Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Leica Shoot Out

Well Overdue

I had originally booked to visit Ukraine in July this year (and Poland) but due to my Ironman triathlon training commitments I decided to forgo both model photography trips and rebook them after the event.  I wanted to try to get to Ukraine before the cold weather came so booked it as soon after the Ironman as I could.  I also rebooked Poland (to come!).  After no overseas model photography shoots since I think May 2017 it felt like it had been forever.  I was more than ready for this one!

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens
  • Leica M3 film camera body
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica M4-P film camera body
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens

Cameras and Film

I have been to both Budapest and Ukraine quite a few times now so I tried to select cameras, lenses and film stock different to previous trips. I wanted to take a medium format camera but had taken the Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645 and Mamiya 6 in the past and was not overly impressed with the results compared to a 35mm film Leica.  I think if you load a Leica with professional standard fine grain film they can capture super sharp high clarity images even with the smaller 35mm film format.  I’ve had great success in the past combining in particular the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens with  the fine grain black and white Ilford Pan F50 film.  I wanted to bring the Hasselblad but I didn’t have sufficient capacity in my hand luggage so settled for 2 Leica film cameras, one to shoot colour film and one for black and white film. I also tried to pack more rolls of colour film as I normally shoot mostly black and white. For colour film I bulk loaded a batch of Kodak Motion Picture Vision3 200T film which is tungsten balanced but I use it with a 81B colour correction filter in daylight. I also had some daylight balanced Vision3 50D to use but less of it.  For black and white film I selected what I believe is the best with regards to image quality (sharpness and clarity) and took Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film. For low light I packed some Kodak T-Max 400 film as I like the fine grain and some of my usual bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 which has such great latitude and seems to work in almost any light.

Leica M Lenses

When taking Leica film cameras rather than a different film camera brand such as Hasselblad, Mamiya or Nikon, I have the advantage that I can pack one set of lenses to use on both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica film cameras.  Last time I was in Ukraine my M240 needed recalibrating so I used a 35mm Voigtlander Skopar lens stopped down to ensure I had a deeper depth of field. I was also using speedlights a lot for flash photography.  In contrast, for this trip I wanted to use less flash and shoot with a shallow depth of field. My obvious lens choice for available light photography is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. Digital photos to me can look very boring but the Nocti lens shot wide open can add a lovely filmic / painterly soft look to a photo and it is these imperfections that make the photos perfect (for me anyway). I like the small size of the compact Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens and it balances nicely on my Leica M3. It is also very sharp wide open.   I packed the 50/2.5 for those reasons but in hindsight I wish I had packed the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 as it is more suited to available light photography. I find the Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 can be a little too soft at f1.0 when shot on film (for many film stocks I’ve tried) whereas the Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH can work well at f1.4 with film.  Lastly I chose the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens for a wider view yet suited for available light also. Again in hindsight next time I may pack 3 50mm lenses plus a 35mm for occasional use. It is frustrating to use two focal lengths side by side as I will stand in a place to compose for say a 50mm lens then when pick up the camera with the 35mm lens on the perspective is different and I need to walk forward for the same crop as seen with the 50mm, only to then step back again when I switch to the 50mm.  I think I’m currently back to being a 50mm shooter as my most used focal length. 35mm can feel too wide yet 75mm – 90mm can be too long/ tight.

Budapest

Budapest was only a short visit and hello to models en route to Ukraine.  I had two nights in Budapest city centre so booked three models each day. On day one the first model didn’t arrive nor even bother to write. Luckily the next two models were some of my most reliable in Budapest so they came prepared. What I learnt the most from the day is regardless of a model looks, the models I can make the best photos with are those that are as excited as me about making the pictures. Two creative minds on a photoshoot can lead to some amazing results and in particular I love models that are also stylists. They piece together really interesting clothing combinations and somehow source garments that you rarely see on the high street.  I was really happy with days photos despite the morning being wasted by a no show. The digital images I was seeing on the M240 LCD using the Leica Noctilux lens looking very promising.

I only had one evening in Budapest so even after a busy day shooting and not much to eat as soon as the last model left I grabbed my running kit and drank a quick coffee then did a sunset run along the River Danube. So beautiful and enjoyable. The perfect end to a perfect day!

Day two had another bad start with another cancel but I was tired so made the most of it and had some extra sleep. The rest of the day was two more reliable models so luckily stress free. I think the big difference for day two is the model had their own vision that was not my preferred arty style so having less input made it more like going through the motions. Day 1 I shot nearly 3 rolls of film. Day 2 I didn’t shoot a single frame! I think the longer I do photography the more selective I become, both in terms of models I work with but also the styling, location and general mood.  I only shoot film when I feel the capture deserve it.  Film doesn’t suit every photo, I think, or for me anyway. To be more precise, if the light does not interest me when shooting digital I will not reach for a film camera. Light is everything.

Slovakia

Normally when I shoot in Ukraine I fly into Slovakia from the UK and then get a bus over the border to Uzhgorod. For this trip I decided to fly to Budapest, then bus from Budapest to Slovakia, stay there overnight then get my usual bus from Slovakia to Ukraine.

That was the plan anyway. I am quite relaxed as a person and I arrived to the bus station at the exact time of departure and missed my pre-booked bus.  Luckily I was able to find another bus going to Slovakia 6hrs later that would arrive in time to catch my connecting bus to Ukraine. The long time waiting was less painful than feared and I arrived in Uzhgorod on Day 3 ready to shoot.

Ukraine

Window Light

Day 3.  I had a quick one hour shoot with an agency model I knew from last year and then my model friend arrived on her train from Kiev.  We set to work and had an extremely enjoyable and productive first day using the light right through until sunset. I can’t wait to see the photos!

Day 4 started with a pre-breakfast lingerie shoot which just showed the amount of thought and planning going into trying to make the nicest pictures.  Once we were both dying of hunger we stopped for breakfast. In the afternoon we shot a few more looks right up until it was time for the model to catch her 16hr return train back to Kiev. A very enjoyable first two days in Uzhgorod and the bar had been set high for others to try to follow.  I felt very fortunate a model would want to travel 16hrs (each way) for a photoshoot.

Leica M240 B&W

Day 5 was supposed to be my first full day working with local models friends with five models booked back to back morning til night. Sadly three of the five models cancelled putting me on a bit of a downer after experiencing such highs in the two days before.  The sun and warm 28 degree temperatures we had been enjoying also gave way to a day of mostly rain. The last model, my first ever in Ukraine six years ago, braved the rain and we shot under a bridge before retreating for coffee and cake.

Leica Fashion Photographer

Day 6 was my last in Ukraine so I’d booked in five more models. Luckily my endless hours on social media trying to organise all these shoots paid off and I had no cancellations.  Even the sun came back out for us!  I shot with a wide mix of ages and experience and I think I discovered a new super model at the age of only 15.  When I first came to Uzhgorod I shot with a 15yr old girl and now she’s based as a model in Paris (the last I heard).  I also had a lot of fun catching up with friends and it’s lovely when they seem genuinely thankful that I came back to visit them.  I was dead on my feet again when the last model finished but still decided to fit in one more run along the river despite being dark.  I even made two new friends on the pull up / dips bars outside one of the housing blocks.  It is probably not that common for ‘tourists’ to mingle with the local but I enjoyed it. A great memory to end my time in Ukraine.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1

Night Bus

The original travel itinerary was to stop off at a hotel in Slovakia on my way home via Budapest. After realising the night buses were not that painful I cancelled my hotel and booked a night bus instead. That gave me a full last day in Ukraine but also now some extra time in Budapest to fit in one last shoot.

My taxi was at midnight to go to the bus station. I jumped in the taxi, an old Lada Niva I remember well as a child and said ‘autobus station to go to Slovakia’. The driver said ok and we speed off along the empty pot holed roads, without a seat belt sitting in the passenger seat. (It is considered rude to wear a seat belt). I tried to show a driver an iPhone map photo of the bus station and he replied ok ok Slovakia. I soon realised he had misunderstood me and we were driving at speed in the opposite direction to the bus heading direct to Slovakia! To cut the story short I managed to make him stop the car and by describing roads and various Uzhgorod landmarks he understood and I managed to catch the night bus to Slovakia. The bus trip was great except we arrived to Slovakia 2hrs early.  It was perhaps 15 degrees colder than Ukraine and I now had a 3hr40 minute wait in a dark and deserted bus station. I wore all my clothes trying to keep warm but was very relieved to see my bus arrive to take me to Budapest. I slept the entire journey like a baby, including dribble!

Back in Budapest

A model friend from a few days earlier met me at the bus station in Budapest and we had a very enjoyable and hopefully successful shoot.  I suggested we shot at the location and it gave very different backdrops to the rest of my Budapest images. A good decision. We then also shot a bit more on the metro travelling into the city before I caught my bus to the airport.

CV Nokton 35mm

Thoughts

I believe the number of rolls of film I shoot on a trip is a good indicator as to how successful it was. I managed to use ten rolls of 36(/37) exposure 35mm film and for once I think more colour than black and white.  I was trying to push the equipment and materials to their max to see what I could achieve so I’m interested to see the results. In particular using fine grain film with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 shot at f1.0-f1.2-f1.4. I don’t think I stopped the lens down beyond f1.4.  I fear at f1 the photos will still be too soft (for my taste) but I wanted to try so I know my equipment limits.  Another sign of success for me was every film photo was taken with available light which I was keen to do (after so much flash film photography in the last 12-18 months). It’s easy to make light but harder to find it.  To again push myself I took no reflector to bounce available light so I’m excited to see how we got on.  I tried to mix up my styles even using the above mentioned parameters and I also shot outside as much as I could to use the locations.  Where possible I tried to not photo a model against a wall and kept the lenses close or at to their widest apertures. (The opposite of when I was doing a lot of flash photography and had the lenses stopped down (higher f. stop for a greater depth of field)).

I know many photographers prefer the diffused light on an overcast day for taking portrait photographs but for me I love nothing better than blue skies and direct sunlight.  Living in the UK where we often have cloudy weather I found I really appreciated the sunny days of Budapest and Uzhgorod. If I simplify things, the entire model photography trip was just one big light hunt! I think I need to relocate to a sunnier warmer destination. San Francisco perhaps!

Overall I was really happy with my week away and I don’t think I would have changed anything other than pack the hugely missed Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens to use with the Leica film cameras.  I really wasn’t feeling the 35mm focal length and I would have been happy with only 50mm lenses. The best performer of the trip was without doubt the mighty Noctilux 50f1 lens.  The cameras were fighting over the Nocti as I wanted to use it to shoot film with but also to get the instant gratification when using the Noctilux on the digital Leica M240 and seeing the image on the LCD.  I don’t feel at any point that I missed not having a medium format camera.  Previously I have enjoyed the high flash sync speed (1/400-1/500) of most of the medium cameras to control ambient light when using flash. As I did nearly all available light photography the fast (f1.0-f1.4) Leica M mount lenses were much more suited (than f2.8-f4 MF lenses).  I am interested to see what the smaller 35mm film format Leica cameras achieved.

I think I write this and the end of every blog post I share but I’d like to think some of the images to come are my best yet.  I certainly tried!  Coming soon.

Big Thanks

I’ve not named models individually throughout this post but a huge thanks to models Eva, Nadja, Lili, Galyna, Inna, Dana, Angel, Nikoletta, Franciska, Alexa, Maryna and Valeria. It wouldn’t be possible without you.  Also apologies for the models I didn’t see this year.  I know I missed quite a few of you in Ukraine due to time constraints but I hope to be back again next year!

Thanks

Matt

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Nikon F4 – Ukraine Girls 2016

Nikon F4 – Ukraine Girls 2016

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

September 2017 (from July 2016)

Dusty Film Scan

July 2016

Here are some of the film photography scans I took on my last trip to Ukraine last summer. I cancelled my return trip to Ukraine in July 2017 as wanted to concentrate on my Ironman triathlon training but managed to fit in another trip before the end of 2017 to catch up with my model friends. It feels like ages since I was last there!

 

Camera Gear

When packing for Ukraine last time I planned to do strobist work so decided to take my Nikon F4 SLR instead of my usual Leica film cameras. The Nikon 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 pancake lens as it is small and sharp and the Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro. All the film scans seem to be shot on black and white Kodak T-Max 100 so it looks like I was keeping it simple!  All photos were home developed using Kodak Xtol and scanned with a flatbed Epson v800 scanner.

 

Nikon F4 and Kodak T-Max 100 Film Portraits

Kodak TMax 100 B&W
Voigtlander 40mm f2.0 Ultron SL II
Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E Series
Ukrainian Women
Kodak T-Max 100 Portrait
Film Scan
Film is King!
Nikon F4 Portrait
Nikon F4 + Kodak T-Max 100
Kodak T-Max 100 Portrait
Nikon F4 Portrait
Film Scan Portrait
Girls in Ukraine
Available Light Photography
Nikon F4 Portrait
Nikon F4
Fine Art Portrait
Nikon F4 Fashion
Nikon F4 Portrait
Low Key Film Portrait

 

Nikon F4 vs. Leica Rangefinder – Any difference?

As I normally use Leica film cameras such as the Leica M3, M2, M4-P, M6, that are all rangefinder style film cameras I thought I would summarise how I find shooting with the more modern Nikon SLR that accepts auto-focus lenses.

I am short sighted and don’t wear glasses for photography so an SLR style camera is OK for me to use accurately if I use up close to a model (perhaps at =<1m distance) with a manual forcus lens such as the Voigtlander Ultron 40m f2.  For longer distances I have to rely on auto-focus lenses to capture a subject in focus.

The Nikon F4 is quite chunky and heavy with the 4x AA batteries in the battery grip vs. a solid yet more compact Leica film camera.  When I am packing small I would always pack a Leica as both the cameras and lenses are smaller.

Leica cameras such as my 1950s design Leica M3 are built to last and just keep going.  That said they do need recalibrating now and again to be able to capture accurately focused images using fast lenses with a shallow depth of field.  The Nikon F4 too is built like a tank.  I dropped my F4 down a flight of concrete stairs on a workshop in Zurich and to my amazement both the camera and Nikkor 60mm Micro lens continued to work when I caught up with it!  You couldn't do that with a modern camera (I think!).

For image quality with film cameras it is down to the lens and choice of film probably more than the camera body itself.  If you select a good lens for the Nikon F4 I would say I probably could not tell the difference vs. a photo taken with a Leica film camera.  I think I compose better with a rangefinder camera like a Leica and probably work faster with it but in terms of sharpness I think generally speaking the images would be quite similar in most cases with both cameras.

Lastly if I could pick only one film camera I would chose a Leica M3 as I prefer cameras that don't rely on batteries, that are as small as possible, it's simplicity and the magnified viewfinder for accurate focusing.

 

Full details of the trip

For full details of this trip to Ukraine please see my Ukraine Models (#2) linked below.

 

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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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Leica M 240 – Learn to Love

Leica M 240 – Learn to Love

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

20150923-220808.jpg

Leica M 240

Having owned my Leica M 240 camera now for about 9 months I thought I better share my latest thoughts.  I wrote a review in January 2016 titled “Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed” (linked below).  Since then we have started to get along quite well and have learnt to live with each others quirks and flaws.  I am now happy to shoot both colour photos and black and white photos with the M 240 without commenting “It’s nice but it’s not as good as the Leica M9”.  I now like the M240 photos as they are and i’ve started to shoot much more colour digital photography even if my film photography remains mostly black and white.  I made basic Lightroom presets to apply to images, a few for colour photos and a few for black and white and that lets me quickly batch edit all images for models.

I used to shoot mostly wide open and in black and white and normally with a 50mm lens.  My current taste is to use 35mm lenses stopped down so the little Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens has lived on my Leica M240 for the last few months.  I used this setup for the Poland model photography trip and Ukraine model photography trip and am still using it now i’m back in the UK.

Here are a few digital sample photos from the Poland and Ukraine trips ahead of the film photos to follow, and also a few photos in the UK.  All photos shot with the Leica M 240.

Polish Models

Leica Fashion Photography
Leica Fashion
Leica M240 6x6
Greetings from Poland! :)
Poland Model Photography
Polish Girl
Leica M240 Fashion
Leica Fashion

Ukrainian Models

Leica M Fashion
Ukraine Road Trip
Ukrainian Model
Ukraine Model Photography
Leica M 240 - Learn to Love
Leica M240
Go Green!
Leica Fashion
Killer Smile
Light and Shadow
Loving the 35mm view

British Models

Leica Summicron 90mm f2
Leica Fashion
Leica M 240 in Colour
Leica M 240 Model Photography
Model Photographer

Conclusion

There is no digital camera currently on the market that I think would suit my needs better than the Leica M 240.  I love rangefinder cameras and I continue to enjoy the quality of Leica M mount lenses and the overall small size of the Leica M camera range, whether digital or film.  I don’t really lust after any digital cameras or lenses.  If I ‘need’ something new to buy to explore / test / experiment with I buy old analogue film cameras.  I am happy to use the digital photos for posting on the likes of Flickr, Facebook and Instagram but for me if I want to take a ‘proper’ photo I will always shoot it on film.

The Hasselblad 501C remains king (for me) until I find something that can ‘beat’ it!  See my last post comparing the Mamiya 6 vs Hasselblad for more detail.

Thanks

Matt

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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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Leica M3 & Ukraine Girls 2015

Leica M3 & Ukraine Girls 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
November 2015

Leica M3 + Kodak Portra Fashion

I booked two model photography trips to Ukraine this year, in July and then again in September. Here are some of the film photography highlights shot with my 1950s Leica M3 rangefinder film camera and a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens. For July I used a 1950s Leica Summicron DR lens and for September a more recent Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.  In July I lost a lot of photos as the Leica M3 needed recalibrating.  For the September trip I had had the M3 rangefinder recalibrated but took less film photos.  For both trips I shot with various film stocks and different models so please click any image for more details.

Leica M3 Models, Ukraine – July 2015
Leica M3 + Ilford Pan F 50
Window Light Portrait
Ukraine Agency Model
Ukraine Model Fashion
Ukraine Agency Model
Delta 100 in Xtol
Leica Summicron DR
Top of the World
Kentmere 100 film
Ukraine Fashion Model
Ilford Pan F 50 Classic Portrait
Ukraine Photoshoot
Start of the film
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/21381005359

Leica M3 Models, Ukraine – September 2015
Ukraine Model Photography
Ukraine Girl
Leica M3 Ukraine
Leica M3 Ukraine
Film Boudoir Photography
Leica M3 Tri-X Portrait
Ukraine Model Photography
Agfa Vista Film Fashion
Agfa Vista Film Fashion
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/22733088089

A big thanks to all the models featured here. Hope to see you again in 2016! 🙂

Related Links

Leica M3 Bridal Session – Ukraine

Leica M3 Bridal Session – Ukraine

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com

October 2015

Leica M240 Wedding

Bridal Photography

Bridal session photography is quite possible my favourite type of photography.  A mix of model photography, wedding photography and fashion photography with the best bits from each.  By that I mean a nice model in a beautiful wedding dress and where we have all the time we need to create hopefully beautifully crafted images without the pressures and time constraints of an actual wedding day. To then shoot it all on a film camera is then icing on the cake for me.  I prefer the look of film and hope to shoot a higher percentage of film at every wedding I cover going forward.

Bridal Fashion

Leica Wedding Photography / Film Wedding Photography

If every couple allocated at least one hour of their wedding day for me capture stylised wedding photos like this I would be a very happy man and I think the resulting images would result in a happy bride (bride and groom too depending who was in the photos).  Posing two people is often easier than one and a real bride and groom are on their wedding day high so that normally results in nice smiley natural looking wedding photos. Posing does not need to be a dirty word. It merely lets me place my bride and groom in the best possible light.

Bridal Fashion

For this bridal shoot in Ukraine I shot with available light only to be able to work quickly. I was using both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica M3. For the second roll of film in the M3 most of the photos were taken within a space of five minutes.  It was my fastest roll of 35mm film shot to date as I wanted to make the most of the situation.  Beautiful and willing models, the flowers, the dress, the location all in a remote woodland clearing one afternoon in Ukraine after a mini road trip.  The bride(s) spoke little / no english but we still managed to get some nice photos with me directing with my hands and using body language. The first of two bridal shoots was with model Evgenia and I used AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film (below).  I then did the shoot again with model Olga in the same dress using Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film (not all scanned yet). Here is an example photo with model Olga in black and white.

Black and White Bridal Shoot

Hasselblad Wedding Photography

The Ukraine trip was pre-Hasselblad era so I had my Leica M3 35mm film camera, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and was shooting 35mm AGFA Vista 200 plus budget film.  I really like AGFA Vista film at the moment and prefer the more saturated look to that of Kodak Portra that can look a little flat.  I wish there was a 120 AGFA Vista film for me to use in my Hasselblad as there seems a real gap in the colour film available for 400 speed saturated film.  I need a Kodak Ektar 400 film ideally as I love the saturation from Kodak Ektar 100. Going forward my new Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera will be with me at all my weddings. It is not as fast to use as the Leica M3 rangefinder for film photography but the results are just amazing.

Bridal Photos

Without further ado here are the AGFA Vista colour film photos from the first bridal photography session shot with my recalibrated Leica M3 and model Evgenia.

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Ukraine Model Photography (II)