Leica Landscape Photography

Leica Landscape Photography

…in Fuerteventura, Canary Isles (December 2017)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

March 2018

New Road

Back to Fuerteventura – Bikes and Cameras!

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

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

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

L1009568LR

Day 1 – Arrival

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

Fuerteventura Blog

Day 2 – Blog Diary

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

Leica Photography

Day 2  – Camera Gear

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

L1009548LRL1009540LR

L1009551LR

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

Repetition

Day 2 – Black and White Film

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

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

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

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

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

Postcard from Fuertventura

Day 2 – Blog Diary Continued..

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

Leica Film Landscape Photography

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

Leica Landscape Photography

Day 3 – Blog Diary

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

Day 3  – Camera Gear

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

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Day 3 – Colour Film

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

Day 3 – Lens Filters

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

Leica Landscape Photography

Landscape Photographers on YouTube – Get Inspired!

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

Palm Trees, Fuertventura

Conclusion

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

Updated Conclusion (added at later date)

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

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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

Leica M Cameras – All I Need

Leica M Cameras  – All I Need…?

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2017

Camera Porn!

Keeping it Interesting

After returning from my Budapest model photography trip earlier this week I have been trying to think what other cameras I can take on my next overseas photo shoot to try to produce more interesting or different looking images to my recent photos.  I often shoot with a 35mm lens on my Leica M cameras whether the digital Leica M 240 or the Leica M film cameras.  (I write ‘Leica M’ camera / lenses as the Leica R camera is an SLR camera system rather than a rangefinder camera so different ‘rules’ apply).

Alternative Film Cameras

I often complain that I can’t focus as close as I would like to for my model portrait photos so I was thinking of cameras that can get nearer than the 0.7m Leica rangefinder standard minimal focal distance.  Other ways to create different photos to my usual view of the world might be to use a very shallow depth of field or perhaps use a longer lenses to get more compression in the photographs.  (I have done all of these things before but less and less over the last 12-18 months).

I still love my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera and in my mind it has captured some of my high quality film photos but it currently needs a little TLC so I don’t really want to take it overseas until it’s repaired. I then have various other very good cameras in their own right such as the Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 6, Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645, Hasselblad Xpan, Nikon F4, Mamiya 645 but when doing a quick comparison they all have some drawback vs. the Leica M camera system.  I then tried to think what each of these cameras offer compared to a Leica M camera setup and other than the film format (film size; 35mm vs. 645 vs. 6×6 vs. 6×7) the differences were minimal (in simplified terms*).

Different Lens Characteristics

I made a list of lens characteristics I see as positives from a camera/lens combination for my model photography and taste and then listed some potential Leica M mount lenses I use for each characteristic (non-scientific and my opinion only*)(I just listed the most obvious choice to me but many lenses could fit many lists*).  I use these lenses on any of my Leica M film camera such as a Leica M2, M3, M4-P, M6 etc.  (I state ‘film cameras’ as I want to compare Leica film to non-Leica film.  I am not too interested in digital photography but as I use a Leica M 240 digital camera the same list applies to my digital work).

Leica M Mount Lenses

  • Shallow depth of field

  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Leica M9 + Noctilux f1

  • Wide angle lens

  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica Street Portrait

 

Close focus ability (for tight headshots)(visually not in mm*)

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M (close focus goggles)
  • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR (Dual Range) + close focus goggles
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Summer Love

  • Sharpest image quality

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Portrait Photography Workshop, London

  • Crisp contrasty modern look

  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Summilux ASPH 50

  • Soft glow vintage look

  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica M8 B&W Portrait

  • Small compact lens size

  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5

Leica Fashion

  • Fast lens with wide aperture for low light

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Noctilux - After Dark

  • Unique lens characteristics

  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Street Portrait

  • Compressed image style

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • Low cost lens (In Leica M mount terms)

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Industar 26M 52mm f2.8
  • Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica M9 + Industar 26M 52mm f2.8

  •  Highest resolution images – Fine grain film stock

  • Ilford Pan F5o
  • Ilford Delta 100
  • Kodak Vision3 50D / Cinestill 50D

Leica M6 + Ilford Pan F 50

Image Resolution

For film cameras the equivalent of a high mega pixel digital sensor is fine grain films which play a huge part in the final look of a film photo no matter what lens is used.  As an example here is a half frame film scan from a Olympus Pen-F SLR camera.  Half frame means half the size of a normal 35mm Leica film negative.

Olympus Pen-F Fashion

As these photos are half the resolution of a Leica M camera photo (in terms of film negative size scanned) then with fine grain film and a sharp lens there is great potential to capture very detailed film photos without the need of a medium format camera.

Budapest Models – Leica Ms

Budapest Models – Leica Ms

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2017

Budapest Tram

Model Photography

I’m writing this post on the flight home after 3 days of model photography in Budapest, Hungary. As usual, I booked myself up with models each day shooting 8:00-18:00 on the full days.  The models were a mix of agency models from NumberOne Model Group, friends of the model agency, models I met on past trips and a few pro-active models that organised a direct booking with me through Instagram (@MrLeicaCom).  I stayed in an apartment in Central Budapest and used this as my base. The ideal plan was to shoot outside on location as much as possible as we were located close to the Chain Bridge over the Danube river and opposite Buda Castle.  Unfortunately the weather was below freezing and there was ice in the river so we had to shoot inside for the most part.   The apartment was different to how I envisioned from the online photos with almost no window light and none that was bright enough to use for photos.  As such I had to get creative with my artificial lighting so bare this in mind for every indoor photo.

Budapest Models

Leica M Gear

I carried my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag and in it packed the following Leica cameras and lenses (except the Summarit 50/1.5 that I added separately after).
  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P 35mm film camera
  • Leica M4-P 35mm film camera (II)
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens (new)
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens (1950s)
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens + SOOKY-M close focus goggles (1950s)
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 (1950s lens)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens

35mm Film – The Plan

The plan for Budapest was to try to keep it simple and shoot mostly black and white film after having shot a lot of colour film on my last model photography trips to Poland and Budapest.  I packed mostly bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film but also some fine grain films to shoot as a comparison. Other films included Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film both which I regard very highly and also some Kodak T-Max 100 as I love the black blacks of T-Max.  I had thought about taking only B&W film but from fear of missing out I packed a few rolls of C41 Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 (as I like the fine grain), some Kodak Portra 400 (as I haven’t home developed Portra film yet) and a roll of my bulk loaded Kodak Vision3 50D. All these films are daylight balanced so no need for lens filters. (I use an 85B filter for my tungsten balanced films).  I plan to have one Leica M4-P loaded permanently with Kodak Double-X as my do everything film and in the other Leica M4-P camera use films specific for that model shoot.  I will try to shoot a few photos on both cameras so I can compare the results of different film stocks. That was the concept!

35mm Film – The Reality

In reality it didn’t happen as planned and after 2 days I had only shot less than 1 roll of colour film and 1 roll of black and white film. Why?  Shooting film (in addition to digital) is not suitable for all models or all situations.  When I create artificial light with strobes I cannot see the results until I have taken the photo digitally. This is fine if a model allows me to take a photo with both cameras without moving dramatically but some models move on every click of the shutter so are unable to repeat a pose that may have caught my eye and that I deemed good enough to capture on film.  Additionally some models inspire me more than others and for these models I shoot a lot more film than for those where the photos are not really my style.  I also prefer to shoot film outside to inside as I find outside photos more interesting but this is not always possible in the winter months.  I did manage to do some quick outside photos (and moreso in the last day in an attempt to use the city location) and most of the film was shot during these times.

When I was photographing a model against a white wall in Budapest I tried to avoid using film (mostly) as in Poland perhaps 80% of the photos had a plain backdrop which can be very boring to view unless the model is particularly interesting. I also tried to limit all photos taken against a plain white wall for Budapest where possible to try to make the photos different to Poland and hopefully more interesting as a result.  Although the apartment had almost zero window light it did have some unusual features so I tried to use every inch of the house to make pictures. Some areas of the apartment were used on multiple model shoots but that can only be expected when working with lots of models in a relatively small space.

Miss Universe Hungary 2015

Leica M Lenses

Taking an array of different Leica M lenses to Budapest was a real plus and the biggest differentiator when comparing to other model photography trips i’ve done in the last 12 months. I had 1950s vintage Leica lenses; Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5, Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 and Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5,  that captured low contrast softer focus images with a nice glow and then lenses like the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO that gave high contrast super sharp very modern looking photos. I found I used the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 and Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lenses the least I think. The new Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5 lens was used the most (especially with film on the Leica M4-P cameras) and then the vintage Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 and Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 were probably used equally for inside photos. The Leica Summicron 75mm APO was used most outside. After shooting on 35mm lenses for so long I found the 75mm focal length too long much of the time and it more difficult working at a distance from a model, especially for fast focusing. I can’t imagine now how I used to shoot models on a 200mm Nikkor prime lens in my preLeica days.
I imagine most fellow Leica shooters would question why I bought the f2.5 50mm Leica Summarit lens when I have an f1.0 Leica Noctilux, f1.4 Leica Summilux and f2 Leica Summicron 50mm lenses already which all require lens light and give arguably better bokeh and better subject background separation. The truth is the small lens size is more important to me than all of those features (*When I have a choice of what light to shoot in.  Obviously for a Leica wedding a fast lens is the correct choice as I cannot control the light in every situation).  I often control the brightness of my strobes with the lens aperture to balance artificial light mixed with available light. As such the lenses are stopped down anyway a little so none of the faster Leica glass benefits would be seen or used. I also stop down a little sometimes when shooting film to get a balance of sharpness, detail and depth. Despite this comment, for the vintage lenses in Budapest I shot them wide open 99% of the time to get the maximum vintage look effect. I would also do the same with the Noctilux f1.0 otherwise there is little point in using this lens in my view.

Budapest Models

As with all trips the models varied enormously in personality, background, vision, style, experience and ability. Models that can create their own hair and makeup have an advantage over those that don’t and who don’t use an MUA (make-up artist).  Dancers often create the most elegant shapes and poses with their bodies and actors often create the best emotions and expressions with their faces. Models with an interest in clothes and fashion may have a huge wardrobe of clothes to chose from and those models in good shape can wear pretty much anything (or nothing!) and still look amazing.  Models with 3-5 years plus experience can also bring great ideas to the shoot from past experiences.  I guess to summarise, experienced models are often much more focused to get a job done and hopefully get the new images they desire for their model book/ portfolio.  For Budapest I experienced a mixture of all of the above in varying combinations but what impressed me the most was that they found time to fit in the shoot amongst often crazy busy schedules juggling work, business meetings, study, exams and other photo shoots both before and after me.  I think this level of commitment to a shoot is one of the most difficult characteristics to find no matter how beautiful the model.
Some of the models I met previously continued to impress and really were a pleasure to work with.  A few of the new faces I met were also a real delight to collaborate with and I think I grinned ear to ear throughout many of the shoots. I feel very fortunate to meet such individuals and I think it is these experiences that fuels my desire to find similarly talented people in the countries I visit. When very experienced models are smiling at the back of my camera LCD and saying they like our work it gives me a real boost and is also quite humbling.  I wouldn’t expect this sort of excitement or comments from professional models that have received photos a hundred times before.

1950s Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M

Thoughts

I like to have a debrief in my head after each model photography trip to try to understand what worked well and what I could do better.  If you have followed me for a while you may have noticed I like to cycle through my different film cameras to keep it interesting (for myself!).  I have used the 2 Leica M4-Ps cameras together with the digital Leica M 240 on the last two trips so I am tempted to take a medium format camera for the next overseas shoot.  The biggest limitation I have is my hand luggage size and the camera needs to create photos different to what I can do with a Leica camera to make it worth while.  I find all rangefinders have the same limitations whether a Leica film camera, Hasselblad Xpan, Mamiya 6 or Fuji GF670 and can’t focus very close thereby producing similar pictures.  The Mamiya RZ67 is just huge so too big to pack, the Hasselblad 501c can fit with one small lens attached (but I need to repair the shutter release button housing that had come off) The Mamiya 645 is slightly smaller than the Hasselblad so mighbe be an option.  The Fuji GA645 is the obvious small medium format camera choice but again I can’t get super close (0.7m).. Hmm.
As with the last three model photography trips for the next visit I will try to work outside more, weather permitting.  I think I will always pack both colour and black and white film as sometimes the models clothes really benefit from being captured in colour.  I will wait to develop the C41 colour film from Budapest before deciding if I prefer the film colours of ECN-2 motion picture film crossed processed in C-41 chemicals or the more standard C41 film colours. *ECN-2 film is the Kodak Vision3 film I use.  I hope the photos are as nice as I remember after all this blurb!  Coming soon but mostly digital for the reasons detailed above.  (I think the final count was 4 rolls of 35mm film, 2 B&W film, 2 colour film and sorry no film comparisons.  Maybe on my next trip!

Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

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Budapest Models (II)

Budapest Models (II)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

Budapest Models

November 2016

I managed to fit in another model photography trip to Budapest before Christmas after a successful trip there back in June. For the last visit I had just purchased my digital Hasselblad H3D-31 so took the Hassy together with my trusty Leica M240 camera. As such I had no space for any of my analogue film cameras. After the initial digital Hasselblad honeymoon period I was soon back to my love of film.

Cameras

For this trip I had lots of cameras I wanted to take but as usual I was limited by my hand luggage capacity. The first must pack camera was of course the digital Leica M 240 so I could capture digital images to give to the models and model agency. Next was a 35mm film camera so I packed my Leica M2 with Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens. For the M2 I took colour Kodak Vision3 200T motion picture film and some black and white film, Fomapan 100 and Kodak T-Max 400. Next camera was my newly purchased Fuji GA645 medium format film camera. My first GA645 developed an electrical fault so I bought a replacement. It packs small and has a super sharp 60mm f4 lens. Lastly I was split between my 35mm Nikon FM SLR or my Fuji GF670 folding camera. I wanted to give my GF670 another chance so chose that as like the Fuji GA645 it packs small and has a super sharp Fujion lens. For 120 film I took black and white Kodak Tri-X 400 and Fomapan 100 film.

Models

I like to be busy so booked 11 model shoots over my 2.5 day stay.  It was a mix of agency models with international experience and model friends with a similar interest in photos. Overall the standard of models looked to be some of best I have yet to work with and it included two recent Miss Universe Hungary winners! NumberOne Models Group model agency kindly provided all the new-to-me models for this trip. Excited!

Location

I booked an apartment in central Budapest to use as both a base and also for photos if needed. November in Hungary is pretty cold and temperatures were not forecast to exceed more than a few degrees Celsius. That said, it was at least forecast to be dry so better than the current wet weather we have been having in the U.K!

Model Photography – 3 Days

I bring it on myself but day one was fast and furious. I had arrived into Budapest late so had not had chance to go food shopping then the first models arrived Sunday morning before the shops opened. I shot five models back to back the first day and managed to dash out quickly at 5pm between models to buy a quick Burger King late breakfast/lunch/dinner rolled into one. The weather was indeed cold so nearly all the photos were taken in the apartment. This really pushed my creativity limits, trying to use the same space to make different pictures for each model.  It was also dark by 4pm so I had to use a speedlight for the evening photos.  The light levels even during the day were really low inside so I was using both Leica cameras with their Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm and 35mm lenses  wide open at f1.4 and with shutter speeds of 1/15-1/60 handheld. I had high hopes to use my medium format cameras more but there was just so little available light I couldn’t. I did try a few photos with the lenses wide open at f3.5 / f4 and again with shutter speeds as low as 1/15 and shooting ISO 400 film at 800 and 100 speed Foma at 400. What little daylight I had really was beautiful and I loved every minute of shooting on location and being out of the studio. If money was no object I would be a 100% location shooter.  I find it much more stimulating and inspiring.

Day two was pretty similar to day one in terms of when I was shooting inside the apartment but the pace was more relaxed having only four models not five. The upside was I got to shoot outside with two of the models so it was really  nice to see beyond the four walls of my pad and some of the local area. I also got to play with colour a more after mostly black and white photos inside.

For my last day I had to check out by 10am so we shot inside first then outside. For the inside photos again there was some overlap of styles I had shot with other models but the models themselves hopefully got some nice pictures. I think I had used every inch of available light space by the end of the trip!  The last photos of the last day were perhaps the most crazy.  We climbed out the luxury apartment window of the city centre model agency head office onto the scaffolding platform outside. I proceeded to shoot a series of images whilst the model smoked three cigarettes in quick succession and then we clambered back in through the window we came from.  All in the name of art! Surprisingly after the initial shout of I guess ‘what are you doing?’ in Hungarian from the workmen we simply said “jó reggelt” (good morning in Hungarian) as the workmen manovered past us on the scaffolding planks as they just smiled went about their work.

Pushing Forward

I always strive to improve my photography with every shoot I do. I realize this is not always possible but I like to be constantly learning and pushing myself to keep it interesting and fresh. For me a good photo, in model photography terms, needs three key elements. A beautiful model lit with beautiful light positioned in an interesting location (just my thoughts) and the forth would be some kind of feeling, story or emotion capured in the image. The standard of models for this visit exceeded all expectations and the beauty before me was so mind boggling at times I think I giggled like a small child.  I tried to use the window light we had inside to excentuate this beauty yet further and make model / pose fit the surroundings.   There was only so many angles I could shoot at to use this light but I would like to think I tried most of them!

Results

From the Leica M240 LCD preview I am hopeful I captured some nice images that are sharp enough to share.  It is fingers and toes crossed for the film photo results as I was pushing both the film and my hands to limits taking photos frequently as slow as 1/15 and 1/30 second.  I was disappointed I could not shoot the medium format cameras more, especially the Fuji GF670 where I only shot one roll and even then had to finish it at the airport. I did use the Fuji GA645 a bit more but a lot of it was with the speedlight so I think the results will be less dramatic than those shot using only available light.  I was happy with both the Leica M2 and Leica M240.  I found even the 40mm Voigtlander too telephoto at times so I have certainly become more of a 35mm man than a 50mm shooter.  I didn’t miss a 50mm once and I even wanted to go wider such as a 28mm or 25mm.  Next time maybe!

Thanks

A huge thanks to all the models who gave up their valuable free time for photos and to Andrea at NumberOne Models Group who helped facilitate everything and even modelled again.  Models Tamara, Natalia, Niki, Kyra, Dora, Petra, Rebeka, Eszter and Francesca, THANK YOU!

New images coming soon!

Matt

P.S. To put in perspective quite how much I was on cloud 9 after this trip, I managed to completely miss my flight home and worse still didn’t really seem to care. It wasn’t going to spoil my day. I just wrote this article while I waited and had a coffee. 🙂

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Expired Kodak Plus-X 125 Film

Expired Kodak Plus-X 125 Film – Poland

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

November 2016

Leica M2 Portrait

Kodak Plus X – Intro

To my knowledge Kodak Plus-X 125 film was discontinued by Kodak in 2011 and dates back to before Kodak Tri-X.  Kodak Plus X is said to have been first on sale in 1938 to use with movie cameras similar to the modern Kodak Vision3 motion picture film that I am now using today for colour 35mm photography.  I bought my expired Kodak Plus-X film as a bulk roll short end on eBay.  I spooled some of the film and took it with me on my model photography trip to Poland.  I shot the Plus-X at ISo 100, developed the film in Xtol and scanned the film on an Epson v800 scanner.  Here are some samples –

Natalia

Kodak Plus-X Fashion
Kodak Plus X Fashion
Window Light Portrait

Agnieszka

Kodak Plus-X 125 Portrait
Kodak Plus-X Portrait
Leica M6 + Noctilux
Leica Summicron 50mm DR
Kodak Plus X Film

Teresa

Leica M6 + Kodak Plus-X
Kodak Plus-X Bulk Film
Kodak Plus-X Bulk Film

Paulina

35mm Kodak Plus-X
Into the Sun
Expired Kodak Plus X 125

Kodak Plus-X  – Thoughts

I was impressed by the lattitude and fine grain expecially considering it was expired film.  I would happy use Plus X 125 again if I acquired some.  I would say it is perhaps like a finer grain Ilford FP4 plus film with a creamer look.  On the whole I found Plus-X to be lower contrast than the modern Kodak T-Max 100 T grain film.

Here is me in my scruff testing my first roll of bulk loaded Kodak Plus-X in a mirror in the garden with my Leica M2 camera before taking it to Poland! 🙂

Kodak Plus X

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Nikon F4 + Fujicolor Fashion

Nikon F4 + Fujicolor Fashion

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

June 2016

Nikon F4 Portrait

Here are a selection of photos I shot in May with Sophie.  All photos were shot on Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 35mm film and lab developed / scanned.  Photos were taken using daylight only and with my Nikon F4 SLR camera.  I used two lenses on this shoot, a Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro lens and Voitglander 40mm f2 SL-II pancake lens.  Photos watermarked in Lightroom.

I tend to prefer black and white photography / B&W film photography but on occasion I really like colour film.  This is one of those occasions and I was really pleased with how the photos came out.  I am getting to the point now where I have far more photos to share than I can post in 1’s and 2’s on the likes of Flickr and Facebook.  As such I  have started to share similar photos in groups of 3 on Instagram – @MrLeicaCom

That said I will also try to share more frequent smaller blog posts like this one containing a series of similar images.

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