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:



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


Ben Miller

Secret Party 1

Secret Party 10

Secret Party 9

Secret Party 8

Secret Party 7

Secret Party 6

Secret Party 5

Secret Party 4

Secret Party 3

Secret Party 2

Secret Party 11

Secret Party 12

Secret Party 13

Secret Party 14

Apr 142014

My Leica M9 & Grafea bag in London

By Dan Bar


Hello Steve,

Just got back from London , took my MM as always with my 35 LUX, but this time I also had my M9 + 50 Cron with me, When I sold my previous M9 I knew that I lost a camera I loved dearly, and although I love my MM I knew I wanted my M9 back. I know the market is full off fantastic cameras, like Sony’s , Olympus, Fuji with much better ISO’s , and yet I love the simplicity and colours of the Leica cameras.

So I mostly shot my M9 with the 50, and some b\w with the MM Before leaving to London i was sure I shall buy the Ona Berlin as I needed a bigger camera bag. The Ona Brixton was to be for my taste, but then I found out about the GRAFEA PHOTO bag, which I thought was beautiful and was although the right size I needed. The bag is of great soft leather and has the exact size i was looking for. I called them in England and asked them if they had a bag with a slight defect, Honestly I expected a ” NO ” answer but against all odds they said they had one Caramel Bag ( which was exactly what I wanted ). They sent me a picture and I could not see any defect at all, so I asked them how much would I have to pay, and they said they will make me a 50% discount. :) The bag is big enough to hold 2 Leica M cameras + accessories. The side pockets are soft and contain a lot of filters, cards, cell phone etc. As said big enough for my needs.


You can find the Grafea bag HERE.

Now for some photos:





















Aug 302013

Leica M9 vs Fuji X-E1 with Metabones Speed Booster by Christophe Carlier

Hi steve,

Firstly I want to thank you for putting my daily inspiration on your site.

I recently received a Metabones Speedbooster ring that allows me to get my Nikon F lens on my fuji X-E1 while keeping their 24×36 angle. A 50mm is a 50mm, a 35mm is a 35mm ….. and the more it will keep the effects of depth of field.

Manufacturing side of the ring is good quality, well-built. Its size is limited (see photo below) and reasonable weight 200 grams.




  • The weight of the whole XE1 + SpeedBooster plus 35mm f2 about 740 grams
  • M9P + 40mmf1.4 about 820 grams and FM2 + 50mmf1.8 about 740 grams.

The results photos, first 3 pictures are taken at 35mm (fuji XE1 SpeedBooster + nikkor 35mm f2 afd, facing M9P + Voigltander 40mm f1.4 at 1.4),

Image on the left image will be with the X-E1 – right side is with M9-P – MUST click them for larger version

S.B. comp fuji leica 35mm I

S.B. comp fuji leica 35mm III

S.B. comp fuji leica 35mm II

The following 3 images are at 50mm (XE1 fuji SpeedBooster + nikkor afd 50mm f1.8, facing M9P + canon ltm 50mm f1.2 at 1.4).

the pictures left XE1 and right M9P – again, you must click them for larger

S.B. comp fuji leica 50mm I

S.B. comp fuji leica 50mm II

S.B. comp fuji leica 50mm III

All pictures are taken in jpg, and only to compare the bokeh from each camera and lens.

What do you think?





Aug 152013


Cuba with my M9 and 50 Lux by Phillip Pegden

Dear Steve,

I’ve been an avid reader of your site for quite some time now – I love the mix of gear and general photography articles, and now check in each day. It’s like tuning in to the morning radio show.

I got sucked into the world of Leica over a decade ago. At that time I had a Canon EOS1 body plus the classic trinity of f2.8 zoom lens. I’m not sure how I stumbled into Leica, but I do clearly remember the day I was standing in a photography shop fondling an M6 and second hand 35mm Cron. Sometime later all the Canon kit had been listed on eBay – I found the rangefinder shooting style suited me better and I felt my photography had improved. Fewer options focused me on my subjects and composition. And from there I never looked back, swapping the M6 for an M8, then last year finding a nice second-hand grey M9 to upgrade the M8.

By that time I had a brace of lenses – the original 35mm Cron, plus a 50mm Summilux, an 18mm Elmar and a 75mm Cron. But I was beginning to feel that I was swapping lens too often – had my focus drifted too much from my subjects again? Thus on a holiday to Cuba with my wife I decided to experiment: safe in the knowledge that I had all my glass with me I opted just to only use the 50mm. Sometime later the 18mm and 75mm had been listed on eBay – I just couldn’t part with my original 35mm Cron though! So now I mainly shoot only with the 50mm – I love the simplicity never feeling I miss any shots, rather I find others. I would really encourage others to try a single focal length over an extended time.

Well that’s quite enough talking from me – I leave you with some of those images from Cuba. Keep up the good work.











Apr 242013

All Black & White to me……..

By Jason Howe

Hey Steve

Hope your well, I’m sure many will agree with me when I say your site continues to be an amazing source of inspiration and information and is the first website I browse each day.

Some of your readers may be familiar with my photography but for those who aren’t, every now and then I throw something Steve’s way from down here in Middle Earth!!! New Zealand is such a beautiful country and landscapes make up a large part of my photography, however……….

At the start of the year I made a decision to try my hand at a few things I had not previously attempted, one of them was to arrange shoots with models. It’s very early days in this process but I thought I would share some of my initial images with you. I’m always looking to put posts together for my blog so I had several combinations of camera and lens in mind to shoot on this occasion, specifically these were –

Leica M9 and Canon 50/1.4 – I’m of the opinion that this lens is one of the best you can buy in the “inexpensive” ltm lens bracket and particularly suited to images of this nature. Leica MM and Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 – I was fortunate enough to acquire this lens just before Christmas, I’ve messed around with it but this was essentially the first time I’d used it at length. Contax 645 and Zeiss T Planar 90/2 – A recent addition, I’m still getting to know this camera but I wanted to at least shoot a roll or two through it, film of choice Fuji Pro 400H.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of B&W, it accounts for most of what I shoot, I am pushing myself to shoot more color this year though, honestly!! I had a specific look in mind for these images before I shot them, you can see those versions HERE. The truth is though, no matter what I do or how I attempt to view my subject matter it almost invariable looks better to me in B&W.

Here are a few of those images taken on the Leica M9 with Canon 50/1.4 this time converted in Silver Efex Pro 2 and LR4. I have always been happy with the B&W conversions I was able to achieve with the M9 files and they definitely are not inferior to the MM files when shot in these conditions, the MM for me is really about shooting at higher ISO’s, that is when it comes in to its own.

Model – Alicia Sim

Image 2

Image 1

Image 3

Image 5

In the next couple of weeks I’m going to be posting a full set of images taken on the Leica M Monochrom with the Konica Hexanon 60/1.2, here are a small selection of those. Again these images are converted in Silver Efex Pro 2 and LR4. The Hex is incredibly sharp at f/1.4 and equally superb in these conditions at f/1.2 with the edge just taken off the sharpness. I’m delighted with it for sure although I would never defend the purchase price I took the decision to buy this lens over the Noctilux because quite simply I will always be able to get hold of one of those.

Image 9

Image 7

Image 10

Image 8

Image 6

I did get the chance to use my Contax but despite liking the images shot on the Fuji Pro 400H I still could not help myself converting them to B&W, this may be sacrilege……..

Image 12

Image 11


Things really are “All Black & White to me” when it comes to processing, well mostly……..




You can keep up with my photographic journey down under here -www.aperturepriority.co.nz


Apr 062013


Sylvester Stallones Leica M9 and 35 Summarit Lens (sort of) for sale..

Had a few e-mails informing of this e-bay auction for a Leica M9 used ONCE in the film “Expendables II” by Sylvester Stallone. I am posting this not because it comes with a manual signed by Stallone, but because with 1 day to go the M9 and 35mm Summarit lens is only up to $4600 so someone may get a deal here. This is an unused in box M9 with a lens, so value should be around $6000-$7000 without it being signed by a celebrity. For fans of Stallone it also comes with his signature and a DVD of the movie it was used in, Expendables II. You also get his brother Franks signature :)

You can check out the auction HERE if interested. 



You can check out the auction HERE if interested. 

Apr 022013

More Leica in Asia photos by George Sutton

I recently had an opportunity to travel to Myanmar. It is just opening to tourists after being essentially closed since WWII. The military has governed (using that term charitably) most of that time repressing all opposition and otherwise living apart from the general population and controlling all the wealth. The rest of the nation mostly lives as it always has. Today it is one of the most impoverished nations in Asia but that only means a lack of material wealth, not the kind of desperate living on the street and scavenging in garbage dumps for things to eat and wear found in other places. We didn’t see beggars or people crushed by poverty. It is a fully intact society frozen in time in one of the richest Buddhist cultures anywhere (rich in a spiritual, not material sense). For now, taking a tour is unavoidable. The food is excellent but you have to know which restaurants to pick. Paying for anything is very difficult because credit cards are not accepted and US currency can only be exchanged for the local money at some places and they only take crisp new unwrinkled dollars. There are excellent hotels but getting a room can be difficult.

This was a photo tour led by a guy (Karl Grobl) who specializes in photographing Asian people particularly in remote areas or places affected by a disaster. He mostly works for humanitarian organizations but leads a few photo tours to fill his schedule. His style of shooting is interesting. He shoots hundreds of photos then sends them via the internet to clients who select shots to use and do all the post processing. It works best to shoot jpegs. Limited internet access and bandwidth makes it impractical to send raw files. He carries two DSLRs, one with a zoom telephoto and the other with a wide-angle zoom. He clips these cameras on each side of a belt designed to carry cameras. That enables him to quickly grab either camera and get a shot of any scene he may encounter. He currently shoots Nikon D3s because of its high ISO quality and ability to get a rapid sequence of shots. He has adjusted the camera to get the saturation, contrast and sharpening he wants in the jpeg then sends the batch as it comes out of the camera at the end of each day or as soon as he reaches a place with internet access.

I took a DSLR but shot raw. I also took a Leica M9 mostly to try it out and to see if it would work better in some places like walking around a city or village. It worked great in those situations. The DSLR was indispensable in many other places like inside dark temples, when a very wide or long lens was needed, or in rainy weather. I first tried the Leica in a market where I figured it would not be a big loss if the shots were not as good as the DSLR and ended up with some of my favorite shots of the trip. Some of those shots follow.

The first is of a lady who spends hours every day sitting before a statue of Buddha in a monastery. Buddhists don’t worship Buddha. They practice good karma because that is what enables them to live a better life in the next reincarnation and with enough good karma one can escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. They revere Buddha for teaching that and revering him is itself good karma.


The next shot is of men making the alms bowls that monks carry to collect food. Lacking automation, these guys take lids cut from the top of used oil drums and beat them in the bowl shape with hammers. This is literally the main shop of the biggest bowl maker in Myanmar. Once the bowl is pounded out it is painted with a thick lacquer and fitted with a lid and handle made from bamboo.


The next shots are scenes from a typical city marketplace. The old guy has just finished his morning soup and is enjoying a cigar watching a soap opera.


The guy on the large tricycle is a typical delivery man. These are the equivalent of a delivery van in a modern city.


The girl was probably on her way to school. The decoration on her face is a kind of wood dust made into a paste. For her it is makeup but for most people it is a kind of sunburn protection.


The last shot shows a kind of truck used for just about everything outside the cities. I was told it is made in China. These haul people or other loads. The bed can operate like a small dump truck. This one is delivering people to a monastery in a small town in the center of the country.


I hope you like them.


Mar 192013

The M9 Sensor is more than adequate by George Sutton

This post is a response to the recent DxO report on the Leica M9 sensor. I chose to respond this way because I can include photos. Photos are, after all, the final word in this whole discussion.

The overpriced and under featured M9 body only exists because it has a full frame sensor and mounts Leica M lenses, but that is enough to be one of the best cameras made. The M9’s biggest drawback is a lack of versatility but in circumstances where it performs well it produces some very good images. I am not disputing the DxO results but to me the take away is that there is not a great deal of difference between high end sensors in actual use. I say that after owning and using a M9, Canon 1Ds, 1Ds III and now a 5DIII, and an Olympus OM-D. To me, the telling thing is the big diss DxO gives the 1Ds. When it was first released the 1Ds was probably the best camera made. It was way ahead of anything Nikon offered (they have played leapfrog since) and it even surpassed medium format cameras for detailed image quality (there were no medium format digital cameras at that time). Yes, that was then and now there are better cameras but the 1Ds still produced great photos. What I have learned in the meantime is that the single most important factor in a camera’s quality is the lenses. The biggest drawback to the 1Ds was the soft to unusable corners in many Canon lenses back then. Nothing, in my experience at least, equals the quality of a Leica M lens. The following illustrate this point.

One of the toughest camera tests for me is shooting a city at night.

The shots below are all taken at f8 and the camera’s lowest ISO on a tripod with cable release and are close to 100% enlargements for the Leica and Canon and about a 125% enlargement of the OM-D. I selected f8 because it produces star like effects around lights and is typically the sharpest aperture for any lens. The images are somewhat flat because it was hazy and I was shooting from a few miles away. The shot with the Leica was taken with a Leica 90mm f2.8 that I bought used. My guess is that the lens is 10 to 20 years old. The shot with the Canon 5DIII was taken with a new 24-70mm f2.8 II zoom at 70mm. That lens is generally regarded as the best medium range professional zoom currently made and it is very sharp corner to corner. On the OM-D I used a Lumix 12-35 f2.8 zoom at 35mm (equivalent to 70mm on a full frame camera), which is generally regarded as the best medium range zoom for a 4/3 camera. Detail in the buildings is close for the Leica and Canon. The OM-D is worse but that is mostly due to the smaller sensor. Printed 8×10 these differences would be barely visible. The biggest difference is the lights. Note the clear multi point stars produced by the Leica. The Canon is close but the rays emanating from the lights are slightly less distinct. The OM-D is the worst. The star effect is there but the lines are distorted and broken with what appear to be concentric circles radiating out from the light. The star effect can be eliminated by shooting the lens wide open. Wide open the Leica and Canon both did a great job of capturing the light as it was. The OM-D did not do as well. I tried different lenses on the OM-D including a prime and got a similar effect each time. If I were shooting this for sale, I would shoot it with both the Leica and Canon and pick the best. If I could only shoot one it would be the Leica.

I offer these only to illustrate the point that in use the M9 sensor is quite adequate to get a great shot. I am including one more shot to make this point (the last landscape image). The landscape is cropped from the original by about 30%. It was taken with the M9 on a tripod with a Leica 35mm f2 lens at f11. I don’t know if this can be seen in the image here but I have printed the cropped image at the largest size my printer will do, 17×22, and individual bushes about a foot wide can be clearly seen on the desert floor more than a mile below. I haven’t used every camera and lens made but of those I have used I have never seen this level detail from any other camera. That is mostly due to the lenses but the sensor has to be up to the task as well and in my experience the M9 sensor is more than adequate for the job.








Feb 142013


Traveling through the land of color with a Leica Monochrom and M9 by Daniel Maissan

I think it’s always nice to put myself up for new challenges in life and not take the easy way. Most of the time it ends well, even though I tend to get a bit frustrated and impatient at the start. As I was leaving the Netherlands two months ago on a photographic journey through India, I got the idea of giving myself an extra handicap once again.

So traveling through the land of color I decided to bring a Leica M Monochrom and see what that would do. Since a year and a half I’m completely in love with my Leica M9 combined with the Summicron 35mm. So of course I brought these as well.


At first I did get the frustration that I expected. Several times I switched my lens back to the M9, to capture the beautiful colors of the saris. Writing blogs and facebook  posts on not knowing what to do. Should I just shoot black and white and obey my challenge or should I capture the trip of a lifetime with that what I was comfortable with? After a while though, I did start to get the hang of looking at life in black & white. I soon started to notice that the lack of color made me focus more on what was happening. No distraction of color, only the light, movement and most important the contact with my subjects. For me photography isn’t so much about making the perfect shot. The main reason I use my camera is to make contact with a world I understand less every day.

L1011722 L1010781

Getting more comfortable with the Monochrom along the way, I started to experiment a bit more with it. Compare black and whites that I shot with the M9 and then converted in Silver Efex, with the ones I made with the Monochrom. The difference was huge. Specially when shooting at dusk or at night, the higher ISO options were very welcome. Also the amount of detail in dark areas and the sharpness of the pictures were a treat. I was starting to fall in love with this new way of working.



After a month I shot almost everything with the new Leica, my M9 was drastically neglected at the bottom of my bag. I noticed that the way I looked at things had changed. A lot of times it looked like I didn’t even see colors anymore. Not until I arrived in Jodhpur, the bleu city. There was no way around color here… the bleu houses, the beautiful dresses of the Rajasthan women, the colorful turbans of men. It was time to bring out my old precious again.




Now I’m comfortable with both cameras. The two rangefinders again have done, what Leica did to me the very first time I used one. They make me think about what I am doing every single time. They force me to slow down, make decisions on the settings I’m using, and anticipate on what is going to happen. From now on I also have to decide whether to use color or black and white. I believe these cameras actually make me a better photographer.


Working with the two different cameras changed my perspective of the world I’m traveling through as well. They made me even more aware of what is happening, what situation I’m in and who the person I’m photographing really is. Therefor they make me understand a little bit more.


Don’t forget guys, if you have a GREAT B&W shot and feel lucky, the I-SHOT-IT premium Monochrom competition is underway and heating up. Prize is a Leica monochrom and thousands in cash. How cool would it be if a reader of this site won? AWESOME! – Steve

Feb 062013

Of Land and Spirit – Rural Thailand with an M9 and D3s by Lee Craker

I have been working on a project for a year documenting a small community in rural Thailand. The working title for this project is “Of Land and Spirit”.

I have found it fascinating to follow the cycle of the land here and the people who work it. In rural Thailand the land is life. The land provides for all physical needs of the people. Food, shelter and living expenses are all provided by the land. I also started to realize that the unique form of Buddhism practiced in rural Thailand is equally important to the people. Each day of a Thai’s life in this small community near Nakhon Nayok, Thailand begins and ends with this form of spirituality. Nothing is done without praying about it, consulting a shaman, or visiting a temple, usually all three. I found that the spirit and the land were impossible to separate. In rural Thailand one would find it difficult to talk about one without talking about the other. The farmers here are hard-working, up before dawn, and working till after sunset. The work is difficult and done without the aid of modern farming machinery planting, harvesting, and processing rice all by hand.

A woman farmer Sri, gathers the newly harvested rice so it can be processed. Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

Nien, a local farmer plants rice in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand.


A local Buddhist Monk takes time for relaxation after a service in Nakhon, Nayok, Thailand.


Sri, a Thai woman farmer, gathers the newly harvested rice so it can be processed. Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

Rice Harvest

Swai, a local Thai farmer separates the rice from the stock. Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

Sri, douses water on her face in the fields after a long day in the fields.


This project when completed will take the form of an iBook and be available on iTunes.
As your blog is often about equipment, I’ll share some thoughts on what I use. I don’t limit myself to one camera. I like to use different cameras depending on what I am shooting. I try to find the right tool for the right job. I use a Leica M9 for its fantastic image quality, and portability. I use a Nikon D3s for its speed in capturing scenes where rapid focus and/or focus tracking is important, and for scenes such as the monk above where high ISO’s are critical. Also the D3s is the most weather proof my cameras and this sometimes becomes important in the fields. I use a Nikon D-800 for its ability to make huge file sizes which is helpful if I find I need to crop the image when being close to the subject is an impossibility, and the D-800 is much lighter than the D3s so it saves on the neck and back when shooting all day.
Thank you for your time, and looking at my work.
Dec 272012

My Leica love and Pursuit by Nilton Junior

Hi guys! My name is Nilton (speak it as Newton) and I would like to share with you a little about my Leica love and pursuit.

I can say that the very begging is when I was about 9 or 10 years old and my beloved Mom had a small eyeglasses store, I was there all time listening about dioptric grads, types of glasses, aberrations, and others optical terms, but the most I can remember was about good glasses from Carls Zeiss that she no so often used to sell. It was fantastic; if I remember right it was the most exotic glass you could buy for your frame in that time. Here it is, my very first memories about good German optics.

Panasonic GX1 + Canon FD 55mm 1.2f @ 1.4f – ISO 800 – 1/400


When I was about 17 years old I realized I really loved Physics, Mechanical Physics, but pretty much Optic Physics as well, so I went to engineering school. There I had my second touch with German optics products as I performed a 2 year government paid research about laser emission from neodymium glass at about ultra violet spectrum, almost not visible light. So what equipment did I use to make all that measurements of emission, reflection and absorption? Almost all very high precision equipment was from Leica or Zeiss. They are the most well named brands between scientists tools and an optical lab, without them is legless, or so.

Well, but what does all of that geek stuff have to do about photography? Probably nothing but making a big story short, when little small things from the past creates standards and marks at our minds and influence ours decisions about every thing in life, this has done  a lot for my photography style, and I can tell it is just the beginning.

Fujifilm X100 from my wife J @ 2.0f – ISO 3200 – 1/300


In 2007 I was about to make my first trip for Europe, and decided to buy a decent camera. I knew nothing about photography, but remember that the seed was planted, so I bought a Canon G9! Yes… I know, WTF?! Actually, the only preference I had that time that remains in me today is, I want a damn small but powerful camera with me. Never thought about using an SLR.

So after that trip I realized that the G9 didn’t achieve the image quality I wanted. I mean, it is a pretty good camera, but autofocus, high ISO and available light photography are not the highs from it. I needed to move on.

Panasonic GX1 + Olympus 12mm 2.0 @ 2.0f – ISO 160 – 1/3200


So talking about photography with my best friend (this damn lucky boy today works at Playboy Magazine) he told me that a certain company was making partnership with Leica glass. Yes, something inside my head instantly lighted up and it all made sense. I WANT A LEICA. That time I didn´t know Leica and Zeiss made photographic products, I was a lab geek, remember?

Panasonic GX1 + Summilux 25mm @ 1.4f – ISO 160 – 1/1300


So I started to research the most I could about Leica glass and the company making the trade with them. So I discovered Panasonic. Yes. My life brought me here, to Panasonic MFT cameras line up! I know that apparently Steve likes Olympus more but I never tried Olympus, but man, they don´t have the Leica partnership, J. I bought the GF1 and that was passion at first click and of course bought a summilux 25mm too.

That time I knew little about M cameras, just knew they were (and are) insanely expensive and that I would never, ever, ever buy one. I was so happy with my Panasonic/Summilux combo, it is a little taste and the closest I could get from a real Leica. From then to now I changed my GF1 for a GX1 and don’t regret that decision. It is very superior with faster autofocus and better high ISO capabilities. I’ve recently started trying third-party lenses with adaptor.

The major brand I use for my MFT camera is Canon FD. They are cheap and you can get great results. I just love my Canon FD 55mm 1.2f.

Panasonic GX1 + Canon FD 100-200mm 5.6 @ 16f – ISO 160 – 1/500


But, what about Leica?! Is it in that tinny dark area from my heart? Forgotten? NEVER!  After discovering, about one and half-year ago, Steve’s Site, I made a decision, I will buy my Leica M with a summilux 50, so I started saving. Yes, I’m on budget and hope I can get my hands over the new Leica M next year!

PS.: Please, I hope my English isn’t that bad, it is not my native language.

Best regards guys!

Nilton Junior


Dec 132012

1667 Nautical miles, 66 Days, 4 Countries and a Yacht called Rhombus.

By Matt Draper

Firstly I would like to thank Steve for allowing me to once again share some of my images on his forever-growing site. I visit Steve’s site daily and the useful information and inspiration it gives me at times are second to none. My last post was a while ago about my time with the M9.

Earlier this year I was given an amazing opportunity to help crew a very good friends yacht on an adventure of a lifetime.

Johnny Diamond left New Zealand 3 years ago on his 40ft yacht Rhombus and a dream to circumnavigate the entire world with no set time of when Rhombus would next sail into the port of Whangarei Heads New Zealand.

Leaving Malaysia we sailed to Indonesia then on to the Nicobar and Andaman Islands of India finishing off in the land of smiles Thailand.

Along the way our crew of four Kiwi’s including one female encountered endless days of dangerous seas, slat water crocodiles and the Andaman and Nicobar police who boarded Rhombus equipped with machine guns taking turns of twelve-hour shifts, which lasted three days as important paper work was helicoptered to the appropriate people who would decide our fate after anchoring in a restricted area to shelter from violent weather.



Introducing Sabang, a tiny kitten we stumbled across amongst a filthy Indonesian food market in the city of Sabang, located on Northern Sumatra’s picturesque Pulau Weh island. Gifted to us by a negligent owner, Sabang bravely boarded the yacht Rhombus to become part of our crew for the over 1000 nautical miles that remained of our sail. Completely flea ridden when we first took him in, we managed to succeed in ridding Sabang of every last bloodsucking insect the very day this photo was taken. Tragically, poor little Sabang ended up falling extremely sick and didn’t make the entire journey. This first photo is dedicated to our lost crew member. RIP buddy.


Liam – aka ‘Salty’ – capturing one of the most amazing sunsets we had on our sail around Little Andaman Island, India. Not long before this photo was taken we had been caught in a ‘no go’ marine reserve by local authorities. Our punishment, it seemed, would either be the seizure of our yacht, or payment of a dodgy fine. After a few hours of heated negotiation we managed to leave without (further) incident.


The latest arrival to the Pillow Millow tribe Nicobar, India. Pulomilow or Pillow Millow islet is part of Little Nicobar group of Islands and is separated from the main island of Little Nicobar by a deep channel. Following the deadly Tsunami of 2004 the islands few remaining inhabitants are mostly made up of men as the weaker woman and children could not run to higher ground where survivors had sought refuge as the killer waves surged in. The Nicobar Islands are completely off limits to any outside visitors. We were lucky enough to be invited to set foot on this magical land as some of the first if not only tourists ever to do so by the tribes elder who had paddled a hollowed out tree to our anchored vessel.



Five young men from the Pulomilow or Pillow Millow tribe stand on what is left of their local police building, a reminder of the deadly 2004 tsunami. Home for the Pulomilow is an islet part of Little Nicobar Island, located between India and Thailand. The tribes elder showed us memorials for the lost souls of the over 100 family and friends who perished in the tsunami, and took us to the higher ground where survivors had sought refuge when the killer waves surged in. The houses the remaining tribes people now reside in are more resemblant of tree huts than adequate buildings. They cope without power or running water, with none of the island’s damaged generators having yet been repaired – let alone replaced – by the Indian government.


Jarret – aka ‘The Rat’ – reflecting upon one of the most amazing sunsets we had on our sail around Little Andaman Island, India. Not long before this photo was taken we had been caught in a ‘no go’ marine reserve by local authorities. Our punishment, it seemed, would either be the seizure of our yacht, or payment of a dodgy fine. After a few hours of heated negotiation we managed to leave without (further) incident.

I have chosen not to share the type of camera I used to capture these images simply because so many people especially those younger are stuck in the mind-set that having the best equipment will give you the best results.

The best camera is truly the one you have on you.

I welcome any constructive criticism but will not reply to any negative comments.

Thanks :)

My name is Matthew Draper I am a young New Zealander currently living and working in the construction industry in Australia. Like many others who pass though Steve’s site I have a passion for photography, it’s just a hobby but I would love to take it further if the opportunity ever arose.

You can see more of my images here:




Oct 282012

Zombie Apocalypse! My weapons of choice? Leica Monochrom, M9 and Olympus OM-D!

Halloween is just about here and what better way to celebrate it than to attend a good old-fashioned Zombie Walk? I went out yesterday in Phoenix AZ strapped with my Leica Monochrom, a borrowed Leica M9 and my Olympus OM-D and a few lenses to see if I could snap any images of the undead without them eating my brains. The images below were all shot with one of those three cameras.  I also had the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye for M4/3 and LOVED using it at this event. I am writing up a review of that lens so will only include a couple of images here from that lens but it is great fun as fisheyes always are, even with their limited use.

This is just a quick Sunday post for fun as well as a quick POLL to see how many of you can spot the Leica M9 image below when mixed with two Monochrom shots. This site is always about the fun and passion in photography over the technical stuff and besides..it’s Sunday so I am not going to get to involved and sit at my desk for 5 hours :)

Zombies in Monochrom 

A few of the images in this post are from the Leica Monochrom which made me think of the original “Night of the Living Dead”, which was shot in B&W. Zombies really pop in color but they can also look pretty cool in B&W.

BTW, One of the three images below was shot with the M9 and converted to B&W. Can you spot which one? HINT: The M9 converted to B&W will give off a different look to the Greys/whites than the Monochrom.






Can you spot the M9 image? Vote in the poll below and cast your vote: WHICH IMAGE IS FROM THE M9? 1, 2, or 3?

10/29 – ANSWER: The M9 shot is #3!

Be sure to click the images for larger versions! In my upcoming part 3 review on the Mono I will have some full size 100% files for you to check out from the Zombie walk. It was loads of fun shooting with the Mono though I have to say..these walking undead zombies POPPED in color!

Zombies in COLOR

While at the walk I was blown away with some of the make up and effects some of the “walkers” did on themselves. There were zombies everywhere! Teenage zombies, old zombies and even kid zombies :) It is amazing how popular the whole Zombie genre is these days. There were entire families showing up as zombies and it was super cool to see and interact with everyone. The cool thing is that everyone there LOVED getting their photos taken. Take a look at just a few of the shots I snapped below using the various cameras and lenses.

The M9 and 35 1.4


The OM-D and the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye


OM-D and 12mm f/2


Leica M9…this guy wanted to eat the camera and then feast on my brains!


OM-D and Fisheye


The OM-D and 75 1.8..this lady had the hair but no makeup so she resembled a troll doll :)


Leica M9 and 50 Summitar 


The OM-D and 75 1.8


M9 and 50 Summitar

I have to say that if there is a Zombie Walk in your neighborhood  next Halloween then GO! It is loads of fun, there are a gazillion photo opps and everyone is friendly and having a great time, which makes for some great image making possibilities. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


Oct 182012

Thursday News Updates…Fuji X-E1, Monochrom, Olympus 75 1.8 and more!

Hello to all and happy Thursday! As always it has been a hectic week for me as I have been shooting with an M9, Monochrom, OM-D with 75 1.8 and trying my best to get to most of my e-mail! Just wanted to write a quick post about what is coming over the next couple of weeks as well as share a couple of videos that were posted to my YouTube account over the past two weeks but not here on the site.

Fuji X-E1 Review SOON from Amy Medina

Things have been great on this end. Traffic is up, new cameras are flowing in for review, the weather here in Phx is finally cooling down to the 90’s and there seems to be some excitement in the air lately  – lots of passion pouring in from readers with some really great guest articles and reports (which will all be posted soon). I will soon have a review of the Fuji X-E1 using Leica M glass from Amy Medina. She has been shooting the camera all week and by next week her review should be up with loads of samples from her. If you do not know Amy, she has written quite a few articles here but also has a website of her own here.

There will also be articles coming next week on “The other way to scan your film”, “The Leica Digilux 2: Another Flashback”, “The Monochrom In Madrid: Bullfights”, and a new film article by Ibraar Hussain! PLUS even more than that but I will leave some as a surprise but one post will feature some of the best images I have seen all year from anyone. :) I will also be showing off some new straps from Barton1972.com which are AWESOME!


The Olympus 75 1.8 Lens Review – Next Week!

I have had the Olympus 75 1.8 for almost two weeks now and it has been glued to my OM-D. I have been trying to get shooting time in with it and so far I have found that it is a fantastic lens but for my tastes too long of a lens. It is the equivalent of a 150mm lens in focal length and absolutely gorgeous in its build and image quality. If you want a stellar portrait prime for your Micro 4/3 camera this is about as good as it can get. This is a serious hunk of glass my friends and if you do not mind longer lenses then it is a lens that will last you a lifetime. See the video below of the lens on the camera…

I am finding more and more than the OM-D with the 12, 45 and 75 lenses could be just about all anyone really needs. It is fantastic and that Sony sensor inside seriously rocks.

OM-D AND 75 AT 1.8 – click for larger


The Leica Monochrom Review will continue..

I am still shooting the Leica Monochrom and still finding that I have a way to go before I really get to where I want to be with processing the files. There is just so much you can do with them..create any look you want.  I saw some of the best shots from the MM to date from Kristian Dowling. HIs shots can be seen on this facebook Monochrom group.  Kristian is a master photographer and knows his craft. He also happens to be a great guy!

I will be doing my part 3 of the Monochrom review showing some comparison shots between the M9 converted to B&W and the Monochrom. There is indeed a difference but what look one prefers is all personal preference. The pros with the Mono are the much better high ISO, improved Dynamic Range and of course the higher resolution. Shooting at ISO 8000 at night is good where with the M9 2500 is the max you can go and it is noisy.

I do know that when I shoot the Monochrom I feel differently than when I am holding an M9 or even OM-D or Sony NEX. It seems to put you in a “Mono Mood” :) – Part 3 should be up next week as well.

The Monochrom with the 35 1.4 FLE – RED filter on the camera and an OOC shot. The RED filter enhances contrast considerably deepening blacks. 


The old 1940’s 50 Summitar looks delicious in the one quick test shot I snapped in my yard so I will be using it more on the Mono. 


Using an IR filter gets expected results – this is an OOC shot… just to test the filter..


Other reviews on YouTube…Kindle Paperwhite, Grado PS-500 Headphones

I have also posted a couple of non camera related reviews on YouTube so take a look below.


Orange Nikon J2 – Ready for Halloween?

Looks like Nikon released the J2 in ORANGE! How about this for a halloween shooting treat? Lol. At least cars could see you at night! B&H Photo has it in stock with the 10-30 and 30-110 lenses for under $700. Then again, the Sony RX100 has a better sensor and faster zoom lens. In reality the J2 is more like a J1.1.

Be sure to check back later today and all next week for all of the new stuff! Also, if you have not yet done so you can subscribe to my YouTube channel as I sometimes upload videos there and not here so if you are interested in seeing them you can subscribe to my channel HERE. I also will post sample images to my Facebook page from various cameras before I write about them here so if you have not yet “Liked” that page, you can do that HERE! As always, thanks for reading and stopping by! I appreciate each and every one of you who do!


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