MrLeica Interview for OutdoorPhoto

MrLeica Interview for OutdoorPhoto

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

July 2018

Kodak TMax 100 B&W

I was contacted by OutdoorPhoto, an online camera shop in Pretoria, South Africa towards the end of last year (2017) asking if I would like to answers some questions and feature on their blog page.  The MrLeica interview piece turned out to be a much bigger task than anticipated but the final piece they put together looked nice I thought.   If you are interested here is a link to the finished article as edited by OutdoorPhoto –

“Matt Osborne – in love with the imperfection of film”

Paris Fashion Week

Interview Questions and Answers (In Full)

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

Fomapan 100@800

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

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

Girls on Film

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

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

Hasselblad Classic

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

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

Kodak Ektar Portrait

Q4) Please list your photographic gear when shooting analogue.

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

Modern Vintage

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

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

Leica M3 + Ilford Pan F 50

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

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

Model Life

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

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

Central Budapest

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

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

Leica M240 + Voigtlander 40mm

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

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

Nikon F5 Fashion

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

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

Leica Photographer

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

Thanks for asking me to contribute!

Matt

> OutdoorPhoto, South Africa – Online Photo Store

Hasselblad Xpan + 45mm

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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

Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Matthew Osborne Photography/ @MrLeicaCom

September 2016

 

Petzval 85 Art Lens – Nikon F Mount

The lovely people at Lomography.com kindly got in touch and lent me their Nikon mount brass Petzval 85 Art lens to try.  Below is a link describing how I got on and here are some example images with Sophie and Charlotte (also included in link).  All photos taken with my old Nikon D800.

..I have to say, the Petzval 85 Art makes Nikon D800 photos interesting so it’s good! (I say that as I struggled to get excited with my Nikon D800 photos on the whole hence my move to film and Leicas).

Petzval 85 Art

Sophie
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass
Petzval Bokeh
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art

Charlotte
Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art Lens
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
New Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass

Lomography.com Magazine – MrLeica.com

Link – https://www.lomography.com/magazine/323494-matt-osbourne-portraits-with-the-petzval-85

Petzval 85 vs. Other Nikon Mount Fast Lenses

When using the Petzval 85 lens it reminded me of the overly soft photos captured from my Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens when shooting at f1.2. Here are a few examples as a comparison. I think the Petzval 85 is sharper wide open at f2.2 and has ‘better’ bokeh (meaning more character).

Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s

Nikon D800 Headshot
Alice with Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS
Katie SOOC with 50/1.2 AIS @f1.2

I then thought perhaps the Samyang 85mm f1.4 would be more comparable so here are a few samples. The Samyang 85 is pretty sharp wide open at f1.4 and a great lens but I think again the Petzval 85 lens bokeh has more character.

Samyang 85mm f1.4

Innocence?
2012 REPOST: Nikon D800 + Samyang 85mm f1.4 Fashion
Harriett
Nikon FM

Petzval 85 vs. Leica M Fast Lenses

Finally, as a Leica photographer it seems only right to include a few example photos with fast Leica lenses that are also soft(ish) focus shot wide open.  The obvious lenses that spring to mind that I own are the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 and Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2

Leica M9 Skin Tones
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux
Leica Noctilux Bokeh

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Street Portrait
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Retro Leica

MrLeica @ OnFilm.Photo

MrLeica @ OnFilm.Photo

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

April 2016

120 Kodak Portra 400

 

OnFilm.Photo

OnFilm.Photo kindly got in touch with me a month or so ago and asked if i’d like to feature on their blog. I answered there series of questions and sent some example film photos and here is the result –

http://onfilm.photo/matthew-osborne-the-female-form/

Digital Photography Workflow

Digital Photography Workflow

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

People have asked me several times on Flickr what is my digital photography workflow.  Here it is but I think you might be disappointed as there is no magic bullet answer!

The process applies to any digital camera;  Leica M9, Leica M Typ 240 or Nikon D800.

Workflow

  • Firstly, capture photos in RAW format in camera
  • Remove SD card from camera and copy images to external hard drive via the PC
  • Import all images into Adobe Lightroom 5
  • Apply sharpening,  colour and contrast adjustments manually to one image
  • Copy adjustments made to the one photo across all images (synchronize settings)
  • Review each image for exposure and adjust as needed until happy
  • Export all images reduced size with watermark logo applied on export (for model)
  • For images of interest export full size watrmark free and open image in Photoshop
  • Apply border and add a watermark
  • Add additional contrast adjustment layers until happy with the tones
  • Dodge and burn parts of the image if needed such as the eyes
  • Clone out any obvious pimple or blemish if required
  • Export image and upload to Flickr

That is my usual process for 95% of the images I take.  I don’t use presets, plugins or apply excessive airbrushing or smoothing.

Wedding Photography vs Model Photography

For wedding photography editing I upload all the images to Lightroom as described but then I only select the images I want to keep before I start editing.  Documentary style (“photojournalism”) wedding photography happens with minimal interuption in an fluid and often uncontrolled environment.  As such so not every image is a keeper so it takes times to go through all the photos.

My model photography editing is the opposite and much faster.  I control every last detail; the pose, the lighting, the timing, the location, the clothing, the makeup, the expression and even the model selection.  I don’t press the shutter until I am happy with the photo and as such I don’t have to delete many images. Some photographers only give models a hand full of images for their time.  If models receive all the photos they can select their favourites rather than just the ones I like.

Sorry if you expected something more complicated!

Next.. Film Photography Workflow

Amateur Photographer Magazine – Film Portraits

Amateur Photographer Magazine – Film Portraits

August 1st, 2015

Matt Osborne / www.MrLeica.com

Here is an article I wrote recently for the August 1, 2015 issue of Amateur Photographer magazine – “Shoot a Film Portrait”.  You might find it of interest if you have never tried analogue film photography.  Old film cameras can now be purchased on eBay for next to nothing and 35mm AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film can be bought from Poundland for only £1 a roll in the UK.  Bargain!  If you are used to using a 35mm digital camera and looking for that next step ‘up’ with your photos then film photography offers a cheap entry point to the world of medium format cameras.  Iconic camera brands such as Hassalblad, Rolleiflex, Mamiya and more can be picked up for less than the price of some modern lenses and they will last far longer if looked after.

Amateur Photographer Magazine

Article – #26.  Shoot a Film Portrait

Amateur Photographer Magazine

Original Image (as featured)

  • Model – Katie
  • Camera: Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera
  • Lens: Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 C @ f1.9
  • Film: 120 Kodak Portra 400

120 Kodak Portra 400

Podcast Interview with MrLeica.com

Podcast Interview with MrLeica.com

OHM AIR – TOYKO

April 2015

Podcast Interview with MrLeica.com & OHM Air

If you want to know more about “Mr Leica” here is a link to a podcast interview I was invited to do for a Tokyo based station, OHM Air.  It is over an hour long so you may want to find a comfy seat and make a cup of tea before considering!

I talk about my photography, Leica cameras, large format photography, film photography, my photography workshops, Leica photographers, Leica wedding photography and some techical aspects.

If you get chance to listen to it I apologise in advance if I ramble or state any incorrect facts.  The content is correct to the best of my knowledge.  I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear your thoughts, good or bad.

Thanks

Podcast Interview with MrLeica.com – OHM Air Soundcloud

@ Photography Monthly

@ Photography Monthly

www.MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Here is an article in PhotographyMonthly relating to film photography that includes me giving my option as to whether film photography should still be taught at school as part of photography courses.

I am a huge fan of film photography, both 35mm film and medium format film.  I use various film cameras including a Leica M2, Leica M3, Voigtlander Bessa R3A, Nikon FM, Yashica MG-1, Fujica GS645, Fuji GF670, ARAX-CM, Kiev 88, Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Moskva-5 and some other 35mm cameras.  I develop my own black and white film at home using the Rodinal semi-stand development method.

Film cameras are basically a light box.  If you pick up an old film camera there will only be three things you can adjust on the camera, well two if the camera has no light meter.  (1) aperture on the lens and (2) shutter speed on the camera.  The third decision to be made is what film speed to use.  The ISO rating on the film then gives a fixed ISO rating until the film is finished.  That means once film is loaded you only have aperture and shutter speed to consider.  A light meter gives you the required aperture and shutter speed setting for a  correct exposure and then you can leave the camera in those settings and enjoy composing and taking your images (assuming the light level does not change).  Film also has a limited number of frames per roll so it makes you slow down and consider each photo before pressing the shutter.  As a result when shooting film I normally get a higher percentage of keepers than when using my digital Leica.

Photography Monthly Article

Sample images

35mm black and white film

Voigtlander Bessa B&W Film Portrait

6×6 medium format film

GF670 Kodak Moment

6×7 medium format film

Mamiya RZ 67 + Kodak Ektar

Cheers

Matt

Featured: Fellow Nikkor 200mm f2 User

Featured: Fellow Nikkor 200mm f2 User

Here is a message I received on my Flickr account from photographer Petr Brodik.  Petr had contacted me last year and I recommended the Nikkor 200f2 AI-s lens to him.  This was his reply I received a few days ago –

“Hi Matt,

I never really thanked you for pushing me ofer the edge. I took your advice, went through with the purchase and buying this lens was the best thing I’ve ever done as a photographer. I’ve just finished making topic on mflenses.com and I thought I’d give you some credit, because I’d had a really hard time deciding.

forum.mflenses.com/nikkor-200mm-f-2-ed-if-ais-t65114.html
forum.mflenses.com/nikkor-200mm-f-2-ed-if-ais-t65113.html

Thanks a lot, mate!

Cheers
Petr”

When I saw the results Petr had achieved with his 200mm f2 I was blown away.  The lens creates jaw dropping bokeh so works really well for half body/ headshot portraits or as Petr has shown dog portraits!  Petr’s work has inspired me to use my Nikkor 200mm f2 lens more even though I now use mainly Leica.  I might do some 35mm Kodak colour film bokeh Potraits with my Nikon FM once the leaves are on the trees 🙂  Enjoy.

Here are some Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s portrait samples using my Nikon D800 – http://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/sets/72157630993492674/

MatthewOsbornePhotographer.co.uk – Leica Photographer