Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Panasonic Continues to Refine Micro 4/3 with Lumix 20mm f1.7 (II)

The New Lumix 20mm f1.7 (II) - Aspheric
Image Source:
I have the original Lumix 20mm f1.7 "pancake" lens. Not one of Panasonic's Leica collaborations, the 20mm is an amazing lens none the less. It is fast, sharp, and small. Mounted on my DMC-GX1, it's simply a huge amount of quality and flexibility in an impressively small package.
Panasonic has announced a second generation of this lens, this time with aspheric lens elements to further reduce any spherical aberration (of which I've noticed none in my first generation lens). Spherical aberration results from diffraction of light rays at the edge of a lens element differing from that at the center.
(Click Here) to read about the new lens.
Even though I've always been pleased with my 20mm, I'm sure the new one's even better.
Here's a shot I made with my lens:
Beginning of Virginia Autumn, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 (I)
iso 200, f8, 1/40 sec.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To Crop or Not to Crop?

I am a believer in cropping images if needed. I know, many purists believe that cropping represents a failure to compose properly. However, if you think back to when cameras had primitive means of framing (think sports finders on folding medium format cameras), it would be nearly inevitable that you need to crop sometimes.
Here's an example where I think a crop may make the image more interesting. Let's start with the full image.
Old Truck, Key West, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 200, f5.6, 1/1250 sec
I kind of like this shot. I think the full image shows enough of the truck body, even a little of the steering wheel, to provide context; you know it's a truck.
Now, here's a crop:
Actually, an even tighter crop really shows the cracks in a more dramatic way, but I settled for this compromise between a complete abstract of just the cracks, and the wider shot above.
Which do you like best?

I did finally shoot my Lumix DMC-GX1 a little on my trip to Key West. It's a wonderful little camera.

DMC-GX1 for an unbelievably low price at Amazon:


Monday, July 29, 2013

This Post is a Little Off the Reservation, but Still Photography-Related

Hemingway's Passport
Image Source:
My mind is wandering as the summer wears on. As you may have noticed, I've been focusing a lot on my own cameras and photographs for this blog, as opposed to my earlier focus on equipment. I'm still primarily interested in the interface between photographic equipment and the resulting images, but sometimes I go a little further to one side or the other. I was looking for some visual inspiration, and came across a really cool post on, showing passports of famous people.
(Click Here) to see the full post and several passports on
The post makes the point that even famous people probably aren't fully satisfied with their passport pictures. It does seem like one of those things that's really difficult to be pleased about. However, I must say these celebs' passport pics sure look better than mine. Here's another of my favorites from the post:
Bowie's Passport
Image Source:
The passport is somewhat of an equalizer. It doesn't matter if you're rich or famous, you're probably not getting back in, even your home country, without one. People are just people at the level of the law. Well, then there are exceptions - people who clearly aren't just people:
Johnny Cash's Passport
Image Source:
Photography is important. Don't forget it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Subtle Color Can Work, Too

Persimmons, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, Leica Summaron 3.5cm f3.5 Lens
It seems that use of bold colors to make a strong statement is popular these days. It is one of those concepts that you read about in nearly every book about photography and composition. Like the idea of using simple, basic compositions, bold color can really add to the punch of a photograph.
However, sometimes I don't want my photograph to punch the viewer. I prefer something a little more subtle.
Lens choice, lighting type, exposure, and post-processing can all affect how bold or subtle your color is. In the shot above, I used my old LTM Summaron 3.5cm f3.5 lens, which is a master of gentle constrast and subtle colors.
(Click Here) to read an article on about using subtle colors. There are some good example images in that post.
The way you choose to use color and composition says something about you as a photographer. As in regular life, if your style is in-your-face, punchy, bold, that begins to affect your overall reputation, how people think about you. I believe your photographic, artistic reputation is similar in this respect. I would not expect Monet to paint a bold, red, orange, and black abstract. I would also not expect Picasso to paint muted water lilies. It's worth thinking about your own style, rather than blindly following the instructions to make your images punch your viewer. At least not all the time.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Barcelona - A Changing City, Wonderful Place to Photograph

Glimpse of a Memory in Barcelona, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Holga Micro 4/3 Lens
I read an article by Beatriz Silva on the blog Theme today, about how Barcelona is changing. Beatriz is a Chilean photographer, living in Barcelona.
(Click Here) to read the piece on Photography Daily Theme.
Silva makes the case that while Barcelona is one of the richest cities in Spain, the European financial crisis is taking its toll. Poverty and homelessness are high, and on the rise. There is also a cultural loss going on in Barcelona, with the example being bookstores giving way to McDonalds. That is happening everywhere. In fact, I don't have a bookstore within a 20 mile radius of my home in Northern Virginia anymore. Amazing.
In any case, I visited Barcelona last November, and just really loved it. It is a photographer's dream. While I shot my Lumix DMC-G3s a lot, I also did a series of evening street shots with my Leica CL and 40mm Rokkor f2. I've submitted these for publication in the LHSA (International Leica Society) magazine, The Viewfinder. They're accepted, and will be published in the next issue!
If you get the chance to go to Barcelona, take it. So much culture, history, and style in one place.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What About the Hasselblad Xpan Panoramic Camera?

I read an interesting post on Steve Huff's blog site, written by Brett Price, who is a new Xpan user. I used to own one, but sold it. I figured this was a good time to revisit that camera.
(Click Here) to read Brett's post and see some of his images.
Brett makes a few interesting points about using the Xpan. He uses the same normal lens I had, which is a 45mm f4, which he finds very sharp. Brett doesn't think his style of imaging changed much going to the panoramic format, but does think it makes his shots more dramatic.
I always felt a little limited with a maximum aperture of f4. I did find my Xpan to produce sharp images, but nothing like my Leica, for example. It's possible that my Xpan needed a rangefinder adjustment. I'll never know, as I no longer own the camera. Unlike Brett, I found that I had to completely transform my thoughts on composition to make images that worked with the panoramic format. This was a process, and one that I was happy to go through. In fact, once I learned how to use it, I was sort of done with the camera. I still like to shoot panoramas once in a while, but use my Bronica ETRS with wide 35mm film back when the urge strikes me. I also have a Lomo Sprocket Rocket (see Amazon link below) that shoots in panoramic format; it's a very fun camera.
Here are some examples of my images I took with the Xpan I used to own:
Farm Implement, by Reed A. George
Hasselblad Xpan, 45mm f4 Lens
Barn Door, Uncommon Composition, by Reed A. George
Hasselblad Xpan, 45mm f4 Lens
Barn and Trees, by Reed A. George

Hasselblad Xpan, 45mm f4 Lens

Sculpture, Hirshhorn Museum, by Reed A. George

Hasselblad Xpan, 45mm f4 Lens

Yoko Ono's Wish Tree, Washington, DC, by Reed A. George

Hasselblad Xpan, 45mm f4 Lens

Do I miss the Xpan? Not particularly. But, here's one place that I really agree with Brett - if Hasselblad were to produce a digital Xpan, I would be sorely tempted to buy one.

Leica at the Sunday Afternoon Jam Session - Including Whole Lotta Leica Lens for July - Summitar 5cm f2 Collapsible

I went to a jam session at Jammin' Java, a great music venue and coffee house here in Vienna, Virginia.
(Click Here) to check out Jammin' Java.
Margot MacDonald, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM
iso 800, f2, 1/125 sec.
I took along my WLL lens for this month, the Summitar 50mm f2 collapsible. Here's a shot from that lens.
Jam Session, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summitar 5cm f2 Collapsible LTM Lens (Coated)
iso 640, f2, 1/160 sec.
It was pretty dark in there, with bright afternoon light coming from the front windows, but very little additional light inside. It made for some dramatic lighting for those standing in that window light, just plain darkness for the others.
I was glad that I had thrown my Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM lens in my bag on the way out. I used it a lot more than the Summitar. Here are a couple of examples.
Nina, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM
iso 40, f1.4, 1/90 sec.

Margot MacDonald and Tony Moreno, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM
iso 1250, f2, 1/90 sec.
Bass, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM
iso 800, f1,7, 1/125 sec.

Margot MacDonald, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM
iso 800, f1.4, 1/125 sec.
I thoroughly enjoyed the session, and met a few new people.
For more images from the session, (Click Here).
I have always really liked my Summitar. However, the Canon f1.4 really came through for me. I think the Summitar is a street photography lens, not so much a low light, wide open shooter. I have shot it in dark spaces a couple of times recently, and am not really that happy with it wide open. At f5.6 or smaller, it excels. That wasn't going to happen at the jam session.
Guess I've got to get the Summitar out on the street this month!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rangefinder Chronicles Blog - Results from Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 on Leica M3 (Film!)

Nick DeMarco's Leica M3 and Nokton
Image Source:
Rangefinder Chronicles is one of the many blogs I read regularly. Nick's forays into rangefinder (Leica and other) photography are usually quite interesting.
In a recent post, he shares a lot of gorgeous film images, shot on his Leica M3 and Voigtlander R3M, both with a new Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 Nokton. I'm impressed with the images.
The new f1.5 Nokton is styled after classic Noktons of the past. (Click Here) to read about this lens on
(Click Here) to see them all.
He shot with iso 100 film, in order to allow him to open the lens up all the way, exhibiting its strengths. As he says, why buy a super fast lens if you don't want to shoot wide open? Here's an example I particularly like, partially because it shows the lens performance at wide aperture, and partially because I like the subject (I do mean the cameras; not that the lady is unappealing):
Image Source:
Nick tells us that he has a lot of 50mm lenses, including a Summicron f2 and Zeiss Sonnar f1.5. It's not clear to me what the Nokton does that the Sonnar does not. While both lenses are manufactured by Cosina, I imagine the optical designs to be different. It would be very interesting to see a comparison of the two lenses.
In any case, the Nokton does look like a winner. I love seeing it shot on vintage film bodies like the M3. Nice job, Nick!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Photographers Go To Inhospitable Environments To Get the Shot

Cactus, Joshua Tree, California, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f4.5, 1/500 sec
National Geographic (and other) photographers regularly put themselves into inhospitable environments, and even harm's way, just to get the shot.
Most of us know of famous war photographers killed in action, including Robert Capa. (Click Here) for a list of ten famous photographers killed in action.
Not all of the dangers are that glamorous. I found this page on the Photo Society's website which lists the hazards that National Geographic photographers have experienced in their duties.
(Click Here) to read them on
Lots of amoebic dysentery, plenty of hypothermia (frostbite listed separately, which has happened 29 times, 23 for the same photographer). How about two attacks by a Florida Panther - that's two attacks on two different photographers on different assignments - same panther. Spitting cobra attack, anyone?
So why did I select the Joshua Tree picture for this post? I actually took a step off-trail into a ravine on this highly-traveled short loop trail and ended up miles off-course. By the time I crossed a road in the desert and convinced someone to pick me up (several drivers refused to even look at me as they drove past), I was on my last ~.25 liter of water. I don't think I would've died out there, so close to civilization and along a road. But, dry and sunburnt in just a couple of extra hours in the desert, it reminded me that the risks are real, especially if we do something dumb like go off-trail in the desert.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Key West Cemetery - Shot With Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

When in Key West, I always like to look for hints of the local culture, which all too often get covered over with the trappings of tourism. The historic Key West cemetery is always worth a quick visit. This time, I grabbed my Lumix DMC-GX1, 20mm f1.7 lens, and Canon LTM 135mm f3.5 lens and headed there for an early morning walk.
Rather than try to paraphrase, I'll quote directly from the historic marker at the cemetery to provide some background:
"Key West Cemetery was founded in 1847 following a hurricane the previous year that destroyed the earlier cemetery located near present day Higgs Beach. To protect from future flooding the 10-acre cemetery was located here on Solares Hill, the highest natural elevation in Key West. An estimated 75,000 people are interred here, divided among parcels that reflect the cultural diversity that continues to characterize the city of Key West today. The cemetery contains a historic Catholic section, Jewish section, the USS Maine plot dedicated in 1900, and the Los Martires de Cuba, a memorial for those who fought in the 1868 Cuban revolution. In addition to these defined areas, African Americans, Cubans and Americans, rich and poor, are interred throughout. In-ground and crypt style graves range from simple concrete copings filled with soil to elaborate monnuments. Plot enclosures of wrought iron, wood, or concrete were often used to mark family plots.
A Florida Heritage Site Sponsored by the Historic Florida Keys Foundation, The City of Key West, and the Florida Department of State"
Let's take a look at the place.
Key West Cemetery, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f2.8, 1/400 sec

Fallen, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f2.8, 1/40 sec

Gravestones and Chickens, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f2.8, 1/320 sec

Family Plots, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f2, 1/1000 sec
Occupying a relatively small area of land, completely surrounded by residential neighborhood, this is a place of visual details. For example, the flowers really stand out from the dull gray stone.
Pink Flowers, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f1.7, 1/640 sec

Sleeping Angel, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f1.7, 1/1250 sec

This next shot was made with the adapted Canon 135mm f3.5 LTM lens. I'm amazed by the sharpness of this old lens. I also really like the out of focus areas in the background.

Isolated, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Canon LTM 135mm f3.5 Lens
iso 160, f4, 1/200 sec
Thoughtful, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f5.6, 1/40 sec
Cross, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f1.7, 1/640 sec
Peaceful, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f1.7, 1/800 sec
Key West is such a funky place. It's somehow comforting to know that even in death, you can retain a little uniqueness. The cemetery here is another thing about Key West that reminds me of another unique place, New Orleans.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Live Music Coverage - The Woodshedders' New CD Release - Shot With Nikon DSLRs

This weekend was live music-filled. I went to two release shows for The Woodshedders' new CD, "Wildfire."
(Click Here) to go to The Woodshedders home page. If you haven't listened to them, you should give them a try. An uncommon mix of bluegrass, jazz, and overall Americana, their music has a lot of soul.
Anyway, Friday night's show was at the Opera House in Shepherdstown, WV.
Shepherdstown Opera House, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AF lens
iso 200, f8, 1 sec.
This is a great venue, an old cinema converted into live performance space.
(Click Here) to see what other shows are coming up at Opera House Live.
Kicking the night off right, The Green Boys warmed the crowd up. Maybe that's a poor choice of description; it was so hot that night that we could all have used a cooling down. In any case, this Richmond, VA-based group plays bluegrass in lively fashion. I've known these guys for a couple of years, and really enjoy every chance to hear them.
(Click Here) to check out The Green Boys.
Ryan Green (The Green Boys), by Reed A. George
Nikon D300, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF lens
iso 3200, f1.8, 1/60 sec.
My go-to Nikon DSLR is the D700. Full-frame, reasonable resolution (not so high that noise becomes an issue), the D700 is the single most capable camera I have ever owned. Not as fun as a Leica rangefinder perhaps, but definitely more flexible and capable, especially at high iso. I recently picked up a nice D300 from KEH for a second body. With the APS-C size sensor, the D300 is not quite as good as the D700 in extremely low light. That said, the D300 performed quite nicely here. The shot above shows what fast class can do for you.
Dwayne Brooke of the Woodshedders gave me the opportunity to shoot some pictures of the band. We made good use of the loft area in the Opera House, and here are a couple of my favorites.
Marilyn Dropped by the Session, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF lens
iso 400, f5.6, 1/125 sec.
Flash (Nikon SB800) Bounced Off Ceiling
Another example of the flexibility of the Nikon system. Outfitting myself for an evening of low available light shooting, I decided to throw my SB800 flash in the bag. Not knowing that I'd get the chance to pose the band, I wasn't sure I'd use it. When the opportunity came, I simply set the camera to TTL flash, pointed it toward the ceiling, and away we went. This would not have been as easy with any of my other cameras.
The Woodshedders, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF lens
iso 400, f5.6, 1/125 sec.
Flash (Nikon SB800) Bounced Off Ceiling
Here are some shots from the show itself. I don't know how these guys survived the heat.
Onstage, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF lens
iso 3200, f2, 1/125 sec.
Jesse Shultzaberger, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF lens
iso 2200, f1.8, 1/125 sec.
Ryan Mayo, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF lens
iso 2200, f1.8, 1/125 sec.
"Fiddlin' Dave" VanDeventer, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF lens
iso 2200, f1.8, 1/125 sec.
Jared Pool, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF lens
iso 2200, f1.8, 1/90 sec.
Dwayne Brooke, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF lens
iso 4500, f1.8, 1/125 sec.

At the intermission, both bands retired to the loft to chat with members of the audience, many of whom are person friends; these guys have quite a following around here. The shot below was made then, and is one of my very favorite images from the evening. I saw the red light outlining this young lady's hair, and that drew me in. The blue further back adds to the scheme.

Intermission, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 28mm f2.8 AF lens
iso 6400, f2.8, 1/45 sec.
The crowd stayed lively throughout. In fact, some were so happy they were swept off their feet (or levitated?).
Uplifted, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF lens
iso 2200, f2.8, 1/60 sec.
Flash (Nikon SB800)
What a great show! If you're interested in seeing more from this show, (Click Here) to go to my web page,
I'm still sorting images from Saturday night, and will post them separately. More to come!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Creative Idea by Paul Hampton - Preserve Those Little Things You Love

I'm busy re-populating my RSS feeds, now in Feedly, since Google Reader is no more. I haven't figured out how to upload my old Google Reader backup file, so I'm starting from scratch, which may be good anyway. I will admit I'd sort of gotten tired of the same several hundred (!) blogs and forums I had on my list.
So, here's some inspiration from Paul Hampton, who photographed his possessions, at least some that matter to him.
(Click Here) to see the original post.
Image Source:
I like this idea very much. I remember a couple of years ago I finally had to disassemble the bulletin boards that hung in my late brother's room from thirty-some years in the past. I had moved them, intact, countless times over those years. Finally, I took everything off, scanned it on my Epson flatbed scanner, and put it into a big envelope, discarding the boards themselves. Interesting stuff there - ticket stubs from the Led Zeppelin concert that he attended, and I was too young to attend. Various pictures of friends - some still around, some not, in their high school days. Anyway, I at least documented them. Paul's idea is much more artistic. I wish I'd thought to do this with my record collection before it vanished a few years back. Anyway, I hope you like the idea, too.