to kill? Check out a listing of EVERY single post ever made to this site. After that, don’t forget to go to the original site still hosted by apple :)

 

MIRROR-LESS CENTRAL

An ongoing listing of any worthwhile post related to mirror-less cameras.

 

LEICA REVIEWS AND EVERYTHING LEICA

If you are a Leica fan, this is the page with all of the best Leica posts and reviews!

 

Enjoy the weekend, and get out there and shoot! BTW, don’t miss the classifieds here – they have been rocking lately!

Steve


Jan 042012
 

From Steve: Coming later today is another edition of “Q&A Wednesday” but for now I’d like to share with you some of the most inspirational images I have seen in a while. I have known Peter for years now and his images always go right to my heart and soul as he truly does capture “Life’s Little Moments”. Enjoy!

Dear Steve,

In follow-up to my previous contributions “Life’s Little Moments“, “The M9 for Sports” and “All I know about photography in 25 words” , I wanted to make another contribution to your fine website.

These were taken over the past year and I hope they continue to convey my philosophy of image creation, that is, “seeing and capturing the beauty of life’s little moments.”

I’d be honoured if you posted them.

Either way, I wish you (much deserved) ongoing success for 2012 and beyond!

Your friend,

Peter | Prosophos.

www.prosophos.com


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and one more image for Jan 2012!
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Sep 232011
 

One Shot.

I visit Steve’s site at least twice day and I love the fun that he brings to photography. Steve kindly has allowed me to submit a short entry about a project I have been working on with five friends called One Shot.

Two years ago my second cousin passed away, Mathias Oppersdorff. He was a professional photographer for Gourmet, and a master black-and-white printer. His response to the digital revolution was to move further back into the past, first to 4×5 and then eventually to pinhole cameras, creating timeless images with printing skills that are being lost.

As “Mo’s” house was being sorted, a treasure trove of photographic equipment was revealed, including Contax, Horseman, Arca Swiss, and of course Leica. As a child with fantasies of shooting for National Geographic, I was always enamored with Mo’s Leicas, but the closest I ever came to having one was a wooden replica. That changed when we discovered a 35 and 50 cron carefully placed in red custom-made pouches.

Over the years I had lost touch with photography and sold off all my equipment except for a little Sony point-and-shoot. Mo had given me a gift in his passing, a door back to a deep passion that had slipped away over the years. Photography had been my life when I was 16, now it was forgotten. Those Leica lens were about to bring me back to creativity. My problem, however, was that I needed a goal, a reason to shoot, an audience. One night as I was fading off to sleep I schemed up that maybe I would take one shot a day for a year.

The next morning the idea stuck with me, but I wanted to share with others. There were others in my life who had also had a passion for photography ebb and flow: my father who taught me photography (Mo’s cousin), my oldest friend, two high school buddies, and another friend who I had originally met at the Maine Photographic Workshop. Inspired by a large cup of coffee, I emailed the group with a formal invitation to join and start a rarified group called One Shot. They all accepted, and so began a project that now has become a part of all our lives.

As a group we shoot with everything from medium format to iPhones. We play with Holgas, DSLRs, film developed in our laundry rooms, HDR, and of course Leicas, which is how we discovered Steve’s site. The chronicle of our lives has been remarkable; parents have been lost, children born, and wedding vows shared, and we have all been brought back to the passion for photography.

I should not be surprised, but I always remark at how picking up a camera shifts all the busyness in my life to the background, and the simple act of trying to create a picture clears away the day’s clutter. Slowly, I am learning to see again. As we move towards the second anniversary of Mo’s passing, photography has become so interwoven in our lives that we all feel that this project that was started for one year will go on and on, because our days now are in part defined by the photos we shoot.

Each of the group has chosen one photo to post here (it was tough to choose) and we thank Steve for allowing us to share our project with you.

Captions

 

Wing: Leica M2, 35 cron (Canada), B, T-Max 100, B handheld, Maine

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Donnie: Holga, Tri-X, DC

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Tony: Leica M7, 50 1.4 ASPH, C-41 pushed to 800 ISO. Photo of me and Donnie’s daughter. Maine

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Harold: Canon 5D Mark II, 28-70 2.8 L, NY

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JP: Nikon D2, Maine

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Mathias: Likely Leica M6, 50 cron, Arabia

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Shane: iPhone 4, NY

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