Saturday, November 30, 2013

150 Years Ago - Civil War Tragedy by Evan Leavitt

Korona Home Portrait Camera 8x10 Paper Negative
"I hope we will never have to shoot at such men again..."
Image Source:

I have been watching and enjoying a series of images that Evan Leavitt is making with a large (very large, 8x10) format camera and paper negatives for a while.

(Click Here) to go to Evan's website, Evan Leavitt Photography.

The image above was taken at Griswoldville, Georgia, the scene of a horrific battle between untrained rebel soldiers (old men and boys under the age of fifteen) and a far superior union force. But, I'll leave the store to Evan, he tells it in much greater detail.

(Click Here) to go directly to the Civil War story about Griswoldville on Evan's site.

This happened almost 150 years ago to the day. The place is relatively forgotten today. Evan's image gives me a feel for the forlorn location with a painful history.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica - October Results - That Summicron Bokeh

Not All That Matters Is Sharp, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v.3 Lens
iso 400, f2.8, 1/3000 sec.
Lens geeks, especially Leica lens geeks, frequently discuss "bokeh." Apparently, bokeh is a Japanese word for "out of focus" areas in an image. The lens design, including the number and shape of the aperture blades, has a lot to do with how "pleasing" a given lens' bokeh will be. In general, more aperture blades, and rounded edges, yield smoother bokeh.
The Summicron is known for beautiful bokeh. In fact, I believe it was Mike Johnston who decided that the 35mm Summicron version 4 lens is the "king of bokeh." At any rate, you should expect a lot from any Summicron in this area.
In the shot above, I exposed the tree at f2.8, making for very shallow depth of field, on purpose. The combination of a wide aperture and close focus makes for lots of bokeh. To me, the structure in the back is as important as the tree leaves. It gives a strong sense of the context of the image. The red maple leaves go along with the Asian style structure. Neither element would be as strong without the other.
People argue about bokeh - what is pleasing, which lenses have the best. I've noticed that the bokeh from some of my cheaper lenses is as nice as higher end lenses. In fact, I've seen quite nice bokeh from very cheap lenses, with few (four) aperture blades. So, I'm not saying you need a Summicron to get beautiful bokeh. I am saying that bokeh can be important to conveying what you want with an image.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Andy Bell's Forest Series, Chawton Park Woods

Chawton Park Woods #9, by Andy Bell
Image Source:
UK photographer Andy Bell has posted an impressive series of forest photographs from Chawton Park Woods, in the South of England. It's a series of 9 images (so far?), but covers a lot of range in such a small number of pictures.
Having just received good yet critical feedback in a critique of my Muir Woods images, I really respect what it takes to get images like Andy's.
(Click Here) to take a look for yourself.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Look Deeper

Look Deeper, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, Minolta Rokkor 40mm f2 Lens
Kodak TMax 400 Film

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bill Cunningham of the NY Times

Image Source:
I just watched an incredible documentary film about Bill Cunningham, a New York City (NYC) photographer for the New York Times. At the time the film was made, 2010, Cunningham was 81 years old, and still riding his bike around NYC, shooting street shots (with a fashion emphasis) with a Nikon film camera and 35mm lens.
I did a quick search of the NY Times page, and it looks to me like he's still shooting! He's an incredibly soft-spoken man in the film, but pushes the "children" he works with to the limit to get his pages just right.
In addition to street fashion, Cunningham is in the NYC fashion scene, and attends many of the fashionable parties and events. He never eats or drinks at them, not even water; he's there to work.
Anyway, if you like photography, you owe it to yourself to watch "Bill Cunningham New York." It's on Netflix' online library, if you happen to be a member. Or, you can get the DVD from Amazon at the link below.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Street Photography Tip - Look for Interactions Between People

People have different definitions for "street photography." Some say it must be taken outside, others say it must include a street(!). I don't get hung up on technicalities. When I say that I enjoy street photography, I mean candid (mostly) images of people, going about their lives. Sometimes I talk with people before photographing them; I would call that street portraiture. In any case, today's example is a candid.
Street photography without a human element falls flat for me. I need to see people doing something. Not always interacting with others, but something. Interaction is usually one of the most powerful behaviors to capture in my opinion.
What's the Special Today?, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, Minolta 40mm f2 Rokkor Lens, Kodak TMax 400 Film
In the shot above, I actually liked that the dining booth seat separated me from the lady in glasses, obscuring most of her face. I think this focuses the attention on her eyes, always the photographically most important feature on someone's face. I prefocused my CL, made a quick guess at the exposure, then anticipated their interaction. I lifted the camera to my face for less than a second, releasing the shutter right as she looked up into the server's eyes. No one took notice.
I knew I had captured the exact moment that I wanted. That's not always (or even usually) the case. All I had to do now was wait to see the negative come back from The Darkroom (my favorite film processor).
(Click Here) to read about The Darkroom's processing services. I use them almost exclusively at this point for my film developing. Quick service (online images are usually up within a day of them receiving my film), excellent quality, great prices ($10 per roll). Give them a try.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

City Street in Autumn

Autumn in the City, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon 135mm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 400, f6.7, 1/180 sec.
This shot was one that actually required a telephoto lens in the city, not such a common thing. I noticed the scene from across the street, a busy street with cars going by fairly frequently. The black fence and gorgeous fall leaves behind made this beautiful backdrop for a shot of passersby. In order to get the shot, I needed a telephoto to keep me out of the street.
So, I popped on my Canon 135mm f3.5 lens, a Leica thread mount (LTM) lens that I picked up for a very low price, and waited. This is one nice lens. Sharp as can be. The only problem I've ever noticed with it is some purple fringing in very high contrast situations. Otherwise, it's top notch.
I photographed several people walking by, but this one came out best. Even with the telephoto, I had to crop the image to remove two very distracting car bumpers, one at either side. Hence the tall 16:9 frame.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Education in Tea, October WLL Results (Summicron 50mm f2 v.3)

One of my friends recently got me into trying some fine and exotic teas (thanks, Bill!). While I was in San Francisco, I decided to do something special, and stopped into the Ten Ren's Tea shop in Chinatown. Yes, I know it's a big potential tourist trap, but I found it to be a very enjoyable experience. And yes, they did succeed in selling me some fine teas.
Ten Ren's, San Francisco, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica 50mm Summicron f2, v.3 Lens
iso 400, f2.4, 1/4000 sec.
Here's what the tasting room looks like from above. A selection of teas is stored in glass containers (at the front of the serving stone) for you to see and smell the differences between different types of leaves. Notice the lady at top right, taking notes.
Tea Room From Above, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica 50mm Summicron f2, v.3 Lens
iso 640, f2, 1/60 sec.
This is Mary, the very classy and friendly lady who served me my selections.
Mary, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica 50mm Summicron f2, v.3 Lens
iso 640, f2.8, 1/60 sec.
I told Mary that I was interested mainly in two types of tea - green and Pu-erh, which I'd heard about but never tasted. Mary served me two different greens - the first from the most famous green tea fields in Taiwan (Formosa), the second a Dragon Well variety. I preferred the Dragon Well, as it tasted a little less "earthy" (also read, "grassy") to me.
Next, we moved on to Pu-erh, which is fermented tea. Unlike other types of tea, where the leaves should be kept as fresh as possible, and where storing 1-2 years in proper (cool, dark) conditions is a maximum, Pu-erh gets better with age. Mary had Pu-erh teas from 10-60 years old. I believe the one I tried was 30 years old. The brewing process is different from green teas. First, you use boiling water (green teas should be brewed at a lower temperature, around 85 degrees C), you also throw away the first brew, which is essentially a rinse of boiling water. Finally, you brew it approximately two times longer than greens.
The most important thing I learned from Mary is this - you can reuse your tea leaves many times throughout a single day. For greens, 4-5 uses is normal. For Pu-erhs, it can be 15 times or more. That's an important tip. I also learned that as you reuse them through the day, the caffeine content is reduced with each brewing. You can further reduce caffeine by shortening the brewing time. So, by the afternoon when you've brewed several times, your tea is essentially nearly decaffeinated. I like how using the tea throughout the day automatically lessens the caffeine, so you can finish up in the evening with very low amounts of it.
So, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I got an education along with experiencing some very nice, high end teas. Did it cost me some money in the end? Yes, I bought two teas and some ginseng powder, which Mary suggested adding to evening teas to help you sleep. But, I get to continue to enjoy those teas for months to come (maybe years for the Pu-erh tea I bought). Well worth the expense.
Tea Education, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica 50mm Summicron f2, v.3 Lens
iso 640, f2.4, 1/60 sec.

Friday, November 22, 2013

SFTC Results For November - Ricoh 500G Rangefinder

I took the little Ricoh 500G out to do some street shooting in NYC.
(Click Here) to read about the camera. I loaded it up with some Kodak iso 400 color print film and went for a walk. One practical point, this camera is so small that I was not able to mount my CV Meter II (auxiliary exposure meter); the hotshoe is too close to the rewind knob, which interferes with mounting the meter. But, the small size of the camera also made it essentially invisible to people I photographed on the street.
Glasses, by Reed A. George
Ricoh 500G, Kodak iso 400 Color Print Film
Gotta Let You Go, I'm Getting on the Subway, by Reed A. George
Ricoh 500G, Kodak iso 400 Color Print Film

Hairpin, by Reed A. George
Ricoh 500G, Kodak iso 400 Color Print Film
Shopping Buddies, by Reed A. George
Ricoh 500G, Kodak iso 400 Color Print Film
Highrise, by Reed A. George
Ricoh 500G, Kodak iso 400 Color Print Film
I was able to find a small shop on 32nd street that developed my film overnight, and made me a CD with high resolution images, for $9. That was convenient.
My hit rate with the 500G was not super high, mostly due to the fact that I needed more light. These were the only keepers out of 24 exposures. I shot most of them at 1/125 sec. and f5.6. I would have like to be able to push up to 1/250. Also, since I was shooting very quickly, I prefocused at about 8-10 feet and then just walked to that estimated distance from my subject and shot. Sometimes I got the distance wrong. A smaller aperture would have given me more tolerance for misjudged distance. I'm also sure that my own fast motions added blur to some of the images. But, I enjoyed these.

Finally, it seems that the transport mechanism in this old camera isn't 100% reliable, as I got non-uniform spacing between shots in some cases. I can probably remedy that by being more careful when I advance the film.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

NYC Sidewalk Compositions - My Mini-Project - Lumix DMC-TS5

As I write this, I am attending a meeting in New York City. I'm very lucky, in that my hotel is within walking distance of the meeting venue.
This morning, I decided not to carry a larger camera with me. So, I put the diminuitive Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 in my jacket pocket.
On the way to the meeting, I looked down at one of the places where trees gain access through the sidewalk to grow in this city. Here's what I saw:
I thought this was pretty cool, so I continued to shoot interesting compositions at the sidewalk level for the remainder of my walk. Here are the others:
All of these are direct from the DMC-TS5 (jpegs shot in iAuto mode) with no editing or adjustment. I was also able to connect wirelessly from the camera to my iPad to transfer the files. Very cool.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The LHSA (International Leica Society) Google+ Page is Now Open to the Public!

Some time back, I set up a Google Plus (G+) page for the International Leica Society (LHSA). It's a pretty active place, with about 65 LHSA members participating. The community has always been open to everyone (members and non-members) to read, but only members could join and write to the page.
We're hoping to really liven it up, so we have decided to open the community up completely. You do not have to be a LHSA member to join the conversations!
After all, the goal is to have great conversations about photography and Leica. Hopefully the page will help to demonstrate some of the other great benefits of LHSA membership, like the wonderful Viewfinder magazine, national and local meetings, newsletter, and much more.
To join the LHSA G+ community (free, no charge), please go to or (Click Here). If you don't already have a Google ID, it's a snap to get it. Then, search for the LHSA community and you're there!
If you're interested in joining LHSA, there are both electronic and hard copy options for the Viewfinder. I love the electronic version, personally. Go to, or (Click Here).
I hope to see you in both places!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

October's Skeletons From The Closet Results - Zeiss Ikonta 521/2 6X9 Medium Format Folder

In October, my chosen camera for the SFTC series was a newly-refurbished Zeiss 521/2 folder, which shoots 6x9 images on 120 medium format film.
(Click Here) to read a little about the camera.
Even though it was autumn, perfect time to get out and shoot some landscapes with the nice big 6x9 format, I was pretty busy during October, and only really got out once with this camera. Here are five selected shots out of a total of sixteen (two rolls of Kodak Porta color negative film) I shot.
Early Reds, by Reed A. George
Zeiss Ikonta 521/2 Medium Format Folding Camera
Korean Bell Garden, by Reed A. George
Zeiss Ikonta 521/2 Medium Format Folding Camera

The Korean Bell Garden is at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. It's a lovely place to walk, photograph, and picnic. The two shots below are of cypress trees in the native Virginia swamp area.
Cypress, by Reed A. George
Zeiss Ikonta 521/2 Medium Format Folding Camera

Cypress, by Reed A. George
Zeiss Ikonta 521/2 Medium Format Folding Camera
Golds Against a Blue Sky, by Reed A. George
Zeiss Ikonta 521/2 Medium Format Folding Camera

This camera does a decent job, but it's not nearly as nice as my other 6x9 folder, the Agfa Record III. This is for several reasons. First, the lens is not of the same quality. The Zeiss has a Novar, which was the entry level lens, well below the venerable Tessar that was also available on this camera, whereas the Agfa has a gorgeous Solinar; both are 105mm f4.5 lenses but the Solinar is much sharper. Next, the Agfa has a real viewfinder, where the Zeiss has a simple metal frame that you look through. The Agfa has a rangefinder, and while it's uncoupled, meaning that you have to transfer the measured distance from the rangefinder to the lens focus ring, the Zeiss has no such rangefinder at all. Worse yet, you can't even mount an accessory finder on the Zeiss Ikonta, as there's no accessory shoe. Same goes for an accessory exposure meter, like my CV Meter II, an excellent companion to vintage manual cameras.

So, while I'm not unhappy with the Ikonta, I can clearly say that I prefer the Agfa Record III as a 6x9 folding shooter's camera. That said, it was fun to shoot the Ikonta, and if you have all the time in the world to set it up on a tripod, take a rangefinder and exposure meter out of your bag or pocket, and carefully set up the camera, it's capable of making some very nice images.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica - Canon LTM 50mm f1.4 - Kevin the Kiteman!

UPDATE: I don't know what I was thinking. These images were shot with November's WLL lens, the Canon 50mm f1.4, not October's WLL lens, the Summicron 50mm f2 v3. I've updated the information below.
Starting out my day of walking around NYC, after meeting Adam Garelick (see yesterday's post), I saw this interesting character riding by:
The Kiteman, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v.3 Lens
Canon LTM 50mm f1.4 Lens
iso 400, f6.7, 1/250 sec.
Camera set and ready, I struggled to get it out of my jacket and nearly missed him. But I did manage to grab this shot.
He smiled and stopped, and called me over to chat. He asked me if I'd ever flown kites as a kid, and what kinds of feelings those memories brought me. He explained that by selling kites in the city, he not only gets to introduce kids to them, he gets to re-introduce adults to flying kites. In fact, sometimes the kids can't get the string out of their parent's hands. He told me that he's had a customer 80 years old just smile from ear to ear from flying a kite again.
Frankly admitting that he "hustles" for his money, he said that he tries to do things that spread a little happiness to people, because he realizes we're all in this world together. He told me that instead of being in a jail cell somewhere, he's doing something positive. I told him that I believe he'd be doing something positive even if he was in jail.
Our conversation turned to the specific kite that he was flying as he rode by. He said
"Do you know what this is?"
Phoenix Kite, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v.3 Lens
Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso 400, f5.7, 1/250 sec.
I said I knew it was a phoenix, a bird rising from the ashes. He was surprised, and said I wouldn't believe how many people said it was just a chicken! The phoenix is an important symbol for him, and shows the ability to rise above anything.
I didn't want to carry a kite around the city all day, so I didn't buy one. I did give him a little cash just to help out; he really would have preferred to give me a kite in exchange.
His name is Kevin. "Kevin the Kiteman."
I love the City. I love being able to meet interesting people. Kevin's doing what he can to help people be happy.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Adam Garelick's New York Street Portraits

I am on the bus ride home from NYC. The on-bus network connectivity is a little spotty, but I'll do my best.
Yesterday was Saturday, my free day to wander around and photograph the City. I started out the day with a quick breakfast at Bread and Butter, an amazing market with fresh food and drinks. Just a block from my hotel, I visited the store several times over the past week. Waiting in line for my breakfast, I looked over and noticed a guy carrying a Leica. Conversation ensued, and I found that Adam was also an M9 shooter like me, his being a silver model. Adam Garelick is his full name, and he's got a nice blog and project going on - street portraits of people he meets in NYC.
Here's an example of Adam's work:
Kyle, by Adam Garelick
Image Source:
Adam has decided that the best way to describe what he loves about the City is to show the people he meets there. It's an intriguing project, and one that I'll continue to watch.
(Click Here) to see more of Adam's work on the project.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November's Whole Lotta Leica (WLL) Lens - Canon LTM 50mm f1.4

Canon 50mm f1.4 Lens in Leica Thread Mount (LTM)
ca. ~1972
This month's lens is the Canon 50mm f1.4. Some refer to this lens as the "Japanese Summilux." I won't deliberate on whether that's deserved or not. I will say this is one sharp lens. I guess I wouldn't be surprised if it competes well with a Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 from the same era. I don't have a 50mm Summilux, so I can't say for certain.
I have to use a LTM-M mount adapter to use this on my M9; that's no problem at all. They work beautifully, and I've never had a problem with focus shift or anything else when using the adapters.
This lens has an odd filter size of 48mm. When I used it on my Leica M8, which required a UV/IR filter, I bought a step-up ring, which allowed me to use a 49mm (much more common size) filter. I still have the adapter on there today, so that I can use a 49mm lens cap. The one I have on there now is a Pentax cap. So, I have a Canon lens mounted to my Leica M9 body, with a Pentax cap. Quite the mix.
My copy is a version II, and was made sometime around 1972. I bought it for around $300, and they normally go for $300-$400 on the used market.
The original Canon hoods for these lenses are difficult to find. I have seen them listed for $100 or more, which is simply ridiculous. Last year when I went to Japan, I went to a weekend flea market. There was not a lot of camera gear there, and what I did find was expensive. However, I did find a little leather case marked "Canon" at one of the stalls. Opening it up, I could not believe my eyes - there was the exact hood that I needed. One thousand yen (~$13 at the time) later, and it was mine. Very lucky.
Anyway, I'll use this lens as my standard lens in November and share the results with you. Results coming soon!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fuji Instant Film Going Away? Please Sign the Petition Against It. For Me.

Image Source:
Several months ago, my Mom sent me a gorgeous old Polaroid camera. You may have seen some of my shots with it here on DMC-365. I was very happily surprised to find that Fujifilm was still making instant film that fits it, and I've really enjoyed using it from time to time.
Fuji has announced plans to discontinue the film. Now, I know, it may be a lost cause. But, there a petition started on to try to influence Fuji to reconsider. All it takes is a digital signature to help your luddite film photographer friends like me. Or at least try to help us out.
Please (Click Here) and sign the digital petition. I'd sure like to see this film stay around.

Autumn in "The City" - NYC - and Some Thoughts on Wifi Cameras

I took my morning walk in the city this morning, on the way to my meeting. I walked by Madison Square Park, rather small urban space at 25th Street and Madison Avenue. Fall colors are still with us here as I write, so I captured a few images with my pocket camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5.
Fall Leaves, Madison Square Park, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
Flatiron Building in Fall, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5

The Flatiron Building has been here since 1902, two years before my hotel for this week was built. (Click Here) to read about the building on wikipedia, as well as learn the origin of the phrase "23 skidoo."
Now, a little about photographic equipment. When I've wanted to go light on this trip, I've been carrying the diminuitive TS5 in my pocket. Last night, while out with a friend in a dark restaurant/bar, I wished I'd had the TS5 instead of the M9 I was carrying. A little flash, or even night shooting mode would have gone a long way. It's a little ironic to be limited in what I can shoot with such a higher priced camera. But, we all know the M9 isn't good for everything; it's just really good at what it does do.
The TS5 has wireless (wifi) connection to my iPad. Now, I would have thought this to be more of a gimmick than a really useful feature. However, not having to fumble with the Apple "Camera Connect" plug and shuffle SD cards between the camera and iPad is very nice, especially on travel. I uploaded these pictures during a break in my meeting without bothering anyone.
The combination of last night's limitations with the M9 and the advantage of wifi have me thinking that maybe I should begin to focus more on my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, which has all of the features I'm thinking of, a superb set of lenses, and great image quality. At least for normal travel purposes. I'm considering options for what I want to do with this blog during the coming year (2014), after I've finished my Whole Lotta Leica and Skeletons From The Closet projects, at least for one full year. The GX7 could play a big role next year.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yesterday's Post Was the End of Autumn, Today's Sky Looks Like the End of the World!

We had a crazy sunset and cloud formation tonight. Here's how it looked:
There was no severe weather associated with this, believe it or not
This is why I always have a camera with me. These were all shot with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, 14-42 f3.5-5.6 Series II kit zoom, on iAuto. I didn't make any decisions besides zoom and composition. These are jpegs right out of the camera.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Autumn's End

Autumn's End, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Aspheric Series II Lens (at 40mm)
iso200, f14, 1/40 sec.
It seems that autumn has nearly run its course. There's a possibility of our first snow tonight.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica - Summicron 50mm Version 3 at Point Reyes

I'm traveling as I write this, currently in San Francisco for the annual meeting of the LHSA (International Leica Society). I had the opportunity to meet up with LHSA members Gary Hough and Andy Godlewski the day before the meeting started for a hike and some photography at Point Reyes, about an hour north of the city. Point Reyes is one of my very favorite places.
I have several images from the day that I'm looking forward to seeing in more detail, on a screen larger than my iPad. In the meantime, here's a single image from the historic Pierce Point Ranch. I shot this with the Summicron on my M9, and edited it in Snapseed on the iPad.
Pierce Point Ranch, Point Reyes, California, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v. 3 lens
I find it most difficult to keep up with my writing when traveling. This is where the strategy of writing several posts in advance really works.
Now I'm off to the city (San Francisco) to meet up with more friends, shoot, and join a Chinatown photo walk with the LHSA this evening. Great fun.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Golden Gate Bridge, Vintage Postcard Style - Whole Lotta Leica Lens for October, the Summicron 50mm f2 v.3

I just returned from the LHSA (International Leica Society)'s annual meeting in San Francisco. I got a couple of great opportunities to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge, including a sunset shoot from the Marin Headlands.
Golden Gate Bridge, Vintage Postcard Style, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 Lens
iso 400, f16, 1/125 sec.
Post-processed in Snapseed
The Summicron was my Whole Lotta Leica lens for October, and it served me very well.
I really like this vintage effect, and am considering doing a project to make a set of images like this from the various places I've visited. Could be a good winter time project when it's too nasty to get out and shoot.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Skeletons From The Closet Camera for November - Ricoh 500G

Ricoh 500G, November's SFTC Camera
We are nearing the end of 2013, and I'm on my eleventh monthly SFTC camera. This month's selection is a fun choice, the Ricoh 500G, a 35mm rangefinder camera from the early 1970s.
I've always been partial to Ricoh cameras for some reason, probably because my first rangefinder camera was a fine Ricoh 35, which has a nearly silent leaf shutter and nice 45mm f3.5 lens.
The 500G sports a 40mm Rikenon f2.8 lens. 40-45mm is nearly the perfect focal length for a fixed lens rangefinder in my opinion. At f2.8, this one's certainly fast enough for most street photography. The camera is quite small, and looks old and cheap enough that people are unlikely to be concerned if they notice you pointing it at them.
Mine came along with the purchase of my higher-end Konica S1.6. See my SFTC posts from June to see what that camera can do. When I got the 500G, it's rear door seals were dissolved and sticky with old adhesive. I removed them and replaced them with new foam strips.
If you are looking for light seals, I bought mine on ebay from Jon Goodman for about $10 several years ago. I assume he's still there (seller name: interslice (J Goodman - Dallas, TX United States)). The kit had enough material to reseal several cameras.
Anyway, I only shot one roll with this camera, ever, before it went into the closet. So, hopefully it'll be ready to roll this month. Even though it has a built-in meter and does both fully manual and shutter priority auto exposure, I'll be using it in manual mode. It has a clean but empty battery compartment, and I'm not compelled to go find a modern battery for it. I'll just attach my Voigtlander Meter II and we're ready to go!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Leica in Nature - LHSA (International Leica Society) Muir Woods Photo Tour

I'm writing while I'm on the flight back from Northern California, where I attended the annual meeting of the LHSA (International Leica Society). One of our photo outings was north of San Francisco in Marin County, at Muir Woods, an amazing redwood forest in the coastal mountains. I've been here many times in the past, so I was hoping that I'd be able to bring a new perspective to the pictures I'd capture there. In addition to my familiarity of the place, which can be a blessing or a curse, we arrived at mid-day, when the lighting was strongest yet most harsh. However, the forest provides lots of opportunities to find good light.
By the way, I'm only sharing the digital images I made on my M9; the film is on its way to The Darkroom for processing now. And, my post-processing was all done on my iPad using Snapseed. Also, I don't have a way to view the EXIF information, so I'm only including what I can remember. You'll see that three of the five shots in this post are shot with October's Whole Lotta Leica Lens, the venerable 50mm Summicron f2 version 3.
Let's see how I did.
Sunshine Through The Canopy, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 Lens
Now, I think this is a fairly predictable image. I was able to take advantage of the backlighting on the stump, and really like the burst of light at the branch at the top of it, along with the sun itself. I also enjoy the stripes of light in the forest behind. But, again, pretty pedestrian.
Redwood Detail, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 Lens
Here's another from the same spot. Here I decided to open the aperture wide (f2.8, I believe) and isolate the redwood branch at left from the surrounding forest.
Dark To Light, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8 Lens
I love the way this shot shows the transition from the deep darkness of the forest understory to the bright midday sky above. The backlighting on the branches at the bottom are also nice. I decided to crop this image significantly to focus the interest where I want it. The Zeiss Biogon is a wonderful lens, and I can even say that I like using the bright 25mm Voigtlander accessory viewfinder. It makes composition a different and enjoyable experience.
Then, I decided to focus my attention on one particular subject, a redwood stump that was bathed in wonderful, subtle light. I set up my tripod and got to work. Most people walked by looking for an invisible bird or other subject that I must be photographing. I mean, who would spend so much effort to photograph a stump? Well, me, that's who. One person actually came up behind me and grabbed a snapshot of my subject with his handheld DSLR. He probably got home and thought, "now what the heck is that a picture of?" Here are my favorite two shots so far:
Study of a Redwood Stump, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 Lens
This is one of those examples that once again prove to me that we don't photograph subjects, we photograph light. I am also learning to try to photograph how a scene makes me feel, not how it looks. This shot achieves that at a certain level. I absolutely love the colors and tones. I also like the spotlight on the leaves in the stump.
Redwood Stump With Context, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8 Lens
This final shot shows a little more of the context around the stump. This shot could use some more post-processing to emphasize some areas of the stump. I'll work on that. To be honest, I much prefer the more closely-composed shot above.
So, what do you think? Did I succeed at getting some different perspectives on this much-photographed location? I sure enjoyed my time in the forest, and hope that I'm developing some new skills in making unique images.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica - Summicron 50mm f2 at the LHSA Meeting - Shooting in The Mission (San Francisco)

Toru, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2
As I mentioned in previous posts, I'm really busy on my vacation to the San Francisco Bay area, where I'm attending the annual LHSA meeting. Yesterday, we took a walking tour of The Mission District. Above, you see my new friend and veteran LHSA member, Toru. Toru lives in Portland, Oregon, so this wasn't too much travel for him.
In the background, you can see the street murals, one of the cool features of this neighborhood.
Sorry for the quick post. Much more to come!