Ukraine Models 2016 (#2) – Leica M240

Ukraine Models 2016 (#2) – Leica M240

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

January 2017 (from July 2016)

Leica Selfie

Pre-Intro

I wrote this on the plane and bus when travelling back from Ukraine in July 2016.  I then managed to lose the majority of what I had written as it didn’t sync from my iPhone to the PC.  It took me 6 months to then re-write this amongst all the other shared and not yet shared blog posts and the piece is probably half as long as the original I lost. Apologies!

Intro

After an enjoyable model photography trip to Western Ukraine in May 2016, as soon as I got back to England I booked a follow up trip planning to be bigger and better than the first.

Ukraine is an amazing place for me as I can walk the street in a town centre and perhaps 7-8 out of every 10 girls aged 18-25yr (say)  look ‘good’. By that I mean well presented in nice clothes, dresses and skirts paired with high heels, often long shiny hair and with a slim elegant figure that catches the eye. Walking everywhere is popular and fast food is not yet that common so most people tend to be much slimmer than we see in the west.  Models I photo in the UK that are slim are often labelled ‘too skinny’ yet to the Ukranian girls these slim girls merely looks ‘pretty’ and normal size. I guess our eyes get used to the body shapes we see around us each day.  To me the UK is like the US.  The people that are interested in keeping in shape are super in shape (and this is proving very popular for fitness models on Instagram) and then everyone else is now bigger than historically what was the average size.  The problem for me as a model photographer in the UK is there are so few super in shape models in England that the demand  for them is sky high from fellow photographers (which is most people now everyone has a camera!).  The girls become mini-celebrities in the model world fueled by Instagram so I never actually get to shoot with most of them.  In contrast I can go to Hungary and shoot Miss Universe within 4hrs of a contact making a telephone call.  This inbalance which is why I shoot mostly overseas and favour Ukraine, Poland and Hungary (of the countries I visit most).

Models

Back to the trip..!

As I used to work in Ukraine most of my Ukraine ‘models’ prior to 2016 were/are just normal girls, often studying, doctors, dentists and lawyers seeming the most popular of those I meet. In May I collaborated with the local model agency and started to work with girls that both looked nice but also had some professional experience in front of the camera working on contracts with larger agencies overseas such as IMG and Woman Management Paris. In May I think I only filled the time I had remains with agency models and spending the rest of the trip photographing model friends from previous visits.

After successful model photography trips to Hamburg, Budapest and Sopot working solely with model agencies this time I asked the Ukraine model agency to supply all the girls / models for my visit (with a few friends added at the end to fill gaps). Normally I work with the same faces each visit but this time I met 11 new faces of the 14 girls I photographed with and 16 photoshoots in all across 3.5 days. This was a great decision and I met some really high standard models and potentially faces to look out for in the future. Some of the girls really brought a fashion feel to the photographs with their own style and posing, others were just extremely beautiful people. There was a really selection of looks and personalities which I think helps to produce a diverse set of photos. Some girls were just great from the first photo and others needed warming up a bit but I think every model produced either a few or a lot of good images. They seemed happy and my big grin showed I was too! One model even asked “Do all English people smile as much as you?” I replied “If they came to Ukraine probably yes!” 🙂

Makeup

The one thing I am starting to appreciate the more model photography I do is don’t underestimate the power of makeup! I now ask all models to bring makeup and I either direct the look I want, apply additional makeup or do all their makeup for them from scratch. I don’t yet own makeup but I feel I might have to soon invest. Not all girls own a lot of makeup in Ukraine so I was using none mainstream approaches to get the look I desired, lipstick for eyes lips and cheeks or eye pencil for eyes, cheeks and lips!  I basically used whatever they had.

Clothes

For my style of model photography the hair and face is normally the key part of the image with clothes always being secondary. If a model has a good face I could wrap them in a hotel towel and they will still look good. I light for the face and the rest of the photo is often less important to me.

Language

As with previous visits language is always a slight barrier but my Ukrainian is very slowly starting to improve as I pick up new words each day just by being in constant contact with the people there. As with previous visits I can normally get by with a smile and hand signals for the most part but it is nice to learn new phrases and improve my communication.

Clothes Designer from Kiev

Ahead of the May trip to Ukraine I contacted a clothes designer in Ukraine on Instagram commenting nice clothes and we should collaborate or words to that effect.  To my amazement and to a cut a long story short, the designer travelled 13hrs on a train from Kiev to meet me and brought her clothes (and steam iron!) along too. She was even still finishing sewing garments on the train from Kiev. I spent a full day with Eva and we worked with local talent to model her clothes for photos. I have done clothes shoots in the studio before but it is often product photography so headless photos and I just concentrate on lighting the garments. As mentioned above I only light for the face for my own work. Shooting models on location with one speedlight proved quite tough as if the face looked good the clothes didn’t and vice versa. The only problem with all my overseas model photography trips is I am using the most basic (Leica cameras are of course very nice but I mean using mostly small cameras and small lenses) and minimal equipment (maybe a speedlight).  When I shoot in the UK I get to play with all my big lights (which I love) and it’s pretty hard to make a bad lit photo.

Modeling

Eva looked amazing to my English eyes even though she was not a model so I managed to persuade her to have a photoshoot before she left.  The photos we made together were some of my favourites from the whole trip.  (*If I see a beautiful person, guy or girl, anywhere, I always have an overwelming urge to talk to them and try to make some photos together.  I know inside me that if they let me take their picture they will like the photos and that gives me the confidence to approach them.  One of my life long goals is to photograph the most beautiful humans on the planet.  To me a beautiful person captured on film in flattering light is as good as it gets). 🙂

Cameras

I had my usual digital Leica M240 camera (which still needed the rangefinder calibrating) and the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens that has been permanently attached for quite a while. I know if I use the lens at f4 I can sharp photos despite the misaligned rangefinder due to the depth of field. I knew I wanted to do strobist work so decided to take my Nikon F4 SLR instead of a Leica film camera as the F4 has a flash sync speed of 1/125 instead of 1/50 so it is easier to balance ambient light and strobes. For the Nikon F4 I took the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 lens as it is small and sharp.

Here are some digital Leica M240 example photos and I will write a second blog to share the Nikon F4 film scans.

Example Photos – Leica M 240

Leica M Typ 240 B&W
Real Ukrainian Woman
Leica B&W Portrait
Window Light
Available Light Portrait
Available Light Portrait
Ukranian Woman
Leica M240
Clothes Designer
Leica B&W
Supermodel
Street Portrait
Ukrainian Women
Direct Sunlight
Sssh!
Leica M240 Colours
Ukraine Summer
Ukraine Girls
Ukraine Shoot
Leica Fashion
Ukrainian Woman
Voigtlander Skopar 35mm
Ukrainian Model
Fun in Ukraine
Window Light Portrait
Ukraine

Sorry this post was so late.  I still have the film photos to share from this visit to Ukraine too.  To follow!

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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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Poland Model Photography – June 2015

Poland Model Photography – June 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography (“Mr Leica”)

Mr Leica Agency Shoot Poland

The Trip

I am just back from another 4 days shooting in Sopot, Poland.  I stayed in my favourite hotel on Sopot beach, Hotel Bursztyn, and teamed up with Malva Model agency girls again and also with models from 2 other model agencies.  Some new faces and a few you may recognise.  Some of the regulars were away shooting in Asia / elsewhere in Europe so I hope to catch them next time if they are home.

Packing!

As usual, the hardest part of the trip is packing beforehand trying to decide what cameras / lenses to take.  Right until the last minute the plan was to take my usual Leica M9, a Leica M3 and then take the Nikon F4 SLR to try.  I was then stuck with what Nikon mount lens(es) to take for the Nikon F4 as I needed a 50mm (do everything lens) but also wanted to take my new Tokina 100mm f2.8 lens.  I then started to consider taking the Nikon D800 instead of the Leica M9 as kind of a test to myself.  Can I like the photos from the Nikon D800 CMOS sensor again?  It has been over 18 months since I moved to from shooting with the Nikon D800 to the Leica M9 so perhaps it was time to give it another try.  The D800 made sense on multiple levels.  36mp high resolution images for the models and agencies to emjoy.  D800 longer battery life vs the Leica M9 for full days of shooting. D800 autofocus lens option if I want it for moving subjects and the biggest advantage, I could take one set of lenses for 2 camera bodies. After weighing my bag with various combinations the final camera bag consisted of:

Camera gear for June 2015 trip (2 cameras, 4 lenses)

  • Nikon D800 DSLR (digital camera)
  • Nikon F4 SLR (35mm film camera)
  • Nikkor 50mm f1.8 E series MF lens (pancake lens)
  • Nikkor 24mm f2.8 D AF lens (for some interior photos)(less so for models)
  • Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 M42 MF lens (+ tiny M42 – Nikon adapter)
  • Tokina 100mm f2.8 AF Macro lens (for portraits and macros)
  • 5 in 1 reflector
  • 35mm film (Kodak T-Max 100, T-Max 400, Fuji Acros 100, Kentmere 100, Portra 400)

Nikon F4 + New Batteries :)

To recap this is what I took on my last trip to Poland (similar space and weight):

January 2015 Poland Trip camera gear (4 cameras, 4 lenses)

  • Leica M9 (digital camera)
  • Leica M3 film camera (with 50mm framelines)
  • Leica M2 film camera (with 35mm framelines)
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens (for M3)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens (for M2)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens (for M9)
  • Mamiya 645 Super + Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 lens (medium format film camera)

Conclusion

Was I pleased with my camera and lens choice?

I think yes.  I still find it easier to focus a rangefinder cameras vs a SLR/DSLR but after reviewing some of the resulting photos I am extremely pleased with the detailed captured in the Nikon D800 NEF RAW files.  A broad dynamic range and lots of detail / sharpness.  Perfect for fashion photography and to my eyes more similar to the smooth Leica S2 camera images than the Leica M9 photos.  The Leica M9 images to me are more like classic 35mm film grain such as Kodak Tri-X whereas the Leica S2 and Nikon D800 is more like medium format 120 Fuji Acros 100 film (slightly extreme examples but to help visualise) for example with a broad range of grey tones.  Neither style is bad and both have their uses.  In the past I loved the narrow dynamic range of the contrasty Leica M9 black and white JPEG files yet at the moment I am really enjoying the broad dynamic range of film and the Nikon D800 RAW files.

I was pleased with both the Nikon D800 and handling of the Nikon F4 (film not yet developed).  Could I take the same images with a Leica M3 vs the Nikon F4 with the same film loaded and a 50mm lens?  Yes I think so.  The Leica M3 is smaller and lighter and I can operate it in my sleep.  The Nikon F4 was good if I wanted to use the autofocus Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro lens or the wider 24mm Nikkor but for the majority of the photoshoots I could have probably got away with just a 50mm lens.  Next time I might take a Nikkor 50mm AF lens for speed or perhaps the Nikkor 60mm f2.8D Micro lens instead of the 100mm Tokina Macro.  Both lenses are very sharp.

Could I take the same images (camera operating speaking) with the Leica M9 vs the Nikon D800?  Again I think yes but just with smaller files produced from the M9 and from 0.7m-1m away for Leica-M lenses vs up much closer with with Nikon D800.

Time to Think..

During the trip I had time to think more about Leica-M lenses vs lenses for Nikon cameras and also the limited useable max ISO of the Leica M9 vs the Nikon D800 ISO.  I will put a post together when I get chance.

For now here is the first digital sample images from the trip:

Fallen Angel

Nikon D800 Fashion Photography

Fun Between Poses

Model – Weronika @ Malva Models

Nikon D800 + Tokina 100mm f2.8 AF Macro / Nikkor 50mm f1.8 E Series

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Travelling Light

Travelling Light – Packing for a 10kg Photography Trip Abroad
http://www.MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Travelling Light

I bought myself a set of bathroom scales ahead of a 4 day trip abroad. As I spend all my money on cameras I was keen to keep costs down. For that reason I chose to fly with a low cost carrier and only took one cabin bag. The weight limit for carry on luggage is 10kg so that includes all my camera gear, clothes, toiletries and anything else I needed. My biggest weight is often my laptop so the first thing I did was to invest in a small lightweight tablet. I got a Samsung Tab 3 8.0 (review to follow). The next thing was try to chose what camera gear to take. I knew I would be doing mostly portraiture but I also wanted a lens for street photography and one for some potential wide angle shots.

Camera Gear selected for trip:
Leica M9 – main workhorse camera
Leica M2 – film camera backup option for M9 and chance to shoot some 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 film (I could not not take a second camera),
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 – this lens can do it all and is now my preferred lens for most shoots. Big and heavy but a must.
Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 PII – tiny lens and a favourite for street photography. Also gives me a wider FL for portraits.
Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 – tiny lens giving me a super wide angle if needed.
Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 C – I wanted a 50mm for each camers body and also one that will focus closer than 1m. ZM Sonnar is better than Leica Lux ASPH 50 f1.4 for the contrasty black and white film look and is faster than the Leica Cron 50f2 v5 for low light.
Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag – can pack in all the above listed camera equipment. Just!

Camera equipment I wanted to pack but didn’t:

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II medium fomat film camera – due to the size and weight if I took the RZ i’d have to wear the same clothes I travelled in for 4 days!
Kiev 88 6×6 medium format – much more compact than RZ but larger size wise than the Leica M2 body only.
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 – I can’t justify taking 2 older softer look 50mm that both only focus at 1m.
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 – a big lens and tight head shots can easily be captured in UK without having to travel.
Voiglander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 -Tiny lens that is fast and can focus at 0.7m but perhaps not as good as some of the 50mm lenses.
Speedlights, triggers, batteries and chargers – shooting with strobes is often the norm for me. If the nice light is not there when I where I want it I just make my own. For this trip it was going to make me work harder chosing to work with available light over location for every photo whether full sun, rain or dusk. I find shooting in pools of avaliable light at night easy and lots of fun but it is not always as fun in non directional diffused daylight for the contrasty portrait photos I like to take.

Samples and thoughts to follow.

I wrote this to share before departing the UK but it didn’t post as planned from my Samsung Tab 3. I am now home so new images coming soon!

Matt

ARAX-CM in India!

I was out in India on a work trip and got some time at the weekend to go exploring with my cameras. I’d managed to fit my Nikon D800, a Nikon FM 35mm film camera and my favourite, a rebadged Russian Kiev88 (“ARAX-CM”) 6×6 medium format film camera into my hand luggage for the flight, with lenses. I soon realised I only wanted to shoot film. This post, “Part 1”, includes B&W 6×6 film photos taken.

It was my fourth visit to India so I was able to get around on my own and see the real street life. I picked up an auto on the side of the highway, agreed my fare then headed into Pune.

Truck filling up with water outside our hotel – Four Points Sheraton.

India on 6x6 Film!
ARAX-CM (Kiev 88), Mir-38v (65mm/f3.5) @f3.5. 77mm orange filter

My first stop was Pune railway station as there is always lots to see.

India's Railways (3)
ARAX-CM (Kiev 88), Mir-38v (65mm/f3.5) @f3.5. 77mm orange filter

India's Railways (2)
f5.6

India's Railways (1)

Next, onto MG Road. One of the main shopping areas.

India Street Food (1)
ARAX-CM (Kiev 88), Mir-38v (65mm/f3.5) @f3.5

India Street Food (2)
Afternoon Nap, India
India Street Life
Street shooting, India

All photos shot on Kodak TMAX 100 120 B&W film pushed to 800 in developing. Developed using Rodinal 1:100 stand developing for 1hr10 at 20 degrees.

Part 2: India, March 2013. Part 2 – 6×6 Colour Medium Format Film (not yet developed.. to follow)
Part 3: India, March 2013. Part 3 – 35mm B&W Film (not yet developed.. to follow)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/
http://www.matthewosbornephotography.co.uk