Nov 202015

My Photo tour of India with a Olympus E-M1

by Neil Buchan-Grant –

I’ve just returned from running a 12 day Photo Tour of India for the luxury tour operator KUONI. It was a the first in a series we’re planning of at least one per year. The photo tour was a new concept in the crowded landscape of photographic workshops that proved to be a real hit with all the clients who came from the UK and the US. As opposed to a full on, hard core, seminar laden workshop, our photo tours are run by myself and the expert KUONI guides, combining the must see sites with special treats of photographic interest, researched and added by myself. This tailored approach attracted not only photography enthusiasts, but also their non-photographing partners.

In India every part of our itinerary was designed to offer the best photographic potential and we were even given a guided tour of the Delhi Photo Festival by members of the RANG documentary photographic collective. Each of our many destinations across the country featured the often hidden places photographers travelling solo would never find along with the big sites everyone wants to shoot. Tuition was given on a one to one basis in the field and I think its fair to say, everyone got some amazing photographs and learned new skills during the trip. The clients used many makes of cameras including Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus. We have an equally exciting multi-centre tour planned for May 2016 to China and Tibet which your readers can see more about here

Here are a few of the first pictures I made on the tour, all shot with the Olympus OMD EM1 in various places including Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi and a small village out in the sticks. On this occasion I decided to leave behind my Sony A7s and Leica M 50mm Summilux and take my Leica M 35mm Summilux bolted to an EM1 giving me a stabilised 70mm f1.4 option. It proved to be a valuable combo for portraits which I augmented with the Olympus 12-40mm and 40-150mm PRO zooms for travel shots. I hope you enjoy these and hope to see some of you in China next year!



















Kind Regards
Neil Buchan-Grant

British Travel Press Photographer of the Year

Nov 172015

Hong Kong with the Voigtlander Nokton 35 1.2

By Fahad A


Hi Brandon,

Thanks for posting my previous submissions, this is my 4th submission and hopefully the 5th will be on the way soon.

Last summer I decided to go to Hong Kong to spend my vacation and of course to explore the streets along with my camera. I only took the leica (typ240) along with the nokton 35mm 1.2, thinking that I might buy a 50mm from HK if I felt limited with the 35mm (given that I broke the 50mm summicron and for some reason didn’t remember to send it for a repair until the day I traveled)

Luckily, I managed without having to buy a new lens, the images had the usual nokton softness, which I don’t mind at all. Hong kong is very dense, and streets are tight and narrow that I couldn’t imagine using a 50mm over there, the 35mm focal length served me very well.

Most of the images I am sharing here are not uploaded to my photostream yet, as you can see they are all in B&W, which is the total opposite of my current flickr photostream, however I might upload them soon.

I never thought I would convert any of these photographs to B&W when i was capturing them, it only happened when I messed around with one of the images and felt that nokton softness along with B&W treatment appeals to my taste.

For now, hope you all enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed capturing them.



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Fahad A

Nov 132015

Spain, Costa Blanca with the Mamiya 7

By Dirk Dom



Spent a week in Moraira, Costa Blanca, Spain with my folks and my sister and her husband.

I took the Linhof technical camera and the Mamiya 7 with the 65mm and 150mm lens. These lenses were newly bought and I hadn’t used them yet.

The 150mm has a bad rap, because it is supposed to be difficult to focus with the rangefinder. So far, I only had the 43mm superwide for that camera, which I always zone focused. This was in fact the first time I was really obliged to use the rangefinder.

It turned out that all my exposures were focused spot on. I think the bad reputation of the 150 is because many people buy this lens for street photography (it’s equivalent to a 77mm on full frame (35mm film) and focusing with the rangefinder on moving subjects may be difficult. You need something with good contrast.

Because I was enjoying this vacation with other people, I didn’t use the Linhof. I shot the 150mm all the time, except for one shot with the 65. All in all I shot eight films, 80 images.

Well, enough said.

For the tech people:

Mamiya 7, 6×7 format.
150mm f/4.5
65mm f/4.5
Kodak Tmax 400 exposed for 800, developed in Tmax developer at 24°C for six minutes
Orange filter
Scanned with Epson V750 at 2,400PPI, photoshopped (levels, burning and dodging)
Prints on Hahnemühle Baryta.

Here we go:

Here I had this diaphragm spot. I decided to make it more obvious and use it in the composition. I think it came out nice, but of course it’s not something I do every day.


Underwater rocks are always beautiful. Black and white isn’t an obvious choice for this, because the brown rock and the beautiful blue water. I think this simple image came out nice.


On the way to Denia this landscape with three clouds.


This is the Ifach, the epic rock at Calpe which was a navigation landmark for the Phoenicians.


When I saw this image, I only had a second. I grabbed the camera and fired. This shot for some reason was extremely difficult to post process, because the coastline in the back was a perfectly even grey. It took four tries to make it into something sensible, and even now I’m not fully satisfied. But I can’t make it any better.


This tower I’ve been shooting for years. The sky happened to be beautiful this time.


I just love cloudscapes. A few weeks ago, I thought: “Why don’t I take photographs of just clouds, without landscape underneath?

These are my first images.



Only shot taken with the 65mm on this trip.


These cloud shots are a riot. I use the shot as a template and then I burn and dodge to taste. It may sound a little weird, but I take a great deal of time doing minute detail, going back and forth from a big image to a small one. I only stop when it looks perfect and balanced to me. I guess this is the ultimate “Negative is the Score, Print is the Performance” (the famous Ansel Adams quote) experience.


Well, ten shots out of eighty. Not bad.

The Mamiya 7 is an ultimate fun camera. It handles extremely easy, and the negatives… Well, let’s just say half a year ago I really, really wanted a Sony A7S, well that want has just gone away, I’m on a different road. I’ve never had such a positive photographic experience as with medium format black and white. I must say the rangefinder experience is extremely positive.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the show, thanks for looking.

Oh, yes, got a website now:



Nov 122015
Glen Coe Valley

Scotland in Medium Format with a Phase One DF+

By Andrew Paquette

For my autumn holiday this year I had wanted to do a fashion shoot at a nearby ruined castle. However, I wasn’t able to find the right models or styling for it, so I opted to go to Scotland instead. This is something I’d wanted to do since seeing Skyfall when it came out, and my interest was only enhanced when I saw Albert Watson’s photographs at the Isle of Skye. I mentioned this to a photographer I knew in Edinburgh, Laurence Winram, who helped me find a good assistant (a great assistant—Stuart McMillan) and loaned me a lightstand and incidental gear for the trip.

I shot all of my serious shots with a Phase One DF+, an IQ250 back, and an SK 80mm LS lens. In addition, I brought a Sony A7R, Leica 35mm Summilux, and a Zeiss Alpha 135mm lens. The Sony was there to take video of the excursion, though it did get used for some incidental shots. Everything was shot tethered. This made things a bit more complicated in the rain, but some of these shots wouldn’t have been possible any other way so I’m glad we went to the extra trouble of bringing a laptop, tray, and stand for the computer. All photos were processed in Phase One’s Capture One Pro v. 8.2.

It rained off and on throughout the trip, at times quite heavily, but for hours on the second day it was clear. A surprise to me was how important my new waterproof hiking boots would be. I didn’t know anything about Scottish bogs until I got there, but after walking through a few, am grateful to my wife for insisting I get a new pair of boots. It was like walking on wet sponges—and this was true almost everywhere we went.

Because the monumental rock formations of the Isle of Skye have been extensively covered by other photographers, I tried to avoid them (though I was curious to see them). Instead, we focused on the inner portion of Skye Isle, and the less obvious places around Glen Coe valley. As Stuart said at one point, almost at our last stop ‘Look! That’s the first tripod we’ve seen so far—we’ve done well’. He explained that if we’d gone to some of the more famous landmarks, we would have seen dozens of photographers with tripods.

On my first shot I managed to snag my trousers on a thorn bush, which tore out a huge section of the backside. I didn’t notice, but apparently it was pretty obvious to Stuart:

‘Looks like you’ve torn your trousers there’
‘Is it bad?’ I asked.
‘Yep, it’s pretty bad.’

I took a look and was surprised at the extent of the damage. Luckily I was able to obtain a sewing kit at the hotel to sew them up. It looked like I’d been the victim of a shark attack, but under my rain gear, it was invisible. Apart from that mishap, everything went pretty well.

My primary goal was to make photos that resembled some of my watercolour paintings that have a strong Chinese influence, as seen in this example I made at Yosemite:

Figure 1 Lee Vining, watercolour on paper, 37″ x 54″ 2002


Here are some of the shots, along with comments:

Figure 2 Waterfall near the town of Calender ISO 800 f/2.8 1/1000

This was the first major shot I took, on the way up to Glen Coe. It is also the shot I ripped my trousers to get. The goal was to get something that would resemble Chinese paintings from the Song dynasty of big dark boulders in rivers or fast moving water. To get that effect, I wanted the water sharp, so we spent most of our time balancing ISO, f-stop, and exposure to get what I wanted.

Waterfall near the town of Calender

Figure 3 Mini bogs ISO 100, f/10, 1/200

On the way to Glen Coe, we passed a big lake that had a number of small islands topped by small trees. I wanted to shoot them, but didn’t have the time at that moment, so we came back and got this on the way back to the airport at the end of the trip. I wish I’d had a longer lens for this, but I didn’t have one, so this is a crop, making it one of the smaller images from this excursion. Because the IQ250 produces such large images though, it is still larger than most full frame DSLR images.

Mini bogs

Figure 4 Cuilnacnoc Gate ISO 100, f/16, 1/80th

Stuart and I spent at least an hour at the top of this hillside, engaged in an effort to capture the vastness of it. However, none of the pictures were able to do the job, so we hiked down. Not wanting to get trapped at the wrong spot, I took note of this location and then we continued to the bottom before deciding to come back up and get this shot. It is about four images stitched together in Photoshop, one of the largest of the stitched images I made on the trip.

Cuilnacnoc gate

Figure 5 Glas Bheinn Mhor ISO 100, f/20, 1/25th

We stood on a huge spongy mass to get this. The primary difficulty was waiting for the light to peek through the clouds and hit this mountain. We waited about a half hour or more after this was taken, hoping it would get better but it didn’t so I finished with this. It is one of the few images that is inspired by a British rather than a Chinese painting. In this case, I recognized the mountain as one painted by the British watercolourist Francis Towne (one of my favourite artists), so I was quite keen to get it.

Glas Bheinn Mhor2738

Figure 6 Glen Coe Valley ISO 100, f/14, 1/8th

This is one of the first shots taken at Glen Coe. It was a tough hike (for me) to get up the slippery moss and rocks while carrying about 15 kg of camera gear, but we made it up and were rewarded with beautiful views in every direction. It rained quite hard at times, but all of the equipment performed without malfunction. That said, by the end of the day, everything in my bag was covered with condensation moisture and needed drying off.

Glen Coe Valley

Figure 7 Glen Coe Bog ISO 100, f/12, 1/20th

When I first saw this it looked like a field of lumpy grass like what I frequently saw around Phoenix. When I suggested going out for a photo, Stuart warned me that “it will be wet”. It turned out this was a bog and it was very wet, just as he said. All of the plants you see here are growing straight out of water, and beneath that, soil. The mystery question is “how deep is the soil?” In most cases the water was only an inch deep, but in others your whole foot could get swallowed by one of the red spongy growing things they had all over out there.

Glen Coe Bog

Figure 8 Glen Coe 2 ISO 100, f/8, 2.5s

This image is one of the few that really looks like a Song dynasty painting to me. It is shot straight across the Glen Coe to catch the lowering clouds.

Glen Coe 2

Figure 9 Loch Long Cliffs ISO 100 f/11, 8s

Another of the ‘Chinese’ images. We were headed to Loch Anna, but couldn’t find access, so we stopped at Loch Long instead to shoot this at the end of the day, at sunset or a little after. It was a real surprise to me how Chinese the landscape looked because I hadn’t expected it at all.

Loch Long cliffs

Figure 10 Maligar homes ISO 100, f/20, 2.5s

This was shot in the early morning of the first full day of shooting. It was quite windy, which led to quite a lot of motion blur in the grasses—and in almost all of the photos I took on the 3 days of shooting that we had. This scene reminded me of Edward Hopper’s watercolours of New England homes in the U.S. The way it is shot here though, it looks more like watercolours by Winslow Homer from his time in England and then later near Boston.

Maligar Homes

Figure 11 Maligar Phone Booth ISO 400, f/4, 1/6th

I had just finished telling Stuart about a shot I didn’t get in Thailand—of a phone booth in the middle of nowhere—when we ran into this phone booth in the middle of nowhere. Stuart was kind enough to be the model for this, using the reflected light of his pocket torch to illuminate his face.

Maligar Phone Booth

Figure 12 Portree Harbor, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/3s

This is easily the most difficult shot I got on the trip. We were driving back to Maligar for a second look at the houses, when I thought it might do just as well to stop in the town of Portree and shoot a church I’d seen there when we stopped for lunch earlier in the day. After getting out of the car with the equipment, we discovered that we didn’t have a good angle on the church. However, the harbour looked interesting, so we walked down there. As soon as I saw these boats, they reminded me of the watercolours of Paul Klee in the way they were arranged with very little overlap and simple colours. The boats were moving quite a lot as they bobbed on the water and there was very little light—less than it seems here because when we started the moon was not visible. We started by shooting at ISO 6400 to get the focus. The viewfinder was useless for this because it was almost pitch black, but the tethered computer allowed us to check focus there. Once we had the focus, we walked back the ISO until the graininess wasn’t an issue. After that, we did the same thing with aperture and f-stop. Then, the moon came out and we had the picture, complete with rays of light.

Portree Harbor

Figure 13 Sligachan Waterfall ISO 100, f/8, 1/3s

This is another of the Chinese compositions, near some of the most famous landmark rock formations on the Isle of Skye. Naturally, we didn’t see those or photograph them. To get this, we mounted the camera looking down a steep rocky defile. The terrain was quite spongy—giving me the feeling that I’d slide over any moment, but we got the shot okay and then headed back toward Portree.

Sligachan Waterfall2

Figure 14 Upper Ollach ISO 100, f/18, 1/6s

The original vertical composition for this image had a very Chinese feel to it, but I thought it looked better as a horizontal composition and cropped it. Now, it reminds me a bit of a van Gogh painting of windswept rocks that I saw in a catalogue for a show of his work in New York City.

Upper Ollach

Nov 112015

The Olympus E-M10. People of Mumbai

By Raviraj Kande

Hello Steve and all worldwide audience of!

I am Raviraj Kande an actor and stand up comedian by profession born and brought up in Mumbai -India.

After reading most of the real world reviews I went for the Olympus OMD em-10 . I was going back and forth between Sony a6000 and OMD em10. The lens variety available finally made me go for Olympus OMD em10 and it was more stylish looking in the two.

I wanted something smaller yet powerful . Since I travel too for my live shows thought the little OMD will be great enough to document interesting stuff while travelling .

Also read all your reviews of OMD series which were extremely helpful since they were real world based with amazing pics which truly show the potential of micro four thirds system and the Olympus OMD offerings.

2015-10-08 09.18.28 1-01-01OI000482-01

The current lenses I have are sigma 60mm and the 14-42ez kit lens. The 25mm from Olympus is on its way . I had my friend from Australia Rahul Dutta a passionate photographer himself , send me the lenses and camera brand new, since its not readily available in India, and very expensive too.

It might sound weird but for me the camera body must look stylish , because if I love the way it looks I will use it more often . The Olympus em10 is very sexy looking camera with right blend of modern features and retro design .

It has been an absolute joy using the OMD em10 in variety of situations like concert , clicking pics of delicious food in restaurants , street portraits, landscapes ,fashion . It does everything with ease and style.

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OI000826-03 OI000854-02 OI000880-01 OI000210-01

I’m here attaching pics taken with the 60mm from sigma, a insanely sharp lens . This pics have been clicked while walking around on the streets of Mumbai . 2 pics are of my wife which were clicked again on street while walking around. The rest are street portraits of common people who work on daily wages basis in Mumbai. Some pics of food and flower too .

2015-10-22 09.41.34 1-01-01 OI000065-02 OI000079-01

All pics are shot as jpegs and edited on my phone in snapseed and at times vsco cam. But mostly in snapseed. Also all pics are shot in natural available light.

Thanks very much for your passionate in-depth non over technical real life usage reviews which help any body interested in photography make decision on factually basis. Also a big thanks to the community here who share their experiences with variety of cameras and lenses .

Sincerely- Raviraj .

My Facebook id is – Raviraj Kande

And my Flickr page is


Nov 062015
Venus 15mm


Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro Lens on the Sony A7RII

by Dierk Topp

Hi Brandon and Steve,

This is about a very special lens, the Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro from Venus Optics in Hefei/Anhui in CHINA.

To explain the specialty of this lens here is a quote of a short description from Venus Optics:

“The new Laowa 15mm f/4 1:1 Macro lens features an ultra wide angle of view of 110 degrees with 1:1 maximum magnification. Photographers can focus very close to the subject and let the foreground dominates in the photo but at the same time, have the background telling viewers about where and how the subject lives.”


” A shift mechanism is added at the rear end of the lens with a maximum adjustment of +/- 6mm, which is extremely useful for landscape/architecture photography for distortion correction.”

I love wide and super wide lenses and preordered it after it was announced. My lens has the serial # 761 :-)

The reasons for me:

I ordered the Sony E-mount version, Nikon and Canon mount is available too
the specs looked very interesting and the price for it even more
the main advantage of the lens is, that I can get a very close foreground and environment background
it could be a universal super wide angle lens
the design is for DSLR and color shift in the corners are not expected
of course it has a manual aperture
it does not have clicks for the apertures
the shift mechanism may be a bit soft, not like a tilt/shift lens

This is not supposed to be a review!

I don’t dig into CA and soft corners. I just want to share my experiences with this special lens with you and your readers.
If you are interested in full resolution test images, you may find them here on my flickr.

From the practical use I can say, it works great. If you really use it close to 1:1 you have to take off the sun shield but still may get problems with the light and/or shadows of the lens over the subject. The following picture of the lens attached to a Sony A7RII shows, how close you are in these situations.
And I would like to mention, that the aperture has no clicks, the following images are “about” f/11. The shift mechanism is a bit soft too, but it works.

Find the following images and some more here on my flickr album.

The lens mounted on the Sony A7RII

Venus 15mm

Comparison of the sizes: Sony Zeiss 16-35/4 – Laowa 15mm/4 – Sony Zeiss 24-70/4
(it is the E-mount lens, the DSLR lens will be much shorter)

Venus 15mm

On this picture the object distance is set to 1:1,  You see, that this is only useful for very specific situations! You will have problems to get enough light to your object!

on 1:1 there is no chance to get any light on this object
Ok. here are some examples of the practical use of this lens

On the architecture images below vertical lines have been corrected in PP the used aperture on most images is “about” f/11, you never know exactly, when you stop down while watching the focus magnification. Even with f/11 the DOF is very small at 1:1

All images made with Sony A7RII full format camera
On the following images the distance to the front lens is about 5 to 10cm! (I know, it does not look like this, but it is a 15mm lens :-) )

Venus 15mm

on the sample images of the vendor for this lens you find images with mushrooms seen from the below the mushroom, I had to try that as well :-)
(this may be difficult with a DSLR with a fixed screen)

Sony A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

town hall of my home city

Reinfeld Rathaus

Venus 15mm

it seems to be an interesting lens for certain product shots:

Venus 15mm

FNT Seegeberg

FNT Seegeberg

The following two images with the use of the shift function. Both are stitched two images, one full shift down and one shift up,  you see the problems in the corners, the images are not cropped.
With stitched images I usually use the full shift and crop later. Again the foreground is a few cm away!
(no info of shutter and ISO in the EXIF)

Venus 15mm

Venus 15mm

Venus 15mm

The following images may show the normal use as a super wide lens
vertical correction in PP

from a visit to Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg City

the Hamburg Rathaus (town hall)

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Venus 15mm vs. leica WATE vs. Sony/Zeiss 16-35

and last but not least:
the gate was closed and I heard the train coming, I focused on the gate.
The ICE passed me at a distance of about 5 meters and with more than 100 km/h – I got it :-)

Sony A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

I hope, that you got an impression, what this lens can do.

Thanks very much for looking


more of my images:

Nov 042015

Peru Surgical Mission with a Leica M

by Brian Ho


Hey Guys

I had submitted some photos last year, and you guys were gracious enough to post them. I just returned from peru for another surgical mission.

We perform surgery mostly for cleft lips/palates on children. This year we performed > 100 surgeries in 4 days and I wanted to share some of the emotions and visuals from the trip. Last year I utilized my Sony Rx1, and you can read my first post to see my feelings on it.

This year I splurged and got the Leica M240 and 50 1.4, which was a learning experience in its own. I missed many shots due to my inexperience with the focusing system, but every once in a while it generated some really beautiful photos. Overall, I’m going to keep working on the Leica and see where it takes me. I still have the Rx1.







instagram @xplorier
Tumblr @ xplorier

If you’d like to see the trip, below is a link to a short documentary on it. There are some surgeries and its refreshing to see interactions. I encourage people to watch it!!!!

Well hopefully, i hope everyone enjoys these submissions. K, until next time

Oct 272015

Sony A7II plus Leica lenses meet Mexico City

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Hi Steve,

One more I found myself writing to your blog, this time I wanted to share with you and your readers a few pictures from Mexico City, taken with the A7ii and Leica Lenses.

I wasn’t contemplating buying an A7ii, but after a recent trip to San Diego and your posts about the camera, couldn’t escape the GAS bug :)

The camera is quite easy to handle, fast, and has great image. I have other cameras so this is not my main camera but indeed is fun to use and the results are satisfying.

I still prefer the experience and results with my Leica M240, but its easier carrying the Sony instead of the Leica in Mexico streets.

I am using a Voigltander adapter, (not the close up one) with Leica Lenses and a Metabones for Nikon.

Off all the lenses I have, the 35mm and 50mm, both 1.4 pre asph, as the 75mm 2.0 asph work like a champ on the Leica. I also have a 28mm 2.8 asph and a 21mm zeiss 2.8 which are beautiful on the M240, don’t really work as good in the Sony. All the Nikon lenses do work great.

Enough talking, here are some picts from Mexico. Hope you like them :)

All taken with the 35mm 1.4, except the one of the cars and the portrait of the person with the cowboy hat, which were taken with a 28mm 2.8.










Here in my blog you can have a look at more picts from Mexico., and here is my flickr.


AI’s Photography
AI’s Photograpy Blog

Oct 212015

Explore the world and your cameras

By Bouwe

Dear Steve and Brandon,

A couple of things happened last years:

-I went to Nepal on holidays and realized that traveling is easy
-Therefore I went to Iran, shot some pics with a friends DSLR and met a guy with a Sony A7
-decided it was time to buy the Sony A7 with the 55 1.8& 35 2.8 (jan2015)
-found your amazing website and started following your blogs and daily inspiration
-holidays to Kirgistan and Tadjikistan and enjoyed the camera

From this last holiday I would like to post some pics and hope to learn from it myself as well. I hope it will encourage all readers to explore the world and their camera’s more. Often I wonder: why should one take a picture instead of painting it? All these shots were made while hiking. For that the 35mm f2.8 came in really handy. I shot all in JPEG and don’t do post processing yet (advice?).

The first obvious answer is: because sometimes things are beautiful for real, even though you can also paint it. This lake is in Kirgistan, with abundant Edelweiss.

Shot at 1/100, f7.1, iso400


The second answer: because you can shoot some motion or capture the decisive moment. The sheep picture is taken while in action: I saw the sheep coming down on the other side and had to run to take this picture.                       

Shot in Kirgistan, at 1/500, f11, iso200

Running Sheep

The third answer is: because you can trick&see things that normally can’t be seen, often in the night. Shooting at night is great when camping: The skies are often much clearer than in lived areas, different sources of light can stand out, after dinner what else can you do? and the differences in light are less.

Shot in Tadjikistan, at 30sec, f5.6, iso 1000. (When shot at night it seemed ok due to low light, when looking during the day I realized it was to dark, and I should have checked the diagram, so this one is corrected for brightness.)


The fourth answer: because I can’t paint. I still am a beginner in photography, but I like it a lot! I guess that a possible answer to the question could also hold something with people, but I have to explore this area better! And any tips are more than welcome, also on composition, light & postprocessing etc!

Regards Bouwe

Oct 192015

The Palouse – The Elysian Fields of Visuals

By Olaf Sztaba

The last time we visited the Palouse region lush greens dominated the scenery. This time was different. Greens and yellows blended into browns and sand dune-like hills spread across the horizon as if a painter had replaced all the colours with just one. Despite this change, the placid beauty of the land captivated us once again.


The rising sun revealed an abundance of shapes and patterns, creating dream-like visuals. The lack of colours simplified the visuals and emphasized the beauty of the lines. The Palouse in the fall was very different from the loud and colourful Palouse of the spring but somehow equally beautiful, equally captivating.




Our initial plan was to welcome the rising sun at Steptoe Butte – the usual place for sunrise photography. But we got up late and instead captured the beauty of the place from random dirt roads. We were glad we did.

While well-known parks such as Yosemite or Grand Teton National Park have their own mega-popular spots, the Palouse offers you the unknown. Every dirt road hides a visual gem and it is up to you to discover it, which is what makes this place so special.




This is why Kasia and I believe that the Palouse is the best place in North America to learn composition. Sure, you can go to Steptoe Butte and the morning light will provide you with beautiful vistas without much effort on your part. No question, you will end up with one more photograph of the same. However, if you would like to see and feel YOUR WAY, take any dirt road around Palouse, think creatively, put in some effort and you will be rewarded with a creation like no other. That’s the beauty of the Palouse. That’s why the Palouse is a photographer’s Elysian Fields. Indeed, it’s a place like no other.

All images were taken with the Fuji X-T1 & XF 50-140mm F2.8 lens, processed in LR6.

Oct 132015

DCIM100GOPROG0058263. Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

23 days in Europe – Adventure and Travel Photography with Fujifilm X-E2 and GOPRO

By Danielle Vitarbo

Aloha Steve!

Thank you for all the hard work you put into your great website. (THANK YOU for being here Danielle – Steve)!

As you can probably guess, I’m writing to you from my home in beautiful Hawaii. I just recently returned from a 23 day backpacking trip across Europe and I’m excited to share my photos. As beautiful as the Hawaiian islands are, I find the most beauty when I’m discovering new places around the world. I refuse to let the best years of my life fade away. Though it’s not easy, I try my best to travel somewhere new as often as I can. Don’t we all?



The first two times I traveled to Europe I was in full-blown DSLR mode and had a ridiculous amount of lenses with me. I never used more than one lens and always debated bringing the camera everyday because of it’s weight.

Over the years I’ve narrowed down my style and my needs to the bare essentials. In doing so, I’ve never been more satisfied with my photos. I’m an avid GOPRO enthusiast and probably will be till the day I die. Unlike most people, I use my GOPRO as just my everyday camera. I’m not a snowboarder, surfer, or a base jumper of any kind. I just enjoy pushing the limit with GOPRO cameras and they continue to impress me every time. I love the fisheye lens and I enjoy the challenges that come with shooting with it. It’s extremely exciting whenever I nail the shot that I’m after. Though it’s not perfect, its the camera that makes photography fun and it’s also the camera that’s small enough to always be with me, so I can’t complain. For this trip I used a GOPRO HERO 4 Black edition...

DCIM100GOPROG0248902. Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

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However, I owe all my photography love to Fujifilm. I love the tactile feel of their cameras, the size, and the image quality it produces. It’s everything I need in a camera, not to mention the stellar lenses that Fuji pumps out each year. But unlike most people who use Fujifilm cameras for its street photography performance – which it does great at- I’m exploring the camera for its landscape and travel photography performance. I’m a huge fan of Fuji color rendering and skin tones so it’s a no brainer.

For this trip I also took my Fujifilm X-E2 and kit lens 18-55mm 2.8-4.

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We covered 9 different countries in 23 days. Kept the bags light, the days long and just kept moving. From Northern Ireland to Interlaken, it was a trip for the ages. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.





If you like this write-up and my photos, follow me on instagram. It’s my favorite social media platform and I post regularly. Comment, like, and follow. Every bit helps!

If you want to see more of my work or more of Hawaii in general, visit my website and portfolio with updated blog posts.


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DCIM100GOPROGOPR8984. Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

DCIM100GOPROGOPR8994. Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset
I’ll be in japan for a few months next year so keep an eye on my social media for new photos. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments. I’m always down for a chat!

Thanks again steve for allowing me to send this in.


Oct 042015

MUST SEE: Geography of Poverty

A journey through forgotten America


If you have not yet seen this, it is pretty amazing. Photos shot by Magnum Photographer Matt Black using a Sony RX100 II.

Check out the story and amazing imagery on MSNBC HERE. Be sure to scroll through the various sections “southwest” – “South” – “Northeast” and others. I spent an hour reading the entire story and viewing the extraordinary images and I think you should to.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,


Sep 292015

The Sony A7R (Mk 1) in Japan

by Michael Morris

Dear Steve and Brandon:

I have been reading your site daily for the last few years and have enjoyed reading your reviews and guest posts. I started my venture into the mirrorless world from Nikon with the purchase of the Leica M9 and 3 Leica M lenses in 2010. I tried micro four thirds and APS –C sensors and came to the conclusion that I am a full frame shooter. Over the last year I made some changes in my list of cameras. I sold my Olympus OMD–EM5, my Fujifilm XT-1, and my Leica M9. I now have a Nikon D800E, which I use for portrait work and sports, and a Sony A7R which I use for travel or when I want to travel light. I am anxiously waiting for my A7Rii to ship.

I recently traveled to Japan and brought my Sony A7R with the Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f 1.8, Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm f 1.4, Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO, Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 (borrowed), and my Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8. I strongly considered purchasing the Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35mm for the trip. In the end I decided to bring the Nikkor zoom despite its size, and use something that I already owned. I used Novoflex adapters for both the Leica and Nikkor lenses.

Here are some sample photos.

Shibuya Crossing – Sony A7R with Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8 ISO 200 1/250 sec


Sumo Wrestling Close shot – Sony A7R with Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO – ISO 1600 1/640 sec f 3.4


Sumo wrestling – Wide shot – Sony A7R with Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 – ISO 1600 1/100 sec f 3.4


Leica Store Tokyo – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/100 sec f 5.6


Mount Fuji taken from the Shinkansen Nozomi at 170 mph Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 – 1/200 sec f 4.0


Lobby of Ritz Carlton Kyoto –Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/4000 sec f 2.0


Maiko – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 6400 1/250 f 4.0


Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) Kyoto – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 400 1/640 sec f 4.0


Michael Morris MD

Ocala, Florida USA

Sep 242015


The Sony RX1R around the world

by Dick Hoebee

Hello Steve,

The subject of this write-up is the magnificent Sony RX1R and some of the places I’ve taken it so far. Every photo you see here was shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom.

Positive points and general comments

Going to New Zealand was something I wanted to do for a very long time, and in late 2013 I finally had the means and time to do it. My trusty Canon Eos 450D was becoming unreliable after five years of heavy use, and I took this opportunity to go out and get a new camera. The logical choice would be a new Canon, as I had accumulated two nice lenses and a great flash. Mostly thanks to the raving reviews on this site, I checked out the Sony RX1R as well, and ended up buying it, to my own surprise.


It was either this camera, or an EOS 5D Mk. III. That’s not an easy choice to make, but I’m ultimately glad I went with the Sony. I was a little anxious about limiting myself to one lens, especially for the monumental price tag that the camera has (I bought it when it just came out, too), but that turned out to be unwarranted, as I never enjoyed a camera more than this thing.


New Zealand was the maiden voyage of the RX1R for me, and boy was I glad I took the plunge before going. This country has many sights that are truly awe-inspiring, and I recommend anyone visiting it at least once in their lifetime. I felt very small there many times. It is a humbling, unforgettable experience.


Besides the incredible image quality of this camera, I absolutely love this thing for its size and weight (or rather, the lack thereof). It is also built like a tank, which gives confidence to carry it all over the place. And I do. Because it’s so easy to take everywhere, I take it everywhere. I left my EOS 450D at home many times when I shouldn’t have, because I didn’t feel like lugging it around, and that’s even a small DSLR. Another advantage about its size is that it is an unintimidating camera to subjects. When you point a big, professional-looking camera with a large lens at people, they sometimes get self-conscious. The RX1R looks more like a cool-looking hobby-camera than the full-frame monster that it is. The shutter is completely silent, too. Most people have no idea what it is (including those who have nice cameras themselves), and some even think it is an analog camera. An older gentleman I met commented that it looked like his Leica M6.






At low to medium ISO settings, photos are incredibly clean. That said, the high ISO performance of this camera is one of the reasons I fell in love with it. I can take it out at night, and take hand-held shots without having to use flash in pretty much any situation. The results are great, and photos still look alive and punchy at ISO 6400 and even 12800. Things naturally get more grainy once the ISO goes up, but it’s nice-looking grain, almost film-like. I leave luminance noise-reduction completely off in Lightroom. With a tripod and long exposure + low ISO, it really shines, too.

I use the RX1R for landscapes, portraits, and as a walk-around camera. The dynamic range is really something else, and it’s possible to achieve some amazing results. Colors are wonderful, and black & white is rich and deep. It’s easy to pull tons of detail out of shadows and highlights, and I’ve never felt the need to pull tricks like multiple exposure HDR. RAW files have an incredible amount of headroom. After having owned and used the RX1R for two years, I still get blown away every singe time I load the files in Lightroom. The image quality is absolutely staggering, still in 2015.



Settings & usage

I shoot in Aperture Priority (the ring is nice) or Program most of the time, and I use Manual for long exposure shots and stitch-panoramas. The exposure compensation dial on top is a useful tool for quick adjustment. I assigned the little C-button on top to ISO-settings, which I usually leave on auto with a range of 100-6400. Sometimes I lock it when I want to go for a specific look. All 5 buttons are programmable, as well as the four-way buttons under the wheel on the back. I set metering to multi-metering, and it is generally accurate. The auto-focus does a great job most of the time. It sometimes has a little trouble in the dark, but it usually catches what I want after a try or two. I set it to one focus point in the middle. Focus speed isn’t super fast, but fast enough for me.

I never really use the flash (not needed) or video mode (I’m a photographer, not a video guy). The only accessories I have in my bag these days are a GorillaPod and an extra battery. It really feels like everything I need now.




The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens is incredibly sharp at every f-stop, and it seems to be at its sharpest at f/5.6 and f/8. The photos are so sharp in fact, that Adobe Lightroom’s default sharpening-setting of 25 is too high and creates harsh edges. Usually I end up setting it around 10-15. Having a 35mm prime lens is easy to get used to, especially when it’s as great as this one. I love primes in general; they force you to get creative and walk around to find a good angle.





The battery-life is not great. I immediately turn the camera off after I’ve taken a shot, and I don’t spend much time reviewing photos already taken. I have an extra battery, but since Sony doesn’t include an external charger (at this price point, I’d say that’s strange), I need to switch them around while the camera is hooked up to charge them. The camera has a standard micro-USB port for file transfer and charging, which means it is compatible with pretty much every standard phone charger out there, which is convenient.




Manual focus is useless without a viewfinder (save for forcing infinity focus), as focus-peaking only works with a magnified view. I don’t know why this is, as the Sony A7 cameras are able to do this on the overview view. Another little quirk is that the camera always returns to infinity focus when it wakes up or turns on. This is something I’d like to be able to lock when I’m waiting to take a shot of something that moves. Both these things are fixable with a firmware update, but Sony doesn’t seem to do those with this camera for some reason.

I miss having an infrared shutter release. That seems like a more logical choice to build into this camera than an external mic-input.

The prices for accessories are ridiculous. I’d like to have the viewfinder (partially because using a circular polarizing filter is almost impossible with the LCD screen), but I’m not paying 500 bucks for that. Even their simple metal lens hood costs 200 bucks (check eBay for knock-offs for 1/10th the price). The only official Sony accessory I bought for it was the leather case. Although that hurt my wallet, I’m glad I got it. It provides good protection, and it really emphasizes the old-school cool look.



I’ve never been this happy about a camera, or any electronic device I’ve ever owned. It is not perfect (no camera really is), but the positives easily outweigh the negatives. The more I use it, the more I love it. The Zeiss lens, overall image quality, build quality and size, make the RX1R nothing less than a masterpiece.

I would probably still love this thing if it gave me an electric shock with every photo I take.

It is that good.

If you liked this write-up and my photos, check out my personal portfolio and blog. I update it constantly.

I also have a Facebook-page. Give me a “Like” and tell your friends, it always helps!

Or, follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing.

I will visit Australia in the near future and many other places after that, so keep an eye on my website and social media pages for new photos soon. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments, I’m always more than happy to talk.

Many thanks again, Steve, for allowing me to send this in. Keep the website going, I enjoy the hell out of it.


Sep 232015

Leaving Mexico City

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Hi Steve,

Soon I will be moving out of Mexico and wanted to share with you and your readers some of my pics from my stay in this wonderful country.

Mexico is great city for street photography, people is warm and definitely like their portrait been taken. It’s a huge city, in which it only takes a bit of luck to bump into something interesting to shoot. I focus mostly in street portraits, but also managed to get some other things :).

I used different kinds of cameras Nikon DF, Sony A7ii, and Leica M240. No specific reason for the cameras, I just love all of them :)

Exif data should be intact. Hope your readers enjoy these pics as much as I enjoyed Mexico, and if anyone is thinking of passing through here a few days, please don’t doubt it, you will be surprise how great it could be.

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Sorry for posting so many :)

More of my pictures can be seen in:

Thanks for looking!


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