Jul 272014
 

Black and White Storytelling

by Ben Miller

Steve and Brandon,

I think that all photographers are searching for the perfect camera and a photographic style that they can call their own.

My main focus in photography is black and white storytelling. I find that the sum of several photographs which tells a story can be greater than one just one perfect image. I have found the gear that best suits my focus. In my bag is a Leica M9 and an Olympus OM-D E-M5. Both of these systems allow me to get close to people without being obtrusive. I believe in prime lenses and do not own any zooms.

I recently was commissioned to shoot an event with my M9 and E-M5. During the gathering I was pulled away and asked to join a few gentlemen in the parking lot. I wrote the following story to accompany the captures of what occurred:

 

At every party there is a secret party.

One that only few know about and are invited to.

I was lured away from the crowd to one of these clandestine gatherings.

I turned down the smoke as it is not my thing.

I partook in drink instead.

They handed me a big shot of Fireball whiskey.

I gargled the cinnamon spiced liquor and then swished it around in my mouth.

After swallowing I asked if they had handed me water and if there was anything stronger.

As I raised my Leica to my eye I said “document everything”.

I then smiled and said “don’t worry…..

I’ll only capture you from the nose down.”

 

Attached are the images from the photo story.

You can view more of my work on my website and blog:

www.photographsbyben.com

www.photographsbybenmiller.blogspot.com

Thank you Steve and Brandon for having a wonderful website that so many of us look forward to everyday.

Cheers,

Ben Miller

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Jul 192014
 

40mm, the blind frame

by Daniel Schaefer

40mm, the blind frame.
As any photographer building out a kit knows, the stresses of balancing both budget, and usability when purchasing lenses is always a daunting challenge. When I was an SLR shooter, I always tended towards two fields of view, primarily 35mm for my everyday carry, and 50mm for portrait work. I was however always frustrated by the limits of the two and found myself stuck switching more often than I would like.

I was never entirely able to settle the frame in a way that I liked, 35mm was near perfect horizontally, but for a vertical portrait I found it unflattering, the 50mm had the opposite issue, near flawless for the vertical frame, but far too tight for any horizontal image, far too isolating to show scene the way I wished I could.

I was one day lucky enough to be handed a friends beautiful silver M6, with the task of putting the long retired workhorse back to good use. The task then came down to finding a lens to put the camera to use with. I’ve spent the past few years doing freelance Vintage equipment maintenance, resale and repair, during that time a lens that came across my desk time and time again, yet never managed to catch my attention was the oft forgotten Leica/Minolta Rokkor 40mm f/2

The particular lens is an interesting amalgamation of German and Japanese construction, German optics, shipped in brass tubes to Japan to be assembled under the Minolta monicker. The one hazard, was the lack of 40mm frame lines on the M6, I had the 50mm, I had the 35mm, but for my new weapon of choice I needed to figure out a way to compose…

So, blind to the edges of my frame, I began shooting, both from my eye as per usual, but with my new-found freedom that ignorance of the frame gave me, I began for the first time, shooting almost exclusively from the hip. I began to learn the frame, roll after roll I began to learn the space that the lens occupied, near perfect both horizontally and vertically, the lens sang just as sweetly for street, or portraits.

I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with the 40mm for the past six months, both on the M6, and now an M9. I always approach equipment choice by wondering what story it might let me tell, and so far, I’m enjoying the one the 40mm is writing.

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Photographer and Cinematographer

New York / Los Angeles / Firenze

- Outlierimagery.com -

 

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Jul 032014
 

A Leica wedding tryout

By Ronald Tan

Hello Steve
I’ve been an avid reader of your site and it has been a daily source of inspiration to me I’ve always been interested in the articles related to Leica. In my free time,i shoot weddings with a Canon Dslr.However, I’ve always toyed with the idea of shooting a wedding with a Leica

I came across this article on your site
http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2013/11/15/yes-i-do-the-leica-m240-as-a-wedding-photographers-tool-by-joeri-van-der-kloet/

and this inspired me to try shooting with my M9. So off I went on a wedding assignment with my DSLR and my M9 in tow!

I shot these images with my M9 and a voigtlander 50mm 1.1. I simply love the images from the M9 and so do the couple. Hopefully one day, i can be like Joeri and make shooting weddings with a Leica my trademark as well

Image 1:Leica M9 F1.4 1/125 ISO160

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Image 2:Leica M9 F1.2 1/1000 ISO160

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Image 3:Leica M9 F1.2 1/1000 ISO160

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Ronald Tan
http://www.flickr.com/redsun81

Jul 032014
 

Greetings from Upper Bavaria in South Germany with my M9

By Rainer
Hello!

I like to take pictures outside in the landscape of Bavaria with its picturesque atmosphere. Most of them are quite simple shots but every once in a while, I capture some really neat shots. This is not because I am a great technical photographer, but because I am actually there, right in the middle of the world that excites me the most. Even though I am not a pro, I still love to take photos just like you. These are the photos I would like to share with you

Located throughout the northern Alpine foothills, Upper Bavaria is home to pristine lakes, steep mountains and the famous metropolis of Munich. Today, I would like to share a couple of photos capture last week during the Corpus Christi Procession (also known as Corpus Domini) at Samerberg (Alp region), celebrated by the Catholic Church, the local society for traditional costumes and the mountain troops.

All the photos are captured with my Leica M9 and a Summilux 35 mm lens. (You can find more photos on www.samerbergernachrichten.de and www.rainernitzsche.de).

The Leica M is a fabulous camera to capture the colors of traditional costumes and the specific atmosphere in Upper Bavaria.

Take care, Rainer

Picture 1 and 2: Salute during Corpus Christi procession at Samerberg

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Picture 3, 4,5: The procession to different altars, representing the four corners of the earth.

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Picture 6 People join the procession in traditional clothes.

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Picture 7: After the procession, parishioners return to the church where benediction usually takes place.

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Jun 102014
 

Tibet with my M9

By John Kurniawan

Hi Steve/Brandon,

I am a frequent visitor of you side after I got my first M9+cron 35asph. I have not using rangefinder type of camera for 20+ years since my FM2 rest inside the drawer as I am busy building up my business.

Around 10 years ago when I got a second daughter I start to get D300 and shot occasionally not seriously yet till last Jun we are on a vacation trip where I have to carry bag pack, a DSLR+zoom lens and for sure shopping bags…..

Leica M9 has been my dreams since it launch but back and forth hesitate to get one as have the mind-set difficult to focus, everything else must be manually set, so last August I took the plunge and get a pre-owned M9 from a friend. The first 2 weeks quite frustrating to get use to it, but I determined must get over it and since then every where I travel only one cam and one lens to off some of the load.

Herewith I attached some shots of my recent trip to Tibet, hope all of you enjoy the colorful Tibet.

Cheers

Gangway

Prayers

MonksDebate

Nannie

May 262014
 

Photowalk and Workshop Thoughts

By Ben

Steve and Brandon,

The first photography workshop that I attended was the street photography workshop you hosted in Chicago during September 2011. It was a wonderful experience.

I recently had the opportunity to teach a street photography workshop hosted by the local camera shop in my area. I met very passionate photographers and was able to share my thoughts with them. I learned from them as well. I think that workshops are fantastic and I wish they occurred more frequently. I wanted to share my thoughts with you and your readers regarding photowalks and workshops.

Photowalk is not a word that can be easily be found defined in a dictionary. I understand it to mean: An informal organized gathering of people whose intent is to stroll around leisurely taking photos, enjoying themselves, and learning from one another through interaction and observation. I think that photowalks are analogous to photography workshops. They can be considered one and the same.

Workshops and photowalks are great investment and idea for photographers at every skill level. Here is why:

Education

No explanation is necessary. We all benefit from instruction. Regarding workshops in general, photography related or not, I always take something away from the experience.

Interaction

Workshops allow for more individualized attention. Studies have shown that more is accomplished with a smaller teacher to student ratio. A smaller group size allows for more opportunity for communication. Sometimes individual student/teacher time is included during a workshop. Before a workshop I determine what it is that I want to get out of the workshop. I prepare a list of questions ahead of time. Many of these questions are naturally answered through the content of material presented. The other questions I will ask the instructor during a one-on-one session.

Informality

Workshops typically consist of ten or fewer students. In my formal career I have had the opportunity to present, teach, and mentor numerous times. There are benefits to learning in smaller groups. I have seen it with my own eyes. In larger groups and in classroom settings it is harder for people to speak up and ask questions. I once taught a night class at the local college that only had seven students enrolled. The restraint and sheepishness of students was almost non-existent. In that situation I felt less like a teacher and more like a big brother type of mentor. The atmosphere was very relaxed. People felt comfortable. I have observed the same type of social synergy in photography workshops. People interact, they speak up and communicate.

Time

Workshops are generally scheduled for a full weekend or less. I’ve heard time and time again that the best way to become a photographer is to keep your day job. Like most of us, I have a 9 to 5 career. There isn’t time available in my busy life to enroll in formal photography or art classes. Workshops are great because they generally occur over the weekend. They are usually held at a very great location and thus can feel like a mini vacation. One day workshops that are held on a Saturday seem to fit me well. My wife and I will generally travel to the workshop destination on Friday night after work. Saturday day is taken up with me at the workshop and my wife shopping or checking out the tourist attractions that are offered. We meet up in the evening for dinner and a night out on the town. I also use this time out with my wife to get some street shooting in as well. It’s great to multitask street shooting while out on a date with your love. The day ends up being a full day of photography for me.

Camaraderie

People like to spend time with other like minded people with the same interests. Workshops mainly consist of time in a classroom followed by shooting time. During this shooting time there is much interaction. This is where I approach or am approached by others to chat about what has previously discussed during the day. Conversations typically start with “I really agreed with your comment regarding……” or “I have the same camera. Do you like the lens you are shooting with? I’ve considered buying it.” Advertising for workshops should include “For sale: instant friends, just add cameras”. I have met many great people attending photography workshops. Someone usually facilitates email address exchange at the end. I can say that I keep in contact with some people I’ve met through email or simply following and commenting on their blogs, social pages, etc.

Attached are several photos that I captured during the second session of the workshop I taught. All photos were taken with a Leica M9 and Voigtlander 35mm Skopar PII.

You can view more of the photos at:
www.photographsbyben.com
www.photographsbybenmiller.blogspot.com

Thank you Steve and thank you Brandon for keeping such a wonderful website and giving all of us something to look forward to everyday.

Cheers,

Ben

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May 242014
 

Travel Photography: The Algarve, Portugal

By Hilmar Buch

There are photographers who keep their knowledge, skills and shooting technique just for themselves, and I’m sure each of them has a good cause to do so. And there are those photographers who share their broad and in-depth knowledge with everybody else, often even for free; they don’t ask what they will get in return.

Of course I very much appreciate what the latter group has done for the photographic community and I have profited a lot from watching videos online and reading articles. As I’m not in a position to give back to the community by writing an article on the technical aspects of photography, I’d like to share a little travel experience with you.

In September and October 2013 we spent a few weeks on the Algarve which is the region in the south of Portugal. Although the Algarve is well-known at least to Europeans as a beautiful travel destination, there are no doubt more popular regions that come to mind when Europeans plan their next holidays. Having visited the Algarve I can point out that it’s absolutely worth and rewarding to spend your holidays there but as always you need to know what you are looking for and what you get.

The Algarve is not a region for doing partying all night (although you could do that, too) but is rather known for its intact countryside, culture and people; and in the evening you can participate in the snugness and the good meals of the local restaurants.

In terms of the scenery, the western and eastern part of the Algarve should be distinguished. The eastern part is rather rocky in the countryside and borders on Spain. In fact a broad river called Guardiana separates these two countries down in the south so it’s recommended not to forget your passport when crossing this river by boat.

The western part shines if you love spectacular beaches and rock formations. Almost every bay has its own beach with sparkling white sands. Most beaches can be reached by car, foot or boat. The sea can be quite rough here, what we loved and what makes the region very popular for doing water sports such as wakeboarding.

Our time of travel at the end of European summer and early autumn respectively was perfect. The temperatures were pleasant (around 22-25 degrees Celsius at midday and in the afternoon) and the places and beaches we visited weren’t crowded, though not dreary at all. Hotel prices were good as off season had just begun.

After or before spending some time in the Algarve region, I recommend to visit Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. This city is very special but it’s hard to put it into words why many others and I feel that way. Stereotypes described with terms such as ‘fado’ and ‘saudade’ (both are Portuguese words) are generally attributed to Lisbon and its inhabitants, but the city and the people living there deserve not to be put into a box. There’s much more than that and you should definitely make your own experience.

Publishing this little report on a photography site I’ll add a lot of photographs, aiming to illustrate the beauty and uniqueness of that region. Photographic opportunities arise almost everywhere, comprising a lot of sun vs shade situations. The beaches are gorgeous and invite you to shoot either with the sun in your back or in front of you.

If you’re wondering what kind of equipment I use for taking photographs, have a look at my earlier contribution to Steve’s great website, featuring shooting in Namibia (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2013/06/17/shooting-in-nambia-by-hilmar-buch/). That article is more gear geek related. I still use the same camera and lenses.

So what does my report on the Algarve have to do with the introduction of this report? As I would love the Algarve to remain rather unnoticed, it would have been better to keep silent. But the place deserves to be explored by you guys! Maybe this article will attract a few of you to discover this region and make you enjoy taking photos in a foreign location.

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May 202014
 

Art of the Grind

By Huss Hardan

Grind: Definition: A skateboard trick where the skateboarder slides on the trucks.

Skateboarding is part of the scene in my home town of Venice, California. Most days when I’m not at work I’m down at the beach on a long board, with my dogs and a camera in tow.
There is a big skate park just off the board walk, which attracts dare devils as well as on lookers.

I took these shots using Leitz 18 and 28mm lenses on a Leica M-E. I found the manual focus rangefinder perfect for this work, as I would pre-focus on a spot, while the optical viewfinder allowed me to keep both eyes open so I could time the release as the rider came into view. This enabled a lag free experience.

I concentrated on the shadows created as I was going for a different look than the usual action shots. This also allowed me to shoot down removing distractions from the frame. I set the camera to add an extra 1 2/3 stops as the extremely harsh reflections from the concrete bowl would normally cause drastic under exposure.

Peace out
Huss

husshardan.com

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May 152014
 

Thailand with my Leica M9

By Thomas Cassagne

My name is Thomas, and I am a French amateur – but passionate – photographer.

I began shooting with a Leica M7 a few years ago, mostly black and white. But processing the films took me too long and I could not spend enough time on the streets, which made switch – with some reluctancy – to a Leica M9, about two years ago. I also switched to color, mostly because I do not like the rendering of digital black and white, but also because I wanted to try something new.

Over the years, my interest in photography narrowed to two categories : family, which I keep to myself, and street photography, that I started publishing on a blog a few months ago. Most of my pictures are taken in my hometown, Paris, or during my travels.

Here is a small series of pictures that I took during a travel to Thailand last summer. It is a beautiful country, and traveling is easy even with kids. I strongly recommend it!

For those interested in gear, let me say that all the pictures below were taken either with an old Summicron 35 mm (version IV), or with a brand new Summilux 50 mm. I processed the images in Lightroom 5 – the best photo software in my opinion. Here we go!

First, a picture of Bangkok. I like this picture because it is representative of what I like in this city : messy, but colorful and strangely beautiful.

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Scooters are a very important means of transportation in Thailand, and there is no limitation to the number of passengers : I found that this multi-generational scooter was a beautiful example of this.

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Tuk-tuks are also part of the street landscape of the city – and an fun way to discover it.

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Street vendors, and especially food vendors, are everywhere on the streets. The food is exceptionally cheap and good.

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Waiting for customers can be long, which makes reading the news a very popular activity…

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At night, Bangkok’s Chinatown can look somehow like NYC..

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Monks are also an important part of the visual landscape, and it is always a pleasure to see their orange gown in the streets or – of course – in the temples.

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When traveling around the country, you can meet some incredible characters, such as this boat driver, who was very nice and caring.

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Even in touristic areas, such as old temples, there are always opportunities for interesting pictures.

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The countryside and its rice fields are very impressive, and a good opportunity to meet different Thai people.

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Finally, when you reach the islands of the south of Thailand, expect to be amazed by the beauty of the color of the sea…

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I hope you enjoyed those pictures : of course I welcome any comments!

Cheers,

Thomas

www.thomasveyre.wordpress.com

May 132014
 

One year of Leica

By Philipp Weimer

Hi Steve,

I stumbled over your site a bit more than a year ago, when I started to seriously think about getting a Leica. Having stopped taking pictures pretty much in the late eighties, I had rediscovered photography in 2010 when I got my first DSLR and by End of 2011 I was quite fascinated with street photography. As everybody on the internet was raving about how great Leica would be for that, I got interested in it and googling for Leica, I found your site.

And so your site, together with photos I found on the internet made me put an M9 under my Christmas tree in 2011. As I like to take my shots on the street wide open, I quickly realized that the M9 wouldn’t turn me into a stellar street photographer over night. Shooting wide open with Leica glass means you can’t use zone focussing, you have to set focus on your subject with precision and, even after a year of using it, I’m still slower than the autofocus on my D5000.

But did I ever regret buying it? Not for one second!

It sure is not a camera I would recommend to a beginner. It’s auto white balance is quirky, if not to say random. The usable high ISO performance ends for me at 1250. Which I think is quite a clever marketing strategy to make people dream of a Noctilux. It does have aperture priority, but with the 35mm, getting the exposure right is a challenge as soon as the sky is visible on a sunny day if you’re on auto. And of course, manual focussing needs practice, practice and then some more practice.

And still I would say, 2012 is the year, the quality of my pictures made a huge jump forward. The camera sure slowed me down, but made me think more. I learned to focus manually, set my white balance with a grey card in tricky light, I learned how to set the exposure manually. And every now and then, when I did things right, the M9 gave me a picture that made me smile and kept me pushing forward.

Turning 50 this year, I decided to look for an M3 built in 1962 and after finding one, I got into film as well, which helps me to improve further. Having only 36 shots per roll makes you take pictures more consciously, which helps improving the composition in the shots. Not to mention the fun developing your black and white films at home.

Was it the Leica that made me progress so much this year? Probably not alone. There is also Google Plus, which helped me to hook up with photographers, both virtually and in person. Not to mention the warm and fuzzy feeling of getting your photos “plussed”. But there is this special feeling I only get with a Leica. The way it feels in the hand. The simplistic mode of operation. Unlike other cameras, it makes my mind go into photography mode when I hold it. With it I make pictures, I don’t take them.

And so, as a thank you for work, your site and making me buy a Leica, I send you a couple of shots I took this year. Sort of a thank you token :)

Cheers Phil

Afternoon in the park

Artist

City of Zug

Stepping into the light

Sunrise over Lake Zürich

Leica M3, 50mm cron, Kodak 400TX @ 400 ISO

May 072014
 

The Sony A7r & 55 1.8 along with the M9 & Noctiluxf1

By Julien Ducenne

Hi Steve and Brandon,

My Name is Julien Ducenne, I am a filmmaker living in London and working on images for about 12 years now.

Since long time my dream was to have a Leica M and couple years ago I bought the M9 with a CV 35f1.2, I was amazed by the quality of both and quickly bought a Noctilux f1 to continue my personal learning and exploration on images. I really love shallow depth of field, and the bokeh was great…
Until the day when the Sony A7r was available, I bought it with the FE55mm 1.8 and with a bokeh result really close to the Noctilux ( at equal aperture), I had more details and Sharpness on my pictures. I did not regret the Noctilux at all and I will continue to Buy M mount lenses but I will use both…

…At the end gear is only gear and the result only matter…

Have a great day.

Julien Ducenne

My Flicker : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ducenne/

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Apr 172014
 

Looking Back to the Zeiss ZM 50mm Sonnar Day

By Zaki Jaihutan

Dear Steve and Brandon, thanks for providing the opportunity to share my nostalgic moment with the beautiful Zeiss ZM 50mm sonnar f1.5 or the Sonnar.

Not long ago I traded my Sonnar (together with one other lens) with the legenday leica 50mm summilux ASPH. I’ve been wanting to get my hand on the Lux for quite some time, it has its own strong rendition different to that of the Sonnar (perhaps “slight”, but it’s there).

I am not going to provide you with comparison between the two lenses. Not only that I dislike technical comparison (though I admit this type of comparison has its own use), but I also like to see a lens for what it is, its overall feel, its drawing if you like, how the lens work with my camera and myself. I am not good in giving objective explanation about this and prefer picture to do the talking. My acquisition of the Lux is a pure aesthetic choice (not to mention the opportunity to obtain the Lux at a very acceptable price), and while I am happy with the result I get from the Lux, I cannot say that the Sonnar is inferior to it. I don’t want to sound like I’m defending an ex girlfriend, but the Lux and the Sonnar are simply two different beauties.

When I first venture into the difficult world of rangefinder by purchasing my M9, the Sonnar is my first lens, and it has been my go to lens until I got my 35 lux ASPH about 8 months ago. I choose the Sonnar not just due to price consideration (voigtlander can give you a more acceptable price range with a good quality glass), but from the result of its images, their artistic feel, and….guess what? From the possible problem in using this lens due to its famous “focus-shift” issue. I was a total rookie in the rangefinder world (which I still am, mine you I started using leica M9 for only around two and a half years  ), and I thought, gee, why not challenge myself more? It just sounds cool, using tricky lens to get a certain artistic look.

Believe it or not, I don’t find any focus shift issue. Most pictures I took are spot on where I want them to be. Perhaps its me that is less critical? Maybe the objects I choose do not reveal this issue (smaller object might show this perhaps, e.g. pencil points or something like that?). I remember someone said somewhere in the web that he did not get any focus shift issue, and someone responded that is impossible!!! Well, maybe my lens, or my camera, was already adjusted …or maybe, someone had skillfully painted a different lens and put the mark ZM sonnar to the lens in order to fool me. Maybe, mabe and maybe.

Anyway, looking back at what I can get from the Sonnar, its imperfection which add up to its artistic look, its “drawing” as many people like to call it, I feel a bit nostalgic and would like to share what the Sonnar has done to my worldview. I realize many samples are already there, but I guess additional view to enjoy are always fun. Perhaps this can reignite interest to this classic lens (and an option to consider for those who like to get a good quality 50mm glass with their M, but finds it hard to justify purchasing the uber expensive Lux). All of these were taken with either the M9 or the new M. Most of them can also be seen at my flickr site at HYPERLINK “http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaihutan/” http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaihutan/

See if you can feel its unique soft way of blending the subject into soft focus, and find it adorable. Enjoy.

With kind regards,
Zaki Jaihutan

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Mar 112014
 

Sulawesi, Indonesia with the M9

by Andre

Hi Steve,

It seems almost obligatory to begin with a big thank you for all the work you put into your site and I too would like to this. I am convinced that your site is a source of inspiration to many of us and it sure is for me. In fact, you are to ‘blame’ for me buying a Leica M9 a few years back. A decision I have never regretted. I’m not sure my I’m worth such an expensive camera as I am merely an amateur photographer, but the one thing I am sure of is that I enjoy the hell out of it. I check your site daily –if not multiple times every day- and although we have never met (until today I have never submitted anything to your site), strangely it feels as though I know you well.

My setup is simple: M9 with a 35 cron and 50 cron. High ISO performance of the M9? Lousy. Are there faster lenses out there? For sure. Do I need them? Absolutely not. Would I like them? Nope. Does that mean I don’t suffer from GAS? Eeeh, no.

Anyway, to the stuff that matters: photography.

This is a photo essay of our trip to Sulawesi, one of the larger islands of Indonesia. We cycled around the southern part of the island as well as through a part called Toraja land. A bicycle is a superb way of visiting places. Slow enough to see the sights and smell the smells yet fast enough to cover quite some ground. But then again, I am Dutch so I might be biased towards cycling.

We started of in the capital city Makassar. A bicycle tour through the city led us to the port of Makassar. A lot of transport through the archipelago is done by these wooden ships.

Ships in Makassar - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/250 – ISO 160

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Along the way, we met many shopkeepers, children and what have you not. Many Indonesians love to have their picture taken so for all you portrait lovers out there, it is heaven!

Some examples.

The woman in this photo had a little shop along the side of the road. She was preparing some delicious samosa-like snacks.

Nice to meet you - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/25 – ISO 400

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In Sengkang, inside a coffee place tucked away in what looks like a garage box, this local barista made a very nice cuppa, by default served with condensed milk.

Barista - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/60 – ISO 640

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A guy at the market in Rantepao.

At the market - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.8 – 1/90 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued in Tana Toraja which warrants a little bit more text.

The area of Tana Toraja is like no place on earth. It is secluded from the rest of Sulawesi, tucked away in the mountains of South Sulawesi. The lush green rice paddies cascade down the mountain sides. The Toraja are an ethnic group with a fascinating culture. One of its most prominent rituals center around elaborate burial ceremonies. In the Toraja culture, a person is not ‘dead’ until he is buried. Before the ceremony, a person is simply ‘ill’ and lies in a coffin in the house of the family. The burial ceremony is a massive gathering of family and friends and lasts for three days. Because it is such an expensive event, it happens that people lie balmed in their coffin for several years!

At the funeral ceremony -which lasts for three days!- the guests are welcomed by a number of people wearing the traditional clothing of the Toraja. More often than not by the younger members of the family or by youngster from the neighbourhood

Toraja girl - M9 – 50 summicron – 4.0 – 1/45 – ISO 160

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What this photo tells me that sharpness isn’t all important. The focus on this picture is slightly off yet somehow it doesn’t bother me and to me it even adds to the mood of the picture.

An important part of the ceremony is the giving of gifts. It is carefully noted what a person gives and when at some point a member of that family dies, one is obliged to return the gift. Gifts usually consist of pigs or waterbuffalos. The most coveted are albino buffalo that may cost as much as well over $10.000.

At the ceremony, many pigs and buffalo are slaughtered and prepared for the guests. Here’s one piggy going to meet its maker…

This is the end - M9 – 50 summicron – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Once the ceremony is concluded, the deceased is then buried. Traditionally, this means that his or her body is placed in a grave high up in a cliff so that the belongings could not be robbed.

What you see in this picture is a device in which the deceased is carried to the cliff side. It is also the shape of the architecture of the houses in Torajaland. On the background some graves are visible. The puppets you see are called Tau Tau. They represent the person in the grave.

Tau Tau - M9 – 50 summicron – 2.0 – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued to the north of Sulawesi. Before sailing over to the island of Bunaken for some spectacular diving, we visited Tangkoko national park. Beautifull jungle and black beaches, something I had never seen before.

Beach at Tangkoko - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/3000 – ISO 160

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To top off our trip, we did some diving on the island of Bunaken. Ranked as one of the top places in the world but as I haven’t found the possibility to take my M9 under water, I can’t show you any pictures…

On the island we came across this boy. It was still a good two months before Christmas but by the looks of it, he was already in the proper spirit!

 Christmas spirit - M9 – 35 summicron – 1/15 – ISO 160

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So, that was it. The moral of the story? Photography is fun and if you have the chance to visit Sulawesi, it is well worth it!

Thank you Steve for posting this photo essay and thank you readers for reading it. It is bloody difficult to choose some photo’s to accompany this story but hey, that’s part of the task.

If you would like to see some more, visit my flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wahapx100/

Kind regards,

Andre

Mar 042014
 

An M for every occasion

By Cris Rose

Hi Brandon, Steve,

They say the best camera, is the one you have with you – thats the most important rule I offer to anyone that asks me about photography, and one that lead me to the Leica M. I was probably around 15 when I first saw a Leica, silver and black with a simple form and intricate dials. I had no idea how much they cost, but it looked amazing and clearly made an impression on me. The decade or so afterwards saw a wide range of cameras in my hands, from compact APS, to IXUS digitals, through to my first digital SLR in University. I learned a lot from that Canon 300D and soon moved to a 20D and the well-loved EF 50mm f1.8, the “nifty fifty”. That setup got a lot of use and I learned a lot about photography with it. Then a few years ago, when I stumbled upon your site, I was reminded of that Leica again. The shots from Leica Ms were amazing. I’d picked up a 60D by then, and while it was great, I’d never quite taken to the SLR style of use and I found the digital files cold and clinical. I’d also found the camera and lenses so large, that I never took them out places with me. I was taking my Lomo LCa everywhere instead and while I was really enjoying the look of film in comparison to my Canon, my Lomo was no Leica and the results showed. I followed your blog, and lamented on Twitter, one day, that Leicas were so beautiful, but that I’d never afford to own one. Certainly not your M9.

Then suddenly, I found myself with an M2. An online friend hadn’t used it for years and offered it to me if i put it to good use. I was overjoyed, to say the least. The style of shooting with the M2 was the breath of fresh air I needed, I took to it immediately. It wasn’t long before I realised the Leica bug had bit me, I’d saved up for 9 months, sold my 60D, and bought a used M8. If the best camera is the one you have with you, then my M8 was the best camera I’d owned. I took it everywhere. Today, I find myself, once again, amazed, as I have an M9 that came to me through equally unlikely circumstances, and a solid set of Voigtlander, Zeiss and Leica lenses to use on it. If I arrange to go somewhere, specifically to take photos, I take both digitals, a film M and 4 lenses, all of which fit easily in a very small shoulder bag. But even if I’m just popping to the shops, I take my M9. I never leave the house without it. I like to keep it by my side, strapped to my wrist, ready to shoot. It really is a camera for all occasions and subjects. A landscape, a street scene, a portrait or pet, the flexibility of the M system is fantastic, the quality of the M9 continues to amaze me and the shear compactness of the form it all comes in, means it can always be with me. Every shot here is a result of random encounters.

The M system may not be the newest, or most advanced, but for me, the M9 is my ideal camera.

Contact details:

My photo portfolio can be found at www.crisrose.co.uk, my photoblog at www.crisrose.co.uk/blog. My Flickr is flickr.com/crisrose and my twitter is @crisr. I also have a Tumblr at www.analoguerobot.co.uk if that’s not already enough places to find my photos

Thanks for such a great, inspirational site. I can squarely blame you for my M2/6/8/9 ownership and probably many more Ms to come.

Cris Rose

0163: M9 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

Midnight Cycle

0587: M9 + ZM 25/2.8 Biogon

Fly By

0799: M9 + ZM 50/2 Planar

Watching The Chef

0808: M9 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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0935: M9 + ZM 25/2.8 Biogon

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0328: M8 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

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0463: M9 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

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1524: M9 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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2825: M8 + CV 35/1.4 Nokton Classic

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5713: M8 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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5846: M8 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

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6336: M8 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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6464: M8 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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Mar 032014
 

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Looking into the souls, thinking in (Leica) monochrom

By Marco Wolf – His Website is HERE

My name is Marco Wolff from Hamburg. This is my first article I write about my thoughts as a photographer, my ideas and gear I use.

More than 3 years ago I deeply stepped into digital photography, took online trainings and made a lot of photo sessions. These sessions follow 2 streams, the first is about portraits – going next to people, talking to people and focusing on what they are and what they think. The second stream is about dancing – Flurina (first picture above) was the first dancer I took pictures of and right at this moment I was addicted to the passion of the dancers expressions and their life.

During this time I used several cameras and lenses like olympus, nikon, Leica etc. to find for me the most suitable one. Hopefully, now… I have found it. In this article I like to tell you a little bit about my way I used Leica and my experiences with the Leica monochrom.

2 Years with my Leica M9

I bought my first Leica (M9) in silver in 2011 with 35 mm f/2 and 50 summilux f/1.4. I started to take pictures for a local culture organisation in Lucerne (Switzerland). I was able to take pictures during concerts and also backstage. It was always a dream to me to work like a reporter with artists, being next to them as observer. Amazing moments are always before the gig starts, the members of the band are lazy, funny and relaxed. But then, after they entered the stage – their mind totally changed.The way they look and behave is totally different – you can feel they are passionated to their music. I try to be so close to the band to be able to freeze their expression to the picture.

Picture of the band “When Saints Go Machine” (Leica M9, 50 Summilux)

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This picture was taken during a concert of the danish band “when saints go machine”. It was nearly dark, hard to focus. I just work with available light with no extra flash etc. The M9 with max 800 ISO and summilux 1.4 was the best combination for me.

Developing Pictures

I grew up by the pictures of Anton Corbijn, especially the pictures he made of Depeche Mode. I knew it is hard to copy his contrast and sepia style – especially when adapting them in the digital world. I spent days on producing my own presets in lightroom to go in this direction. Every single picture of the M9 gave me a lot of post work, but the results never really kicked me.

Good friend of mine (Leica M9, 50 Summilux)

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Leica Monochrom

In august 2012 I could join the “St. Moritz workshop” with Steve McCurry, Jock Sturges and Amedeo M. Turello. Leica was the official sponsor during this 2 days workshop. I was able to use a pre-production Monochrom for half an hour with my lens and memory stick. After importing the RAW files in Lightroom I was just sitting in front of the screen astonished by the quality of the pictures that just came out of the camera with no additional post work. – I just could kick my M9 lightroom presets and was able to work with the monochrom files with just some fine post editing.

But as you may know, buying a Leica especially a Monochrom is expensive and it took some time until one camera was available at my personal camera store ;-) I sold the M9 with the summilux, bought the monochrom and a used 50 f/2 summicron. After some weeks working with the monochrom, I didn`t miss any color. No more taking decisions which color style would fit to the pics. I just felt home and free – I was now able to concentrate on the object in front of the lens. It just reduced everything to the minimum – my personally essence of photography.

Now I fully concentrate on having contact to the “model”, the composition of the background, everything just in black and white – an amazing feeling.

The good news about the monochrom are also the higher ISO compared to the M9. I use ISO 6400 as maximum – the results are still amazing.

dancing choreographer in zürich (Leica MM, 50 Summicron)

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In these pictures above I just added some contrast and blacks and have just the style I was always looking for.

It`s always interesting how the MM also interpret the lights. Like at the pictures above. Behind the woman is also a lot of light, but on the file it is almost black. After a photo sessions like with dancing choreographer, it is always a pleasure to me, looking at the screen and being fascinated what potential the camera has – that’s a kind of soul the camera has. It`s not just another gear that makes great pictures with high-resolution, no it`s just sees the light differently

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Printing services

Some words about online printing services. I tried out some of them over the last years, apple printing, whitewall (the official shop) and others. If you like to have the best out of your MM on paper I really can recommend the WhiteWall-Leica printing service. After registering your MM camera you have access to this shop. My recommendation is the “Lambda print” just on paper or paper on aluminium. The black parts of the picture are like painted, the fine details e.g. of the hair are amazing. Looking at the portraits is like looking directly at the face.

Gear I also use:

VSCO (film 1&2), MacBook Pro Retina 15.4”, Sony A7r – yes, I´m also one of them ;-)

Another Portraits all with Leica MM and 50 Summicron:

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Next time I will you tell a little bit more about my dancing photo sessions I took over the last years with different professional dancers from Angela Rabaglio, like this:

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Please give me feedback about my work under [email protected], my official website is http://marco-wolff-photography.com

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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