Saturday, August 31, 2013

LHSA (International Leica Society)'s Google+ Page Gets A New Collage

LHSA's Google+ Collage, by Reed A. George
As you may know, I'm an enthusiastic member of the International Leica Society. I recently established a Google+ community for LHSA, and it's a pretty lively place to catch up on what members are up to each day.
As a weekend project, I decided to make a new collage for the page's header. Clockwise from top left, the images are: Leica special edition null series replica, the Society's journal "Viewfinder," Vario-Summilux on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 (same lens as Leica DLux6), checking out LiveView on the M240 in the Miami Leica store, a black paint Leica M6 LHSA special edition camera, Leica Ablon film trimming guide, and of course the LHSA logo in the center.
If you like Leica, you should really consider joining LHSA. We have the Viewfinder, national meetings, local meetups currently starting up (second Washington, DC area meeting on September 21), not to mention other new member benefits, including a 5% discount on t-shirts from Dodge & Burn.
(Click Here) to check out and join LHSA.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The "Sketchbook" Concept

User on Rangefinder Forum has put a name to the concept of exploring a subject or concept with a camera, simply documenting a scene, or exploring a thought. He calls it a "sketchbook."
(Click Here) to read the post on Rangefinder Forum, and see a couple of examples posted in the comments.
I think I do this regularly. Below is an example of my exploration of some raindrops on a tree in the dreary winter of Virginia.
"Sketchbook" Raindrops, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8 Lens
Little glimpses like this are interesting. I remember well the day I took these. I was out for a late January walk, cabin fever having set in. I also remember lamenting the barren scene of winter, with very little interesting to look at or shoot. White sky, no leaves on the trees, lots of gray. Even in these times, if you look hard enough, something is interesting. One approach is to simply go with the lack of color and shoot monochrome. Look for structure. Another is always to shoot closeups.
What works in these shots, if anything at all, is the glowing dots of out-of-focus raindrops. The final shot shows these best, in my opinion. Even though the overall outdoor light was very dull, even, low contrast, the drops against a relatively dark shadow background lends at least a little drama. No masterpiece here, these are still worthy of the "sketchbook." They bring back the day for me now, 18 months later.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mixed Media - Printing on Brushed-On Emulsion by Andrew Kaineder

Image Source:
Not so excited with any equipment news recently, I'm once again widening the net in my search for interesting photographic subjects. I found this one on "Lost at E Minor," a broad creativity site.
(Click Here) to check out Lost at E Minor.
Andrew Kaineder and colleagues paint a liquid emulsion onto a surface, and then expose it, presumably from a negative. In the case above, the emulsion is painted onto paper, yielding one-of-a-kind character to each piece, and plenty of imperfection.
I'm not sure how I feel about the concept of making a photographic piece "one-of-a-kind." In some ways, I understand that increasing the value of a print, because no one else can have exactly the same print. However, is it merely a grasping at making photography more like painting, for example? One of the primary characteristics of photography is that it can be reproduced. Digital technology makes this even more true. I remember when digital audio came about and how it affected my friends who were into recording live performances (in their case mostly the Grateful Dead). It was an amazing piece of fortune to be able to duplicate a recording an unlimited number of times without ever losing a drop of sound quality. So, is that a bug or a feature?
I can also imagine the texture of Andrew's print. That is a little easier to appreciate for me.
I like to challenge and be challenged by new creative ideas like this.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Low Tech Wonder - Konica C35 Rangefinder

Konica C35
Photo Attribution: Lewis Collard
Looking at this camera, you may wonder why it made it under the "Low Tech Wonder" label, rather than into my "Skeletons From The Closet" series. The answer is simple, and it has to do with the little badge on the front of the camera that reads "automatic." Produced in 1968, the Konica C35 has many makings of a great little rangefinder camera, and in some ways, it is. However, being automatic, the camera selects both your f-stop and shutter speed for you. Even though the Hexanon 38mm f2.8 lens is really nice and sharp, this automatic "feature" turns the camera into a point (focus) and shoot camera. I couldn't live with that lack of flexibility for a month of shooting.
My C35 came from an antique shop in Ohio (thanks to Mom!). It took some disassembly, lighter fluid, and a new battery to get it working again. I was concerned that the exposure may be off, as the little indicator that shows the combination of shutter speed and f-stop didn't seem to change enough as I changed the ASA setting. But, I decided to try it out. I shot a roll of drug store iso 200 color print film at a local civil war historic site, the Mount Zion Church in Aldie, Virginia.
(Click Here) to read more about the Mount Zion Historic Park in Aldie.
Here are my results:
The shot above is my favorite from the roll.
I find the gravestone above quite creepy.
So, what are my impressions of the Konica C35? First, bitingly sharp lens, as I've come to expect from Konica. Second, the exposure seems to be pretty much spot on, at least within the latitude of color print film. I didn't try a really wide range of exposures, but this lighting level seemed to work just fine. So, what I think I've got here is a slightly less compact version of an Olympus XA, with perhaps even better image quality and definitely better rangefinder focusing, but sadly no overexposure switch like the XA has. Not bad, not bad at all. Now if it only had manual exposure override. Then I would carry it around for a month.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Skeletons From The Closet Results - August's Agfa Record III Folding 6x9 Camera

This month's camera is a real treat.
(Click Here) to read about the Agfa Record III with 105mm f4.5 Solinar lens.
So far, this CLA'd beauty has allowed me to resist purchase of a Fujifilm GF670. The only drawback in comparison is that the Agfa does not have the coupled rangefinder of the Fuji, or the integral exposure meter. The Agfa does have a fine uncoupled meter, and an accessory shoe to mount my Voigtlander Meter II, which works perfectly. I am VERY pleased with the image results from the Agfa. On the plus side, the Agfa does not rely on a battery; the Fuji can't even take a picture without one.
So, here are some black and white results from the Agfa Record III. The first was a pure coincidence. While I was driving to the National Cathedral in DC, I saw this old building being torn down. After being run off by the construction guy saying "No Parking!," I finally found a spot long enough to get out and get the shot. Handheld, no less.
Tearing It Down, by Reed A. George
Agfa Record III, Kodak Tmax 400 Film
The remaining shots were all made at the National Cathedral.
Cathedral Gardens, by Reed A. George
Agfa Record III, Kodak Tmax 400 Film
Inside the Cathedral, by Reed A. George
Agfa Record III, Kodak Tmax 400 Film
The shot above took about 1 second exposure, and was on a tripod.
And now for my favorite shot from the roll:
Concentric Arches, by Reed A. George

Agfa Record III, Kodak Tmax 400 Film

I just love the symmetry, range of tones, and sharpness of this image. This is one capable camera and lens.
All of these shots were processed by my favorite film processor, The Darkroom (

Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Morning in Maui

We made it to Maui last night (remember I usually have a several day delay between writing and posting) late in the evening. Still on East Coast time, I awoke at 4:00 AM. So, I set up a time lapse shot on my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7. I had it shoot a series of 50 pictures, at 3 minute intervals, to cover the sunrise. Couldn't have been easier. I used an app called Stop Motion Studio to make the video below. Click on it to watch the sunrise from our lanai.
Time Lapse, Kihei Sunrise
My morning routine in Hawaii is always the same - fresh papaya and Kona coffee. When I have those on the lanai, I know I've actually arrived. Vacation.
Morning Ritual, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5, iAuto Mode
Today, I'll recover from the flight, and hopefully fit in a walk around the historic town of Lahaina. Tomorrow - SCUBA!

Suryo Widjaja Shares Olympus OM-D Photos From Myanmar on Steve Huff Photo

Image Source:
Photographer Suryo Widjaja has written a guest piece on Steve Huff's blog, sharing several wonderful images he took in Myanmar in January of this year.
(Click Here) to read Suryo's post on Steve Huff's site.
Myanmar is definitely on my bucket list. I know a couple of people who've been able to gain entry to the country for tourism, and they have a lot of great things to say about the place. Anywhere that measures "Gross National Happiness" sounds okay to me.
Suryo reports that he took two Olympus OM-D bodies on the trip - his most-used lens was an Olympus 17mm f1.8, second was the Olympus 75mm f1.8. His 12mm saw little use. I have the 75mm f1.8, and it's a keeper.
I am about to take a week long vacation, and I'm planning to take my Leica M9, 35mm Summicron, and a medium telephoto (likely my Canon 135mm f3.5 LTM). This post encourages me to travel light, and my choice of lenses closely matches the field of view of Suryo's lenses on his Micro 4/3 gear. Of course, I'll carry the diminuitive Lumix DMC-LX7 as well. So much capability in such a small package simply cannot be left behind. Plus, it gives me closeup capability not available in the M9, at least not easily.
Suryo has shown how much you can do with two lenses. I'm impressed.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Harsh Light and People Shots - Give Up and Go Home?

I was reading a blog post on Digital Photography School that discusses how to shoot people pictures in harsh, midday light. Many photographers really believe that the "golden hours" around sunrise and sunset are the only time to get great outdoor images. While these are certainly the best times, especially for landscapes (yes, you landscape shooters who are up a 4AM can go to sleep again about 9 AM), I refuse to limit my hobby to those hours.
The blog entry is written by guest contributor, Oded Wagenstein. (Click Here) to read the post on Digital Photography School.
I'll summarize the most important points for you. First, the problem. Shooting in harsh daylight produces high contrast, unflattering images. Either the highlights are blown (saturated), the shadows are pure black, or both. This is caused by lack of dynamic range, either in your sensor or your film. No adjustment of exposure will allow you to go past that limit, but there are solutions. I'll list them in the order Oded presents them, with my own comments, of course:
1. Go into the shade. If you can get your subject into the shade, the demands on dynamic range are significantly reduced. Here's a shot I made in the shade on a sunny day:
2. Shoot silhouettes. This is the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach. Silhouettes are easy to shoot, and can be very dramatic. However, you're going to get tired of looking at hundreds of silhouettes if that's your general approach to shooting in harsh daylight.
3. Blow out the background. In the shot below, I knew that I did not have enough dynamic range, even on film, to capture detail in the dark areas (see the black shirt, for example) and the bright white sky. So, I decided to use my available dynamic range on the part of the picture I was interested in, the faces. This sounds technical; all I really did was spot meter on their faces to select the best exposure, knowing that the sky behind would be overexposed. That's ok. The sky clearly was not my subject here. A good tip - meter your own hand to get the right exposure settings in a situation like this.
4. Use a reflector. This is a great tip. I usually don't have enough hands to position a reflector and shoot the camera at the same time. But, if you can get someone to hold one for you, a reflector can very effectively light up those dark shadows. You can use a gold one to bring some warmth back into the color as well.
5. Fill flash. Use a small amount (I mean small amount) of flash to fill in the shadows. This can easily be overdone. But, it can save the day in a pinch. This is one of those few places where your on-camera flash can be useful, if you can dial it down to a very low output level.
6. High dynamic range (HDR). HDR combines multiple exposures at different settings to allow you to select the best exposure for shadows, mid tones, and bright areas. It can be very effective. Like fill flash, it's also very easy to overdo it. I consider HDR a last option for people shots. Mostly because you must shoot at least two, probably three shots at a minimum. This means the person has to freeze while you shoot, shoot, and shoot again. I've never used HDR for people shots.
So, don't give up when the sun rises high overhead. Just think about the light, exposure, and most importantly, dynamic range.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Walk In The Woods, With Leica M9 - Composing Differently

Yesterday, I posted an image I made at Manassas National Battlefield, on my way to a hike at the Shenandoah National Park. Here are some shots from the hike itself.
I have been in the situation of shooting nature with my M9 recently. Not exactly what most nature photographers grab on their way out, the rangefinder presents challenges. It doesn't play well with long telephoto lenses or macro. This is part of the fun for me. In fact, it forces me to compose differently, maybe even better in some cases.
This little white mushroom was sticking out of a bank of green along the trail. If I were carrying my Nikon DSLR, I would have been motivated to grab a macro lens, and show as much detail of the mushroom as possible. It did have an interesting texture; this would not have been a bad idea. But, it would have missed some of the context, the contrast between this little fungus and everything else around it. This month's Whole Lotta Leica Lens, the Summicron 35mm f2, showed that quite well.
Shroom, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Version 3
iso 400, f8, 1/25 sec.
Perhaps a little more in the normal Leica realm, I really liked the abstract shapes made by the flowing water, wood, and stone in the creek below. I would have liked to use a neutral density filter and get a longer exposure, to let the water flow even more. I don't carry filters for my Leica lenses.
Creek, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Version 3
iso 160, f16, 1/3 sec.

I shot the leaf below from several angles before getting what I wanted. What really attracted me was the reflection of the green leaves and dark tree trunks above the water. This green patch was actually quite small, so my shots with the 35mm wide angle lens included too much. I switched to my lovely little Canon LTM 135mm f3.5 lens. This is an amazingly sharp lens. I was able to get it up on a tripod pretty high, and isolate the reflections from the rest of the scene. The leaf in the water provides an anchor point for the eye.
Summer Reflection, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 135mm f3.5 Lens
iso 400, f5.6, 1/60 sec.

I spied this Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon), sunning himself by the creek. My nature photographer instincts kicked in, and I started shooting from afar, to make sure I got a shot of him. Again using the 135mm, a rather modest telephoto length, I kept easing closer and closer. Here's the closest shot I got.
Northern Water Snake, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 135mm f3.5 Lens
iso 320, f6.7, 1/1000 sec.

Upon looking at all of the shots I took when I got home, I discovered the one below. Including the full body of the snake, and more of his surroundings, I actually prefer this one:
Northern Water Snake With Context, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 135mm f3.5 Lens
iso 320, f6.7, 1/1000 sec.
I most definitely would not have made the shot above with a DSLR and long telephoto. Just to be clear, this is not a weakness of the DSLR per se. It is my own way of thinking when I'm using that equipment. I'm really glad that I forced myself to work with what I had.
I continue to learn about this interface of equipment and creativity.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Creepy Shot With the Whole Lotta Leica August Lens - Summicron 35mm f2 Version 3

Confederate Dead, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Lens Version 3
iso 160, f13, 1/30 sec.
I took the day off today, and drove out to the Shenandoah National Park for some hiking and photography. It was a foggy morning. On the way out, I passed by the Groveton Confederate Cemetery at the Manassas National Battlefield. I walked around the cemetery a little with my M9 and tripod, and made a few shots. I almost missed this one.
On the way back to my car, I started looking more closely at the numerous spider webs in the tall grass. Finally, I put it together in my mind, and decided to find a nice one in front of the iron cemetery fence. This one was in a very good spot, in my opinion.
I converted the image to monochrome using SilverEfex Pro 2. I also selected a selenium tone, which is uncommon for me. Creepy effect, huh?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica (WLL) Results - Contemplative Photography With the Summicron 35mm f2

I have pursued the concept of "contemplative photography" on and off for a couple of years now. I enjoy it, finding it to be a nice form of meditative concentration, along with making some interesting pictures if I get lucky.
My daughter's dive class was finishing up their checkout dives today, and I decided that I didn't feel like diving. So, I spent an hour or two hanging out, writing, and trying to focus on contemplative photography.
After the group went into the water, I started trying to look for interesting compositions around the quarry. Here's the stairs leading into the water.
Down Into the Blue, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 version 3
iso 160, f8, 1/60 sec.
Up Into the Blue, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 version 3
iso 160, f11, 1/500 sec.
In this shot above, I really missed an opportunity. I heard a flock of geese coming, but assumed I wouldn't be able to see them through the trees. As I was picking up my camera, they flew right across this area of open sky. I really wish I'd been ready, but that was that. Deciding not to cling to an image that never was, I kept exploring.
I find that whenever I sit and think, limiting my options (in this case sitting in one place for thirty minutes), I start to play with moving the camera. This does get overdone, but can lead to some interesting abstracts.
Foliage Abstract, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 version 3
iso 160, f16, 1/4 sec.
In the image below, I tried to sync the camera motion to the speed and direction of the plants blowing in the wind.
Wind Motion, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 version 3
iso 160, f16, 1/2 sec.

Glare and Motion, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 version 3
iso 160, f16, 1/4 sec.
I finished up by trying something pretty unconventional - photographing butterflies with a wide angle lens and rangefinder camera. I didn't get the exact image I wanted, but found it intriguing. I'd like to try this more:
Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 version 3
iso 320, f4.8, 1/350 sec.
This was a fun morning. I need more time like this.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Scuba Checkout - Landlocked in Virginia

My daughter Christine is getting her dive certification. This weekend was her checkout dive, at an inland quarry in Northern Virginia.
We were lucky to find an incredibly nice dive shop here, Coral Edge Adventures. Not only do they have an amazing selection of gear and lots of good trips planned to other places, the instructors and staff are all real nice people.
(Click Here) to check out Coral Edge Adventures.
I decided to dive with the group today, and carried along my Lumix DMC-TS3 waterproof camera.
Gearing Up
The Descent
The quarry was used to mine stone for the nearby highways. It's nearly 100 feet deep in places. It also has several submerged attractions, including an airplane, bus, and underwater platforms.
Cold Water Entry
Who You Lookin' At?
This dive represented a lot of firsts and mosts for me - first freshwater dive, cloudiest water, coldest water, first dive using a wetsuit. I'm what you call a fair weather diver - going every year or two in an easy, warm, clear water location with a guided boat tour. Today was a little different.
Here's how it looked underwater.
Clearest Water I Saw
My Dive Buddy, Less Than Eight Feet Away
A Little Splash Fight
Leaving The Water
I like this last shot. The water running down the lens makes a cool effect.
So, this wasn't the best dive conditions I've ever experienced, but it was good training. I actually did lose my dive buddy at one point. I'm also really excited about having Christine complete her certification. This is something she'll be able to enjoy for many, many years.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Passage - a Quick Shot With August's Whole Lotta Leica Lens - 35mm f2 Summicron M

Passage, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Version 3 Lens
iso 320 f5.7, 1/125 sec
I've been too busy to get out and shoot much recently. My daughter's scuba classes have taken some weekend time, as they will this weekend. Her check-out is on this Sunday. After that, we're officially ready for a dive trip!
I did stop and shoot this image on my way into work the other day. I like the parallel lines of the lower roof edge and the birds at the top.
We shoot when we can, right?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Combining Two Loves - Science and Photography

I have just achieved a milestone. Combining my love for field science and photography, I have the incredible honor of being published in a first-rate Paleontology journal with a true leader in the field, Dr. Robert Weems. Our paper on amphibians and non-marine turtles from the miocene period was published in the July issue of the Journal of Paleontology.
(Click Here) to read the abstract.
My minor contributions to the work included two things - finding a humerus bone from a several million year old land turtle, and taking all of the photographs for the paper. Dr. Weems provided all of the scientific expertise, writing, and editing.
Here's the sample that I found:
Miocene Turtle Humerus, by Reed A. George
I met Dr. Weems through my association with Paleo Quest, a non-profit organization focused on education and scientific research, specifically in Paleontology.
(Click Here) to check out Paleo Quest.
What an exciting project! Thanks, Dr. Weems, for all of your assistance and support.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

LHSA (International Leica Society)'s Journal "Viewfinder" Edition 46-3 is Here!

Barcelona, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, Minolta Rokkor 40mm f2 Lens
If you're a fan of Leica, you'll want to know about the LHSA (International Leica Society). One of the biggest benefits of membership is the quarterly journal, "Viewfinder." The latest edition is now out, and I'm pleased to say that I have an article in it. A series of images I took last fall in Barcelona with my Leica CL and 40mm Rokkor made the pages!
Other topics in this issue include: Lith Redeveloping by Gary Hough, Ed Schwartzreich's final article in a series of three about how Leitz produced the landmark M3 camera, and a story about the LHSA's spring shoot in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, by Bill and Mary Caldwell.
This is just a sampling; there's plenty more.
So, come join us at LHSA, and get access to every issue of Viewfinder produced since the 1960s! I'm thrilled to have some images and writing published in this great journal for Leica enthusiasts.
(Click Here) to join the LHSA.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Snapseed - Too Much Fun

Here's a shot I took for work recently:
Unedited Shot
Pretty okay, I guess. Fun to shoot. But then I decided to play around with it in Snapseed. Here's the result:
Edited in Snapseed
I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I think this is really fun.