Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rollei TLR and 35mm Film!

Image Source: http://www.elcreations.org/lipsengtan/photoblog/?p=38
This picture, taken by Tan Lip Seng, is an absolute classic. Taken with a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex (TLR) and 35mm Kodachrome film, it won Mr. Tan a silver medal in the 1964 Kodak International Picture Contest.
(Click Here) to read about it on Mr. Tan's website.
I found this lovely shot because I purchased a 35mm film attachment for my Rolleicord tonight. Just $37, in EX condition from my favorite used camera supplier, KEH, the Rolleikin allows your medium format Rollei TLR (Rolleicord with serial numbers over 1139900 or so, and Rolleiflex with numbers over 1100000) to shoot portrait orientation images on 35mm film.
(Click Here) to visit KEH.com
Interestingly, Mr. Tan's shot is landscape in orientation, meaning that he had to turn the TLR sideways, and use the "sports finder," as it's nearly impossible to use the ground glass with the camera in this orientation.
Since in the normal TLR "waist level" position, where you look down into the hood at the ground glass, the 35mm film will be in portrait orientation, this should make a great portrait camera out of the old TLR. The 75mm f3.5 Xenar lens on my Rolleicord should make an excellent portrait lens.

One challenge is that Rollei TLRs have a minimum focus of about three feet, making real closeup portraits, say headshots, a little difficult. No problem there, as I already have the Rolleinar close focus attachment for this camera. Here's a shot made with the Rolleinar, but on 120 (medium format) film.
Christine, Age 8, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex T, Rolleinar Closeup Lens
So, I am really looking forward to receiving the Rolleikin kit. Shooting 35mm rectangular images won't only transform my Rolleicord into a gorgeous portrait maker, it will significantly reduce the cost per image, as compared to medium format film. I'll let you all know if/how it works out.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Change in Photography - Kirk Tuck Gives His Thoughts

It Should Be Simple to Tell a Story, by Reed A. George
I've been thinking a lot about where my photography is going. I've got a new project bubbling up, but it's not yet ready for prime time. I'm still absolutely all over the place with equipment, recently enjoying the use of my Nikon F2 as much or more than my digital wonders.
I recently read one of Kirk Tuck's posts on the Visual Science Lab, about his impressions of camera gear and photography, and what all of the changes mean. Change is certainly underway, but where is it all headed?
(Click Here) to read Kirk's post on Visual Science Lab. I'll summarize some of his points and give my own thoughts below.
First, Kirk says there are two photography communities: the old guys (I just celebrated my 49th birthday), who carry around big heavy gear and focus on "getting it right" technically, and the younger generation, who focus more on telling a story, regardless of equipment, video vs. still, or any other issues that may hold them back.
Another point Kirk makes is that we no longer need to worry about getting it right technically; that's easy. Unless of course you use old equipment like I do. The fact that I still sometimes wait to see if my pictures "come out" does show that I'm an anachronism. I can accept that fact.
Kirk also says that the difference between the very good and the very best cameras no longer matters. His example is the comparison between an Olympus OM-D (a very good camera), and a Nikon D800 (even better). His point is that you really cannot tell the difference with an online image from either camera, and that's all that matters these days. No one's going to look at prints in a gallery. At least no one but us old men.
Another point that I really identify with is that only those who resist the change in photography will feel any pain. I buy that. I like to use it all - old, new, difficult, simple. Hell, I had as much fun with an old Brownie 127 camera that I converted to shoot panoramic images on 35mm film as I had with my Lumix GX1 so far. Talk about different beasts. Meanwhile, I'm working through exactly how to use my new Lumix GX7.
Here is Kirk's prescription for what must happen with camera gear to support the change:
  1. Smaller, lighter, more accessible cameras
  2. Less user intervention required
  3. Cheaper camera/lens systems
  4. Connection with other technology (phones, tablets, etc.)
Personally, I believe that the camera companies are addressing some of these needs well. For example, Micro 4/3 is definitely hitting the mark with 1,3, and 4. Panasonic and Olympus are failing to meet requirement number 2 with their current Micro 4/3 cameras.
From my point of view, if I want simple (#2) in the digital world, it's Leica all the way. Of course, they fail at requirement #3, at least if we're talking about their system cameras.
And maybe I'm fooling myself about the M9 being a simple camera. After all, there's no autofocus. No video.
A Leica DLux 6 (Panasonic LX7) that had the manual controls and lack of menus that the M9 exhibits would be a killer camera. I don't want to accidentally hit a button that sends me into some labyrinth of menus when I'm grabbing my camera out of my jacket pocket.
I think the camera companies are taking different approaches, and someone will hit it just right. Nikon is appealing to us old farts with the Df (which I really like, and want). Leica is trying a little of everything, from the M240 to the C. However, I personally don't think they've developed the perfect product yet. Something along the lines of the X cameras, but with interchangeable lenses could be great. In short - small, few menus, superior interchangeable lenses, autofocus, autoexposure, video. That's what the new age is calling for.
As long as it also has manual controls that us old men can fiddle with, I'll be happy to give the new world order a try.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Moving Files in Lightroom? Don't Fall Into This Trap!

One of My "Lost" Files
Well, I decided to use the holidays to migrate my photos from two nearly-full drives to a new 4Tb external beast. Having had issues in the past, I am careful to keep backups, but that doesn't make every recovery simple, as you'll soon see.
So, when you use Adobe Lightroom for photo editing and indexing, one great attribute is that edits don't actually change the source files. That will end up helping me a lot in the end. But, it means that when you move files, you also have to keep them associated correctly within the Lightroom catalog. If you mess this up, you'll lose everything attached to that file - edits of any type, keywords, etc.
There are basically two ways to move files in an attempt to maintain the associations - literally moving them (not copying them) from within Lightroom, or copying and moving them outside of Lightroom (for example in Windows Explorer). Here are the pluses and minuses:
  • Moving within Lightroom ensures that the associations are all preserved (plus). However, since it's a move and not a copy, there is increased risk of losing files (minus).
  • Moving outside Lightroom means that you'll have to help Lightroom once again find the source files and associate them (minus). Outside Lightroom, you can copy the files, preserving an additional copy, in the original directory structure (big plus).
Well, I chose to go from within Lightroom. I figured, hey, I've got a backup on a separate disk, and I don't want to spend a bunch of time reassociating files.
Here's what happened. I set up the transfer, 160,000 files, and it ran for about 20 hours. When I got up this morning to check on it, the computer had an error message. The process had been interrupted. Now, I have 38,000 files missing (not present on either disk)! I figured that there was probably a way to recover those files from my backup. Unfortunately, the missing files seem to be randomly distributed, from essentially any and all directories! And, to top it off, my backup has a slightly different organization than my source disk. And I do mean slightly. You see, my backup routine adds a single extra layer of folder to the directory, with the date of transfer in the name. This means that if I do decide to recover from the backup, I'll have to go into each and every directory and tell the system where the files are! And, I'm not 100% sure that I can get the associations right.
So, for now, my plan is to take my original source disk (the one that's now empty, since Lightroom moves the files off to the new disk) and see if I can recover the original files. If so, I'll simply start over, and move the files outside of Lightroom in smaller time chunks to make sure I don't lose so many files at once.
BOTTOM LINE: I'll never trust the Lightroom MOVE function again! Don't do it! Also, make sure your back-up system copies your file structure exactly!
In any case, I'm in for a lot more work than I had planned, and the Christmas holiday time is drawing to a close.
Bah, humbug!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Too Much Emphasis on Low Light? Look for Good Light

Key West Cemetery, by Reed A. George
Lumix DMC-GX1
It really is easy to get caught up in technical capabilities of our cameras, focusing on what they can do in near darkness, rather than looking for good light, wherever it may be found. Frequently, the low light that necessitates super high iso and low noise performance isn't really that good.
Why am I thinking about this? I read a post along these lines on prosophos.com.
(Click Here) to read that post.
It reminds me how much we did (and some of us still do) with film cameras, where the realistic limit of iso is about 400, okay maybe 800 or 1600 by pushing the film. Delta 3200 was always so grainy at that iso setting, I always used it at 1600 max. Today, a digital camera that shows noise at 1600 is looked down upon by most.
Anyway, this inspires me to worry less about low light, f1.4, and iso 6400. I'll get out and look for some good light.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Um, Stephanie, Your Bird is Escaping...

Here's a funny shot that caught my eye, posted by colonelpurple on mu-43.com:
Image Source: http://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=57379

(Click Here) for the original post.
This was shot with the new Olympus EM-1 and spectacular Olympus 75mm f1.8 Micro 4/3 lens.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another Elmar 3.5cm User

Norwegian Rangefinder Forum poster Krnome has shared pics of his new Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 lens, the same lens I've picked for the final installment of Whole Lotta Leica.
Here's Krnome's new lens:
Image Source: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2272753#post2272753
Apparently, he knows more of his lens' history than I do. Reportedly, his was used in and after WWII in Germany.
(Click Here) to read Krnome's post on rangefinder forum.
I'm out to shoot mine on the M9 this weekend. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Another Simple Post - I Love Umbrellas

Image Source: http://hillofcarnation.blogspot.com/2013/12/blog-post_8458.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HillOfCarnation+%28Hill+of+Carnation%29
I ran across this beautiful image on "Hill of Carnation" - a Japanese blog. It says so much about contemporary Japanese lifestyle.
(Click Here) to see the blog.
Here's one of my rain/umbrella pics from my latest trip to Japan. I don't know why, but I find umbrellas so photogenic.
Rain in Nihonbashi, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 Lens
iso 640, f2.4, 1/45 sec.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

SFTC Results - December's Camera, the Nikon F2

Today I'll share some images with my new Nikon F2 Photomic, which I bought from KEH for $120. It's in amazing condition, very close to like new in my opinion. For these shots, I used one of Nikon's least-loved lenses, the 43-86mm f3.5 zoom.
(Click Here) to see the post introducing this month's camera.
I mean, people HATE this lens. Many call it Nikon's worst lens, and blame this lens specifically for the long-standing belief (fact) that prime lenses provide far superior image quality to zooms. You can find plenty of haters of this lens online with a simple google search. Mine also came from KEH, for the princely sum of $30, and also looks brand new.
Anyway, here are some shots, all made on Kodak 400 color print film.
Lounging, by Reed A. George
Nikon F2, Nikkor 43-86mm f3.5 Zoom Lens
Now, the shot above isn't tack sharp, but I think it works well at presenting skin tones, and is perhaps appropriate for portraits (which don't need every blemish to show up in sharp relief).
Here are a couple at the long end of the zoom, which are also a little soft:
Winter Leaves, by Reed A. George
Nikon F2, Nikkor 43-86mm f3.5 Zoom Lens
And here are two below that show just how sharp the 43-86mm f3.5 can be at middle(ish) focal lengths. I've applied sharpening in Lightroom to both images, but not to an extreme level (maybe a little more than I usually apply with other lenses, but not significantly more).
Dragon, by Reed A. George
Nikon F2, Nikkor 43-86mm f3.5 Zoom Lens
Bell Detail, by Reed A. George

Nikon F2, Nikkor 43-86mm f3.5 Zoom Lens

I can't find anything to complain about here. Especially when you consider that this combination of the pro-level camera and "kit zoom" of the past, which commanded very high prices in its day, is mine for $150 total. Amazing capability. When I was a kid, I lusted over a camera like this. Now, they're available for very low investment, if you're willing to deal with film. I am.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Simply Done, Beautiful. Andy Bell Shoots Agate (Stone) Abstracts.

Agate by Andy Bell
Image Source: http://www.deceptivemedia.co.uk/?s=Agate

Andy Bell has posted a series of abstracts which are closeups of agate stone. It's tough to beat the beauty of nature. Andy's done a nice job of capturing it here.
(Click Here) to see the whole series on deceptivemedia.co.uk.
A question that has come up in photo critique is whether abstracts require that the viewer be unable to identify the subject. Personally, many times I prefer being able to catch glimpses of what the subject was, even though the overall result is an abstract.
In this case, I can see that these are agate stone, once I've been informed. I probably would not have guessed it outright. Maybe that's the right level of recognition? Or maybe it doesn't matter, as "abstract" is simply a label. What really matters is that the art works. And this does, in my opinion.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Following Up On Tips for Shooting Strangers - Wait For It!

Yesterday, I wrote about a post on Digital Photography School's site which gave 8 tips for photographing strangers.
One of the hardest practices for me to learn was to take my time and get the right shot, once I'd gotten over the barrier of talking to someone and getting permission to take their portrait. As I mentioned yesterday, many times I used to walk away thinking "If only I'd move a little to the right (or left)." or "I should've bracketed the exposure."
Well, I am learning to take my time and wait for the image I want. Here's a recent example. I was in San Francisco, walking around Chinatown with my Leica M6 and Summicron 50mm f2, when I saw this little girl and the woman I guessed to be her grandmother. I rather bravely walked up to them, and asked the older lady if I could take their picture. She smiled, which I took as a yes. As I put the camera to my eye, the little girl figured out what was happening and did this:
Oh, No! Not What I Wanted!, by Reed A. George
Leica M6, Summicron 50mm f2 (v.3) Lens, Kodak iso 400 Color Print Film
I felt it right on the spot - what a horrible shot I've just made. This is cheesing for the camera of the very worst type. The forced smile turned this sweet little girl's face into an image of stress and tension for me. But, I WAITED. As soon as she heard the shutter click, the little girl relaxed and gave me this:
Here's What I Saw in the First Place, by Reed A. George
Leica M6, Summicron 50mm f2 (v.3) Lens, Kodak iso 400 Color Print Film
This is what I saw in the little girl's face that drew me to photograph them in the first place.
One more note - on asking versus just shooting. Another thing that really drew me to this pair was how the older lady was looking into the face of the little girl (like in the top shot). I really wanted to catch that interaction between them, but while they were looking natural and not posing for the camera. I think you can probably see that in both pictures, on the right side, there are men watching me, rather protective of what I'm photographing. This prevented me from taking the candid that I hoped to get. So, asking directly at least got me the shot. If the situation didn't have this tension, I would have shot a candid first, and maybe then asked permission for a follow-up shot like I got.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How to Shoot a Stranger's Photograph - 8 Easy Steps by Valerie Jardin on Digital Photography School

I love to photograph people on the street, people I don't know. Weird? Okay, I can accept that.
Sometimes, I really want to photograph people going about their business, hopefully oblivious to me and my camera. This is where a small, discreet camera comes in. Other times, I feel a little more outgoing, and enjoy meeting and talking with the people I come across. That's a very different type of photography, and it's not for everyone.
Matching Glasses, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5 Lens
iso 160, f8, 1/160 sec.
Digital Photography School has posted a piece by Valerie Jardin, outlining 8 "easy" steps to taking portraits of strangers.
(Click Here) to read the post on Digital Photography School.
Here are the steps, and my thoughts on each:
  1. Practice without a camera. This may not work well for me. In fact, many times, the camera gives me a reason to talk with someone. I'm sure that I would not have spoken to the young ladies in the photo above if I didn't have a camera and a picture in mind. But maybe that's just me.
  2. Photograph street performers. This is great advice. If you want to interact with your subject, this is a very good way to go. Performers are doing just that - performing. They generally love to have their pictures taken, and it shows.
  3. Take a friend along when you go to shoot. This one really doesn't work for me. I do so much better interacting with strangers when I'm alone. For one thing, they're not outnumbered. I think that can be threatening (it would be to me).
  4. Don't hide behind a long lens. Great advice, again. If you use a spy lens, you get a spy image. Sometimes that can be okay. Usually not. It's tough to interact with your subject from across the street.
  5. Be confident. Great advice, if you can pull it off. If it's not natural to you, this advice is like telling a tall person "be short." Some days it comes natural to me; other days, I don't want to talk to anyone.
  6. Take your time. This is a real lesson. I don't know how many times I've overcome the hesitancy to talk to someone, finally went ahead with it, then rushed the shot. When this happens, I think how great it could've been if I'd tried just one more angle, checked the exposure more carefully, asked another question, etc. Pay attention to this one.
  7. Enjoy the experience. I couldn't agree more. If talking to strangers is about as fun as having a tooth pulled, stop doing it! If you genuinely enjoy meeting new people, well then, enjoy it.
  8. Share the results. Totally. Share your pictures with your subjects, if they want. Share them with others. Let us see your work!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thinking About My 2014 Plan for DMC-365

Autumn Abstract, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, 14-42mm Series II Kit Zoom at 42mm
iso 200, f20, 1/2 second
I've mentioned a few times lately that I'm considering my strategy for this blog in the upcoming year (2014). I know that I want to stay with the core focus of the interface between photographic equipment, technique, and creativity. Beyond that, I'm largely undecided.
One thing is for sure - it's a tough assignment to write each and every day. For a one-person operation like DMC-365, that means I'm up every morning, drinking my coffee and thinking what to write about today. On one hand, I love the discipline and the motivation to see everything new out their in the exciting world of photography. I also know from my initial research into how to run a blog that frequent posting is a must for survival (many "pros" post multiple times daily). I have seen that there are tons of potentially interesting blogs out there that completely fail because they haven't been updated for a month.
This morning, I read an interesting post by David Hobby of the blog Strobist. He and fellow photography internet personality Zack Arias are both working toward what they refer to as "Low Frequency High Amplitude" posting. By this, they mean fewer posts, but more impact, more depth with the posts they do make.
(Click Here) to read David's post on Strobist.
In his post, David says he is considering going to lower frequency than two posts per week. Strobist is very well-established, so maybe it can take that. I believe one post per week would be the death of my blog, both because my readers expect news more often than that, and because I would almost surely lose interest myself.
I would enjoy going deeper into some subjects, and will. For example, I've really enjoyed doing my two monthly columns this year - Whole Lotta Leica and Skeletons From The Closet. I think that I'll likely select a smaller number of cameras and lenses next year and use them more often. A month seems like a long time to spend with one camera, but it's not. Especially when photography is not your occupation (my real job is reasonably demanding, so I shoot mostly on weekends). In fact, the Skeletons project for 2013 has helped me to identify a few cameras that I really want to spend more time with.
So, my current thinking is that I'll continue to post at fairly high frequency (perhaps not every single day) in 2014, but will try to add in more depth at some lower frequency. In the end, it's variety that's the spice of life. To take the frequency/amplitude analogy further, most of us like to hear all of the frequencies (tones) in the music we listen to. We do want the beautiful high frequency vocals and lead guitar, but we also want solid, warm bass tones to anchor it all.
Of course, I'm open to my readers' opinions. Drop me a line or comment!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Another Set of Pics From November's SFTC Camera - Ricoh 500G 35mm Rangefinder

We're well into December, and the final month of Skeletons From The Closet (SFTC), a series I ran throughout 2014 where I take out and shoot a different old camera from my collection each month. I will be posting the December camera selection soon.
November's SFTC camera was the Ricoh 500G. (Click Here) to read my introductory post on the the camera. And (Click Here) to see the first set of results, some street photographs from NYC.
And now for some very different results - not from the city but from a hike in the Virginia hills. These were all shot on a single hike, using iso 400 print film.
The place I hiked, Beverley Mill, has a couple of old rural cemeteries on its trails. I found this one (Dawson cemetery) on this, my first hike in the area:
It's crazy how the tree grew around the single headstone. It's a pretty lonely place.
I love the light on the tree in this shot below:
The little Ricoh 500G rangefinder makes a very good hiking camera. It's tiny, and produces decent images. No frills, but it is easy to throw in a backpack, and is extremely light weight.
I hope you've enjoyed SFTC and the results from this unsuspecting little camera.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cold, Rain, and Snow - Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 and Series II 14-42 Kit Lens

One of my colleagues came to my office this morning, saying that I really needed to get out and shoot some of the plants around our building while they were still covered in ice. That was all the motivation I needed.
All of these were shot with the new 14-42mm kit zoom that comes with the DMC-GX7 at iso 200.
Not bad for ten minutes outside with a kit lens!

Brian Sweeney Writes About the Nikon Df - and Buys One!

Nikon Df
Image Source: http://www.the.me/nikon-df-hands-on-the-closest-slr-to-a-leica-minus-rangefinder/
Brian Sweeney is a Leica and Nikon photographer whose name is pretty well-known on the photography forums. I've written in the past about Brian's work with vintage lenses, namely the Zeiss Sonnar, on Leica rangefinders.
(Click Here) to read my previous post.
It seems that Brian was won over by the new Nikon Df DSLR, which is modeled after Nikon film SLRs of the past, sports an ideal (in my opinion) sensor size and resolution for low noise and high quality image performance, and even allows us luddites to use our oldest pre-Ai Nikon lenses.
(Click Here) to read the Brian's post on THEME.
Brian believes that the Df is for Nikon what the M-E (M9) and M Monochrom are for Leica - real, practical digital answers to their excellent film cameras of the past.
Brian takes us through the evolution of his perfect kit (for personal work that is; Brian has used digital for professional work since 1993) in three major steps:
  1. Originally, his chosen camera bodies were a Nikon F2AS (SLR) and Nikon SP (rangefinder).
  2. Then, the Leica M9 replaced the SP for him.
  3. Now, Brian's chosen kit is a Nikon Df (SLR), Leica M9 (rangefinder, for color work) and Leica M Monochrom (rangefinder, for black and white work).
In his post on THEME, Brian shares an image shot with the Df at an incredible iso setting of 20,000. Of course, it's impossible to evaluate how that image would look printed, but on the screen it sure looks fine. Not even nearly possible with the venerable film cameras.
Having Brian buy into the Df is an influential factor for me. Until now, he's been unconvinced by any potential digital replacement for his F2. That's a long time waiting. There must be something to this Df thing.
I still am in love with my Nikon F2. I'm still in love with my Leica film cameras, even though I own and enjoy the digital Leica M9. My current problem is one of too much gear and not enough time to shoot. But, I did get to handle a Df at McClanahan's Camera in Warrenton, Virginia recently. I cannot say that the camera hasn't been on my mind ever since...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

First Snow - Shot With Low Tech Wonder, Polaroid 103

Snow is Coming Down, by Reed A. George
Polaroid 103, Fujifilm FP-3000B Instant Film
As I write this, it's December 8, 2013, and we're having our first winter storm of the year. Being a self-respecting photographer, I couldn't just sit at home and finish scanning film (which is also on my list for today). So, I packed up a few cameras and drove out to the local wildlife reserve. Here's the only shot I made with the Polaroid 103 today. You can see the snow streaking down. I increased contrast in Lightroom (after scanning the print). I think it came out pretty darned good.
This was shot on the endangered Fujifilm FP-3000B instant black and white film. (Click Here) to see an earlier post about Fuji's plans to do away with this film. I sure hope they can be convinced to change their minds, but I am sure the market's small.
As will all things, they can't last forever. I am glad that I got the chance to use this excellent film, and enjoyed the result today.
Perhaps if you buy some film for that old pack film camera you've got sitting around, Fuji will keep making it for a while. Here's a link:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Final Skeletons From The Closet Camera (for 2014?) - Nikon F2 Photomic

Nikon Camera
Nikon F2 Photomic
Image Source: http://imaging.nikon.com/history/chronicle/history-f2/index.htm

While Nikon is inviting us to "fall in love again" with the new Nikon Df, I've fallen in love with a much older beast, the F2. It all started so innocently - I used my Nikomat for a month, as my selection for the Skeletons From The Closet (SFTC) series in September. (Click Here) to read about that camera, or search "Nikomat" here on the blog to see some results from that month. Next thing I knew, someone approached me with the fact that they had a nice F2 and 80-200 f4 AIS lens that they'd be willing to sell. Well, of course, I convinced myself that I needed a second Nikon body that could use the non-AI lenses I had for the Nikomat. Then a deal on a 135mm f3.5 lens came along (ok, I came to it, in my local camera store - $50 for a gorgeous example). Then, a 200mm f4 non-AI for $75 on a visit to the camera store in California. Hey, it was vacation - of course I went to the camera store. And finally, not quite satisfied with my first F2 (it's got a few blemishes and probably needs a CLA), I tried an EX condition one from KEH for ~$120. The KEH unit is literally like new. I can find only one tiny scratch, and the film transport is smooth as can be. So, having spent a few hundred dollars, I now have more early Nikon equipment than I could carry. And, I love it.
When I bought the KEH camera, I saw an EX condition 43-86mm f3.5 lens for $30. Sure, I'll try that too. More on that later. Just let me say that I'm sitting here looking at an image from that MUCH-maligned lens (known as the "worst lens" Nikon has ever made!), and it looks pretty decent to me. Again, my copy looks and feels like new. I'm not sure it was ever used.
I got a little behind in my writing, and didn't take any pictures of my F2 yet. I hope Nikon won't mind me borrowing the image above from their site. That's basically exactly how my camera looks, brand new.
So, this is the last SFTC camera selection for 2014 - the venerable Nikon F2 Photomic. I'll be sure to carry it around and shoot some pics this month to share. I have not yet decided whether to continue SFTC into 2015; if so, it will be on a less regular schedule. However, I do really enjoy the concept, and see no reason to kill it as long as I've got other cameras to try, or desire to revisit some of the best of those I used in 2014.
And, oh yeah, I'm not ruling out falling in love with that new Df as Nikon suggests!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some Street Photographs From My Solo Trip To NYC - Leica IIIC

In yesterday's post, I shared some images from an evening out by myself in New York City. Today's post follows on with the same theme, but in a less cohesive way. All shot with the same Leica IIIC (a Barnack-designed jewel from 1946) and either the Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM or an uncoated Summitar 5cm f2 LTM lens (ca. 1939), these are little pieces of the rest of my trip.
Korean Tofu Restaurant, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIC, Kodak Tmax 400 Film
I made this shot while eating lunch. I like how you can see a little into to very separate but adjacent worlds - that of the couple eating together, and that of the kitchen. I don't remember the exposure settings, but do remember using the table to help stabilize the camera to avoid motion blur.
Glasses, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIC, Kodak Tmax 400 Film
The shot above is my favorite of this series. Having both ladies in glasses looking right into the camera makes the moment for me.
Unique Cab, by Reed A. George

Leica IIIC, Kodak Tmax 400 Film

The Rink, by Reed A. George

Leica IIIC, Kodak Tmax 400 Film

What I like about the shot above is the juxtaposition of the graphic of a family enjoying ice skating together in the city (which was printed on the rink wall), and the actual people doing just that above. I wish I'd have caught the lady's facial expression a little better as she helps the young girl navigate the ice. I would have stayed longer, but had to move on to catch my bus back home. It's still presentable, I think, just could have been better.
I really love carrying a little Barnack film camera around in the City.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An Evening at The Morgan

While I was on a business trip in New York City last November, I decided to get out on Friday night on my own. Looking for a little culture, but certainly not up for a nightclub or anything extravagant, I did a quick search online for things happening around town. Of course, there were a million things going on in the City on a Friday night, but I chose to have a quiet evening at the Pierpont Morgan Library, where they showed a double feature of Edgar Allan Poe films - "House of Usher" and "Murder in the Rue Morgues."
(Click Here) to read about The Morgan library and the Poe program.
As I headed out for the evening, I locked my digital cameras in the hotel safe and grabbed my Leica IIIC, along with the fast Canon LTM 50mm f1.5 lens, which happened also to be my Whole Lotta Leica lens selection for November.
As we sat down for the first movie, I noticed this lady's fur hat, and had to get a shot before the lights went down.
Hat, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIC, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM Lens, TMax 400 film
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Vincent Price terrorize his sister's young suitor in "House of Usher," but decided not to stay for the second film. Walking out of the theater, I noticed music coming from the library lobby.
Lobby, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIC, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM Lens, TMax 400 film
I went back to the Morgan's website, but failed to find any information on the guitar duo shown below. I caught just the final minutes of their performance.
Guitar Performance, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIC, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM Lens, TMax 400 film

Following is the only creative shot I made that evening, looking over the shoulder of an artist in the audience who was sketching the performers. I love the elements of the hat and glasses on the table.
Sketching, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIC, Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM Lens, TMax 400 film
I really enjoy the fact that NYC offers truly something for everyone. Knowing that I wanted to get out and experience something in the City that night, I was a little apprehensive about finding something I'd really enjoy. I even considered just hanging out in my room for the evening, as I knew I'd be walking all over the City the next day, which I did. I really liked the fact that I could get out, see some people, soak in a little culture, without having to do much or stay out late. Quite a nice evening overall.
The IIIC continues to do an admirable job for me. It's a great little camera to throw over my shoulder and walk around, and with 400 speed film and a fast f1.4 lens like the Canon 50mm LTM, I can even use it reasonably well at night.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fewer New Lumix Cameras in 2014? Five May Be Enough :)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
Image Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/photography-video-capture/cameras/lumix-cameras-falling-out-of-favour-at-panasonic-less-launches-in-2014--1203912
According to an article on TechRadar, Panasonic may be reducing their efforts to produce new Lumix camera models for 2014.
(Click Here) to read the TechRadar post.
Now, as with most things, there are two sides to this for me. First, if the report is correct and Panasonic is losing money on the Lumix camera line, I am concerned. I love that Panasonic can come into this market, pick a very strong format (I'm talking Micro 4/3 here), and compete (beat?) the companies that have been making still cameras since before I was born. There is no old Lumix film camera for users to be attached to; they made the choice to try something new. In my opinion, Panasonic has done a lot of things right, including partnering with Leica for optics, and continuing to push the Micro 4/3 sensors to a level where they've surpassed 35mm film image quality already.
And, the Lumix compacts are also great achievements. My experience is with the amazing DMC-LX7, which does everything and does it pretty well, while fitting in my pocket, and the DMC-TS5, which I can use to shoot movies or stills at 40 feet underwater, carry into the mud to go fossil hunting, and never worry a minute about.
On the other hand, as long as Panasonic stays in this game, five new models in 2014 is enough for me. I would imagine this to be three compacts and two Micro 4/3 cameras (pure speculation on my part). That's enough. In fact, I'm looking forward to spending some time with my new GX7 in 2014, and don't need the diversion of a GX8 or 9.
So, keep your chin up, Panasonic. Put your efforts into five EXCELLENT cameras instead of ten incremental improvements.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

From the Broad Creativity Files - Japanese Artists Paint Hotel Rooms

Artist Naoki Takenouchi at the Park Hotel, Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan
Image Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/12/02/national/hotel-room-walls-serve-as-canvas-for-takenouchis-contemporary-art/#.UpxvkDS9KSN
The Park Hotel in Tokyo is having artists come and spend some time in residence, under its "Artist in Hotel" program. Artist Naoki Takenouchi is painting his interpretations of "Fujin" and "Raijin," gods of wind and thunder, respectively, in a room now entitled "Japanese Paper Garden" for the sumi ink and washi paper used in his portrayals.
The hotel already has two other themed art rooms, one entitled "Sumo," the other "Zen."
What a cool idea. I'd love to stay in one of these one-of-a-kind rooms.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Doldrums? December is Here.

Sunsets on the Month of November, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4 Lens
iso 200, f8, 1/50 sec.

As I write this, it's Sunday morning, December 1, 2013 (I usually write posts several days ahead). Amazing how fast this year has gone; it seems like yesterday we were in January.
Yesterday, I went to visit a friend in Warrenton, Virginia, and captured the shot above, the final sunset of November, with my new Lumix GX7 and 25mm Summilux.
Oh yeah, while I was out, I got to handle the new Nikon Df at McClanahan's Camera in Warrenton. It's really, really attractive.
(Click Here) to got to McClanahan's. Mr. M. has a Df waiting for your purchase; I;m sure he'll be happy to ship it to you.
Winter makes it harder to find interesting subjects to photograph, especially outdoors. This just means that I need to focus my lens and efforts elsewhere. People are still interesting in winter, right? And, it's a chance to focus on cleaning up all of the image files I shot all year round, organize my folders for next year, and maybe even do some post-processing and printing.
Last of the Leaves, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 OIS Lens at 280mm
iso 400, f5.6, 1/400 sec.
If you know me at all, you know that organizing files isn't what turns me on about photography. No, it really is December 1, and that means it's time to select my final lens for my monthly series Whole Lotta Leica (that series will end after this month), and pull a neglected camera out of the closet for my Skeletons From The Closet series. The future of SFTC is uncertain at the moment, but I'm thinking of focusing on a few of my favorite cameras next year, for longer than a month. I may even do multiple cameras at the same time. We'll see.
So, time to start thinking about some new projects, and continue on some current ones. I'm sure I'll find some good live music being played in the local venues even as it snows outside, for example.