Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mink at Jammin Java

I haven't been able to make it to a lot of live music events recently. I did get out on a Tuesday night (!) to see my friends Melissa, Danny, and Rudy of the band Mink play at a local venue, Jammin Java, in Vienna, Virginia.
I brought out my new Nikon Df and three prime lenses - 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4, and 85mm f1.8.
Mink, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AF-D
iso 5600, f2.8, 1/125 sec.
Keeping the camera in Auto-ISO mode, was able to set a relatively fast shutter speed (1/125 sec.) and shoot wide open with any of the three lenses. As you can see, iso 5600 is just no problem at all for the Df. Actually, 12,800 isn't too bad.
Melissa and Danny, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF-D
iso 2800, f2, 1/125 sec.
It felt good to get out and see my old friends, even for a quick set on a weeknight.
(Click Here) to find out more about Mink.
(Click Here) to find out about Jammin Java.

Friday, January 30, 2015

First Shots - 6x17 Panoramic Pinhole - "Reality So Subtle"

Some cameras take a while to figure out. Pinhole cameras are definitely different from everything else I shoot, and require a different frame of mind. That's one of the things I love about shooting them. And then there's panoramic format. I remember when I purchased a Hasselblad Xpan, a camera that I never fell in love with. It took me several rolls to get used to composing in the long panoramic format. I did eventually get comfortable with it, but then moved on to a panoramic 35mm back for my Bronica ETR.
Anyway, I digress. The subject of this post is the "Reality So Subtle" 6x17 medium format panoramic pinhole camera that my lovely wife gave me for my birthday. (Click Here) to read my post about the camera.
Here are some images from my first two rolls of film through the camera. Remember, there are only four exposures per roll of 120 film, so this hit rate may not be too bad. I shot one roll of Portra 160, another of Portra 400.
These first three were shot at Great Falls National Park in Virginia.
This next one came from the new Metro station in Reston, Virginia. It's my favorite of the bunch. There were actually some people walking through as I shot this one; they didn't show up because they were only there for a small fraction of the time the shutter was open.
So, I'm pretty pleased with this camera overall. That said, I need to use my head to find the right applications for it, and learn to use it just right. And that's not cheap. At four exposures per roll, plus the fact that my favorite film processor,, charges $10 extra per roll for panoramic format (!), I figure these cost well over $6 per exposure. That leads me to the conclusion that I'll start shooting black and white film in it for a while, and develop the images myself. That will bring it back to the "reasonable" level of about $1.50 per shot or so. That's less than a Polaroid image.
So, wish me luck! More to come.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kitchen Door

Last night, I went to a live music performance at Jammin' Java in Vienna, Virginia. I caught this scene out of the corner of my eye, quickly mounted the Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF-D, and captured it.
Kitchen Door, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF-D Lens
iso 7200, f2, 1/125 sec.
It's absolutely amazing how well the Nikon Df does at high iso settings. In fact, I find that much of the time I actually use Auto-ISO settings, since I really don't have to worry about digital noise. In this case, that's what I did. I set the camera to spot meter, set the shutter speed to 1/125 with the camera in Manual exposure mode, the f-stop to f2, and just trusted the camera to pick the correct iso. The sensor in the Df gives me nearly complete freedom in these types of shooting situations.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dusk at the Old Homestead - Outside El Reno, Oklahoma

Nikon Df, Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 Lens at 35mm
iso 1600, f4, 1/30 sec.
I made my trip to Oklahoma with only one lens on the Nikon Df. I must say that I found it slightly limiting, but also liberating. No decisions to make, no fumbling to change lenses.
I made this shot right after sundown. I couldn't find the right spot for my tripod, as I was shooting from the roadside, and there was a fence in the way. So, I cranked the Df up to 1600 (no problem at all for this camera), leaned on a fencepost, and shot.
Can you imagine the stories this old place could tell?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

News Flash: Film Never Died! Financial Times Video

Video Source:
This seven minute video is worth watching. I knew fil hadn't died, but found myself surrounded by people who didn't believe.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Recent Favorite - Georgetown Iceskating

Chilly Fun, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex 2.8F, Kodak TMax 400
Just a shot that I really like. Made a couple of weeks back in Georgetown, DC.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vienna Group - Alain

Alain, by Reed A.George
Rolleiflex 2.8F, TMax 400 Film
A couple of years back, I started meeting up with a few fellow camera nuts, at least once per month. We meet in a coffee shop in Vienna, Virginia, and talk all things photographic.
We initially came together to talk Leica, which we still do. As you can see from the F3 around Alain's neck, we aren't exclusive in our tastes.
In fact, it was the Vienna Group that reignited my interest in Rolleiflex and TLRs. To the point that I purchased my lovely 2.8F from another member, Charlie.
It's really good to have a group of friends with like interests.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

About to Try Ilford HP5 (35mm B&W Film) for a While

Image Source:
My friend Charlie has a couple of bulk film loaders. Since a small group of us have been regularly meeting and shooting film for a while now, we decided to start bulk loading our 35mm cassettes. It's actually interesting what's happening with film prices today. Charlie's a Tri-X shooter, so that's where we looked first. We were unable to locate a 100' roll of Tri-X anywhere at a price that would result in any savings over buying by the 36 exposure roll (savings is about the only reason to bulk load, unless you want to tailor the number of exposures you get per roll). HP5 is still reasonably economical.
(Click Here) to buy your film from the Film Photography Project.
So, we're just about ready to roll (pardon the weak pun).
In the past, I've played with pushing Kodak Tmax 400 to 1600. (Click Here) to see how that worked out.
I also found a post on the very interesting blog "35 MMC." (Click Here) to read about shooting HP5 at iso 3200. That's a three-stop push, but sure seems to work well.
I don't have any experience with HP5, but will soon!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Shooting in Recording Sessions

I've been developing my live music photography for several years now. I have also done a little studio promo shooting, mostly for friends. I've shot a couple of recording sessions, and definitely would like to do more of that. There's something about the atmosphere during recording. The musicians are not dressed and ready to perform in front of a bunch of people, but they're still focused, working hard to get the tracks down. Of course, the moments in between can be loose, funny, interesting visually.
Robert Mabe of Dry Mill Road, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D Lens
iso 1600, f2, 1/60 sec.
Always interested in how others do it, I was happy to read when the Leica Camera Blog interviewed Andrew Stuart, who's photographed extensively in the recording studio. He's worked with the Foo Fighters, Mick Fleetwood, and others.
(Click Here) to read the interview on the Leica Camera Blog.
Since it was the Leica blog, Stuart highlighted that he uses the Leica M240 rangefinder and M6 film cameras. He says that 90% of his work with those cameras uses either the 35mm Summilux (f1.4) FLE or the 50mm Summilux Aspheric. Makes sense. Stuart also uses other cameras, including SLRs and his iPhone.
Stuart mentions that he uses a street-style approach to shooting in the studio, and alternates between being a fly on the wall, and actively interacting with his photographic subjects.
He mixes black and white and color in his work, his film (Fuji Neopan or Tri-X, usually pushed to iso 800 or 1600) work nearly always being in black and white.
Stuart has done some very nice work. It's always good to learn how others achieve their photographic goals.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Booked my Trip to Japan in April

My wife is Japanese. One of the major benefits of that is that I have a very good reason to visit Japan at least once per year. I think we're going to try to make it to Hiroshima this time, a place I've never been.
My plan is to take my new Nikon Df and a couple of lenses, including the 35-70 f2.8 AF-D, which I just purchased last weekend. It's my second unit of this lens; I was foolish enough to sell my first one. I'd forgotten just how good it is. I'm thinking I'll want a fast prime (like the 50mm f1.4 AF-D), and maybe a wide angle (24mm f2.8 AF-D?). I'll probably bring along the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 as well, which gives me f1.4 and 24mm equivalent.
I may also bring along a Nikon or Leica film body for fun.
(Click Here) to read a post on Rangefinder Forum about choosing the Nikon F over other cameras for fun travel.
In any case, I'm psyched and ready for spring!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Next Step for my Leica M9 - Returning from Leica Service USA

Back on December 13, 2014, I wrote about the newly-acknowledged sensor coating corrosion problems with the Leica M9. (Click Here) to read about Leica's announcement and "goodwill arrangement" to replace affected sensors.
I sent my M9 off soon after, and began inquiring about options. As of today, here's the situation:
  1. Leica USA Service has checked my camera, cleaned the sensor, and shipped it back, free of charge.
  2. Leica USA Service has indicated that my camera does not have the sensor issue. I'm surprised, but must assume that they're better equipped to diagnose it than I am.
  3. In Leica's announcement, they promise "an attractive offer" to upgrade. Despite trying as nicely yet persistently as I can, no information about my options for upgrading to a new model with different sensor has been forthcoming.
I was not, and still may not be in the market for the new Leica M240. I really like a lot of things about my M9, and for the way I use a digital rangefinder, see no need for a costly upgrade. However, this widespread sensor problem does worry me. If I could assume that Leica will continue this "goodwill arrangement" for several years, I would stop worrying about it, and simply keep shooting my M9. Perhaps that's what I'll do.
Or, maybe I'll step out of Leica's digital rangefinder world for a while, and sell the M9, straight back from service. At least I could sell it with full certification from Leica regarding its condition.
The truth is I've used this camera and enjoyed it very much. If it were not the most expensive camera I'd ever purchased, I would consider it money well-spent, and use it as long as I can. I've made a lot of pictures with it, and definitely enjoyed the process. I'll just have to wait until it returns, see if the rest of the goodwill arrangement (the upgrade offer) ever materializes, and decide.
I have mixed feelings about Leica's handling of this so far. I respect that they acknowledge the issue, and checked and cleaned my camera for free. I paid for the same service one year ago, just because it needed cleaned. However, it's pretty clear that Leica was not ready to actually make the attractive upgrade offer they promised in their announcement, and no one at Leica USA or the Leica Store have any information with which to make an offer. The company needs to get this part coordinated, quickly.
So, do I feel I've been treated fairly? Kind of. Do I feel that I've been treated as I would if I were a Mercedes-Benz owner with a known, acknowledged potential defect in my car? Absolutely not. Leica, at least to me, is a premium camera seller. I paid more for the features on this camera than I would with any other camera manufacturer, just as a Mercedes owner does with their car. Leica, you need to take a page out of the premium car manufacturer's book in terms of customer communication and retention.
My M9 story's not over yet, but even I don't know exactly where it's going.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Delightful Weather

Frozen Glass, Cozy Indoors, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor AF-D 50mm f1.4 Lens
iso 1400, f11, 1/250 sec.
Not a bad day to be working inside!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Deer Season in Virginia

As a young man, I was a hunter. Now, I prefer not to kill anything if I can help it. So, it's with mixed feelings that I took in this scene recently, in the parking lot of one of my favorite camera shops, no less.
End of the Season for This Buck, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor AF-D 28mm f2.8 Lens
iso 1250, f14, 1/125 sec.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Zenith - From the Days of Radio

Zenith, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor AF 28mm f2.8 Lens
iso 100, 1/2 sec., f11
Who knows the last time this old tuner was powered up? I'd love to know what programs were listened to by its owners.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Refuge, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor AF-D 50mm f1.4 Lens
iso 2500, f8, 1/30 sec.
How it felt at that moment.

Friday, January 16, 2015

6x17 Panoramic Digital? Wow. Price? WOW!

I've written a little about my new panoramic pinhole (film) camera, and am anxiously awaiting results from the first couple of rolls of film. (Click Here) to read about that. I hope to have results to share this week.
In discussing this new beast that produces giant 6cm x 17cm negatives with my friend, Charlie, he mentioned that someone was making a 6x17 digital camera. It's staggering to think of the production cost of such a beast. At 17cm in length, that would mean that the wafer the sensor is produced on would have to be over 7" in diameter (probably standard 8"), and each wafer could only contain one sensor. That's costly.
Sure enough, though, Seitz is making such a camera. And, it's costly. At $27,300 for the economical solution (18 Megapixels),without the optional data storage and control, an additional $5,114. The highest resolution version (160 Megapixels) is $44,415, plus $5,114 for the optional modules. These prices don't include lenses.
(Click Here) for the details.
I can only imagine how cool this thing would be to shoot.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Haruki Murakami and Photography

Black Dog, by Reed A. George
I love to read Japanese fiction. Haruki Murakami is probably my all-time favorite author. As with many Japanese authors, Murakami's works leave us with stories that don't just end on the last page. They're rarely wrapped up with a bow and finished when the book ends.
This weekend, I read Murakami's latest novella, The Strange Library. True to form, it's got all of the oddness of Murakami's mind, nicely packaged in under 100 pages. I highly suggest giving it a try. There's an Amazon link to the book at the end of this post.
Looking into what others make of the meaning of this story, I happened across some interesting photography on Murakami's web page.
First, (Click Here) to see a gallery of images by Eizo Matsumura, sharing scenes of Murakami's Tokyo. These seem like they could have been made with a Holga, Diana, or other toy camera. Lots of interesting feel to them.
Next, (Click Here) to see a gallery of images that were contributed by readers of Murakami's Facebook page, specifically answering the question "What's the strangest thing in your library?" Obviously targeted to the new book mentioned above. It seems that Murakami's readers may be as interesting as the author himself.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

High Work, Powerline Installation

I've been watching these powerlines get installed near my home.
One day, when they were working very close to the road, I drove home and picked up the Mamiya Universal Press (MUP) and came back to photograph the installers at work. I approached some guys on the ground, and explained that I was going to take a few photographs. They said no problem.
I shot all of these with the Mamiya 150mm f5.6 lens. I used TMax black and white film and the 6x7 Mamiya back. I cropped the first two images to 6x9 format, to eliminate a bad scratch on the negatives.
The guy on the wires closest to me in the picture above was new to the job. He and his boss (on the ground) were yelling at each other the whole time I was there. Dropping the F bomb left and right. The boss explained to me that he'd left a line in the wrong place, and had to retrace his earlier work. He also told me that if that little carriage they're in goes off the cables, you basically have to climb out and get it back on. Pretty stressful stuff.
It was certainly worth the stop to photograph them. I found myself wanting a longer lens for this particular subject. Maybe I'll go back and catch them with my Nikon DSLR and a 300mm lens.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not All TLRs Are Rolleiflexes

Seafood Market, Super Ricohflex TLR
Well, of course not all twin lens reflex (TLR) cameras are Rolleiflexes. There are also Rolleicords! But, all jokes aside, there were many, many respectable TLR cameras by makers other than Rollei. I've owned a Yashica TLR that was quite capable. I still have a Minolta Autocord, which rivals any of my f3.5 Rolleis. I also have a couple of Ricoh TLRs, including the Super Ricohflex that I used to make the picture above.
Most of the other brands are less expensive than Rolleis, as well. My first TLR was a Chinese camera, made by Seagull. Not as robust as the Japanese or German makes, but it worked quite well.
(Click Here) to check out a post by Rick Schuster on the blog "shot on film." Rick uses a Super Ricohflex himself, and shares some nice color shots. However, Rick also mentions a strange phenomenon of the area of focus being somewhat unpredictable on his camera, toward the edges of the frame. I've never experienced anything like this with my Super Ricohflex. If forced to speculate, I'd say that Rick's camera has suffered an impact that misaligned the lens axis with the film plane. That said, Rick's still making great pictures with his camera, and by all appearances enjoying the process.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Halls of Knowledge

Halls of Knowledge, by Reed A. George
Nikon F, Nikkor 45mm f2.8 Pancake Lens
I took this shot at the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC. Not bad for a 50 year old camera.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why Are These Old Cameras So Much Fun?

I recently picked up a Brownie Reflex Synchro model camera in an antique shop. I paid $10, which is about $6 more than it originally cost.
It is a TLR design, but with fixed focusing only. So that really only means that it has a waist level finder. Anything >5 feet away will be in focus.
The camera was extremely dirty, but was easy to disassemble and clean; now it looks great. Another challenge: it shoots 127 film. Nearly extinct, 127 film can still be purchased at Frugal Photographer. (Click Here) to go to their website. It's pretty expensive, but at least it's available. You can get 127 film processed at The Darkroom.
I am guessing the fixed shutter speed to be about 1/50-1/100 second, and the aperture to be about f8. That means that iso 100 film should work in daylight situations. I have shot 10/12 frames of my first roll of Efke black and white 100 film. I look forward to seeing and sharing the results.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Film Fear-Mongering at Pop Photo?

Chinese Actress, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex T, Kodak Portra 160 Film
As you probably know, I love shooting film. I have so far stuck with the big names in film, with few exceptions. Kodak TMax is my choice for black and white film in iso 100 and 400. Ilford Delta 3200 is my favorite fast black and white film (I shoot it at 1600). For color, I shoot mostly Kodak and some Fuji.

While there are some other great films out there, including many to try out at the Film Photography Project's store, I have been content to stick with my favorites.

I recently started to read an article at Pop Photo entitled "12 Films Worth Shooting With Before They're Gone". I thought that maybe they had some information on films that truly are on their way out. As soon as I started the article, I noticed that the first two films listed were my favorites: Portra 400 and TMax 400! Oh, no! Did they know something I didn't? Nope, I don't believe so. Their third listed film is Tri-X, the most beloved of Kodak standards still available. I am pretty sure I would have heard if any public announcement had been made about Tri-X.

Now, I'm not saying it won't happen. We may see the sad day when these films disappear. I'm just not convinced that now is the time to get people worried about it. So, thanks for nothing useful in this case, Pop Photo.

If you feel the need to read this article (as in, if you want to worry unnecessarily), you can
(click here) to see it on Pop Photo's site.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Rolleiflex and Attracting Photographic Subjects

My Rolleiflex 2.8F
Over the holiday break, I've spent a little time with my new Rolleiflex 2.8F, which I purchased a couple of months back from my close friend Charlie. Mine is a Model K7F2 with Zeiss Planar lens, manufactured in 1966.
Charlie, and another good friend, Alain, have recently taken up their twin lens reflex (TLR) Rolleis and done quite a lot of shooting. One of the things that excites them both about Rolleiflex is how warmly people welcome them shooting with them. So many people ask about the cameras, or remember someone who had a camera like that, etc.
I have certainly experienced the same phenomenon. In fact, Charlie and I were in DC over the weekend, when a lady at the table next to ours in a cafe said "Excuse me, I see you have a Rolleiflex." She then went on to tell us that she owns one herself, which she inherited from her brother. By the way, her brother fought in World War II, including Normandy, entering the military at age 14 with a made up birth date. This nice lady asked about our little photography group, which meets once monthly. She's invited to our next meeting, and I'm hoping she'll bring her camera along and let us help her start shooting it again.
In my opinion, this kind of camera recognizing is both blessing and curse. While I certainly enjoy welcoming photographic subjects, sometimes I want to go unnoticed. I find that a small 35mm camera, like a Leica rangefinder, is better for that. The truth is that subject reaction to the two types of cameras is just different. Neither is good or bad; they're just different.
I've written about this in the past, with regard to my Mamiya Universal Press camera. Very few people recognize the MUP, but it's so big, it's not going to go unnoticed. (Click Here) to see some of the "candids" I've taken with the MUP.
I recently found a post on the blog "TLRgraphy" about this automatic receptivity in photographic subjects when you're using a Rolleiflex. (Click Here) to read the post on TLRgraphy.
Anyway, I've now got two rolls of 120 film exposed with my 2.8F, ready to go off for processing at
Hopefully, I'll have a few good images to share with you in a week or so.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My New 6x17 Panoramic Camera Arrives

I wrote in the past about the "Reality So Subtle" medium format panoramic pinhole camera. (Click Here) to read about the camera.
I decided that it would be my 50th birthday present, and ordered one. It arrived a couple of weeks later, just before Christmas. I was pretty concerned when I saw this collapsed, wet package show up:
Opening the package, I did find that the enclosed user guide and exposure guideline documentation were ruined by the wetness. However, the camera was very well-wrapped in another layer of bubble wrap inside. It came through just fine.
I contacted James Guerin, the maker, to let him know it had arrived. James was concerned about the package, and said that he'll likely pack differently in the future. But, as I said, my camera's just fine. James will also send me the documentation again, electronically this time. If you're interested in this camera, you can check out James' website at to learn more.
I've already put two rolls of 120 film through the camera. At only four images per roll, that was pretty easy to do. I will send them off to The Darkroom ( in the next few days. I can't wait to see what those enormous negatives will look like. You'll see them soon after I do!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Making Tea - A Quick Slideshow

I was looking for something to photograph this evening, and decided to try out the new Teavana tea infuser that I got for Christmas. I set up a black cloth background, put the Nikon Df on iso 200 with my 28mm f2.8 lens and 3-stop ND filter. With this setup, at f16, I could leave the shutter open for minutes at a time without ambient light showing up in the pictures. I then proceeded to "paint" my subjects with a small flashlight, making images at various points in the tea making process.
Here's how it turned out:
Relaxing Holiday Tea, by Reed A. George
Just a little diversion for an afternoon. I learned a few things from this. First, I needed to be more careful about spots on the glass infuser. Second, I needed to pay close attention to the flashlight being directly reflected from the ceramic and glass surfaces. But, it's definitely something I could perfect in a second shooting, if I decided to. I see now why product photography is painstaking and difficult. But, it's actually pretty fun.

Monday, January 5, 2015

In Photography as in Hunting, Sometimes it's Best to Stay Put

I know that there are a lot of similarities between photography and hunting. Take, for example, that both result in "shooting" your subject. I don't mean to carry that analogy further, but believe it's appropriate in this case. In working to photograph a particular subject, as in hunting, the photographer can choose to cover as much ground as possible, photographing what he/she sees along the way, or they can find a likely spot (not just any spot), and wait for the story or subject to come to them.
I've written about this picture before. (Click Here) to see my original post in the context of the project I was working on.
Goodbye My Friend, by Reed A. George
I shot this picture while attending the Magnum Days workshop in Provincetown, Massachussetts. (Click Here) to see the whole series of posts from the workshop.
I was hoping to photograph the end of summer in Ptown in a broad sense. I was struggling for how to do that more specifically. I found this summer bicycle rental shop, which was clearly wrapping up its season, and decided to stop and hang out. I met this very nice young man from Bulgaria, and just stayed around talking to him. I found out that he would leave for home the next day. Finally, after nearly moving on from there a couple of times, and getting hints from him that leaving would probably make him more comfortable as well, this nice lady from the neighborhood came over to say goodbye to him. There was my shot.
I just read an article on the NY Times' blog, Lens, about the same technique. (Click Here) to read how Fred Conrad used this technique, sitting on the roof of a building in Kosovo, to get his story.
This idea of finding a good location and waiting for a story is not new. In fact, I've read and heard it many times. But, like all good lessons for me, until I'm using it regularly and successfully, it's okay to be reminded of it. It's so easy to grab my camera and just start walking around, shooting what I see. Sometimes that's not the most productive approach.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Going Up

Going Up, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, Summicron 50mm f2 Collapsible
I'm about to start making regular posts again.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

Street Photograph, NYC

Street Photograph, NYC, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, Summicron 50mm f2 Collapsible
I just really like all that's going on in this image. The pointing pair on the right, the paired smiles of the kid in the advertisement and the guy in glasses, the flag reflected in the glass.