Shared: Fstoppers.com – 5 Popular B&W Films Compared

Shared: Fstoppers.com – 5 Popular B&W Films Compared

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017

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 as I enjoy using 35mm T-Max 400 but wondered if Delta 400 would be even “better” for me.  I love and really appreciate Ilford Delta 100 film and think it is one of the best films I use in terms of detail and sharpness and to showcase what a camera-lens setup can achieve. Ilford Delta 100 film example image:

Ilford Delta 100 Portrait

The Fstoppers film review however compares five ISO 400 film stocks and illustrates side by side example images of the same subject captured with five of the “best”/ popular black and white films. Each film is compared for tonality, grain and apparent sharpness.

I wont spoil the article if you want to read it in full but overall I was very impressed with the C41 B&W film – Ilford XP2 Super 400. I wont say anymore ahead of the link but if you want to hear my thoughts please see my conclusion below.

Shared Link: https://fstoppers.com/film/what-black-and-white-film…

Conclusion

As hinted above 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. I have shot Kodak Tri-X film in the past but found 35mm TriX too grainy for my female portraiture so instead I favour the fine modern grain of Kodak T-Max 400 film. I find 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film much more useable as the grain is less apparent and I have used it a lot in my Hasselblad 501C /500CM cameras, especially if I need to push film to ISO 800-1600 in low light.  In abundant light I often use the low-cost Fomapan 100 film (35mm and 120 Foma 100) and rate it from 100-400.  That said I must give Kodak Tri-X another try soon!

Ilford XP2 Super 400 film

Fuji GF670 Medium Format Rangefinder

ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) 6x6 Film

120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film

Rollei SL66E Tilt Portrait

Mamiya 645 Extension Tube

Fuji GF670 Folding Camera

35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 film

Leica M2 Portrait - Tri-X 400@200

Kodak Tri-X Love!

 

And for a comparison, the B&W film I maybe use the most – Fomapan 100..

35mm Fomapan 100 film

35mm Portrait

Hungarian Model

120 Fomapan 100 film

Hasselblad Headshot

Fuji GF670 Camera

Thanks
Matt

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Mr Leica on Pinterest

Mr Leica on Pinterest (Back on it)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017

pin

Pinterest Inspired Photography – Black and White

Ahead of a recent photography trip I found myself browsing vintage black and white film photography images on the Pinterest app.  I used to use Pinterest on and off for a period maybe pre-2015, both for collecting inspiration images and sharing a few of my own photos.  I found Pinterest great for creating mood boards ahead of photoshoots where I could gather together a set of images to help a model visualise the look I was going for.  I have started using Pinterest again so if you want to see the photos that inspire me just look me up – @MrLeica.com (link to profile below).

pinscreen.PNG

After scrolling through pages and pages of images on Pinterest and pinning some of those I liked the one thing that struck me is most of the black and white images I admire are high contrasts black and white photos with black blacks.  My older photos used to include a lot of high contrast black and white images, especially when I used to share images straight out of the camera as B&W JPEG files, firstly from the Nikon D800 and then from my Leica M9 camera.

2013 REPOST: Samyang 85mm f1.4 Portrait

Leica Summilux ASPH Bokeh

Summilux ASPH 50

I didn’t get a look I liked straight from the camera with the Leica M240 so since selling my Leica M9 my images are all processed through Lightroom (and/ or Photoshop) to get the desired look.  One thing I am aware of since using my Leica M240 is my photos tend to be different shades of grey rather than strong black and white as I think I try to retain as much detail as possible in an image. These Leica M240 photos below are probably more grey than many of my recent images as I am aware I prefer high contrast so try to use it much as possible.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 Portrait

Mr Leica - Poland

Leica lens flare

With my black and white film photography I think again I have often lost the thick blacks due to the film stocks I commonly use.  Fomapan 100 and Kodak Eastman 5222 Double-X film both have wide latitude and retain shadow detail well.  My black and white film developing methods also favours retaining both shadow and highlight detail to produce a flatter negative (depending on the light conditions etc etc).

Leica M3 + Leica Summicron 75mm APO

Leica M6 + Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222

So with all that said I want to get back to proper blacks, or try it again at least!   That’s the plan anyway.  I will see if the Pinterest pins I add to my boards continue along this theme going forward.

(For colour photography and especially colour wedding photography you will see from Pinterest that my favourite look is the bright washed out looking fine art wedding photography style but I have not mastered the look yet. Living in the UK doesn’t favour an overly bright photography style! (That’s my current excuse anyway!))

 

pinit

  • MrLeica Pinterest Account – HERE

Leica Wedding Photography: Sarah & Cris

Leica Wedding : Sarah & Cris

Finally sharing some of the wedding photos from Sarah and Cris’s wedding back in October 2016. Leica wedding photography using a Leica M240 and Leica M8 cameras (but also a digital Hasselblad H3D-31 camera).

Link to photos below:

2016 Leica Wedding Photography: Sarah & Cris Wedding Venue: Hotel Felix, Whitehouse Ln, Huntingdon Rd, Cambridge CB3 0LX http://www.MrLeica.com October 2016 Sarah & Cris Sarah and Cris kindly invited me to cover their wedding at Hotel Felix in Cambridge last October. Cris was a fellow Leica photographer/ enthusiast so I took my usual wedding camera, […]

via 2016 Leica Wedding Photography: Sarah & Cris — LeicaWeddingPhotographer

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Portraits – Budapest

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Portraits – Budapest

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017 (from February 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Portraits

Here are a series of film scan images I shot on my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II 6×7 medium format film camera.  I used the Mamiya 110mm f2.8 lens (as pictured above), the amazingly big and bright Mamiya RZ waist level viewfinder and a Mamiya RZ 6×6 film back rather than a standard RZ 6×7 film back.  After using my Hasselblad 501C / 500CM cameras a lot I prefer composing as a square than 6×7.   I used a mixture of film stocks for the shoot but many of the colour photos were shot on expired 120 Kodak Portra 160 film.

All the images were shot on a model photography trip to Budapest in February 2017 when I finally decided to take the big Mamiya RZ67 overseas (for the first time I think). Since then I have gone back to travelling with a Hasselblad camera or if I need to travel light only Leica M cameras.  Hasselblad cameras are nice but the Mamiya RZ67 viewfinder is still the best (biggest, brightest, easiest to focus) and I enjoy the Mamiya RZ bellows system where I can focus as close as I wish with any lens. (Like the even more amazing Rolleiflex SL66E camera which also uses bellows but is always breaking / jammed).

I have blogged my thoughts on the Hasselblad vs. Mamiya RZ67 comparison before.  12 months (or so) on and with me now using more Hasselblad equipment I think the Mamiya RZ images here render smoother than my Hasselblad photos (that I can think of) and using the above mentioned Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens the sharpness is fantastic.  Both the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II and the Hasselblad 500CM /501C are very good cameras.

A big thanks to the Budapest models Petra, Patricia and Nora.  I was using multiple cameras so the other girls may have been shot on a 35mm Leica film camera or digital Leica M240.

*(I don’t normally say this but I would strongly recommend you to click any image that catches your eye to view larger on Flickr as small size here really doesn’t do the camera / lens / model justice!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 + Kodak Portra 160

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Fashion Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Fashion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 6x6 Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kodak Portra Skin Tones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 6x6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expired Portra 160 Portrait

Mamiya RZ67 Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Fashion

Thanks
Matt

Related Posts

Here are a few more Mamiya RZ67 Pro II portraits with UK models Sophie, Stacey and Lindsay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Headshot

 

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Portrait

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 Portrait

 

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Portrait

Mamiya RZ67 Headshot

Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 Portrait

Hasselblad Focusing Issues

Hasselblad Focusing Issues

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017

20150927-002332.jpg

If at first you don’t succeed try try again!

Hasselblad Backfocusing
Hasselblad + Sonnar 180mm f4 CF

This is a big article so you may want to make a cuppa and find a comfy chair before you begin!

*(Update  – Skip to the end to cut a long story short if you prefer a quick answer!)

*Model photos included in this post were all taken throughout this period but seemed less effected than others photos by the focusing issues I was experiencing.

Recap of my history using Hasselblad V-Series cameras…

She's arrived! 😁 #selfie 3 #hasselblad #hasselblad501c #mediumformat #filmcamera #film #6x6 #hasselbladlove #ilovefilm #filmisnotdead #beautiful #cameraporn www.MrLeica.com

My first Hasselblad camera (Hasselblad 501C) + the holy trinity of Hasselblad lenses

My first Hasselblad camera was a near mint Hasselblad 501C camera with matching Hasselblad A12 film back and the standard 80mm f2.8 kit lens. As part of the Hasselblad camera bundle I got two additional lenses and that gave me what some people class as the holy trinity of Hasselblad lenses, 50mm, 80mm, 150mm (Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF, Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF, Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF). With this trio of lenses I was able to obtain sharp pleasing results with the Hasselblad 501C almost every time.

Meet the gang! My new Hasselblad trio - 50mm, 80mm, 150mm. Fresh back from yesterday's wedding in London! #hasselblad #hasselblad501c #zeiss #distagon #planar #sonnar #prism #filmcamera #filmwedding #film #mediumformat #6x6 #cameraporn #ilovefilm #ishootf

My Hasselblad 501C camera died 😦

Life was good with the new-to-me Hasselblad 501C and I was using the camera on most of my film photography photoshoots. I was then on a shoot following a full day of using the Hasselblad with a cable release and the shutter release button pushed inside the camera body and jammed when I went to take a shot. The weight of the shutter release cable had sheared off the outer housing surrounding the shutter release button meaning it was then hanging lose and so jammed inside the Hasselblad camera body. The Hasselblad 501C is still in this state until I find time to get it repaired.

IMG Paris Model

Hasselblad 500cm Portrait

Paris Fashion Week

Replacement Hasselblad Body – Hasselblad 500CM

With no time to repair the Hasselblad 501C and more film photography shoots booked in the diary I went on eBay and bought a Hasselblad 500CM camera body (only) as it looked the cheapest solution. I moved the Acute Matte cross hair focusing screen and A12 film back from the Hasselblad 501C to the Hasselblad 500CM and had my lens to attach. I then went through a phase of using my 35mm film Leica cameras more and also quite a long period passed with me not developing any film due to time constraints (training for the Ironman event). Many months later when I developed the film from the Hasselblad 500CM camera that I used on my Paris model photography trip, Poland trip and others I noticed I had misfocused a high proportion of my photos which was both surprising and disappointing (as unusual). By the end of me using the Hasselblad 501C camera I had got into a routine of using the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF for most of my portraits (see my Hamburg Hasselblad portraits blog post). When I moved over to the 500CM I thought it would be nice to go back to using a longer lens again so opted for the Zeiss Macro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens. Once I saw all these misfocused photos I thought it must be my eye sight not being good enough at focusing with a longer lens. (I do wear glasses to drive but don’t wear them day to day otherwise). I didn’t think any more of it.

Hasselblad 500CM
Horse Model Portrait
Hasselblad 500CM + T-Max
Hasselblad Portraiture
Hasselblad Classic
Hasselblad Classic

Zeiss 100mm Planar f3.5 CF lens – Tenerife Photoshoot

In autumn 2017 I got fully back into Hasselblad camera shooting mode and invested in a new lens, a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF for my model photoshoot in Tenerife. I took the Hasselblad 500CM camera with a waist level finder (WLF) (rather than the usual 45 degree prism finder setup) and shot the camera handheld rather than with the usual monopod. (All because I was travelling light so could carry less gear). I eagerly developed the film from my shoots with Lindsay in Tenerife and to my huge disappointment most of the photos were again misfocused.

Hasselblad Headshot
Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5
Hasselblad 500CM Fashion
Hasselblad Zeiss 100mm CF
Fuji Velvia 100 Cross Processed
C41 Crossed Processed Velvia 100

Zeiss 180mm Sonnar f4 CF lens – Poland Photoshoot

(..and for Hasselblad wedding)

Following my disappointment in Tenerife I pinned the blame of the misfocus issues on the WLF focusing being less accurate than the 45 degree prism finder and me being less stable handheld that with a monopod. I then bought a Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens to take for my next model photography trip to Poland. I refitted the 45 degree prism finder to the Hasselblad 500CM and use the camera with a monopod for every photo. I also took with me the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF lens. I used both the 180mm Sonnar and 60mm Distagon lenses in Poland and again returned super excited to develop the film. I scanned the 6×6 negatives and to my horror the photos were still not sharp and some were completely out of focus (focus not on the eyes). After closer inspection it seemed all the photos were back focused. That being, the focus point on the final image is further back on the subject than intended compared to what was seen when looking through the viewfinder. For example I focused on eyes and hair at back of head was sharp instead with the eyes being out of focus. This was the case when using both the 180mm Sonnar lens and 60mm Distagon lens. Some photos were just about postable and could be recovered a little in post processing but others were straight to the bin. What a huge disappointment (again). I need camera I can rely on and expected better from Hasselblad.

Hasselblad 180mm Sonnar f4
Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF
Hasselblad 500CM Fashion
Zeiss Sonnar 180mm Portrait
Hasselblad Model Photography

Hasselblad Focusing Issues / Misfocused images – Possible Causes

I trawled the internet for possible causes of the Hasselblad back focusing issues and people wrote about it being due to user error – perhaps tired eyes (no – not for every photo), camera shake (no – used monopod (and release cable for some photos) and shot at a shutter speed of 1/125 mostly) or the subject/ models moving (likely for the worst out of focus examples but not every photo). Other possible causes documented for Hasselblad focusing issues were – focusing screen loose and not flat / aligned, mirror not aligned / become lose, film back does not match film body or film back defective so film plane not flat to camera focusing plane. I checked the Hasselblad mirror and it seemed OK. The acute matte screen I was using in the 500CM was out of the Hasselblad 501C but it looked flat (if a little lose in the clips). The film back I was using on the 500CM was also from the 501C. Perhaps this mismatch of newer A12 film back on older Hasselblad 500CM camera body was the issue but it is the only working Hasselblad A12 film back I own.

Replacement Hasselblad 500CM camera, lens, film backs bundle

I decided to keep my eye on eBay for a bargain and managed to win an auction for another Hasselblad 500CM bundle with an older 45 degree prism finder (TTL version), an older/ smaller 80mm Planar f2.8 C kit lens and 2x older A12 film backs. I now planned to try my own Hasselblad lenses on the new-to-me Hasselblad 500CM camera body and film back combination and fingers crossed I will be back to sharp and beautiful high definition 6×6 film scans for my portraiture, fashion and Hasselblad wedding photography.

No Hasselblad Wedding Photography 😦

I had an all analogue film wedding photography booking just days after returning from Poland and I had to make the decision not to pack the a Hasselblad camera as I knew the results would be sub-standard and not 100% sharp (in focus where I planned to be in focus). I was looking forward to using the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm for Hasselblad wedding photography (part of the reason for my purchase) so I hope I get the opportunity to give more wedding couple some beautiful Hasselblad wedding photos on their big day once the camera is working again. (Below – I used my Mamiya 6 camera)

Mamiya 6 Wedding

Fingers Crossed!

The new Hasselblad 500CM camera was due to arrive soon so fingers crossed the matching camera body and film back will resolve my Hasselblad focusing issues.

New Hasselblad Camera 🙂

My second Hasselblad 500CM camera bundle arrived and had its own issues! A lag between pressing shutter release button and me having to wiggle the film advance lever to release the shutter)(annoying!). I did however do a test roll with my Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens and the resulting photos were in focus and sharp with the lens wide open! Hooray! I can see skin pores again on a models face. Back to the image quality I expect from a Hasselblad camera. So at least I now have one Hasselblad 500CM camera setup that focuses correctly.

Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF
Hasselblad +  Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5
Hasselblad 100mm f3.5

Camera Museum London

I am a regular visitor (every time I visit London for photoshoots) to the Camera Museum London which is a one stop shop for Hasselblad cameras. I had been mentioning my frustrations and Hasselblad out of focus problems over a few months and they contacted me to say a guy had been into the shop describing similar Hasselblad misfocus difficulties. Apparently he had ordered himself a Hasselblad split image focus screen so he could see better and hoped that would fix the issue. The Camera Museum suggested to me that a split image focus screen may also solve my focus issues and perhaps I should try that option next. For my close up Hasselblad headshots at least this shouldn’t be the case as I can see clearly each eye lash (but still the photo is not focused) but for further away subjects a split screen would 100% help my focus accuracy.

Hasselblad Studio Shoot

Hasselblad Acute Matte D Split Image Focus Screen

Despite being able to see well close up after a distance of a few meters I do find it difficult to focus accurately. I reconsidered a Hasselblad split image focus screen (after ruling it out until now) as I love rangefinder focusing (such as my Leica M cameras). I got back on eBay and managed to pick up a boxed mint Hasselblad Acute Matte D split image focus screen ahead of my next Hasselblad photoshoot. Hasselblad focus screens are expensive even for the non-acute matte glass but I needed a screen to benefit my sight and accuracy so I invested in the Acute Matte D version. The glass should hold its value and if the split screen focusing view doesn’t work for me I can always sell it.

hasselblad acute matte d split prism focus screen

Hasselblad Focus Screen Upside Down?

Camera Museum London got in touch with me again and apparently the guy that bought the split image screen was still having focus issues. They checked his camera and his focus screen was mounted upside down (with the straight/ cut metal edges up and the rounded edge down into the camera). My heart sunk! I had already checked my first Hasselblad 500CM focus screen orientation against my Hasselblad 501C and both were the same direction. They were both.. rounded side down! I checked my latest Hasselblad 500CM screen that was focusing correctly.. rounded edges up! When I had bought the first 500CM I had put the screen from the 501C into the 500CM upside down unknowingly.

*Picture below shows the “straight /cut” metal edge which should point into the camera

hasselblad focus screen 2 -.jpg

Happy Ending!

I flipped the existing Hasselblad focus screen in my first Hasselblad 500CM camera and shot a test roll. Sharp images! I then fitted the Acute Matte D split image focus screen. Again sharp images but also WOW love the new split image view! I can see beyond 1-2 meters distance and focus accurately and with confidence! This is a first in my Hasselblad photography era! Good times ahead! 🙂

Hasselblad Wedding

To Conclude and Thanks

It took a while but I got there eventually!  I now have two Hasselblad 500CM cameras that both focus accurately and I use them side by side on my Hasselblad shoots, whether model photography or Hasselblad wedding photos (see mock wedding shoot with models Harriett and Ash to follow)(preview example above). I will also get my Hasselblad 501C camera repaired once I get chance.

A big thank you to Ward at Camera Museum London for solving my issue. I highly recommend you drop in to say hello to them if you are ever visiting London. They have endless cameras to look at (and buy!), hold a wealth of Hasselblad knowledge and serve great coffee in their cafe too! (Formerly known as “Camera Cafe”).

Leica M3 Calibration

Camera Cafe

Thanks for reading!

Matt

Related Posts

Hasselblad 500CM Studio Shoot

Film Landscape Photography

Film Landscape Photography

…in Fuerteventura, Canary Isles.

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017

Leica Landscape Photography

Intro

I just returned from a short vacation to Fuerteventura in the Canary Isles where I met family who were out there on holiday. It was my first visit to this island but I have been to the neighboring island Tenerife a couple of  times. The weather in this part of the world is a real treat when visiting from the UK during the winter as the average temperature in the Canaries is normally in the mid 20s. (degrees Celsius).

Landscape Photography Camera Bag

  • Hasselblad SWC/M camera + finder
  • Hasselblad SWC focus screen + WLF
  • Hasselblad A12 6×6 film back
  • Hasselblad A16 645 film back
  • Leica M4-P camera body (film)
  • Leica M240 camera body (digital)
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Tripod

Before the trip I had bought the Hasselblad SWC/M wide-angle camera with the Zeiss Biogon 38mm f4.5 lens (equivalent to 21mm on a full frame 35mm camera). The SWC/M camera is well suited to landscape photography but I bought it mainly for people photography, weddings, fashion photography and environmental portraits. That said after the purchase the camera I found myself watching 10hrs+ of YouTube landscape photography videos (while eating my evening meals each day). I’ve never studied landscape photography so found certain aspects of the videos both interesting and inspiring.

Hasselblad SWC/M Landscape Photography

Hasselblad SWC/M Landscape Photography

After being inspired by the landscape photography videos I decided to pack my Hasselblad SWC/M to take to Fuerteventura together with a tripod and cable release. Being a family holiday I didn’t have as much flexibility to go and take photos at any time of the day compared to when I travel alone but I did go out early one morning before sunrise to take pictures. I soon realized I really needed to car to get to any of the wow scenes up in the mountains so instead settled for a few simple long exposure shots to blur the sea/ water in my images. It was a surprisingly slow process to me and I only took four images within the hour I was out. There was no sunrise to speak of and the 21mm field of view was often too wide for the scenes I was trying to compose and capture. My first landscape photography experience (with all the gear) was OK but it didn’t blow me away with excitement.

Ironman Training

ironman

Even though my first Ironman triathlon is complete I continue to enjoy training whenever I can and I plan to enter more triathlon events in 2018. My brother and I hired road bikes for three days I was there and we did a ride at first light followed by a run along the coast before breakfast. The next morning we did a 50 mile ride up into the mountains. The sun was already up and the landscape looked breathtaking in the low directional light. I really love the barren landscape in Fuerteventura with the red-yellow sandy ground contrasting nicely against the blue sky, the often derelict buildings littering the hillsides and the various cactus plants providing an assortment of shapes. Trying to take landscape photos in a ‘Brits abroad’ holiday resort yesterday wasn’t really working for me despite it being one of the nicer resorts. Getting out into non tourist parts of Fuerteventura and up into the mountains was much more my thing. I wish I had a camera with me on the bike ride but we only stopped once for a quick selfie at the top so I wouldn’t have had chance to use a camera anyway. It did however get me thinking.

Leica Landscape Photography

On my last morning in Fuerteventura my new plan was to cycle back into the mountains alone to take landscape photos. Sadly the weather had other ideas and I woke to cloud cover and an unlit landscape. I decided to have an extra hour in bed and then run along the coastline instead to give the sun time to burn through the clouds. Sure enough by 10am we had hazy sunshine so after the run and quick breakfast I grabbed my bike and headed off towards the mountains. The original idea was to take both the Hasselblad SWC and a Leica camera and shoot them both handheld in the bright light. Unfortunately both cameras would not fit in the back of my running hydrating vest main pocket. I therefore packed light and took my Leica M4-P film camera with Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens, a Sekonic light meter and a spare roll of film. I think I would have chosen a slightly wider lens (15mm, 21mm or 25mm) but 28mm was the widest I had with me. One advantage of the Elmarit-M 28/2.8 is it is nice and compact compared to my 21mm and 25mm Zeiss Biogon lenses. Another benefit of using a 28mm lens is the M4-P has 28mm framelines in the viewfinder to aid composition.

Leica Film Landscape

I had 35mm Fujicolor C200 already loaded in the Leica M4-P and took another roll of C200 with me. Some of the images I was taking suited black and white film but I will convert the colour film to monochrome in post processing. Cycling along the open roads in the sunshine was amazing in itself but then being able to stop at any scene that caught my eye was fantastic. Often when traveling by car it is not possible to stop when I see a photo to capture but on a bike I could stop anywhere even on a busy road and just pull in to get my shot. I cycled 10 miles out stopping along the way taking photos both in front of me with sunshine over my shoulder and also back at the sun in the opposite direction. I wish I had brought a small circular polarizer filter for the Leica to cut through some of the haze but it was a nice practice session regardless.

I was out for 2.5 hours, covered 20 miles or so and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. This may well become my new favorite pastime combining training, exploring and photography and without the restriction of always being reliant on a model for my photography. Model photography is amazing when I have models but can be almost depressing when I have a beautiful location and then no one to photograph. This new past time of cycling and landscape photography means I can visit any country without the limitation of needing to consider if I can find models on my arrival.

Leica Elmarit-M 28mm Landscape

Possible camera gear for my next Leica landscape photography (on bike)

I would take a Leica M4-P film camera again due to the 28mm framelines for composition. I might look to take the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8 lens and use the full viewfinder area to approximate my field of view. As mentioned I will also consider the 21mm ZM Biogon and the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 lens. One observation I didn’t mention above is for some scenes I wanted to compress a scene or take a crop of the landscape and the 28mm lens was too wide. I like the idea of carrying two lenses, one wide lens and a short telephoto lens. Because I need to pack small and light I think both my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens and Summicron 90mm f2 lens will be too large and heavy. My plan is therefore to try taking a compact 50mm lens instead, the Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens.

Leica Landscape Photography

My landscape photography research suggested that the best lenses to use for landscapes are often wider than the normal 50mm field of view humans see or longer telephoto lenses. That said I love a 50mm focal length for much of my photography so I will see if I can get it to work for me. The other thing I must pack for my next adventure is a circular polarizing filter and some colour filters for black and white photography.  Red and yellow filters will both darken a blue sky and lighten a yellow building or dust track road. Lastly I want to pack better suited film stocks. For black and white film I will try 35mm Fuji Neopan Acros 100 speed film for crisp B&W tones and perhaps Ilford Delta 100 for super high-resolution. For colour negative film I think I would choose Kodak Ektar 100 for saturated colours and fine grain but if I really wanted to invest in the art I would shoot the expensive 35mm Fuji Provia 100 E6 slide film for its superior colours and resolution. Fuji Velvia 100 film is often preferred by landscape photographers due to the super saturated colours but I already have 35mm Provia in my fridge so will try this first. Lastly I would be sure to take my Sekonic light meter as weather and light levels can change especially if cycling up mountains.  I would take the Sekonic L-308s light meter rather than the Sekonic L-758 light meter as it is smaller and light.  If and when I get really keen at landscape photography I will swap to the Sekonicl-758 spot meter for zone metering.

sekonicv2

Taking the Hasselblad SWC exploring

I have certainly not ruled out the Hasselblad SWC for future adventures and I think once I take it on one trip and see the images it would probably come with me on all future landscape trips. The Hassy SWC is a compact camera even if it is heavier than my Leica with lens attached. If I pack the SWC with finder, a few filters and a light meter I should be able to find one of my running rucksacks that will accommodate it’s size.

Bad weather landscape photography

Many of the best landscape photography photos are taken in less than perfect weather conditions, often mist, fog, rain, snow and varying degrees of low light-darkness. As such a tripod is usually a must have. That said, I want to enjoy my cycling as much as the photography and I like being out in the sunshine. If I am only doing fine weather photography at f8-f22 with a shutter speed of 1/60-1/500 I will choose to travel light and without a tripod. A full height tripod is out the question for my current lightweight cycling setup. If I find I enjoy landscape photography enough to do it without including the cycling aspect then I can look to drive to locations in the early hours in potentially bad weather and then take a tripod with me (and as much camera gear as I want in a normal camera rucksack.  If I find myself sticking to landscape photography (and by bike) but decide to do some early morning first light shots I may look to get one of the table top Manfrotto tripods like the Manfrotto PIXI EVO 2 tripod for a ligghtweight option.

manfrottopixi

My next cycling-photography adventure

After three days in the sunshine I am already set to book a follow-up trip cycling holiday / photography adventure to see if I can hone my camera skills and keep fit in the process. I will certainly visit the Canary Isles again for this type of holiday as I love both the landscape and the climate.

Some of my past attempts at landscape photography!

(Approximate order newest to oldest using a variety of cameras)

Hasselblad XPan Panoramic Landscape
Cinestill 800T Film Landscape
Fuji GF670 - Soller, Majorca
Leica M2 Landscape
Leica M2 Landscape
Portland Bill Lighthouse Fisherman
Leica Summicron 50/2
NT Packwood House Estate
ARAX Landscape
Samyang 24mm f1.4
Samyang 24mm f1.4 Landscape
Samyang Summer - 35mm/1.4 @f2 SOOC
Mount Teide, Tenerife
Autumn sunset, Devon

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