Nov 052014
 

rx1r

My RX1r Experience

by R.A. Krajnyak

Hi Steve and Brandon.

First, let me start off with thanks to you both for the great site and the work you put into it. Your site is an integral part of my daily web surfing routine and your insight, Steve, has been influential in my development as a photographer.

Secondly, let me thank you for turning me on to the I Shot It website. I was honored to be among the first nine runner-ups who receive their $20 entry fee back in the most recent B&W contest and was awarded a Mark of Excellence for the following photograph taken with my Sony RX1r:

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Lastly, I wanted to share my RX1r experience with you and your readers along with some images taken with this incredible camera. Anyone who is interested in viewing the images in this post at greater resolution can view them on my website in a gallery specifically set up with just these images. The smaller resolution here just doesn’t do this camera justice. The gallery is located here: http://www.quintaquad.com/Steve-Huff-Blog/n-dwFzN/

A bit of background on me. I’m 60 years old and have been involved with photography off and on for 40 years. My first good cameras were Nikon film SLR’s (Fm & Fe2). However my interest waned and they soon saw little use.

When digital came along I got the D40 and then the D5100. Like many enthusiasts, I ended up rarely taking my camera out due to the size and weight. About 1 1/2 years ago a friend of mine turned me on to the Sony RX100. I was blown away by the size and IQ along with the ability to shoot RAW. I began taking my camera everywhere and photographing everything. This piqued my interest in upgrading to a small interchangeable lens system.

I started researching on-line and discovered the M4/3 cameras as well as your site. I loved the size and IQ of the system and ended up with a Panny GX7. In addition, I have since added an Oly E-M10 which I love. I also discovered the Sony RX1 and was intrigued by it. However the price was out of my range.

Last October I received an unexpected small inheritance and decided to splurge on an RX1 or RX1r. I wasn’t sure which one but after researching further I decided on the RX1r. Your reviews were very influential in my decision. A year later I can truly say that I’m thrilled with my choice.

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The RX1r is in my mind a true classic…a small powerhouse FF camera with a fast, high quality 35mm Zeiss lens that is designed specifically for the sensor. The rendering of the Zeiss lens is gorgeous. You have aptly described it as “creamy” and I heartily agree. I’m not a pixel-peeping tech kind of guy nor am I into debating the quality of bokeh…I just know what I like and the RX1r definitely floats my boat when it comes to size, weight and IQ.

I added a few accessories that for me are essential…optional Sony EVF, Gordy leather wrist strap, Fotodiox grip and Fotodiox lens hood.

I shoot in manual mode but primarily use auto focus. Control layout is minimal and fairly well laid out. That being said I do have a few small niggles with the camera. AF could be better, I would prefer an EVF built into the body like the A7 series and I would like an articulated LCD. There is also a bit of a CA issue in high contrast situations such as foliage against a bright sky.

DR and low light high ISO is excellent (the David Grissom band image and my self-portrait were both shot hand-held at 3200).The quality of the noise is very pleasing and grain-like IMHO. I shoot strictly RAW so I can’t comment on JPEGs. The image detail is outstanding as is the RAW conversion out of camera color and contrast, although the last two things aren’t as important to me as I do extensive post work on the RAWs.

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The RAW files are extremely malleable which is important to me since post work is a major part of the overall photography experience for me personally and this is where the magic happens with this camera. I’ve been working with Photoshop since 1996 and have incorporated Lightroom along with Topaz, Nik and On One plug-ins as well. The RX1r files stand up beautifully under heavy processing. I love both B&W and color as you can tell from my photos. I’m not above doing extensive processing but I love a simple B&W image too. I just love all the different aspects and styles of photography in general. Due to my eclectic tastes I don’t focus on one specific genre…possibly to the detriment of developing my own signature style.

Many people think of the RX1/r as limiting because of the fixed 35mm lens. Not so in my experience. I find the RX1r to be fantastic for all kinds of photography in general from landscapes to macro. Granted it’s not useful for sports or birding but those are genres of photography that require fairly specific equipment in the form of long lenses. In addition to its versatility the RX1r is inconspicuous and quiet. I tried to select a wide range of photos to showcase what I think is the RX1r’s versatility.

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My favorite subject is my 90 year old mother who suffers from dementia in the form of severe short term memory loss and lives with me. We go walking every afternoon on the local nature trails and afterwards stop at the local coffee shop for hot chocolate or coffee. I always take my camera with me and document our walks. Although I only included three images with her as the subject (the portrait of her, the image of her in the straw hat from behind and the image of her hand on the gear cog) you can find many photos of her at my website, particularly in the two galleries, The Memories Of Margaret V. and A Walk Through The Seasons: Portraits In Dementia.

The first is highly processed, conceptual composite images while the latter is simple B&W photos. Both are photo essays meant to be viewed as an whole rather than as individual images. Note that not all the images from those were taken with the RX1r. The Memories gallery also contains a video of the images with an accompanying music track which was written, played and recorded by me as well. Unfortunately the image quality isn’t that great due to SmugMug’s video size restrictions.

I’ll end by saying I enjoyed your recent article about what you’ve learned from street photography. I had to laugh when I read the line about photographing what you love even if it’s flowers, trees and leaves. Those are three of my favorite subjects, in particular leaves. But the advice rings true…photograph what you love and forget about what others think. That’s not to say you should ignore criticism. On the contrary, constructive criticism is how we learn and improve at our craft. But take criticism with a grain of salt and stay true to yourself, not worrying about what others think. Never hesitate to take chances and stretch yourself in order to grow.

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Thanks again for all you do for photography and for the opportunity to share about the hobby and camera I love.

R.A. Krajnyak AKA QuintaQuad

quintaquad.com

Sep 182014
 

Five Weddings, Five Cameras, Five Images

Steve and Brandon, like so many others who visit your website, I want to thank you for providing a rich source of information for all of us who appreciate straight-forward, real-world reviews and insights about photography. You do a great job, and I appreciate all of your hard work to make such a wonderful website work so well.

My photography life was so much easier back in the days when I shot film. I had my Nikon F2 and Nikon FM, later to be replaced by an F4 and an FE. That was it. Three primes, two always on camera, and I was ready to go. No muss and no fuss. But, digital came along, I got older, and GAS crept into my life. I eventually wound up with five digital cameras (after buying and selling others!), and though I’ve wanted to thin the herd, I enjoy all of them and didn’t know which, if any, I could let go of to simplify my photography life a bit more.

Then, it happened. INSPIRATION! My wife and I got invited to five weddings over a seven weekend period this spring. Five weddings, all located here in North Carolina, but scattered throughout the state. I knew that each wedding would have a pro dutifully documenting each event, and many guests would have point-and-shoots, phones with cameras, and a few DSLRs. Everybody is a photographer, right?

What an opportunity for me! I had no obligation to capture the events. I had no responsibility at all other than to be there, be generous with gifts, and have a great time. So, I decided that I’d be selfish and take photos for myself and not be concerned with capturing images for the wedding couples or their families, despite the fact that each family knows of my passion for photography…the guy who takes a camera everywhere he goes. And besides, maybe I’d get a better feel for which of my cameras I should sell.

This was the plan. Having these five cameras and there being five weddings, I decided to use one and only one camera for each wedding. My goal was to create one shot from each wedding that I was really happy with. Of course, I took more than one shot at each wedding, but I didn’t take all that many. Remember, there was the professional and all those other folks with their image makers already doing that. Each of my five images was to be very different in content and rendition. I didn’t care what the subject was. All that mattered was that the shot had to be taken at the wedding. All shots would be taken in raw, and I would use Lightroom however I wanted to create my final versions. I wrote the names of my five cameras on pieces of paper, put them in a hat, and selected one piece of paper at a time for weddings 1 – 5. I was inspired!

For the first wedding, I shot my versatile Olympus EM-1 with 12-40mm lens. It’s ironic that my wedding one image turned out to be of the newly-married couple driving off to their honeymoon. One would think that that shot would be best if it was from the fifth wedding. But, this is not a photo essay. As for this image, I found it interesting that as I shot the sequence of the couple pulling away in the car, the two pros were fumbling with lenses and missed the entire thing. The newlyweds loves this shot. ;-)

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For the second wedding, I made a grave mistake! I brought my SONY RX1 with a low battery level. When the SONY went dead, I reached into my pocket for my backup battery only to discover that it was a battery for my Olympus. Don’t make this same mistake kids. Fortunately, I had already taken a few shots that I thought would be good candidates for my project. This one catches the mood and landscape for me, as we all relaxed after the wedding. There is something both formal and informal going on here.

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I brought my Leica M-E and 50mm Zeiss Planar lens for the third wedding. I have a love-hate relationship with the Leica. I love the files…love…love…love…, but my aging eyes really don’t like manual focusing all that much anymore. More about this later. The image? Well, you can’t tell from my photo, but the young bride was wearing her great-grandmother’s wedding dress. Wow! I decided that I wanted a “vintage” feel to the image, but to also include the modernity of the moment, a young woman in her 20s getting married. Thus, the tattoo emphasized along with the vintage rendition.

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I would have preferred to stay with smaller cameras for each wedding, but my Nikon Df came up on the fourth pull out of the hat. I didn’t want to be all that conspicuous with a camera, so I stuck with my 50mm kit lens with no hood rather than my 24-120mm lens. Not a small package, but not all that large either. The outdoor location for the wedding was the North Carolina mountains, west of Asheville, and I just couldn’t resist the shot, even though it doesn’t have “wedding” written on it. Hey, it’s my project, right?

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The final wedding. The final camera. The final shot. I took my trusty SONY RX100 M2 for this one. I love this little camera. However, another SNAFU, but not with the camera, exactly. The wedding was to be taken outside near the water, but a storm was threatening and at the last minute, chairs were set up in the reception area inside the country club. It was dark (Where’s my Df when I need it?), cramped, and a lot of light was coming through those windows backlighting the couple. Nevertheless, I got this shot. With a lot of help in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro, I created an image to my liking.

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Five…Five…and Five. DONE!

I’m not a great photographer, I just know what I like. I was moaning about having too many cameras when a situation presented itself that inspired me to do a photo project. I had a great time with it and learned some new things from each of the wedding experiences, some while shooting, some while working in Lightroom. Now, I look for everyday situations to inspire me further. I love it.

As for the five cameras, all served me well. I did sell the ME…but I ordered a Leica T!

Wedding anyone?

Thanks, Brandon and Steve!

Fran DeRespinis

Aug 252014
 

Dear Steve,

Father’s Day just recently passed in Brazil. As past year I’m writing to you on this date, and as past year I’m sending to you a few pictures of my inspiration, my precious daughter. I realized that I never had sent pictures in color to you. Just because I don’t get so many that way — a good composition in color is harder to do, at least for me. So this time may I share some few, in color.

Dear Brandon,
Be proud of your dad I’m absolutely sure he’s proud of you — working so close to him, and following his steps — it’s a dream for any father that comes true.

Dear Both,
If you do will it would be a pleasure to see these few posted like an inspiration that might inspire. I’ll be glad and proud, she either.

My best wishes, in color. And happy father’s day,

Luiz Paulo

PS > Don’t know if this is important (the exif data) — I keep shooting with my old M9, and keep enjoying it…

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Jul 172014
 

Photographing 100 Strangers with Fuji

By Justin Holder

Steve,

Earlier in the year, I started what seemed like a mountain of a project, planning to meet 100 strangers over the next years, interviewing them and compiling them into a book for my two sons. The project is called “Advice For My Boys” and has ended up being not overwhelming, but an incredible journey.

Just last Friday, a couple of days before Father’s Day, I had already hit my 100th stranger since mid February.

I have a Canon 5DMKII and a host of L-lenses, but I knew that would add an intimidation factor, beyond what there would already be. So, I shot the entire project with my Fuji X100s, Fuji X-E1 and then the Fuji X-T1. As many of the other Fuji fans know, these cameras offer such incredible results, yet seem so cosmetically casual and unassuming. I could not be more pleased with the results.

Now, over 100 deep in the project, I have decided to keep going. I always ask my strangers initially three questions: happiest time of your life, toughest time of your life, one piece of advice for my boys. Amazingly, not ONE person has said no to the project.

Even more cool has been the ripple effect of it. One of my favorites, Lois, who worked at McDonald’s said, as we were sitting down to talk, “you know, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever been noticed.” I asked what she meant. “Oh, I’m just one of those people who goes through life and you don’t really notice if I’m there or not.” The next day, lots of readers of the project showed up at her McDonald’s with cards, notes, little gifts, etc. Even the president of the bank went over to see her. She emailed me that evening and said it was the best day of her life. There have been so many similar stories in this project…and I feel certain there’s not one stranger I’ve met by chance.

We’re all fans of Steve’s site because we love cameras and photography, but even more the opportunities and experiences they often allow. If you’ve been considering doing something out of the box, I’d urge you to make the leap. Yes, it’s intimidating, but the rewards greatly outweigh the risk. Cheers to all of you!

Website for the project: www.AdviceForMyBoys.com

Nashville NBC affiliate news story

Thanks, Steve!

Justin

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Jun 252014
 

marlonco2

An Evolution Through Passion

By Marlon Co

Thank you so much! Your site and its contributors are truly an inspiration to me. I check the site everyday and the combination of technical information and passionate art-makers make this site a place where anyone can feel welcome, which is why I write to you today. I am a young 25 (soon to be 26) year old based out of Westchester, New York. I am a graphic designer by trade and a photographer by passion.

My interest in photography began in my freshman year in high school. I remember my girlfriend at the time asking me what I wanted for Christmas and I said without hesitation: a digital camera. What I had pictured in my mind was a DSLR, but I knew that was a lofty request. Instead I received a Sony point-and-shoot that was interesting but didn’t provide me the control I was seeking. Plus it was almost unusable given the fact that it devoured AA-batteries, burning through a pair after about 20 shots or so…insane. Nonetheless this was still a blessing to me as it prompted me to do some more research into the tools I needed to achieve what I wanted to in photography. In a sense it gave me passion and G.A.S. This is of course a good thing at the beginning of one’s photographic life. Experimentation with techniques and equipment is paramount to finding out what works for you. But as we all know, once you figure out what does work, G.A.S. does not easily go away. You still have the urge to try more stuff, especially given the current leaps technology is making.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school; I dropped photography for a while in those in between years, but still did research online. I explored different styles of photography to see what I was attracted to and more importantly what I enjoyed—initially this was street like many others before me. While this stimulated my interests, I still did not have a camera to work with. Naïve as I was, I had not considered film at all; a much cheaper alternative to buying digital for high school student at the time. Desiring to get what I wanted, I set out looking for work. After a year of working at a chocolate shop after school I had saved enough to purchase a Canon Digital Rebel XT. It was with this camera that I first began exploring the world and light.

Follow Your Own Direction, Leica M9, 50mm

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I practiced throughout my college career and while my shots were OK in my eyes, they never reached the level I wanted to accomplish. I blame a lot of that on the fact that I was just blindly shooting things, not shooting RAW, and not knowing enough about the photographic workflow; especially in processing. I was still snap-shooting but not CRAFTING shots with purpose, care, and intent. Slightly discouraged by my perceived lack of skill, photography took the back seat while I played with graphic design in college.

It was four years later in my last year in college that I had the opportunity to rediscover my love of photography. I have the darkroom to thank for that. Most importantly I am thankful for my professor who taught the only two classes in photography at my university; the only classes I ever took. It was in his first class that I went back to the roots of photography and learned the beauty of film and the darkroom, shooting with the standard AE-1. In the second class we developed our styles and each decided on a series to individually produce for a final show at the end of the semester. These classes truly shaped and solidified my passion.

It’s been four years since I graduated…I pursued graphic design as my career path but photography remained (and so did G.A.S). Since then, I’ve been continuously shooting with a variety of cameras. I eventually landed on an M9-P last year when I found out I loved the small size and awesome little lenses of rangefinders after shooting a Zorki-4 (now broken) and an R-D1s. My next investment will be the M (or next incarnation), but that’s down the line…

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This time last year, at the close of a long-term design project, I decided to give-in to my passion and I started looking for work in photography with the simple desire to learn more and to grow. I never got any “real” jobs, but I still kept shooting. My subject matter and style was as eccentric as I was. A few months later, I was hired by a friend from high school and got to shoot my first paid gig as a photographer; a wedding of all things! While this was not my first time shooting at a wedding—I had previously snapped at two weddings for fun— this was the first time it meant anything because now it wasn’t just for me, it was for someone else; I had to produce. The couple trusted in my ability and style. At the end of the day I think I did a pretty good job for my first time. The bride mentioned that she cried while looking at the shots I had taken, rest assured they were tears of joy, so I think the newly weds enjoyed them as well!

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They were a truly fun couple to photograph.

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Laughing During the Ceremony, Leica M9, Voigtlander 75mm

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That event further changed me. It proved to me that someone out there thinks I am good at this and instilled in me a confidence that I could pursue photography. However, as we all know working in art is extremely difficult and is easier said than done. The term “starving artist” doesn’t exist merely by random chance, it describes the struggle that we as artists have to go through to be “successful.” Most times, especially in our formative years, that means doing a lot of work for essentially no pay–but if we really cared about cash, we would’ve done something else right?

Around the same time, another friend offered me the chance of a lifetime. He is a comedian who wanted to travel the United States to do shows and pursue his own art. Fortunately for me, he wanted someone to document the adventure. Being a photographer, he thought I would be a natural fit to film the entire journey. So on October 8th, 2013 we set out in a 31ft RV and traveled the United States. We left from New York and moved down the East coast to Miami, zig-zagging through the Southern states until we reached the Pacific, then headed up the West coast to Vancouver, B.C. Eventually we made our way back through the middle states until we arrived home in New York. Frequent stops allowed us the time to really see the land and meet its people.

Raheem the Jewler, Leica M9, Canon 50mm 1.2 LTM
He tried to sell me various lenses after seeing my M9 while I was walking around a flea market in Florida. While he did not have any M lenses, he had a kind heart and was eager to have his picture taken, something I find quite rare in people.

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Abby and Nick, Leica M9, Voigtlander 35mm 1.4

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Fast forward to now, nine months later—yes, you read that correctly—I emerge from that experience tired, but ultimately more whole. Leaving your comfort zone so entirely and spending that much time away from all that you love reveals a lot about person. It provides you with a whole new perspective and I wouldn’t have given up this experience for anything. Photography is about perspective after all; it is a point of view on the world.

Now what’s the point of all this? Especially that title at the top that has, so far, had nothing to do with anything other than being a mini biography of my photographic life? Well I’m about to get to that. The common thread that is meandering through these various phases of my young life is this: passion. Not once in all those years did I ever lose interest completely. While there were times of self-doubt, as there always will be, my passion for this craft kept me wanting to learn and now it inspires me to produce.

Last year, I foolishly thought that the only thing I needed to become a fully realized photographer was a job in photography. I felt that if I worked in any field that involved photography I would be recognized as more “professional.” In a sense I was looking for validation from those already in the field that I was good enough. At times I still feel this way, but I now realize that it really doesn’t matter as long as you produce and do what you love. Who cares what other people think? If you like your work, you like your work, and that’s what matters. As long as you produce (practice) you’re succeeding as an artist; and hopefully simultaneously promoting your own happiness.

The trip around the US provided me with the realization that my dreams are as real as I make them. If I want to be a photojournalist (arguably my favorite type of photography, and one of the hardest fields to get into), I simply have to create my own stories. Just because I haven’t gotten a job as a photojournalist doesn’t mean I’m not one. I am as much a photojournalist as I make myself to be and now that I am home I have taken a retrospective look at my work to find common themes and stories in my photography. In parallel to this I am also diving into the stories I want to start to work on. In a nutshell, I just want to DO. I want to stop waiting around, talking, and thinking; I want to produce and do so with purpose.

Exhale, Canon Digital Rebel XT, 50mm 1.4
Probably one of the first chances at photojournalism. My brother called me at 3AM telling me I needed to pick him up on I-287 in Westchester. He narrowly avoided the car wreck on the right coming home from work, but got a flat from the debris. This police office walks slowly back towards the scene, his breath visible in the February night.

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So this is my philosophy now: to just produce, produce, PRODUCE! To chase the stories, images, and ideas that interest me with abandon, but without losing clarity and focus. If the art gets noticed, it gets noticed, but that’s not the important part. It’s giving yourself to your passions fully. If you’re not producing, you’re not practicing, and if you’re not practicing, then you’re not evolving/growing. Simple as that.

While this is all just the rambling thoughts of a 25-year-old who has tried to pursue a path less traveled; I think the lesson applies to everyone who may have doubts about their own passions. At times I felt defeated, but that defeat came from within. Similarly, success also comes from within, so if you love what you do: DO IT! At all costs, through all challenges and doubt. Indulge in your passion and you will get better, you will evolve, you will grow, and you will become more yourself. No person or job title can take that personal success from you, much less define it; you have to define yourself on your terms.

Now that you’ve gotten to know me and my (possibly) not so eccentric ideas, I’d like to show how I’ve started to put these ideas into practice, in pictures now! Don’t worry not so much reading left!

The first set is an incomplete series that I “discovered” while looking at old photos and have decided to expand upon into the future. My brother and I have always traveled around NY when it experiences harsh weather conditions. For the New York Tri-State area, this typically means hurricanes and big snow storms. Protected by my brother’s jeep, he calls it the Mongoose, and believe me this thing growls, we carefully navigate our hometown and occasionally venture into NYC to witness the power of nature. I always have a camera during these bonding moments between us, and often find a moment of calm in these storms.

Golf Course, Hurricane Irene 2011, Nikon D90, Voigtlander 40mm
A golf course near my old home in Larchmont, NY transformed by Irene into a lake.

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Random Snowstorm, Canon 50mm 1.4
I left the shelter of my friends home to find these tracks in the empty street and untouched snow.

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Along the Edge, Hurricane Sandy, Leica M9, Canon 50mm 1.2
Literally just an hour before Sandy made landfall, my brother and I were driving around Mamaroneck, NY to find these people taking a walk, despite the rising water and inpending storm. The hulls of the boats are usually not visible from this angle and the next day four of these trees were gone.

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Going Home, winter storm Nemo, Leica M9, 35mm 1.4
During a late night drive in this storm, my brother was wiping off the accumulating frost on his windshield wipers when this brave soul was slowly biking home in the snow.

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This next series is what I’ve titled “Colorful Patchwork” and it represents my experience of the vast North American landscape as I traveled on the RV road trip. These photos came out of my internal need to produce a photographic project while on the road trip. I never expected it to turn out this way, as I mainly shoot with some human element present, but the images are simply half-memories of what I thought was beautiful at that moment as the world passed by the RV window or when I stood still long enough to really see. For this series, I put a general constraint on the composition of the photos and what I noticed is that, while somewhat repetitive, the set as a whole is stronger because of those guidelines. Another important lesson I learned: create with intent and purpose, focus.

Chesapeak Bay Bridge, Canon 5D MKII, 75mm
A really amazing bridge, but somewhat discomforting when in the fog and you can’t see the end 23 miles later.

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South Beach, Miami, Leica M9, 50mm

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Atlanta, Leica M9, 50mm

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Waking-up to the Pacific, Leica M9, 50mm
After 3.5 months of driving and reaching California at night, waking up to this sight in Malibu nearly brought tears to the eyes.

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So you start producing, great, but what happens now? Well, you keep going thats for sure, but you also put yourself out there if that’s part of your goals. So here at the beginning of my newest adventure (the first time I’ve ever submitted to a major blog such as this one), I am beginning a process of bringing my work to a larger audience to see what happens. I’m jumping in head first and running with it.

You’ve seen quite a random selection of what I do as a photographer, like I said my style and subject matter is eclectic. You’ve also gotten a glimpse of how I evolved with my photography. That whole process is now propelling me into the future of my work with a new motivation and even stronger passion.

So here I am. My name is Marlon and I love photography. The world—this life—is beautiful if you choose to see it that way. I hope my photos remind people of that.

If you liked my work feel free to check out my links below. If you didn’t like it at all, well you’re entitled to that, no hard feelings! I have plenty of years ahead to get better and maybe change your mind!

www.co-graphic.com

www.facebook.com/mc0photography

A few more shots:

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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

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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)


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