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 (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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Polish Models – Mamiya 6 (Film)

Polish Models – Mamiya 6 (Film)

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

June 2016

Hello,  I finally get chance to share some of the film photos from my last model photography trip to Poland.  If you read my blog post review in April you may remember that I decided to take the newly purchased Mamiya 6 medium format film camera rather than the Hasselblad.  As such you may see a difference in photo style compared to last year when I took my Hasselblad 501C.  The other main difference to note is for this year I was shooting the Mamiya 6  mostly with strobes whereas I used the Hasselblad with ambient light only.

Mamiya 6 Fashion

In no particular order here are a selection of model photography / fashion / portrait / beauty photos from Poland all shot with the Mamiya 6.  As I get chance to process more I will try to add them to the gallary below.

You can click any photo to see details of film and developing methods used.

Black and White Film

Karo
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Mamiya 6 + Fuji Acros
Summer Vibe
Mamiya 6
Mamiya 6, Poland
Analogue Fashion
Analog Fashion
Polish Model - Mamiya 6
Film Fashion
Editorial Shoot - Mamiya 6
Film Fashion - Editorial Shoot
Light and Shadow Fashion

Natalia
Mamiya 6 Portrait
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Mamiya 6 + 75mm f3.5
Mamiya 6 Model Photography

Teresa
Mamiya 6 Boudoir Photography
Mamiya 6 + 75mm

Julia
Mamiya 6 in Poland
Fashion on Film

Sylwia
Fomapan 100@800
Mamiya 6 + Fomapan 100@800
Fomapan 100@800
Fomapan 100@800

Ana
Mamiya 6 B&W
Mamiya 6
Mamiya 6 Rangefinder

Colour Film (sorry not many processed yet!)

Karo
Mamiya 6 + Kodak Portra 160
Kodak Portra 160 Fashion

Mamiya 6 Conclusion

I am happy with some of the photos shared above but I think the Hasselblad 501C takes far sharper images with more clarity and ‘pop’.  I took the Mamiya 6 to Ukraine (photos still being processed) but I think for the next trip I will try to pack the Hasselblad instead.

Lastly, as mentioned in the last post a big thanks to all the models and to the agencies (Malva Models and Future Models Management) for the collaboration.

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Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

 

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

(Hasselblad 501C + 50mm, 60mm, 80mm, 120mm, 150mm lenses)
(Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens)

Intro

Firstly, sorry for the delay on this!  I know a few of you asked me about it weeks ago and I said then I’d share my thoughts soon.  At least waiting til after two trips overseas using the Mamiya 6 I can now give a fair writeup  versus my Hasselblad 501C.  As a quick recap I recently bought the Mamiya 6 to provide a smaller alternative to my 500 series Hasselblad for trips abroad (especially).  Both cameras are 6×6 medium format film cameras taking 120 film.  Both camera are roughly the same price with the Mamiya 6 probably costing slightly more here in the UK due to there being not many Mamiya 6 cameras on the market.  My Hasselblad 501C was my favourite camera before buying the Mamiya 6 so expectation was very high.  Both cameras seem to receive positive reviews from reading prior to my purchase so without further ado lets crack on.

Size Comparison – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

I love the modular 500 series Hasselblad cameras but I only use mine with a prism viewfinder which unfortunately adds both size and weight.  I wish I could focus accurately without the prism finder but I really cannot see properly with Acute Matte non-spot screen glass.  It is perhaps my biggest disappointment with the Hasselblad as I love the waist level viewfinder view / experience on my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera.  The Hasselblad 80mm kit lens is the most compact followed by the 100mm from those I have owned.  My go to lenses are the 60mm Distagon (second shortest of my Zeiss lenses and gives a very usable field of view) and 120mm Makro-Planar for close up portraits and ultimate image quality (more on that to follow below).  The Hasselblad has the advantage of a removable film back so I can use two film backs and have colour film and black and white film running side by side without having to finish a roll.  My Mamiya 6 has the 75mm lens which is the smallest of the 50mm, 75mm and 150mm lens line up.  The Mamiya 6 design allows the lens to partially retract when not in use making the camera small enough to fit in my Leica M camera bag. The bag I use is a Billingham Hadley Digital and the Mamiya 6 will just fit with lens down into the bag.  The size benefit of the Mamiya 6 is not to be under estimated.

Ease of Use – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Being ‘Mr Leica’ is it perhaps no surprise that I love rangefinder style cameras.  The Mamiya 6 like the Leica M cameras is a rangefinder focus design and I love the fact that I have a definitive focus confirmation regardless of the F stop.  I am a little short sighted and wear prescription glasses for driving but not when using cameras.  As such I enjoy knowing that a subject is in focus with a rangefinder when the subject is further away.  That said my biggest complaint of rangefinder cameras is I cannot focus as close as I would like.  Leica M cameras are my bread and butter so it is just normal for me to not be able to focus at a distance closer than 0.7m.  If I then add a Hasselblad 501C to the mix you can imagine my joy when I can focus in really close, especially with the Zeiss 120mm Makro-Planar lens.  I love nothing more than viewing subject through the big bright Hasselblad viewfinder.  If I could see every day life with the same view the Hasselblad gives I think the world would be a more beautiful place!

The Mamiya 6 rangefinder design lets me work at slower shutter speeds / lower light levels at the same aperture as it has no mirror to flap inside causing vibration.  I have shot the Mamiya 6 at a shutter speed of 1/8-1/15 and got a decent photo handheld.  I tend to use the Hasselblad handheld too for ease and shoot normally at a shutter speed of 1/60-1/125 with the light levels I am in.  That said, if I am honest to myself I think I can get more and sharper photos if go back to using a monopod.  I plan to try using a monopod again to compare results. Sometimes I am not sure if I moved or the model moved when using a very shallow depth of field and the eyes are not as sharp as I want.  I find the Hasselblad tends to pull me in perhaps too close at times resulting in many close up portraits.  The Mamiya 6 on the other hand let me work easily at a distance giving images with a different style and lets me make better use of the location.

Image Sharpness – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

The main section of this post and to me what it all boils down to is image quality and more specifically for me image sharpness.  The Hasselblad had set the bench mark very high so the Mamiya 6 had a lot to live up to.  When I read ‘film vs digital’ reviews online the film camera used is often a Mamiya 7 as perhaps the best example camera film can offer in terms of sharpness, say (excluding large format).  To my knowledge the image quality of Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 lenses is not noticeably different.  As such I expected very good results from the Mamiya 6.  To explain further and to cover myself, the Mamiya 6 photos / experience / review is based on the 75mm lenses I own.  The Hasselblad has an advantage as I have the Zeiss 50mm Distagon CF, 60mm Distagon CF, 80mm Planar CF, 120mm Makro-Planar CF and 150mm Sonnar CF lenses.  I have also owned the Zeiss 100mm Planar CF lens.  If I have to place these lenses in order of sharpness I would say 120mm first, 50mm/60mm/100mm about equal (without thorough testing), 150mm and lastly  the 80mm.  I am rarely happy with the results from my 80mm lenses.  The 150mm Sonnar gives a completely different look to the other lenses, a less fine more buttery smooth image.  My conclusions of the Hasselblad 501C performance is based on the 60mm/120mm lenses that I use most often.

So how does the  image sharpness compare between the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6.  The Mamiya 6 does produce fine grained (if I can describe it like that, regardless of film stock) sharp images with lots of detail captured, with the lens shot wide open or stopped down.  It is perhaps comparable to a sharp digital image in that the image is flat but sharp.  I find it good for further away subjects especially like full body shots.  The Hasselblad 501C and it’s Zeiss lenses produces a different sharpness.  The next few sentences may make some readers cringe as they have read it a 100 times but I cannot describe it any more accurately.  The Zeiss optics on the Hasselblad camera make an image ‘pop’.  There is a lot written online about the mystically Zeiss 3D pop look but it is just fact in this instance.  The Mamiya 6 photos are very flat and to me lack the wow factor.  They are documentary style photos accurately capturing the detail in the scene but they lack the zing.  I don’t take photos to capture ordinary.  I try to create the extra-ordinary as cheesy as that sounds!

Fluff aside, how do the Hasselblad photos differ and perhaps why?  It seems the Zeiss optics have greater micro-contrast which helps give the apparent additional sharpness.  The Zeiss optics focus closer which gives a shallower depth of field at the same given aperture helping to give the 3D look.  Focusing closer can increase image distortion with wider lenses which can also give a kind of 3D look to an image.  Focusing closer to a face naturally lets me see every eye lash and skin pore using the Hasselblad that I can’t see as closely with the Mamiya 6 as I am too far away.  As such the Hasselblad photos look sharper to my eyes.

With all the excuses aside, I am 99.99% sure that my Hasselblad photos are a bit or a lot sharper than the Mamiya 6 photos.  Some Hasselblad negatives need no additional sharpening after scanning whereas I think I always boost sharpness with the Mamiya 6 film scans.  I tend to process all my film scans to bring out the sharpness in a image regardless of the camera I use.  All the example photos below have been processed but it is worth noting that each photos is probably as sharp as I can get it without introducing additional grain / over doing it (too much)(to my eyes / taste).

Conclusion – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Based on the cameras and lenses I use and the resulting photos I would say the Hasselblad 501C camera images appear sharper that the Mamiya 6. I will also say the Hasselblad Zeiss optics render images in a much more pleasing way, to my eyes and taste.  I prefer the Hasselblad camera for close up portraits and when working within up to say 1.5m distance.  The Mamiya 6 for me is still a keeper due to it’s compact size, rangefinder focus system and being sharp enough for me to use happily.  It is not always possible to carry the Hasselblad with me when working with models overseas so the Mamiya 6 is my next best option.  If carrying gear was no option I would take both cameras to a shoot and use the Hasselblad for <1m photos and the Mamiya 6 for those at a greater distance.  I would perhaps get the Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lenses for wide shots and have the 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar on the Hasselblad.  This combination would also suit me well for film wedding photography for my style of working.

I am not interested by a Mamiya 7 as I prefer the 6×6 film format of the Mamiya 6 (versus 6×7) and the retractable lenses of the Mamiya 6.

Below are lots of example images using the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 with different models, different film, different light so you can make up your own mind on what camera produces the ‘nicer’ images to your taste.  I have also included a sneak peek of a few images to come from my Poland and Ukraine trips as I didn’t have enough examples photos from the Mamiya 6 in the UK.

Thanks

Hasselblad 501C Portraits

Hasselblad Portrait
Hasselblad Film Portrait
Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6 !!
Hasselblad Fashion
Hasselblad 501C + Delta 100
Flashback
Hasselblad + Zeiss Sonnar 150
Hasselblad Double Exposure Fashion
Hasselblad 501C
Hasselblad 501C + Sonnar
120 Ilford Pan F 50
Hasselblad + Pan F 50
Haselblad 501C Portrait
Hasselblad + Fomapan 100
Hasselblad Studio Session
Pageant Girl
London Model Shoot
120 Ilford FP4+
Zeiss Planar 80mm

Mamiya 6 Portraits

Mamiya 6 + 75mm Lens
Mamiya 6 Sharpness
Mamiya 6 + 75 + Tri-X
Fomapan 100@800
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Summer Vibe
Mamiya 6 Rangefinder
The view from my hotel, Ukraine

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Ukraine Models 2016

Ukraine Models 2016

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

Trip

I organized another model photography trip to Uzhgorod, Ukraine to catchup with model friends and hopefully also meet some new ones. After recently visiting Poland to shoot with the model agencies I had some ideas of what cameras I may like to take for this trip. I take only hand luggage on all my trips so it depends on the airline as to how much camera gear I can pack. For Poland I had a backpack and my small Billingham Hadley Digital bag so took 4 cameras, a strobe and a compact travel tripod to use as light stand. For Ukraine I only have the backpack.

Cameras

I took my newly purchased Mamiya 6 to Poland as it is smaller than the Hasselblad 501C.  I packed the Leica M 240 for digital and brought the Leica M6 to shoot more film.  I selected the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens for its size, sharpness and lack of flare.  The Leica Summicron 50 f2 v5 flares too much for me so I left that at home and instead of packing the slightly larger Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 went one ‘better’ and brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO.  The 75 APO is my sharpest Leica M lens and maybe sharpest any lens and it lets me focus closer than nearly all standard Leica M lenses in terms of magnification.  Another camera I considered was my old Nikon FM plus Voigtlander 40mm f2 pancake lens but in the end I chose the M6. In addition to all of that I squeezed in my Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 collapsible lens and a speedlight (+ reflector). No tripod though.

Film

I currently favour 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film for my medium format cameras but I thought I better use up some existing film in the fridge before buying more Foma.  As such I packed mostly Kodak Tri-X 400 film plus a few different rolls to use up. For 35mm film I wanted to shoot more colour so brought along some Kodak Portra 400, Fujicolor C200 and for black and white 35mm Fomapan 100.

One thing I like about Fomapan 100 is I can shoot it at ISO 50-400 and develop as if at ISO 100.  I can also push Foma to 800 easily without any real issues. If I am planning to shoot ISO 50-400 I would go for Foma. For ISO 400-800-1600 range I would use Tri-X 400.  The weather for the trip was forecast unsettled so Tri-X might be the right choice.

Leica Fashion

Model Shoots

I like to make the most of my model photography trips overseas so managed to shoot 17 girls in 3.5 days shooting 9:00-21:00 back to back.  I worked with the local model agency, One Models, who kindly provided a few models that were available and not out on contract overseas. I also worked with some of the girls I knew from previous trips and also a few new faces, friends of friends.

The weather was not as kind as I would have liked (for the time of year) and we had a fair bit of rain.  As such I did more photoshoots inside the hotel than I planned to so I had to think a bit more.  The speedlight was a life saver in the low light conditions and I used it for the majority of the photos.  I do tend to favour using lights for most of my model photography and I think adding light can sometimes make a photo look more like a fashion photo which I like.  The speedlight helped me keep my ISO at 100-400 for almost all photos and I also had the lenses stopped down.  The biggest limitation was the flash sync speed of the Leica M6 of 1/50.  I noted on the film scans for a shoot we did outside in the rain that there was motion blur as the models were moving more than I noticed.  The Mamiya 6 has a max flash sync speed of 1/500  so that had no issues.

As I had no light stand or tripod I had to handhold the speedlight for the majority of the photos.  This is not ideal as it is difficult to exactly replicate the same light when swapping between cameras (digital and film) but better than nothing (for my taste). I didn’t use the reflector at all so may leave it behind next time.

Light and Shadow

Camera Performance

Leica M 240

I noticed my Leica M 240 needs the rangefinder recalibrating again (the second time) so I was shooting 99% with the 35mm Voigtlander Color Skopar lens stopped down a little.  I did use the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO for a few photos but I focused with the LCD.  The mis-calibrated rangefinder was less of an issue than it may sound as my current style is favouring lenses stopped down to match the film cameras for easy alignment of settings.  I shoot digital with ISO, aperture and shutter to match the film camera then when the model looks good I switch to film cameras. I have some nice Sekonic light meters but find at the moment I am not using them.  When using strobes I like to see the digital preview of the light prior to shooting film.  With daylight I would be happy to meter once then shoot film without chimping on the digital LCD.

Excluding the recalibration issue, the Leica M 240 is on good form and I love it more and more each day.  I would still say the Leica M9 and Leica M8 make better B&W photos (more filmic) but the M240 is no slouch and I am getting good results both B&W and colour.

Ukrainian Model
Go Green!
Leica M Fashion

Leica M6

As mentioned the Leica M6 max flash sync speed of 1/50 is a killer for strobist work.  It is just too slow unless used in very controlled conditions.  I did get some nice black and white film scans but I also lost a few due to model motion blur outside.  The Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO pretty much lived on the M6 but strangely I found it too tight for my current taste on location.  I was loving the 35mm focal length on the M240.  I might take two 35mm lenses next time to match the view for easy composition across the two Leica cameras.

Black and White Fashion Photography
Leica M6 Portrait

Mamiya 6

After getting some quite nice results in Poland using the Mamiya 6 medium format 6×6 rangefinder camera, I was excited to see what I could do in Ukraine. (Poland photos still to come when i’ve edited a few more).  I am enjoying the size of the Mamiya 6 camera very much and it is very easy to carry it in my little Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag together with one complete Leica M camera or 2 Leica M bodies and 2 Leica M lenses packed down. I still have my Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6 post to write but in the meantime it is safe to say the Mamiya 6 is a keeper.  I still only have one lens, the 75mm which I like due to it’s smaller size and lighter weight (vs. 50mm and 150mm lenses) and the focal length.  That said I would like to use a Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lens if I see one for sale at a reasonable price.  I think the wider view would be great for film wedding photography to capture a wider scene.

Film Fashion
Mamiya 6 Fashion

Ukrainian Models

I have been travelling to Ukraine for quite a few years now and I must say the level and quality of modelling from the girls this time is the best to date. The resulting photos may have been helped a little by me not having any majority camera issues (unlike previous trips) and being armed with more photography knowledge and experience.  In addition to that, I meet more and more models each visit so every follow up visit I pick the best of the best to maximise the chance of making photos I will like.  I always try to better my best work with every shoot and although it may not always be possible it keeps me fired up and as keen as ever.

As with all my trips, a huge thank you to all the models I worked with, to One Model agency and to the makeup girls where applicable.  I didn’t experience a single cancellation so that was a real breath of fresh air compared to the usual UK (and now Poland) high cancellation rates of 50-60% plus.  Big big thanks!

I have started to develop and scan some of the black and white film but the colour film is still to follow.

Thanks!

Leica M240

 

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New York Photography Workshop (2)

New York Photography Workshop (2)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2016

Brooklyn Bridge New York Panoramic

New York Trip

As crazy as it sounds, I was back out teaching model photography in New York again this week. I’d never visited NYC before then to go twice within 4-5 weeks was quite a surprise! I feel very fortunate that was asked to go once let alone twice.

For my first workshop in New York I was teaching model photography using speedlights on location (mostly) and with iconic landmark backdrops (mostly). For this second NYC photography workshop I focused on using available light on location to light a model. This was normally daylight during the day then any existing light sources we could find for the night shoots.  It is one skill to create light but another to see existing light and visualize how it could light a model. This time we did not have to carry lights and stands so could work faster and lighter. With that intention, I decided to leave my beloved Hasselblad 501C medium format camera and monopod behind and instead used all rangefinder film cameras.

The recent purchase of my new Hasselblad Xpan 35mm panoramic rangefinder camera was no coincidence. I bought it quickly so I was able to take it with me to New York. On the first trip to New York I shot 6×6 film with the Hasselblad 501C and digital photography with the Leica M 240. I have been less than impressed recently with the Leica M240 CMOS sensor images for my model photography so decided to leave it behind and packed the older Leica M8 instead.

Camera Bag

  • Leica M8 digital camera body
  • Leica M6 film camera body
  • Leica M3 film camera body
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Voiglander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Voiglander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8 lens
  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 lens
  • Hasselblad XPan film camera body
  • Hasselblad XPan 45mm f4 lens
  • Hasselblad XPan 90mm f4 lens
  • Fuji GA645 medium format film camera

35mm Film

Amongst the high rise buildings of New York there is often less light when compared to say the open beach location I shoot at in Poland. As such I only shot one roll of ISO 100 film and that was on the last day photographing Brooklyn Bridge. For colour film I shot mostly 35mm Kodak Portra 400 and some old Fujicolor C200 plus a roll of Cinestill 800T. For black and white film I shot almost entirely with Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 (aka Cinestill BWXX film), at both ISO 400 and ISO 800. Excited to see the results from all of the above!

Hasselblad XPan

I was super excited to try the new Hasselblad XPan 35mm film panoramic rangefinder camera. I bought the 45mm f4 and 90mm f4 XPan lenses. There is also a 30mm XPan lens but it is quite pricey and wider than I normally need.

Many purists write you should only shoot the XPan in panoramic mode (and not the standard single 35mm frame mode). To an extend I agree but in a real world situation and when traveling reasonably light the 90mm lens shot in standard mode makes for a nice portrait lens. I normally use and carry 35mm and 50mm lenses on the Leica cameras so the Hasselblad XPan 90mm gives me more reach and compression if needed.

The Hasselblad XPan is compact and easy to use. It is about the same weight as Leica camera body and lens but a little wider. I relied on the XPan light meter and used perhaps 50:50 the 45mm and 90mm lenses.

My only small complaint and observation at this stage with the XPan is if I load film and then want to change to a different film mid roll I can’t manually rewind so as such the film rewinds fully into the 35mm film canister. I then need a film retriever to pull the film leader back out so it can be used again. I realize it is probably not normal to swap film in a camera mid roll but I do it a lot with the Leica (and Nikon) film cameras.

Leica M8

I realized I don’t use my Leica M8 often enough. I enjoyed the crop factor that lets me focus tighter for portraits and the rich CCD sensor colours. I shot the M8 similar to my Leica film cameras so used it at a ‘normal’ ISO range (ISO 160-640 on the M8 range). I also enjoyed the sharper M8 images vs the M240 and Leica M9.  The M8 is still king for digital B&W photos for me (of the cameras I have owned).

Leica M6 and Leica M3

I took the Leica M3 and Leica M6 film cameras so could load one body with colour film and one body with black and white.  As it happened having the Hasselblad XPan too (and keen to use it) meant I did not need 3x 35mm film cameras.  As such after the first roll of colour film in the M3 I then left it out my bag for the rest of the workshop. I enjoyed using the Leica M6 and built in light meter and did not use my handheld Sekonic light meter at all meaning I can travel lighter still and work fast.  I also made use of the Leica M6 35mm framelines and swapped between 50mm and 35mm with the Leica M8.

Fuji GA645

I packed the lightweight and compact medium format Fuji GA645 as I thought I would miss the larger film format.  I only took a single photo and I think that was a cityscape!

Conclusion

It was nice to work lighter and faster due to a combination of small cameras with built in light meters and using available light on location.  I did do some strobist work in the apartment for an evening shoot to give a Hollywood glamour styling lighting with a single speedlight and DIY light modifiers only.  We experienced a 50-60% cancellation rate from the models again but with a lot of emailing we still had models each day to shoot with.  A big thank you to models Aubrey, Sara, Olly, Cat, Laura and Rozi for joining us.

Photography Workshops 2016

In 2014 I was teaching mostly in the UK and ran some small group workshops in London.  For 2015 I concentrated on teaching 1-2-1 photography tuition and taught both in the UK but also in Zurich, New York and Amsterdam.

For 2016 I will continue to teach 1-2-1 photography sessions both overseas and at home as requested.  Photography workshop costs vary on a number of factors so I now address each on a as requested basis.  I am happy to travel globally as long as the travel costs are covered.

For those of you that are unsure, I am normally asked to teach model photography workshops which includes providing the model(s) and showing you how I use light to illuminate the model on location.  I shoot both film and digital Leicas during the workshops but you can use whatever camera you normally use.

My website link below has a list of some of the photography topics you may want to cover during the workshop and each course is bespoke to your needs.

http://matthewosbornephotography.co.uk/Photography-Courses.html

NYC (II) Photos

I will post some of the New York photography workshop photos once processed.   Due to the different cameras I was using I will share posts by camera rather than all together.  Posts to follow include:

  • Leica M8 in NYC
  • Hasselblad XPan in NYC
  • Leica M6 in NYC

Here is a sample! Aubrey with my Leica M8

1-2-1 photography workshop - NYC

I still have the NYC (I) Hasselblad 501C photos to share.  I now have the colour film back from the lab so will share some 6×6 negative scans soon!

Sample! Tegan with the Hasselblad 501C

Hasselblad + Ektar Portrait