Sep 102014
 

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Shooting Ephemerisle 2014 with the Sony A7S and a Voigtlander 35mm f1.2

By Judd Weiss – Visit his site HERE

Most places I go lately, I am the best photographer around. But I come to Steve Huff’s site and community specifically because here I am definitely not the best photographer. I’m learning fast, but I’m relatively new to photography, upgrading from a point and shoot to the original Sony NEX 3 only about 4 years ago. Discovering Steve’s site almost 3 years ago was a major turning point in my photography. I started taking it more seriously when I saw what you guys were up to. I’ve been inspired. The daily inspirations that so many of you have contributed has made me rethink what I’m doing with the camera I’m holding. I’ve never taken any photography classes, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t received an education. This community around Steve Huff’s blog is one of the greatest influences on my development as a photographer. So thank you to all who have contributed their vision and creations here. I am very grateful. (Thank you Judd!! Steve)

I’d like to also make a contribution, from my favorite work yet. I shot this entire set of photos with the new amazing Sony Alpha A7S full frame mirrorless camera, with a manual Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 lens. That combo allowed me to achieve low light shots never before possible in the history of photography. Ephemerisle was the perfect event to test out what the Sony A7S can handle in extreme low light. And the Sony A7S was the perfect camera to capture the experience of the dark glowy night that made Ephemerisle shine.

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These shots are unapologetically processed, and I admit I went a bit intense with the colors, but I wanted to, to accurately reflect the surreal nature of Ephemerisle. Some of these photos are a little abstract, but believe me when I tell you those are very true to the experience. What a visual experience! Ephemerisle was incredible. I did the best I could to run around and convey what it was like to be there, over stimulated by this new beautiful foreign universe everywhere you looked.

It’s fair to think of Ephemerisle like Burning Man on the water. Imagine a bunch of RVs at Burning Man connected together, but floating. With dance stage platforms between them.

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I think Ephemerisle was the most exciting and fun time I have had, that didn’t involve a girl, since maybe my college days. I loved running around in that crazy dream world meeting the cast of characters you’ll see in the photos below.

I’m not saying Ephemerisle is better than Burning Man. There’s no way an event of a couple hundred people can in any way rival the scope and all the amazingness of the 50,000+ strong Burning Man festival. But I will say that I enjoyed Ephemerisle more. I loved Burning Man, but the desert is a harsh place. No doubt the sea can be unforgiving as well, but I was very happy to trade an over abundance of dust for an over abundance of water.

No way I would bring my beloved new Sony A7S and Voigtlander lens to get ruined by the intense barrage of fine dust on the Burning Man playa.

 Shot at 12,800 ISO

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Burning Man is incredible as it lights up the middle of the desert nowhere into an epic glorious city; being out in the middle of the water nowhere, lit up only by the most amazing glowy party you’ve ever seen, Ephemerisle too is a bright beacon of a testament to our evolutionary progress, while floating over the type of early ocean microbes of life that began it all. How far we’ve come, to create such a stunning atmosphere. A cool blend of excitement and serenity. Like Burning Man, being at Ephemerisle confronts you to face both our fragility and our promise that can only be truly seen in an intentional community that has left many of the comfortable constraints of modern society.

Stylistically people often compare Ephemerisle with Water World, and you can see where that’s coming from, only this wasn’t dystopian. Whatever was rough around the edges wasn’t post-apocalyptic, it was prototype. This is from the future, clearly. These are experiences our grandchildren will inherit when they are our age. But it’s a beautiful future. When the sun goes down, we light up even brighter. Humans evolved from a state of continual starvation in a struggle to survive among brutal nature, and now we master the harshest environments to throw parties of abundance like this for recreation. Humans have no shortage of serious problems, but it’s things like Ephemerisle that compel me to acknowledge our bright future of possibilities ahead.

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You might think I’m hyperbolizing a little much. And if I hadn’t been there, that’s totally what I would think while reading this. But there’s a reason for these reflections of anthropological grandeur. Ephemerisle is comprised of exactly the group of intellectuals, business leaders, and artists who are focused daily on the topic of our evolutionary potential as a species. These ARE the people consciously working to design a more beautiful future for all of us. What a treat it is to see one of their early prototypes. And I have to say, I’m in love with this particular prototype they call Ephemerisle.

I’ve got to thank everyone involved for coming together to create Ephemerisle. They made these photos. I just captured what I saw as well as I could. Their vision created this reality. Congratulations to all of their beautiful minds. These photos are my humble tribute.

Ok guys, get ready to watch the colors move…………

The full album and original post can be found on my blog here: http://hustlebear.com/2014/09/04/photos-ephemerisle-july-2014/

You can follow me on Instagram at http://instagram.com/juddweiss

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/juddweiss

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Note: The widely acclaimed Canon 5D MIII could not have achieved many of these shots. For example: The below shot, while not the cleanest photo in history, was shot at 51,200 ISO (!!) at 1/125 second, handheld from a bobbing moving boat in the dark. It was challenging to stand, and hard to see clearly, let alone to take a clean photo. Try to get anything remotely usable in those conditions with another camera setup.

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Again, the below shot is not perfectly clean and crisp, but it was shot at 32,000 ISO from a moving bobbing boat.

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I love how the camera rendered the daytime shots as well.

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Feb 102014
 

M240 NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

By George Sutton

A recent post showed some photos taken with an M240 in New York at night. It generated a lot of comments, some quite snarky. There appeared to be a problem with skin tones and many commenters declared the camera useless for shooting under artificial lights while declaring their Nikons, Canons and Sonys would do a much better job. I own both a M240 and a Canon 5DIII with Canon’s best L lenses and my experience has been very positive shooting both cameras at night. The only difference I see is slightly better star effects from the Leica lenses, which may be due to the absence of an AA filter. Low ISO performance is excellent with each camera.

I perviously owned an M9 and it was a great camera but the high ISO performance was noisy, much more so than the M240. The following photos were taken in Cologne, Germany last December at the Christmas market held next to the Cologne cathedral. The cathedral is one of the most magnificent in Europe. Cologne is in an industrial region and I suspect air pollution has badly stained the outside of the cathedral. In daylight it is very dark and doesn’t photograph very well but illuminated at night it is spectacular. Below are two shots taken with my M240 on a tripod set to auto white balance, one at ISO 400 and the next at ISO 2500. Following is another photo I took at ISO 400 in the market next to the cathedral. These are the colors as they came out of the camera. Judge for yourself if the camera is up to the job.

Leica M240 with 18mm Super Elmar at f4, ISO 200, 8 second exposure:

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Same shot at ISO 2500, .5 second exposure:

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ISO 400, f8, 1.5 second exposure:

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Again, none of these have been color corrected. This works fine for me. The Canon would do as good a job but not better and would be harder to carry around. I carry my Leica in a small backpack. I also tried a Sony A7r and it took a great photo but not better than the Leica or Canon and I returned it, mostly because the autofocus was poor and more of a hinderance than a useful feature.

Feb 072014
 

The Leica M 240 at Night

by Ivan Makarov

A few weeks ago, I had a chance to visit New York City for a few days, focusing only on photography. Well, I focused on the food too, as it’s kind of legendary. Because I live on the West Coast, near San Francisco, NYC was an eye-opening experience in many ways, as I discovered a new culture, new kinds of architecture, and a new big city I heard so much about but never visited before with my camera.

I also used the visit as a chance to keep learning my new Leica M, which I acquired last summer before the birth of our son Yuri who’s doing great, by the way and is sleeping in my arms as I type this.

Up to this point, I’ve been using Leica mostly during day light, and sometimes indoors for family snaps around the house. It’s an amazing camera in those situations. When I was choosing between getting a new Leica M or a used M9, one of the deciding factors that swayed me towards getting the M was the high ISO performance, which Leica delivered with the improved sensor. I knew that some of the most important family photographs I would capture with this new camera would be indoors, or in darker conditions and having the ability to shoot clean images using ISO1600 or ISO3200 was worth paying extra money, at least for me.

When doing my research on Leica, I came across a lot of images online that were taken outdoors, but at night, using fast M-mount primes. There was something different about those images compared to what I’m used to seeing from SLRs in similar conditions. The colors looked more natural and vibrant. The contrast was beautiful. The sharpness was always top-notch.

As I thought about what to shoot in New York, I thought I’d spend some time in the evenings after dinner testing how Leica performs in those night conditions, using my Leica M, and Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH lens. I did have 50mm f/1.4 Summilux on me as well, but I spent most the trip shooting with the 35mm lens, as I just bought it, and also found it more suitable for street photography.

So how did Leica perform in those night conditions? In short, I was very happy with the results.

My goal was to capture the lights of New York as my eye saw them. The beauty of New York City at night is that it’s full of colors, lights, and contrasts, no matter where I look. Leica proved to be a very good companion in recording those scenes – just how I saw them, or even more beautiful when coupled with the rich Leica bokeh.

I shot these images with the wide open aperture, and using ISO1600. They were shot at China Town and Times Square – two locations that are excellent for night street photography.

The one downside was that the files still came out somewhat on the warm side, which Leica M is now known for. I had to pull down the saturation in reds and oranges a bit during post processing to restore skin tones to their more natural color. I’m used to doing it now. The recent firmware upgrade fixed those issues somewhat, as you noted in your article, but it did not fix it completely.

As a result of this trip and my new experience of shooting at night, I am now incorporating night street photography in all my photo related travels, especially when it’s a city that offers plenty of life after it gets dark.

My site – http://www.ivanmakarov.com/

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Feb 112013
 

My Wicked Journey (back) to the Fuji X100

by Kevin Preblud

My own photographic odyssey began while in Junior High School, shooting black and white on a Nikon FE. I learned about f stops, shutter speeds, film speed, as well as how to develop my own film and print my own photos in an old fashioned darkroom. There was rarely a moment when that Nikon wasn’t slung across my shoulder like a musician with his guitar.

Over the years the depth of my passion ebbed and flowed depending on various life factors, but ultimately the birth of my first child in the early 1990’s, conveniently coinciding with the availability of affordable consumer digital cameras, was the convergence of events that put me on the road that has led me to where I am today.

Over the years, another child was born and various individual and family milestones were recorded for digital posterity. But it wasn’t until my children became involved in a variety of youth sports, that I truly picked up where I had left off with that Nikon at the end of my own childhood. It was time to jettison the pro-sumer digital point and shoot, and get back to the SLR world, albeit a digital one.

Once again my trusty dSLR was rarely missing from my side, shooting every sporting and school event that was on the calendar, at times, even for other parents who knew they could count on me to capture those precious moments of their children while I was for mine.

With both kids now in High School and still active in several sports, I spend many fall and spring afternoons photographing their various games, again now not only for myself, but for the teams as well. While this is the worst paying job I have ever had, the satisfaction of seeing the kids faces as they view their action photos online, like a professional athlete, is payment and satisfaction enough.

But like many fans of this site, while researching the mirrorless revolution, in an effort to add a less bulky camera to my toolbox, I found Steve’s review of the Fujifilm X100. That was it! I didn’t have to read another review. The X100 appealed to me in on so many levels; form, function, image quality, size, and most importantly, a return to the basics I remembered from my Nikon FE. It had a dedicated aperture ring, shutter speed dial, and exposure compensation dial; all the basics I had started with nearly a quarter century earlier.

I immediately went online and made my purchase. Upon arrival, the X100 did not disappoint. It was a rare combination of art and utility, like a fine writing instrument, not usually found outside of the Leica world. I must however admit, it took a bit of time to re-acclimate myself with non-automatic photography, but the more I did, the better the results and my personal satisfaction. As well, like so many others have said elsewhere, the X100 is an eye-catcher. The uninformed don’t know if it’s new or old, film or digital, but the intrigue easily draws them in front of the lens with little anxiety. People want to be photographed with this camera. People want to touch and feel it, making the whole photographer/subject dance much less intimidating and far more engaging.

Sadly however, I suffer from technology BBD (bigger better deal). Despite how much I had come to enjoy the X100, and how much I saw my candid and street photography improve, I wanted the next best thing. No thanks to Steve, I abandoned and sold my X100 for what sounded like the next best Fuji, the X-E1. Sure, there were AF improvements, interchangeable lens capability, and a better sensor, but I quickly realized that although the X-E1 was an improvement on paper, I missed my trust X100. In short order, I returned the X-E1 and went back online to eBay in this case, and re-acquired my trusted companion, another X100.

The bliss returned and we were back in business. You would think the lesson was learned, but yet again, and in no small thanks to Steve and his wonderful review, I was back on the BBD program looking to acquire a Sony NEX 6. So, out the door X100 No. 2 went and in the door came the NEX 6. Certainly the Sony is an able and accomplished camera, but I quickly realized it was no Fuji X100. All the reviews said it has better AF, better IQ, and better functionality, but at the end of the day, it just didn’t “fit” me like the X100. So, once again, back went the NEX for return, and back I went to eBay for X100 No. 3. While I’m not sure how much I have cost myself thru the various exchanges, I can promise that this is the last time the X100 goes out the door……..until of course the recently announced FujiFilm X100s I have pre-ordered, arrives at my door step. I promise I will remain faithful until then!!

The following photos are from a nighttime shooting excursion along Colfax Avenue in Denver. Colfax was the primary East-West artery thru Denver before the advent of the Interstate Highway System. Playboy magazine once called Colfax “the longest, wickedest street in America.” Colfax still continues to provide a variety of photo opportunities; from old neon-lit hourly motels and dive bars to recent urban redevelopment including outdoor shopping malls and the latest trends in fine dining.

Oddly, for one of the X100’s most harsh criticisms, low light shooting, I found it to be a jewel to work with, and I was very pleased with the results. Sure it takes care to be certain of your focus point, but like anything, once you get used to its intricacies; both positive and negative, they become practically insignificant.

And so, although not slung over my shoulder like the old film Nikon FE, my Fuji X100 is once again a constant and convenient companion in my coat pocket……My Journey (back) to the FujiFilm X100!

MY NIGHT ON COLFAX WITH MY FUJI X100:

“THE WICKEDEST STREET IN AMERICA“

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Want to write an article about  your favorite camera, lens or photo experience? It’s simple! Just write to me for details HERE!

Oct 092012
 

Night Time Street Shooting with the Sony RX1..AMAZING High ISO Samples.

Ok guys, I promised more and more and more on this hot camera so here is MORE! Just returned from a late night walk and am BLOWN AWAY by the high ISO and usability of the RX1 on the street late at night. The camera is fast, responsive, silent and shooting at ISO 25,600 in B&W is IMO..beautiful.

I will keep this post short in text as I have to get some sleep as I have an early and VERY long day tomorrow (when the official shooting begins with the new Sony cameras) which will be jammed packed shooting from 7am to 10PM. (am writing this at 1am).

So with that said I just want to share some photos from the late night walk. Things I like about the RX1 after a day? Size, weight, speed, lens, and build quality. I will admit that shooting in low light at night did result in a few AF misses but it was not any worse than most other cameras when shooting in the dark. On a few occasions the camera hunted when the light got REAL low and a couple of times focused on what was behind my subject. When I put it into MF mode using focus peaking it worked VERY well. Remember this is NOT final firmware so maybe Sony can improve on this. They say they are improving the IQ some as well so we shall see.

EXIF is embedded on all shots below and you must click them for a larger view. Also, when I get home next week I will write more in-depth on the RX1 with crops and processed shots as well. After that Sony should be sending me one soon for an “official review”. The thoughts I am posting now are just my 1st look thoughts and samples.

After tonight’s walk it made me really get excited again about this camera because it does low light/night VERY well. The high ISO is nothing short of astonishing and just think, every image here is an OOC JPEG without noise reduction. ISO 25,600 is VERY usable for gritty B&W street shooting. Pair that with the super sharp and soulful Zeiss 35 f/2 and well…where did I put that spare $2700?

BTW, San Francisco is AWESOME and I hope to come back really soon when I can spend some quality time here.

ISO 6400 direct from camera JPEG – click for larger – Noise Reduction turned OFF!

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With an f/2 lens you really do not need higher ISO when you have light so this was the lowest ISO of the night, 160 – OOC JPEG in Standard Color mode..

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ISO 5000 – OOC JPEG – NR OFF!

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ISO 2500 – NR OFF

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ISO 8000 – YES, 8,000 – NR turned OFF

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Now we get down to business…ISO 25,600 – NR OFF!

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ISO 25,600 – the lens and sensor combo are stunning…ZERO NOISE REDUCTION! and this is a JPEG direct from camera!

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ISO 25,600 – Direct JPEG, NO NR!

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And a color shot at ISO 25,600 – retains all detail and sharpness – NO NR, direct from camera JPEG!

Pre-Order the RX1 at Amazon

Pre-Order the RX1 at B&H Photo

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