Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Persian Friend

This is Alex. We met early one morning in Bryant Park in NYC when I was out taking pictures. I thought he was the perfect model for winter coming on in NYC. Finally, I got enough courage to ask permission to take his picture.
Alex, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, Summicron 50mm f2 Collapsible
Alex was born in Persia and has lived in NYC for over 30 years. We talked about the fact that under our feet at that very moment, there were 28 miles of stacks (archived documents) in the basement of the NYC Public Library. So much knowledge.
Meeting Alex was a major positive influence on me, though I'll probably never see or hear from him again.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Alone, Again

Alone, Again, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, Summicron 50mm f2 Collapsible
I have often thought about a project centered on "Alone in the City," or "Alone in a Crowd." Maybe it's time.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Special Holiday Image from Dennis in Arizona

My good buddy and fellow photographer, Dennis Gallus, recently shot this picture near his home in Southern Arizona.
Dennis shares the following:
"For the record, it was taken with the D700 using a 55mm/1.2 Nikon AI lens, 1/40 sec at f/5.6, ISO 6400, -1 stop exposure correction. I did use a tripod."
I know, it's not the traditional Santa or Christmas Tree, but it does remind me of the Arizona winter. Clear as a bell, and amazing sunsets. It's even more special that Dennis used the vintage AI lens to take it.
Thanks, Dennis! All the best in 2015 to you and your family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Little Holiday Hibernation

I've been writing this blog every day, literally every day, for five three years. I don't know if it's apparent, but I'm the only one who writes here.
I'm not burnt out or planning to quit. But, I am planning to take a couple of weeks of time at the holidays to relax and regroup. So, while I'll continue to post, it's going to be just a single photo (of mine) each day. Usually without much text.
I'll be back full-force after the holidays, and may even have a new project or two to share.
So, here's your first installment of a photo a day:
White Rabbit Spies White Rabbit, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, 50mm f2 Summicron Collapsible
Stay tuned!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Scanning Test - Anti-Newton Ring (ANR) Glass

I've been talking with my friend, Charlie Arnhold, lately about film scanning. I think I've gotten lazy in my scanning with my Epson V750 flatbed. I've gotten my workflow down so routine that I stopped thinking about it. Almost always scanning 35mm at 2400 dpi, just enough for an 8x12 print without resizing things, using the Epson Scan software and the standard holder, because it's easy.
Well, in chatting with Charlie, I decided that I should try scanning at 6400 dpi, then resizing after the scan. Then I remembered that I have one of the anti-Newton ring (ANR) glass pieces from Better Scanning.
(Click Here) to see the ANR insert offered by Better Scanning.
I've tried it in the past, but was not convinced that it made a difference. But, I didn't test it at this resolution.
So, with a recent roll of TMax 400 that I'd shot in my Leica IIIG in NYC, I gave it a try. Here is an image scanned twice - Epson film holder on left, Epson film holder with ANR glass on the right, at 1:1 magnification:
I can see some difference here. The detail in the subject's hair is more clear on the right, in my opinion.
But take a look at this one:
I can see a significant increase in sharpness on the right. Look at the difference in detail in her shirt on her left arm. Pretty striking. I can also see what looks like film grain on the right, which I don't see on the left. That could be an artifact of the texture of the ANR glass, but I don't think so. Being able to see defined grain means that I've reached the necessary limit in scanning accuracy; now resolution is limited by the film instead of the scanner.
So, I'll be continuing to use the ANR glass. In fact, I should probably order more, so that I can scan four strips at a time, as I did with the normal Epson film holder.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Favorite Shot From the Weekend

I'm been laying low lately, not going to very many live music shows. This past weekend, I got to go see one of my favorite bands, The Woodshedders, at one of my favorite venues, Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Virginia.
This was my first concert shoot with the Nikon Df. Here's my favorite shot from the evening:
Jesse Shultzaberger, Drummer for The Woodshedders, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D
iso 4000, f2, 1/125 sec.
Pretty amazing performance at iso 4000. The Df is going to be a great concert camera for me.
At this show, the lights were quite low, except for those damned blue LEDs, the worst for digital photography ever. The problem with colored LEDs is that you get very high intensity in whatever color channel they match, and NOTHING in any other color. So, I usually end up converting them to black and white. Not really a problem, since I love B&W anyway. The only other thing I've found to neutralize this problem is to add a little fill flash. I didn't bring a flash to this show.
Anyway, I'm quite pleased with the Df's performance.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ice and Snow Photo Walks

Last year, I went out after an ice storm and shot these photos. I loved the contrasting red on white or black.
I was reminded of this today by a post on another blog, Diane Varner's "Daily Walks."
(Click Here) to see Diane's winter walk images. Wonderful.
Now don't let the cold weather get you down. Get out there and shoot some pictures! I'll try to do the same.

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Nikon 20mm f1.8 - Samples Posted on SoundImagePlus

By and By, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-D 20mm f2.8 Lens
I have grown to love my older Nikon 20mm f2.8 lens over the past few years. At first, it just seemed too wide for me to use much. As I've shot more live music, especially in small venues or where I can get very close to the stage, I love to use it. It's pretty cool to be so close and still get the whole band in a single shot.
At a maximum aperture of f2.8, I sometimes feel I need something faster. Of course, that must be balanced with the need for depth of field (which diminishes at wider apertures), but at 20mm focal length, that's not really too much of an issue.
And, the advent of better and better sensors, makes it less urgent as well. I don't mind shooting at f2.8 or even f4 at all, if my sensor can handle the iso settings that are necessary in a dark club. The Nikon Df sure seems to do that for me.
Anyway, the new Nikkor 20mm f1.8 G lens looks very interesting to me. Reasonably priced at around $800, my only (typical) complaint is about the lack of an aperture ring. Fine on my D700 or Df, it does mean that I can't effectively use the lens on older film bodies.
The blog SoundImagePlus has recently posted some very nice image samples with this new lens.
(Click Here) to read the post and view the samples on SoundImagePlus.
Ready to buy this lens? Please support my blog by ordering yours through the Amazon link below. It costs you nothing, and helps me a lot!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pinhole Only?

I was reading a post on the Analog Photography User Group (APUG) forum about pinhole cameras. The poster asked the queston "How often you shoot pinholes instead of lens cameras?"
Personally, I answered that I use my 4x5 pinhole camera about twice a month, but enjoy it immensely. I also mentioned that I had recently ordered a 6x17 pinhole, which I can't wait to receive. I wrote about that camera in my December 12 post.
(Click Here) to read the post on APUG.org.
I was interested to find that more than one person responded that they were tempted to switch to pinhole photography exclusively. That got me thinking. Uh, no. I don't think I could do that. At least not at this point.
That said, I do plan to continue my work with my 4x5 pinhole camera. And, I can't wait to see what those huge 6x17 pinhole panoramas will look like! My camera should arrive around Christmas time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nat Geo's Camera Wizard - Kenji Yamaguchi

Here's a rare look inside the genius behind some of the National Geographic images that make you think
"How in the world did they do that? How do you rig a camera to capture a bat flying over the water surface in complete darkness and achieve perfect focus?"
Sometimes it's purely a result of technique. Let's face it, those Nat Geo photographers know what they're doing. Other times, it's a matter of physically tweaking or even designing and building new equipment.
Kenji Yamaguchi was sent from Nikon Japan over 30 years ago to help Nat Geo customize and fabricate photographic tools to enable the amazing pictures the publication is famous for.
(Click Here) to read more about this camera wiz on Nat Geo's site, and watch the 3 minute video.
For a camera geek and photographer like me, this is right up my alley. Add in the fact that he's a Nikon guy, born and trained in Japan, and now I'm really interested. I'd love to meet Kenji and see his workshop in DC. Hmm. I wonder how I might pull that off?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Grandpa's World War II Agfa Viking

I thought I had written about this a few years back, but it seems I forgot to post it.
Back in December of 2010, my Grandfather gave me his Agfa Viking camera. He picked it up during World War II, during which he was stationed in Japan and the Phillipines. He seems to remember trading a 35mm Japanese camera for it. Who knows what that may have been?
Anyway, once I got it, I saw that the shutter seemed to be working fine, and the lens turned to allow focusing (it's very common for the cell to get locked in place over so many years). Then I found the aspect that threatened to prevent me from using this old jewel - it is designed for 616 film, which is no longer available.
Grandpa's Agfa Viking
Undaunted, I hand-fabricated a thin plastic mask that allows 120 film (not as wide as 616) to ride in the correct film plane in the camera. I then modified some 120 spools to fit into the Viking. It's not perfect, and sometimes the spools slip during film transport. I measured out which exposure numbers on the 120 film backing would indicate sufficient travel. I can now use the red window on the back to make sure I've wound the film on far enough to avoid overlapping images.
This configuration results in a panoramic aspect ratio. Here are two shots I made in Washington, DC with the Viking:
As I said, it's a little fiddly to use, and frankly I have enough medium format folders that were designed for 120 film that I haven't gone back and used the Viking since that maiden voyage. But, it was great fun challenging myself to be able to shoot it at all. Pretty impressive images, if you ask me.
That said, I hope that someday the Film Photography Project (FPP), or someone else, will reintroduce 616 film for us niche camera owners. Probably hoping against hope. I'm not sure how many cameras were sold that used this particular format film. But then again, who would have guessed that FPP would be marketing 620 film? They are!
(Click Here) to check out FPP.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Found Another Mamiya Universal User - and Review

A few months back, my medium format shooting capability was significantly expanded when my friend Dennis Gallus sold me his lovely Mamiya Universal Press (MUP) camera kit.
I've been searching for other users of the MUP online, and well, there aren't very many of us left. I recently found this review of using the MUP with instant film on one of my favorite new sites, Snap It | See It.
(Click Here) to read the review, which also remarks on using the MUP with flash, something I have yet to try.
I've been distracted from the MUP recently, with several other new-to-me cameras. I've simply got to get more hours in the week(end)s to shoot the MUP.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nikon Df With Lenses from all Nikon Ages - Many Great Example Images

As you may know, I've recently acquired a Nikon Df. I'm thoroughly enjoying shooting it with lots of different lenses, from old pre-AI to the latest models.
Nikon Df with Nikkor-P 105mm f2.5 (pre-AI) Lens
Image Source: http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/review/newproduct/20131127_625119.html
(Click Here) to see a post on a Japanese site with great sample images from a large selection of Nikkor lenses. The photo above is included there, and I think it's beautiful.
The funniest thing is how I found this site. There's a forum post on Rangefinder Forum referring to this page. One of the comments on the post says that these examples remind the writer of how soft the pre-AI 105mm lens was. Cracks me up. (Click Here) to read that comedy.
Just goes to show you that you must judge cameras and lenses for yourself. If something works for me, I couldn't care less whether the majority of people opining online agree with me.
I need more time to get out with my new Df! It's such a wonderful camera.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Leica Makes Good on M9 Sensor Problems - Mine Is Going Back

My Leica M9 was just serviced about a year ago at Leica USA.
Recently, a problem with the Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E camera sensors surfaced, related to corrosion of a coating on the IR filter. Leica is offering a "goodwill arrangement," under which they'll replace any affected sensors free of charge. They're also offering attractive upgrade options if owners are interested in upgrading to the M240 or MP (240).

I think I'll send my camera in and see what the options are.

(Click Here) to read the official announcement of the goodwill arrangement.
Having a problem like this is never good for camera owners. It can only hurt the resale value of used cameras. But, given that it happened, this seems like a generous response by Leica. I'll be sure to report what happens with mine.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Beautiful 6x17 Panoramic Pinhole Camera

Now here is a panoramic pinhole camera that I can get excited about. It's called the "Reality So Subtle 6x17" camera, and it's produced by a French company called Au Premier Plan. It has a curved film plane to maximize exposure consistency across the negative, two shutters to allow you to determine where the horizon will be in your image, and it uses standard 120 roll film to produce 6x17 cm images. Awesome.
You simply must (Click Here) to read more about it, and check out the amazing image samples. Really, really nice.
Again, I don't know anyone at this company, and have no business interest in them. I've never held one of their cameras. But, I may have to change that. At about US$240, it's not unreasonable. Maybe this will be my Christmas present from my wife.
(Click Here) to see some of my previous pinhole work. It's always a lot of fun.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Using the Fuji Instax Neo for its Intended Purpose - Party Pics!

I attended the annual holiday party at my place of work this weekend. Here are some images I made with the Fuji Instax Neo (and some snapshots from a photo booth setup at the party).
Party Pics, Fuji Instax Neo
I had to purchase some more Instax film, and was very happy to find that the best price available (including Amazon and eBay) was at the Film Photography Project's online store.
(Click Here) to visit the Film Photography Project (FPP) for all of your film ordering needs. These guys are great, and will take good care of you. Just to be clear, I have no financial or commercial interest in FPP; I just plain like them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Serious Nikon Film SLR Resource

I've had the opportunity to purchase some lovely Nikon SLRs recently, and taken it. I finally pulled the trigger on a new Nikon Df digital SLR, but that's not what I'm talking about.
One of my friends recently sold me a pair of old Nikons: an original F Photomic, which is in about the best cosmetic condition I could ask for, and an F2SB. The F2SB is also in great condition, and fully functional, but not quite as pristine as the F.
Anyway, in looking for information on these cameras, I came across this incredible website by Richard de Stoutz. Richard shares images of his extensive, and I mean extensive, Nikon SLR collection.
(Click Here) to check out destoutz.com
I love seeing people who are as obsessed as I am (or more) with using these great old cameras.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Opening at the NYC Public Library: "Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography"

From December 12, 2014 - September 4, 2015, the New York Public Library is hosting an exhibit of a selection from the library's enormous collection of photographs, collected since the 1800s. I saw the banner announcing the show on my visit to NYC last weekend, but the show had not yet opened at that time.
NYC Public Library, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, 50mm Summicron f2 v.3 Lens
iso 400, f8, 1/125 sec.
The exhibit will be arranged around contemporary themes from social media: crowdsourcing, image sharing, and street view. It will be interesting to see how these themes are interpreted and which images from such an expansive collection will be included.
The exhibit will be held at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Ave at 42nd Street, NYC.
(Click Here) to read more about it on the NY Times' blog "Lens."
I really hope that I can get back up to NYC before the show ends next September.

Big City Profession

NYC Subway Rider, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 800, f1.8, 1/125 sec.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Leica Camera Blog Interviews Robert Mertens - Discussing Abstract and Surreal Images

Robert Mertens is an author, instructor of Master Classes at Leica Wetzlar, and a graphic artist.
The Leica Camera Blog interviewed Mertens to discuss his creative abstract and surreal imaging approach. Mertens says that his work "keeps revealing new elements through intense observation and interaction."
About his workflow, Mertens remarks:
"Think of the data from my Leica as modelling clay, from which my images are created in Photoshop."

His works take hours to sometimes days to complete in Photoshop.
Personally, even for my abstract work, I prefer to do as much in the camera as possible, including any composite construction of multiple images (multiple exposures). I certainly do post-process them, but prefer for that to take minutes, not hours or days.
Mertens uses a Leica M240 and 50mm Summilux for much of his work, and a Leica D-Lux for closeup images.
(Click Here) to read the full interview and see more images on the Leica Blog.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dreaming in Monochrom(e) - Japanese Lunch and Grocery Shopping With My Wife

I enjoy having Japanese food with my wife. Recently, we went to the (very) small area in Bethesda, Maryland for lunch and to visit the Japanese grocer. I shot these two images with my Leica M4-2, 35mm f1.4 Summilux, and Ilford Delta 3200 film.

Friday, December 5, 2014

I Like This - Bizarre Panorama With iPad Air in NYC

Bizzare City, by Reed A. George
Shot From a Moving Bus
This image is really worth looking at closely.
(Click Here) to see it on flickr, where you can zoom in.

Arrived in New York City

I was playing with the panorama setting on my iPad camera on the bus ride from Arlington, Virginia to New York City. Here are some examples.
The bottom two were shot from the moving bus.
Here are my traveling companions in our room.
It's a little chilly up here tonight, but the skies are clear and it's a great time to be in the City!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Trip to NYC - Traveling "Camera Light"

My family and I are heading out to NYC for the Thanksgiving weekend. Our plan is to head up on Black Friday, return on Sunday (remember the delay in my posts, usually about a week).
My NYC Kit
I've got several cameras that I've acquired recently, which I have not fully explored. One is my Leica IIIG, which I've only used for a single test roll. It will be my main camera for this trip. I'll pair it up with my 50mm f2 Summicron collapsible lens. Since the IIIG has framelines for both 50 and 90mm, I'll also bring along my wartime 90mm f4 Elmar. I plan to shoot all black and white with the IIIG.
For color, and for family snapshots, I'm bringing along my Lumix DMC-LX7.
All of it fits in this tiny Lowepro bag. It is very light and will be easy to carry.
My Packed Camera Bag

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Amazing Instant! - Seamus Heneghan on Snap It | See It

The blog Snap It | See It is one of my favorites for instant photography. They have been spotlighting great instant photographers, which I think is really cool. Once I have a little body of instant work, I will probably send them a note to see if they'll feature it.
This artist, Seamus Heneghan, has some great stuff on the blog right now. I really like the gridlines in the image above. He's got another there, with just a cat's face behind the grid, too. Interesting.
(Click Here) to see the post on Snap It | See It.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Evan Leavitt Does It Again

Evan makes incredible pictures with vintage tools and processes. Here's his latest, "Feeling the Passage," made with a paper negative in a 4x5 Speed Graphic:
I would be proud to have made this image. It's right up my alley. It reminds me of some of my recent pinhole images.
(Click Here) to see some of my pinhole and large format images.
(Click Here) to see Evan's original post.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Playing With An Old Image - Pigeonholed

It's fun to go back and see what you were shooting several years ago, and with what gear.
Here's a shot I made ten years ago with my Nikon D70 (my first DSLR) and Nikkor 70-300mm ED lens:
Pigeonholed, by Reed A. George, 2004
I decided to play around with it a little in Snapseed on my iPad. Here's what I came up with:
Pigeonholed, Ten Years After
I understand that many will prefer the straight, original shot. For me, it depends on my mood. Tonight, I like the dark, slightly ominous version.
That old D70 was really a decent camera. Nothing to compare to my new Nikon Df, but still quite a camera. And the 70-300 ED lens was a pretty good zoom, too. Now I have replaced it with the VR version, which is even better.