Wednesday, April 30, 2014
I've shown Evan's work here a few times before. He uses classic equipment, and adds a real artistic touch to his compositions. Here's one he made with one of my favorites, a Minolta Autocord twin lens reflex (TLR).
Recollection, by Evan Leavitt
Image Source: http://evanleavittphotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/recollection/
(Click Here) to visit Evan's blog.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
My photographic interests have largely taken me away from Micro 4/3 recently, but not completely. My most recent Micro 4/3 camera is the DMC-GX7, which I must admit I'm not using enough. Here's a recent shot from my trip to New Mexico.
St. Felipe de Neri Church, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Series II Kit Lens at 27mm
iso 200, f10, 1/320 sec.
I found this church interesting, not because of its own interesting history and place, but because the name rung a bell with me. (Click Here) to see the images I made at San Felipe de Neri Square in Barcelona some time back.
I recently read an entry on Mike Johnston's blog "The Online Photographer," about the perfect two lens camera kit. In this piece, Mike opines that the Lumix 20mm f1.7 and 12-35mm f2.8 lenses make up the perfect minimalist kit.
(Click Here) to read about it on Mike's blog.
He thinks of the 20mm as the ultimate walk-around compact lens, and I agree. It is fast, sharp, and at an equivalent field of view of 40mm on a 35mm camera, just about ideal.
His choice for a second lens, the 12-35mm f2.8 Aspheric is also quite nice. I had one for a short time, and ended up sending it back. Not because of image quality, but because that zoom range really wasn't the best for me. I found the 35mm upper end of the zoom range limiting. I like to be able to shoot a portrait with any standard zoom, and felt it was just a little too short for that.
So, what would I choose? Well, if I could only have two lenses with the GX7, the first would be the 20mm f1.7, as Mike chose. Believe it or not, the second would be the new 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Series II kit zoom. I would rely on the 20mm for any low light situations. The new kit zoom is incredibly compact and effective. I think the image quality is outstanding.
I don't know if and when I'll start once again focusing on Micro 4/3 gear. I'm simply having too much fun with Leica and old film gear at the moment. That said, the GX7 and GX1 made a great kit for my trip to New Mexico. Maybe I'll do that again on an upcoming trip.
Monday, April 28, 2014
One final post of images from my recent trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Very close to my hotel, Petroglyph National Monument offered a unique early morning walk before my business meetings started.
Petroglyphs are images by native people of the area, made by chipping away at the surface of the basalt rock in the area. The basalt stones were created about 200,000 years ago, when lava flowed 5-50 feet thick over a series of six separate eruptions. These boulders have a thin dark patina layer on their surface, caused by water, sun, temperature extremes, and microbes. It was by chipping away at the outer layer and exposing the lighter stone color underneath that native Americans made the petroglyph images.
Petroglyph on the Mesa Top, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Bower 7.5mm f3.5 Fisheye Lens
iso 400, f-stop unrecorded, 1/250 sec.
Most of these petroglyphs were made 400-700 years ago. Those from that period ("Rio Grande" style) include human figures, masks, hands, feet, as well as animal shapes and tracks, and geometric designs. Others date back as far as 3,000 years.
Various Petroglyphs, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Pana-Leica Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8 Lens
As I've written in other posts, I found the Bower fisheye lens to be very useful on this trip. This was a bit of a surprise for me, as I've always thought of fisheye lenses as gimmicks, for special effects only. On this walk, I carried the GX7 with the fisheye attached, and my backup Micro 4/3 body, the GX1, with the Macro-Elmarit. This made for a very good combination in this particular setting.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
I recently tried a new film, CineStill, which lists the ability to push it to very high iso levels as one of its features.
(Click Here) to read a little about CineStill. I bought mine from Freestyle.
I shot two rolls of CineStill at a house concert, which should have been the perfect test location. I shot it at iso 1600, and asked The Darkroom (thedarkroom.com) to push it one stop in processing. I'm not ready to enter a verdict on CineStill yet, and will write more about that later. Suffice it to say, I don't think I'm done looking for a great color film for low light concert shooting. Once I find one, I will do my best to replicate the look in Lightroom, exactly as I've done for Ilford Delta 3200 for black and white images.
On my way to the flight home from Japan, I found five rolls of Fuji Natura 1600 color print film.
Fujifilm Natura 1600 Color Print Film
At a little less than $10 per roll here in the Tokyo Narita Airport, it's about the same price as CineStill. I'm looking forward to giving Natura a try.
If it works well, I'll have a good basis for defining a new color look in Lightroom. That's the possible upside. The possible downside is that I'll fall in love with the film's look; it's essentially not available in the USA at all, as far as I can tell. I saw a couple of questionable-looking ads, at about $20 per roll. I won't be doing that.
Anyway, once I've thoroughly evaluated CineStill, I'll post the results. Of course, I'll also post any results I get with Natura. More film fun!
Surprisingly, this is the only photographic product I purchased on my trip to Japan. I saw a few interesting products, but nothing good enough to part with my cash.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Japanese Garden Scene, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, 70mm (equivalent full-frame focal length)
iso 200, f2.1, 1/400 sec.
This is another jpeg direct from the Lumix DMC-LX7. As you can see, you can achieve relatively shallow depth of field with this camera, despite the small sensor size. That's because it has a very large maximum aperture in the Leica Vario Summilux lens, f1.4 at the widest angle zoom setting (24mm full-frame equivalent). I believe f2.1 is the maximum aperture at the focal length I needed for this shot. I think the bokeh (out of focus rendering) is very nice with this lens.
This camera really does sometimes make me wonder why I need any other gear, especially for travel photography. If you know me, and the fact that I have a large and broad collection of cameras, this statement doesn't come lightly from me. The LX7 is just plain impressive.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Any idea what this is? I came across it in the garden at our hotel in Hakone, Japan, and had never seen anything like it.
What The?, by Reed A. George
Well, it's a monopod, set permanently in a concrete base, in the optimum spot for a travel shot in the garden. Well, of course, I couldn't resist. I mounted the LX7 up, set the self-timer, and made this shot with my lovely wife.
Hakone Garden Picture Spot, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
This reminds me of the Kodak Photo Spot campaign of years back, but it's not a commercial. It's simply a very nice feature that the hotel added to the garden.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
My Leica M6 Titan (factory titanium coated, ca. 1992)
(Click Here) to read the ad on rangefinderforum. All the details are there. I bought this from KEH last year in EX condition. If you know KEH, you know that means it's really nice. There is one ding, highlighted and labeled in one of the pics in the ad.
This is a wonderful user camera. I would keep it, but I just got another, in order to get the matching titanium lens. The serial number dates match between the new body and lens, so I'll keep the second one.
Oh yeah. The same ad contains a near-new silver grip for the Leica M8. Nearly half-price from new.
A subject near to my heart, and light that I just couldn't pass up.
Japanese Window Light, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, Portrait Setting
I've been using my LX7 quite a bit on this trip to Japan. This little camera never ceases to amaze me. I am not one to use the canned settings packages in my cameras, but the SCN settings in the LX7 are extremely good. This is the portrait setting. The image is a jpg, straight from the camera.
I used a mini-reflector to fill in the shadows on the right side (her left). They can still use a little increase in brightness, but the detail is there.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
I'm in Tokyo still as I write this. Yesterday, on my morning walk, I captured this image.
Street Portrait From Behind, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica 35mm Summicron F2 Lens
iso 400, f8, 1/125 sec.
The only place you can see the subject's face is in the big round mirror on the left. These are place all over around Tokyo for safety (so drivers can see pedestrians and vice-versa). It's pretty cliche to photograph them. But, I've never seen them used in exactly this way.
It would be fun to see this projected or printed very large, to see if capturing the face as a tiny part of the overall composition works or not. I think the lines in this composition work very well.
This is a straight jpeg, out of the camera, but with some cropping in Snapseed.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Tsukishima Boat, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 400, f2.8, 1/750 sec.
I am in Tokyo today as I write this. One good thing about the jet lag I'm suffering with - it gets me out for sunrise walks and photography.
This morning, I took the morning train one stop from where I'm staying, to Tsukishima. It's a nice little island section of Tokyo, with some nice boats and morning reflections. I hope you enjoy the view. This is a jpeg directly from the camera.
Monday, April 21, 2014
I wrote a few days ago about how I've finally bought in to the Nikon rangefinder line.
(Click Here) to see that post.
In that post, I included some test images shot with the Nikkor 5cm f1.4 lens that came with my Nikon S. Here are a couple of shots from my first roll of film through the camera.
My Favorite Subject, by Reed A. George
Nikon S Rangefinder, Nikkor 5cm f1.4 lens
This image is converted to black and white from a color film negative (Walgreens iso 200 color print film). It's pretty sharp, but I think I very slightly missed the perfect focus setting (or moved a little with a slow shutter speed).
The image below is much sharper.
Outside Starbucks, by Reed A. George
Nikon S Rangefinder, Nikkor 5cm f1.4 lens
Overall, I'm pretty impressed with what this old camera can do. It's true, the Nikon rangefinder line is a dead end - no new cameras, and no more use of the mount. But, I am glad that I got this camera. I'm going to have some fun with it.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
My daughter has just turned thirteen. So, as you can imagine, I had to bribe her to come out for some pictures with the cherry blossoms, which have just really started to bloom near our home. Here are a couple of shots I made with the Leica M9 and Elmarit 90mm f2.8 lens.
I haven't used this lens as much as I should. In fact, when I want a telephoto on my M9, I usually grab the amazingly good Canon LTM 135mm f3.5. But, the Elmarit is also so good. As a result of remembering that, the Elmarit is in my bag for the trip to Japan. I'm leaving today for that one.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
The folks at Lomography have been doing some interesting things lately. For me, any company that keeps film photography alive is okay. But their latest antic is really pretty interesting.
Image Source: http://microsites.lomography.com/russar-lens/
Lomography is producing an updated version of the 1958 Russian "Russar" 20mm f5.6 lens with what seems the perfect combination of classic optical design and modern materials and manufacturing methods.
The new Russar+ will be made in Leica Thread Mount (LTM), also known as "L39," which is great for us Leica users. That makes it native on the Barnack cameras, and easily adaptable to Leica M cameras. It also makes a nice base for adapting to other mounts, like Micro 4/3.
It sounds like they really are making some upgrades to the lens. For example, while the original lens body was made of aluminum, the new one is brass. Reportedly, it's being manufactured by Zenit in Russia. I don't know Zenit's full history, but I know from classic camera shopping that they've been around a while.
Now, a maximum aperture of f5.6 is a little hard to live with, especially if you're shooting film. But, that's the classic design, and one of the tradeoffs of using them. I have a Cosina Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 lens that rarely sees use because of that small maximum aperture.
But, any way I look at it, this is a cool development. One of my highest-use lenses is the awesome Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f1.5. If the Russar+ implements a classic design with modern improvements in even a slightly similar fashion, it will be worth having.
You can pre-order yours by (Clicking Here). The price is US$649, and they're scheduled for delivery in July 2014.
Friday, April 18, 2014
A few weeks ago, I posted digital pictures from a Keel Power Trio concert at Gypsy Sally's in Washington, DC. They were all shot on the Nikon D700, and processed in Lightroom to emulate Ilford Delta 3200.
(Click Here) to see that post.
I also shot my "Dreaming in Monochrom(e)" camera, the Leica M4-2, loaded with the real deal, actual Ilford Delta 3200 film. Here are the results:
Larry Keel Power Trio, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
Man, I really love shooting the M4-2, and Delta 3200 opens up a lot of opportunities for low light shooting. I typically shoot it as if it were rated at 1600, and have it processed normally at The Darkroom (thedarkroom.com).
This "Dreaming in Monochrom(e)" project has taught me so much. First, it reopened my ability to shoot film at live music events. It also refocused me on a style of monochrome images that I think fit my chosen type of music very well. In fact, it even transformed how I process my digital images from these events.
But the experience is giving me the distinct feeling that restricting any given camera to black and white only may not be for me. While I love shooting the M4-2 with TMax 400 or Delta 3200, I sometimes leave it at home because I've temporarily dedicated it to this project and am not using it for color. I would not be happy with a several thousand dollar digital Leica Monochrom that I couldn't carry without reservation any time I want.
I feel very fortunate to be around such great musicians. What could be better than bringing together two passions - live music and photography?
My Friend, Polly, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
Thursday, April 17, 2014
I've already posted some shots of the Larry Keel Power Trio (aka Larry Keel Experience) that I shot at Gypsy Sally's in Washington DC a while back.
(Click Here) to see my earlier post and link to my images on the live music blog Cosmic Vibes Live. Since that post, which was all digital shots, I've received my film back from The Darkroom. I have more Keel pictures to post, when I get to it.
In the meantime, here are some images of one of the opening bands, By and By. The bass player, Matt Iadanza, is a friend and co-worker in my regular job. The first set is digital, all shot with the still-amazing Nikon D700. I processed these in Lightroom using my settings to emulate Ilford Delta 3200 film.
(Click Here) to find my Lightroom settings that lead to this look.
I'll follow that with a couple of film shots from the Leica M4-2 that I'm using for the Dreaming in Monochrom(e) series.
By and By, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-D 20mm f2.8, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF-D Lenses
And here are a couple shot with my Leica M4-2 and real honest-to-goodness Ilford Delta 3200 film.
By and By, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
Ilford Delta 3200 Film
This was Matt's last show as bassist for By and By. He's now in the UK, working at the University of Leeds. Best wishes, Matt! But, the band continues on. (Click Here) to learn more about By and By Bluegrass.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Image Source: http://filmphotographyproject.com/store/fpp-t-shirt-k1000
The Film Photography Project has issued their first t-shirt, with the venerable Pentax K1000 on it! I'll be buying one of these.
(Click Here) to see it on the FPP site.
I've already got several classic camera Ts from Dodge & Burn. (Click Here) to check them out.
Yes, I'm a camera geek. No need to try and hide it any more.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
A couple of months back, I had the fortune of finding two Leica IIIC cameras, separate but very close together in time, both manufactured at the end of World War II. Coming from separate sellers, the cameras are extremely similar, both having the wartime "stepper" design, and having been manufactured in 1945. In both cases, according to the best source on wartime Leicas anywhere (James Lager, my colleague in the LHSA), they were most likely sold to allied soldiers in Europe at the end of the war.
One of the cameras came with a date-matching Elmar 5cm f3.5 collapsible lens (the standard lens of the day). I used that lens for the images below.
I've now had both cameras serviced by Youxin Ye, and they're working as-new. I took the second one that I purchased out for a walk and test roll recently. You see the results below.
I happened onto a model yachting event in Reston, Virginia. These images are straight from the camera, Walgreens iso 200 color print film, processed by The Darkroom.
In the shot above, you can see what I believe is internal reflection in the lens/camera. I was not using a lens hood.
This final shot is my favorite of the bunch.
No Pulitzers here, I'm sure. However, I did accomplish my goal, which was to test the camera and lens. I kind of like the rather low contrast result, especially as the light was quite harsh. I'm not sure how much of the low contrast comes from the lens (most, I suspect), versus the film. The cheap Walgreens film tends to have this sort of look on its own. Most of these were shot at f8 or smaller aperture, and relatively high shutter speeds.
The images are plenty sharp, and I think the color representation is quite nice.
It's amazing to me that such a piece of photographic history, made well before I was born, still works and yields results that are at least as interesting as modern cameras. Certainly the technical performance of modern cameras and lenses is better, but I'm quite happy with the look this camera and lens produce. And that's what matters to me.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Image Source: http://www.onephotographaday.com/2014/04/spring.html
So, first I need to tell you that I wrote this post on April 6. There's usually a delay between when I write and when the post goes up on DMC-365.
I put some effort into finding cherry blossoms, the official sign of spring coming to Washington DC, this weekend. First, I went to Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Nothing. Nadda. I was surprised. Today, my lovely wife and I fought the traffic to get into DC proper. While I must admit there are some trees blooming, it's very far from peak (or at least what peak has looked like in past years). In fact, we decided not to park after all that, and instead drove to Georgetown for some nice tea and conversation. I shot a few film images there, so more on that in a week or two.
I'm heading to Tokyo in about a week. We try to go every year to visit family. My usual routine is to see the blossoms here in DC, hop on a plane, then see them in Tokyo. That may not happen this year. It seems like the peak has already passed in Tokyo. Oh well, you can't win them all.
By the way, Luis Gomez (who took the picture above) runs a very consistent 365 day photo posting blog from Washington, DC. I've been enjoying his work for a couple of years now.
(Click Here) to go to Luis' blog.
Oh, and (Click Here) to see some gorgeous cherry blossom shots from Yahoo Japan.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Here are a couple of shots I made with Ilford Delta 3200 film in my Leica M4-2, at a Buddhist temple during a snowstorm. Both were made with the Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm f1.5 lens, one of my favorite lenses.
Wat Yarn in Snow, by Reed A. George
I selected 1/125-1/250 sec. for my shutter speed, in an effort to catch the falling snowflakes.
Parasol, by Reed A. George
I like how the statue's eye shows up in this image.
I wouldn't normally use high speed film for images like this, but it was what I had with me. I think it worked out pretty well.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
I've been posting a few images from New Mexico, including a couple of fisheye images. Well, here are a few more, probably the last I'll post from this particular trip.
Old and New, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Series II Kit Lens at 31mm
iso 200, f22, 1/200 sec.
This was shot outside an art museum. I very much like the contrast of the modern art right up front, and the more traditional looking sculpture in the background. After capturing this, I decided to get up close and personal with the stature, taking advantage of the fisheye lens' capability of simultaneously showing detail of the sculpture and the distinctly Southwestern architecture and courtyard surrounding it.
Native, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Bower 7.5mm f3.5 Fisheye Lens
iso 200, f-stop unrecorded (f8?), 1/1000 sec.
I really like how the fisheye captured this scene. I don't consider this to be only a special effect lens, as I had anticipated. Yes, there is quite a lot of distortion of the lines in the building, but I don't think it takes much away from the composition. I would like to compare this image to what I would get with the Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 (rectilinear, not fisheye) lens on a Leica M body. Less distortion, and even a little wider angle would be expected, but I don't know if I'd like the image as much or more. Sounds like a good test for the future.
Finally, a purely tourist-targeted scene:
Southwestern Kitsch, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Series II Kit Lens at 34mm
iso 200, f11, 1/640 sec.
I don't mind that this is a stereotypical tourist trap scene, including some fake, painted peppers (the multicolor ones; the red ones are real). It's part of the environment in New Mexico now. So, why not show it?
One of my goals on this short trip was to see if I can rely on the GX7 for good travel photography. Carrying the GX7 and the even smaller GX1 as a backup body worked very well for me. I'm thoroughly impressed with the image quality of the GX7, if not the handling. I still don't feel that it quite fits my hands. But, it's pretty darned good.