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MrLeica.com – BLOG

MrLeica.com – a one stop blog for Leica cameras and Leica lenses.. other 35mm film cameras, medium format cameras, large format cameras and lots of film! By Matthew Osborne Photography

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MrLeica.com started in March 2013 after my Flickr followers kept asking me to share some of my thoughts.  The blog has now grown to 400+ articles!

Leica

Leica Landscape Photography

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Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 Lens

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Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8 ASPH

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Models 

Leica vs Mamiya: Budapest Models

Leica vs Mamiya: Budapest Models - June 2018 Blog Diary ...
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Model Photography

Model Photography – Tenerife (III)

Model Photography - Tenerife (III) - Aneta Matthew Osborne Photography ...
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Model Photography – Tenerife (II)

Model Photography – Tenerife (II) (Jan18) Matthew Osborne Photography / ...
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Film Photography 

Fuji Acros 100

Fuji Acros 100 Discontinued

Fuji Acros 100 Discontinued It's old news but Fujifilm announced ...
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Kentmere 100 Film

Kentmere 100 Film Matthew Osborne Photography – August 2018 In ...
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Kodak Double-X

Kodak Double-X

35mm Kodak Double-X Film ("Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222") Matthew Osborne ...
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Weddings

Leica Wedding Photography: John & Reema

Leica Wedding Photography: John & Reema A few Leica wedding ...
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Leica Wedding Photography: Martin & Emma

Leica Wedding Photography: Martin & Emma First wedding photos shared ...
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B&W Film Wedding Photography

B&W Film Wedding Photography: Harriett & Ash

B&W Film Wedding Photography: Harriett & Ash This is what I ...
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MrLeica Interview for OutdoorPhoto

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Mr Leica on Pinterest

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Mr Leica – The Blog

Leica M cameras are my workhorse tools for all types of photography, both digital Leica cameras and Leica film cameras.  I also use medium format cameras such as Hasselblad and Mamiya (+ 4×5 large format cameras) and develop my film in house.  The majority of the blog content is either Leica M camera related or film photography.  I photograph people; models, fashion, lifestyle, wedding photography so most of my photography is portraits, experimenting with various cameras, lenses and films.  The digital Leica M240 camera is my do everything digital M camera but I shoot film whenever possible.

Mr Leica – About

Hi, I started this blog page in March 2013 after my Flickr followers keep asking me to share some of my thoughts. To give you a brief background, my photography began in 2008 after getting a Panasonic Lumix TZ5 for Christmas.  Today I have a lot of cameras and offer Photography Tuition to those who often get paid for their work. Besides teaching, I shoot as a Wedding Photographer and Model Photographer.  I am 100% self taught so thought a blog would be a great way to share some of the things I have learnt so far.  At the end of 2012 I started to develop a passion for Film Photography and in the summer of 2013 I bought my first Leica camera.  I am now officially a Leica nut and use a digital Leica M240 and M8 plus Leica M3s, M2, M4-P and M6 film cameras for most of my photography.  This includes Leica wedding photography, Leica lifestyle photography and Leica fashion / model photography.  I also enjoy using medium format film cameras such as the amazing Hasselblad 501C 6×6 camera (my main medium format film camera), Fuji GF670, Rolleiflex SL66E, Mamiya RZ67 Pro2 to name a few and 4×5 large format film using a 1947 Pacemaker Speed Graphic and Sinar F2.  In 2014 I started to teach portrait photography and lighting in London running monthly group photography workshops. Currently I teach photography on 1-2-1 basis providing 1-2-1 photography tuition (normally with a model) on location, often in London if on location and in the UK, from my Coventry UK studio or overseas such as New York, Zurich and Amsterdam.

Destination Leica Wedding Photographer

Leica Wedding Photographer offering desination Wedding Photography both in the UK and overseas. Natural documentary style wedding photography fused with stylised wedding portraits.  As a Leica photographer I like to work quietly as an observer in the background and photograph by available light where possible.  I use both digital and film Leica cameras but my passion is film photography.

Traditional Film Wedding Photographer UK

Film wedding photographer that still prefers film cameras in the digital era.  I use 35mm Leica film cameras, medium format Hasselblad cameras and large format film cameras.  If you appreciate film photography as much as I do then I would be delighted to cover your wedding.  You may have already booked a wedding photographer but like the idea of a few special images shot on film?  I would be happy to oblige!

Engagement Sessions

Engagement photography is very rewarding and I enjoy working with a couple to create natural yet stylised images using a aray of cameras to give you as set of unique looking images.  E-sessions are invaluable for giving couples experience in front of the cameras ahead of their wedding day and it gives us a chance to get to know each other too.

Large Format Portrait Photographer

Large format camera portrait session that gives one of a kind photos.  4×5 format sheet film images and instant Polaroid photos.  I fuse my model photography experience with my passion for film photography.

Leica Lifestyle Photographer

I have realised from how I direct my model shoots that I am in fact a lifestyle photographer.  Posing often everyday people in everyday situations to look very natural.  I have not yet branded myself as a lifestyle photographer but it may be a route I take in the future as this style comes very naturally to me and I find it easy to work closely with my clients to get the best from the images.  If you are looking for new and creative photos for your social media site, blog, website or business then do get in touch.

Model Photographer

Studio based model photographer in Coventry specialising in black and white female portraiture using both digital and film cameras.  I help new models build a model portfolio and regularly collaborate with model agencies and published models in the UK, Europe and the US.

UK Photography Workshops

I provide 1-2-1 photography tuition and lighting workshops from my Coventry studio and on location.  I will help you to understand light and your camera to enhance your photography. Through 2014 I was running London photography workshops teaching small groups of photographers how to work with a professional model on location.  Currently I focus on providing 1-2-1 tuition rather than teaching groups both here in the UK and overseas.

I hope you find the content as enjoyable to read as I find it is to document.

Matt

 

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Leica vs Mamiya: Budapest Models

Leica vs Mamiya: Budapest Models – June 2018

Blog Diary

Here is the write up from my last model photography trip to Budapest in June detailing camera gear choices, film stocks used, models, locations and more.  Which camera will suit me best – Leica vs Mamiya?  It is quite wordy so you may want to get comfy and grab your favourite drink before starting (or just scroll through the images!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leica Photographer UK

Intro

June 2018 and I’m just on my flight out from the UK to visit Budapest for a few busy and hopefully fun packed days of model photography. I visited Budapest a lot last year but this is my first trip since Christmas so I feel it is well overdue. I haven’t been shooting a great deal in the UK compared to what I used to. Partly time constraints and partly getting too picky with the models I work with.  Much of my free time is currently taken up with triathlon training. My second obsession along side photography. In good weather I much rather be out on the bike(s) or doing a long run in the sunshine that stuck indoors looking at computer screen. I have a lot of film still sitting in the fridge too waiting to be developed when I get chance.

Camera Bag – Leica vs Mamiya (s)

  • Digital Leica M240 camera body
  • Leica M3 film camera body
  • Leica M4-P film camera body
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Summicron-M 28mm f2 ASPH lens
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Macro-Elmer-M 90mm f4 lens
  • LUMIX Lx100 / Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (backup)
  • Mamiya 7 6×7 medium format film camera
  • Mamiya 50mm f4.5 lens (for Mamiya 7)
  • Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera
  • Mamiya 80mm f1.9 lens (for Mamiya 645)
  • Speedlights
  • Tripod + Mini tripod

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leica M240 Fashion

Budapest – Camera gear decision

I did my usual 6hrs or so of packing last night ahead of flying. Not much sleep afterwards, maybe 3 hours. It always take a me forever to pack. I have and use a lot of different film cameras so when it comes to packing for an overseas trip it’s always a struggle to choose.

Leica Cameras

When I was in Tenerife with Aneta last month I used 2 Leica M film bodies and switched between the two with one Leica camera loaded with black and white film and one with colour film. It worked well so my first 3 cameras packed were 3 Leica Ms. The digital workhorse Leica M240, a Leica M3 and a Leica M4-P.

Mamiya 7

The next camera to pack for me was a must as it is my latest camera purchase. I brought my new Mamiya 7 6×7 medium format rangefinder camera together with a 50mm lens which I also just bought and have yet to try out properly.

Leica vs Mamiya vs Fuji GF670

Rangefinder camera like Leica Ms and the Mamiya 7 are great and generally a compact size and I find them easy to focus but they don’t focus super close to a subject.  For more intimate headshots and for medium format film with a more shallow depth of field I really needed a different style of camera. That ruled out my Fuji GF670 and Mamiya 6 which are both rangefinder cameras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leica Model Photography

Hasselblad 500CM

A Hasselblad 500CM is my usual choice but I think the location might be quite dark again so I wanted a faster than f3.5/f4 Hasselblad lenses I use. Hasselblad have the 80mm f2.8 lens but I’ve yet to become a big fan. That ruled out Hasselblad.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

The obvious choice was then the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with its amazing big and bright easy to use focus screen and with the 110mm f2.8 lens.  Sadly it was just too big and heavy to bring in my limited luggage space. I then thought about an SLR 35mm camera like the Nikon F4 (smaller than my Nikon F5). 35mm film camera are better than medium format film cameras in low light as I can use f1.4 (or faster) lenses.  My ‘problem’ was I wanted to give the models in Budapest better than 35mm film scans. The model standard there is generally very good (for my taste) so I wanted my best images of the best models captured on 120 medium format film.

Mamiya M645 Super

I chose my Mamiya 645 Super as a compromise between the RZ67 and a 35mm Nikon. The M645 film format size is 3x greater than 35mm so I can capture more detail and better tonality verses 35mm film.  The other reason for picking the Mamiya 645 is it has a 80mm f1.9 lens. This is very fast/ bright in the medium format camera world and it is lighter and smaller than a Hasselblad. The Mamiya 7 will be better for wider shots and then the Mamiya 645 for softer more dreamy close up photos.  With the Mamiya 7 being my newest camera I really hope I can use it as much as possible but if it is too dark inside for the 50mm f4.5 lens then I can use the M645 with 80/f1.9 lens instead.  The fast and small Leicas can then capture everything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm

Budapest – Choice of film

Again, as I expected dark conditions in the apartment I tried to pick film stocks that work better in low light. Black and white film includes 35mm and 120 Fomapan 100 (that I use at ISO 100-400 usually but can push to ISO 800 If needed), 120 Kodak T-Max 400 (to use at ISO 800 If needed), 120 Ilford HP5 400 which I have only just recently started to appreciate, to use at ISO 1600 and I might even try it at 3200 and lastly 35mm Kodak Eastman Double-X to use at ISO 1000 approx. For colour film I have 120 Kodak Portra 400, 35mm and 120 Cinestill 800T (excited to finally shoot the 120 Cinestill that I bought on pre-order when announced and had it shipped from America), 35mm Kodak Vision 3 200T, a real favourite of mine and then for outside a few other different films.

2 Days, 10 Models – 9:00-21:00 Photoshoots

I had a busy few days getting up early to do things before the  first model arrived then photoshoots back to back 9:00-21:00, roughly 2hrs per model.  I like to make the best of my time in a city abroad so I don’t mind going home tired!  I wont detail minute by minute but below are my thoughts after the two days of photoshoots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm

Conclusion – Summary

Writing this part on the 4am night bus to the airport and then on my flight home. I think this visit to Budapest was possibly my best yet.  The weather was great, the apartment was fantastic, the models exceeded my high expectations and the cameras / lenses did all I asked. Very enjoyable and I didn’t want to come home.

Near perfect balance

On past model photography trips I’ve been guilty of booking myself up with models and then not seeing further than my apartment walls and perhaps a few surrounding streets (if weather allowed it).  Since then I have enjoyed cycling photography holidays where I have hired a bike and taken a camera and then just go exploring.  For Budapest this time I hired a bike and for the remainder of the first afternoon the day I arrived I just went cycling (and running). For the next two full days of model photography I set my alarm early and went exploring before breakfast. I love the derelict factories and railway and unlike often the case in the UK, I can get really close to take pictures.  Having a bike meant I could cover a lot of ground easily and quickly so I felt I saw more of the city this visit than any other trips so far.  Also as cycling is my number two obsession after photography, being able to enjoy my two passions was the perfect mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya 7 50mm lens

Apartment

I found the apartment by trawling the internet for inspiring photos. I got lucky this time. Yes the apartment was quite compact and dark inside but the decor and styling was unique and really special.  Not so much inside but outside in the courtyard which I was given full access too. It was a small hotel and restaurant and David who looks after the guests could not have been more welcoming. Considering a new girl kept arriving every 2 hours throughout the day for two days the hotel could have easily said no visitors or words to the same effect. A huge thank you to David and the hotel staff for being so welcoming and accommodating. For the first day I did most of the photos close to my apartment front door and balcony but on day two we were using every inch of the space we had available to us.  As I used the same location for nearly all models there will be some over use of backgrounds but it was so pretty it might not be a bad thing and it ties all the photos from the shoots together as a common theme.

Cameras (and lenses)

Overall I was pleased with my camera choice although I’ve not seen the resulting photos yet. Fingers crossed!

Leica cameras

The digital Leica M240 did great as usual and the photos on the camera LCD looked very promising. I took two Leica M film bodies but I shot nearly all black and white film on day one so the second body didn’t get much use. I shot a little 35mm colour film on day two but not so much.  The Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens didn’t leave my Leica M3 for models and was perfect when I had less light to work with. The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm was probably on my M240 75% of the time and the the Leica Macro Elmar 90mm f4 was used a lot especially on day two.

 

 

 

 

 

Leica M4-P + Summilux

Mamiya M645 Super

The Mamiya 645 Super is a nice camera to use and I think easier to focus than a Hasselblad 500CM for me. My only gripe with it is it the waist level viewfinder suits shooting a horizontal landscape 645 orientation but I normally seem to gravity to a portrait orientation meaning it is quite difficult to compose and focus with the camera on its side. I tried to use the Mamiya 80mm f1.9 lens wide open a lot, especially on the first day so hopefully I nailed the focus. The 80mm f1.9 was perfect for the low light photos and I could use it more like a 35mm camera.  Normally if I am using Hasselblad 500CM / 501C I find there is often not enough light for the f3.5/f4 lenses I use.

Mamiya 7

The other camera I had with me was my newly purchased and highly regarded by many Mamiya 7, a 6×7 rangefinder camera. I had only developed one roll of film with it so far in the UK and I wasn’t particularly impressed by the results. To my eyes a Hasselblad 500CM produces much more pleasing images to my eyes.  As for Leica vs Mamiya 7, the biggest observation I had was how the Mamiya 7 needed so much more light that my 35mm film Leica camera/ lens combination. I was using f1.4 lenses on the Leica but the Mamiya 50mm lens is f4.5 (over 3 stops darker) so if I was at ISO 400 with the Leicas (often the case on my Budapest trips) I needed >ISO3200 for the Mamiya. As such I used the Mamiya 7 camera less in the lower light areas of the hotel courtyard.

Leica vs Mamiya 7 (Size!)

I did take the Mamiya 7 with me when I went out exploring on my bike for the first two days to try the camera with non-model subjects. I shot a few rolls film of random scenes that caught my eye so I’m excited to see the results. When I last did a cycling photography holiday to Fuerteventura I took a Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm film camera as it is lighter than  a Leica M3, M4-P, M6 etc. The Bessa R3A is very similar in dimensions to a Leica M camera body and with a Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens on it offers a super compact travel camera. To then try to fit the weighty bulky Mamiya 7 / 50mm lens combo in my same little cycling rucksack was a bit of a squeeze.  By day two I was running low on 120 film so I took the Leica M4-P / 21mm Voigtlander combination for more urban photography.  The Leica /Bessa size is certainly more suited to my cycling photography needs / demands but if the high resolution 6×7 film negatives of the Mamiya 7 blow the 35mm film scans ‘out the water’ then I will take the camera that gives me the results I desire.

Mamiya 7 50mm lens

With model photography the Mamiya 50mm (and 65mm) lenses have felt a little too wide so far but for buildings and scenes I think the 43mm could have been even better than the 50mm to capture the wide scenes my eyes were seeing. That said I use a 50mm without the external viewfinder (that’s why I bought the Mamiya 7 50mm lens not the 43mm). I would not like to have to carry an additional external viewfinder needed for the 43mm. (With the 50mm composition can be estimated by using the full area within the rangefinder viewfinder). Lastly on day 2 I was shooting some flat (model up against backdrop) but wide environmental portraits in colour and I think (and hope!) the Mamiya could have been perfect for the job. Fingers crossed as I have high hopes!

 

 

 

Leica M240 + Voigtlander 40mm

Film

Most of my photos whether digital or analogue were shot at ISO 400. I shot Fomapan 100@400, Kodak T-Max 400@ 400/800, Ilford HP5 400@400/800/1600, Kodak Portra 400@400 and Cinestill 800T@200/400/800.  I know I could have pushed some of the film more but for some of the shoots I was using mostly digital so I just didn’t bother with film.  As with model photoshoots in the past some models I shot lots of film and some none or almost none. I normally try to use some film with most models as I want to capture their beauty forever on emulsion but the way some models pose just doesn’t work for juggling multiple cameras for my style of working.

Models

All 10 models arrived as they promised and many fitting me into their already very busy schedules. One model flew in from Croatia at midnight the night before our 9am Budapest shoot the following morning. Some models came straight from their long day at work or a full day of modelling or fitted me in between jobs. Considering some girls have photoshoots all the time as that is their full time job, it is quite humbling that that want to meet me to stand in front of yet another camera for more photos, and seemingly be happy and excited with the results. I try to keep my expectations low to avoid my disappointment and I thought a few models might cancel but I was really thankful that everyone showed up to meet me for my very brief visit to their city.  I was also happy to see two of the girls again from when I visited Budapest last December.  When I worked with Aneta and Edina last time it was dark and the apartment was very limiting.  It was great to offer them a daylight shoot, or some daylight for Edina’s evening slot! Aneta said something like you seem to have got better (looking at the LCD and screenshotting half the photos with her iPhone.  It’s amazing how just a bit of light makes everything look better! 🙂

 

Leica M 240 B&W

Big thanks

As with every shoot a huge thanks to the models.  I can’t do it without you!  You may recognise some of my favourites from my previous trips.  After lots of messages in the build up to the trip, a big thank you to Franciska, Cynthia, Nora, Tamara, Edina, Lili, Anett, Boglarka, Sara and Lilla. You were all awesome!

Film Photos

August 2018 – I have not had chance to work through all the Budapest film images yet (and have only used a handful of digital pictures) .  I will include some Mamiya 7 photos in the Mamiya 7 blog to follow and I will try to put together a mini blog for more Leica vs Mamiya 645 Super film photos.  I’m trying hard to get back to blogging more frequently like I used to a few years ago. I plan to get back to writing shorter posts more often rather than just these very wordy “blog diaries” once a month or so (which i’m sure hardly anyone reads anyway!) Thanks if you are still reading at this point!  Hopefully some readers may find certain facts / thoughts shared interesting or of some use.

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Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 Bokeh

Fuji Acros 100 Discontinued

Fuji Acros 100 Discontinued

It’s old news but Fujifilm announced earlier this year that it’s B&W Fuji Acros 100 film will be discontinued in October 2018, both the 35mm and 120 versions. Sad times but there is still time to stock up while you can if you can find a Fujifilm distributor with stock left.  (Some online camera film suppliers still showed stock available at the time of me writing this post (August 2018)). (I have some packs of B&W Fuji Acros 100 in  my fridge, both 35mm and 120 formats so I will enjoy that until it’s finished).

Fuji Acros 100

Fuji Acros 100, also known as Neopan 100 Acros is a super fine grain ISO 100 film.  In some respects I would say Acros is perhaps similar to Kodak T-Max 100 film but  i’m sure Acros fans would probably argue otherwise!

I’ve shot a lot more Kodak T-Max 100 film over the years than Fuji Acros 100 but I think I use Fomapan 100 film the most of all.  I enjoy experimenting with different black and white film stocks but here some of my Fuji Acros 100 film scans to show the results it can give.  If you like the look of Acros there is probably still time to buy some.

Fuji Acros 100 Flickr Photos

(Click any image to see the camera used)

35mm Fujifilm Acros 100

Can you spot the Leica photos from the Nikon photos?

Leica M2 + Fuji Acros 100

35mm Fuji Acros 100

Sopot Beach Photoshoot

Fuji Acros 100 High Key

Fuji Acros

Leica M3 + Fuji Acros

135 Fuji Acros 100 + Leica M2

120 Fuji Acros 100

(Can you guess the camera used!? 4 different MF cameras..)

Hasselblad Fashion

Mamiya 6 Fashion

Hasselblad Fashion

Hasselblad Film Fashion

Hasselblad Model Photography

Mamiya 6 Portrait

Fuji GF670 Portrait

120 Fuji Acros 100 Portrait

Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100

Mamiya 645 Super B&W Portrait

Mamiya Sekor 80mm f2.8 N

Thoughts? Image Quality – Camera vs Film

I will be impressed if you guessed the camera used correctly for the photos above!?  Assuming you got at least a couple of guesses wrong, the point I wanted to make is the choice of film used in your analogue camera is perhaps almost as important as your camera and lens choice.  Assuming the camera and lens used is “quite good”loading a professional grade film stock such a Fuji Acros 100 is the next biggest step forward to capturing and creating a “high quality” image.  I believe good film such as Neopan Acros 100 or something like Ilford Delta 100 (a personal favourite) will make a much bigger difference to the final image than using only a premium camera brand but any old  cheap film on the market.

This statement depends on the look you are wanting to create of course.  You may shoot film rather than digital to create an “artistic impression” of a scene or subject.  To me Polaroid film would be good for this.  For my taste however I look to create an image as perfect as I can on film in terms of sharpness and resolution yet still enjoy all the quirks of using film cameras.  With this in mind I feel using a film such a Fuji Acros 100 will bring me nearer to my goal than buying a new film camera.  To me an OK film camera with “great” film can produce a “great” image but a “great” film camera with OK film can only create an OK image.  Nikon film cameras and lenses are quite a lot cheaper than Leica cameras and Leica lenses but I like all the images captured equally in that respect.

Conclusion

Knowing what I know now I feel I should “invest” more in good film and less in new gear when looking to create a “nice” photo.  That said I like the experimental aspect of using lots of different cameras, lenses and films so i’m sure I will never learn.

Lastly, looking at these Fuji Acros photos again side by side with fresh eyes I should probably have used the film more that I did.  Maybe it is time for me to stock up!Fuji Acros 100

Matt

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Kentmere 100 Film

Kentmere 100 Film

Matthew Osborne Photography – August 2018

In my last blog post I discussed Kodak black and white film, specifically Kodak Double-X.  Another B&W film that to my eyes gives a classic look is Kentmere 100 film.  Kentmere film is only able in 35mm format and comes in two speeds, 100 and 400.  I have only shot with Kentmere 100 but I liked the results enough that I didn’t look to try Kentmere 400.

kentmere 100 film

I bought my first rolls of Kentmere 100 film in the US at either Adorama or B&H I think during a photography workshop I was running in New York.  What I didn’t realise at the time is Kentmere film is actually made by Ilford film.  It was first available in the US as a budget alternative to Ilford films but is now available in the UK also.  With all the great black and white films available on the market I have not bought another batch of Kentmere film yet as I am still experiementing with new films.  The latest film I tried was Ilford Pan 100 so I will share some samples and thoughts once I have shot a few more rolls of it.

Kentmere 100 – Flickr Photos

(Click any image to see the camera used)

Kentmere 100 Film

Kentmere 100 Film Portrait

35mm Kentmere 100 Film

Nikon F4 + Kentmere 100 film

Olympus 35RC Camera

Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8

Leica M3 + Kentmere 100 Film

Bessa R3A + Kentmere 100

Band Shoot

Brooklyn Bridge New York Panoramic

Hasselblad XPan NYC Cityscape

Kentmere 100 Film Summary

Originally I bought this film because of the low price plus I like to experiment with different film stocks.  I was pleasantly surprised by the sharpness and fine grain of Kentmere 100 when compared to other classic film emulsions such as Ilford FP4 plus and Ilford HP5 plus.  I find 35mm FP4 a little to grainy for my portraits and similar to 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 in that regard.  That said I happily shoot 120 format HP5, FP4 and Tri-X  in my medium format film cameras such as the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 / 7 / RZ67 as the grain in the larger negatives is less pronounced.

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Film Photography

Ilford Photo

Kodak Double-X

35mm Kodak Double-X Film (“Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222”)

Matthew Osborne Photography – August 2018
Kodak Double-XKodak Double-X

I think it was a couple of years ago when I purchased a 400ft bulk roll of 35mm Kodak Double-X 5222 film. Fresh stock in a Kodak factory sealed tin as shown above.  Kodak Double X or “Kodak XX” is black and white negative film produced primarily for the movie industry “Kodak Motion Picture” film.  (*The colour Kodak Motion Picture film is called Kodak Vision3 film stock which I also use and will cover in a later blog post).

Movies such as James Bond -“Casino Royale” had scenes shot on the classic Kodak Double X B&W film which I believe is unchanged from the 1960s.  Unlike the modern T-grain Kodak T-Max black and white film stocks that have a much finer grain structure and more modern look, Kodak Double-X has a classic grain and more vintage appearance.

Kodak recommend rating Double-X at ISO 200 in daylight but I have shot it at anything from ISO 100-1600 (I think) and still received great results.  I feel it is much better in low light than Kodak Tri-X 400 film or Kodak T-Max 400 film and believe it should have a native ISO closer to ISO 640.

Kodak Eastman Double-X 400ft

I bulk load the 400ft film onto 35mm cassettes to use in my Leica film cameras (and other 35mm film camera).

Below are some sample images of me shooting Kodak Double-X in my various film cameras.  All film was home developed and scanned with a flatbed Epson V800 scanner. (*Some film negatives have scratches on from a cheap bulk loader I used).

Kodak Double-X Flickr Photos

(Click any image to see the camera used and what I rated the film at)

Hasselblad XPan + BWXX

Hasselblad XPan Panoramic Landscape

XPan City Lights

Hasselblad Xpan

Hasselblad XPan Portrait

Kodak Double-X 5222 Film

Leica M6 + Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222

Leica Elmarit-M 28mm Fashion

Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222

Leica Portrait - Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Kodak Double-X Portrait

Hasselblad XPan Portrait

BMA Models

Triple Exposure

Nikon F4 + Kodak Double-X

Leica M4-P Film Camera

Classic Portrait

Double-X 5222 Film

Have you focused yet..? :)

Inside Grand Central Terminal, NYC

Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222

Kodak Double X 5222

London Photography Workshop

Black and White

Leica M6 Wedding

Leica M3 + Leica Summicron 75mm APO

Leica Wedding - Leica M3!

As you can see I use Kodak Double-X quite often.  You can find more examples images in my various model photography overseas photoshoots – Poland, Hungary and Paris (especially).  I have used Double-X during multiple Leica photography workshops in London and also for one of the Leica workshops I ran in New York (using the Hasselblad XPan).  For my Leica wedding photography and bridal shoots I find Kodak Double X great for low light photography or varied lighting conditions.  I guess in summary I like the film a lot!

Some different Kodak B&W film stock photos as a very rough comparison
35mm Kodak T-Max 100

Leica M2 Portrait

Kodak TMax 100 B&W

35mm Kodak T-Max 400

Leica M3 Portrait

Leica M3 Film Portrait

Kodak Tri-X 400

Leica M2 Portrait - Tri-X 400@200

Kodak Tri-X Love!

35mm Kodak Plus-X 125

Kodak Plus-X Fashion

Leica Summicron 50mm DR

I have opinions on all the film stocks listed above but in summary I find 35mm Kodak Tri-X too grainy for my taste so I have used it the least.  The sharpness and fine grain of 35mm Kodak T-Max 400 always impresses me and I use it a lot.  Discontinued Kodak Plus-X is a fantastic film but sadly I got into film photography too late and Kodak had already ended production in 2011 (I understand).  Kodak Double-X gives the best classic look of the listed Kodak films, to my eyes.

35mm Cinestill BwXX film

If you would like to avoid the hassle of bulk loading your own 35mm film or you don’t think you shoot enough film to use up a 400ft roll then there is another option.  The Brother’s Wright, aka founders of Cinestill film, sell a rebranded version of Kodak Double-X simply called BwXX which can be bought in individual 35mm cassettes.

I will review more film stocks when I get chance and add them to the Film Photography tab at the top of this site where a list of film stock links already exists.  Coming soon!

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Model Photography – Tenerife (III)

Model Photography – Tenerife (III) – Aneta

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
August 2018 (from May 2018)

Blog Diary

My first model photography trip to Tenerife was in September 2017 which was just me and model Lindsay. I then went again in January 2018 in a small group. After the first two trips I felt the photos were generally better when I worked 1-2-1 with one model and when we were both solely focused on making good pictures without other distractions.

This Tenerife photoshoot would again be 1-2-1 and this time with Polish model Aneta. We are both very results driven and hard working so I expected non-stop photos for the full 3 days. Writing this blog on the flight home this was an understatement ha. Aneta’s wish list and supply of clothes was endless and even using almost every hour of daylight each day we still probably needed at least 1-2 more days to do all we wanted to do.
Rather than split it into three days and say what we did each day I will just talk more about the cameras (as the days blurred together).

Camera Gear

  • Digital Leica M240 camera body
  • Leica M3 35mm film camera body
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Leica Macro-Elmer-M 90mm f4 lens
  • LUMIX Lx100 / Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (backup)
  • Hasselblad 500CM 6×6 film camera + WLF
  • Hasselblad Acute Matte D Split prism focus screen
  • Hasselblad Acute Matte cross hair focus screen
  • Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
  • Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 CF lens
  • Hasselblad SWC-M 6×6 film camera (fixed Zeiss Biogon 38mm f4.5 CF lens)
  • Hasselblad A12 film back (6×6)
  • Hasselblad A16 film back (645)
  • Mamiya 6 6×6 film camera

Film

  • 35mm Kodak Vision 3 50D
  • 35mm Kodak Vision 3 500T
  • 120 Fomapan 100
  • 120 Ilford HP5 400
  • 120 Fuji Neopan Acros 100
  • 120 Kodak Portra 160
  • 120 Kodak Ektar 100

Leica M3

Medium format cameras

As you may have spotted from my camera bag list I brought a lot (and that was after weeks of trying to decide what to take). For this trip I will wanted to focus more on medium format film and just have one 35mm camera for fun photos (or fast snaps or as a colour alternative if the 6×6 cameras were shooting black and white film.

Hasselblad SWC-M

I expected to use the Mamiya 6 camera the most and Hasselblad SWC-M the least. The opposite was in fact true and I used the SWC-M the most. The Hasselblad 500CM was somewhere in between. I’m not sure the results will be any good using the SWC-M but I got a great workflow going and just loved the size of the camera and point and shoot (almost) approach. My method was to measure the distance with a Leica camera rangefinder then read the distance off the Leica lens then dial it in on the SWC-M lens, copy the exposure setting, compose and click. I took the Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera to work quickly with on location and to capture more environmental portraits. I took the Hasselblad 500CM mostly to work in close to the model (using the cross hair focus screen) but also a few shots from a distance with the split prism focus screen. I find neither screen works as well for both situations (for the mentioned styles of photography, for me). Ie. split prism screen up close I struggle with and cross hair screen from distance I can’t see to focus accurately.

I took the Hasselblad SWC-M instead of a 4×5 film camera believe it or not but it didn’t pan out like that. I planned to shoot carefully composed images on a tripod but it was 99% handheld rushed photos, trying to catch a nice pose before Aneta moved. I found my eyes were naturally seeing wider scenes than the Mamiya 6 75mm lens or Hasselblad 500CM 60mm lens could capture. I don’t think the wide lens necessary suited every image I shot but I’m super excited to see the results. The fixed 38mm f4.5 Zeiss Biogon lens (35mm 21mm equivalent) is extremely well regarded yet I’ve not used the camera as much as I had hoped. Maybe I will going forward now I’ve got my own method of using the camera. Fingers crossed!

The 4×5 Camera Effect

One thing I really noticed in Tenerife this time but also at home is after buying the Intrepid 4×5 camera and viewing a lot of 4×5 film images on Instagram, I find I want to shoot nice light on pretty much any subject. Most often buildings. Aneta was getting changed and I found myself photographing the hotel corridor, the outside of the hotel, off the balcony and even a half cooked approached at long exposure night photography. The Hasselblad SWC-M and a 4×5 view camera are obviously very different beasts but the SWC-M feels like my new pocket 4×5 camera somehow (you would need a big pocket but vs. a 4×5 camera and tripod the SWC handheld is quick and easy and portable and yet hopefully still captures quite nice photos for those landscape or building shots.

I will certainly pack the SWC-M as my first medium format camera for future overseas photoshoots and next time I will try to make time to take more non-model photos with it. (Taking a few location shots this trip was better than I normally do and also it provides a nice visual memory of the location I was at rather than a sequence of model faces that could have been shot anywhere (sometimes the case for me)). So I guess the bad news for people that follow me for the “nice” girls photos is more non-girls photos to come this year but for anyone that appreciates general photography hopefully I will capture a few photogenic scenes.

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4

Hasselblad A16 (645) Film back

What caught me out the most in Tenerife this time was juggling a 6×6 standard Hasselblad A12 film back with the crop 645 Hasselblad A16 back between the Hasselblad 500CM and SWC-M cameras. So many times I forgot I was using the 645 crop back and composed for the 6×6 square view I saw on the focus screen. I think I will lose a few shots sadly with chopped off head and feet but hopefully not to many. (My fault for trying working fast with 3-4 cameras at once).

The 645 back also gave problems where I wanted to shoot vertical crops so had the Hasselblad 500CM on it’s side using the WLF ‘cack-handed’ (feeling upside down and back to front while trying to compose). I was using one Hasselblad back with 120 B&W film and the other film back with 120 colour film to start with but at one stage both backs were shooting black and white.

I was using two different B&W film stocks so again I got myself confused and metered the wrong exposure for some photos. I shot all the colour 120 film I took and a lot of black and white too so hopefully I will get some nice ones even after all the errors I know about. I shot 8 rolls of 120 film in total which is good for recent times (and 4 rolls of 35mm film). It was great to have a good model I enjoy shooting with to ‘invest’ in shooting 120 film with. I’m getting picky in my old age so it needs to be deemed portfolio worthy in my eyes to shoot 120 film. It is too expensive and time consuming to develop to shoot photos that I will never use.

 

Hasselblad Double Exposure

Ilford HP5 Pushed to 1600

I accidentally found results on Flickr of Ilford HP5 being pushed to ISO 3200 and with fantastic results. I bought some HP5 to take to Tenerife solely to use to be pushed. Sadly as it was so bright in the daytime I only pushed the HP5 to 1600. I will see the results and then try pushing to 3200 next time if the 1600 look is very useable.

Leica M3 Film

Originally I planned to take two film Leica bodies but then realized I only have two pairs of hands so didn’t need to take even more cameras. I wanted to shoot mostly 120 film and I only shoot film when I think a digital photo looks worthy of shooting on film. (This can result in very few film images or it can result in lots of film photos like on this trip. It depends on the model and the available light).

As I shot most of the colour 120 film quite early into the trip I was glad to have 35mm colour film as a backup. The Leica M3 was without doubt the fastest film camera to operate and is always a joy to use. For fast pace model photography it is just perfect.  It has 50mm framelines but I shot a lot with wider lenses too (35mm mostly) and used an external viewfinder to focus (or just guessed). Hopefully even if I screwed up a few 120 film shots I got others on 35mm film.

 

Leica M240 Fashion

Leica M240 Camera

The digital Leica M240 was my main camera for Tenerife. I packed a few different Leica M lenses as they are all relatively small and gave me options for different styles of photos. The most used lens was the 35mm Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 I think so I must of being seeing the world as a wider scene. I did use the 90mm Macro-Elmer more on the last day too.

No Flash / Available Light Only

For once I packing no additional lighting at all. Not even a single speedlight. I didn’t even use a reflector (not once). (That is probably why I had the extra luggage capacity to take so many cameras!). The weather was not blue sky sunshine much of the time and we even had a little rain one day but I enjoyed working just with available light and it was bright most of the time. I think these Tenerife model photography photos may have a slightly different look to my norm as I normally use a lot of lights in my photography. I enjoyed the simplicity and speed of working with daylight and I think it makes you work a location harder when using exiting light rather than just making artificial light wherever you want it. Both lighting scenarios have there pros and cons of course but for me different is interesting and fun.

Hasselblad Portrait

Model

I have worked with Aneta a few times now after she first approached me via email. We work well together and she knows how I operate and I know she is there to get the results she needs. Aneta did an amazing job bringing lots of nice clothes after weeks of me email her suggestions and photo ideas (plus her finding her own ideas too). Aneta always looks good to me but she put in the additional physical training ahead of our shoot to look at her best for Tenerife. That meant that pretty much every item of clothing looked good, very good or just made your eyeballs pop out on stalks! I was so happy I made the choice to shoot higher resolution 120 medium format film as some images I think I will look back on forever. Hopefully timeless classics and where only a few models I know could produce the same image.

Aneta is very body confident and for some photos I need that confidence combined with the amazing physical form. Helmet Newton came to mind when I was shooting some of the photos. I’m not one of these photographers that lies naked girls on a car bonnet or sit them on a motorbike (not my thing) but like Helmut Newton, sometimes some nudity can look amazing and I think it celebrates the female form. I hope Aneta can look back on some of the photos when she is old and enjoy seeing herself at her physical peak. Equally I never saw myself shooting nudes or mostly nude photos a few years ago! I just seem numb to it now so that might be why some of my Flickr or Instagram model photography photos are racier than they once were. Hopefully still tasteful though.

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 Flare

Location Shoot

Aneta and I did well in trying to use as many different backdrops as possible during the 3 days. A polar opposite to some of my past model photography shoots in Poland where many girls were shot against a white hotel wall (often due to rain outside and limited daylight). Hopefully that will add to the interest and variety in the photos even with the same model. My brain is a bit fried after 3 busy days but I think from memory the balcony shots might be the ones I am most likely to print. I want to start printing more of my work so I hope I got the results I needed. Coming soon.

Next Time – What would I do differently

If I think positive and the photos are as good as I saw through the film cameras, next time I won’t change my setup too much. I will leave the Mamiya 6 camera behind and the Zeiss 60mm lens and use the Two Hasselblad cameras both with A12 6×6 film backs. I would take the Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 for the Leica M3 as I rarely shot the Summilux wide open at f1.4. The Summarit is a smaller lens and balances much nicer on a film Leica camera body. Lastly I would take more colour film as I enjoyed shooting some colour for a change (I shoot mostly black and white film on grey days in the UK and in the studio).

Whatever the film photo results, thanks Aneta, I think we both gave it our all and some of the digital photos we’ve taken looked amazing on the Leica M240 LCD. Aneta pushed me by giving me scenarios she wanted me to photograph (that I may not have thought of) so I think I come away a stronger photographer (and I never stop learning using my various film cameras).

Film Photos

As it takes me time to develop and process film photos I will start to post the “blog diary” type post first, as here, with a few digital sample photos, and then share follow up posts containing the film photos at a later date.  As it is a few months now since this trip to Tenerife I have included a few teaser film photos too which I will share again in the film specific blog posts to come. (I have yet to develop the 35mm colour film so have that to look forward to!).

Hasselblad SWC /M

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Models

 

Fuerteventura Cycling / Film Photography

Fuerteventura Cycling – Photography

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

July 2018 (from March 2018)

Voigtlander Bessa R3A

Blog Diary – Intro

After enjoying my cycling and photography on my last solo visit to Fuerteventura in December 2017 I decided to go back again for more of the same! (Written back in March on my flight home).

Camera Gear

  • Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm film camera
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Voigtlander 21-25mm External Viewfinder
  • Fujifilm GA645 Pro MF film camera
  • 39mm and 52mm yellow filters

Camera Choice

A strange camera choice you might think!? Especially if you knew that my Bessa R3A needed recalibrating! There is some method to my madness.

35mm Film Camera

On my last cycling-photography trip I enjoyed traveling light with a 35mm Leica film camera and four 39mm filter thread Leica lenses. I thought how can I go one better than that? The Voigtlander Bessa is quite a bit lighter than a Leica M film camera (by me holding it anyway) and is more plastic feeling. I thought if I wanted to go even lighter than a Leica this my best option for an interchangeable lens film camera. (I think my Olympus 35RC is my smallest lightest fixed lens 35mm film camera but has a fixed lens). My Bessa R3A has needed recalibration for a while hence I don’t normally use it. For landscape photos however when I am stopping down the lens to F11-F16 hopefully it won’t matter too much if the rangefinder is not that accurate.

Next was lens choice. Although I enjoyed the choice of lenses last time, having a 28mm, 50mm, 90mm and 135mm meant more to carry and more faffing changing lenses at the side of the road. I wanted to ideally use one camera one lens so I packed my recently purchased Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens which is my smallest lens of any camera system. To be able to compose I would need to use an external viewfinder as the widest framelines on the Bessa R3A is 40mm. I already owned the Voigtlander 21-25mm hotshoe viewfinder so that was perfect for the job. I know I wanted to try using one lens but I was also aware that the Fuerteventura landscape is quite open and ‘empty’ looking so 21mm might be a little too wide. I therefore decided to pack my second smallest lens, the  Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens.

The Voigtlander Bessa R3A camera I was using for the trip (very similar in size to a Leica M film camera) (Archive photo – Bessa R3A with the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens)

Voigtlander Bessa R3A

Lens Filters

I noticed after my last visit that some of the photos had darkened corners from using two lens filters stacked together. I was using a yellow filter and a circular polarizing filter (“CPL”).  The CPL lens did make the clouds pop in the sky but it was also a faff taking it on and off to check orientation before taking a photo. With a 21mm lens using two 39mm filters stacked together would certainly darken the corners of each image so I packed the yellow filter and left the CPL behind.

Medium Format Film Camera

When I developed the 35mm black and white film from the last trip I thought it might be nice to shoot the same scenes on a larger negative to capture more detail.  I just had two very nice cameras back from recalibration that would both do the job perfectly, the Fuji GF670 folding 6×7 film camera and the Hasselblad XPan panoramic 35mm film camera.  The reason I didn’t take them is after being recalibrated the focus is spot on with both cameras with the lenses shot wide open and up close. I didn’t want to risk knocking them out of alignment again by carrying them in a small rucksack and cycling and running over bumpy ground for four days. I therefore packed my smaller lighter more plastic feeling Fuji GA645 Pro medium format camera. It may look like a toy camera but it has a fantastic lens.  It is also not a true rangefinder and has autofocus so is less prone to the usual rangefinder miscalibration problems I face with the Leica M cameras and other RF cameras.

Film Choice

With regards to film choice I packed only black and white film. I chose finer grain film and decided on 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 for the Bessa R3A to get both fine grain and Kodak black blacks. For 120 film I went for Ilford FP4 Plus film as grain is less noticeable with a larger negative.

Voigtlander Bessa R3A + 21mm lens

Blog Diary

I won’t bore you with day one, cycling, day 2, cycling, day 3, more cycling but I will summarize the photography aspect.  I packed the Bessa R3A and the 21mm Color Skopar lens for the first full day. Due to me leaving the apartment later and sunrise being earlier at this time of year I sadly/ stupidly missed the golden hour most days. The landscape didn’t look quite as wow as last time when the days were shorter plus Fuerteventura wasn’t new to me anymore so I probably lacked the excitement aspect of a new place to explore.  I took perhaps 10 photos on the first day ride and that was all. It was windy riding so I think I was more focused on making progress along each road/ up each hill and/ or trying to stay on the road (I got a two corners on the decent badly wrong). I think less attractive light was the main reason for less pictures though. The next full day I took another 10 photos and again kept with the Bessa R3A/ 21mm Skopar combo.  My choice of subjects for the majority of the images was completely different to my last visit but I just photographed whatever caught my eye. The wind was increasing each day so for the last day I didn’t take a bag or camera with me and just did a shorter ride before I had to check out. That meant I didn’t even try using the Fuji GA645 camera nor the 35mm Skopar lens. I think the wind and less pretty light meant my focus was more on cycling than photography this time. Maybe I should have watched landscape photography videos on YouTube ahead of the trip like I did last time to get the juices flowing but I wasn’t disappointed either way. Cycling is my second favourite past time and doing anything in the warm sunshine is enjoyable so I have no regrets.

Map to show two of my Fuerteventura bikes rides and it’s location in the world –

FuerteventuraCycling.jpg

Thoughts compared to last time

I enjoyed the one camera one lens setup and would happy leave the 35mm lens and Fuji GA645 behind next time.  I was happier with my use of time for this trip as I cycled every day and ran three of the four days (walked 20k steps on the first day instead, exploring and a big grocery shop).

I hired a road bike from Jeff at Caletta Cycles again and it didn’t miss a beat. Thanks Jeff! My apartment was closer to the bike shop so I could run/ walk to it yet far enough away from the mass tourists in the LEGO land style tourist resort.  I was living amongst locals out the way a bit so was happy.

Colour film

I shot some colour film on the last trip but still haven’t had chance to catch up with all my backlog of colour film developing/ processing.  Here are a few shots i’ve scanned that I shot on Kodak Ektar 100 film.

Ektar Landscape

Leica M3 Landscape

Kodak Ektar black and white conversion

Leica M3 Landscape

I generally prefer black and white photography but my eyes did keep spotting the opportunity for some super saturated popping colour photography.  I might have to consider colour film again for the next visit. The main contrast to my visit in December is in December the Fuerteventura landscape looked very dry and baron with the mostly red dry rocky landscape.  Visiting in March I was greeted by fresh green grasses blowing in the wind along the side of the road, lots of different daisy type flowers and tiny red succulents growing out the gravel at the side of the road. It took me back to my macro photography early days when most of the images I was seeing were the tiny details rather than the wider landscape.

Until the next one! On my flight home back to the snow and cold in the UK. Yey! (Not).

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Rangefinder

Warmer Climate

..I often ask myself why I have not moved to a warmer climate with proper sunshine when most of the my hobbies rely on dry weather and being outside. I would be as fit as a fiddle as they say as I would be outside enjoying it so much more.  (The first thing I noticed when landing in Fuertevenura is how everything looks so much more photogenic in direct sunlight. Even the most ugly looking concrete walls). I think any photographer blessed to be able to work and live in a country with days of endless sunshine would really struggle shooting in a country like the UK where often the light has no or little direction. I’m 99% sure.

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Interview Questions and Answers (In Full)

As the final piece was a very cut down version of the original content requested, below is the full article if intersted together with some of the photos they asked me to send them.  It may contain slightly more detail / information but also me blabbing on more so it depends how much time you have to kill as to whether you may want to read it!  (The finished article linked above is the polished highlights version!)

Fomapan 100@800

Q1) ​How and when did you first get into photography and when did it become a career?

My first digital camera was a Pentax Optio S4 in 2003 when I went backpacking to India but it wasn’t until I was given a Lumix TZ5 for Christmas in 2008 that my interest in photography started to grow.  The next camera is where I started the huge learning curve of self-taught photography. I used a Panasonic Lumix G1 camera with an adapter and various legacy lenses I found cheap on eBay. Using manual prime lenses soon taught me about aperture, f stop, shutter speed and ISO and I became fond of doing everything manually, both manual focusing the lenses and manual camera settings for exposure. Over the next 3-5 years I progressed through various Nikon DSLR cameras (D90, D700, D800) to the digital Leica rangefinder cameras (M8 and M240) I use today. I became bored of the DSLR camera look quite early despite owning some amazing lenses (50mm f1.2 and 200mm f2 as examples).  That lead to me searching Flickr for photos I liked and then checking what cameras people were using to make those images. I found the look I liked was analogue film not digital and in particular the super shallow depth of field of the Contax 645 film camera. I invested in a Contax and my love for film cameras began. I have and use many many film cameras from little 35mm half frame right through to large format film 4×5 cameras. It was the purchase of a Voigtlander Bessa R3A that lead me to buying my first digital Leica (M9). I loved this ‘new’ way of focusing using the rangefinder system rather than through the lens focusing like on a DSLR or any of my waist level viewfinder cameras.  Although I still enjoy using a variety of film cameras for digital I use the Leica rangefinder system, hence my blog name MrLeica.com.

Girls on Film

Q2)​ Your photography has a fashion-editorial, modern yet classic look. Could you please elaborate about your style as photographer.

In my early days I spent hours on Flickr looking at example photos but mainly to see the equipment that was used.  I have probably picked up some photo ideas from images I see but my personal preference where possible is to create tasteful yet beautiful timeless classic images that don’t look like they were created in 2018.  Shooting on film inspires me even more to create images that will hopefully still look nice in 50-100 years’ time. I often like to style a model with simple garments and poses to create the illusion of lifestyle even though they are 100% staged.  I direct models into the light to try to sculpt the face and body with the highlights and shadows to maximise their best attributes. Each model has something different to offer and I tend to focus on what each model does best where possible. For some models I might concentrate on their eyes or lips and other perhaps their toned abs or long legs.  I didn’t decide one day to pursue a particular look it just evolved with my photography over time.

Hasselblad Classic

Q3) ​Why do you enjoy shooting film and when did you start dabbling in analogue?

When I lost my love for the digital Nikon D800 CMOS sensor images I found myself applying basic texture layers  in Photoshop to try to give the images a bit more life. When I realised film photos come of the scanner looking pre-photoshopped and with all the imperfections already in place I was immediately converted to analogue. For me imperfect is perfect so using quirky film cameras and different film stocks this is the best way for me to achieve this look. When I first started my film photography in 2012 I had my film negatives developed at a lab but it wasn’t long before I decided to develop my own black and white film at home. It was quite a few years later before I made the jump to finally developing my own colour film with C41 chemicals.  Colour film developing was much easier than I had feared and I wish I had done it sooner. I don’t have a dark room yet and continue to develop 35mm, 120 and 4×5 sheet film in a Paterson tank in my kitchen sink.

Kodak Ektar Portrait

Q4) Please list your photographic gear when shooting analogue.

It will depend what film camera(s) I am using on the day but for example for a 35mm Leica film camera it could be just the camera, a lens and a roll of film loaded if working with available light. I don’t use a reflector as much as I used to  as like to keep it simple. If I was using perhaps my Hasselblad 500cm or Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 larger medium format cameras I may use a monopod to help keep the cameras steady especially if working in low light and shutter speeds of 1/60. I also use a lens hood more with these camera for some reason.  As both the Hasselblad and RZ67 are modular cameras I may load several film back magazines with film then once I have finished shooting one roll of film I simply switch it out to a new back with the film loaded ready to shoot. If it was a standard 35mm film camera I would need to stop the photoshoot to rewind the exposed film before loading fresh film. Large format film photography is a bit slower and less portable. I use my 1940s Pacemaker SpeedGraphic and 1980s Sinar F2 4×5 cameras on a sturdy tripod. I have to individually load each film holder with one sheet of 4×5 film in complete darkness in each side and load enough film holders to last the entire photoshoot.  I normally use a dark coat or jacket over my head to view the image (which is inverted) on the ground glass on the back of the camera. I then use a magnifying loop pressed against the glass to check critical focus of the subject before taking the picture with a shutter release cable (a very simplified description). I may also use Polaroid film back to do test photos before loading sheet film to check exposure. If I am taking photos using additional lighting I may use continuous lights such as hot tungsten lights, daylight balanced low energy bulbs or LED lights. For strobe lighting they might be speedlights or studio lights and I will be using either flash triggers on the camera hotshoe or pc sync cables linking the camera directly to the light. If I was shooting only film I would also use my Sekonic lightmeters to check exposure as most of my film cameras don’t have built in light meters.

Modern Vintage

Q5)​ What film do you use? Could you please tell us how you choose the specific film to shoot with as well as list your favourite film.

I am an experimental photographer so love to try different film stocks.  That said when I need results certain films are obvious choices for me. For greens and purples in a scene such as shooting in nature I would chose Fuji Pro 400H and over exposure slightly. For colour film where I need a lot of latitude such as a beach shoot I would use Kodak Portra 160 and 400.  For capturing the most detail and colour I think number one colour film today is Fuji Provia 100 slide film but it has less latitude compared to colour negative film. For black and white film if there is enough light I think the best films are Ilford Delta 100 and Ilford Pan F 50. For low light Kodak T-Max 400 has fine grain similar to a 100 speed film and is also very good. For personal work I have been enjoying the unpredictable colours of Kodak Vision3 Motion Picture Film that I buy on bulk rolls then cut myself to use in the 35mm film cameras. All their films have amazing latitude, whether 50D for highlights or 500T for shadow detail. I think the Vision3 500T film rebranded (with remjet removed it so can develop in a high street lab) by the guys at Cinestill as Cinestill 800T is one of the few colour films you can shoot at maybe ISO 50-1600 on the same roll. To have the same luxury of wide exposure latitude for black and white film, the best I have used by far is Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film which again is a Motion Picture film that I buy on 400ft rolls from Kodak. I use many other films too but I just try to match the film stock to the light levels, colours and mood of the shoot.  Film with fine grain can give a more digital smooth look whereas films with a classic grain structure (more obvious grain) give a more classic look. This is the beauty of using so many different films.

Leica M3 + Ilford Pan F 50

Q6) ​Do lots of clients prefer you to shoot film?

Often clients are not aware that my photos they like the most  were shot film, they just like the look of the image. I much prefer film so will always try to persuade clients to have at least some film images as I truly believe  the client will like the film photos more than digital once they see them. Film is much kinder to skin than digital so produces far more flattering portraits in my opinion.  In the fashion industry today clients like to see the images real time appearing on a monitor from the teathered digital camera. I understand this but equally I’d love to shoot a big brand fashion campaign using only film.  Some wedding clients trust film and request film only images and I even shot a university prospectus on film where the digital marketing company could see the benefits of using medium format cameras and slide film to capture the vibrant colours of the University campus.

Model Life

Q7)​ And how does your style of work/photography differ when shooting film compared to when you shoot digital?

Shooting film is more important to me so I shoot less frequently and perhaps hesitate before taking the photo more so than with digital. I know with film there is an additional cost but also time ‘cost’ to roll film, develop film, scan film before I can use/ share a photo (compared to instant digital images).  My style of work for digital and film is probably very similar as the modern digital Leica M240 and 1950s design Leica M3 film cameras are near identical to operate. I often use lenses on the digital Leica to get that less perfect look such as the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 which renders the image quite soft and with heavy vignetting and interesting bokeh/ flare. If I can make a digital image not look clinical and modern (and potentially boring) I am happy.  I almost always shoot digital and film side by side so use the digital camera to get a model up to speed then use the film camera when I like what I am seeing.

Central Budapest

Q8) ​Do you use studio equipment when shooting or do you shoot using available light only?

Being an experimental photographer I have accumulated many lights and light modifiers on the market over time but I am equally happy to use daylight.  The advantage of having and understanding multiple light sources is you can make any light anywhere. That said if I lived somewhere more sunny than the UK I think I would really enjoy using direct sunlight more in my pictures.   None directional diffused light on an overcast day doesn’t excite me so in these situations I tend to use supplementary light sources to provide directional lighting.

Leica M240 + Voigtlander 40mm

Q9) ​Please explain to us how and when you decide between shooting colour, or black and white?

For my style of photography black and white often helps simplify an image and help create the potentially more classic look. Everyone and everything looks great in black and white but not everything looks good in colour.  I’m still experimenting with my colour photography but my opinion is when colour is good it is really good. For me perhaps 7 out of every 10 of my colour photos would probably look better in black and white but that said when the colours in an image work together well the image really does pop. Black and white helps simplify a busy scene and removes the distraction of colours. Colour can add a mood to an image.  Warm yellow and orange tones gives a completely different feel to cooler blues and cyan for example . My current frustration with colour film is it can take a lot of time to colour grade an image after the colour film is scanned whereas black and white film normally requires very little post processing.

Nikon F5 Fashion

Q10)​ Do you develop your film or you edit/process your own work in for example Photoshop?

I develop my own C41 colour film and black and white film at home but not E6 slide film.  Once film is dry I scan every negative using an Epson v800 flatbed scanner. Any images I then want to use/ share I open in Photoshop.  For black and white film I usually just adjust the contrast curves, increase sharpness and clone out are dust particles. For colour film I repeat the same process but then also colour grade the film scan if needed to get the colours back to how I remember the scene.

Leica Photographer

> Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

Thanks for asking me to contribute!

Matt

> OutdoorPhoto, South Africa – Online Photo Store

Hasselblad Xpan + 45mm

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Model Photography – Tenerife (II)

Model Photography – Tenerife (II) (Jan18)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

May 2018

 

Another blog post I wrote quite a few months ago.. trying to catch up!

Nikon F5 Fashion

Recap

In September 2017 I invited Lindsay (also from Coventry, UK) to fly with me to Tenerife for a few days of model photography in the sunshine (Blog linked below).  We both really enjoyed the experience so booked flights as soon as we got home to visit again in early 2018.   Once we shared our Tenerife photos on social media and said we were going again a fellow local UK photographer that has worked with Lindsay before said he would be interested to join us. To cut an even longer story short we arranged 4 models between us for the next Tenerife photoshoot and there would be two photographers, me and Kev.

Leica Photographer
Tenerife Marina Photoshoot
Colour Fashion Photography

Las Americas

Kev had lived in Tenerife in the past so organized a hotel for us all in Las Americas.  I was not sure what to expect as had never visited the area but I feared there would be too many English tourists. Actually the hotel had a great location close to the beach and with all of us together in one large apartment it was quite social and easy to communicate and plan photoshoots.

Leica M240 Sensor Banding

Camera Gear

    • Leica M4-P camera body (film)
    • Leica M240 camera body (digital)
    • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
    • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
    • Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens
    • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
    • Nikon F5 SLR camera (film)
    • Tokina Macro 100mm f2.8 lens
    • Voigtlander Ultron SL II 40mm f2 lens
    • Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E lens
    • Leica D-Lux Typ 109 / Lumix LX100

Leica Fashion

Tenerife Photoshoot – Day 1

For the first afternoon when we arrived to Tenerife we had a little walk around to look at potential locations for photos. We settled on using a secluded urban area to get some graffiti style photos before it was dark. Being a newly formed group we were all getting to know each other a bit better so probably didn’t make best use of the daylight. Once back at the hotel Lindsay and I still wanted to shoot so we went back out again to take more photos. Most of the photos I took on day 1 used flash so I was less inclined to shoot film.  (I do shoot a lot of my analogue photos with flash but in a fast paced environment I prefer available light)(plus it depends on my taste that day of the week!)

Nikon F5 Fashion
Tenerife Photoshoot
Model Photography B&W

Tenerife Photoshoot – Day 2

We had broken cloud and sunny spells again during the morning. One of the UK models had fallen sick prior to flying so didn’t travel meaning there was only 5 of us. We found 2 Tenerife models interested in meeting us so the plan was to meet them at 7:30 ahead of a sunrise shoot. Neither local girl showed up at the hotel so we had our usual team of 5 for the morning from the UK. We didn’t get much sun at sunrise so I did all my photography with flash again. That meant again I shot 99% digital photos (if it doesn’t feel right I don’t shoot film).  For the afternoon a contact I had in Tenerife arranged for one of her girls for us to shoot with.  Kayleigh knew the area so made a few phone calls and got us access to a partially build / derelict club that was been renovated.  The workmen gave us full access and worked around us and we got to shoot in a new location and away from the tourists on the main strip.  The models rotated between two photographers and I tried to ensure Kayleigh got the shots she wanted before we had to leave. She was very body confident and relaxed in front of the camera so the resulting photos were a little bit racier than I anticipated.

Candid!
Not the average day..

A great experience even if all very hectic as we were working fast and swapping between models back to back. Working fast meant I had to get the job done rather than ‘play’ with film cameras so again almost all photos were digital. By late afternoon we had finished as Kayleigh had to go. Everyone was slumped in a bar both mentally and physically exhausted by the crazy experience that just happened. We had coffees and quick sit down then most people retired to the apartment to relax. Lindsay and I were still keen to shoot again so shot some cheeky shots on the hotel balcony. At last, I managed to shoot  a bit more film!  Next we all headed to the beach for sunset. We arrived too late to use the sun and beach properly but I still did a few photos for the girls.

Nikon F5 Fashion

Tenerife Photoshoot – Day 3

I ran in the morning again before everyone else got up and noticed we had clear skies. I decided to try to simplify things for today and also try to create different looking photos photos. I didn’t take the 90mm Macro-Elmar-M lens for the digital Leica and went with a 50mm lens instead. I put a 35mm lens on the Leica M4-P (Voigtlander Color Skopar) but wished I had taken my 28mm Leica Elmarit-M. My eyes seemed to be viewing wide today.  I put a 28mm Nikkor E series lens on the Nikon F5 so was glad I had that option. Amy was keen to shoot more today so we did a series of images at the hotel on the roof. I was really enjoying working in direct sunlight and managed to fire off two rolls film before we even left the hotel. Yey! Good times. I kept the same setup for much of the day and I really liked some of the images we were seeing on the digital Leica LCD. The last shoot in Tenerife was on the beach at sunset. I finished film in both the Nikon F5 and Leica M4-P and then shot digital until the sun went behind clouds.

End of the film
Towel Series

Summary

I really enjoyed our Tenerife shoot despite some concerns ahead of the trip. Everyone got on well together, we didn’t have too much downtime between photos, the weather was warm and dry, the location and hotel was better than I expected and the models gave me the opportunity to try new ideas or styles that I may not have shot before.  I think without exception, everyone said see you on the next one so I will definitely be organizing another trip.

Kodak Ektar Fashion
Kodak Ektar Skin Tones

What to do different next time

It is very tempting to travel light without lighting gear next time but then equally I know in some situations I will wish I had it. I will certainly take a 28mm lens for the Leica cameras as 35mm was not wide enough. The Nikon F5 was fun to use but when using the manual focus smaller lenses like the 28mm and 40mm I could have taken my much lighter and more compact Nikon FM camera instead.    Looking forward to the next Tenerife photoshoot already!

Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E on film

What to do different next time (II)

Most of this blog was written immediately after the trip before the emotions had time to settle.  After have time to develop most of the film from Tenerife (some colour still to develop I think), I feel I work better 1-2-1 than with a group as here.  My style continues to evolve but I think perhaps on the whole the photos from the first trip to Tenerife with just one model might be better (or more specifically more keepers / a more productive trip).  When it is 1-2-1 we are 100% focused and “dialed in” as to the task and nothing else really matters other than good photos / getting the shots we both need/ want.  With that in mind for my third photoshoot in Tenerife I travelled with just one girl.  Polish model Aneta (to follow)! 🙂
Nikon F5 B&W Fashion

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Nikon F5 B&W Fashion
28mm lens

 

Budapest Models + Leica: Dec17

Budapest Models + Leica: Dec17

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

May 2018

Written on the flight home, here were my thoughts after my model photography photoshoots in Budapest at the end of December 2017..  (and sorry I am so far behind with the blog!)

Leica Summilux 50mm ASPH Portrait

Intro

I spent the last two Christmas holidays (2015+2016) visiting Poland for model photography shoots so I thought this year I would go to Budapest for a change.  It became apparent that many of my regular Budapest models were out of town during my stay so I took the opportunity to work with some new faces. I’m glad I did as now I have three more great models to add to my Budapest model list for next time.

I booked a city centre Airbnb apartment again for a few days. Although it was quite spacious and very central it didn’t really have any photogenic features and was very dark inside.

Happy New Year!

Camera Gear

  • Hasselblad 500CM film camera
  • Hasselblad A12 6×6 film back
  • Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
  • Leica M4-P camera body (film)
  • Leica M240 camera body (digital)
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens
  • Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (Lumix LX100)
  • Manfrotto PIXI EVO Tripod
  • Siri Carbon Monopod
  • 120 Film – Fomapan 100/ Kodak T-Max 400
  • 35mm Film – Kodak T-Max 400/ Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222
  • Speedlight

Available Light Photography

Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH

The AirB&B apartment was so dark inside with little window light and little useful/ useable continuous lighting (room lights).  I almost didn’t take a speedlight to Budapest so I could shoot with available light but I’m so thankful I did.  I shot almost every digital photo at ISO 800-1600 with the Leica M240 and I metered the few film photos I took at ISO 800 and will push the Kodak T-Max 400 film one stop during developing. (400@800). 98% of the photos were taken inside as the clothes the models were wearing were not suitable for the daytime temperatures as low as -3 degrees celsius.  (I much prefer to shoot outside especially in a beautiful city such as Budapest but it isn’t always possible).  I tried to use what little window light we had in the apartment but that meant using camera settings such as f1.2-f1.4, 1/45-1/60, ISO 800-1600.

Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH II Film

For available light photography I shared the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens and the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens between the Leica M4-P film camera and digital Leica M240 camera bodies.  I also wanted to use the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens so for that I used flash.  (Being an f4 lens it needed more light than was available to use, even with a high ISO).  My new flash trigger was being temperamental so I had to use a mix of off camera flash and on camera flash (direct flash and bounced flash) with my mini speedlight.  I also used one of my bike LED lights as a video light if I needed a little extra lighting. The lack of  interior lights meant I had to create my own lighting for almost all photos with the gear I brought with me from the UK.  I probably overused a few of the spaces in the apartment but I didn’t want to shoot up against a white wall where possible (I did that far too much for a previous Poland photoshoot trips).

Leica M4-P Portrait

One advantage of the small speedlight/ light source is it was highly likely that every set of images would look a little different even shot in the same part of the apartment. Just a small change to the light position had quite a big effect to how the light illuminated the model. I realize that most decent modern digital cameras from the likes of Sony, Fuji, Nikon and Canon now have a useable high ISO far in excess of 6400 but it reality if you are shooting indoors after daylight hours then standard ceiling lights are unlikely to give you ‘exciting’/ flattering lighting for people photography (or any photography where you want to illuminate the subject). My top tip to myself after this visit is always carry a small speedlight even if I plan to shoot only by available light!

Kodak T-Max 400@800

If there was too little light for fast (“fast” = small f stop like f1.4) 35mm camera lenses then there was certainly too little light for a medium format camera. I had packed a table top tripod (the Manfrotto PIXI EVO tripod) in case I did any landscape photography in Budapest so I took a couple of Hasselblad Portrait images with the camera setup on the tripod on a table facing the model. I fired the camera with a cable release but I’m worried the models moved to much to get any sharp images.

Hasselblad Girl

UK Models (and Overseas)

I worked with three new models and my model friend Nikoletta (ex-Miss Universe Hungary).  I’m not sure what they put in the local water but Budapest homes some of the most beautiful girls I’ve met in any country I’ve visited.  I had to ask on two occasions “Are you all natural or artificially enhanced as it all seemed a bit too perfect”!  They both replied 100% natural to which I think I answered “Amazing high 5”!.  As I’ve written in other blog posts working with amazing models is not all good.  My expectation bar is now so high I am shooting less and less in the UK.  I just can’t find girls with the look I appreciate easily (seemingly near impossible!) I did maybe two months of almost no model photography in the build up to Christmas 2017 in the UK.  That contrasts to when I was shooting 3 times a week in the UK when I started out with my people photography/ portraiture and when I shoot 5-6 girls A DAY on some overseas trips!  There are some pretty girls in the UK but they are in such high demand due to the novelty factor that I often rather wait til I travel abroad to get a similar look but where the experience and resulting images are appreciated 100x more by the model.  Maybe I am just too needy ha!

Hasselblad High Key

As a note, UK model agencies such as some of those in London can have fantastic models (and I have worked with a few) (models from all different countries including the UK) but I just really struggle to build a lasting working relationship with them.  Overseas I just find it easier, to find great models and also model agencies wanting to collaborate.

Hasselblad 500CM film camera

Off Topic – Models and Wedding Photography

With me shooting less and less models in the UK at the end of 2017 my plans are changing.  For 2018 I now aim to shoot more wedding photography than model photography so that I still get to use my cameras and shoot between my overseas model photography trips.  I do enjoy wedding photography, especially engagement shoots and the wedding day itself but I’ve always struggled a bit with wedding photo editing. (It takes me too long so I limited the number of wedding bookings I took a year).  Hopefully I have now streamlined my wedding post processing a little it won’t deter me from taking additional wedding bookings for 2018-2019.

I continue to use the Leica M240 as my main digital wedding camera but also use a digital Hasselblad which is very rewarding to use and of course wedding film photography with both Leica M film cameras and Hasselblad 500 series cameras.  I realize wedding photography images are often deemed dull and repetitive when it’s not your own family or friends weddings. I want to challenge myself with the task of making wedding photos that are as well received on platforms such as Flickr, Facebook and Instagram as my often scantily clad beautiful models.  I realize this may prove difficult but if I rely solely on Flickr likes the last wedding themed shoot I shot was my most popular to date (Harriett & Ash).  I just need to carry this new enthusiasm forward into 2018!

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH II

Budapest Trip Thoughts (On Flight Home)

The lighting conditions were far from ideal and I wish we had braved the cold weather for more interesting outdoor photos.  There were not many models available being the holiday period but I was very happy to discover the three new models and I look forward to working with them again on future trips.  I am also disappointed I didn’t get to use the Hasselblad camera more but equally I am interested to see how the higher ISO digital Leica M240 images look.  Previously I have usually tried to keep the Leica M240 ISO low  and maybe ISO 800 maximum in most situations.

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm

New Favourite Lens

If you have followed my model  photography for a while you will know I have nearly always favoured either a 35mm or 50mm lens focal length on my Leica cameras.  I have used wider lenses (which I often chose for my Leica wedding photography) and also longer telephoto lenses but not repeatedly.  35mm – 50mm lenses tend to be compact so perfect travel companions for photoshoots shoots whereas my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO and Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH are both big lenses so are often left behind when I travel.

The new Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens has become somewhat of a game changer as it is super compact when collapsed and lightweight too.  I really appreciated the Macro-Elmar 90f4 for this Budapest trip and I think it was my most used lens.  In addition to this the Macro Elmar 90mm lens was the lens that captured the images receiving the most wow comments from the models. It is extremely rare that I have a Leica lens that focuses on a model closer than I need. (0.8 meters close focus distance when using the Macro-Elmar lens without the Leica macro adapter, (sold separately).

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm Headshot

Models

A big thank you models Edina, Anett, Nikoletta and Boglarka and I look forward to visiting again soon!

Leica M4-P Portrait

Matt

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Leica Landscape Photography

…in Fuerteventura, Canary Isles (December 2017)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

March 2018

New Road

Back to Fuerteventura – Bikes and Cameras!

After thoroughly enjoying my trip to  the Canary Islands last November I decided to make the most of the Black Friday flight deals and book a follow up visit! Three nights stay in Fuertventura but in a different town this time.  On my last visit to the island with family I enjoyed the two hours I spent exploring when I went out for a bike ride and took a camera with me. The rest of the holiday I was with family so less photography specific.  For this next vacation I would enjoy two full days of photography rather than two hours (and a day either side to prep/ explore/ recover!).

I booked an apartment in the capital of Fuerteventura, Purto de Rosario, so I could see more of the country and get away from the Brits abroad resorts.  Last time I had stayed in tourist resort Castillo Caleta de Fuste which was also where Jeff’s bike hire shop “Caleta Cycles” is located (link below if you ever visit and want to cycle). My plan worked well except for the logistics of collecting and dropping off my hire bike which was now an hour away by bus.  Doh!

Bad planning and a lot of time wasted (especially on the last day) but I know now for future visits!

L1009568LR

Day 1 – Arrival

My flight out of the UK was delayed by two hours due to the heavy snow which was just starting to settle that morning so that cut into my first day.  I collected the hire bike (a Fuji road bike) from Jeff that I knew from my last trip to the island and stocked up on groceries so I had supplies for the four days.  I ate as much as I could stomach that night to calorie load ahead of my planned long day on the bike tomorrow.

Fuerteventura Blog

Day 2 – Blog Diary

I set my alarm before sunrise and walked down to the coast with my cameras. I took a few urban shots of buildings in the low sun then back to the apartment for a second breakfast. I got away on the bike before 10:00 and headed up towards the mountains. I’d missed the very low sun and it was midday before too long. I was still stopping when I saw anything that caught my eye. The camera gear I chose to take with me was minimal. Originally I packed both the Leica M3 film camera and digital Leica M240 camera (as I the backpack had capacity for both cameras) but once I had a 750ml bottle of water in there plus some food and a few other necessities it felt quite weighty so I decided to travel light and carry only one camera.

Leica Photography

Day 2  – Camera Gear

  • Leica M3 film camera
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens
  • Sekonic Light Meter
  • One roll of 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film
  • 39mm Yellow filter
  • 39mm Circular Polarising filter

L1009548LRL1009540LR

L1009551LR

*New Lens!  Ahead of this trip I ordered a lens to take with me especially. The what turns out to be fantastic Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens.  It is a real winner! I have written a review about the lens already (as it has taken me so long to post this blog!)(link below).

Repetition

Day 2 – Black and White Film

As mentioned in my “Fstoppers.com – 5 Popular B&W Films Compared” post –

“I read an interesting Fstoppers film photography article a few days before flying out on my last photography trip comparing five popular black and white film stocks.  I think I was searching for a comparison of Ilford Delta 400 vs. Kodak T-Max 400 film…”

And to recap the my conclusion to the 5 Popular B&W Films Compared post (to put the following thoughts in context) –

“.. Ilford XP2 Super 400 was the clear winner for me for detail captured (in this test example) but the image consisted of varying shades of greys and lacked interest. The film with the most impact for me and seemed to be the best compromise for all desired traits (for me) was the very popular Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film with its classic grain structure, good apparent sharpness and thick blacks”

As mentioned in this post I have shot Kodak Tri-X film in the past but found 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 too grainy for my usual female portraiture style.  For my last attempt at landscape photography in Fuerteventura I shot Fujicolor C200 colour negative film. To contrast these images for this trip I wanted to try to shoot punchy black and white landscapes images and I thought the extra grain would suit the often derelict buildings and barren landscapes. As such I loaded a roll of 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film for day 2.

Postcard from Fuertventura

Day 2 – Blog Diary Continued..

While cycling around Fuerteventura in the sunshine I found the sights that caught my attention the most were the windmill structures, big and small ones and in varying degrees of decay. It got to one stage and I was trying not to take another windmill shot!  My choice of lenses, 50mm and 90mm was working well to capture these stand-alone structures but once I got up into the mountains I wished I had the 28mm to capture the wider vistas (or even wider) and the 135mm to capture a cropped part of a scene. I skipped a few photo opportunities with a plan to return tomorrow with a wide lens and longer (135mm) lens. After half a day of cycling it was clear that the subjects I was photographing in Fuertventura just repeated themselves across the island. A reader commented on my last cycling-photography blog post that my images were mere snap shots rather than landscapes as I was constantly on the move clicking anything “good” that I spotted.  I think this is a fair comment but compared to my usual portraiture I will stick to calling it landscape photography as I am after all photographing the landscape (and there is not a model in sight!)(sadly ha!). ☺

Leica Film Landscape Photography

By mid-afternoon on Day 2 I was on the wrong side of the island compared to where the apartment was and I knew I’d have a head wind coming off the coast on the way back. This took my focus off the photography a little and it became a race against the daylight to get back to Puerto del Rosario before dark. The sun sets on the opposite side of the island to the capital so once the sun drops behind the mountains it starts to go dark really fast.  I was running low on energy and fluids (having drank all 3x 750ml bottles I was carrying) so I stopped at a fuel station and bought a can of full fat coke (great sugar/ caffeine hit) and some water.  A hand full of jelly babies on top and that powdered me home arriving just before 17:00. 64 miles cycled and over 5000ft of climbing. I ate and drank as much as I could to refuel that evening and was in bed before 21:00. (Normally I get to bed in the early hours of the morning in the UK, burning the candle and both ends most days as I always have more to do than hours in a day!)

Leica Landscape Photography

Day 3 – Blog Diary

I tried to prep as much as I could last night so to be up and out early to make the most of the low sun. I was on the road for just after 8:00 and had my bike lights on as it wasn’t that light yet outside.  There was broken cloud cover and quite high winds so the clouds were moving overhead fast making the landscape change continuously before my eyes. The sun was partly illuminating the mountains tops and bits of the valley not in shade from the high ground. For a few seconds a scene looked amazing then it was gone again. These conditions don’t suit the happy snapper landscape photographer such as myself as by the time I saw a photo, stopped my bike, got my camera out, checked the polarizing filter orientation etc etc the photo opportunity had gone again.  For once I found myself stopping when I saw a good photo then pausing to wait for the nice light to return (hoping that it would!). I didn’t wait long enough to get the killer shot in some cases as I had ground to cover and cycling to do (in my head anyway). I did enjoy the play of light and the light or shadow hitting the foreground, middle and horizon. Far more interesting than an evenly lit landscape on a blue sky day. It was a good experience and I see now why ‘proper’ landscape photographers sit for hours waiting to capture the one perfect image when the clouds part and the sunlight breaks through to illuminate the scene.

Day 3  – Camera Gear

  • Leica M3 film camera
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4 lens
  • Sekonic Light Meter
  • One roll of 35mm Kodak Ektar 100 colour film
  • 39mm Circular Polarising filter

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Day 3 – Colour Film

For day 3 once I had finished the few frames left of black and white film I decided to load a roll of 35mm Kodak Ektar 100 colour film for nice saturated blue tones in the sky.  The idea was nice but I continued to view the scenes I was seeing in black and white in my head so I think many of the resulting colour images may look better converted to monochrome.  I originally packed two lenses for the day, the 28mm Elmarit-M and the 135mm Elmar lens. I had a bit of room left in my back so I added the 50mm Summarit-M lens for a normal view. I really enjoyed using the 135mm as it is a lens I have not used so much in the past with models.  It was great to crop interesting features on a landscape from a distance. As with my cycling yesterday by the afternoon I found myself miles away from home (the apartment) short on water and food and into a headwind. As with yesterday, the focus on photography stopped and the focus on getting home before dark started again.  I got home by 17:30 and just before it was dark but it meant I took less photos (and had half a roll of film not used). I had cycled 80 miles with a moving time of 5 hours and had climbed over 5000ft again.

Day 3 – Lens Filters

For day 3 I only used the 39mm circular polarizing filter as I was using colour film but for day 2 I stacked a 39mm yellow filter and the 39mm CPL filter.  I loved how the 39mm filters fit all of my Leica lenses but the CPL filter was a bit of a faff, especially when I was using a deep lens hood on the 90mm and 135mm lenses.   If you missed it I explained the difference of using lens filters with Leica film cameras compared to say an SLR camera in my post titled “Lens Filters for Leica M Cameras” (linked below).

Leica Landscape Photography

Landscape Photographers on YouTube – Get Inspired!

Prior to my vacation I had spent yet more countless hours on YouTube, this time looking at landscape photographers.  If you watch YouTube a lot you will know once you watch a few videos it starts to recommend similar videos to view. Soon I found myself watching multiple videos from two landscape photographers that impressed me/ caught my attention.  Both “Paul G Johnson” and “Thomas Heaton” happen to be based in the UK but that was just by chance. I found Paul fun to listen to and I enjoyed his quirky British personality. Paul is also a fan of Thomas (which is probably how I found him). Thomas seems to be taking the landscape photography world by storm.  He is good at what he does but he is an excellent speaker too (I think). I believe we will see a lot more of him in the years to come if you follow this genre of photography. Do you use the Flickr website and did you ever wonder who shot the Flickr cover image of the green tent on the hillside. It was Tom! Small world eh!  If you enjoy landscape photography or just want to give it a try I highly recommend both of these landscape photographers to get you started or give you some inspiration. It certainly got me inspired ahead of my cycling trip/ holiday.

Palm Trees, Fuertventura

Conclusion

On my last day I only had time to return my bike back to Jeff and then it was time to catch my flight home to England.  At the time of flying home I was really happy with my camera and lens choice on the whole. The lenses I took which all had 39mm filter threads and that were relatively compact worked really well for travelling light with camera equipment.  I think I preferred shooting black and white film to colour as I think I often see the world in B&W tones. Next time I will take only B&W film to shoot. The Leica M3 with the big Leica viewfinder was a great choice to focus the 90mm and 135mm longer lenses.  I enjoyed the long lenses especially because of how they compressed a scene. The 90mm Leica Macro-Elmar-M is really fantastic as it packs down so small for a long lens. (See my Macro-Elmar lens review link below). I found the 28mm focal length not wide enough in some situations so next time I will also take a 21mm lens.   I found I was happy with just one 35mm film camera and didn’t see the need for anything else. I absolutely loved the cycling and exploring aspect of the trip in the sunshine. A near perfect holiday for me combining two of my favourite past times. A big thanks to Jeff at Caleta Cycles for a very well maintained speed machine (road bike!).  It was not the top of the range he offers but it looked very well looked after and the gear and brakes were setup perfectly. For a guy with road bikes, single speed bikes and the TT bike I used for the Ironman triathlon event last year this is all very important! ☺

Updated Conclusion (added at later date)

After developing the black and white film (I still haven’t developed the colour film), I thought it would perhaps be nice to take a compact medium format camera or something will a larger negative size to capture greater detail in the scene next time.  I struggled to take 36 photos in a day so I rather take 10-16 higher quality images on a bigger film format. Possible cameras I might take next time include the Fuji GA645 AF camera as it is small yet captures super sharp images. The Fuji GF670 would be fantastic if I wanted maximum detail and 6×7  negatives (without taking a 4×5 camera!). It folds down small and again has a great lens. Lastly I might take my Hasselblad XPan as it would suit the sweeping vista landscapes in Tenerife. The 2x 35mm negative size in panoramic mode is similar to the detail captured with a medium format camera. (Both my XPan and Fuji GF670 are away to be recalibrated but it they get back to me in time I am tempted to take one!)  I will also take a trusty Leica film camera but will leave the digital Leica M240 cameras at home.

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