Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Leica Shoot Out

Well Overdue

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

Camera Gear

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

Cameras and Film

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

Leica M Lenses

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

Budapest

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

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

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

Slovakia

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

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

Ukraine

Window Light

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

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

Leica M240 B&W

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

Leica Fashion Photographer

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

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1

Night Bus

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

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

Back in Budapest

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

CV Nokton 35mm

Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Big Thanks

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

Thanks

Matt

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Budapest Models: Leica M240+M3 & Nikon FM

Budapest Models: Leica M240+M3 & Nikon FM

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

August 2017

Here is a post I wrote but didn’t get chance to share from May when I went to Budapest –

Leica Photographer

Budapest, May17

I’m just heading home after a very enjoyable few days in Budapest. It was not quite my normal style of cramming in 5 models a day morning til night but I still managed 8 photoshoots and got to see a little bit of the city too!

Cool Bikes

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed I’m currently training for an endurance triathlon called an ‘Ironman’. I was very aware that I couldn’t just stop training when I got to Budapest as it would put me back a few weeks in terms of progress. I had hoped to run each day but annoyingly I’ve picked up the standard Achilles’ tendon issues due to over training. My plan was therefore to use the Budapest Bubi bikes to keep my legs moving but just before going to use one I read on Trip Advisor that tourists have ran up huge bills by taking a bike out for 24hrs. They are more designed for locals to use and drop within 30mins. Instead I found Bikebase Budapest and hired from them a retro single speed bike to cruise round the city on. I was really sad to give it back after 24hrs! On the last day I then found myself will a spare hour before the first model arrived so I ran to the shop, literally, hired another bike from them and went and did a quick 20km loop along the Danube river before dropping it back and running back to the apartment just in time for the first model! I loved every minute cycling in the sunshine and the Budapest cycle paths are much better than most of the cities I’ve cycled in in the UK.

Single Speed

Models

I found some of my go to model friends were out of town during my stay but luckily I headhunted a few new girls to join me for photoshoots instead. I get more and more picky with the models I work with year on year so that makes the task 10x more difficult! If I wouldn’t include a model in my portfolio then I don’t ask to work with them. I met 5 models I’d worked with on previous trips to Budapest and then 3 new girls. The models I knew from previous visits really stepped it up a level and on the whole produced some of our best images together to date I think. Picking new models based on Instagram photos can be risky as most models are now pretty good with the various editing apps to the extent that that you would not recognise them in real life! Luckily for me though, the unedited photos I was seeing on my Leica M240 LCD with these girls far exceeded any expectations I may have had from Instagram. Iphone selfies with lots of filters applied can be nice I’m sure but they don’t compare to a proper camera. From the models positive responses it seemed it was not just my opinion!

Some of the photos I was capturing on this trip were instant favourites but I was consciously working differently to how I have been taking pictures recently.

Back to basics

In my earlier model photography I relied heavily on using available light to illuminate models. That was especially true when using my Leica M2 and Leica M3 as I can’t use my flash triggers on them (as easily) but also for all the much earlier work with cameras like the ARAX-CM, Yashica MG-1, Pentacon Six TL, Voigtlander Bessa R3A and others. More recently I have favoured cameras like the Hasselblad 500CM/ 501C, Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Leica M6 Classic, Leica M4P, Mamiya 6, Hasselblad XPan all which let me use wireless off camera flash easily. Likewise for the digital photos I nearly always use flash when shooting in the UK and often when overseas also to create light when I want and where I want. (There will always be exceptions such as Budapest last autumn when I was using the Leica M2 for some available light work).

Budapest Models Blog Post

I was digging through my old photos on Flickr and thought to myself, I never take photos like that anymore yet I quite like them. Most of my model photography was with available light and I used all my lenses at their widest aperture for dreamy shallow depth of field portraits. I think as I started to use more and more flash I started to stop the lenses down and I often shot with a model against a wall so I didn’t need a shallow DOF. Another reason for stopping lenses down on the Leica M240 over the last 6-9 months is I noticed the rangefinder needs recalibrating again but I’ve not had 6-8 weeks free to send it away to Leica Germany. As such I just use the M240 stopped down a little (f4 on a 35mm lens).

I think partly due using lenses stopped down lens I have not been as excited to take photos with the Leica M240 as I used to. I packed the ‘M’ to bring to Budapest as it was the only camera that gives high quality images and high resolution for the models that packs small in my bag and can work well in low light if needed. I did consider the Leica M8 but some experienced models almost expect the super polished modern look from a CMOS sensor so don’t always appreciate the 10MP more filmic style. I appreciate both.

Rangefinder or LiveView

I was partly through the first photoshoot in Budapest shooting at around f4 on a 35mm lens and I suddenly had a light bulb moment. I could focus the image with the LCD in LiveView mode and then shoot my lenses wide open. That was that and I didn’t look back once! I shot all photos after that wide open using LiveView to critically focus and I got quite quick at it by the end. I also shot almost the entire trip with available light at perhaps ISO 800 max. (There was one exception where due to the photo style the model wanted we used flash and stopped down!).

Lumix LX100 Fashion

Most of the photos I took will therefore look a bit different (hopefully!) compared to my photos over the last 6-12+ months or so I think. It was so nice to use the lenses wide open again and for what they were designed for. The star of the trip was without doubt the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH which was on the M240 camera most of the time. I will definitely get the M240 recalibrated at my earliest convenience. One point to note is although LiveView is a good plan B option, I believe the rangefinder focusing method is still king. It is faster and the camera is much more stable resting the camera against the forehead so to me is better for critical focusing and allows the use of slower shutter speeds.

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica M3 film camera (recalibrated)
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 classic lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Nikon FM SLR film camera
  • Voigtlander 40mm f2 SL II pancake lens
  • Lumix LX100 digital compact (backup)

35mm Film

I have been using mostly Kodak Double-X 5222 black and white film over the last six months and Kodak Motion Picture colour film stocks (As I bulk load them). I therefore decided to take different films for a change and went back to film I used to use a lot in my early film photography. I took Kodak T-Max 100 and Kodak T-Max 400 and a roll of Kentmere 100 to use up. For colour film I took Fujicolor C200 as I like the fine grain and some Kodak Porta 400.

Thanks

As usual a big thank you to all the models I worked with in Budapest. It is the models that make the trip. In no order thanks to Franciska, Cynthia, Nikoletta, Daniella, Flora, Sara, Lili and Tamara. You may recognise a few familiar faces! 🙂

First look

Here are a few photos I have processed since getting home but as always there will be more to come to my Flickr feed and Instagram account (@MrLeicaCom) in the coming days/ weeks.

…luckily as it has taken me so long to post it here are quite a few photos from Budapest!

Leica M240 Digital – Colour

Leica M240 + Voigtlander Nokton 40mm
Leica Fashion
Hello from Budapest :)

Leica M240 Digital – B&W

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm
Nokton Classic 40mm
Leica Art Nude
Leica M240 + Voigtlander 40mm
Central Budapest
Leica M240 B&W
Leica B&W
Budapest Models
Budapest Model

 

Leica M3 Film Scans

Modern Vintage
Leica M3 Portrait
Leica M3 + TMax 400
35mm Kodak TMax 400
Leica M3 + Nokton Classic
35mm Kentmere 100 Film

Sadly both rolls of Kodak T-Max 100 film I’d shot didn’t develop properly (massively under exposed) hence most of the film photos shared are from the same shoot.

Nikon FM

I have yet to develop the colour film shot in the Nikon FM SLR as most of my time has been going into Ironman triathlon training, hence this late post. Once developed I will be sure to share the results! 🙂

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Budapest 2017(2)-Leica vs. Lumix

Budapest 2017 (2) – Leica vs. Lumix

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2017

Leica M 240 Portrait

After enjoying my model photography in Budapest at the end of 2016 I booked a return trip within a few days of being back in the UK for January. Unfortunately I then found a really cool apartment I wanted to stay in but it was full on those dates so I booked a second trip to Budapest in February 2017. January was fun (see my recent blog post) but like every trip I wanted to do it bigger and better which brings me nicely to February!

The low cost airline I use basic travel limit is one carry-on bag and no additional items. I bought a new Lowepro airline camera bag (to follow in later blog review) but it was too big for this airline limits. While researching bags I found the idea of wearing a gilet with multiple pockets to carry additional items on the flight. I ordered a cheap gilet online and managed to fit the entire content of my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag into my clothing. (The beauty of the small form Leica cameras and lenses!) That gave me the equivalent Leica bag space in my carry-on luggage bag for more cameras.

I spent what felt like days thinking of different camera and lens combinations to take in additional to my Leica gear. The first choice was the Hasselblad 501C but it still needs repairing. I wanted to take a bigger form camera to use the opportunity so this excluded the more compact Mamiya 6, Fuji GF670 and Fuji GA645. All 3 cameras are rangefinders so produce results not so different my Leica cameras. I was then split between the smaller lighter Mamiya 645 Super or the big and heavy Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. I find the RZ67 the most fun to use, best viewfinder (biggest and brightest) and with bellows focusing every lens can do close up photos. The Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens is pretty compact for this camera system and a nice focal length for portraits. I therefore picked the Mamiya RZ to take with me and this would be the first time I have taken the RZ67 overseas. The photos the RZ67 creates (like the Hasselblad) are very different to Leica camera images so I enjoy creating a different look even with the same model using different cameras. A problem I find when using a digital Leica camera next to a film Leica camera is both photos look extremely similar other than the effect of the film.

Final camera list – to take

  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P film camera X1
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens
  • Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera body
  • Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens
  • Mamiya RZ 6×6 film back
  • Olympus Pen-F film camera
  • Olympus 38mm f1.8 kit lens

Film – 35mm and 120

For medium format 120 film I packed a mixture of Ilford Pan F 50, Ilford FP4 Plus, Fomapan 100 black and white film and some expired Kodak Portra 160 film for colour.

For 35mm film I decided to take mostly colour film rather than my usual bias for black and white. For colour I chose mostly ECN-2 Kodak Motion Picture bulk film that I have rolled at home; Kodak Vision3 50D, Vision3 200T and Vision3 500T. I also packed a roll of Ilford Pan-F 50 for the Olympus Pen-F and my last roll of expired Kodak Plus-X 125. I packed film more that I needed but it’s better to be safe! I just hope I get to shoot more film than I did in January. Fingers crossed!

Leica B&W

Model Photography

I booked myself up with 12 models to fill my 2.5 days in Budapest. The plan was some inside photos and some outside photos and to try to use and/ or create more interesting light than my recent images. I find it easy to get stuck in a rut where I place every model in perfect beauty style lighting before taking a picture but this can result in quite boring photos.

After all the planning the trip proved one of my most eventful..

Day 1

For the first day two of the five models changed or cancelled their shoots so I had three girls left to work with. I got up early to start the first shoot at 7:30 after only 2.5hrs sleep. I had a late one not because of partying but from trying various lighting setups in the apartment. With that done and some ideas up my sleeve as soon as we started the shoot the sun came up and flooded the room with daylight overpowering any room lights. It totally threw all my planned lighting ideas and I just went with the flow instead. The first model was a girl I met on a business trip perhaps 5yrs ago or more. Not a model but naturally very beautiful and in my eyes could certainly be a successful model. Next I had a new model recommended to me from the model agency and lastly a local freelance model I met on Instagram. I used the Mamiya RZ Pro II all day alongside my Leica M240 and shot 5 rolls of film I think, both colour and black and white film. I also used the Leica M4-P and Olympus PEN-F shooting colour film in both cameras. A great start to my Budapest trip and some of the most beautiful girls I think I have photographed. I slept with a big smile.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (aka Leica D-Lux (Typ 109))

Day 2

I woke to the sound of rain outside and also realized I had not seen my Leica M 240 battery charger since arriving. I have two Leica M 240 batteries but I knew they would not last through the second day with five models lined up. I searched online for a Leica camera store in Budapest and found a camera shop that sold Leica equipment as my only option. The online website was difficult to navigate in Hungarian and I was not sure if they would stock what I needed. I then remember leaving my Leica M9 / M8 battery charger at a wedding once and seeing the high cost of a replacement battery charger. (I thought I remembered the charger being a similar cost to a modern compact camera but I checked online once home and a Leica M240 battery charger costs around £90 in the UK). My mind then started to wander away from Leica cameras and onto other alternative camera options. I thought aha I could buy a small but capable camera to finish my model photography in Budapest and then use it as a vlog camera or camera to use for making Instagram videos / photos and also as a digital backup camera for travel. I wanted a camera with full manual controls, a hoteshoe and 4K video in a compact package. I will write a separate full review but I looked at a Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) camera and that lead me to buying a Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera with an equivalent 24-75mm f1.7-f2.8 fixed zoom lens. I then found a local camera shop and ran there as soon as it opened to make the purchase prior to the model shoot. Mission complete and thank you to Digitcam, Budapest for the excellent customer service!

The models in the morning were completely different to yesterday and so too was the weather resulting in very different photos (probably completely unrecognizable as being the same location and photographer). I used strobes as the light levels were too low and I also noticed a pattern developing where in good natural light I shoot a lot of film and in bad (low) light I shoot almost no film. I like to see what I am shooting with film and with flash you can’t see until afterwards. In the studio it is a little different at I use larger light modifiers so light hits everything every time so is predictable.

I got to try my new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera for part of the shoot with the second model and quite enjoyed it. Like with any new gadget I then wanted to keep using the LX100 so continued to use it for the rest of the day other than when I had to recharge the battery. I was shooting digitally at up to ISO 1600 and mixing flash and continuous light so didn’t shoot film. I accidently mentioned my excitement to one of the afternoon models that I had a new camera that shoots 4K video. She had featured in music videos before and is the face for many brands so replied with similar excitement to try out the Lumix LX100 in video mode. When a model has great vision and can do the job of a stylist, a model and an MUA single handed plus trusts the photographer’s ability with a camera and lighting the magic really starts. We started with our planned photos and then it just turned into a video production!

I have been part of a wedding video team in the past as a cinematographer, shooting short cinematic looking video clips with fast lenses and shallow depth of field on sliders and tripods using my Nikon D800 (and to a lesser degree a Nikon D90 when overseas for personal work). I was fortunate to work alongside some very talented fellow cinematographers who taught me the basics. Cinematography is a different world to photography despite often using the same cameras and lenses. What killed it for me was the time taken to edit video footage in the early years of DSLR video so it all stopped and I started shooting film instead. Since the early years of DSLR video smart phones have gained the video capability, vlogging has become a popular and Instagram now has a story feature (which often includes videos). As someone who teaches photography and runs 1-2-1 photography workshops I enjoy the opportunity to share some of my behind the scenes work when developing film and using analogue cameras. I would have shared much more ‘footage’ already but the iPhone video potential is not great for me and I have always shot any clips handheld. This may now change with the coming of the Lumix LX100!

I hadn’t expected to buy a camera in Budapest but it actually seems to ticks a lot of my to-do boxes and may well prove a very valuable and worthy purchase in my journey as an experimental photographer. My mind never stops when it comes to cameras and photography so I think I will also class myself as ‘experimental’. As you might imagine I slept with a smile again!

Day 3

I had two models lined up before I needed to check out the apartment and go to the airport. The first model arrived, I tried to open the apartment door and the lock was jammed. It was an old central Budapest apartment and an old door and I kept trying but the key would not turn. The poor model could see me through the glass panes in the door but was stuck out in the cold. I passed a blanket through the window so she could keep warm and shared the Wi-Fi details so she could use the internet while I kept trying to unlock the door. After an hour the model left and went to sit in a local café to wait. I looked at every option to get out but the windows had metal security bars across so I couldn’t climb out that way. As time passed the first model was still waiting, I was still stuck at the apartment and then the second model then messaged me to say she was outside and hadn’t seen my message saying not to come. The apartment management called a locksmith but he arrived 2.5hrs later and both models eventually went home without photos. I missed out on two great photo shoots and wasted a fifth of my time in the city so a disappointing final day after such a great start.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 / Leica D-Lux

Summary

I’m glad I used the Mamiya RZ Pro II on the first day as it got little use after that. I lost some photos where the cable release I was using stuck down so when I was working quickly I advanced the film and the camera automatically fired off another shot. I used the Olympus Pen-F camera and Leica M4-P roughly equally and again mostly on day 1. Day 2 saw me using the new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera. I was learning on the shoot so there were more blurry photos than when I use a Leica due to the auto focus and lag. That said the photos will look different to the Leica M 240 so I am excited to see and hope the photo quality is up to my needs. As I am used to Leica lenses and Leica sensors and also the 36MP Nikon D800 and my digital Hasselblad I guess my expectations and ‘needs’ are quite high in terms of image quality, resolution, sharpness and clarity. The little Panasonic Lumix LX100 has a lot to compete with. One fact that gives me some confidence is that the Lumix LX100 is pretty much identical to the Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (inside) and I know Leica will not put their name on a bad camera. That said the Lumix LX100 has a smaller 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor so it would be unfair to compare directly to my full frame digital camera sensors. I used the LX100 in manual mode for shutter, ISO and aperture but I didn’t discover how to manually focus until after the day’s photo shoots so the auto focus caused for a few miss shots. I also noticed my composition was much worse using the LX100 verses a Leica (so far).

Thanks

A big thanks to the models I worked with; Nora, Petra, Patricia, Lili, Luca, Flora, Viki and Kata and my apologies to Lili and Noemi that I was not able to photograph on day 3. Thanks also to NumberOne Model Group for recommending some of their models to me again. A real pleasure.

Found!

When packing to come home I found the missing Leica M 240 battery charger in my bag so I didn’t need to buy a new camera after all.  As strange as it may sound, I’m quite glad misplacing the battery charger lead me buying a new camera. I think the LX100 will fill a void in my current camera line up perfectly!

Full Panasonic Lumix LX100 review to follow together with sample photos

Where Next

I want to fly back to Budapest tomorrow to continue the fun I had but next I will fly to Paris where I will shoot with IMG Paris model agency. After that it is back to see all the models in Poland and then it is onto Ukraine for my first visit of 2017. Even though I was in Budapest last month I think these photos will hopefully be a little different. I hope. The new Lumix LX100 images will help create a different feel at least. More images coming soon

Lumix LX100

Related Links

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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Budapest Models – Hasselblad H3D-31

Budapest Models – Hasselblad H3D-31

Matthew Osborne Photography/ @MrLeicaCom

June 2016

Hasselblad H3D-31 Fashion

Cameras – Hasselblad H3D-31 & Leica M 240!

Two days after my Hasselblad H3D-31 digital camera arrived I was due to fly out to Budapest, Hungary for a long weekend of model photography. I decided to leave my analogue Hasselblad 501C camera behind and instead take the new H3D-31 and also my digital Leica M-240 rangefinder. It might sound silly to take two digital cameras and no film cameras but I wanted to try out the new Hasselblad H3D-31. I didn’t want to take only the H3D-31 as I only had two CF cards and two batteries. I was not sure how long two batteries would last me when doing model photography on location and I would need more than the 32GB + 16GB CF memory card I owned. I also only have one lens, the Hasselblad 80mm f2.8 HC for the H3D-31 which is not wide enough for all situations. The Leica M240 can easily last all day shooting on two batteries and I have plenty of SD cards for storage.

Models – 3 Model Agencies

I used to travel through Budapest quite regularly for work so I had been planning to return for a long time.  Hungary was home from home at one point and much of my very early model photography practise was shot there. I planned the trip for the summer to try to utilise longer and warmer days (hopefully!). I got lucky and we had nearly all dry weather with blue skies.  I collaborated with three Budapest model agencies including NumberOne Models Group, Maverick Agency and Face Model Management. I worked 9:00 – 21:00 with back to back shoots and did 8 photo sessions in all; 2 guys and 5 girls (with Lilla coming back for a second shoot). The standard of models was mixed as is often the case when selecting models in advance online. Some models did exceed expectation and were both experienced and of high standard. I was lucky to catch them between their contracts overseas, often Paris, Milan, Istanbul and Asia.

Location – Budapest

Budapest is a very photogenic city so I wanted to try to capture some of it in my photography.  That said, I prepared for rain so booked a city centre apartment with balcony instead of the standard hotel booking approach. It was the best decision ever and I got really lucky with a nice room and amazing balcony to use for photos.  The apartment was located in the centre and I could see the crowd gathered around a big screen for Euro 2016 games! Nearly all photos  outside were shot within 5min walk of my apartment so my usual strategy.  I tend to only need a wall and some nice light for my style of photos normally but I did try to use some Budapest landmarks too.

Example Photos – Hasselblad H3D-31

Hasselblad H3D-31
Italian Style
Budapest Model
Hasselblad H3D-31
Digital Hasselblad H3D
Hasselblad H3D-31
Hasselblad Lingerie Shoot

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