Leica M240 Portraits (Budapest Models)(+Film cameras)
Written on the flight home, here were my thoughts after my model photography photoshoots in Budapest at the end of December 2017.. (and sorry I am so far behind with the blog!)
I spent the last two Christmas holidays (2015+2016) visiting Poland for model photography shoots so I thought this year I would go to Budapest for a change. It became apparent that many of my regular Budapest models were out of town during my stay so I took the opportunity to work with some new faces. I’m glad I did as now I have three more great models to add to my Budapest model list for next time.
I booked a city centre Airbnb apartment again for a few days. Although it was quite spacious and very central it didn’t really have any photogenic features and was very dark inside.
- Hasselblad 500CM film camera
- Hasselblad A12 6×6 film back
- Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
- Leica M4-P camera body (film)
- Leica M240 camera body (digital)
- Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens
- Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
- Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens
- Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens
- Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (Lumix LX100)
- Manfrotto PIXI EVO Tripod
- Siri Carbon Monopod
- 120 Film – Fomapan 100/ Kodak T-Max 400
- 35mm Film – Kodak T-Max 400/ Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222
Available Light Photography
The AirB&B apartment was so dark inside with little window light and little useful/ useable continuous lighting (room lights). I almost didn’t take a speedlight to Budapest so I could shoot with available light but I’m so thankful I did. I shot almost every digital photo at ISO 800-1600 with the Leica M240 and I metered the few film photos I took at ISO 800 and will push the Kodak T-Max 400 film one stop during developing. (400@800). 98% of the photos were taken inside as the clothes the models were wearing were not suitable for the daytime temperatures as low as -3 degrees celsius. (I much prefer to shoot outside especially in a beautiful city such as Budapest but it isn’t always possible). I tried to use what little window light we had in the apartment but that meant using camera settings such as f1.2-f1.4, 1/45-1/60, ISO 800-1600.
For available light photography I shared the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens and the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens between the Leica M4-P film camera and digital Leica M240 camera bodies. I also wanted to use the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens so for that I used flash. (Being an f4 lens it needed more light than was available to use, even with a high ISO). My new flash trigger was being temperamental so I had to use a mix of off camera flash and on camera flash (direct flash and bounced flash) with my mini speedlight. I also used one of my bike LED lights as a video light if I needed a little extra lighting. The lack of interior lights meant I had to create my own lighting for almost all photos with the gear I brought with me from the UK. I probably overused a few of the spaces in the apartment but I didn’t want to shoot up against a white wall where possible (I did that far too much for a previous Poland photoshoot trips).
One advantage of the small speedlight/ light source is it was highly likely that every set of images would look a little different even shot in the same part of the apartment. Just a small change to the light position had quite a big effect to how the light illuminated the model. I realize that most decent modern digital cameras from the likes of Sony, Fuji, Nikon and Canon now have a useable high ISO far in excess of 6400 but it reality if you are shooting indoors after daylight hours then standard ceiling lights are unlikely to give you ‘exciting’/ flattering lighting for people photography (or any photography where you want to illuminate the subject). My top tip to myself after this visit is always carry a small speedlight even if I plan to shoot only by available light!
If there was too little light for fast (“fast” = small f stop like f1.4) 35mm camera lenses then there was certainly too little light for a medium format camera. I had packed a table top tripod (the Manfrotto PIXI EVO tripod) in case I did any landscape photography in Budapest so I took a couple of Hasselblad Portrait images with the camera setup on the tripod on a table facing the model. I fired the camera with a cable release but I’m worried the models moved to much to get any sharp images.
UK Models (and Overseas)
I worked with three new models and my model friend Nikoletta (ex-Miss Universe Hungary). I’m not sure what they put in the local water but Budapest homes some of the most beautiful girls I’ve met in any country I’ve visited. I had to ask on two occasions “Are you all natural or artificially enhanced as it all seemed a bit too perfect”! They both replied 100% natural to which I think I answered “Amazing high 5”!. As I’ve written in other blog posts working with amazing models is not all good. My expectation bar is now so high I am shooting less and less in the UK. I just can’t find girls with the look I appreciate easily (seemingly near impossible!) I did maybe two months of almost no model photography in the build up to Christmas 2017 in the UK. That contrasts to when I was shooting 3 times a week in the UK when I started out with my people photography/ portraiture and when I shoot 5-6 girls A DAY on some overseas trips! There are some pretty girls in the UK but they are in such high demand due to the novelty factor that I often rather wait til I travel abroad to get a similar look but where the experience and resulting images are appreciated 100x more by the model. Maybe I am just too needy ha!
As a note, UK model agencies such as some of those in London can have fantastic models (and I have worked with a few) (models from all different countries including the UK) but I just really struggle to build a lasting working relationship with them. Overseas I just find it easier, to find great models and also model agencies wanting to collaborate.
Off Topic – Models and Wedding Photography
With me shooting less and less models in the UK at the end of 2017 my plans are changing. For 2018 I now aim to shoot more wedding photography than model photography so that I still get to use my cameras and shoot between my overseas model photography trips. I do enjoy wedding photography, especially engagement shoots and the wedding day itself but I’ve always struggled a bit with wedding photo editing. (It takes me too long so I limited the number of wedding bookings I took a year). Hopefully I have now streamlined my wedding post processing a little it won’t deter me from taking additional wedding bookings for 2018-2019.
I continue to use the Leica M240 as my main digital wedding camera but also use a digital Hasselblad which is very rewarding to use and of course wedding film photography with both Leica M film cameras and Hasselblad 500 series cameras. I realize wedding photography images are often deemed dull and repetitive when it’s not your own family or friends weddings. I want to challenge myself with the task of making wedding photos that are as well received on platforms such as Flickr, Facebook and Instagram as my often scantily clad beautiful models. I realize this may prove difficult but if I rely solely on Flickr likes the last wedding themed shoot I shot was my most popular to date (Harriett & Ash). I just need to carry this new enthusiasm forward into 2018!
Budapest Trip Thoughts (On Flight Home)
The lighting conditions were far from ideal and I wish we had braved the cold weather for more interesting outdoor photos. There were not many models available being the holiday period but I was very happy to discover the three new models and I look forward to working with them again on future trips. I am also disappointed I didn’t get to use the Hasselblad camera more but equally I am interested to see how the higher ISO digital Leica M240 images look. Previously I have usually tried to keep the Leica M240 ISO low and maybe ISO 800 maximum in most situations.
New Favourite Lens
If you have followed my model photography for a while you will know I have nearly always favoured either a 35mm or 50mm lens focal length on my Leica cameras. I have used wider lenses (which I often chose for my Leica wedding photography) and also longer telephoto lenses but not repeatedly. 35mm – 50mm lenses tend to be compact so perfect travel companions for photoshoots shoots whereas my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO and Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH are both big lenses so are often left behind when I travel.
The new Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens has become somewhat of a game changer as it is super compact when collapsed and lightweight too. I really appreciated the Macro-Elmar 90f4 for this Budapest trip and I think it was my most used lens. In addition to this the Macro Elmar 90mm lens was the lens that captured the images receiving the most wow comments from the models. It is extremely rare that I have a Leica lens that focuses on a model closer than I need. (0.8 meters close focus distance when using the Macro-Elmar lens without the Leica macro adapter, (sold separately).
A big thank you models Edina, Anett, Nikoletta and Boglarka and I look forward to visiting again soon!
- Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip
- Budapest Models: Leica M240+M3 & Nikon FM
- Budapest 2017(2)-Leica vs. Lumix
- Budapest Models – Leica Ms
- Budapest Models (II)
- Budapest Models – Hasselblad H3D-31
- Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens
- B&W Film Wedding Photography: Harriett & Ash