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MrLeica.com – BLOG

MrLeica.com – BLOG

(Matthew Osborne Photography)

A one stop blog for Leica M cameras and Leica M lenses ..plus an array of film cameras, films and film formats

Leica M cameras are my workhorse tools for all types of photography, both digital Leica cameras and Leica film cameras. I also shoot medium format and large format film and my appetite for analogue film photography is stronger than ever.  The majority of the blog content is either Leica M camera related or film photography.  I am a people photographer, models, fashion, lifestyle and wedding photography so most of my photography is portraits, experimenting with various cameras, lenses and films.  The digital Leica M Typ 240 camera is my current do everything digital M camera but my favourite Leica camera is the Leica M3 film camera.  I am also a huge fan of Hasselblad medium format film cameras and I use them a lot for client film photography shoots.

Mr Leica – About:

Hi, I started this blog page in March 2013 as 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.

Blog Content:

Sample of only. Please use the search box if you can’t see something listed (ie. lenses)

Leica Cameras

Non-Leica Cameras (A-Z)

Film (A-Z)

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.

Analogue 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

 

Hasselblad, Leica & Polish Models

Hasselblad, Leica & Polish Models

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

October 2017

Here is the blog diary I wrote to document my last model photography trip to Poland on the flight home.  Sorry it took a while to share!

10 Models in 2 days.. Poland

Leica Summilux ASPH Portrait

Choice of Cameras

I really enjoyed using the Hasselblad 500CM medium format film camera in Tenerife and before I went I replaced the PM45 prism viewfinder with the much lighter and more compact waist level finder (WLF). I had been happy the camera looked more ‘classic Hasselblad’ and that it fitted into my camera bag easier but the final photos are what matters. When I scanned the film from Tenerife I noticed I had much more photos that were sub-standard as they were not tack sharp and many mis-focused slightly. I could only think it was me being less accurate at focusing using the WLF rather than the prism viewfinder.  The WLF is certainly more difficult for me to find focus. I refitted the Hasselblad PM45 prism finder in hope that my photos get back to the standard I demand.  I think my sharpest Hasselblad photos to date were model photography images shot in Hamberg with the 60mm Zeiss Planar lens but I also had success with it in New York and Poland previously using the 150mm Zeiss Sonnar and 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar lenses.

I’ve started using a different small camera bag to my usual Billingham Hadley Digital (perfect for Leica cameras but not for the Hasselblad camera shape) as it gives me a bit more space and enough room for all of the below mentioned  cameras and lenses.  It is a really old bag I got free with an eBay film camera purchase but it does the job I need well.

Polish Girls

Hasselblad and Leica

The Hasselblad setup using the 180mm Sonnar and ISO 400 speed film will require enough light for a minimum aperture of f4 and shutter speed of ideally 1/125 or more (I will use the 500CM camera with a monopod to increase my chances of sharp photos).  I therefore packed a speedlight to boost light levels / brightness if needed.

I brought along the Leica M3 to use with available light. Using the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens and Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film I can shoot at f1.4, 1/50, ISO 800 (easily) in low light.  When there is sufficient light I will use the Hasselblad as much as possible followed by the Leica M3 (moreso in less light).  For all digital photos I will use the Leica M240 camera.

Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm

Final Kit List

    • Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
    • Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 CF lens
    • Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens
    • Leica M240 digital camera
    • Leica M3 film camera
    • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
    • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens
    • Carbon Monopod
    • Speedlight

Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF

Day 1 Model Photography

On my first day I had 4 models starting from 8:30. It was about 10 degrees colder than when I left the UK, overcast and raining in Sopot so not ideal conditions for a beach location shoot. The first photosession was all inside and all digital. The second shoot was a new model from the local model agency, Malva Models who I have worked with before. We managed to get outside briefly but it was cold and the rain kept starting again.

For the afternoon I was to revisit a makeup artists apartment that I shot in December 2016.  The MUA had invited her friend too so I had two models and seemingly unlimited creativity in terms of hair styles, makeup styles, cool props, a few different continuous light sources, light stands, a studio backdrop and a cute little dog called Boris to help us. The first 3hrs passed really quickly and I loved the results I was seeing. Next the wine came out and the shoot got extended as it was going so well. After that there was offer of pizza and more wine before the next look but my Leica M240 battery had almost died. Not wanting to miss out on the fun I ran the 2km back to my hotel, grabbed my spare battery that I had accidentally left behind and then 2km back to the apartment just in time for the pizza arriving. After very tasty food and more wine I setup the lights for a bedroom set. Throughout the photosession I was metering with the Leica M240 often shooting at the settings set for the Hasselblad film camera, f4, 1/60, ISO400.  I used both the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 lens and the Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 for wider shots or mainly for when there was not enough room for me to walk back with the 180mm lens to compose.  For the Hasselblad I was using mostly 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film metered at ISO 400 and 35mm Kodak T-Max 400 black and white in the Leica M3.   I used the Leica M3 camera without flash and with the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4  lens shot wide open at 1/50.  After a very enjoyable afternoon and evening I finally got back to my hotel at about 21:30.  A perfect end to the first day and I could not have asked for anything better.

Behind the scenes!

Day 2 Model Photography

Former Miss Poland picked me up at 8:15 in a little sports car then we travelled to her apartment for the photoshoot.  I managed to finish the expired roll of Kodak Portra 800 shooting on her balcony using available light and then most of the other photos were inside with digital. We even managed some lifestyle photos with her dog.   As time goes on I seem to enjoy lifestyle photography more and more and it is one of the looks/ styles I enjoy to photograph.

Next I had another agency model I had spotted on Instagram but also from Malva Models.  I thought she was local when I invited her but she actually lived 3hrs away and came by bus. The weather was a bit brighter, warmer and drier so I made use of the beach location and shot almost all the shoot outside. When the light levels are low working on the beach helps as the water and sand reflect light up onto the model like a giant reflector.  The Zeiss Sonnar 180mm telephoto lens was a joy to use out in the open and in these conditions the 40mm and 50mm Leica M mount lenses suddenly felt too short. I wish I had brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens or Leica Summicron 90mm for more of a telephoto look. Next time!

Hasselblad 180mm Sonnar f4

The third model I spotted on Facebook and had sent her an invite on the chance she would respond.  It later became apparent she was signed to a Warsaw model agency but lived closer to Gdansk. From the first few test photos I knew it was going to be a good shoot. Even as a new model she could hold a pose and eye contact better than some of the full-time models and took direction really well.  This was perfect for the Hasselblad film camera that is a little slower to operate than the Leica M3. The next model cancelled so we kept shooting and I loaded a roll of colour Fuji Pro 400H to fire off in quick succession using the last of the evening sun. I really hope the Hasselblad photos look as good as they appeared in the viewfinder!

Fuji 400H B&W

The model after that was late so I had half an hour to run to a shop to buy some fresh bread to eat to keep me going and then I walked along the beach front to the pier to meet the model and her friend for an after sunset low light shoot.  We shot until it was completely dark and then it was back to the hotel for an indoor shoot with a girl I worked with a few years ago. It was a nice catchup and hopefully give a confidence boost plus some new photos for Instagram and Facebook.  We finished about 22:00 and that was the last shoot done for Poland. I had an early flight home the next morning.

Leica Summilux ASPH 50 Portrait

Summary

October is probably too late in the season to plan for lots of outdoor photos on the beach in Poland so I was happy I could use the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm outside as planned. In all my previous visits to Sopot, the longest lens I have used is the 120mm Zeiss Macro-Planar so it will be good to compare the look of the 120mm vs. 180mm lenses at the same location.

I was very lucky to have been invited to the makeup artists apartment for most of the first day as we had heavy rain and not much light. My plan for the two days was to shoot inside the hotel as little as possible (as I have visited it so many times) and to instead find different backdrops to use.  I did reasonably well to achieve this goal I think.  My previous visit to Poland was mostly models photography with flash against a white hotel wall so I think this visit should hopefully bring more interesting pictures.

Leica Model Photography

I have high hopes for the Hasselblad 500CM film photos (especially with the new Sonnar 180mm lens) so I shot 7 of the 8 rolls of 120 film I took with me.  I used the Leica M3 less and shot 2 1/2 rolls of 35mm. As with all my model shoots some models screamed out ‘need to shoot this on film’ (because of the pose/ look, the clothes, the location, the light or all of them combined) and other less so. As such I think most of the film was shot with 3 or 4 models of the total 10.

Doing a shorter more intense two days rather than four days in Poland worked better as I had almost no time wasted/ down time compared to previous visits. I enjoyed meeting / and discovering some new faces and I will certainly keep in touch for future visits.

Polish Girls

Thanks

As with all my model photography trips, a huge thanks to the models, especially those that didn’t know me previously and who trusted me to give them some nice photos in exchange for their time. In no order thank you to models Dorota, Kinga, Pola, Marta P, Marta W, Weronika, Marysia, Paulina, Natalia, Kinga S, to Malwina at Malva Models agency and to Monika at the hotel.

I still haven’t developed all the film and I have held back some of the developed Hasselblad film images for a Hasselblad specific blog post that will follow this one.  As always more photos will be shared to my Instagram (@MrLeicaCom) and my Flickr as I get chance.  Thanks

Related Posts

    • Model Photography – Tenerife
    • Hasselblad Portraits – Hamburg Models

    • Hasselblad Portraits – B&W (NYC I)
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Leica Wedding Photography: Sarah & Ed

2016 Leica Wedding Photography: Sarah & Ed Wedding Venue: Tythe Barn, Charbridge Lane, Launton, Bicester, OX26 4SR http://www.MrLeica.com September 2016 Sarah kindly invited me to join her and Ed on their wedding day at Tythe Barn, Bicester UK. Sarah wanted all digital wedding photograhy so I didn’t take my analogue film cameras. Thanks for […]

via 2016 Leica Wedding Photography: Sarah & Ed — LeicaWeddingPhotographer

Leica Wedding (*and Hasselblad!)

Here are a sample of wedding photos frorm Sarah and Ed’s wedding back in 2016.  Still catching up on blogging the 2016 weddings before I start the 2017 weddings!  Pictures include Leica wedding photography with a Leica M240 (mostly hence the Leica title) and Hasselblad wedding photography with a digital Hasselblad H3D-31.

Hasselblad SWC/M Super Wide Camera

Hasselblad SWC/M Super Wide Camera

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

November 2017

The Hasselblad SWC (Super Wide Camera) family of cameras had a production life span from 1954-2009.  From researching online my particular camera model, a Hasselblad SWC/M with CF lens attached and a spirit level built into both the camera body and the newer style view finder seems to be dated from around 1982-1988.

Hasselblad SWC/M Super Wide Camera

Hasselblad SWC – Intro

A Hasselblad SWC/M comes with a Zeiss Biogon 38mm f4.5 CF lens attached.  Unlike the more common Hasselblad 500 series / V-series camera models the lens on the SWC cameras does not detach.  The SWC is a camera designed and built around the very well-regarded Zeiss Biogon 38mm lens.  It is not like a normal 500 series Hasselblad camera (as I think of them) as it has no mirror/ ground glass / waist level view finder setup you normally find at the heart of every Hasselblad.  Instead it just has an external viewfinder to aid basic composition.  To focus the SWC camera I need to use hyperfocal distance (like I would on a Leica rangefinder camera for street photography) and dial in a preferred focus distance on the Biogon lens (such as 2 meters) and then roughly gauge by eye this distance from the camera to the subject.  As the camera is a wide-angle camera there is greater depth of field (DOF) than on say a long lens (especially once the SWC lens is stopped down).  The 38mm Biogon lens is roughly equivalent to 21mm on a 35mm camera sensor so gives a pretty wide field of view compared to the standard 80mm Zeiss kit lens on a Hasselblad 500CM Classic which is equivalent to 50mm in 35mm camera terms.

Hasselblad SWC – First Thoughts

My first thoughts when collecting the Hasselblad SWC/M were small, compact and lightweight compared to the Hasselblad 500CM + telephoto lens(es) I had been using prior to picking up the camera.  The SWC has a very solid and audible clunk when you release the shutter.  Much more so than my 500CM and 501C and much for fluid movement but then it is a newer camera so perhaps to be expected.  The SWC finder view is big and bright but also very distorted so it is difficult to retain a mind-set that the photos will not also look distorted.  The spirit level built into the SWC finder is a very nice touch as you can see if an image horizon is level without taking your eye from the finder.  Well done Hasselblad.  The CF Zeiss Biogon 38mm lens looks very similar to all my other Zeiss CF lenses and is solid and seemingly well-built.

Hasselblad Wedding Photography

When I do Leica wedding photography with my digital Leica M240 camera one of my most used lenses is the Zeiss ZM Biogon 21mm f2.8 lens.  I have a 28mm Leica Elmarit-M f2.8 lens but found the 28mm focal length not quite wide enough in situation with lots of people and/ or confined spaces.  The 21mm ZM Biogon is great for bridal prep shots with multiple bridesmaids in a small room or during a wedding ceremony to capture the bride and groom and some of the guests in the background.  For previous analogue film weddings I found the standard lenses on many of my medium format film cameras too narrow to capture everything.  For a Hasselblad wedding I have the Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 which is the same as 28mm but nothing wider.  Sometime it is just nice to have a super wide lens to photograph a whole room such as the inside of a church.  A wider lens also has a great depth in focus so for moving people photos taken in a candid street photography / documentary wedding photography style it is easier to nail focus with a wider lens than with a telephoto lens (when using manual focus).  This was one reason/ ‘excuse’ to buy a Hasselblad SWC/M.

Hasselblad SWC for Street Photography

Leica cameras are popular street photography cameras when focused using hyperfocal distance.  As mentioned briefly above it means I set a desired distance and aperture on the lens and this gives me a certain range in focus (say everything between 1-3 meters).  Once set it basically makes a Leica camera a full frame 35mm point at shoot camera (if you keep your subjects within the area in focus from the camera (Ie. if something is 4m away I need to walk closer before taking the photo or move the distance on the lens to further away before taking my shot).  The same methodology can be applied to the Hasselblad SWC camera, setting an aperture and focus distance on the 38mm Biogon lens.  As the 38mm is equivalent to 21mm in 35mm terms it gives quite a deep depth in focus. (Telephoto lenses have a much shorter distance in focus at any aperture).  The SWC camera can them become a 6×6 medium format point and shoot camera for street photography, weddings or otherwise.  The biggest restriction in the UK is sufficient light so the SWC is more suited to bright conditions or high ISO film stock than low light photography for this technique.

Hasselblad SWC for Travel Photography

One big selling point of the Hasselblad SWC for me is the compact size and relatively low weight.  The Hassy SWC/M weighs under 1.4kg (with camera, finder and film back attached) and in comparison a Hasselblad 500CM camera + 80mm kit lens + film back weights closer to 1.6kg (but for the lenses I use the Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens alone weighs 1.1kg!)  For my overseas model photography photoshoots I tend to take with me the smallest cameras that provide sufficiently high image quality (and are fun to use and reliable).  It could be argued that my Mamiya 6 and Fuji GF670 are more suited as medium format travel cameras but I much prefer the rendering of Hasselblad lenses to the Mamiya glass and I find the GF670 fragile (currently awaits repair) and not exciting to use (even if it is a very capable camera).

Hasselblad SWC/M!

Hasselblad Fashion Photography

Another reason to buy the Hasselblad SWC is for my Hasselblad fashion photography.  I love the Hasselblad telephoto lenses such as the Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 lens and Zeiss Macro-Planar 120mm f4 lens for portraits but to photograph clothes full length a wider lens is often easier.  The Hassy SWC 38mm Biogon lens could be deemed too wide but many fashion photographers have used wide lenses in the past to give their fashion photos a different look.  I think I may use the SWC camera more for wedding photography but I hope I can also use it for some of my model photography to add some variety to my work.  For environment portraits a wider lens is also very beneficial as it helps to capture both the model and their environment.  I have shot many times in Budapest for example and taken headshot / half body portraits yet the surrounding location detail outside the field of view might have added additional interest to the images if included.  I think of all the locations I have done model photography the city that screams “use a wide lens” the most is without doubt New York city.  I need to go back soon!  On a previous visit to NYC I used my 35mm Hasselblad XPan camera for a wider view but found I usually prefer 6×6 format to panoramic for my model/ fashion portraits.  Using both the wide-angle Hasselblad SWC/M and a standard Hasselblad 501C /500CM body side by side gives me the best of both, with the option for wider environment portrait / wide angle fashion look photos and also shallow depth isolated headshots and portraits with a longer telephoto lens.  When using two Hasselblad bodies I also have the advantage of the Hasselblad V system being modular.  (See more below).

Hasselblad SWC Fashion

Hasselblad Modular Cameras (Specifically Film Backs)

One huge advantage of investing into the Hasselblad 500 series (V-series) cameras (including the SWC camera) is the cameras are modular in their design.  This means I can unclip a standard Hasselblad A12 film back (or any other film back) from any Hasselblad 500 camera and use it on my new Hassy SWC/M.  Having multiple film backs to use can be really valuable during a Hasselblad wedding for example.  If I was using a Mamiya 6 camera for group photos and finished my roll of film mid-session I would need to halt proceedings, rewind the film and reload with fresh film to continue.  When using a Hasselblad I carry multiple pre-loaded film backs and as soon as film finishes in one back I can quickly unclip and attach a second back with film loaded ready to go.  Another advantage of multiple film backs is I can load one back with colour film and one back with black and white film.  For Hasselblad fashion photography (or film weddings) or any client shoot I can shoot a mix of colour and black and white film and swap the backs between cameras.  For example shoot a wide scene in B&W on the Hasselblad SWC then take the back from the Hasselblad 500CM (loaded with colour film) to capture a colourful confetti group photo straight after.  The 500CM can then capture some B&W wedding portraits on a long lens and so on.  I would travel with at least two film backs for model photography trips and if possible carry 2 Hasselblad bodies too, the SWC/M and a 500CM or 501C.

Hasselblad Focusing Screen Adapter 41025 SWC/M

An obvious disadvantage of the Hasselblad SWC/M is the fact that the viewfinder does not allow for critical focusing.  Maybe it is because I have used Leica rangefinder cameras intensively for a prolonged period but for much of my photography I like to line up straight lines (horizontal and vertical) in a scene with my frame lines in the viewfinder. For example at a church wedding I would centre the viewfinder to the church aisle to capture equal detail on both sides and ensure it is aligned to the straight edges of the walls.  With the Hasselblad SWC the finder view it is only a rough guide of composition.  I would hate to have to crop every SWC photo after scanning to straighten and centre each picture.  Luckily there is another option

There is a Hasselblad Focusing Screen Adapter 41025 for SWC (SWC/M) cameras which basically makes the SWC into a mini 4×5 camera/ large format camera.  On my large format cameras like the SpeedGraphic and Sinar F2 I compose an image upside down on the ground glass on the back of the camera and then critically focus using a magnifying loop.  The Hasselblad focusing screen adapter is basically a ground glass as you would use on the top of a Hasselblad 500CM but on the back of the camera.  The SWC has no mirror so a photo is composed by just looking through the lens at the image displayed on the glass.  On a large format camera in bright conditions I put a jacket over my head and the back of the camera to block light glare.  Luckily the clever engineers at Hasselblad have a much neater design.  The focus screen adapter accepts any Hasselblad 500 viewfinder such as the pop up waist level viewfinder (WLF), a 45 degree prism finder or a chimney finder as examples.  To critically compose the Hasselblad SWC I just unclip the A12 film back, clip on the focus screen adapter (with WTF or prism already attached), compose (with camera on a tripod for example), unclip the adapter, reattached the film back and take the photo.  This process is not for every photo as takes more time than quickly estimating a composing and focus with the standard SWC finder on the top of the camera but it is a nice option to have for when I have more time (and it will be more rewarding to get the planned composition rather than cropping something in/ out of frame that was not desired.

Hasselblad and Leica Cameras

I like and use Leica cameras as they are well-built, enjoyable to operate and have great lenses that capture sharp pleasing images.  To get ‘better’ than what Leica film cameras could give me I had to look at larger film formats.  I have tried and use various highly regarded medium format film cameras but it is Hasselblad cameras which I seem to enjoy and appreciate the most.  Hasselblad 500 system cameras are of a similar build quality to Leicas and with equality good optics made by Carl Zeiss.  I have enjoyed using Hasselblad 501C and Hasselblad 500CM cameras and this gave me the confidence to buy the Hasselblad SWC/M.  The SWC/M is more Leica like being more compact and operated more like a Leica rangefinder (in terms of composing via the external finder) and I would argue for my particular SWC/M model the film advance lever and shutter release sound and feel even better than it’s 501C/500CM siblings.  Like a Leica M3 and the Hasselblad 501C / 500CM, the Hasselblad SWC/M is 100% manual and has no batteries or electronics.  I love the simplicity of manual cameras without batteries and the knowledge that they cannot develop electrical faults in the future that may not be able to be repaired.  I enjoy using my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera but I often have battery related issues that I don’t get with a 500CM.  I have some nice Fuji 645 format film cameras but the GA645 specifically relies heavily on electronics and one of mine seems to have sadly developed a terminal electronic fault.  At least manual Hasselblad and Leica cameras are in theory more likely to keep going into the future even if they need a CLA (clean, lube, adjustment) every so often.
L1008609LR

Hasselblad SWC – Specifications

As with many of the cameras I own and have talked about on this blog, Ken Rockwell has also reviewed the camera and kindly details all the specifics of the Hasselblad SWC on his site.  Rather than me repeat the same camera facts please see a link below to Ken Rockwell’s SWC review

Hasselblad Resale Value

One good thing about investing in older Hasselblad film cameras is they seem to hold their value quite well (and even appear to increasing in value/cost over the last 12 months or so).  If I find the Hasselblad SWC/M camera isn’t really for me at least I can say I tried it.  I would never have discovered my love for Leica and Hasselblad cameras if I didn’t take the chance and move away from the camera(s) I used at the time.  I never know, the SWC/M might become my new most used most loved film camera!  Either way I will enjoy finding out!

Related Links

Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Amy & Mike

2016 Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Amy & Mike Wedding Venue: Warwick House, Southam & Chesterton Windmill, Warwickshire http://www.MrLeica.com July 2016 Leica & Hasselblad Wedding Amy and Mike kindly invited me to cover their wedding photography at Warwick House, Southam in the UK. The wedding was digital photography only (no film photography) and I used my trusty […]

via 2016 Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Amy & Mike — LeicaWeddingPhotographer

2016 Weddings

Here is the first of a series of short blog posts to cover some of my 2016 wedding photography highlights using my Leica and Hasselblad digital cameras and film cameras.

Here I had the chance to cover Amy and Mike’s wedding with my digital Hasselblad H3D-31 + 80mm f2.8 kit lens.  The photos are quick B&W Lightroom edits of the original colour photos.  I could not have achieved this look with my Leica M240.

More weddings coming soon! .. together with the Poland model photography trip and some several techical / geeky camera specific posts! 🙂

 

Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Alex & Lisa

2015 Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Alex & Lisa Wedding Venue: Barton Hall Hotel, Barton Road, Barton Seagrave, NN15 6SG, UK http://www.MrLeica.com December 2015 Intro & Apologies! I know the days and weeks past by in a blur but I can’t believe it is almost two years since I shared any wedding photographs! Really sorry for the […]

via 2015 Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Alex & Lisa — LeicaWeddingPhotographer

2017 Film Weddings

I covered Nick and Naz wedding photography a few weeks ago in the UK and they asked me to use analogue film cameras only.  I had a very enjoyable day and used a variety of film cameras – Hasselblad, Mamiya, Leica and more. It also made me realise I had not shared any wedding photos since 2015!  I am now on catch up!  More to come! 🙂

Destination Wedding Photographer

To my frustration, on the same day as the UK wedding I was also asked to photo a wedding in San Francisco, all expenses paid etc.  I added it to my list of destination weddings I was asked to cover but for some reason was not able to attend!

  • San Francisco
  • Barbados
  • Italy
  • India
  • Greece

I did manage to get to a wedding in Florida in 2014 and fingers crossed 2018 will bring more great destination wedding photography opportunities! 🙂

 

 

Model Photography – Tenerife

Model Photography – Tenerife

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Intro

This morning I woke up tired, still smiling, and more tanned than I was a week ago. I had landed back in the UK in the early hours after three full fun packed days of model photography in warm sunny Tenerife! As with all my overseas photoshoots here is the usual summary of what I got up to, some camera specifics and a few thoughts thrown in too.

Olympus Pen-F Film

Camera Bag

  • Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
  • Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
  • Olympus Pen F film camera
  • Olympus Zuiko 35mm f1.8 lens
  • Olympus 35RC film camera
  • Leica M240 digital camera
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux 109) digital camera

 

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Cameras.. including dusting off my Hasselblad 500cm for a trip away

I edited a Hasselblad film scan that I had taken in Paris back in February and I forgot quite how good the detail is in the 6×6 film negatives compared to 35mm. When I bought my first Hasselblad, a 501c, I really struggled to focus using the waist level viewfinder (WLF) so bought a PM20 prism viewfinder. I found this easier to use and the Hasselblad became more similar to the Contax 645 in that regard. I absolutely love the magic of my Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 WLF so I’ve always been a bit disappointed that I didn’t get on well with the Hasselblad WLF and the acute matte bright focusing screen (glass). I think I often use the excuse that I’m not taking the Hasselblad as it is too big as this can be the case but it doesn’t need to be. The PM45 prism does add both weight and size to the camera and the Zeiss Macro Planar 120mm f4 is bigger than the kit lens. I’ve never been a fan of the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens as I think it is softer than the 50mm, 60mm, 100mm and 120mm Hasselblad lenses in my opinion (the 150mm is buttery soft but in a great way). In 2015 when I was in full Hasselblad swing and fast become Mr Hasselblad rather than Mr Leica I bought a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 because it is almost as small as the 80mm yet crazy sharp and with little distortion. I had it a week then decided it was a lot of money when I could just use the 120mm Macro Planar instead to achieve equally sharp results yet also get closer to my subjects without the need of an extension tube. I saw a classic shot of a Hasselblad 501c on Instagram and it reminded me how pretty the camera looks with their WLF compared to with a prism finder. A Hassy just doesn’t look quite the same without the WLF and it just seems right to see the image on the top of the camera. I decided to put my WLF back on my Hasselblad 500cm (the 501c awaits repair) and if I centre my subject on the ground glass cross hair for the part I want critical focus I can see to focus. On most of my other non-rangefinder cameras I can see to focus anyway within the frame but the Hasselblad Acute matte screen goes a little pearlescent/foggy if look at some angles. I practiced focusing with close up subjects and it seemed doable. I then switched back to view the same subject with the prism viewfinder and noticed the view was much less magnified. That made me like the WLF more and then main two advantages of having the WLF fitted is 1, it packs much smaller (and lighter) and 2, it just looks right and how it should be used (and very cool too!).

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So with that I now had a compact (standard rather than enlarged) Hasselblad 500cm camera body and film back ready to go. I was then back to the debate of what lens to take. The 120mm is big but very sharp and lets me go close but I find it makes me take mostly headshots as it sucks me into the subject. The 60mm focal length was my standard lens when I used my ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) in my earlier photography days. It let me go closer than an 80mm and the 35mm field of view was perfect for environmental portraits and street scenes when I was shooting in India and other places (search ARAX on my Flickr feed for examples). I bought the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF when I got the Hasselblad 501c and have used that for perhaps 50%+ of my photos. At the time I liked the images and for portraits of men I love the distortion a 60mm lens gives up close. For girls however I’m now starting to prefer the flatter less distorted view of a slightly longer lens (to avoid the big noise look!) the 60mm is also smaller than the 120mm Macro but still bigger than the 80mm. I was then back to deciding whether I would be happy using the little 80mm lens or not. I viewed a few 80mm lens photos I could find and didn’t hate them and then I viewed the few 100mm photos I had taken when I had the lens for a week. Wow they were sharp, almost too sharp even at f4-f5.6. Two days before my flight I got in touch with my friend at the now called Camera Museum in London and they kindly shipped out another Zeiss 100mm f3.5 CF lens for me. So I was all set with my new compact Hasselblad 500cm setup with WLF and uber sharp yet compact 100mm lens. My Hasselblad was looking sexy again!

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After taking my Leica film cameras on almost every overseas model photography trip I decided to mix it up a bit and pack my pocket size full frame 35mm Olympus RC35 as I was hoping it would be bright conditions and the camera is super sharp stopped down a little. I also packed another camera I have a real soft spot for, the amazing Olympus Pen-F half frame film camera. As I shoot 99% models/ portraits I often find I don’t photo other subjects on film as I think I will never use the images. The real beauty of the Pen-F is with 72 photos per roll you can be snap happy and photos anything and everything. I’ve started including a few non people photos on my @MrLeicaCom Instagram feed so I thought I could try to get some little arty shots with the camera in addition to portraits. Considering the Olympus Pen-F is half frame you would expect the film scan of the tiny negatives to be really low resolution but in reality it seems the opposite. I have made some crazy sharp photos with the Olympus Pen F camera. The effect can be made even more dramatic I you load fine grain film like black and white Ilford Pan F 50 or the amazing (yet pricey) Fuji Provia 100F E6 slide film. I decided to treat the Pen-F to a roll of 35mm Provia 100 and would shoot more black and white film in the Olympus RC35. For the Hasselblad I packed both colour film and black and white film and even included a roll of expired E6 Fuji Velvia 100 to shoot and then try cross processing it in my C41 Tetanol kit chemicals. I have two Sekonic lightmeters but I find because I am always shooting digital and film together I meter with the digital camera LCD instead. I packed the little Lumix LX100 (Leica DLux109) as a backup and my Leica M240 as the main digital camera. For my workflow with models I like to use a digital camera to warm them up first rather than shooting film straight from the first pose. The digital LCD also helps me show models what I am trying to achieve and often gives them a confidence boost once they know they look good on camera. If I was shooting only film I think a new model especially would struggle to not be able to see how she looks plus they can’t see what I am doing nor if the results are worth their time in front of the camera. Models can also spot things on the back of the camera LCD images I may not such as clothing malfunctions or hair not behaving itself or need for more makeup etc. As such this hybrid style of shooting using both film and digital side by side works well for me. I also find digital very beneficial when I am using strobes as you can’t quite visualize how a photo will look when flash lit compared to using available light.

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Overseas photoshoot with UK model

Normally when I do model photography overseas I work with local models at the location I visit. The problem my Coventry UK regular models have is we normally shoot in the house or home studio. I think I have used every wall, doorway and window so many times I now need something more inspiring. In addition to this, some clothes can look amazing on a model but they need the correct setting or backdrop to look their best. I asked Lindsay, a model I have work with quite a lot in the last 12 months if she’d like to do a photoshoot in Tenerife and to my delight she agreed. When booking flights and hotels with a model the key criteria for me is reliability. Many models have highs and lows so one week they will be really keen then they go off the radar for six months. That doesn’t really work for overseas trips. I visited Tenerife once before so I picked an area I was slightly familiar with. The difference this time is I have a model there to work with so I’m excited to see what we can create.

Available Light Portrait

Photoshoots – Day 1

Lindsay and I arrived into Tenerife late morning and got started straight away. Luckily for me Lindsay is great at doing her own hair and makeup and we’d discussed clothes beforehand so we had a pile of cool garments to work with. The weather was around 21 degrees in the morning and 27 degrees in the day with blue skies and strong direct sunlight. Our hotel room had a balcony with a sea view so we had that as an additional location to use. Being situated right on the coast we had a sea breeze which worked well for hair moving in the wind pictures. I started using the Hasselblad quite quickly and soon got to grips with focusing via the WLF (I think anyway!). The camera felt stable to use without a monopod or tripod and I was using shutter speed of 1/60 or faster. I realised there was some Kodak Vision3 50D Motion Picture film in the Olympus Pen F so I finished that roll on the first day. We went to the coast for sunset but the light dropped quite quickly and too fast for me to use my Hasselblad and f3.5, 1/60, ISO 100 film. It was a pity as Lindsay created some amazing hair for me and wore a red outfit I was looking forward to shoot. We got some shots in the low light but almost all on digital. Once the light had faded we went back to the room then I went out for a quick moonlight run just along the sea front. Not far as it got too dark to see my feet but I still loved it.

Olympus 35 RC

Photoshoots – Day 2

We set our alarms and walked down to the coast before breakfast to catch sunrise at 8:00. It was not that easy to shoot into the sun and correctly expose the model but we tried a few different setups. Once the sun was up we walled back and enjoyed an amazing hotel breakfast. Lindsay changed clothes, hair and makeup and headed outside again and found this fantastic derelict building. This was to be our playground for the next 2-3 hours. I was whooping every 5 minutes the light was that good and Lindsay just got better and better. I give models directional pretty much constantly throughout a shoot to fine to a pose before I click the shutter. I think models have to be quite patient with me barking orders at them and continually shouting “wait wait wait, again again” as I swap between cameras, and tweak my composition or point of view. Hopefully the pictures are worth it though and Lindsay mentioned she has got a lot more keepers (photos she likes) when shooting with me in the past so I guess that’s good. In the afternoon we did a lingerie shoot in the hotel room and then had a bit of downtime before the golden hours so I made the most of it and went for a run along the coast. As sad as it sounds it was one of the best experiences of 2017. I absolutely loved it! Running on single track routes weaving between the rocks and cactus, hopping across boulder fields and the beautiful coastline alongside. One of my wild ideas is to get into Ultras. These are 50K-100K plus endurance fell running events often on similar terrain to what I was enjoying. I just love the exploring aspect of it all. Running on tarmac roads around Coventry doesn’t really do it for me but I will try to build up a base fitness in the meantime. It will also work well for future Ironman events.

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I got back from the run then we went straight out the door again for a sunset shoot. The sun was setting inland to where we were situated so only really gave us some low direction light rather than pretty classic sunset shots. I decided to load the Fujicolor C200 film into the Olympus PenF for an extra stop of light (verses the Fuji Provia 100 film). Once the sun had gone down we continued to shoot until I was at ISO 6400 on the Lejca M 240, f1.4 and 1/30. By that stage I couldn’t really see Lindsay anymore to focus so we finished our days photos and went for some well-earned food and drinks.

Leica Location Shoot

Photoshoots – Day 3

Last day already yet we’d done so much in just 2 days we felt we had been in Tenerife much longer. For sunrise I still had black and white film in the camera so had to use that first. I might pack 2 Hasselblad film backs for my next trip (one film back loaded with colour film and another film back with black and white film). I then wanted to try shooting a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 with the intention to cross process in C41 chemicals. From my research I believe the film scans will look completely red, with a lot of contrast and not much detail. I don’t know if the photos will be a success but I tried to compose some simple compositions and fired the 12 shots off in reasonably quick succession. After breakfast we did one more indoor shoot to use our hotel room before we had to checkout. I loaded a roll of 120 Kodak Ektar 100 and really hope the photos look as good as they did through the viewfinder. Fingers crossed! Prior to check out Lindsay accepted my look request of curly hair, my favourite retro looking red swimming costume and makeup to match. We went out and shot the red outfit against the blue sky and finished with my sunglasses the look was complete. I loved it but what photographer doesn’t love red! I finished my roll of Ektar film and that was the last photos for the Hasselblad. Six rolls of 120 film shot in total. I didn’t think we’d use all the 120 film so it shows how well we had done (I don’t shoot film unless I like what I see). I will bring more rolls of 120 film next time if these images turn out OK. I also finished the Fuji C200 in the Olympus Pen-F but we were mid-way through some amazing photos so I loaded the Fuji Provia 100F slide film to make the most of the red outfit and cool hair / makeup. Lindsay changed clothes and we took a walk along the coast. I saw some photogenic steps coming out the sea so we shot there first then Lindsay decided she wanted to lie on the rocks with the water around her. I said she was crazy but we got into position to get the shot. 30 seconds later a big wave came along engulfing Lindsay and washing her straight off the rock. I must have instinctively pressed the shutter as it happened and managed to catch the just before and the aftermath. Poor Lindsay was a bit scrapped and battered but saw the funny side. A few wet hair photos then back to hotel reception to rest. I made the most of my last free hour in Tenerife and went out for one last run, determined to reach the summit of a distant hill within the allotted time. I did it and even managed to shoot some video on my iPhone for my Instagram feed. I think I will finally buy a GoPro camera soon to capture some behind the scenes footage from our photosession and my various antics.

Leica Fashion

Conclusion

Tenerife was my first photoshoot trip where I travelled out with a model to an overseas destination. I did a debrief with Lindsay at the airport while we waited for our flight as to what we could do better if I was to organise a similar overseas photoshoot trip. Overall it had been a huge success and for me personally it was a near perfect mix of photos, sunshine and training and with great company too. Working 1-2-1 with Lindsay for 3 days really pushed our creativity to keep producing different looking photos time and time again. It’s quite impressive what you can think of when you try and have an environment that inspires you to shoot. Lindsay and I were both very keen to get to most out of our trip and as a result didn’t visited the hotel pool once to relax in the sun. We both agreed we are very keen to do it all again but next time also look to invite at least one more model and for a larger event the possibility of makeup artists and a stylist/ wardrobe person too. More models would mean individual models would get to relax a little between shoots. Makeup artists would be beneficial for models not as confident as Lindsay at doing their own hair and makeup and a stylist can bring unique garments that can’t be found easily on the high street. As a minimum, Lindsay and I will be going back to Tenerife for another 3 day shoot as soon as we can!

Sunrise

For me personally next time I would try to pack two Hasselblad film backs and more 120 film, using it as my main film camera for all key images where there is sufficient light. I would probably replace the Olympus 35RC and Olympus Pen-F cameras with my Leica M3 to capture high quality images when there is insufficient light for the Hasselblad. I could use the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens on the Leica M3 for low light and then use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens on my Leica M240 for more unique looking images. If I had more people on the photoshoot I would pack a reflector for someone to hold and then not bother with taking any speedlights. If it was only me and Lindsay (or one other model) I may try to take my digital Hasselblad H3D and use it with strobes. Why take the H3D? Because it has a flash sync speed of 1/800 vs. 1/180 for the Leica M240.

Are you a model and potentially interested in joined me on a future shoot? Is it for you?

In summary if you are a creative (and reliable!) model that enjoys creating TF images in your free time and are happy to cover your own expenses plus put up listening to me for three days then get in touch! If you are good at hair and makeup that is ideal, if not I am open to models bringing their own makeup artists along if the MUA is happy watching or relaxing during our shoots. If you are a model with an interest in clothes then your creative mind can only help enhance our photos and you are very welcome. For anyone interested please get in touch and I can give you more details including approximate costs (based on this trip).

*Update – January 2018 Tenerife trip is already booked with limited availability for models but if it goes well with this bigger group then I will organise more model photography location shoots.

Sea View

1-2-1 Model Photography Workshops – Overseas

I could also look at potentially organising overseas 1-2-1 model photography workshops. If you want to shadow me working with Lindsay or another model and have the opportunity to take photos to build up your portfolio I’m sure I can arrange something. I have done 1-2-1 photography workshops in overseas cities before such as New York or Zurich but working with local models rather than UK models.

L1003969+1.jpgInstagram @MrLeicaCom

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Panasonic Lumix LX100

 

 

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Leica Shoot Out

Well Overdue

I had originally booked to visit Ukraine in July this year (and Poland) but due to my Ironman triathlon training commitments I decided to forgo both model photography trips and rebook them after the event.  I wanted to try to get to Ukraine before the cold weather came so booked it as soon after the Ironman as I could.  I also rebooked Poland (to come!).  After no overseas model photography shoots since I think May 2017 it felt like it had been forever.  I was more than ready for this one!

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens
  • Leica M3 film camera body
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica M4-P film camera body
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens

Cameras and Film

I have been to both Budapest and Ukraine quite a few times now so I tried to select cameras, lenses and film stock different to previous trips. I wanted to take a medium format camera but had taken the Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645 and Mamiya 6 in the past and was not overly impressed with the results compared to a 35mm film Leica.  I think if you load a Leica with professional standard fine grain film they can capture super sharp high clarity images even with the smaller 35mm film format.  I’ve had great success in the past combining in particular the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens with  the fine grain black and white Ilford Pan F50 film.  I wanted to bring the Hasselblad but I didn’t have sufficient capacity in my hand luggage so settled for 2 Leica film cameras, one to shoot colour film and one for black and white film. I also tried to pack more rolls of colour film as I normally shoot mostly black and white. For colour film I bulk loaded a batch of Kodak Motion Picture Vision3 200T film which is tungsten balanced but I use it with a 81B colour correction filter in daylight. I also had some daylight balanced Vision3 50D to use but less of it.  For black and white film I selected what I believe is the best with regards to image quality (sharpness and clarity) and took Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film. For low light I packed some Kodak T-Max 400 film as I like the fine grain and some of my usual bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 which has such great latitude and seems to work in almost any light.

Leica M Lenses

When taking Leica film cameras rather than a different film camera brand such as Hasselblad, Mamiya or Nikon, I have the advantage that I can pack one set of lenses to use on both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica film cameras.  Last time I was in Ukraine my M240 needed recalibrating so I used a 35mm Voigtlander Skopar lens stopped down to ensure I had a deeper depth of field. I was also using speedlights a lot for flash photography.  In contrast, for this trip I wanted to use less flash and shoot with a shallow depth of field. My obvious lens choice for available light photography is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. Digital photos to me can look very boring but the Nocti lens shot wide open can add a lovely filmic / painterly soft look to a photo and it is these imperfections that make the photos perfect (for me anyway). I like the small size of the compact Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens and it balances nicely on my Leica M3. It is also very sharp wide open.   I packed the 50/2.5 for those reasons but in hindsight I wish I had packed the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 as it is more suited to available light photography. I find the Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 can be a little too soft at f1.0 when shot on film (for many film stocks I’ve tried) whereas the Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH can work well at f1.4 with film.  Lastly I chose the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens for a wider view yet suited for available light also. Again in hindsight next time I may pack 3 50mm lenses plus a 35mm for occasional use. It is frustrating to use two focal lengths side by side as I will stand in a place to compose for say a 50mm lens then when pick up the camera with the 35mm lens on the perspective is different and I need to walk forward for the same crop as seen with the 50mm, only to then step back again when I switch to the 50mm.  I think I’m currently back to being a 50mm shooter as my most used focal length. 35mm can feel too wide yet 75mm – 90mm can be too long/ tight.

Budapest

Budapest was only a short visit and hello to models en route to Ukraine.  I had two nights in Budapest city centre so booked three models each day. On day one the first model didn’t arrive nor even bother to write. Luckily the next two models were some of my most reliable in Budapest so they came prepared. What I learnt the most from the day is regardless of a model looks, the models I can make the best photos with are those that are as excited as me about making the pictures. Two creative minds on a photoshoot can lead to some amazing results and in particular I love models that are also stylists. They piece together really interesting clothing combinations and somehow source garments that you rarely see on the high street.  I was really happy with days photos despite the morning being wasted by a no show. The digital images I was seeing on the M240 LCD using the Leica Noctilux lens looking very promising.

I only had one evening in Budapest so even after a busy day shooting and not much to eat as soon as the last model left I grabbed my running kit and drank a quick coffee then did a sunset run along the River Danube. So beautiful and enjoyable. The perfect end to a perfect day!

Day two had another bad start with another cancel but I was tired so made the most of it and had some extra sleep. The rest of the day was two more reliable models so luckily stress free. I think the big difference for day two is the model had their own vision that was not my preferred arty style so having less input made it more like going through the motions. Day 1 I shot nearly 3 rolls of film. Day 2 I didn’t shoot a single frame! I think the longer I do photography the more selective I become, both in terms of models I work with but also the styling, location and general mood.  I only shoot film when I feel the capture deserve it.  Film doesn’t suit every photo, I think, or for me anyway. To be more precise, if the light does not interest me when shooting digital I will not reach for a film camera. Light is everything.

Slovakia

Normally when I shoot in Ukraine I fly into Slovakia from the UK and then get a bus over the border to Uzhgorod. For this trip I decided to fly to Budapest, then bus from Budapest to Slovakia, stay there overnight then get my usual bus from Slovakia to Ukraine.

That was the plan anyway. I am quite relaxed as a person and I arrived to the bus station at the exact time of departure and missed my pre-booked bus.  Luckily I was able to find another bus going to Slovakia 6hrs later that would arrive in time to catch my connecting bus to Ukraine. The long time waiting was less painful than feared and I arrived in Uzhgorod on Day 3 ready to shoot.

Ukraine

Window Light

Day 3.  I had a quick one hour shoot with an agency model I knew from last year and then my model friend arrived on her train from Kiev.  We set to work and had an extremely enjoyable and productive first day using the light right through until sunset. I can’t wait to see the photos!

Day 4 started with a pre-breakfast lingerie shoot which just showed the amount of thought and planning going into trying to make the nicest pictures.  Once we were both dying of hunger we stopped for breakfast. In the afternoon we shot a few more looks right up until it was time for the model to catch her 16hr return train back to Kiev. A very enjoyable first two days in Uzhgorod and the bar had been set high for others to try to follow.  I felt very fortunate a model would want to travel 16hrs (each way) for a photoshoot.

Leica M240 B&W

Day 5 was supposed to be my first full day working with local models friends with five models booked back to back morning til night. Sadly three of the five models cancelled putting me on a bit of a downer after experiencing such highs in the two days before.  The sun and warm 28 degree temperatures we had been enjoying also gave way to a day of mostly rain. The last model, my first ever in Ukraine six years ago, braved the rain and we shot under a bridge before retreating for coffee and cake.

Leica Fashion Photographer

Day 6 was my last in Ukraine so I’d booked in five more models. Luckily my endless hours on social media trying to organise all these shoots paid off and I had no cancellations.  Even the sun came back out for us!  I shot with a wide mix of ages and experience and I think I discovered a new super model at the age of only 15.  When I first came to Uzhgorod I shot with a 15yr old girl and now she’s based as a model in Paris (the last I heard).  I also had a lot of fun catching up with friends and it’s lovely when they seem genuinely thankful that I came back to visit them.  I was dead on my feet again when the last model finished but still decided to fit in one more run along the river despite being dark.  I even made two new friends on the pull up / dips bars outside one of the housing blocks.  It is probably not that common for ‘tourists’ to mingle with the local but I enjoyed it. A great memory to end my time in Ukraine.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1

Night Bus

The original travel itinerary was to stop off at a hotel in Slovakia on my way home via Budapest. After realising the night buses were not that painful I cancelled my hotel and booked a night bus instead. That gave me a full last day in Ukraine but also now some extra time in Budapest to fit in one last shoot.

My taxi was at midnight to go to the bus station. I jumped in the taxi, an old Lada Niva I remember well as a child and said ‘autobus station to go to Slovakia’. The driver said ok and we speed off along the empty pot holed roads, without a seat belt sitting in the passenger seat. (It is considered rude to wear a seat belt). I tried to show a driver an iPhone map photo of the bus station and he replied ok ok Slovakia. I soon realised he had misunderstood me and we were driving at speed in the opposite direction to the bus heading direct to Slovakia! To cut the story short I managed to make him stop the car and by describing roads and various Uzhgorod landmarks he understood and I managed to catch the night bus to Slovakia. The bus trip was great except we arrived to Slovakia 2hrs early.  It was perhaps 15 degrees colder than Ukraine and I now had a 3hr40 minute wait in a dark and deserted bus station. I wore all my clothes trying to keep warm but was very relieved to see my bus arrive to take me to Budapest. I slept the entire journey like a baby, including dribble!

Back in Budapest

A model friend from a few days earlier met me at the bus station in Budapest and we had a very enjoyable and hopefully successful shoot.  I suggested we shot at the location and it gave very different backdrops to the rest of my Budapest images. A good decision. We then also shot a bit more on the metro travelling into the city before I caught my bus to the airport.

CV Nokton 35mm

Thoughts

I believe the number of rolls of film I shoot on a trip is a good indicator as to how successful it was. I managed to use ten rolls of 36(/37) exposure 35mm film and for once I think more colour than black and white.  I was trying to push the equipment and materials to their max to see what I could achieve so I’m interested to see the results. In particular using fine grain film with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 shot at f1.0-f1.2-f1.4. I don’t think I stopped the lens down beyond f1.4.  I fear at f1 the photos will still be too soft (for my taste) but I wanted to try so I know my equipment limits.  Another sign of success for me was every film photo was taken with available light which I was keen to do (after so much flash film photography in the last 12-18 months). It’s easy to make light but harder to find it.  To again push myself I took no reflector to bounce available light so I’m excited to see how we got on.  I tried to mix up my styles even using the above mentioned parameters and I also shot outside as much as I could to use the locations.  Where possible I tried to not photo a model against a wall and kept the lenses close or at to their widest apertures. (The opposite of when I was doing a lot of flash photography and had the lenses stopped down (higher f. stop for a greater depth of field)).

I know many photographers prefer the diffused light on an overcast day for taking portrait photographs but for me I love nothing better than blue skies and direct sunlight.  Living in the UK where we often have cloudy weather I found I really appreciated the sunny days of Budapest and Uzhgorod. If I simplify things, the entire model photography trip was just one big light hunt! I think I need to relocate to a sunnier warmer destination. San Francisco perhaps!

Overall I was really happy with my week away and I don’t think I would have changed anything other than pack the hugely missed Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens to use with the Leica film cameras.  I really wasn’t feeling the 35mm focal length and I would have been happy with only 50mm lenses. The best performer of the trip was without doubt the mighty Noctilux 50f1 lens.  The cameras were fighting over the Nocti as I wanted to use it to shoot film with but also to get the instant gratification when using the Noctilux on the digital Leica M240 and seeing the image on the LCD.  I don’t feel at any point that I missed not having a medium format camera.  Previously I have enjoyed the high flash sync speed (1/400-1/500) of most of the medium cameras to control ambient light when using flash. As I did nearly all available light photography the fast (f1.0-f1.4) Leica M mount lenses were much more suited (than f2.8-f4 MF lenses).  I am interested to see what the smaller 35mm film format Leica cameras achieved.

I think I write this and the end of every blog post I share but I’d like to think some of the images to come are my best yet.  I certainly tried!  Coming soon.

Big Thanks

I’ve not named models individually throughout this post but a huge thanks to models Eva, Nadja, Lili, Galyna, Inna, Dana, Angel, Nikoletta, Franciska, Alexa, Maryna and Valeria. It wouldn’t be possible without you.  Also apologies for the models I didn’t see this year.  I know I missed quite a few of you in Ukraine due to time constraints but I hope to be back again next year!

Thanks

Matt

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