Budapest Models + Leica: Dec17

Budapest Models + Leica: Dec17

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

May 2018

Written on the flight home, here were my thoughts after my model photography photoshoots in Budapest at the end of December 2017..  (and sorry I am so far behind with the blog!)

Leica Summilux 50mm ASPH Portrait

Intro

I spent the last two Christmas holidays (2015+2016) visiting Poland for model photography shoots so I thought this year I would go to Budapest for a change.  It became apparent that many of my regular Budapest models were out of town during my stay so I took the opportunity to work with some new faces. I’m glad I did as now I have three more great models to add to my Budapest model list for next time.

I booked a city centre Airbnb apartment again for a few days. Although it was quite spacious and very central it didn’t really have any photogenic features and was very dark inside.

Happy New Year!

Camera Gear

  • Hasselblad 500CM film camera
  • Hasselblad A12 6×6 film back
  • Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
  • Leica M4-P camera body (film)
  • Leica M240 camera body (digital)
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens
  • Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (Lumix LX100)
  • Manfrotto PIXI EVO Tripod
  • Siri Carbon Monopod
  • 120 Film – Fomapan 100/ Kodak T-Max 400
  • 35mm Film – Kodak T-Max 400/ Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222
  • Speedlight

Available Light Photography

Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH

The AirB&B apartment was so dark inside with little window light and little useful/ useable continuous lighting (room lights).  I almost didn’t take a speedlight to Budapest so I could shoot with available light but I’m so thankful I did.  I shot almost every digital photo at ISO 800-1600 with the Leica M240 and I metered the few film photos I took at ISO 800 and will push the Kodak T-Max 400 film one stop during developing. (400@800). 98% of the photos were taken inside as the clothes the models were wearing were not suitable for the daytime temperatures as low as -3 degrees celsius.  (I much prefer to shoot outside especially in a beautiful city such as Budapest but it isn’t always possible).  I tried to use what little window light we had in the apartment but that meant using camera settings such as f1.2-f1.4, 1/45-1/60, ISO 800-1600.

Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH II Film

For available light photography I shared the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens and the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens between the Leica M4-P film camera and digital Leica M240 camera bodies.  I also wanted to use the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens so for that I used flash.  (Being an f4 lens it needed more light than was available to use, even with a high ISO).  My new flash trigger was being temperamental so I had to use a mix of off camera flash and on camera flash (direct flash and bounced flash) with my mini speedlight.  I also used one of my bike LED lights as a video light if I needed a little extra lighting. The lack of  interior lights meant I had to create my own lighting for almost all photos with the gear I brought with me from the UK.  I probably overused a few of the spaces in the apartment but I didn’t want to shoot up against a white wall where possible (I did that far too much for a previous Poland photoshoot trips).

Leica M4-P Portrait

One advantage of the small speedlight/ light source is it was highly likely that every set of images would look a little different even shot in the same part of the apartment. Just a small change to the light position had quite a big effect to how the light illuminated the model. I realize that most decent modern digital cameras from the likes of Sony, Fuji, Nikon and Canon now have a useable high ISO far in excess of 6400 but it reality if you are shooting indoors after daylight hours then standard ceiling lights are unlikely to give you ‘exciting’/ flattering lighting for people photography (or any photography where you want to illuminate the subject). My top tip to myself after this visit is always carry a small speedlight even if I plan to shoot only by available light!

Kodak T-Max 400@800

If there was too little light for fast (“fast” = small f stop like f1.4) 35mm camera lenses then there was certainly too little light for a medium format camera. I had packed a table top tripod (the Manfrotto PIXI EVO tripod) in case I did any landscape photography in Budapest so I took a couple of Hasselblad Portrait images with the camera setup on the tripod on a table facing the model. I fired the camera with a cable release but I’m worried the models moved to much to get any sharp images.

Hasselblad Girl

UK Models (and Overseas)

I worked with three new models and my model friend Nikoletta (ex-Miss Universe Hungary).  I’m not sure what they put in the local water but Budapest homes some of the most beautiful girls I’ve met in any country I’ve visited.  I had to ask on two occasions “Are you all natural or artificially enhanced as it all seemed a bit too perfect”!  They both replied 100% natural to which I think I answered “Amazing high 5”!.  As I’ve written in other blog posts working with amazing models is not all good.  My expectation bar is now so high I am shooting less and less in the UK.  I just can’t find girls with the look I appreciate easily (seemingly near impossible!) I did maybe two months of almost no model photography in the build up to Christmas 2017 in the UK.  That contrasts to when I was shooting 3 times a week in the UK when I started out with my people photography/ portraiture and when I shoot 5-6 girls A DAY on some overseas trips!  There are some pretty girls in the UK but they are in such high demand due to the novelty factor that I often rather wait til I travel abroad to get a similar look but where the experience and resulting images are appreciated 100x more by the model.  Maybe I am just too needy ha!

Hasselblad High Key

As a note, UK model agencies such as some of those in London can have fantastic models (and I have worked with a few) (models from all different countries including the UK) but I just really struggle to build a lasting working relationship with them.  Overseas I just find it easier, to find great models and also model agencies wanting to collaborate.

Hasselblad 500CM film camera

Off Topic – Models and Wedding Photography

With me shooting less and less models in the UK at the end of 2017 my plans are changing.  For 2018 I now aim to shoot more wedding photography than model photography so that I still get to use my cameras and shoot between my overseas model photography trips.  I do enjoy wedding photography, especially engagement shoots and the wedding day itself but I’ve always struggled a bit with wedding photo editing. (It takes me too long so I limited the number of wedding bookings I took a year).  Hopefully I have now streamlined my wedding post processing a little it won’t deter me from taking additional wedding bookings for 2018-2019.

I continue to use the Leica M240 as my main digital wedding camera but also use a digital Hasselblad which is very rewarding to use and of course wedding film photography with both Leica M film cameras and Hasselblad 500 series cameras.  I realize wedding photography images are often deemed dull and repetitive when it’s not your own family or friends weddings. I want to challenge myself with the task of making wedding photos that are as well received on platforms such as Flickr, Facebook and Instagram as my often scantily clad beautiful models.  I realize this may prove difficult but if I rely solely on Flickr likes the last wedding themed shoot I shot was my most popular to date (Harriett & Ash).  I just need to carry this new enthusiasm forward into 2018!

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH II

Budapest Trip Thoughts (On Flight Home)

The lighting conditions were far from ideal and I wish we had braved the cold weather for more interesting outdoor photos.  There were not many models available being the holiday period but I was very happy to discover the three new models and I look forward to working with them again on future trips.  I am also disappointed I didn’t get to use the Hasselblad camera more but equally I am interested to see how the higher ISO digital Leica M240 images look.  Previously I have usually tried to keep the Leica M240 ISO low  and maybe ISO 800 maximum in most situations.

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm

New Favourite Lens

If you have followed my model  photography for a while you will know I have nearly always favoured either a 35mm or 50mm lens focal length on my Leica cameras.  I have used wider lenses (which I often chose for my Leica wedding photography) and also longer telephoto lenses but not repeatedly.  35mm – 50mm lenses tend to be compact so perfect travel companions for photoshoots shoots whereas my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO and Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH are both big lenses so are often left behind when I travel.

The new Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens has become somewhat of a game changer as it is super compact when collapsed and lightweight too.  I really appreciated the Macro-Elmar 90f4 for this Budapest trip and I think it was my most used lens.  In addition to this the Macro Elmar 90mm lens was the lens that captured the images receiving the most wow comments from the models. It is extremely rare that I have a Leica lens that focuses on a model closer than I need. (0.8 meters close focus distance when using the Macro-Elmar lens without the Leica macro adapter, (sold separately).

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm Headshot

Models

A big thank you models Edina, Anett, Nikoletta and Boglarka and I look forward to visiting again soon!

Leica M4-P Portrait

Matt

Related Posts

Budapest Girls

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Hasselblad, Leica & Polish Models

Hasselblad, Leica & Polish Models

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

October 2017

Here is the blog diary I wrote to document my last model photography trip to Poland on the flight home.  Sorry it took a while to share!

10 Models in 2 days.. Poland

Leica Summilux ASPH Portrait

Choice of Cameras

I really enjoyed using the Hasselblad 500CM medium format film camera in Tenerife and before I went I replaced the PM45 prism viewfinder with the much lighter and more compact waist level finder (WLF). I had been happy the camera looked more ‘classic Hasselblad’ and that it fitted into my camera bag easier but the final photos are what matters. When I scanned the film from Tenerife I noticed I had much more photos that were sub-standard as they were not tack sharp and many mis-focused slightly. I could only think it was me being less accurate at focusing using the WLF rather than the prism viewfinder.  The WLF is certainly more difficult for me to find focus. I refitted the Hasselblad PM45 prism finder in hope that my photos get back to the standard I demand.  I think my sharpest Hasselblad photos to date were model photography images shot in Hamberg with the 60mm Zeiss Planar lens but I also had success with it in New York and Poland previously using the 150mm Zeiss Sonnar and 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar lenses.

I’ve started using a different small camera bag to my usual Billingham Hadley Digital (perfect for Leica cameras but not for the Hasselblad camera shape) as it gives me a bit more space and enough room for all of the below mentioned  cameras and lenses.  It is a really old bag I got free with an eBay film camera purchase but it does the job I need well.

Polish Girls

Hasselblad and Leica

The Hasselblad setup using the 180mm Sonnar and ISO 400 speed film will require enough light for a minimum aperture of f4 and shutter speed of ideally 1/125 or more (I will use the 500CM camera with a monopod to increase my chances of sharp photos).  I therefore packed a speedlight to boost light levels / brightness if needed.

I brought along the Leica M3 to use with available light. Using the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens and Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film I can shoot at f1.4, 1/50, ISO 800 (easily) in low light.  When there is sufficient light I will use the Hasselblad as much as possible followed by the Leica M3 (moreso in less light).  For all digital photos I will use the Leica M240 camera.

Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm

Final Kit List

    • Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
    • Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 CF lens
    • Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens
    • Leica M240 digital camera
    • Leica M3 film camera
    • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
    • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens
    • Carbon Monopod
    • Speedlight

Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF

Day 1 Model Photography

On my first day I had 4 models starting from 8:30. It was about 10 degrees colder than when I left the UK, overcast and raining in Sopot so not ideal conditions for a beach location shoot. The first photosession was all inside and all digital. The second shoot was a new model from the local model agency, Malva Models who I have worked with before. We managed to get outside briefly but it was cold and the rain kept starting again.

For the afternoon I was to revisit a makeup artists apartment that I shot in December 2016.  The MUA had invited her friend too so I had two models and seemingly unlimited creativity in terms of hair styles, makeup styles, cool props, a few different continuous light sources, light stands, a studio backdrop and a cute little dog called Boris to help us. The first 3hrs passed really quickly and I loved the results I was seeing. Next the wine came out and the shoot got extended as it was going so well. After that there was offer of pizza and more wine before the next look but my Leica M240 battery had almost died. Not wanting to miss out on the fun I ran the 2km back to my hotel, grabbed my spare battery that I had accidentally left behind and then 2km back to the apartment just in time for the pizza arriving. After very tasty food and more wine I setup the lights for a bedroom set. Throughout the photosession I was metering with the Leica M240 often shooting at the settings set for the Hasselblad film camera, f4, 1/60, ISO400.  I used both the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 lens and the Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 for wider shots or mainly for when there was not enough room for me to walk back with the 180mm lens to compose.  For the Hasselblad I was using mostly 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film metered at ISO 400 and 35mm Kodak T-Max 400 black and white in the Leica M3.   I used the Leica M3 camera without flash and with the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4  lens shot wide open at 1/50.  After a very enjoyable afternoon and evening I finally got back to my hotel at about 21:30.  A perfect end to the first day and I could not have asked for anything better.

Behind the scenes!

Day 2 Model Photography

Former Miss Poland picked me up at 8:15 in a little sports car then we travelled to her apartment for the photoshoot.  I managed to finish the expired roll of Kodak Portra 800 shooting on her balcony using available light and then most of the other photos were inside with digital. We even managed some lifestyle photos with her dog.   As time goes on I seem to enjoy lifestyle photography more and more and it is one of the looks/ styles I enjoy to photograph.

Next I had another agency model I had spotted on Instagram but also from Malva Models.  I thought she was local when I invited her but she actually lived 3hrs away and came by bus. The weather was a bit brighter, warmer and drier so I made use of the beach location and shot almost all the shoot outside. When the light levels are low working on the beach helps as the water and sand reflect light up onto the model like a giant reflector.  The Zeiss Sonnar 180mm telephoto lens was a joy to use out in the open and in these conditions the 40mm and 50mm Leica M mount lenses suddenly felt too short. I wish I had brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens or Leica Summicron 90mm for more of a telephoto look. Next time!

Hasselblad 180mm Sonnar f4

The third model I spotted on Facebook and had sent her an invite on the chance she would respond.  It later became apparent she was signed to a Warsaw model agency but lived closer to Gdansk. From the first few test photos I knew it was going to be a good shoot. Even as a new model she could hold a pose and eye contact better than some of the full-time models and took direction really well.  This was perfect for the Hasselblad film camera that is a little slower to operate than the Leica M3. The next model cancelled so we kept shooting and I loaded a roll of colour Fuji Pro 400H to fire off in quick succession using the last of the evening sun. I really hope the Hasselblad photos look as good as they appeared in the viewfinder!

Fuji 400H B&W

The model after that was late so I had half an hour to run to a shop to buy some fresh bread to eat to keep me going and then I walked along the beach front to the pier to meet the model and her friend for an after sunset low light shoot.  We shot until it was completely dark and then it was back to the hotel for an indoor shoot with a girl I worked with a few years ago. It was a nice catchup and hopefully give a confidence boost plus some new photos for Instagram and Facebook.  We finished about 22:00 and that was the last shoot done for Poland. I had an early flight home the next morning.

Leica Summilux ASPH 50 Portrait

Summary

October is probably too late in the season to plan for lots of outdoor photos on the beach in Poland so I was happy I could use the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm outside as planned. In all my previous visits to Sopot, the longest lens I have used is the 120mm Zeiss Macro-Planar so it will be good to compare the look of the 120mm vs. 180mm lenses at the same location.

I was very lucky to have been invited to the makeup artists apartment for most of the first day as we had heavy rain and not much light. My plan for the two days was to shoot inside the hotel as little as possible (as I have visited it so many times) and to instead find different backdrops to use.  I did reasonably well to achieve this goal I think.  My previous visit to Poland was mostly models photography with flash against a white hotel wall so I think this visit should hopefully bring more interesting pictures.

Leica Model Photography

I have high hopes for the Hasselblad 500CM film photos (especially with the new Sonnar 180mm lens) so I shot 7 of the 8 rolls of 120 film I took with me.  I used the Leica M3 less and shot 2 1/2 rolls of 35mm. As with all my model shoots some models screamed out ‘need to shoot this on film’ (because of the pose/ look, the clothes, the location, the light or all of them combined) and other less so. As such I think most of the film was shot with 3 or 4 models of the total 10.

Doing a shorter more intense two days rather than four days in Poland worked better as I had almost no time wasted/ down time compared to previous visits. I enjoyed meeting / and discovering some new faces and I will certainly keep in touch for future visits.

Polish Girls

Thanks

As with all my model photography trips, a huge thanks to the models, especially those that didn’t know me previously and who trusted me to give them some nice photos in exchange for their time. In no order thank you to models Dorota, Kinga, Pola, Marta P, Marta W, Weronika, Marysia, Paulina, Natalia, Kinga S, to Malwina at Malva Models agency and to Monika at the hotel.

I still haven’t developed all the film and I have held back some of the developed Hasselblad film images for a Hasselblad specific blog post that will follow this one.  As always more photos will be shared to my Instagram (@MrLeicaCom) and my Flickr as I get chance.  Thanks

Related Posts

Leica M9 Model Photography

As a UK Leica wedding photographer / model photographer I tried the Leica M9 for model photography in the studio when it first arrived a few weeks ago. (*I realise it is not designed for this). I found I could not get as close to the models as I normally could with the Nikon D800 lenses (with my Leica M mount lenses) so was initially not overly impressed.

Undetered yesterday I had a full day model shoot with 2 models in a beautiful old house location so took the Leica M9 + VC 28/2, VC 40/1.4 and Zeiss ZM 50/2. To try to make my life more difficult I also decided to use no flash and used ambient + a bike light to double as a video light.

It was my second shoot with Polish model Nella so I was expecting good things.. here are some of the initial results. I like the B&W out the camera JPEGs so shoot that for B&W + DNG if want colour.

B&W Leica M9 Model Photography

Leica M9 Model Photography
Leica M9 Fashion Photography
Leica M9 B&W Model
Leica Fashion Photography

Having less kit made me very mobile and I could focus more on the composition. I took 700 shots on the day and didn’t miss the Nikon D800. I was impressed by the Leica M9 environmental portraits and next time will hesitate before grabbing the Nikon D800 first in the studio.

Leica Model Photography / Fashion Photography with Gina
Leica M9 Portrait
Leica M9 & Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ii
Leica M9 Model Photography

More/ better examples with be added as I get time.

Related links:
Leica M9 for Model Photography – First Impressions
UK Leica Wedding Photographer

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk