Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Old Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Still Shines

Irish Dance, by Reed A. George
Nikomat FTN, Nikkor S 50mm f1.4, pre-AI Lens
As you may know, I'm continuing to explore shooting Nikon SLR gear that covers a range of more than fifty years. Alongside my new Nikon Df, my original F film body is ready to go, with the Nikkor S 50mm f1.4 lens attached. The lens was a gift from one of my good buddies, Dennis Gallus.
I love it when I find someone else using classic old gear. Forum member DNG on Rangefinder Forum has just shared a few images made with his old Nikkor 50.
(Click Here) to see DNG's results.
I'm not sure what the details are of DNG's statement
"I also used a K25 preset on import from Filmbot. no changes in the color, just Topaz Clarify and Topaz Detail."
but I plan to look up these programs. Always open to new tools that help me continue to enjoy my old film gear and pictures.
The coolest thing about carrying my Df and F together is that any lens I can use on the F is just fine and at home on the Df as well. The inverse is true (any lens on the Df can be used on the F), except for "G" lenses, which lack an aperture ring. I may be the only one who feels this way, but that lack of a ring is keeping me from buying some new Nikon (or Sigma with Nikon mount) lenses.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Entertaining Coverage of Leica Noctilux f0.95 Lens

Video Source:
Well, I don't own a Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 lens. So, I can only share someone else's experience with you.
If you haven't seen Kai's videos on DigitalRev before, they're quite entertaining. Many times, they're as much about humor as about photography. He sometimes goes overboard, like when he destroys a DSLR by catching it in elevator doors, etc. But, in the case of this video, Kai treats the Leica Noctilux with the respect that it deserves. It's a great review of the lens.
I'll just have to do with my Summilux 50mm f1.4 for now. It's actually hard to imagine a lens with well over an additional stop of light gathering capability over the Summilux. It's also hard to image being able to focus it well enough, with the super-thin depth of field that that wide aperture produces.
If clicking the image above doesn't take you to the movie, (Click Here).

Friday, November 28, 2014

50 Years of Nikon - Slideshow - Historic Corncrib

Here is a brief slideshow of images I took of an old farm building near where I work. I was able to convince my coworker and friend Wendye to let me photograph her there.
If you have trouble getting it to load, just (Click Here).
I shot all of these images with Nikon - the first of my "50 Years of Nikon SLRs" posts. This includes images from my early Nikon F film SLR, and my new Nikon Df DSLR. It's a lot of fun shooting these two cameras, separated by 50 years of Nikon history, going into the 50th year of my own life.
The music is from my friends The Woodshedders. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Another 50 Year Camera - The Pentax Spotmatic

Happy Thanksgiving!
Lighthouse, by Reed A. George
Pentax Spotmatic, 200mm f4 Takumar Lens
As my 50th birthday blazes toward me at the speed of time, I've been thinking about cameras that were current at my birth, and still useful now. As I've written before, the Nikon SLR comes to mind, and the thought has me carrying my 50 year old Nikon F with me at the same time as my brand new Nikon Df.
I've also just realized that one of my other favorite cameras, the Pentax Spotmatic, was born the same year as me - 1964.
As so many others I know, I grew up with a Pentax K1000 in hand. But, one of my best friend's dads had a gorgeous Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic. We were allowed to use it once in a while, but he demanded respect for his camera, something you can't just leave to teenagers on their own. Anyway, I now own a couple of Spotmatics (you can pick them up for next to nothing), and even have the same model of 200mm f4 Takumar he had. It feels really good to use them.
(Click Here) for a great article on Petapixel about the Spotmatic's 50th birthday. It includes scans of a brief review of the new camera, written in 1965 by Fred Springer-Miller, who used one at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Great stuff.
Civil War Sabre, by Reed A. George

Incredible Price on the New Lumix DMC-LX100

Amazon has the silver version of the LX100 for $779.01 right now. It is out of stock, but apparently there were some available yesterday. That's a pretty great price. Please use my blog's Amazon link to buy yours!
The LX100 appears to be a worthy upgrade from the already very capable LX7 (which I have). The LX100 uses almost the entire area of a full Micro 4/3 sensor, much larger than the sensor in the LX7.
One of my friends just bought the Leica version of the LX100, the DLUX Type 109. He shared with me a couple of large prints (around 16x20). They were absolutely spectacular.
I'm not ready to pull the trigger on the upgrade for my LX7, but this price has me thinking.
Again, please use my link to Amazon to buy yours, and support my blog at no cost to you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meeting Frank "Tico" Herrara

Last night, I had the good fortune to meet master black and white photographer and printer, Frank "Tico" Herrara. I had shown up way early for the hanging of my images for the exhibit "Coffee and Critique: Exposed" at Glen Echo Park in Maryland. More on that below.
Happy to at least find the building open on this cold, windy night, I had to wait for a long while in the dark lobby, until someone showed up and unlocked the gallery and darkroom space where Coffee and Critique is held. Along comes this gentleman, who happens to have a key, and is willing to let me follow him in. When he asks why I'm there, I tell him I'm there for a hanging. He says "Oh, good. I haven't been to a good hanging in so long. I thought they were outlawed nowadays." or something to that effect.
Anyway, it turned out that this was none other than Frank "Tico" Herrara, the most senior staff member at Glen Echo Photoworks, winner of a Guggenheim fellowship, and excellent photographer and printer. We sat and chatted for about an hour, which gave me the opportunity to learn about his Guggenheim project, "The West Virginia Crosses," among other things.
In this project, Tico used the Guggenheim fellowship to "document clusters of Roman crosses that were being erected all over West Virginia by a millionaire businessman as part of a religious mission called "Cast Thy Bread.""

After we'd talked for a while, I screwed up enough courage to ask Tico for input on the pictures I'd come to hang, those of my meditation practice, shot with large format film and old cameras, including a pinhole. I posted a slideshow of those images previously. (Click Here) to see that post.
I was pleased to hear that Tico sort of "got it," meaning the idea of what I was trying to communicate with the images. He said they definitely communicated a meditative message. That was really nice to hear.
So, all in all, I'm glad that I arrived so early to the exhibition hanging. My reward was to meet and spend some time with a real photographic master, one on one. Tico is a really nice guy, and I hope to get the chance to meet up with him again.
If you're interested in seeing my exhibition, along with about fourteen of my colleagues that take part in the Coffee and Critique sessions at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, you can (Click Here) for the details. My work will be up until January 5, 2015.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winter and Feeding the Birds

I love birds. I love photographing birds, though 2014 didn't see me out in the field or kayak chasing them very often. I also love feeding them in the winter. It's like a free show every day, seeing all the different species that show up to get a little free energy to make it through the cold.
In fact, just last week I filled my simple, single-block suet feeder for the first time this winter. I've already had lots of visitors.
I saw this incredible post on "Draw and Shoot," where writer/photographer Karen McRae is feeding chickadees from her hand.
(Click Here) to read Karen's post and see the other pictures. Really cool.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Japan's Smartphone "Zombies"

I just loved the title of this article in the Japan Times:

"Japan's smartphone 'zombies' turn urban areas into human pinball."

The interesting thing is, I've always thought that Japanese in urban areas are tuned out from their environment. Never would I call them "zombies," but I have been run into, run over, bumped, slid along walls, redirected (including go from "up" to "down" on stairways), etc. in Japan, particularly in train stations. It is closely related to how they tend to create their own mental space in crowds, even though they may be in contact with several other people, physically.
(Click Here) to read the whole story on the Japan Times website.
Apparently, this walking and biking while using smartphones is a serious problem.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Meditation Retreat Slideshow

I have been attending a meditation group for a few years now. I am not a religious person, but find the philosophical discussions and meditation practice to be very good for me.
Recently, one of my fellow students and her family invited us to their home for a one day retreat. Here's a slideshow from that day.
In addition to Buddhist meditation, we had a seminar on the seven chakras, or primary energy centers in the body. It was very interesting, and led to some insights for me. Importantly, the chakras are each associated with a different color. I've decided to work on a project to photograph images that I think represent the characteristics of each chakra. This could be a very long project for me, as there's a lot to cover. I've already experimented with images to represent the saccral chakra, which is associated mostly with the color orange. Once I have a few more images, I'll share them here.
All of these images were made with my Nikon Df and 24-120 version 1 VR zoom. It is one of the most hatest lenses by Nikon in recent years. It seems I'm on a theme of trying to make good images with the most reviled Nikon lenses. This lens's most attractive feature is ease of use. The zoom range is very useful for shooting an event, even though the f-stop (f3.5-5.6) is pretty slow.
I am finding that making slideshows with selected pictures is a very good practice. I learned that from David Alan Harvey at the Magnum workshop I attended last summer.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lumix DMC-GX7 for Live Music

I've been focused on other cameras lately. So many great cameras out there, so little time to shoot them.
I read an interesting piece on Steve Huff's blog about using the Lumix GX7 for live music.
(Click Here) to read it, and see some nice GX7 images from bars in Amsterdam.
Here are a couple of shots of my friends Jake and the Burtones, shot with my GX7.
Jake and the Burtones, Plus Melissa, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Bower 7.5mm Fisheye Lens
iso 3200, f4 (or so), 1/50 sec.
Burtones, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Aspheric Series II Zoom
iso 6400, f3.5, 1/100 sec.
The GX7 does pretty well in low light, even at iso6400. Not like a full frame Nikon, of course, but respectable. And so much easier to lug around.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Facebook Activist Deborah

Image Source:
This lady, Deborah, is reportedly from Brazil, and now living in Montreal. She photographs her life, including some NSFW (not safe for work) nudes, and posts them on Facebook.
I'm not sure exactly what the activism is protesting; this deserves more reading. But, this of her is really intriguing to me.
(Click Here) to read more on the blog Meta Around the Corner.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What You May Have Found in a Photojournalist's Bag in 1945

As you probably can see, I love vintage cameras. I've put together a nice Leica kit, all with equipment that was made before or during World War II. Here it is.
It includes:
  1. Leica IIIC (stepper) camera
  2. 5cm f2 Summitar (uncoated) normal lens
  3. 3.5cm f3.5 Elmar (uncoated) wide angle lens, with auxiliary finder
  4. 9.0 cm f4 Elmar telephoto lens (black), with auxiliary finder
The 9.0 cm Elmar and IIIC body were made during the war years; the other two lenses were made earlier.
This is a very capable kit, still today. Covering wide to long focal lengths, it all fits in a small camera bag, and doesn't weigh much at all. It's a blast to use.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And Now for Something Very Abstract

I have been into meditation for quite a while now. It helps me to keep my mind clear. On a trip to California earlier this year, I visited this labyrinth in an urban garden and did a little walking meditation, camera (Lumix GX7 and 20mm f1.7 lens) in hand.
Berkeley Labyrinth, by Reed A. George
I decided to capture some long exposures of the labyrinth markings as I walked twisting and turning through them. I attached a 3-stop neutral density (ND) filter, and shot several images at 1/4 second and f16.
Then I manipulated the images in Snapseed on my iPad. Here are the results:
Quite abstract, I know. I feel that they do say something about the state of mind I was in during the walk.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Final Round of Found Prints from The Gilded Flea

I've made two posts already of found prints and an internegative that I recovered from my friend's antique shop "The Gilded Flea" in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. (Click Here) to go to their website; they have tons of amazing stuff.
Here are some more prints that I picked up on my visit. I selected them just because they interested me.
Can anyone guess why I liked this one? The lady with the Polaroid, of course. She's even got her flash bulb pointed to the ceiling for bounced flash. I bet her shot came out great.
And who can argue with "Rockley Music Co.?" Apparently, they also sell Frigidaire appliances.
On the back of this print, it says "It's running fine now."
And finally, this one. Hey, honey, come sit in this tree so I can take your picture!
Thus ends a round of found prints from the past. I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Morning Out Birding as Winter Approaches

Yesterday, I joined a bird watching walk at my nearest wildlife preserve, which is called Banshee Reeks. The walk happens monthly, and is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. (Click Here) to read about the organization. They host quite a number of interesting events.
I realized that the walk was happening at 7:35 AM; it started at 8:00 AM. I quickly grabbed my Lumix GX7 and 100-300mm f4-5.6 OIS lens and headed out the door. A quick stop at Peets for my Saturday morning coffee, and away I went. I arrived just in time to join the group.
I really am a telephoto guy at heart. Though I've expanded my skills to include normal and wide angle lenses, from the start I've loved shooting long lenses. The 100-300 Lumix lens is a fantastic combination of long reach (600mm equivalent) and compact size. Because of the OIS vibration isolation, it's even more reasonable to use handheld.
Considering that it's winter, and the majority of migratory birds have already gone, we saw quite a range of birds: white throated sparrow, bluebird, fish crow, American crow, flicker, hawk (didn't get a good identification, but probably either red tailed or red shouldered), an immature bald eagle, mockingbird, plenty of robins. It's always great to go with someone like our tour leader Joe and his sidekick Del, who can spot and identify birds well beyond my capabilities.
Knowing that I had to get back home, after about an hour with the group I just wandered off into the forest and sat down. After a few minutes, I heard a single bird call. Then, I heard a different bird answer, much closer to where I was sitting. Within a few minutes, a small group of tufted titmouse had been drawn to an old hay bale, rolled off into the woods next to me.
I sat and enjoyed watching them for another ten minutes or so, and then got up, got the blood back into my legs, and began the walk back to the car.
I shot a few more pictures on the way back.
I think that telephoto lenses get underrated for their use in landscape photography.
Finally, coming around a corner in the trail, I got a quick shot off of this Mockingbird, against the blue autumn sky.
It was a very nice way to spend just a couple of hours on an autumn Saturday morning.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

More From My Leica IIIG

Here are a few more images from the roll I recently put through my Leica IIIG and collapsible Summicron 50mm f2 lens.
I really liked how the light was coming through the leaves at the top of the frame above, and lighting peoples' faces as they walked by against the darker background.
This is from a flea market in Georgetown, Washington, DC. I picked up a nice Canonet 1.9 rangefinder camera there for $15. It has a cracked glass over the focusing finder, but after a little lubrication, it's shooting as good as new. I don't think the crack will affect how it functions at all.
And here's my friend, Charlie, with his mint Rolleiflex 2.8F and a IIIG of his own. I believe that's his Cosina-Voigtlander 28mm f3.5 lens mounted up there.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Restaurant Conversation - Shot with Leica IIIG and Summicron 50mm f2 Collapsible Lens

The Leica IIIG is the ultimate evolution of the early Leica camera, designed by Oskar Barnack. The IIIG was made at the same time (1957-1960), and actually introduced after the advent of the M series cameras with the M3 (1955-1968). I used my IIIG with my LTM 50mm f2 Summicron Collapsible and Kodak TMax 400 black and white film to capture these two images.
Restaurant Conversation, by Reed A. George
The IIIG really is a very nice camera to use. It has a nice, bright viewfinder, and framelines for both 50mm and 90mm lenses.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Found Prints - Two Shots of a Soldier at Home, and the Concept of Association

Following on my post two days ago of old pictures I found in my friend's antique shop The Gilded Flea in Harpers Ferry, WV, here are a couple more that drew my interest.
Of course, any picture of someone with a camera from back in the day interests me:
Soldier With His Camera
I believe that's probably a Kodak Duaflex, but can't be sure.
Here's another picture of the same young soldier:
Heading Out
I sure hope his little sister in the background got to see him again.
One thing that strikes me about both these pictures and the ones I posted two days ago is association. I have a close friend who's a Paleontologist. I learned from him the value of finding multiple fossils that are known to have come from the same organism, or sometimes multiple organisms interacting. That's called an association. I submit that association in old photographs is equally important.
These pictures would make great starting material for a fictional story. Maybe I'll write one.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nick De Marco's Leica IIIa

Nick De Marco runs a nice blog called Rangefinder Chronicles. I've featured some of his posts here before.
Image Source:
I don't know Nick, but with his taste for old Leicas, I'm sure we'd get along just fine.
Nick has posted about a recent purchase, his 1930s Leica IIIa with 50 mm f3.5 Elmar collapsible lens.
(Click Here) to read Nick's post on Rangefinder Chronicles.
It's great to see that Nick has the same trepidation and worries that any reasonable person would have buying and trying to use an 80 year old camera. Come to think of it, would any reasonable person even do that? Anyway. It's also great to see the fine quality images that the old beast produced in his hands.
Yes, I've firmly got one foot in the digital photography game, but my other's still in the past. As long as that means that I get to shoot old machines like Nick's, or my new Leica IIIG (ultimate evolution of the Barnack design at Leica), that's okay with me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Old Polaroids - and a Surprise

I love to look at old photographs. A couple of weeks back, I visited my buddy's unique antique shop, The Gilded Flea, in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
(Click Here) to check out The Gilded Flea.
Anyway, as you can guess, I found some interesting old pictures there. Here are two that were close together in the box. I was pretty sure they belonged together, but not sure.
Two Polaroids
That looks like one mighty proud fisherman, and a nice trout, too!
Further down in the box, I found a single 4x5 negative - the same two images, together!. This is what it looks like, scanned on my Epson V750:
Scanned 4x5 Image of the Polaroids
I suppose it may not have been unusual to use a 4x5 camera to make an internegative of Polaroids, so that you could reprint them and send them to your friends. I thought it was pretty cool to find this along with the originals.
Finally, I got to looking at the picture on the left and noticed the calendar. Scanning the Polaroid at high resolution, I was able to see this:
I'm pretty sure it indicates that the picture was taken in 1954 (possibly '64?). Certainly in April.
It's really fun and thought-provoking to look at old images like this. I can imagine so many alternative stories that led the people to these images.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nikon Df - Amazing Exposure Recovery

Okay, so here's a jpeg of an image I shot with the Nikon Df inside a restaurant on a sunny day last weekend. This one is straight from the camera.
Jpeg, straight from the camera (underexposed)
Even though I used +1 stop compensation with aperture priority metering, clearly it wasn't enough. If I'd done it properly, I would have used spot metering, and metered from the guy's face.
Here's the amazing part. Working with the raw file from the same image in Lightroom, I was able to transform it to this:
After treatment in Lightroom
I brought the exposure up over two full stops. Usually, with other cameras, I've found that there's just not enough information in the shadows to pull this off. I think it worked exceedingly well in this case. I'm very impressed with the images that the Df can produce, even when I screw up the exposure.
Now, rest assured, I'll still try to make the very best exposure possible when I'm shooting. But, it's really nice to know just how much you can recover if things go wrong.
Impressive camera, this Nikon Df.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Japanese Maple in Autumn - Nikon Df

I'm enjoying my new Nikon Df a lot. Here's a shot of the Japanese maple outside my office.
Japanese Maple in Autumn, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.4D AF Lens
iso 100, f1.4, 1/125 sec.
The 50mm f1.4 AF-D lens is now well out of date in the Nikkor lineup. It has always drawn criticism for lack of sharpness wide open, which I suppose is true. That doesn't keep me from using and enjoying it.
That said, the new Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens is the hot thing out there these days. My friends who have them approve. Much larger than the AF-D lens, these new Sigmas really seem to deliver amazing image quality. The updated Nikkor product, the AF-S 50mm f1.4G is another option, but both the Nikkor and Sigma lack aperture rings, something I'm unhappy about. This means that I can't use them on my old Nikon film bodies, or even adapted to Micro 4/3 for that matter.
As it stands, I can carry my older AF-D lens in the bag with any of my Nikon SLR bodies, from the 1959 model F to the 2014 model Df, and it will work just fine with any of them.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Way Back Shot - Fredericksburg, VA, Winter 2010

Just thought I'd share an old shot this morning. I took this one with my Leica IIIC and Nikon 3.5cm f2.5 LTM lens. I had recently bought the camera and lens from a friend-of-a-friend, thanks to Dennis Gallus connecting us. Dennis, James McKearney, Rob Svirskas, and I drove down to Fredericksburg for a day of shooting.
This shot was made at historic Chatham Manor, overlooking the Rappahannock River.
You can see more shots made with this classic Nikon lens if you (Click Here).
I have not used this lens much, mainly because it's competition in my kit is the amazing Leica Summaron 3.5cm f3.5 LTM lens. The Leica lens is a full stop slower, but is so sharp and renders color so nicely that when I have to pick one to put in my back, it's nearly always the Summaron.
(Click Here) to read about the Summaron, which I also used as part of my Whole Lotta Leica series.
To see every lens I used in the Whole Lotta Leica series, where I matched up a wide range of older lenses with my Leica M9, (Click Here).

Friday, November 7, 2014

First Post With Nikon Df - Marine Memorial (Iwo Jima)

Well, I think I like the Nikon Df. One day out with it and I'm amazed at its capabilities. Here's my first post with it, shot at the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
Reaching for Freedom, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, 105mm f2.5 AIS Lens
iso 1100, f8, 1/250 sec.
The high iso capability of this camera is unbelievable. Normally, I would never dream of shooting at iso 1100 in broad daylight. In this case, I put the camera on Auto-ISO, set the shutter speed fast enough to ensure sharpness handholding the 105mm lens, and f-stop at 8 to get decent depth of field. The camera chose iso 1100, which in the old days would have meant a lot of digital noise. There is next to none in this picture, at least not enough to worry about, even if I were to print it large.
Great fun. I'm going to enjoy this new camera.

Light Painting in Japanese Shrine - Guest Author Allexandroff on DIY Photography Blog

Image Source:
A guest author, who goes by the name Allexandroff, has posted both the results and his process for shooting light painting shots at a famous Japanese shrine.
(Click Here) to read about it on
This makes me think about my next visit to Japan. I always enjoy visiting Japan, and have several favorite places that are a short walk from where I stay in Tokyo. However, I find that the familiarity makes it challenging to get exciting images there. Maybe next time I'll try some night shots, and maybe even some light painting. It could add a new dimension to how I think about photographing these places.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Signs of Autumn

I went out for a hike with my lovely wife, and with my Nikon FM2N and Micro-Nikkor 60mm f2.8 lens. We went to a local nature preserve, which is unfortunately only open on weekends. But, at least we could get in. In the past, it had been closed to visitors completely, due to lack of volunteers to staff it.
Autumn is fully underway here in Virginia. Here are a couple of shots I made on Walgreens 200 speed film (processed at The Darkroom) that I think signify the fall season pretty well.
Milkweed Gone to Seed, by Reed A. George
Golden Afternoon, by Reed A. George
Haven't tried The Darkroom yet? (Click Here) to give them a try. You'll be pleased with their professional and fast film processing.