Jan 162015
 

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Kolkata India – Shooting the streets and smiles

by Mark Seymour – His website is HERE

My photography travels have taken me to some of the most beautiful, interesting and diverse locations but I can honestly say this was unknown territory for me and before I left I really didn’t know what to expect. The little knowledge I had of India from its unique colour and spices to its religious and cultural heritage, the ornately carved temples to the lush landscapes, the fabulous history of the maharajahs to the well broadcast poverty, did not prepare me for what I was going to experience. Kolkata, once known to the English traveller as Calcutta, it is the capital city of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India and is the third most populous area in India.

My opportunity to photograph the streets and people of Kolkata came from the Hope foundation and professional photographer Mark Carey who regularly runs a week-long training workshop that in addition to providing photographers like myself the most amazing opportunity to build their personal portfolios, but also enables the Hope Foundation to raise some important funding and their profile for their valuable work with the local children.

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Over 250,000 children are forced to exist on the streets and in the slums of Kolkata. 30,000 children are trafficked into Kolkata on an annual basis to be forced into child prostitution, child labour and child slavery. The Hope Foundation was established in 1999 by Irish Humanitarian Maureen Forrest to help these children.They provide support to over 60 projects including education, primary healthcare, child protection, children’s shelters, vocational training and drugs rehabilitation. HOPE has extended its support and now provides a holistic approach to development which includes working with the children, their families and the community in Kolkata.

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Joining four other photographers we prepared ourselves as much we could before heading out onto the streets and slums that form the living areas of the local people. I can honestly say that what confronted me was challenging and life changing. But what struck me most and what I believe I captured was the spirit of the adults and children as they lived their lives, photographing everyday moments. For me the power of the images was in the expressions on their faces, there was so much joy and laughter in such difficult circumstances.

Initially they were curious and taken aback by our presence as we wandered in and out taking photographs, but they relaxed and engaged with our cameras, smiling and welcoming us into their world. I can honestly say these people touched me in a way I was not expecting. Their sense of pride and joy was humbling.

Whilst we were there we were invited to a special event put on by Hope, a picnic for some of the projects they fund. They ate, drank, played games and enjoyed colouring activities.

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I predominantly photograph my street images in black and white, but colour is an important element of visually recording India. My photos captured the very young through to the very old, living, working and getting on with their daily lives. My favourite images are of the children at play, just like children all around the world, enjoying climbing, exploring and making up their own games. The difference was in where they were found playing, not play parks and gardens, instead railway lines and amongst the confined spaces between the homes and make-shift buildings.

I travelled all the time with my Nikon D4s and two lenses The Nikkor 35mm F1.4 and the 28 1.4 although some days I alternated with the 35 and old but superb manual focus Nikkor 58 1.2. All the shots were handheld, the light was generally really good however it got dark quite early which is where the Nikon D4s really coped well as I quite often upped the ISO to 8000 to let me continue shooting without flash. I’m a great believer that it’s not about the size of the camera more about how you conduct yourself, how you move around and communicate that gets you the best images.

For me I can say that with all my heart I will be returning to India and extending my experiences of this beautiful land of extremes.

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Jan 082015
 

Traveling with my Leica M6

By Philipp Wortmann

I’ve been following your this site for a while now and I thought it was time for me to try to contribute something to.

This is a small selection of pictures I took during a 3 week road trip through the southwestern USA this summer. To document the trip in the most simple way I decided to only take 1 camera, 1 lens and 1 type of film with me. These were: Leica M6, 35mm Summicron and a whole lot of Kodak Portra 160. Before leaving for the trip I was worried shooting film only might be too much of a risk or I might miss shot due to not being able to change ISO or the manual focus. But it turned out to be a complete joy! Taking this minimalist approach allowed me to focus on all the beautiful moments during this trip rather than LCD screens, settings or back ups. Using only Portra 160 gave me beautifully consistent results I couldn’t be happier with. I currently don’t own any digital camera and after this trip I’m confident that this will stay that way for a while to come :)

As mentioned this is only a very small part of the images. I shot 26 rolls of film and if you want to check out the final edit of the photos you can check out the little photobook I made HERE.

You can also see more of my work here: lifeon35.tumblr.com or https://www.flickr.com/photos/derphilipppp/

Best regards and thanks for running such a cool site,

Philipp

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Jan 062015
 

Traveling Middle East with a Leica M6

By Johannes Carlsohn

Hi Steve,

I want to share with you and your readers the experiences I had on a trip to the Middle East with only a film Leica. I bought my first Leica (an M6) a year ago, in December 2013.

I fell in love with it instantly and decided to use it as my main camera for all the trips I was planning to do in 2014. So I used it in Madeira, Barcelona, Greece and Georgia, sometimes accompanied by digital cameras.

For the last and longest trip of the year, 3.5 weeks in October to Iran and Oman, I decided to go film only. So I packed my M6 and few lenses (15mm Voigtländer, 50mm Summicron, 35mm Zeiss) and 35 rolls of film.  I relied on my iPhone for quick pictures to share with the family or on Facebook.

Shooting only film gave me a peace of mind I wasn’t used to before. No worrying about batteries or memory cards, no file formats, no settings, hardly switching any lenses (I shot 80% of the pictures with the 35mm), and that all in a small package that was never a burden to carry around.

I have not once had the feeling that focusing manually has slowed me down, but I definitely felt that unobtrusiveness of the Leica, that helps shooting strangers in the streets.

Apart from photography I can only recommend traveling the Middle East. The people, especially in Iran, are friendly, helpful and welcoming on a level I haven’t experienced anywhere else. The cultural heritage, the nature and the way of living there are amazing. And no, we have not felt unsafe at any point of the trip, nor have we had any trouble with authorities.

In the end I shot 29 rolls of film, had only a hand full of badly focused or exposed pictures and a lot more keepers than usually.

In the meantime I switched from my Nikon D600 to a small Ricoh as a digital backup. I planned to buy a digital Leica in 2015, but after having so much fun with the M6, I decided to postpone that investment for at least another year.

Keep up your great work!

Johannes

Munich, Germany
http://500px.com/blende2acht
www.blende2acht.de (has been a work in progress for the last 3 years…)

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Jan 022015
 

London with my new Coolpix A

By Kelsey Horne

Hi Brandon and Steve,

Before travelling to London this Christmas, I wanted to get a camera that didn’t sacrifice on image quality but would still fit in my jacket pocket, no case, no strap, no heavy DSLR around my neck all day. After seeing the great deal on your site for the Nikon Coolpix A, I decided to pick one up after reading your review. I figure $700 off the retail price is a good deal:)

GLAD I LISTENED TO YOU!!!

There is something about the way this camera renders the image that feels special to me. I wasn’t sure how I would like the 28mm focal length but after a couple of days of shooting it grew on me and I found it hit the sweet spot for shooting landscape and people. Sure it has some issues but having a large sensor in camera that is truly pocketable is worth dealing with the slow auto focus.

London is beautiful this time of year with the lights – contrasted by the old architecture. I shot more than usual because the camera was so easy to take with me no matter where we ventured.

Enjoy.

Kelsey

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Dec 312014
 

Using the Sigma DP Quattro

By Michael Mak

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Hi Steve and Brandon,

I’ve been a frequent reader of your site for a little over a year now. I’ve always appreciated Daily Inspirations although I’ve never submitted anything myself. I’ve been into photography on and off for about 4 years now as a hobby. There’s something about the process that I find very calming. You choose your equipment, you find your environment and you let your creativity take over as you shoot away. I don’t restrict myself to any style of photography although I am generally drawn to human forms (as such I generally shoot portrait and street).

The whole basis of this submission came about in three stages. The first stage started when I came upon your Sigma DP2 Quattro review back in August. I pored over the review and assessed the pros and cons that you had stated. I loved the potential of the Foveon sensor in terms of image quality but I lamented some of the more challenging aspects of the camera (mainly the ease of use both during shooting and in post). At the time, the price of the camera at $999 was out of my reach.

The second stage came in November when you posted that B&H had dropped the price temporarily to $599. It was as if I was given a sign, and it was an easy choice for me to make. I purchased the Quattro and eagerly awaited an opportunity to use it.

The third and final stage came this month when I went to my parent’s place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (I live in Vancouver, B.C). There, I had an opportunity to put the camera through its paces and experience for myself the Quattro way of shooting. Although I’ve only had an opportunity to shoot with it for a week, I was able to form some of my opinions on the camera.

Like you said, IQ is unparalleled. When exposed correctly and given time to properly capture a shot I don’t think there is another camera I would pick for the image quality it produces. However, getting such a shot took a bit of fiddling around with the controls and a lot of patience. The patience extended past the shooting and into post. Now I have to admit that I gave up on Sigma Photo Pro. Instead, I saved the images as TIFF files and opened them in Light Room. Opening individual RAW files in SPP and then saving them as TIFF files and reopening them in LR might not be the most efficient work flow, but I think it matches the shooting style that the Quattro imposes on the user (whether for good or for bad).

When using the Quattro, I had to be more mindful in assessing the scene and choosing my shots carefully. I knew that once I fired a shot, it would be a while before the image was written to the camera and I could fire off another one. As a result, I ended up with far fewer images than I would normally have taken with a more reactive camera. Strangely enough, it also meant that the percentage of photos I felt were usable were substantially higher than normal.

In the end, the Quattro will be remembered as a polarizing camera for a lot of people. Some will buy into the capabilities of the Foveon sensor and adapt to its unique style of shooting while others will write it off as another example of great idea and poor execution. Regardless, I actually enjoyed my time shooting with the Quattro and I can’t wait to see how Sigma will develop this technology in the future.

Best regards,

Michael Mak

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Dec 252014
 

Sony 55 1.8 and the Voigtlander 21mm Ultron for Landscape

By Julien Ducenne

Hi Steve and Brandon,

Thank you very much for publishing my previous article.
http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/05/07/the-sony-a7r-55-1-8-along-with-the-m9-noctilux-f1-by-julien-ducenne/

I would like to share my experience with 2 very special lenses, the Sony FE55mm f1.8 and the CV 21mm ultron f1.8

A couple of months ago I had the chance to visit the isle of Skye in Scotland with my son, wife and of course my camera. For this trip I kept it simple and picked only 2 lenses to go along my Sony A7r.

A great place on the island is ‘The Old Man of Storr’, It’s a beautiful rocky hill that you can see in film like prometheus. After just a couple of hours walk you can take already pictures of some beautiful landscape. My first try with the FE55mm was great for the details and colours but I thought that lens was not wide enough to show the magnificence of the view.

So I chose instead the 21mm ultron and straight away knew that this lens was much better to capture my point of view, where I wanted to get all of it. However put together with the a7r, that lens brings you a ton of details but the downside is the magenta vignetting on the edges (you can watch the issue on left side of the sheep picture), and if you don’t work in B&W you will need some adjustment in light room or Photoshop to work out the issue with the magentas.

We travelled some place else and can take fantastic pictures pretty much anywhere else. A perfect example of that is the last picture of bunch that was taken from the hotel we stayed in. For this one I chose the FE55mm to capture as much as I can the clouds details.

This island is definitely a great destination for landscape photography.

Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year.

Julien Ducenne

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

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Dec 182014
 

From a Nikon D800 (DSLR) to Olympus and Fuji (Mirrorless)

by Robin Schimko

Three months ago I had the opportunity to do a reportage on a sailing boat cruising along the coastline of Crete, in the Mediterranean Sea. Last year I did the same thing in the Caribbean but this time I didn’t bring a heavy and bulky DSLR, since I‘ve gone fully mirrorless at the beginning of 2014. For this trip I brought a Fuji X-T1, 23/1.4, Samyang 12/2, Samyang 8/2.8 fisheye and of course my Olympus E-M1, 42.5/1.2 and 75/1.8 with me. I was basically covered for almost any possible situation and at the same time my kit was relatively lightweight and compact.

The day I arrived I met up with my client and the moment he saw my gear he became skeptical. For him it was hard to believe that a camera this small is able to deliver good image quality and a certain look that screams “professionally” taken images. He was very pleased with the images I took in the Caribbean with my D800. So I gave him my tablet to have a look at some of my pictures I took prior this trip just to make him feel more secure and it worked fine.

So, how did it work out?

Well, the mirroless set up had two major advantages over my former D800. The first one is really obvious and that is the small form factor and the light weight. Compared to my DSLR, the Fuji for instance with attached lens is less than half the weight and that makes a huge difference. On a shaky sailing boat it can be really tough to move around safely, especially if you’re carrying heavy gear which needs to be secured with one hand to make sure it’s not bumping into something or someone. The mirrorless kit was much easier to handle and it was a breeze to use. Attached to the Fuji was the Easy Slider by Artisan & Artist which allowed me fit the camera very tightly to my chest, so I could use both hands to secure myself in case I needed to. With a bulky DSLR that would have been much more uncomfortable over the duration of a whole day or at least a couple of hours. The second advantage was the ability to shoot from the hip incorporating the tilting screen. When you look through the viewfinder it can easily happen that you punch yourself in the face with the camera and yeah that had happened to me in the past. :D Like I wrote before, the boat is constantly shaking around and the intensity of those shakes can vary randomly.

In two weeks there was only one thing I wasn’t really keen about and that’s the battery life. Especially the X-T1 tends to eat batteries very quickly and that did concern me. One could say that this is not a big issue if you bring enough spare ones. That’s totally true and I had five batteries with me, but I had no idea that these batteries had to last up to three days. Last year I could recharge every day, but not this time. The boat was quite old and electricity was only available every now and then. That was indeed the only issue I had using mirrorless cameras.

The sailing itself again was a very nice experience. The first week the weather was crazy good and we did sail a lot. The second week everything changed dramatically not just the crew and the second boat that joined us, but also the weather. There was a storm approaching and we couldn’t leave the harbor for two days. Eventually we left on the third day, but the sea was still very rough and half of the crew got seasick. Luckily I wasn’t one of them, but taking photos was almost impossible without a waterproof housing, because every couple of minutes there was a big wave coming in.

Here are some shots I took during my trip and if you like my work, you can follow me on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RobinSchimkoPicture)
or check out my blog (http://www.fotodesign-rs.de/)

Thank you all for reading,

Robin

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Dec 112014
 

Japan with Leica M-P 240

By Dan Bar

Hello Steve,

Here i am again hoping sending some more photos from Japan with my Leica M 240 hoping you will like them Japan is a colorful country especially in October and November when all the leaves turn red which is the most wonderful scene to watch. Japan is a great country for photographers as Japanese people seemly love to take photos and be photographed , which is a blessing for street photographers.

I took my Leica MM as well but the beauty of this country simply forces you to shoot color

As for the M 240, I really fell in love with the camera. I  know i was skeptical about it after shooting for so many years with the M9 ( had to sell it in order to buy the M-P 240). but the ease ,the great shutter sound , and the fantastic results with Leica lenses ( 50 LUX, 35 LUX ) made me completely change my mind.

Thank you,

Danny

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Dec 082014
 

The Zeiss Loxia 50 f/2 on the streets of NYC 

By Tomer Vaknin

Dear Steve,

First let me say how much respect I have for you and the other members of your website, I have learned a lot by exploring the wonderful photos you all shared, equipment reviews and inputs. I would like to share my own personal experience with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* lens.

As a proud and very happy owner of the Sony Zeiss 55mm, I was hesitant to purchase the Loxia. However, after reading your positive impression of the lens in Photonika 2014 and as a huge fan of M mount lenses that I am, I simply had to try the Loxia.

Here are some photos I took with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* in Amsterdam streets, Marken village and Rennstrecke Zandvoort, during a holiday I took with my wife in the Netherlands. I hope these photos, along with my personal impression of the lens, will help some of undecided readers in making the right decision for themselves.

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My personal take on the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*:

- Great 3D feel (Check the box shot that was -take on a bed)

- Wonderful Bokeh

- Lovely Creamy look

- Great character

- Great colors and contrast

- Very sharp!

Overall, The 3D look, the creamy bokeh and feel + the very nice tone and color makes it a winner. The shots taken with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* looks like they were taken with the Leica lens.

Altough the Sony Zeiss 55mm is an amazing lens and you can’t go wrong with it, I personally prefer the Loxia.

www.facebook.com/tomer.vaknin.5

Dec 082014
 

Tourists Everywhere? Include them in your pictures!

By Pierre Aden

So finally you’re going to Rome (or some other beautiful Italian city) and you are excited to see all these historic monuments, pure history – only for you and your camera! You are going to Vatican city, the Colosseum, the Pantheon to take lots of amazing pictures of these places like no one did before and you see… people, every place is so crowded that you’re hardly able to see the sights at all! Gone is the vision of your perfect photo of the empty St. Peter’s Basilica in HDR.

Let’s face it: All these places have been photographed thousands, if not a million times before. Chances that you will make the perfect architecture picture in these places and being on the cover page of National Geographic are as low as Schwarzenegger becoming the next US president (or even lower). Tourists are everywhere, 12.6 million visitors have been counted in 2013 in Rome.

So why not have some fun and include these tourists in your pictures? This is what I thought when visiting Rome in September and Sicily in October, facing these conditions. Suddenly I thought it would be more interesting to make pictures of the people surrounding me and include them in the pictures of the sights, making the people from all over the world the real attractions.

Here are some examples of my 5 day trip to Rome, all taken with the Olympus E-M1 or the Olympus E-P5 and different lenses. I had a great time and people running into my pictures was not annoying but actually wanted.

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If you have comments, suggestions or simply would like to get in touch with me I will be more than happy if you contact me via the following channels:

Pictures

www.ultraweit-verwinkelt.net

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/ultraweitverwinkelt

Google+

https://plus.google.com/110027262868810382651/posts

Thanks for your attention!

Nov 182014
 

Travelling with the Nikon Df

By D.J. De La Vega

Hi Steve,

It has been nearly two years year since I had the privilege of sharing my photos on your site from my photogenic road trip to Tuscany with my Leica X1. In that time I began to lust after a camera with a better optical viewfinder. The 36mm Brightline viewfinder on the X1 is a lovely piece of glass and a joy to use, but unfortunately as it is completely passive, it is not very practical and requires a lot of patience and compromises (and a lot of missed opportunities). This lead me to have a “Moment Back with my D7000″and since then I have not looked back and upgraded to the Nikon Df and have not regretted the decision for a second.

Meanwhile the time was upon me again for what has become my annual photogenic road trip. This year after many deliberations and alterations it eventually ended up being Tuscany again, only this time with a stop off in Barcelona on the way. No longer would my trusty X1 accompany me on my travels, as the Df is now my go to camera day-to-day. Initially I was concerned the added bulk and weight would impact upon my journey as my camera is strapped around my neck every minute of the waking day. In reality however I found if you are prepared to lug a camera with you all day regardless of the size, it is the practicality of actually carrying it not the physical exertion that is the issue. The Df is actually way better suited to life around my neck (not tucked away in a bag or wrapped in leather armour like my X1) and I can absolutely confirm it is a robust piece of kit for its size and weight. I have banged it around quite a bit and even inadvertently tested the weather sealing by spilling a cup of Coca-Cola all over it!!!

In use, I find the Df to be a magnificent camera. The dials are exactly where I want them to be and like my X1, I can look down at my camera and adjust the settings at a glance without raising it my eye. This comes in really handy when walking the streets in built up areas as the light can change from street to street depending on whether the low winter sun is obstructed or uninhibited. As I turn a corner, I will instinctively change the ISO on the top plate depending on how the street is lit, and found in bright sunlight I often used the L1 ISO to facilitate shallow depths of field in bright sunshine. At all times I am aware and can see what the camera is set to in case an opportunity should present itself.

So that is enough of the technical side of my gear, to my results. As I mentioned, my first stop off was Barcelona. This was serendipity as to get the best deals to flights to Tuscany I got to spend a day and a night in the capital of Catalonia. I admit, this is nowhere near enough time to explore such an expansive City, so I concentrated all of my time around the Gothic Quarter and food markets. These were wonderful locations for taking in the culture and atmosphere of the city and they presented me with countless opportunities for my photography.

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For street photography the Df is as responsive as you would expect any DSLR to be. It is no super fast sports camera, but for spotting an opportunity, lifting the camera to your eye and shooting, it is about as instantaneous as you could possibly hope for. Certainly without hyperbole a hundred million times faster than my X1.

From Barcelona to Pisa and then Siena: This time around I did not want to recapture the same photographs I achieved previously. By focusing on this philosophy I was able to explore a lot deeper than before, ignoring the local landmarks and focusing on the people and the ambiance of these underrated cities.

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For me, the pièce de résistance of Tuscany is the incredible city of Florence. This time around I made sure I had ample time to really soak it all up and immersed myself over three days and nights aimlessly wandering the charismatic streets. I do not posses an adequate number of superlatives to begin to describe the culture, art, architecture and culinary delights of this amazing place.

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(I genuinely only took this shot of the chap shooting the street with the M9 for this site to see if he was a reader or to see if any readers knew him?)

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I hope you have enjoyed my results even half as much I had making them!
DJ De La Vega https://www.flickr.com/photos/djdelavega/

@dj_delavega

http://instagram.com/dj_delavega/#
P.S These are the links to the relevant articles mentioned at the start of the post.

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/12/24/photographic-road-trip-ii-tuscany-by-d-j-de-la-vega/ 

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/02/26/a-moment-back-with-my-nikon-d7000-by-d-j-de-la-vega/ 

BUY…

You can Buy a Nikon DF at Amazon or B&H Photo

See Steve’s Review of the Df HERE.

Nov 032014
 

Pictures around Egypt

by Mohamed Hakem – his website is HERE

Hello Steve, I am a young egyptian photographer who has passion for the art since I was a kid. Photography is my hobby, interest, love and passion. The most thing I liked about this site is that it has a different vision; everyone is seeking to be a pro, But the Idea here is different. Here we don’t pixel peep, we don’t speak technical terms in the form of charts, we only talk about passion. The term Passionate photographer is exactly what attracted me this website. I don’t want to be a Pro or a commercial photographer, I want to be passionate about what I shoot.

Living in a country like Egypt I had to overcome a lot of difficulties to pursue my passion. Acquiring gear is the first as you have to pay double or triple sometimes quadruple what anybody else pay and wait a lot to get what you want to imagine selling or upgrading its a real pain. I reached a point where I had to start thinking about making money out of it but I totally failed. In Egypt weddings are the only way to make money and that’s not me. I was more of a nature/culture lover.

Secondly In Egypt there is nothing that people know as a landscape or a nature photographer. Here photographer is the kodak guy who tells you smile! To print and sell. So If I ever decided to give my full-time and seek my passion I end up jobless.

I love my country and I want to show the world its beauty, Speaking of culture, Egypt has an unparalleled culture and nature. Egypt should be the touristic capital of the world. Egypt is safe and has the best location, weather, monuments (more than the whole world combined) crystal clear water, magical deserts and safaris, Culture(Ancient Egyptian – Greek – Roman – Islamic – coptic – jewish – pre historic!), best food and everything you’ll ever think of. So I decided to throw away all the money-making thoughts and I stopped nagging about the prices, and I decided seek my passion, travelled around Egypt to to infamous places to try to show the world the beauty that few knows. I built a website to show the photos with nothing in my mind except my passion.

The below photos is the combination of pictures from around Egypt In the White desert, Wadi el Rayan Desert, some Wild life And Cairo

An Angry leopard in africa Safari park – Alexandria Egypt

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A lovely camp under the milky way in the white desert

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A lovely merchant in Kham El Khalili

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This is not the surface of the moon, this the white desert at night! Yes the ground is white and it really is that glowing at night

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A kind man waiting for the prayer

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The king of the desert in Wadi el Rayan

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The Egyptian Owl

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El Max in Alexandria, a simple fishermen’s home

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Moez street in Cairo

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Ibn Qowaloon mosque in old Cairo

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The Fayoum desert – a desert Made for camping!

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Mohamed Hakem Hussein

Oct 292014
 

The Winterless North and the Leica Film M’s

By Jason Howe

Much earlier in the year I had some surgery on my knee, I can tell you there is plenty of time to think when you spend weeks sat around on the sofa watching daytime tv!! During these weeks of boredom I figured out a few things I needed and wanted to do once I was back on my feet.

Firstly I created my own little photography space, part darkroom and part office, this has been a huge advantage, no more migrating from room to room around the house. Secondly, I really wanted to get back to basics and shoot more film, not only did I want to shoot more film, I also wanted to take more ownership of the whole process. I got lucky and managed to pick up a relatively unused Jobo CPP2 with lift, an achievement in itself here in NZ. The tanks and reels I picked up from the helpful and equally awesome guys at Catlabs.

I few weeks ago I managed to fabricate another road-trip opportunity and with it a chance to visit another part of New Zealand, one that I haven’t explored before. As a continuation of my enthusiasm for shooting film I’d maybe crack out a Leica film camera or two for the trip.

Route -
Head to Cape Reinga at the extreme tip of the North Island, taking in a few other random places on the way. Experience has taught me to have a plan to fall back on but to follow my nose most of the time……

Gear -

Leica M7 & Leica M3 DS
35mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph
50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph
15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 Asph

I have now mastered the art of travelling light, well lighter when it comes to gear.

FIlm -
I grabbed a random handful of films, well 24 rolls to be exact, safe in the knowledge that there’s absolutely no way I’d be able to shoot that many rolls in a few days but I did manage 12 which for me, is quite a lot.

Kodak Ektar 100
Kodak Portra 400
Agfa Vista 200
Fuji Superior 400
Fuji Velvia 50
Fuji Astia 100f
TMAX 100
TRI X 400

Developing -
I’ve developed the C41 films myself in the JOBO CPP2 using the same Digibase C41 Pre-mixed kit I’ve used recently. Likewise I’ve also developed the B&W, this time using XTOL. I’ve not got my E6 Chemicals yet so these were kindly developed by the awesome Film Soup.

Scanning -
Again, I’ve done this myself, I’m certainly still getting to grips with my current scanner.

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There are no such things as strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet!! I don’t know where that saying originated but I can’t help but think it was based on someones experiences in New Zealand!!! People, especially in small towns are more likely to engage in conversation with a stranger, put a film camera in the strangers hand and they are more likely still!! Throw in an English accent and well you can pretty much speak to anyone, anywhere……..

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I’m trying to be more present in the moment, less rushing around chasing photographs and more relaxing and just accepting what comes along. Obviously I huge part of photography is creating memories, not all images can be beautiful, nor should they be, I’ve included the image below to highlight that.

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Whilst undoubtably slowing progress my continued inclination to drive down random side roads does yield the occasion benefit. I followed one such road for several kilometers until it eventually ended at a deserted white sand beach, deserted that is apart from a small campervan. You see these vans in NZ, half a million km’s on the clock, no doubt carried endless numbers of travelers around the island before eventually being sold on and on and on. It appeared to be empty but as I began to walk away from it a voice yelled out “Kia Ora Bro!” as I turned a face popped up in the rear window. Five minutes later and I was sat at a makeshift table and chairs sharing a cup of tea with this generous stranger. The kiwi’s call it having a yarn and as we sat putting the world to rights, sipping tea and discussing the beauty of the “winterless north” he made an admission…… “The truth is I was only hitting the road for a few weeks, in actual fact I was supposed to be back at work by now, well 2 months ago to be honest!!!” We cracked up, New Zealand can do this to you, “S**t! I need to do a lot better than you” I said.

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For me, there’s always a period of reflection when you return from a trip. With the exception of the E6 processing, the dune and cloud shot, this entire analog post is my own work from start to finish. When you actually stop and think about the process it’s actually a little bit daunting, that said it’s also incredibly satisfying. Breaking it down, from seeing a photograph, executing the shot, developing the film and getting a scan you’re happy with there’s actually quite a lot of margin for error…..Had I shot these images on digital I’d have known immediately if I’d got the shot, there’s no risk to processing them and they could have been posted within a couple of days, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s a negative in fact most of the time that suits! Nor am I saying these are the best photographs I’ve ever taken, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that right now they are the ones that have given me the most satisfaction.

This is just a small extract of my trip, the entire post including processing details can be seen on my website HERE.

Cheers, Jason.

Oct 242014
 

Bicycling to Spain, an account with Hasselblad Xpan shots

By Dirk Dom

This is the Hasselblad Xpan, sorry, it’s a bit dirty

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Today I looked again at the Xpan shots I took on my bicycle ride from Antwerp to Spain from two years ago, not that I ever got there.

The reason I looked was that I shot Kodak Ektar on that trip and Matthias, my Australian friend, has discovered Ektar and he told me this film was so special. Two years ago I wasn’t very experienced with shooting digital and I had forgotten how Ektar looked. Well, it looks different. I like it.

Looking back at the eighty shots I took then, the film indeed captured very nicely, I think you couldn’t emulate these with digital.

The Xpan is an extraordinary camera, it’s the most fun camera I have, as much fun as my digital Olympus PEN. It shoots 24 x 65 mm panorama’s on 35mm film. I have the 45mm lens, which is about equivalent to 24mm on full frame.

Well, here goes:

I left home, fifth of July, at about 8.30. my friend Hugo had called me half an hour before to wish me all the best. The secret for such a trip is not to think about the 2,500 kms ahead, but be relaxed and just start. Ten minutes into the trip a woman on a bicycle pulled up to me: “What an nice Koga!” And I told her I was on my way to Spain. It was the first of countless contacts which made the trip so worthwhile.

Namur, the river Meuse, start of the Ardennes.

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I did between eighty and a hundred kilometers a day, three days riding and one day of rest. The days of rest were boring, I’ll not do that again on my next trip.

The very big advantage is that you can stop anywhere, any time and you have NO parking problems. The Xpan was in a 8mm thick neoprene sleeve which I had cut out of an old diving suit, in a box on the handlebar. I had forty Ektar films with me, 20 shots to a film. During the trip I shot 19 films, so that was more than plenty.

Poppies. Didn’t look through the viewfinder for this. Meuse valley.

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This was my first ever field of poppies, just entered into France. I had this shot scanned at 8,000PPI on a Hasselblad Imacon, that was 150 megapixel. It just resolved the grain, but the shot was’t sharp enough to go for enlargement beyond 1.5 meters. That’s the limit you run into when you shoot handheld.

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My Koga. I had 29 kilograms of luggage with me. That was ridiculous. Next time I’ll take twelve kilo’s max. I had a pair of wirecutter pliers with me which weighed over a kilo to cut the cable to the brakes should I replace it! Imagine! Stupid. The weight made me walk uphill a lot but I didn’t mind.

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Of course I took some artisty shots, too:

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I had driven through France by car countless times, on the highway. I had always longed to stop at a sunflower field and shoot it extensively. That was not possible. Now, I could take my time.

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Here, I just left my bike and walked into the field for half an hour until the composition was to my liking:

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A ray of sun on these geraniums, I postprocessed this image.

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Biking, the most beautiful thing is perhaps the ever changing skies.

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I didn’t make it to Spain; my 29 kilograms of luggage got the better of me in the Massif Central. Also, I was insufficiently trained to do the Cols in Spain. So I stopped near Avignon. It was marvelous.

Next summer I’m bicycling from Antwerp to Santiago de Compostella, 3,000 kms in six weeks. I’m taking the Xpan with me again.

Bye,

Dirk.

Sep 192014
 

The Greek Holidays with a Fuji X100s

By Joao Marques

My name is João Marques i`m an amateur photographer living in Lisbon and i would like to tell about my experience, this holidays, in choosing which camera to take.

So this year my vacations were on the beautiful greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos. When i was making my bag i had a hard decision to make, wich gear should I take? My options were carrying my heavyweight equipment: canon5d2+zeiss 21 2.8+sigma 35 1.4+ canon 70-200 2.8 IS II+manfrotto tripod+ lee filter set. Or go with my every day camera, the small, beautiful and excellent Fuji X100s. Since I had to take 7 flights in total, the choice was pretty easy, those were not a “photographic” vacations, my plan was to relax and bathing on the warmer mediterranean waters.

I chose only to take the Fuji.

Let me say now that I made the right choice, this small camera is the ideal tool for an uncompromised work with a good image quality in a very light package, instead of carrying KGs of equipment and being worried all the time of being robbed in the hotels, the 500gr of the Fuji let me use it all the (at the beach, night, etc). Another reason that everyone has already talked about, is the casual look that you have when you photograph with one of this beauties on your hand, it’s completely different when you approach someone with heavyweight cameras and lens, people tend to be intimidated with that kind of equipment.

There were a few times that I missed my other gear, specially in some pictures were I wished more DOF and in some sunsets, but the happiness of being free of the extra kgs, surpass every tiny feeling for the canon.

One and a very important thing, my girlfriend loved the idea of me just having the small camera at my disposal, she knew that I wouldn`t take too much time setting the tripod, filters, lens etc. It was a winning decision in every angle :)

Now for the best part the photos, when I arrived I didn`t know what I want to photograph, but one thing I was sure, I didn’t want to go for the classic postcard photographs that you see from Santorini or Mykonos, and didn`t want also to have the pressure of photographing, so I decided to go with the flow and be alert to whatever events I might encounter. I set the camera to b&w and these were the moments that I was fortune to capture.

Hope you enjoy it.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/giamppiero/sets/

Wish you all the best,
João

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