Leica vs Nikon F5 – Model Photography Tenerife (Jan18)
Another blog post I wrote quite a few months ago.. trying to catch up!
In September 2017 I invited Lindsay (also from Coventry, UK) to fly with me to Tenerife for a few days of model photography in the sunshine (Blog linked below). We both really enjoyed the experience so booked flights as soon as we got home to visit again in early 2018. Once we shared our Tenerife photos on social media and said we were going again a fellow local UK photographer that has worked with Lindsay before said he would be interested to join us. To cut an even longer story short we arranged 4 models between us for the next Tenerife photoshoot and there would be two photographers, me and Kev.
Kev had lived in Tenerife in the past so organized a hotel for us all in Las Americas. I was not sure what to expect as had never visited the area but I feared there would be too many English tourists. Actually the hotel had a great location close to the beach and with all of us together in one large apartment it was quite social and easy to communicate and plan photoshoots.
Leica M4-P camera body (film)
Leica M240 camera body (digital)
Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens
Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
Nikon F5 SLR camera (film)
Tokina Macro 100mm f2.8 lens
Voigtlander Ultron SL II 40mm f2 lens
Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E lens
Leica D-Lux Typ 109 / Lumix LX100
Tenerife Photoshoot – Day 1
For the first afternoon when we arrived to Tenerife we had a little walk around to look at potential locations for photos. We settled on using a secluded urban area to get some graffiti style photos before it was dark. Being a newly formed group we were all getting to know each other a bit better so probably didn’t make best use of the daylight. Once back at the hotel Lindsay and I still wanted to shoot so we went back out again to take more photos. Most of the photos I took on day 1 used flash so I was less inclined to shoot film. (I do shoot a lot of my analogue photos with flash but in a fast paced environment I prefer available light)(plus it depends on my taste that day of the week!)
Tenerife Photoshoot – Day 2
We had broken cloud and sunny spells again during the morning. One of the UK models had fallen sick prior to flying so didn’t travel meaning there was only 5 of us. We found 2 Tenerife models interested in meeting us so the plan was to meet them at 7:30 ahead of a sunrise shoot. Neither local girl showed up at the hotel so we had our usual team of 5 for the morning from the UK. We didn’t get much sun at sunrise so I did all my photography with flash again. That meant again I shot 99% digital photos (if it doesn’t feel right I don’t shoot film). For the afternoon a contact I had in Tenerife arranged for one of her girls for us to shoot with. Kayleigh knew the area so made a few phone calls and got us access to a partially build / derelict club that was been renovated. The workmen gave us full access and worked around us and we got to shoot in a new location and away from the tourists on the main strip. The models rotated between two photographers and I tried to ensure Kayleigh got the shots she wanted before we had to leave. She was very body confident and relaxed in front of the camera so the resulting photos were a little bit racier than I anticipated.
A great experience even if all very hectic as we were working fast and swapping between models back to back. Working fast meant I had to get the job done rather than ‘play’ with film cameras so again almost all photos were digital. By late afternoon we had finished as Kayleigh had to go. Everyone was slumped in a bar both mentally and physically exhausted by the crazy experience that just happened. We had coffees and quick sit down then most people retired to the apartment to relax. Lindsay and I were still keen to shoot again so shot some cheeky shots on the hotel balcony. At last, I managed to shoot a bit more film! Next we all headed to the beach for sunset. We arrived too late to use the sun and beach properly but I still did a few photos for the girls.
Tenerife Photoshoot – Day 3
I ran in the morning again before everyone else got up and noticed we had clear skies. I decided to try to simplify things for today and also try to create different looking photos photos. I didn’t take the 90mm Macro-Elmar-M lens for the digital Leica and went with a 50mm lens instead. I put a 35mm lens on the Leica M4-P (Voigtlander Color Skopar) but wished I had taken my 28mm Leica Elmarit-M. My eyes seemed to be viewing wide today. I put a 28mm Nikkor E series lens on the Nikon F5 so was glad I had that option. Amy was keen to shoot more today so we did a series of images at the hotel on the roof. I was really enjoying working in direct sunlight and managed to fire off two rolls film before we even left the hotel. Yey! Good times. I kept the same setup for much of the day and I really liked some of the images we were seeing on the digital Leica LCD. The last shoot in Tenerife was on the beach at sunset. I finished film in both the Nikon F5 and Leica M4-P and then shot digital until the sun went behind clouds.
I really enjoyed our Tenerife shoot despite some concerns ahead of the trip. Everyone got on well together, we didn’t have too much downtime between photos, the weather was warm and dry, the location and hotel was better than I expected and the models gave me the opportunity to try new ideas or styles that I may not have shot before. I think without exception, everyone said see you on the next one so I will definitely be organizing another trip.
What to do different next time
It is very tempting to travel light without lighting gear next time but then equally I know in some situations I will wish I had it. I will certainly take a 28mm lens for the Leica cameras as 35mm was not wide enough. The Nikon F5 was fun to use but when using the manual focus smaller lenses like the 28mm and 40mm I could have taken my much lighter and more compact Nikon FM camera instead. Looking forward to the next Tenerife photoshoot already!
What to do different next time (II)
Most of this blog was written immediately after the trip before the emotions had time to settle. After have time to develop most of the film from Tenerife (some colour still to develop I think), I feel I work better 1-2-1 than with a group as here. My style continues to evolve but I think perhaps on the whole the photos from the first trip to Tenerife with just one model might be better (or more specifically more keepers / a more productive trip). When it is 1-2-1 we are 100% focused and “dialed in” as to the task and nothing else really matters other than good photos / getting the shots we both need/ want. With that in mind for my third photoshoot in Tenerife I travelled with just one girl. Polish model Aneta (to follow)! 🙂
This morning I woke up tired, still smiling, and more tanned than I was a week ago. I had landed back in the UK in the early hours after three full fun packed days of model photography in warm sunny Tenerife! As with all my overseas photoshoots here is the usual summary of what I got up to, some camera specifics and a few thoughts thrown in too.
Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
Olympus Pen F film camera
Olympus Zuiko 35mm f1.8 lens
Olympus 35RC film camera
Leica M240 digital camera
Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux 109) digital camera
Cameras.. including dusting off my Hasselblad 500cm for a trip away
I edited a Hasselblad film scan that I had taken in Paris back in February and I forgot quite how good the detail is in the 6×6 film negatives compared to 35mm. When I bought my first Hasselblad, a 501c, I really struggled to focus using the waist level viewfinder (WLF) so bought a PM20 prism viewfinder. I found this easier to use and the Hasselblad became more similar to the Contax 645 in that regard. I absolutely love the magic of my Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 WLF so I’ve always been a bit disappointed that I didn’t get on well with the Hasselblad WLF and the acute matte bright focusing screen (glass). I think I often use the excuse that I’m not taking the Hasselblad as it is too big as this can be the case but it doesn’t need to be. The PM45 prism does add both weight and size to the camera and the Zeiss Macro Planar 120mm f4 is bigger than the kit lens. I’ve never been a fan of the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens as I think it is softer than the 50mm, 60mm, 100mm and 120mm Hasselblad lenses in my opinion (the 150mm is buttery soft but in a great way). In 2015 when I was in full Hasselblad swing and fast become Mr Hasselblad rather than Mr Leica I bought a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 because it is almost as small as the 80mm yet crazy sharp and with little distortion. I had it a week then decided it was a lot of money when I could just use the 120mm Macro Planar instead to achieve equally sharp results yet also get closer to my subjects without the need of an extension tube. I saw a classic shot of a Hasselblad 501c on Instagram and it reminded me how pretty the camera looks with their WLF compared to with a prism finder. A Hassy just doesn’t look quite the same without the WLF and it just seems right to see the image on the top of the camera. I decided to put my WLF back on my Hasselblad 500cm (the 501c awaits repair) and if I centre my subject on the ground glass cross hair for the part I want critical focus I can see to focus. On most of my other non-rangefinder cameras I can see to focus anyway within the frame but the Hasselblad Acute matte screen goes a little pearlescent/foggy if look at some angles. I practiced focusing with close up subjects and it seemed doable. I then switched back to view the same subject with the prism viewfinder and noticed the view was much less magnified. That made me like the WLF more and then main two advantages of having the WLF fitted is 1, it packs much smaller (and lighter) and 2, it just looks right and how it should be used (and very cool too!).
So with that I now had a compact (standard rather than enlarged) Hasselblad 500cm camera body and film back ready to go. I was then back to the debate of what lens to take. The 120mm is big but very sharp and lets me go close but I find it makes me take mostly headshots as it sucks me into the subject. The 60mm focal length was my standard lens when I used my ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) in my earlier photography days. It let me go closer than an 80mm and the 35mm field of view was perfect for environmental portraits and street scenes when I was shooting in India and other places (search ARAX on my Flickr feed for examples). I bought the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF when I got the Hasselblad 501c and have used that for perhaps 50%+ of my photos. At the time I liked the images and for portraits of men I love the distortion a 60mm lens gives up close. For girls however I’m now starting to prefer the flatter less distorted view of a slightly longer lens (to avoid the big noise look!) the 60mm is also smaller than the 120mm Macro but still bigger than the 80mm. I was then back to deciding whether I would be happy using the little 80mm lens or not. I viewed a few 80mm lens photos I could find and didn’t hate them and then I viewed the few 100mm photos I had taken when I had the lens for a week. Wow they were sharp, almost too sharp even at f4-f5.6. Two days before my flight I got in touch with my friend at the now called Camera Museum in London and they kindly shipped out another Zeiss 100mm f3.5 CF lens for me. So I was all set with my new compact Hasselblad 500cm setup with WLF and uber sharp yet compact 100mm lens. My Hasselblad was looking sexy again!
After taking my Leica film cameras on almost every overseas model photography trip I decided to mix it up a bit and pack my pocket size full frame 35mm Olympus RC35 as I was hoping it would be bright conditions and the camera is super sharp stopped down a little. I also packed another camera I have a real soft spot for, the amazing Olympus Pen-F half frame film camera. As I shoot 99% models/ portraits I often find I don’t photo other subjects on film as I think I will never use the images. The real beauty of the Pen-F is with 72 photos per roll you can be snap happy and photos anything and everything. I’ve started including a few non people photos on my @MrLeicaCom Instagram feed so I thought I could try to get some little arty shots with the camera in addition to portraits. Considering the Olympus Pen-F is half frame you would expect the film scan of the tiny negatives to be really low resolution but in reality it seems the opposite. I have made some crazy sharp photos with the Olympus Pen F camera. The effect can be made even more dramatic I you load fine grain film like black and white Ilford Pan F 50 or the amazing (yet pricey) Fuji Provia 100F E6 slide film. I decided to treat the Pen-F to a roll of 35mm Provia 100 and would shoot more black and white film in the Olympus RC35. For the Hasselblad I packed both colour film and black and white film and even included a roll of expired E6 Fuji Velvia 100 to shoot and then try cross processing it in my C41 Tetanol kit chemicals. I have two Sekonic lightmeters but I find because I am always shooting digital and film together I meter with the digital camera LCD instead. I packed the little Lumix LX100 (Leica DLux109) as a backup and my Leica M240 as the main digital camera. For my workflow with models I like to use a digital camera to warm them up first rather than shooting film straight from the first pose. The digital LCD also helps me show models what I am trying to achieve and often gives them a confidence boost once they know they look good on camera. If I was shooting only film I think a new model especially would struggle to not be able to see how she looks plus they can’t see what I am doing nor if the results are worth their time in front of the camera. Models can also spot things on the back of the camera LCD images I may not such as clothing malfunctions or hair not behaving itself or need for more makeup etc. As such this hybrid style of shooting using both film and digital side by side works well for me. I also find digital very beneficial when I am using strobes as you can’t quite visualize how a photo will look when flash lit compared to using available light.
Overseas photoshoot with UK model
Normally when I do model photography overseas I work with local models at the location I visit. The problem my Coventry UK regular models have is we normally shoot in the house or home studio. I think I have used every wall, doorway and window so many times I now need something more inspiring. In addition to this, some clothes can look amazing on a model but they need the correct setting or backdrop to look their best. I asked Lindsay, a model I have work with quite a lot in the last 12 months if she’d like to do a photoshoot in Tenerife and to my delight she agreed. When booking flights and hotels with a model the key criteria for me is reliability. Many models have highs and lows so one week they will be really keen then they go off the radar for six months. That doesn’t really work for overseas trips. I visited Tenerife once before so I picked an area I was slightly familiar with. The difference this time is I have a model there to work with so I’m excited to see what we can create.
Photoshoots – Day 1
Lindsay and I arrived into Tenerife late morning and got started straight away. Luckily for me Lindsay is great at doing her own hair and makeup and we’d discussed clothes beforehand so we had a pile of cool garments to work with. The weather was around 21 degrees in the morning and 27 degrees in the day with blue skies and strong direct sunlight. Our hotel room had a balcony with a sea view so we had that as an additional location to use. Being situated right on the coast we had a sea breeze which worked well for hair moving in the wind pictures. I started using the Hasselblad quite quickly and soon got to grips with focusing via the WLF (I think anyway!). The camera felt stable to use without a monopod or tripod and I was using shutter speed of 1/60 or faster. I realised there was some Kodak Vision3 50D Motion Picture film in the Olympus Pen F so I finished that roll on the first day. We went to the coast for sunset but the light dropped quite quickly and too fast for me to use my Hasselblad and f3.5, 1/60, ISO 100 film. It was a pity as Lindsay created some amazing hair for me and wore a red outfit I was looking forward to shoot. We got some shots in the low light but almost all on digital. Once the light had faded we went back to the room then I went out for a quick moonlight run just along the sea front. Not far as it got too dark to see my feet but I still loved it.
Photoshoots – Day 2
We set our alarms and walked down to the coast before breakfast to catch sunrise at 8:00. It was not that easy to shoot into the sun and correctly expose the model but we tried a few different setups. Once the sun was up we walled back and enjoyed an amazing hotel breakfast. Lindsay changed clothes, hair and makeup and headed outside again and found this fantastic derelict building. This was to be our playground for the next 2-3 hours. I was whooping every 5 minutes the light was that good and Lindsay just got better and better. I give models directional pretty much constantly throughout a shoot to fine to a pose before I click the shutter. I think models have to be quite patient with me barking orders at them and continually shouting “wait wait wait, again again” as I swap between cameras, and tweak my composition or point of view. Hopefully the pictures are worth it though and Lindsay mentioned she has got a lot more keepers (photos she likes) when shooting with me in the past so I guess that’s good. In the afternoon we did a lingerie shoot in the hotel room and then had a bit of downtime before the golden hours so I made the most of it and went for a run along the coast. As sad as it sounds it was one of the best experiences of 2017. I absolutely loved it! Running on single track routes weaving between the rocks and cactus, hopping across boulder fields and the beautiful coastline alongside. One of my wild ideas is to get into Ultras. These are 50K-100K plus endurance fell running events often on similar terrain to what I was enjoying. I just love the exploring aspect of it all. Running on tarmac roads around Coventry doesn’t really do it for me but I will try to build up a base fitness in the meantime. It will also work well for future Ironman events.
I got back from the run then we went straight out the door again for a sunset shoot. The sun was setting inland to where we were situated so only really gave us some low direction light rather than pretty classic sunset shots. I decided to load the Fujicolor C200 film into the Olympus PenF for an extra stop of light (verses the Fuji Provia 100 film). Once the sun had gone down we continued to shoot until I was at ISO 6400 on the Lejca M 240, f1.4 and 1/30. By that stage I couldn’t really see Lindsay anymore to focus so we finished our days photos and went for some well-earned food and drinks.
Photoshoots – Day 3
Last day already yet we’d done so much in just 2 days we felt we had been in Tenerife much longer. For sunrise I still had black and white film in the camera so had to use that first. I might pack 2 Hasselblad film backs for my next trip (one film back loaded with colour film and another film back with black and white film). I then wanted to try shooting a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 with the intention to cross process in C41 chemicals. From my research I believe the film scans will look completely red, with a lot of contrast and not much detail. I don’t know if the photos will be a success but I tried to compose some simple compositions and fired the 12 shots off in reasonably quick succession. After breakfast we did one more indoor shoot to use our hotel room before we had to checkout. I loaded a roll of 120 Kodak Ektar 100 and really hope the photos look as good as they did through the viewfinder. Fingers crossed! Prior to check out Lindsay accepted my look request of curly hair, my favourite retro looking red swimming costume and makeup to match. We went out and shot the red outfit against the blue sky and finished with my sunglasses the look was complete. I loved it but what photographer doesn’t love red! I finished my roll of Ektar film and that was the last photos for the Hasselblad. Six rolls of 120 film shot in total. I didn’t think we’d use all the 120 film so it shows how well we had done (I don’t shoot film unless I like what I see). I will bring more rolls of 120 film next time if these images turn out OK. I also finished the Fuji C200 in the Olympus Pen-F but we were mid-way through some amazing photos so I loaded the Fuji Provia 100F slide film to make the most of the red outfit and cool hair / makeup. Lindsay changed clothes and we took a walk along the coast. I saw some photogenic steps coming out the sea so we shot there first then Lindsay decided she wanted to lie on the rocks with the water around her. I said she was crazy but we got into position to get the shot. 30 seconds later a big wave came along engulfing Lindsay and washing her straight off the rock. I must have instinctively pressed the shutter as it happened and managed to catch the just before and the aftermath. Poor Lindsay was a bit scrapped and battered but saw the funny side. A few wet hair photos then back to hotel reception to rest. I made the most of my last free hour in Tenerife and went out for one last run, determined to reach the summit of a distant hill within the allotted time. I did it and even managed to shoot some video on my iPhone for my Instagram feed. I think I will finally buy a GoPro camera soon to capture some behind the scenes footage from our photosession and my various antics.
Tenerife was my first photoshoot trip where I travelled out with a model to an overseas destination. I did a debrief with Lindsay at the airport while we waited for our flight as to what we could do better if I was to organise a similar overseas photoshoot trip. Overall it had been a huge success and for me personally it was a near perfect mix of photos, sunshine and training and with great company too. Working 1-2-1 with Lindsay for 3 days really pushed our creativity to keep producing different looking photos time and time again. It’s quite impressive what you can think of when you try and have an environment that inspires you to shoot. Lindsay and I were both very keen to get to most out of our trip and as a result didn’t visited the hotel pool once to relax in the sun. We both agreed we are very keen to do it all again but next time also look to invite at least one more model and for a larger event the possibility of makeup artists and a stylist/ wardrobe person too. More models would mean individual models would get to relax a little between shoots. Makeup artists would be beneficial for models not as confident as Lindsay at doing their own hair and makeup and a stylist can bring unique garments that can’t be found easily on the high street. As a minimum, Lindsay and I will be going back to Tenerife for another 3 day shoot as soon as we can!
For me personally next time I would try to pack two Hasselblad film backs and more 120 film, using it as my main film camera for all key images where there is sufficient light. I would probably replace the Olympus 35RC and Olympus Pen-F cameras with my Leica M3 to capture high quality images when there is insufficient light for the Hasselblad. I could use the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens on the Leica M3 for low light and then use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens on my Leica M240 for more unique looking images. If I had more people on the photoshoot I would pack a reflector for someone to hold and then not bother with taking any speedlights. If it was only me and Lindsay (or one other model) I may try to take my digital Hasselblad H3D and use it with strobes. Why take the H3D? Because it has a flash sync speed of 1/800 vs. 1/180 for the Leica M240.
Are you a model and potentially interested in joined me on a future shoot? Is it for you?
In summary if you are a creative (and reliable!) model that enjoys creating TF images in your free time and are happy to cover your own expenses plus put up listening to me for three days then get in touch! If you are good at hair and makeup that is ideal, if not I am open to models bringing their own makeup artists along if the MUA is happy watching or relaxing during our shoots. If you are a model with an interest in clothes then your creative mind can only help enhance our photos and you are very welcome. For anyone interested please get in touch and I can give you more details including approximate costs (based on this trip).
*Update – January 2018 Tenerife trip is already booked with limited availability for models but if it goes well with this bigger group then I will organise more model photography location shoots.
1-2-1 Model Photography Workshops – Overseas
I could also look at potentially organising overseas 1-2-1 model photography workshops. If you want to shadow me working with Lindsay or another model and have the opportunity to take photos to build up your portfolio I’m sure I can arrange something. I have done 1-2-1 photography workshops in overseas cities before such as New York or Zurich but working with local models rather than UK models.