Thursday, April 30, 2015

More From Kiyosumi Garden with the Leica IIIG

While visiting Kiyosumi Garden, this young couple, probably just engaged, came to the park with a professional photographer to get their pictures taken under the lovely cherry tree. Keeping a respectable distance, I shot a couple of exposures of my own.
Young Couple in the Park, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, Elmar 5cm f3.5 Collapsible Lens with Yellow Filter
Ilford HP5+ Film
They didn't seem to mind. I love the traditional dress, which makes the images somewhat timeless.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Another Birthday Portrait with the Mamiya Universal Press

A few days back, I posted an image I shot of my daughter on her birthday, taken with the Mamiya Universal Press (MUP) and Polaroid back, loaded with Fuji FP100C pack film. I also shared a scan of the color negative I recovered from that shot. (Click Here) to see that post.
Today, I'll share another shot from the same time and place, only this one was made on Kodak Portra 400 color negative film, using the MUP's 6x9 film back.
Birthday Portrait, by Reed A. George
Mamiya Universal Press Camera, 150mm f5.6 Lens
Kodak Portra 400 Color Negative Film
I just got the negatives back from The Darkroom ( I actually made a mistake with this roll of film, and exposed the Portra 400 at settings for Portra 160. No problem. The Darkroom pulled the processing by 1.5 stops, saving the pictures for me. I'm pleased with the result.
I really enjoy shooting the MUP. It's a very large, heavy beast, with matching impressive lenses. But, when you have the time to set it up and think about your shot, it's great fun to use. This is slow photography. I like it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Photos of Kiyosumi Gardens, Tokyo, with Leica IIIG

My mother-in-law lives in Tokyo. She is a wonderful host to us when we visit. Her home is a short walk from the beautiful Kiyosumi Garden. With an interesting history, including the incorporation of natural stones collected from all around Japan, and being owned at one time by the founder of the Mitsubishi empire, today it's a public park that is perfect for a morning stroll.
(Click Here) to read more about the history of Kiyosumi Garden.
The garden is centered around a large pond, and features a floating teahouse.
Kiyosumi Garden, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, 5cm f3.5 Elmar Lens with Yellow Filter
Ilford HP5+ Film (iso 400)
In addition to the natural stones and traditional Japanese garden trees (including pines, willows, and cherry trees), the garden has a lot of wildlife, like the ducks you see above, as well as turtles.
Kiyosumi Garden Wildlife, by Reed A. George
Leica IIIG, 5cm f3.5 Elmar Lens with Yellow Filter
Ilford HP5+ Film (iso 400)
The Leica IIIG, collapsible Elmar, and 400 speed film are not your classic landscape gear. However, I quite like the images I was able to produce with them here. The yellow filter helped increase the contrast just a little, but it was imperative that I keep the bright sky out of the images. In the first image, I had to crop out a plain white sky.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Live Oak Tree - Lousiana Plantation - From Raw Image to Interpretation

I just returned yesterday from the LHSA (International Leica Society) Spring Shoot in New Orleans, Louisiana.
One of our (brilliant) activities was a visit to Belle Haven Plantation, which has been closed to the public for many years. We were extremely lucky to get access. The enormous live oak trees on the property were so beautiful. Here's a raw image that I took of one of them.
Live Oak, Starting Image, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summicron 35mm f2 Lens
iso 400, f5.6, 1/60 sec.
I walked out into a huge puddle of standing water to get this shot. I exposed to keep the highlights from blowing out, knowing that I could recover detail from the shadows with the M9 file. Right out of the camera, it looks underexposed.
I decided to do a quick edit on the image in Snapseed, on my iPad. Here's the result.
Live Oak, Interpretation, by Reed A. George
I'm sure that I can make a nice straight image from this file, but I kind of like this manipulated version. I purposefully added the vignetting around the edges, simply because I like the look.
Maybe I'll post the same image processed in Lightroom with much less manipulation. It will be interesting to see which version I like best.
If you're interested in the LHSA, check us out by (Clicking Here).

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The New Film Leica - the M-A

Have you heard about the new Leica film rangefinder, the M-A? That's right, a new, completely manual film rangefinder body from Leica. And when I say manual, I mean manual. There's no meter, not even a place for a battery.
Of course, the same can be said for the M2, M3, M4, and several other Leica M bodies of the past. You can always find a great example of one of these cameras, even get it serviced if necessary, and you're in the same boat, right? Well, maybe.
I read an interesting post about the M-A recently. (Click Here) to read Hamish Gill's thoughts about the M-A on his blog 35mmc.
I always enjoy reading about the details of a new camera like this. And, I liked seeing Hamish's photos as well. But, after reading that post, the only new idea I got was that this is the only opportunity to own a camera with these features from brand new. And I think that's worth something.
Let's face it - part of the lure of owning a Leica is what I'll call the "snob factor." As the owner of several Leicas, all used, I can admit that it's part of the equation. I can achieve my photographic goals, or the vast majority of them, with a cheaper camera. But, I don't have to. So why not own the finest camera I can afford? I don't mean that I do it to show off; I don't. But, for my own satisfaction, the snob factor helps me to enjoy photograph even more. Knowing that I can take out a beautiful piece of engineering and history and use it really turns me on.
The M-A lists for $4,750 new. Is it worth it? I'll let you decide. I'm not planning to buy one, but I do understand the lure of having a brand new film Leica that brings together a combination of features from some of the finest Leica cameras from the past.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Another Panning Example With the Leica M9

Bike Taxi, New Orleans, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summilux 50mm f1.4
iso 800, 1/15 sec.
As in yesterday's post, I used the panning technique to show a moving subject at night.
In this case, I didn't match the camera motion to the subject's speed as well as I did in the shot posted yesterday. However, this picture says more about being in New Orleans. Motorcycles can be seen virtually anywhere; bike taxis are less common. But, there are plenty of them in New Orleans.
So, as a travel photo in which I wantedd to say something about the place, this one works better.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Panning at Night

Panning is a technique in which you set your camera to a relatively slow shutter speed and follow the motion of a moving subject. If you follow at exactly the right speed, your subject comes out sharp. If your shutter speed is slow enough, everything but the subject is blurred due to the motion of the camera. It gives a great sense of motion to the image.
Here's a panning shot I made of a passing motorcycle in New Orleans:
Panning a Motorcycle at Night, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, summilux 50mm f1.4 Lens
iso 800, 1/15 sec.
In this case, the 1/15 second shutter speed was slow enough to give decent motion blur to the motorcycle's surroundings. Based on the fact that you can read the lettering on the motorcycle, I must have gotten the camera motion just right.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Entry for the LHSA Spring Shoot Photo Contest

I'm at the LHSA (International Leica Society) Spring Shoot in New Orleans. We have a couple of contests going on. I'm entering this shot for the "Spirit of Nola" contest.
Spirit of Nola, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summilux 50mm f1.4 Lens
iso 640, 1/250 sec.
This city has more than one defining spirit. Bourbon Street bars are one, this is another. The local people are generally very nice, and this lady gave me permission to photograph her saying hi to the neighborhood puppy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hello From The French Quarter!

I am currently at the LHSA (International Leica Society) Spring Shoot in New Orleans. Today started with a 6:00 am walk through the French Quarter from my friend's house to the Four Points hotel, where I met up with the LHSA group for a private tour of a gorgeous old Southern plantation, more on that later.
Here's the first thing I decided to shoot this morning.
Scooter, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summilux 50mm f1.4 Lens
iso 800, f1.4, 1/8 sec.
It is 6:00 pm, and I just caught a short nap. Now, I'll grab a quick bite, and head back to the LHSA event for a photo walk. Then, my friend Ben is picking me up to go shoot a recording session of his band, Deltaphonic. I'm definitely making the most of this trip!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Another Shot at Light Painting Cherry Blossoms with the Nikon Df

Referring to my post from two days ago, I decided to get back out with the cherry blossoms after dark one more time this year. Fighting my allergies, last remaining vestiges of jet lag from the Japan trip, and worries that my neighbors would wonder why this crazy guy was shining his flashlight up into the trees for an hour or so, I went for it. Here are my favorite light painting shots of the cherry trees this spring.
Falling Blossoms #1, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 479 seconds
Falling Blossoms #2, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 357 seconds
Yes, it took me 6-8 minutes per shot to do all of the light painting you see here. I had to paint the trunks of all three trees, then the branches. Then, I did the falling blossoms (several per tree). All with one flashlight. I think it was worth it. I feel that I succeeded in making something unique if not beautiful. At least they're not just one more series of straight shots of cherry trees. And through the process, I learned some of what not to do as well as what kind of works in this type of photography.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cherry Blossoms, Light Painting, with the Nikon Df

I have the opportunity to shoot cherry blossoms every year, usually in both the Washington, DC area, and in Tokyo. Very different opportunities, of course, but each very nice.
I find that when a subject becomes routine to me, I am challenged to make pictures that are interesting to me, and probably to anyone else who's looking. A few years back, a friend and I started to experiment with light painting the cherry trees (using flashlights to artificially light the trees in the dark). I feel that I've gotten better at this over time. Here's the first shot I was happy with from a quick outing last night with the Nikon Df.
Light Painting, Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 131 secs exposure
Having gotten the first shot I had in mind, I started playing around with other ideas. First, I tried adding some red light (two small red light flashlights, one in each hand).
Light Painting, Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 231 secs exposure

Okay, I guess, but nothing special. Then, I got an idea. I've always wanted to photograph the blossoms falling from the trees, or at least represent that concept. So, I grabbed a small branch of blossoms and used the flashlight to light it as I simulated it falling from the tree. Here's what that looks like.
Light Painting, Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 35mm f2 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 202 secs exposure
Then, I decided to try more of that, switching from the 35mm to 24mm Nikkor.

Light Painting, Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 435 secs exposure

Light Painting, Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 384 secs exposure

These are kind of cool, and probably my favorites from the evening.
Then, I decided to put it all together. Maybe it's a bit much, but here it is.
Light Painting, Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AF-D Lens
iso 100, f11, 486 secs exposure
This was an interesting evening of experimentation. It gives me ideas for some further exploration, but I have to do it fast; the cherry blossoms won't last long.
At least these aren't just like every other cherry blossom shot I see every year.

Friday, April 17, 2015

More Men at Work - Nikon Df in Japan

Here's a guy working on the outside of a building in Ryogoku, Tokyo. Ryogoku is the home of Tokyo's sumo wrestling, and this business sells "chanko nabe," the hearty pork soup that is a mainstay of the sumo diet.
High Work #1, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
iso 1100, f8, 1/500 sec.
After taking this shot from steet level, I went up to the platform at the Ryogoku train station to capture this view from a higher perspective.
High Work #2, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
iso 1100, f8, 1/500 sec.
The Nikkor 50mm f1.2 lens functions very well as a normal lens when stopped down, though that's not normally how I'd use it. It's really purpose-built for extreme low light applications.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Polaroid/Fujifilm FP100C Instant Negatives from the Mamiya Universal Press Camera

I'm still having fun with my Mamiya Universal Press (MUP) camera. Today, I used it to shoot some portraits of my daughter on her birthday using Fujifilm FP100C instant film. Note that pack film is larger than the 6x9 image that the MUP lenses are designed for, hence the vignetting in the corners.
Scanned Instant Print, 14th Birthday, by Reed A. George
MUP, Fujifilm FP100C Film, f5.6, 1/125 sec.
I was so pleased with some of the images that I decided to figure out how to recover the negatives from the film backing, which you usually throw away.
(Click Here) to see a video from the Film Photography Podcast describing how to recover a negative from Fujifilm FP100C instant pack film. Beware that the process uses bleach. Wear gloves and keep a fan on while you work.
It was actually pretty easy to do, and the results are quite impressive. Here's a scan of the same negative that was used to make the print above:
Scanned Instant Negative, 14th Birthday, by Reed A. George
MUP, Fujifilm FP100C Film, f5.6, 1/125 sec.
I think I could have done a better job scanning this negative. The highlights are too high, and the colors are washed out compared to the print.
Here is a more impressive comparison, showing the scanned print (left) and negative (right) at 100% magnification.
100% Crops (Print on Left, Negative on Right)
As you can see, the negative has a lot more detail and sharpness, and grain. Pretty interesting. I could make a 5x7 print from the negative just fine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Invited for Dinner - Japanese Style

If you're a fish, never accept an invitation to dinner in Japan...
Where Shall I Sit?, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
iso 800, f2, 1/250 sec.
Fugu (Pufferfish), by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
iso 800, f2, 1/500 sec.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Heading to New Orleans for the LHSA (International Leica Society) Spring Shoot 2015!

New Orleans, by Reed A. George
My two plans for traveling this spring happened to fall right next to each other this year. Both are controlled by schedules other than mine - the trip to Japan has to be on my daughter's spring break, and the LHSA Spring Shoot has it's own time constraints. So, while I'm still adjusting to jet lag from the Japan trip, I'm gearing up for my trip to New Orleans this week, to go to the Spring Shoot.
What better place for a Spring Shoot than New Orleans? I can't think of any.
(Click Here) to read about the program. Everyone's welcome, member or not, so please join us! Hope to see ya'll there (a little Southern touch).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Today's Image From Japan - Lumix DMC-LX100

Matcha Tea, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
iso 400, f1.7, 1/60 sec.
We wrapped up our last day in Kyoto with some very nice Japanese tea and sweets.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Today's Photos From Japan - Grill Master

Food is always one of the highlights of visiting Japan. We ate lunch at an amazing restaurant in Tokyo called Wakanui, which features grilled meats. Here's the grill master at work:
Grill Master, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
iso 3200, f1.4, 1/250 sec.
The grill master was very impressive to watch. He used a metal probe to check the internal temperature of the meats. An electronic thermometer? Certainly not. He would insert the probe deep into the meat, then press it against his lower lip to sense the temperature with his own neurons. I like that.
Grill Master No. 2, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
iso 3200, f1.4, 1/250 sec.

I have found myself wondering why I carry any camera other than my Lumix LX-100 when traveling. These photos are part of the answer. Shooting at f1.4 at 50mm focal length, and getting these kind of results at iso 3200 are the sole domain of the Nikon Df in my camera set. These are jpegs straight from the camera, just converted to black and white and cropped in Snapseed, on my iPad.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Today's Image From Japan - Someone Has to Keep This Place Up!

Shrine Painter, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
iso 200, f5.6, 1/1000 sec.
I always like to photograph people at work. This gentleman was painting the shrine; you can see his handiwork right there. He was completely surrounded by tourists, but that didn't affect his concentration on his job.

Image of the Day From Japan

Spring Kimono, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
iso 200, f2.8, 1/250 sec.
Well, faithful readers, I truly appreciate your dedication to reading my blog. My dedication to writing every day is certainly being tested by jet lag on this trip!
I really worked hard to get this shot, as the three girls in kimono were actually taking a selfie with a smart phone. As soon as the phone dropped from sight, I released the shutter. Unfortunately, the woman in the background "photo-bombed" me by walking into the scene. Oh well, the camera captures reality.
Our timing was perfect for the cherry blossoms in Japan, as you can see here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Image of the Day From Japan

Kiyomizu-Dera, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
iso 200, f8, 1/400 sec.
Yes, it is a little postcard-like, but I loved the view.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan - Wish-granting Waterfall

My family and I just got back from a visit to Kyoto. We visited Kiyomizu-dera temple, founded in the year 798. (Click Here) to read more about the temple.
One of the features of Kiyomizu-dera is the Otawa waterfall, whose water is said to grant wishes to those who catch and drink it.
Here's a triptych that I made there with the Panasonic Lumic DMC-LX100.
Otawa Waterfall Triptych, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
For this day of our trip, since I knew we would be on the move all day, I left the Nikon Df and lenses at the hotel, taking only the LX-100. To be honest, it's almost embarrassing just how good the LX100 is. I didn't miss the Df at all, and really enjoyed my freedom from the heavy camera bag.
These images are direct from the camera, just cropped and put together on my iPad.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tokyo Nightlife, With the 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens

Tokyo Nightlife, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens
Here's a little montage of images I made while walking one of the backstreets near Monzennakacho Station in Tokyo. The 50mm f 1.2 lens not only allowed me to capture the images in near complete darkness at reasonable shutter speeds, it also allowed me to use selective focus to narrow the viewer's attention to an individual's face. I shot each of these from outside the bar's window. All of the surrounding distractions blur into the foreground or background.
That said, manual focusing was quite difficult. Even with the very wide aperture and a Nikon 1.2x magnifier on the Df, I missed quite a few shots. Great fun, though!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Today's Shot From Tokyo, Japan

Here's a shot I made at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo:
Meiji Shrine, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikon Series E 100mm f2.8 Lens
iso 110, f4, 1/250 sec.
You may notice the rather uncommon iso setting; no, it is not a typo. I find that one very handy way to shoot with the Df is to keep it in auto-iso mode. With the meter set to spot metering, I can simply find a middle exposure value anywhere in my scene, spot meter it (using the exposure lock button on the camera back to hold the settings), recompose, and shoot. The camera picks the iso. I get to select both aperture and shutter speed in manual mode. The Df has such great high iso performance, I don't need to pay too much attention to what iso setting it selects.
Here's a version of the same picture, manipulated in Snapseed on my iPad.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lumix DMC-LX100 Portrait

I will be posting my single favorite shot from each day I'm in Japan. For my first day, here's a portrait of my daughter at lunch with me.
Christine, Jet-Lagged, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100, Zoom at 45mm Equivalent
iso 1600, f2.7, 1/640 sec.
I knowthat this image shows nothing of Japan; it could have been taken anywhere. I'll be sure to share some that say more about Japan in the coming days.

Stained Glass, Mausoleums in Rock Creek Cemetery

A final post of images I made during my recent visit to Rock Creek Cemetery.
There are a lot of mausoleums at this cemetery, and some of them have lovely stained glass windows, usually in the rear of the building. I decided to shoot some of them using my new Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS lens. This lens allowed me to get sharp images of the stained glass, but blur the distracting front glass and iron gates of the mausoleums. I like how the shallow depth of field isolates the images from the rest of the scene.
Mausoleum Stained Glass, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS Lens at f1.2
I also like the reflections of the trees in the front glass.
This lens provides the opportunity to do some very unique things with my images.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Another Example of How Technology Affects Vision

I've posted this picture before, taken with the Nikon Df and Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS lens.
Here's the same statue, shot with the Reality So Subtle 6x17 panoramic pinhole camera.
I love figuring out how to use different tools to make images that appeal to me.

Friday, April 3, 2015

How Technology Affects Vision

Each and every camera and lens we choose brings with it a unique vision, and unique constraints. It's the combination of these influences, and creative vision, that interests me the most. Here are two shots of the same subject, made from approximately the same distance and location, but with very different cameras.
First, an image made with the Nikon Df and Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AF-D Lens.
And now, one made with the Reality So Subtle 6x17 panoramic pinhole camera, on 120 (medium format) film.
Quite a difference, I'd say. I like them both.