Budapest 2017(2)-Leica vs. Lumix

Budapest 2017 (2) – Leica vs. Lumix

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2017

Leica M 240 Portrait

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

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

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

Final camera list – to take

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

Film – 35mm and 120

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

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

Leica B&W

Model Photography

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

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

Day 1

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

Day 3

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

Panasonic Lumix LX100 / Leica D-Lux

Summary

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

Thanks

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

Found!

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

Full Panasonic Lumix LX100 review to follow together with sample photos

Where Next

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

Lumix LX100

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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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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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Gallary – Hungarian Girls

Sharing my Flickr Set – Hungarian Girls

Disused Power Plant Tiszaujvaros, HungaryD800 6x6 crop of NoraZsaklin (4)Wating For Her TrainEdina with 50/1.2 AISDora
StripesJusztinaZsaklin SOOC, HungaryJusztina, HungaryHotel shoot, HungaryDora
Edina with 50/1.2 AISJusztinaBest Friends..RenataDoll-Like NoraSun Drenched Bench [Explored!]
Nora, with Pentacon Six TLFilm PhotographyNora..Dora, HungaryEdina, HungaryZsaklin, Hungary, with 50/1.2 AIS

Hungarian Girls, a set on Flickr.

Here is a collection of Hungarian model photos I shot over the last 3 years together with some street photography photos. Photos were taken in Budapest and Tiszaujvaros.

Camera Gear & Models –

Camera Bodies include:

Leica M9
ARAX-CM 6×6 (Kiev 88)(medium format film)
Contax 645 (medium format film)
Nikon D800
Nikon D700
Nikon D90
Lumix G1

Lenses include:

Voigtlander Classic Nokton 40mm f1.4
Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2
Samyang 85mm f1.4
Nikkor 50mm f1.4D
Nikkor 35mm f1.4G
Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s
Lensbaby Edge 80
Mir 65mm f3.5
Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f2

Models include:

Zsaklin
Nora
Edina
Dora
Jusztina
Rita
Barbara
Alexandra
Kyra

MatthewOsbornePhotograpy.co.uk