Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Preparing for a Month-Long Show at King Street Coffee in Leesburg, VA

Train Station, Harpers Ferry, WV, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, Leica Summaron 3.5cm f3.5 lens (ca. 1937)
Exposure unrecorded
I am busy preparing for a gallery showing of my work at King Street Coffee in Leesburg, Virginia.
(Click Here) to go to the King Street Coffee website. They host monthly gallery showings by local artists. I'm very happy to be given the opportunity to show my work there in the month of November.
My theme is going to be all pictures taken within an hour or so of Leesburg.
(Click Here) to see the images on my site,
My goal is to show some images from the area that might not be apparent to newcomers, and may entice people to get out and explore a little. The images were shot with a variety of equipment, and collected over several years' time.
I am limited by wall space in the coffee shop to ~8-10 images. I've got them selected now, and will set up my home framing operation today.
King Street Coffee will be hosting a gallery opening for me at Leesburg's "First Friday" event on November 2, from 6-9PM. Come by, have a cup of coffee, and chat photography with me!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nadav Kander, Guest Photographer on Tim Ashley Photography, Documents the Changing Yangtze River

I like to include at least one image with every post. Since my subject for today is from a site that doesn't allow sharing of images, and for good reason (proceeds of use fees go to a non-profit organization serving challenged individuals and communities), I decided to include one of my own.
Potomac River, Modified by Man, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex T Twin Lens Reflex
This shot was from one of my first semi-cohesive projects, about the C&O Canal. The project went no where, but I'm sure I learned a few things from it.
Anyway, my subject today is a series of photographs by Nadav Kander, posted on Tim Ashley's photography site. Nadav photographed the Yangtze River in China, from it's urban terminus in Shanghai to it's source far inland. It is a sublime series of photographs.
(Click Here) to see Nadav's photographs on Tim Ashley's site.
The Yangtze's banks, according to the text, are home to 18% of the world's population. I guess it all comes down to how far from the river you include in that calculation, but in any case, it's an amazingly large number of people. The river has succumbed to the wants and needs of man in many ways, including pollution, bridges, and dams. Mr. Kander's photographs show this, with relatively bleak colors and amazing contrasts in scale of subjects, many times with enormous structures overshadowing human figures. However, the images also show people improvising and adapting to their new world. My favorite image shows people sitting at a large round table under a giant highway overpass. It is entitled "Chongqing IV (Sunday Picnic), Chongqing Municipality."
Nadav shot all of the images on 4x5 film, which lends a nice uniformity to the style.
Even though it was not his objective at the outset, Nadav has produced an important visual narrative on the state of our world, yet without bitterness or despair. In fact, I find the people interacting with the new river encouraging, even though it's true that whole villages of peoples' homes have been lost to the "progress."
I need to re-commit myself to photo projects.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kirk Tuck Shows How Much Can Be Said Without Words

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Kirk Tuck posted the image above, and the idea of making up and using a story when photographing people.
(Click Here) to read the post and see the rest of the pictures on Kirk's site,
I love this idea. I could tell from the first glance at the shot above what the story was. Could you?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Panasonic Hands the DMC-GH3 to Pros To Generate Sample Images and Videos

Panasonic DMC-GH3
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The newly-announced Lumix DMC-GH3 takes its place as the flagship camera in the Panasonic line. The new body design is weatherproof, and larger than previous Lumix Micro 4/3 bodies. While larger than say the G3, it is still more compact than DSLRs, and approximately half the weight. In addition, the smaller lenses will still make a GH3 kit significantly smaller and lighter than an equivalent DSLR kit.
The most important room for improvement in Micro 4/3 is low noise, high iso performance. Since I shoot a lot of low light situations, especially in my live music project, this is where I'd love to see more progress. However, I want to start by saying that last year's state-of-the-art isn't bad. Here's an example of a shot I took recently with the DMC-G3 at iso 3200, in a very dimly lit venue.
Greg Ruby, by Reed A. George
Greg Ruby, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Olympus 75mm f1.8 Lens
iso 3200, f1.8, 1/100 sec
In the shot above, I was forced to shoot at iso 3200, even with the fast f1.8 Olympus lens. At 1/100 second exposure, I'm pushing the fastest shutter speed that can be shot with the camera handheld (carefully) with this lens. Since the 75mm has an equivalent field of view as a 150mm lens on 35mm format, ~1/150 second is the slowest speed that can reliably be handheld.
The new DMC-GH3 reportedly significantly improves high iso performance, with regular iso settings up to 12,800 and extended 25,600 capability. The question is - what do the images look like at these settings?
Panasonic handed the GH3 to six imaging professionals to generate samples. Bruce Logan, Philip Bloom, and Elliot Rosenblatt worked on video, while Ira Block, Daniel Berehulak, and Kazuo Unno focused on still images.
(Click Here) to see the results on Panasonic's special GH3 site.
Ira Block shares a variety of images from the American West, including a very nice night landscape, shot at iso 2500 and a shutter opening of 30 seconds! Quite nice.
Daniel Berehulak documented Muslim life in India. He includes a couple of shots at iso 1250 that are very low in apparent noise.
Kazuo Unno focused his (macro) lens on the insect world.
I still look forward to seeing some images shot at iso 3200 and higher. I sure would love to have a Lumix camera that could come close to matching the high iso performance of my full-frame Nikon D700!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Shot That I Happen To Like - Portrait Without Catch-Lighted Eyes

Dwayne Brooke, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Olympus 75mm f1.8 Lens
iso 3200, f1.8, 1/60 sec
I shot an amazing musical performance of the "Greg Ruby Quartet" in Strasburg, Virginia, on October 13. This group of musicians (Greg Ruby, Dwayne Brooke, Nate Leath, Donovan Stokes, and occasional accompanist Jared Pool) is just first rate. I'll be posting a full report sometime soon.
But that's not the point. The point is the image above. Shot from quite close up with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens, which is an amazingly good lens, this is anything but your conventional shot of a performer. Tightly cropped, with Dwayne's face anchoring one corner, the neck of his guitar and the shadow underneath providing a major dark space and shape, you can even really see Dwayne's eyes. Even so, this picture feels like Dwayne to me. Sublimely accomplished at the guitar, creative as can be.
In addition to cropping this tightly (maybe it could even use a little more cropping in the upper right corner?) and converting to black and white, I added some grain effect, which makes the noise of the small Lumix sensor at iso3200 look more like film.
I like where my photography is taking me, style-wise.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Live Music Coverage - Justin Jones, Luke Brindley, and Bobby Thompson at Franklin Park Arts Center, Purcellville, VA

Bobby Thompson, Working Over the Gibson SG, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700
I recently got the chance to cover another local live music event for my favorite live music blog, Cosmic Vibes Live. This one was a set of three DC area-based acts - Luke Brindley, The Bobby Thompson Project, and the headliner, Justin Jones. By the way, if you haven't heard Justin's newest album "Fading Light," do yourself the favor. It's available on iTunes.
(Click Here) to read my report on Cosmic Vibes Live.
Justin Jones, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700
I knew this show would have relatively low light levels, so I decided to shoot exclusively with my Nikon D700. In terms of lenses, I brought along my Nikkor 50mm f1.4, Nikkor 85mm f1.8, and newly-purchased (used) Nikkor 180mm f2.8 AF (non-D).
Since I also knew that through the gracious reception by producers Bill and Cheryl Bunce, I would get to go backstage at will, I also took my Nikkor 20mm f2.8 AF-D wide angle.
I'm still getting comfortable shooting backstage, which is a different experience with each and every band. These guys were all very welcoming, and had plenty of fun backstage.
Luke Brindley Warms Up Backstage, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700
Backstage Fun, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700

I'm loving the experience of shooting and writing for Cosmic Vibes. Be sure to check them out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Here's A Book For Me - and Maybe For You? And, My Decision To Try A Zeiss Sonnar ZM

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Digital Photography Now ( has announced this new book by NK Guy, written with the purpose of helping real photographers (not optics designers or lens testers) understand the terms, charts, and subtle aberrations we're deluged with when we study a new lens.
(Click Here) to see the announcement on dpnow.
I'll be buying this book for sure. If you decide to, please buy it through my link to Amazon below. My sales have been zero for mulitiple months now, so help me out as you help yourself out. Not that it really matters; this blog is my hobby. But, any little commission does help to fund my daily coffee...
I'm interested in this book because, even though I'm an engineer, the technical criticisms that I read about lenses are difficult to understand, weigh, and consider when deciding whether or not to try a new lens.
I'm working on a case in point at the moment. I have traded my used Leica M8 for a used Zeiss ZM Special Edition camera body (no questions there) and Zeiss 50mm Sonnar f1.5 lens. This lens is so highly maligned by the technical folks that if I listened to that bunch, I'd never consider it. The big issue seems to be a focus shift at wide apertures. What this means is that on a rangefinder camera, if you shoot at f1.5 (or maybe f2), the focus point of the lens will be shifted a few inches in front of where your rangefinder tells you to focus. This is a very real effect, and can be troublesome if you're shooting a portrait, and want the focus point to be exactly on the subject's eyes. I know the effect is real, because I've experienced it with my own lenses on the Leica M9. It varies by lens design. My Leica Summicron 50mm f2 is probably the best (smallest shift), and my 1955 Summarit 5 cm f1.5 is the worst. My most valuable Leica lens, the pre-aspheric 35mm f1.4 Summilux, shows the effect clearly at f1.4.
It's really easy to get hung up on these things. However, both of my lenses that exhibit focus shift are personal favorites. Until now, I have always thought that they were just a little "soft" at wide apertures. Now I think it's mostly focus shift. Both of them are masters of the "Leica glow," another highly debated lens characteristic.
Anyway, the newer Zeiss Sonnar is a modern version of an earlier lens design, with known technical peculiarities. Zeiss knows this, of course. In fact, a piece on Luminous Landscape includes a written message from Zeiss at the bottom of the page explaining it. It also explains that this is an artist's lens, not a lens tester's lens.
(Click Here) to read about the Sonnar on Luminous Landscape.
When I think about it, some of my older, less technical lenses are my favorites. Maybe it's my own age creeping in?
In any case, the Sonnar is on its way, and I'll report on whether I'm more artist or engineer in the end :).
Also, I'll let you know how I like this book. Or, you can order it for yourself through the link below (please).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New York City - So Many Opportunities

Harlem Morning, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-4 Lens at 26mm
iso 400, f8, 1/350 sec

Catch, Harlem, NYC, USA, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-4 Lens at 24mm
iso 400, f8, 1/350 sec
My family and I went to New York City last weekend. I am in love with the place, photographically at least. Who wouldn't be? I find that I can go out any time of day or night and find interesting people and places to photograph. If you can't make a good photo in New York, it's probably you, not your surroundings.
with Digital Photo Academy.
The two shots above were taken almost a year ago, on a photo tour I took with Digital Photo Academy, led by Marla Mossman.
(Click Here) to check out DPA - they offer reasonably priced photo outings in many cities. I usually go on the "Composition in the Field" sessions.
Forum member "digitalandfilm" on posted a series of pictures
taken in Spanish Harlem, with an Olympus OM-D.
(Click Here) to read digitalandfilm's post on
On this trip, I met up with Marla again, and had another great outing. Here's a sample from that photo tour:
Outside the New York Public Library, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, 50mm Summicron f2
iso 400, f8, 1/125 sec


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Challenges of Film, Or Where Is the ISO Button On This Old Camera?

Pumpkins of Concord, MA, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, Leica 3.5cm f3.5 Summaron Lens
Exposure Unrecorded
Mike Johnston of the Online Photographer has written about the most important challenge that he finds in shooting film - fixed, relatively low iso.
(Click Here) to read Mike's entry on the Online Photographer.
It is true - having the extra control of being able to adjust iso on the fly with digital cameras is a big plus. Especially when you can crank it up to iso 3200 or higher, and effectively shoot in the dark without a flash. Then, you can walk outside in midday sun, bring it down to iso 200 or lower, and go on your merry way. With film, you're effectively limited to iso 100 (okay, maybe 50) to iso 400 (or, in special cases, with quality tradeoffs, to 800 or even 3200). But, and this is key, you have to finish a roll of film before you can change to a different iso.
One response to Mike's piece made me think. Del Kimbler wrote:

"One of the things I liked about sheet film in my Century Graphic was that I could select by ASA one or two shots at a time...."

I never really thought of it before, but it's true. With a sheet film camera, each shot is independent, and you can carry a wide range of iso films loaded into single shot holders.
I also think about the fact that people, me included, have narrowed the range of application of film cameras to those that are easy with limited iso range. For example, I honestly can't remember the last time I used a flash on a film camera. I think it was perhaps New Year's Eve, 1999. There are two reasons for this. First, if I'm going somewhere dark enough to warrant carrying a flash, I'm not likely to take a film camera. Second, if I do need to use flash, digital allows me to tune in the amount of flash for the effect I want to achieve. That's much less risky than waiting to see "how they turned out" when my film is processed.
So maybe that's a new challenge for me - to shoot film in some situations that push the limits. Live with the use of very fast lenses and potential underexposure and blur. Try to use flash in a calculated way, rather than empirical (trial and error). Hmm. I'll have to think about that one. It does fit my current thought that in some cases, I'm willing to miss some of the shots for the chance of getting a really spectacular few.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wanna Turn Your Nice Micro 4/3 Camera Into A Holga? Olympus Body Cap 15mm Lens.

Olympus 15mm f8 "Body Cap" Lens
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Well, not quite a Holga. This little lens has a focus knob. But, if you push that to infinity, set your iso to 400, and shutter speed to 1/100 second, you've got yourself a "no-touch" craptastic camera, just like the Holga.
If you're not familiar with the Holga cheap plastic camera movement, (Click Here) to see the Lomography site.
That's right. This tiny little fix f8 (very slow, needs a lot of light) lens fits onto your Micro 4/3 body and can serve as both a body cap, and a rather constrained lens.
I found a nice post on Pekka Potka's blog about using the lens on walks with his dog. Pekka indicates all of the limitations of the lens, but still decides to have some fun with it.
(Click Here) to read Pekka's blog entry about this lens and see plenty of example images.
For me? Certainly not. But, at least Olympus is keeping it interesting.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rethinking My Leica M8

Well, my Leica M8 has been up for sale for a couple of weeks now, and to no avail. It's amazing that I can't sell such a nice camera, complete with one year warranty from Leica. So, I'm rethinking the idea of keeping it as a companion to my M9.
I am on the bus as I write this, coming home from a weekend in New York City, where I got to shoot the M9 quite a bit. Here's an example of a street shot I got with the M9 and 50mm Summicron f2:
Koreatown, New York City, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summicron 50mm f2
iso 400, f8, 1/125 sec
So, I'm very pleased with what the M9 has to offer, more than I was with the M8. However, the M8 has some quite nice qualities. One is that it works so well with one of my favorite lenses, the Rokkor 40mm f2 that originally came with the Leica/Minolta CL and CLE cameras. The 40mm has an equivalent field of view of about 52mm (on full-frame) on the M8. The M8 also works very nicely with the Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8, which gives an equivalent field of view to a 34mm lens on full-frame cameras.
DC Noodle Shop, by Reed A. George
Leica M8, Zeiss Biogon ZM 25mm f2.8
iso 640, f11, 1/500 sec
I recently read an old post on Steve Huff's blog about revisiting the M8. Steve did it out of necessity, after having to sell his M9. The comments from readers were very supportive, and showed that many people are still using the M8 quite happily, with comments as recent as August of this year.
(Click Here) to read the M8 Revisited post on Steve Huff's site.
I also read an interesting article in the August 2010 edition of the Leica Forum International (LFI) magazine, about actual benefits to using the M8's sensor for black and white photography. Basically, the article makes the point that the lack of heavy filtering (or even sufficient filtering for color photography) in the M8 allows for more flexibility in post-processing images in black and white.
So, maybe the M8 will remain with me. I can imagine it making a good backup to the M9, especially for black and white. And, the crop factor will allow me to use my 90mm Elmarit f2.8 lens as a 120mm telephoto. I do like a little longer telephoto for portraits, for example.
One other thing - since my M8 is now serviced and warrantied by Leica for another year, I am less concerned about treating it overly gently. In fact, there are places that I feel worried about carrying the M9, especially when I'm concerned about the possibility of theft. I sure wouldn't want my M8 stolen or damaged, but it would be better than breaking or losing my M9.
In truth, I'd like for the M8 to sell, to free up some funds. But, it's just too nice of a camera to sell for a bargain basement price. I'd much rather keep it and use it. We'll see what happens in the next week or so. If it doesn't sell, that's just what I'll do.
UPDATE: I have traded my M8 for a Limited Edition Zeiss ZM body and Sonnar 50mm f1.5 lens. I figure that the film body and M-mount lens will hold value as well as the M8 (which wasn't very good in that respect alone). I'll give it a try, and decide whether to keep it. The Sonnar is loved and hated by many great photographers. More on that later.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gandhi and Henri Cartier-Bresson - In Gandhi's Final Hour

The Photography Daily THEME announces an exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, remembering two giants of cultural life - Mahatma Gandhi and Henri Cartier-Bresson (HCB).
Mahatma Gandhi, by Henri Cartier Bresson, Magnum Photos
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It turns out that HCB was the last to photograph Gandhi, meeting with him one hour before he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic. What a terrible shame.
(Click Here) to read the whole story on THEME.
I am so used to seeing HCB's street photography that I wonder what it was like to experience him on an assignment to photograph a single person. I have seen some of his portrait work, like that above, and it certainly shows his mastery of the photographic media. But, I think of him as the "capture the moment" guy, rather than covering a single personality on assignment.
HCB stayed on in India after the assassination, covering the public's response to the event.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Todd Owyoung On Backlighting Musicians

Todd Owyoung runs a really nice blog on concert photography. While Todd shoots more heavy metal and hard rock bands, as opposed to my interest in bluegrass and jam, his examples are inspirational. I'm going to shoot a local show tonight, which will include the opportunity to meet and greet the band members at a reception, and go backstage. So, I was perusing Todd's sight for some lighting tips.
(Click Here) to see a very nice post on Todd's site ( regarding backlighting.
I have been working on photographing local musicians and shows for quite a while now. I feel that I've made real progress in a few areas. First, I've gotten more comfortable interacting with the musicians. I've also improved my compositional skills, and the technical details of shooting a brightly lit stage in a dark room, or a dimly lit show under a canopy at a farmer's market. Hey, it's not all glitz and bright lights, you know. I have also improved my ability to capture those micro moments of emotion that show who the band members are.
However, when I quickly scan through my music images, one thing is clearly missing - dramatic light. There are a few venues (including the one I'm going to tonight, Franklin Park in Purcellville, VA) that offer great stage lighting. Most others around here don't. And beyond that, how am I using light in the off-stage work? I'm using "available light," which is "any damn light that's available" in a quote attributed to the master photographer W. Eugene Smith. I'm not using every lever I have to adjust and improve the quality of my shots.
I use flash reasonably often when shooting stage acts. I rarely use it when the band is off-stage. It just seems so intrusive. I need to get over that. I'm already intruding, either peeking around a corner with my lens, or asking them to stand a little closer. So, a flash or two won't hurt anything.
In his article, Todd states that carrying two speedlights (hotshoe-based strobes) is plenty for great opportunities to backlight and frontlight a band or musician. I had one Nikon SB800 already in my bag for tonight. Guess what else is going in? A second flash.
Todd also talks about how some venues backlight the performers on the stage, which we can use. Again, looking through my images, dramatic lighting is not what catches your eye. Here's one example of a nice side light on Tmony Griffin of Jake and the Burtones.
Tmony Griffin, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Voigtlander 75mm f2.5
iso 6400, f-stop unrecorded, 1/100 sec
I'm sure that the strong side lighting caught my eye when I took this image. But, not consciously. I need to keep directional lighting more in mind as I compose my images. And, I need to control and add to it where possible.
I think I'd better pick up some AA batteries this afternoon...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

And Now From The Darkside - Autumn Is For Death

On the same walk that I posted all the warmth and beauty of autumn from yesterday, I also found this:
Death in the Forest, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 Lens (ca. 1953)
iso 200, f2.8, 1/250 sec
Autumn is the time for dying. Many animals and plants end their life cycle as the leaves turn color and fall to the ground.
I have no idea what this young buck died from. But, looking up, I see what may well have been his last sight of life...
Final Vision, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 Lens (ca. 1953)
iso 200, f2.6, 1/200 sec
See what I mean about that old Summarit drawing some interesting forms in black and white? You can see the sharpness of the skull in the first image, and how quickly that sharpness transitions into whorly out of focus regions. What a cool old lens.
Tomorrow I promise to get off the death theme, really.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Practicing What I Preach - A Walk In The Autumn Rain - The Warm Side

I'm always writing that photographers should not let inclement weather keep them inside. Today I decided to practice what I preach. So, I grabbed the Leica M9, mounted the first Leica lens I ever owned (a 1953 Summarit 50mm f1.5) and headed out right after a major rain. I saw the light turning nice, and went for it. Turned out, the rain didn't come back until after I was finished. I was rewarded with these images.
First Reds of the Season, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens
iso 200, f6.7, 1/60 sec
Nature's Rituals, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens
iso 200, f1.5, 1/180 sec
Sun Shines Through, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens
iso 200, f2.8, 1/1000 sec
Water Drops on Reeds, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens
iso 200, f2.8, 1/4000 sec
End of Days, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens
iso 200, f11, 1/250 sec
Transition, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens
iso 200, f2.8, 1/2000 sec
I don't use this old lens much any more. It has a little haze, but not too bad. It gives a crazy out of focus accent, known as "bokeh" in photographic circles. It's pretty darned sharp, but the focus point moves forward at wide apertures. It's truly an artistic lens, not a technical one. But, I love the results.
The Summarit also draws very nicely in black and white. In my next post, I'll include a couple of monochrome shots taken on the same day. Get ready for a little creepy autumn darkness after all the warmth and color of this one...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shooting in Bad Weather

It's that time of year, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere - yes, here in Northern Virginia, along with the welcome cooler temperatures, gorgeous changing leaves, and approach of winter, we get a fair amount of rain. I try my best not to let it keep me indoors, or away from shooting.
I recently read an article on shooting in inclement weather on the Photo Blog ePHOTOzine.
(Click Here) to read the full article.
Here are some points that author John Gravett makes about shooting in the rain:
  1. Wear protective gear for yourself - a good rain jacket, waterproof pants, maybe gloves. John doesn't wear gloves, but suggests neoprene fishmerman's gloves, if you need them.
  2. Carry a waterproof camera bag. Many of the LowePro bags come with a handy integrated rain cover, for example. You can also always use a plastic bag, but it doesn't look as cool.
  3. Protect your camera when it's out of the bag. John makes the point that some gear (he mentions Nikon) is very water resistant. I use the Shutter Hat (below) for my Nikon or Micro 4/3 kits when it's really raining. I use a hotel room hair cover (the ones that you get free in the hotel room bathroom) for smaller cameras. I also use a DiCaPac cover for my Lumix DMC-LX5, which makes it completely waterproof.
Shutter Hat Camera Protector
Image Source:
In terms of the photography itself, John likes to work with telephoto lenses to compress the perspective, and often uses water to provide a flow to the composition.
Rain on Branches, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Lumix 45-200mm Zoom Lens
iso 800, f5.6, 1/125 sec
John also suggests trying black and white in the rain.I find that black and white, with a yellow or red filter to make the sky contrast more dramatic, can really work well.
Here's a shot I took in the pouring rain, using my DMC-LX5 in the DiCaPac cover.
Chesapeake On A Rainy Day, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
iso 80, f2.8, 1/320 sec
If I were to try that again today, I would certainly do it with my waterproof Lumix DMC-TS3. It's so much easier to use than operating camera controls through a waterproof cover. And there was enough light on this day that the TS3 would have done fine. The TS3 doesn't shoot raw, and doesn't have near the low light and lower noise capability of the LX5. But, in this case, convenience would have been very nice.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Using Micro 4/3 for Concert Photos

Monograma, by Gary Ayala on
Image Source:
Gary Ayala has shared a series of images from the Brea Jazz Festival, all shot with an Olympus OM-D. He used both Lumix 100-300 4-5.6 zoom (as in the shot above) and the Olympus 75mm f1.8 prime lenses.
(Click Here) to see Gary's post on There are more pictures there.
I have been using my Panasonic Lumix G3s for live music events for quite some time. Most opt for DSLRs, for the larger sensor and lower noise performance. Overall, I'm quite pleased with the G3, even at high iso settings.
Here are a couple of my own results. The first is with the 100-300mm zoom:
Storyteller Tim O'Brien, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 at 100mm
iso 1600, f4, 1/100 sec
And here's one with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 that I just got. This is the first and only show I've shot with it so far.
Acoustic Burgoo at Watermelon Park Festival 2012, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Olympus 75mm f1.8
iso 800, f2.8, 1/100 sec
I'm very happy with the Olympus lens so far. But, as I mentioned, I've got a lot more testing to do with it. It is a gorgeous lens, and sharp as a tack.
I need to learn how fast I need the shutter to be to handhold it steadily, since it does not have stabilization (that's built into the body with Olympus, so the lenses don't have it). The rule of thumb is to keep your shutter speed faster than 1/ the focal length (equivalent at full frame 35mm). So, in this case, since 75mm on the Micro 4/3 sensor has the same field of view as a 150mm on the full frame sensors, I should keep it faster than 1/150 sec. The shot above is at a slightly slower shutter speed, so I got lucky. That wasn't always the case. I would have been better off increasing the iso to 1600, and getting a 1/200 shutter speed. I didn't want to open the aperture wider, since I wanted all of the band members to be reasonably within the depth of field. In terms of focus and depth of field, I achieved my goal - central focus on Melissa, the singer, and the rest of the band in adequate focus.
Lots of fun to be had with the new Micro 4/3 products - that's for sure!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leica M9 Goes to the Circus

Big Apple Circus, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso 640, f2, 1/90 sec
My family, a friend, and I went to the Big Apple Circus. I always enjoy photographing there because the lighting is dramatic, the action and subject matter always interesting. Usually, I bring a fast(ish) telephoto, like my Nikon 300mm f4. This time, I decided to bring only my Leica M9 and a single lens, the Canon 50mm f1.4 (a Leica thread mount lens, also known as the "Japanese Summilux").
I found that I was able to shoot at wide apertures at iso 640 or 1250, with reasonably fast shutter speeds (1/90 or faster).
Enter the Contortionist, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso1250, f2.8, 1/350 sec
The pictures I brought home are very different from what I usually get. Wider angle, of course. But also, a little wider in sharing the context of the event. I even took the opportunity to walk a little during the intermission, which yielded the following shot:
Glowing, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso 1250, f1.4, 1/60 sec

This shot was taken in deep darkness. Amazing what f1.4 can do.

I was a little concerned about how the noise would creep in at iso 1250 on the M9. I must say I'm very pleased. Even in a shot like the one above, with lots of black space around the subjects, I don't find the noise objectionable. Lightroom's exposure adjustments (namely, making the blacks even blacker) and noise reduction work beautifully with the M9's files.

And here is my favorite shot from the event:
The Moment, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso 1250, f2, 1/125 sec

This one's worth looking at full-size, to see the details.

With my normal gear, I may have captured one or two of the horses in great detail. This image shows how the performer is conducting the full coordinated motion of the magnificent animals. That would have been missed. I also felt it when I captured the exact moment that shows their strength, concentration, and timing. This is why I love shooting rangefinders. The constraints force me to make better images than complete flexibility in focal lengths allows. I know, that sounds strange. But, I would certainly have elected to go for details in this scene if I'd had a telephoto lens with me.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Wish I Could See This Gallery Showing In Person - Gordon Parks, 100 Years Since His Birth

Gordon Parks (1912-2006) is perhaps the most famous African American photographer in history.
I can remember marvelling at some of his work in one of my first photography books, The Joy of Photography I think it was, when I was about twelve years old. Mr. Parks photographed a wide variety of subjects, including segregation of races in the United States. He also did some spectacular coverage of bullfighting, including gorgeous treatment of motion through blur in his photographs. That early exposure has stuck with me throughout my photographic life.
(Click Here) to read a brief biography of Gordon Parks on the American Photography Archives Group (APAG) website.
There is a gallery showing at Howard Greenberg Studios in New York to celebrate Mr. Parks' centennial. I am going to New York soon, but will be there on Sunday and Monday, the two days that the studio is not open. Bummer.
(Click Here) to read more about the gallery event.
In order to respect copyrights, I am not including any of Gordon's work in this post. If you love photography, you owe it to yourself to see it. A simple google image search will yield plenty to look at.
While I hesitate to do this, because my work isn't worthy, I'm going to include a shot of my own, inspired by Mr. Parks' treatment of the bullfights.
Calf Roping, by Reed A. George
Nikon D200, Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 at 200mm
iso100, f20, 1/20 sec
I didn't think consciously about Gordon Park while making this photograph at a local rodeo a few years back, but I can see the inspiration for it now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Awesome Bird Shots With Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5, Lumix 100-300 f4-5.6, and a Telescope

By FernandoBatista on
Shot with DMC-G5 and Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6
Image Source:
FernandoBatista on has posted several amazingly sharp bird photos, all shot with the new Lumix DMC-G5. Some were shot with the Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6, others with an apochromatic telescope adapted to the Lumix body.
(Click Here) to see them all.
I have really gotten some nice images with the 100-300mm Lumix lens. Sitting birds are one thing. Shooting them in flight, which really helps to make them look less like stuffed taxidermy models, is much harder. The Lumix lens' fast autofocus is pretty good, but it's definitely still not a high hit-rate endeavor.
Red-Wing Blackbird, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 at 275mm
iso400, f5.6, 1/80sec
This is about the best I've done on birds in flight with the Lumix 100-300:
Osprey in Flight, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 at 177mm
iso400, f8, 1/1250sec

I've actually done much better with a manual focus Nikkor 500mm f4 than with any autofocus lens. That said, I've spent a lot more time perfecting my technique with that lens, and matched with the superb Nikon D700 full-frame sensor, it's not really a fair comparison:

Ospreys in Flight, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor Ais 500mm f4 (manual focus)
iso500, f5.6, 1/1500 sec

I have this one enlarged to 12x18 on my wall, and the sharpness is remarkable. It's easy to tell these guys aren't stuffed!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fujifilm XE-1 and Leica Lens - And An Unbelievable Flare Up Over A Simple Blogger's Mistake

Shot with Fujifilm XE-1 and Leica 90mm Summicron f2
Image Source:
Brandon Remier has posted a large series of images he took with the new Fujifilm XE-1 and an adapted Leica Summicron 90mm f2 lens. Brandon fully discloses that he's a Fujifilm employee, but that his blog is his own.
(Click Here) to go to Brandon's blog.
I am very impressed with Brandon's ability to focus a telephoto lens manually without an eye-level finder. I can't imagine trying to do this from an LCD display. Clearly, he pulled it off. The images are quite nice.
Brandon made the mistake of using the word "peaking" in his post. Comments sprang up in large numbers attacking Brandon's knowledge, Fujifilm's employees' understanding of the market, etc., as there is no "focus peaking" on the XE-1. Focus peaking refers to a function on Sony and maybe other cameras, where the in-focus areas of an image are highlighted by the camera. Wow. One wrong word, and all the critics came out, including "Anonymous" who had to apologize multiple times for commenting while drunk. I'm not kidding.
Anyway - two points here: 1) the XE-1 looks great and can function with manual focus lenses without an eye-level finders, and 2) blogger beware - it's a rough world out there!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Brand New Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex (TLR)? Apparently So!

Newly Announced Rolleiflex FX
Image Source:
Oh my goodness. I have always loved the Rollei TLR cameras. I own a Rolleiflex T with a wonderfully sharp Tessar f3.5 lens. It's clear to me why the Tessar was called the "Eagle Eye." I have always wanted a Planar f2.8 version, but haven't run across the right one at the right time.
According to reports online, Rollei has announced a brand new Rolleiflex FX with Rollei S-Apogon 80mm f2.8 lens. That's right, a new medium format film camera.
The price for the new FX will likely be exorbitant. And, Rolleis have a well-deserved reputation for lasting forever. I believe that my T will work forever, now that it's been given the once-over by Rollei wonder mechanic Harry Fleenor in California (that was ten years ago).
So, the question is, if you covet a Rolleiflex f2.8 camera, would you rather have an original that has been well cared-for and maybe sent off for maintenance, or a brand new one? Well, brand new sure looks like a great option. Until we see the price, perhaps. The previous version, with Planar f2.8, was over $5,000.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Few Autumn Landscapes - 35mm Film

Pond's Edge, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, Leica Summaron 3.5cm f3.5, iso200 color print film
I had a roll of film in my Leica M4-2 that I needed to finish up. So, I took a walk around the grounds where I work, around 2:00 in the afternoon. Autumn is just beginning to happen here, and I found a few things that caught my eye.
I love the purple swath of grass in the image above.
Wild Persimmons, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, Leica Summaron 3.5cm f3.5, iso200 color print film

These persimmons signify the coming of winter for me. Right now, they would be hard as rocks and more sour than lemons. In a month or two, they'll be soft and extremely sweet.

Flat World, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, Leica Summaron 3.5cm f3.5, iso200 color print film

I think my composure for this shot was inspired by some traditional Chinese art being displayed in our building. Earlier in the day, I marvelled at how the large horizontal distances (depth) from subjects to mountains and clouds are represented in flat two-dimensional paintings. This has that feel to me.

Boy, I sure do love to shoot film. My M4-2 is a little rough around the edges in appearance, while my 1937 Summaron looks like a little jewel. It's not fast (f3.5), but boy does it deliver.


Monday, October 8, 2012

When to Use Micro 4/3 Versus Leica?

As you may have noticed, I have recently been shooting with a Leica M9. It is new to me, and I'm genuinely loving it. However, you probably also know my attraction to Panasonic Lumix equipment. I'm doing a lot of thinking about how and when to use each kit.
By Neil Buchan-Grant, Olympus OM-D, Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
Image Source:
I read a piece on Steve Huff's site by Neil Buchan-Grant about his thoughts on using the new Olympus OM-D and M9. His conclusion is that he uses the Micro 4/3 kit (OM-D and typically the Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4) about 95% of the time, and the M9 about 5%. But, those numbers don't tell the whole story, or maybe they do. The Leica is not a numbers camera. It is a user's camera.
(Click Here) to read Neil's piece on Steve Huff Photo.
Neil reports that he has sometimes wondered why he carries the M9 on his travels, when the OM-D ends up being used most of the time. He then concludes that if you have the time, the M9 can really make special images. I believe that to be true.
I fully expect the M9 to become my favorite camera for slow, thoughtful photography (it's nearly there now). However, I will still rely on the Lumix gear for my travels. I cannot complain at all about what the G3 and great Panasonic glass have to offer, especially in such a compact package. And, as new announcements come from Panasonic, it only gets better.
Neil also mentions using Silver Efex Pro2 for his black and white conversions. I must give that software a try. I have sort of mastered conversion in Lightroom, but would like to try some other approaches.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

More Vicarious Travel Through Other Photographers - Lapland, This Time.

Swedish Lapland, by Lasse Eisele on
Image Source:
This is a series you must see. Lasse Eisele shared an impressive series of landscapes shot with the Lumix DMC-G3 (and Olympus lenses) in Swedish Lapland. The images are just gorgeous.
(Click Here) to see all of the images on
Lasse expresses general overall satisfaction with the G3, yet comments on weak dynamic range and clumsiness of the design of the camera controls. I can add that the G3 indeed does do better in low contrast situations, if you're looking for tonal range. Of course, that's true of any film or sensor, but it is an area for improvement in the G3 sensor.
Related to accidentally hitting controls that you don't want to hit, I feel the pain. I have more than one accidental video, for example, which causes a several second delay in getting back to still photographs. You can turn the button off in the menu, but then you can't respond quickly when you do want to shoot a video.
I imagine the GH3 may improve performance in both dynamic range and control layout. However, that comes at significantly higher cost and large overall size than the G3. It all comes down to compromises. The G3 is a pretty good set of compromises, overall.