Ukraine Models 2016 (#2) – Leica M240

Ukraine Models 2016 (#2) – Leica M240

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

January 2017 (from July 2016)

Leica Selfie

Pre-Intro

I wrote this on the plane and bus when travelling back from Ukraine in July 2016.  I then managed to lose the majority of what I had written as it didn’t sync from my iPhone to the PC.  It took me 6 months to then re-write this amongst all the other shared and not yet shared blog posts and the piece is probably half as long as the original I lost. Apologies!

Intro

After an enjoyable model photography trip to Western Ukraine in May 2016, as soon as I got back to England I booked a follow up trip planning to be bigger and better than the first.

Ukraine is an amazing place for me as I can walk the street in a town centre and perhaps 7-8 out of every 10 girls aged 18-25yr (say)  look ‘good’. By that I mean well presented in nice clothes, dresses and skirts paired with high heels, often long shiny hair and with a slim elegant figure that catches the eye. Walking everywhere is popular and fast food is not yet that common so most people tend to be much slimmer than we see in the west.  Models I photo in the UK that are slim are often labelled ‘too skinny’ yet to the Ukranian girls these slim girls merely looks ‘pretty’ and normal size. I guess our eyes get used to the body shapes we see around us each day.  To me the UK is like the US.  The people that are interested in keeping in shape are super in shape (and this is proving very popular for fitness models on Instagram) and then everyone else is now bigger than historically what was the average size.  The problem for me as a model photographer in the UK is there are so few super in shape models in England that the demand  for them is sky high from fellow photographers (which is most people now everyone has a camera!).  The girls become mini-celebrities in the model world fueled by Instagram so I never actually get to shoot with most of them.  In contrast I can go to Hungary and shoot Miss Universe within 4hrs of a contact making a telephone call.  This inbalance which is why I shoot mostly overseas and favour Ukraine, Poland and Hungary (of the countries I visit most).

Models

Back to the trip..!

As I used to work in Ukraine most of my Ukraine ‘models’ prior to 2016 were/are just normal girls, often studying, doctors, dentists and lawyers seeming the most popular of those I meet. In May I collaborated with the local model agency and started to work with girls that both looked nice but also had some professional experience in front of the camera working on contracts with larger agencies overseas such as IMG and Woman Management Paris. In May I think I only filled the time I had remains with agency models and spending the rest of the trip photographing model friends from previous visits.

After successful model photography trips to Hamburg, Budapest and Sopot working solely with model agencies this time I asked the Ukraine model agency to supply all the girls / models for my visit (with a few friends added at the end to fill gaps). Normally I work with the same faces each visit but this time I met 11 new faces of the 14 girls I photographed with and 16 photoshoots in all across 3.5 days. This was a great decision and I met some really high standard models and potentially faces to look out for in the future. Some of the girls really brought a fashion feel to the photographs with their own style and posing, others were just extremely beautiful people. There was a really selection of looks and personalities which I think helps to produce a diverse set of photos. Some girls were just great from the first photo and others needed warming up a bit but I think every model produced either a few or a lot of good images. They seemed happy and my big grin showed I was too! One model even asked “Do all English people smile as much as you?” I replied “If they came to Ukraine probably yes!” 🙂

Makeup

The one thing I am starting to appreciate the more model photography I do is don’t underestimate the power of makeup! I now ask all models to bring makeup and I either direct the look I want, apply additional makeup or do all their makeup for them from scratch. I don’t yet own makeup but I feel I might have to soon invest. Not all girls own a lot of makeup in Ukraine so I was using none mainstream approaches to get the look I desired, lipstick for eyes lips and cheeks or eye pencil for eyes, cheeks and lips!  I basically used whatever they had.

Clothes

For my style of model photography the hair and face is normally the key part of the image with clothes always being secondary. If a model has a good face I could wrap them in a hotel towel and they will still look good. I light for the face and the rest of the photo is often less important to me.

Language

As with previous visits language is always a slight barrier but my Ukrainian is very slowly starting to improve as I pick up new words each day just by being in constant contact with the people there. As with previous visits I can normally get by with a smile and hand signals for the most part but it is nice to learn new phrases and improve my communication.

Clothes Designer from Kiev

Ahead of the May trip to Ukraine I contacted a clothes designer in Ukraine on Instagram commenting nice clothes and we should collaborate or words to that effect.  To my amazement and to a cut a long story short, the designer travelled 13hrs on a train from Kiev to meet me and brought her clothes (and steam iron!) along too. She was even still finishing sewing garments on the train from Kiev. I spent a full day with Eva and we worked with local talent to model her clothes for photos. I have done clothes shoots in the studio before but it is often product photography so headless photos and I just concentrate on lighting the garments. As mentioned above I only light for the face for my own work. Shooting models on location with one speedlight proved quite tough as if the face looked good the clothes didn’t and vice versa. The only problem with all my overseas model photography trips is I am using the most basic (Leica cameras are of course very nice but I mean using mostly small cameras and small lenses) and minimal equipment (maybe a speedlight).  When I shoot in the UK I get to play with all my big lights (which I love) and it’s pretty hard to make a bad lit photo.

Modeling

Eva looked amazing to my English eyes even though she was not a model so I managed to persuade her to have a photoshoot before she left.  The photos we made together were some of my favourites from the whole trip.  (*If I see a beautiful person, guy or girl, anywhere, I always have an overwelming urge to talk to them and try to make some photos together.  I know inside me that if they let me take their picture they will like the photos and that gives me the confidence to approach them.  One of my life long goals is to photograph the most beautiful humans on the planet.  To me a beautiful person captured on film in flattering light is as good as it gets). 🙂

Cameras

I had my usual digital Leica M240 camera (which still needed the rangefinder calibrating) and the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens that has been permanently attached for quite a while. I know if I use the lens at f4 I can sharp photos despite the misaligned rangefinder due to the depth of field. I knew I wanted to do strobist work so decided to take my Nikon F4 SLR instead of a Leica film camera as the F4 has a flash sync speed of 1/125 instead of 1/50 so it is easier to balance ambient light and strobes. For the Nikon F4 I took the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 lens as it is small and sharp.

Here are some digital Leica M240 example photos and I will write a second blog to share the Nikon F4 film scans.

Example Photos – Leica M 240

Leica M Typ 240 B&W
Real Ukrainian Woman
Leica B&W Portrait
Window Light
Available Light Portrait
Available Light Portrait
Ukranian Woman
Leica M240
Clothes Designer
Leica B&W
Supermodel
Street Portrait
Ukrainian Women
Direct Sunlight
Sssh!
Leica M240 Colours
Ukraine Summer
Ukraine Girls
Ukraine Shoot
Leica Fashion
Ukrainian Woman
Voigtlander Skopar 35mm
Ukrainian Model
Fun in Ukraine
Window Light Portrait
Ukraine

Sorry this post was so late.  I still have the film photos to share from this visit to Ukraine too.  To follow!

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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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Poland Models – Leica Ms

Poland Models – Leica Ms

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2016

Mr Leica - Poland

Happy New Year!  I wrote this on the flight back to the UK after spending four nights in Poland visiting my model friends in Sopot. It was a Christmas present to myself to fill the quiet time between Christmas and New Year!

As with all my model photography trips I like to be busy and make good use of my time and this was no exception. I only had 3 full days in Sopot but managed to still do 12 photoshoots (even after cancellations). A big thanks to Malva Models who recommended many of the models for this visit.

Leica Camera bag

I took my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag and in it fitted the following:

  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P camera (with B&W film)
  • Leica M4-P camera (II) (with colour film)
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens

I do love Leica M cameras for many reasons but one of their best features is their size. I can carry 3 camera bodies and 4 prime lenses in the same space as a DSLR and a zoom lens. This is a huge help to me when I’m shooting overseas with models.

I bought a Leica M4-P film camera after my last trip to Budapest as wanted a Leica M body with a hot shoe so I could use strobes with film. My Leica M2 and M3s only have cold shoes so it is not as easy. A few weeks before Poland I decided to buy another Leica M4-P camera body as saw one at a good price and that way I could pack both Leica M4-P cameras and load one camera with colour film and one camera with black and white film.  (This is the reason why I have two Leica M3s too.  Both M3s are in need of slight recalibration but I hope to start using those in the summer when using available light only as the M3 viewfinder is the best Leica M viewfinder bar none I think).

Hotel photoshoot

Kodak Motion Picture Film

For this trip I decide to pack all home rolled bulk loaded Kodak motion picture film. For colour film I rolled equal amounts of Kodak Vision3 50D (daylight balanced film like the Cinestill 50D), Kodak Vision3 200T (tungsten balanced film) and Kodak Vision3 500T (tungsten balanced film and the same film stock as Cinestill 800T). For black and white film I recently bought myself a 400ft bulk roll of fresh boxed and sealed Kodak Eastman Double-X film. I used my 35mm bulk film loader to run off whatever film I needed.

Polish Girl

I was in Poland last December too, staying in Gdansk, and the days never seemed to get light. For this visit I thought I could shoot Kodak Double-X at ISO 1600 if needed and Kodak Vision3 500T at ISO 1000 or more with ease. I also had a speedlight with me for backup. Luckily the Sopot hotel on the sea front has much more light and even though the weather was cold it was brighter and blue skies one day. I managed to persuade a few cold hardy models to join me on the beach for pictures as I prefer outside photos where possible. I managed to shoot mostly Kodak Vision3 50D film (for colour photos) but it was under exposed a few stops for some pictures so it will be interesting to see the results. I shot the black and white Kodak Double X film at anything between ISO 100 and 800 on the same roll. Kodak Double-X is great for this and so too is the Kodak Vision3 500T. I could shoot either of these films all day and not meter the light once and still get results.

Polish Model

Models

Despite not seeing many of my regular models I still managed to do 12 shoots with up to 5 shoots on a single day. I worked 8:00-18:00 to use as much of the daylight as possible but still used the speedlight a lot inside to try to add interest.

A big thanks to Monika at Hotel Bursztyn for having me again and in no particular order thanks to models; Natalia, Marta, Karolina, Agnes, Agata, Magda, Dagmara, Gosia, Teresa, Aleksandra and Kasia. Also big thanks to MUA Kate and Marta!  I felt I discovered some amazing new talent so hope to work with some of the girls again when I return in spring 2017. Lastly thanks to Gdansk based clothes designer ATR Wear that supplied some of the clothes used in the photos.

Thoughts

I had hoped to shoot less in the hotel and use the local area more but the weather was just too cold on the whole to do much outside for very long. After doing overseas model photography trips for quite a while I now realise there is no one camera setup to suit all situations. In Budapest I shot mostly on 35mm lenses and craved a wider focal length. In Sopot I could have easily used 50mm on two camera bodies as 35mm was a little too wide for the plain hotel rooms. I did use all lenses including the 28mm Leica Elmarit-M ASPH but found I usesd the faster lenses the most in the low light. I might be tempted to take the 75mm Leica Summicron APO on the next visit to Poland to get a different perspective as I have shot on mostly 35mm lenses for over 12 months.

Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8

As it has taken me so long to post this I have already shared both digital and colour film photos on my Flickr, Instagram (@MrLeicaCom) and Facebook pages.  I will wait and process more colour film negatives and develop the black and white film and then share a blog post for the film pictures shot on my Leica M4-Ps. Here are some more digital Leica M240 photos until then –

Winter Sun
Empty Beach
Agency Model
Hate U 2
Lingerie Shoot
Beach Photoshoot
 

Pipeline

I realise I have so many promised and unposted blog posts to come but to recap here are some posts on their way for 2017

  • Ukraine Models 2016 – Leica M240
  • Ukraine Models 2016 – Nikon F4 + Kodak T-Max film
  • Kodak Vision3 50D Film
  • Kodak Vision3 200T Film
  • Kodak Vision3 500T Film
  • Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8 ASPH
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5
  • Budapest Models 2016 – on Film (various)
  • Leica Weddings 2016
  • Poland Models 2016 – on Film – Leica M4-P