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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Digital Photography Workflow

Digital Photography Workflow

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

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

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

Workflow

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

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

Wedding Photography vs Model Photography

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

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

Sorry if you expected something more complicated!

Next.. Film Photography Workflow

Leica M9 vs Fuji XT1!

Leica M9 vs Fuji XT1!

Matthew Osborne Photography

I was teaching in the studio today and the photographer brought his Fuji XT-1 along to use.  I know many Leica photographers use Fuji cameras as a backup camera or as a cheaper alternative but I have never really given them any thought to be honest.  I know they can take nice images but there has never actually been enough interest there for me read up on them.

Today I saw a Fuji camera up close in action and to be honest I was a bit surprised and less than impressed.  The Fuji XT1 camera seemed to have a million different menus that hindered the photographer from being able to do what you want to do with a camera and that is take a simple photo. I was teaching portrait photography using speedlights and in this instance his lens was stopped down to perhaps f5.6 or f8.  He mentioned it was difficult to compose photos accurately as there was no constant image on the LCD (other than a brief preview that flashed on and off).  This was crazy to me.  How can you use a camera when you can’t see what you are taking a photo of?  I realise in brighter conditions or with the lens at a wider aperture this issue would be resolved but they are many occasions when you might be shooting in low light.  At a wedding for example you really do need to have your photo composed ‘correctly’ and in focus so you need to be able to see. (Original paragraph reworded to avoid confusion).

New photographers have absolutely no hope of learning photography with a camera like this.  They just get bambozelled by the menus before they can even start.  I guess this goes for some DSLR cameras but I found Nikon cameras easy to use in the past.

It really highlighted to me how valuable it is to shoot with film caemeras if you want to actually learn photography and improve your skills.  An old film camera only has a few settings to control – shutter speed, aperture and film choice / ISO.  The next best thing after film to me and from my experience is using a Leica M8 or Leica M9.  They share much of the simplicity of film cameras yet they have a digital output.  Learning with only a film camera can be slow as you need to remember the conditions and settings used for each photo for when you get your film developed.  With digital cameras you can see instantly the effects of changing aperture, shutter speed and ISO and the different looks achieved using different lenses or lighting.

In a professional photographer’s hands i’m sure the Fuji XT1 can be a useful tool and I know it can produce good photos.  For beginners however or someone wanting to go beyond a point and shoot automatic camera I highly recommend you try a Leica M8 / Leica M9 or get yourself a cheap film camera to use along side your Fuji camera.  That way you can start to appreciate photography and as learn with the film camera you can then improve your photos with the digital camera too.

*This is only based on my own experiences but I really was not impressed.

Here is a Leica M9 shot from today with model Becca helping me

Leica M9 Studio Photography

Featured: MOTW – Gina

Featured Model of the Week (“MOTW”) : Gina

MatthewOsbornePhotography – Model Photographer
This is a new feature to share some of my favourite model photography/ fashion and beauty images from a selection of the best models I have had the pleasure of working with over the last few years, both here in the UK and overseas.  Photos have been captured with various camera equipment and you can see the details by clicking on the images.
Model – Gina
Location – Coventry UK
Gina lives locally to me so we have shot together on many occasions and with lots of different cameras / lenses.  See if you can spot the Leica images (and if you are really smart what lens I used!), the Nikon images and those shot on film rather than digital!  Enjoy!
Recent photos taking during a 1-2-1 portrait photography workshop last weekend

Modern Classic
Classic Portraiture
Leica Summicron 75 - Studio Portrait
Polaroid by www.MrLeica.com

Older photos (mixed)

Love This :) Gina
Gina with Contax 645
Gina with Contax 645
Gina in the Snow
Gina
Leica M8 Studio Portrait
Zeiss Planar
Model Photography
Lencarta Elite Pro 300
D800 Fashion Photography
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
M8 Fashion
Samyang 24mm f1.4
Lumix G3 Fashion
Leica M9 Portrait
Leica M9 & Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ii
Gina with Contax 645
Nikon D800 Fashion

And finally a few photos in colour..

Leica M9 Fashion
Leica Fashion Photography

Leica Fashion

Leica Noctilux Fashion

I hope you liked them?
Look out for my “MOTW” blog posts for more model photography photos going forward!
Thanks
Matt

Leica M8 Portraits & Thoughts

Leica M8 Portraits
Follow up post with my thoughts of the M8 after having owned it for a few weeks.

I really have been hugely impressed with the September 2006 released 10.3MP 1.33x cropped sensor Leica M8 digital rangefinder camera. Costing x3 less than a used Leica M9, The M8 is also the most affordable way to enter the digital Leica world. Leica retains this myth around the brand that the Leica equipment is not affordable or in reach of the majority of the population. This is of course not true at all. You can pick up a used Leica M8 camera body in good condition for the same price as a Canon 5D Mk II. Need I say more! You may then say that the camera lenses are too expensive. Wrong again. Older Leica lenses can be picked up on eBay for less than some Canon and Nikon lenses. Leica mount lenses from companies such as Voigtlander and Zeiss also offer equally affordable and very high quality optics. If you have an old Leica film camera collecting dust in your attic that your late Grandfather once owned then a Leica M8 would bring a new life to your Leica lens. Alternatively, if like me you enjoy film photography and love using Leica lenses then you can pick yourself up a used Leica film camera body for even less than the Leica M8. I just treated myself to a 1958 Leica M2 film camera so I can shoot 35mm film with my existing Leica lenses.
(Samples of Leica M2 film photography coming soon!).

Leica M8 vs. Leica M9?

As you may know I already have a Leica M9 and bought the Leica M8 as a second Leica body for my Leica wedding photography. After having used the Leica M8 for the last few weeks I can tell you that for the black and white portraiture I normally shoot the M8 is equally as good as my M9 for my taste. The cameras feel near identical to use and if I didn’t look at what was in my hand I wouldn’t know which camera I was holding. The Leica M8 resolution is fantastic and exceeded my expectations. I think the M8 photos are as nice as the M9 ones. I almost like the bigger grain of the M8 images more than those of the M9. I think the M9 is a half way house between the more sterile DSLR look of the M Type 240 and the grainier older M8. I think the M8 gives a filmic look closer to film photography than the M9 due to the grain size. Both cameras use the Kodak CCD sensor that I love so much. I am convinced that the ‘Leica Look’ is from the CCD sensor more so than the lenses. I realise this is a topic of great debate! Each LM lens adds a certain character to an image but the overall Leica look is found in all my Leica M8 and Leica M9 images.

I never thought I would say it but I feel like I could happily own 2 Leica M8 cameras rather than an M8 and a M9. The biggest advantage of the M9 is the full frame sensor so gives each lens a different use to when on the M8.

Here are some Leica M8 Portraits from my last few shoots –

Model Photography
M8 Fashion
Leica M8 Studio Portrait
Leica M8 B&W
Baker Street, London
Zeiss ZM Planar
Zeiss Planar 50
Leica M8 Portrait

Here is a photo taken with my M8 of me in action yesterday teaching a photography workshop in London. I gave the model a chance to get her own back and turn a camera on the photographers! I was using my Nikon FM SLR film camera shooting 35mm Kodak Portra 160 film. Katie did a great job taking this photo without any practice once I explained what to do!

Photography Workshop, London

Finally here is a flower portrait with the Leica M8. The M8 is not limited to people photography! 🙂

Leica M8 + Leica Lux ASPH 50

I will continue to share Leica M8 images on my Flickr stream (in addition to those taken with my M9, and the soon to arrive Leica M2 which I am very excited about!)

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer

Related Posts / Links
Leica M8 ordered
Leica M2 film camera
Book a photography workshop

Leica Engagement Shoot

Leica Engagement Shoot – Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

Coventry Wedding Photographer

Here are some of the photos taken this morning with my Leica M9 camera. I wanted to showcase to couples who are looking to have an engagement shoot or book a wedding photographer what is possible for you. I aim to provide wedding couples with a mix of relaxed reportage style candid photos throughout the day plus some posed high fashion wedding portraits as seen here. This is my style of Leica wedding photography.

This morning Harriett and Ashley modelled for me and Donna kindly came along as my lighting assistant. I used the same lighting and equipment that I use on a wedding day and going forward I plan to take an assistant with me for every shoot (feel free to get in touch if you would like to get involved) to help hold my light so I can achieve the look I desire.

Photos were taken with the following lenses, roughly in order, Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5, Leica Summicron 90mm f2, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii and Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

Lighting was fully portable using speedlights.

Photos shot as Leica M9 black and white JPEGs in camera and finished in Lightroom 3.

Gallery


MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Wedding Photographer

Related Post

Engagement Shoot – Part 2 (Using Nikon D800 & Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s)

Lumix G3 Street Photography

Lumix G3 Street Photography

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 + Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens via M4/3 – Leica M mount adapter

I took the G3 to London with various Leica M mount lenses to see what it was capable of vs. my Leica M9 and Nikon D800. Initially I was disappointed by the lower resolution and less apparent sharpness of the monochrome JPEGs however it gives the images quite a nice vintage almost filmic look (because of the softness I think).

Some sample images using the G3 on the street

Lumix G3 Street Photography

Panasonic DMC-G3

Central London

Vintage Street Photography

M4/3 + Leica M

London Street Photography

The Lumix G3 camera body + the compact CV 15/4.5 made for a lightweight setup. Using the m4/3 – LM adapter having the lens set at 0.5M meant everything from roughly 2m – infinity was in focus. That meant as long as I did not get too close to my subjects I could just point and shoot without any focus requirements. Similar to street photography using hyperfocal distance but easier. Being accustom to a Leica M9 camera I found it very easy to ‘see’ my shots even though I was using a new-to-me camera.

I will keep my thoughts on the G3 for a future post, my likes and dislikes so far.

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer