Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Frog's Eye View - Reality So Subtle 6x17 Pinhole

Frog's Eye View, by Reed A. George
Reality So Subtle 6x17 Panoramic Pinhole Camera
Kodak TMax 100 Film, 30 sec. Exposure

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reality So Subtle 6x17 Pinhole at the National Arboretum

Finally finished the roll of 120 film in my Reality So Subtle pinhole camera. Who'd guess it's a challenge to finish a 4 exposure roll? But, the results are pretty cool. More coming soon.
National Arboretum Bonsai Collection, by Reed A. George
Reality So Subtle 6x17 Panoramic Pinhole Camera
Kodak TMax 100 Film

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This Photo Project Could Work Well in Any City - But Started in San Francisco (Project24)

I absolutely love and miss San Francisco. Though I've lived in many different places, and was not born there, I consider the Bay Area to be home.
Check out this cool photography project in San Francisco, "Project24."
In this project, each of 24 photographers gets an assignment consisting of two pieces of information: the hour of the day and the neighborhood they are to shoot in. That's it. They shoot with black and white film for one hour. I think this is a great idea.
(Click Here) to read more about Project24.
I want to do one in DC.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Posing - Not So Easy for Me

I've been reading and working on posing techniques recently. It's not easy for me, but I do believe I'm learning some important tools.
Christine, by Reed A. George
Leica M3, Summicron 50mm f2 v.2 Lens
Out of all of the things I've learned so far, getting the arms to be part of the composition, and not just in the way, is one of the most important.
I'm definitely continuing to learn, and with each image I make, I can find weaknesses, problems with the pose. In this one, I should have moved a little to the left, to make it where her eyes and face were as close to the camera as her shoulder. As it is, her shoulder draws too much attention.
By the way, if you're looking for a good book on the subject, check out Roberto Valenzuela's Picture Perfect Posing. I've included a link to it on Amazon below.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Three Levels of Subject in Landscapes

Foreground, Midground, Background
I've read that it can be helpful to think of landscape compositions in this way, having interest at the foreground, mid, and background. Looking back on some of my older images, I came across this one. Not a simple formula for success perhaps, but I think it worked here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

More of a Story in Wildlife - Nikon D700 and 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR Lens

I wrote recently about a personal challenge to myself, to move my wildlife photography from mere "find the animal and shoot it" to telling at least part of a story. In photography, the story doesn't have to be complete. In fact, sometimes, if the story presents more questions than answers, that can be a good thing. That's kind of the case here.
At the end of a kayaking trip, as I shoved my boat up to the shore, I saw a clump of feathers bouncing around on the bank. Not sure what I was looking at, maybe an injured bird?, I decided to look closer, and shoot. Here's what I saw.
Now, the camera saw it much more clearly than I did at the time. What you're looking at is two birds (Carolina wrens?), fighting it out. And I don't mean play fighting. These two were not only using their sharp beaks against each other, they were actually clawing at each other's eyes! As they continued, and even ended up in the water, here's how it looked.
Crazy, right? And here's the final, and crowning shot. Bird rage!
Bird Rage, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR Lens
As they finally split up and ended the fight, with one bird chasing the other off into the bushes, I just couldn't keep up with the big lens. I missed a couple of other interesting shots, but do feel that these show the event pretty well.
Does anyone know if I have the species correct, or what these vicious little birds were doing to each other?
I'm happy to have caught some very interesting behavior in this sequence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Rolleiflex Portrait - Now That's Nice Bokeh!

I really love my Rolleiflex 2.8F. I dreamed of owning this camera for a very long time. Through the generosity of my friend, Charlie, I was able to get it.
Lunchtime Portrait, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar, Kodak TMax 400 Film, at f2.8
What an amazing camera this is. Oh, and if you don't know what "bokeh" is, it's the rendering of the out of focus portions of the image. I think the Rollei bokeh is the best.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"Captured by Chance" - Inspired by the Work of Masahiko Kishino

Weekend at NYC Fish Market, by Reed A. George
Leica M8
As you may know, after many years of photography, I have yet to narrow my focus on a particular subject, style, or approach. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever grow up and narrow my definition. For now, the answer appears to be no. I love street, event, wildlife, even landscape photography. That's why I'm so impressed when someone else focuses and perfects just one thing.
That's the case with Masahiko Kishino. He shoots Leica M film cameras, PolyPan F black and white film, and that's it. He's an expert at photographing people, capturing a tiny bit of their personality without ever really getting to know anything about them. I feel that I kind of pulled that off in the image above, and would like to do more of it.
(Click Here) to read about Kishino's work on the Leica Camera Blog. Be sure to take a look at his images. The lead image, of a young lady in a coffee shop, is just astounding.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Time to Get Back Out With the Mamiya Universal

Early Spring Color, by Reed A. George
Mamiya Universal Press
I have been neglecting my Mamiya Universal. It's time to get the beast back in action.
Just to get the juices flowing, I've been looking at work others have done with the Universal. (Click Here) to see a great photo-a-day blog using the Universal.
The Universal is such a great camera. Big, heavy, far from streamlined. But, those lenses, oh, man. Yes, I have to get it out soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Some Ultrawide (12mm) Film Shots of Parkour

I recently shared a slideshow of parkour images, made with the Nikon Df. (Click Here) to see that post.
Today, I'll post some images I made at the same event, but these were all shot on the Zeiss SW film camera, with the Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 (LTM) ultra wide angle lens. These were all shot on Ilford HP5+ black and white film. I processed them myself.
I loved shooting parkour with this oddball lens. I have also done some fisheye shooting with parkour. (Click Here) to see that. In both cases, the wide angle of view is great for including a lot of the context for the sport. But, it also means that I have to get very close. So close, in fact, that there's a risk of interfering with the practitioner's concentration. That did happen once; thankfully, he thought it was funny. The last thing I want to do is interfere.
I think what I'm learning about shooting parkour is that variety is key. These wide angle shots tell a lot about the setting, but have relatively little detail of what the person is putting into the effort.
Approaching this with the standard photojournalistic search for a combination of wide, normal, and close up detail shots seems to be in order. I'm about to get a great opportunity to pull together a group of parkour practitioners, specifically to photograph them. My plan will be to get that variety, and to experiment with some ideas with flash, showing motion, etc. I've got some thinking to do.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nature Photography - It's More Than Just Finding the Animals

I've been working on my nature photography this spring, and have been enjoying my new Nikkor 200-400mm f4 VR lens in the process. While I'm now quite comfortable with the lens, and very impressed with the image quality it produces, I haven't really nailed any nature shots that make me super proud yet.

Here's an example of what the lens can do:
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AFS VR Lens

This is a perfectly acceptable photo of a bald eagle, in a technical sense, but it sure doesn't tell much of a story. Really, I just found the animal, and got a decent shot of him. Then it was over.
Here's a shot below that I made some time back, of a much less exotic animal, with less exotic optics, but with more of a story. I love how the toad's singing, exhibited by the extended throat, and more importantly, by the standing waves in the water surrounding it, tell you more than "This is a toad." I aspire to finding more stories like this.
Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus), by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, 14-140mm Zoom Lens

The reason I'm thinking about this is that I read an interesting story about Frans Lanting, famed National Geographic nature photographer, on the Smithsonian website. (Click Here) to read that post. Lanting is a very interesting person, and the TED talk video embedded in the story tells a lot about how he feels about his work.
I've seen a lot of his night photography, where he sets up remote camera traps for elusive species. I see these as mainly challenges to find the animal and document it. However, he has other images, some of which he describes in the blog piece, that really tell much bigger stories. Read about the hunters reflected in the zebra's eye, and the African bullfrog, with approaching clouds above. Interesting stuff.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Fire! At the Leesburg Car Show

Yesterday, I posted some images I took after dark at the car show in Leesburg, Virginia. Just as we were leaving, one of the business buildings in town caught fire. More emergency vehicles than I knew existed in the area converged for the fun. Here are some images I made of the event, using my Nikon Df and Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS lens.
This is my favorite shot of the event. I love how sharp the firefighter's face is, the police car and fire truck in the foreground, and the burning building and ladder crew in the background. This one deserves a nice print.
Here are some other images I made in the few minutes we hung around.
My understanding is that luckily no one was injured in this fire. I feel fortunate to have had the Df and f1.2 lens with me; there wasn't much light to work with. I hope these images tell the story well!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to Take a Unique Car Show Image? Go at Night!

My friends Dennis Gallus, James McKearney, and I have been frequenting a couple of annual car shows for a few years now. This year, with Dennis moved off to Arizona and James spending more time in Boston, I didn't even know when the Leesburg car show was scheduled. It just so happened that I took my daughter into town to enjoy the evening air and came upon it, just after dark.
These are some of the most memorable shots I've ever made there, and it's in large part due to the darkness.
Night at the Carshow, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
Later on in the evening, we got a surprise, which I'll cover in a future post.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Kids at the Manassas Train Festival - Leica IIIG, Summitar 5cm f2 Uncoated Lens

Last weekend, some friends and I attended a train event in Old Town Manassas, Virginia. I focused on photographing kids at the miniature train displays with my Leica IIIG and wartime Summitar 5cm f2 collapsible lens. All of these were shot on Agfa APX400 film, exposed at iso 200 level.
It's great to see these modern kids so deeply interested in trains and mechanical things.
Speaking of mechanical things, shooting with the IIIG was a pleasant challenge. Focusing quickly is not the forte' of Barnack cameras, especially in shade, but I did pretty well overall. My Agfa APX400 did pretty well here, as well, if a bit on the low contrast side. All in all, a very enjoyable photographic experience.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dancer - Leica IIIG and Uncoated Summitar 5cm f2

Dancer, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, Summitar 5cm f2 Collapsible Lens
Agfa APX400 Film @ iso200
I think I have figured out this film. I actually like the grain it produces. Shooting it at iso 200 and developing for 10 minutes in undiluted D-76 does the job.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Discontinued Agfa APX400 Film - Testing and Tuning Up

My friend Dennis Gallus gave me a 100' roll of Agfa APX400 that he had in his freezer. I shot my first roll of it at the indicated speed of 400, and processed it alongside a roll of Ilford HP5, which I developed for 11.5 minutes in Kodak D-76 developer at 1:1 dilution. Those negatives came out pretty thin overall and very low contrast (underexposed and/or underdeveloped). After reading some old posts online, I learned that APX400 was known to need additional exposure, with some people treating it as iso 320 film, others at iso 200. I also found development guidelines that indicated it needed more development.
So, a test roll ensued. I shot a short roll of the film, capturing the same scene exposed for iso 100, 200, and 400. I also changed my development protocol to 10 minutes in full strength D-76. Here are a couple of the results.
Scenes exposed at iso 400, 200, and 100, APX400 Film
From this, I conclude two things - 1) additional development in full-strength D-76 definitely helped, and 2) somewhere between iso 200 and 320 is probably best for this film.
On the same day, I guessed and exposed a full 36 exposure roll at iso 200. It looks pretty good overall. I think I've figured out this film. Not that this information is much use to anyone else; as far as I know you can't get this film any more, though I do see single rolls for sale in some places. But, 100' of it will keep me busy for a while!
Thanks again, Dennis!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Evening Games - Zeiss SW, Biogon 25mm f2.8

In order to test out a new film, Agfa APX400, that my friend Dennis Gallus gave me, I wandered into this place in Leesburg, Virginia one night last week. The place is called Shoes.
Literally located in an old shoe repair store, Shoes is now a coffee shop and restaurant. In the summer months, they open their outdoor dining area, complete with a bocce ball court. These nice people put up with me photographing their game as the sun went down.
This last one shows the emotion of that winning moment. That's about as exciting as bocce ball gets!
Shooting this roll at the box-indicated speed of iso 400, I found this roll to be mostly underexposed. I had to bring all of these shots up quite a bit, which emphasizes the grain. Now I'm not against grain, mind you. In fact, I kind of like the look.
I've now shot a test roll, exposing the film at 100, 200, and 400. We'll see if I can find the right exposure and developing times for this particular film. After all, I have 100' of it to shoot!
The beautiful Zeiss Biogon 25mm lens is a perfect mate for the slightly oddball Zeiss SW camera, a 35mm body with built-in meter, but no rangefinder. The SW is designed for use with wide lenses, where focusing is not critical because of huge depth of field. (Click Here) for an article about the SW on Shutterbug's website.
You can either just guess the distance to your subject and set your lens focus based on the markings on the lens body, or you can use an auxiliary rangefinder. I guessed. I think the 25mm is about the longest lens I could reliably use in this way, but could do okay with a 35mm in a pinch. It gets much easier when I mount up the Voigtlander 12mm f5.6. That lens has pretty much unlimited depth of field. You can set the focus once and shoot all day.