A Light Weight 120 Autofocus Travel Camera with a Zoom Lens!
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
I still shoot with digital (A7RII) and love the look and capability of it, but FILM is what I go to every time I go out shooting… It is Terrible and exciting at the same time! It is so bad that I am looking for another freezer to store my excess film stock!
This is (again) Stormy Seas in Georgetown, SC (perhaps the most photographed boat in the Low Country). I have hundreds of images of it but I am pulled to photograph her in B&W film each and every time I am in Georgetown. There is something about her lines and textures that inspire me to document her life, and I have for years. Yes I will visit ANY shrimp boat (or grist mill for that matter) and each and every time I visit I see something different and unique… Yep addicted!
The image was taken about 5 days ago on a 6×9 Fuji GW 690 II using medium format Fuji Acros 100 film and a red filter, developed in Perceptol 1:1 and Wet Mount scanned on a Epson 850 pro. The 6×9 format will give me 8 images per roll and I will usually scan 2 or 3 per roll, but I am very critical and selective because the wet scan process takes about 3/4 hour per scan!
The top image is near Stormy Seas in Georgetown, about 2 blocks away at another commercial dock and seafood house. I have shot this a hundred times on both digital and film, but never have I captured such a pleasing image as this. It is to me a more enriching image full of mood, contrasts and tells a story. I pleases me to no end the tell the story on an old FILM camera of an old boat and failing lifestyle just as the shrimp boat is in the background and the Egret in the foreground telling a different yet the same story!
There is also the consideration that is tied to the process of working in film. It is slower and much more deliberate, a truer work of love in that you control every single step of the process…
All in all, the top image took about a week to complete from end to end! I simply love the process, being immersed in it and becoming one in the creative process. Yes it is slow but when I am done it is a total representation of MY PERSONAL VISION!
Film is making a HUGE come back in the world of photography! So much so that you will be shocked when you visit Ebay and look at the prices of old film cameras and systems! All of the major film makers in the world are increasing their production of films and even Kodak is bringing back discontinued film products! New film companies like New55, Impossible Project, and FILM FERRANIA have opened up and are making emulsions!
Developing has never been easier, there are many mail order labs out there but you can process your own film in your kitchen with very little effort and investment! You will need:
Total you are looking at about $120 for everything accept the scanner! There are great videos on Youtube that will take you thru every step in the process!
The image above of the Tybee Island Lighthouse was taken last month on Kodak Tmax 100 rated at 50 ISO on the 6×9 format medium format Fuji System. It was hot and the area full of tourists, even up on the top of the lighthouse itself! Still the act of creating this image was both fun and fulfilling and I walked away with exactly what I envisioned as I stood there looking at the scene!
I especially love shooting with Medium Format cameras. They are easier to travel with and the negatives are large enough to give amazing prints. I do have 3 4×5 large format cameras also that are great fun to you but as you can imagine, they are difficult to travel with. Once in a great while I will shoot with a 35mm camera, usually smaller rangefinder that were sold in the 60’s and 70’s!
This is the Pelican Dock on Pawleys Island, SC. It is a 4″ x 5″ FILM image taken on Polaroid Type 55 film from one of my film workshops.
I did this with a Polaroid 900 converted to 4×5 format camera and the film was expired (16 years) Type 55 instant 4×5 film that also creates a fragile negative which was scanned Wet Mount on an Epson 850 . This single image costs about $35 to create and process!
But look closely at the image, notice the calm peace of the scene, the amazing clarity and sharpness that is a gift when working with large format film, but more importantly, the edge process markings created when working with this amazing film!
But of greater importance than how I created this image is the why…
We all see amazing scenes as we travel through life, but how many of us actually take the time to really experience and feel on an emotional level what we are actually experiencing as we create our art? I watch so many great photographers skitter from scene to scene like a bee to pollen that it leaves me feeling sad.
Let me ask you, “How can you create art that will appeal to your viewers on an emotional level if you yourself refuse to slow down long enough to feel the emotional impact yourself as you create it?
The key here is to stand before the scene and take it all I. Get a feel for what you desire to share with your viewers before you even pick up your camera! SLOW DOWN, take your time, investigate it from many angles and exposures. Yes this is a single image, in fact the only one I took due to the cost, but I spent a half hour studying the scene, moving around looking for the best impact and knowing that I would get the edge markings and using them to increase overall impact!
This is a hard lesson to learn and harder still to practice. This is one of the the lessons forced upon us who still shoot film as I do. After all, Film = $. We have to slow down and make every shot count so the next logical step is to connect on an emotional level with your subject and thus create art that is charged with mood that will draw your viewer in.
Just because I use FILM as an example here for you do not think that it does not apply to digital! Yes, once you pay back the investment of your digital equipment with image sales (you do sell your work don’t you?) the cost per image is basically paid only in terms of your time. But time also has a value and if by slowing down and imparting emotional impact in your image then you will be on the true path of photographic nirvana!
Take your time, explore your scene, feel it’s emotional impact, SLOW Down!
Do not copy the Bee, rather strive to be a master of photography…
I recently picked up the Techart M to FE Sony mount adapter for my Leica and Voigtlander lenses. It has been my desire to use them on the Sony A7rii, A6300 and A6500 cameras.
The Techart auto focus adapter is amazing. I actually moves the lens in and out to get a sharp focus. It has several rules that you must follow to use it and as long as you do it will provide great service. It is quite fast!
Here is a link to a short video demonstration of the Techart M to FE adapter on my Sony A7rii:
B&W work with this lens as well as my other Voigtlander and Leica M mount lenses are just as sharp weather in color or monochrome!I also have and use a Metabones M to FE adapter which gives the same results but with manual focus only. Sometimes manual focus is necessary depending upon your subject but reguardless of focus type both adapters and all of my M lenses work wonderfully on the A7rii camera system! If you have a selection of M lenses then the cost of a M to FE adapter is well worth the money. But I am VERY impressed with the new autofocus adapter!
I wish to share some images and thoughts from the Leica M Monochrom B&W ONLY camera system. I know that it is NOT FILM and a very expensive camera system, but it comes as close as you can get in a wonderfully usable B&W only system!
Most people will take a color image then convert it to B&W in post processing but it will never be the same as actually shooting in B&W with a digital or film system! Yes you can get close but you loose the amazing gradations and tonality that is part and parcel to world class B&W images.
The Pier on the top, is in the Outer Banks and is a 4 min exposure using a Leica Elmerit 28mm lens and the creek below is is in the New River Gorge in West Virginia. It is Dunloupe Creek and a 8 second exposure using the AMAZING 50mm Summilux lens. As you can see, the graduations and clarity are simply amazing. The water takes on a distinct Platinum tonality!
Why am I showing you these? Well at the end of the post I will give you a link for 2 videos where a Fuji X100T and a Leica M are compared for street photography and for a discussion on the Leica M B&W. The videos are quite entertaining and shows why sometimes a more expensive camera can be worth the money…
It can be very hard balancing the desire between camera systems and affordability, but sometimes, with SPECIAL cameras the money takes a back seat. I own 3 Leica camera systems, and 1 of them I could have done without (Leica M240), another is an amazing film system (Leica M7) and then there is the M Monochrom. The Monochrom is scary amazing with crazy good B&W output to even consider shooting color then converting. I have NEVER considered the money spent on it to be wasted! In fact, I am considering selling/trading the M 240 but will keep the Monochrom and M7 film body along with most of my Leica and Voigtlander glass.
For me shooting in B&W is a soul centering event. I take it very seriously and slow. When you consider how working in Monochrome strips away the confusion of color leaving the soul of the image then you can understand why I am looking for the very best way to capture the best possible image.
Aside from doing all of this in film (which I still work in all of the time) the M Monochrome (or its sisters) is the ONLY GAME IN TOWN! Hence, the cost of the system takes on new meaning since it is such a specialized digital system!
Sometimes I will put the film away and take out the Monochrom system. It is not quite the same as film in the overall process but it certainly is when the finished products are compared!
This is something to consider…
Here are the video links:
Warning, LONG post…
Travel Photography… Say it, let it roll off your tongue, think about it! I bet that the first thing that comes to mind are images from National Geographic, fine, super saturated color photographs that could take you anywhere in the world by simply looking at them! You know the kind, they enabled you over the years to travel vicarisly around the world just with the magazine and its images!
But is that what travel photography really is?
What is the intent of travel photography to document a place or a trip? Is it designed to tell a story on an individual level or to the masses?
Well for me, it is a combination of the two. Most importantly, the images are to refresh the memories of the trip. But there is a real market out there for well done travel photography whether in print publications, web, advertising or fine art prints. It can be quite profitable if you work at it and can step back and look at your own images in terms of the above markets. Even the housing deceration market has room for this type of photography provided that you can simplify your work to show colors and contrasts over locations.
For this trip, and pretty much all the time when I am shooting digital, I exclusively use the Sony 42 mpix A7rii camera system and the new Sony A6300 for high speed work with Sony G lenses or Sony Zeiss lenses. They are very well suited to this type of photography and give you enough (42 mix) resolution to get amazing images yet still have room to crop!
The drive for this post was a recent two week trip out West with my wife and 7 year old grandson Jordan who I am teaching film photography and darkroom processing to (photographically, I had grand plans for him this trip). Given time I plan on turning him into a photographic GOD for something fun while making sure he is a Rocket Scientist!
We flew into Rapid City, SD and picked up a one way rental car and our first night in a long string of hotels.
Day 1. Rapid City layover and rest.
So as you can see there was a well thought out family plan for travel and location visits! But, I also had a plan, my photographic plan!
So lets talk first about my TRAVEL photographic equipment plan. I wanted to travel light (yea right). No backpack, rather a small rolling camera case that would fit into the over head of a small commuter plane so that I would not have to check it. I would not have room for a film camera… Dang!
So here is what I brought along:
This was a good plan (or so I thought) until our very first stop at Mt. Rushmore where Jordan informed me that the 24-240 was too long and heavy. Oh well, I took that and gave him the 24-70.
Ok, so at least the part of the photographic plan of me being able to NOT check my camera equipment worked! (I did put all of my insulin and supplies in the camera case just to prove my need to have the case with me but did not need it).
Yes, I know that one would not normally trade a light 24-70 Sony/Zeiss f/4 lens for a 24-240 f/3.5-5.6 Sony super zoom but I have to be honest, I was VERY impressed with the super zoom! It was not really that much heaver but it was longer. I NEVER put on the 24-70 after that.
I expected great things of Yellowstone and that showed in the number of days there as well as staying in the park. Yellowstone is HUGE, so much so that you have to allow for HOURS of driving time from location to location. The roads are all good, 2 lanes with adequate pull offs. BUT having said that there are rules of behavior in pulling off and rules for how you treat the wildlife. I cannot tell you how many people (especially foreign visitors) who would jump out of the car (still in the road) and run off into the fields right up to the wildlife. To say that this is bad behavior is an understatement. It for one, keeps others from being able to photograph the wildlife and two puts the peoples lives in grave danger that approach the wildlife! Yet this happened almost every time wildlife was near the road. The park rangers had simply given up on trying to educate people who would not listen. They spend most of their time dealing with the MANY dreadful traffic accidents that happened every day. The traffic jams were terrible whenever an animal was near. Sometimes this was due to the animal being on the road but most of the time it was because people parked right in the middle of the road who left their cars.
I am going to share a few of my favorite images from Yellowstone with you. It is a good cross section of what you can expect to see while visiting!
I would travel again to Yellowstone but in the spring or fall in order to see more of the wildlife there. I realize that in the heat of August even the animals would move to higher locations in order to reduce the heat. The only wildlife I really saw in abundance on this trip were Buffalo, Elk and Antelope.
So…. I had this vision stuck in my head of a parked line of freight train box cars parked in the high desert with a mesa behind them. I found myself looking to the sides of the car as we traveled endless miles through Wyoming and Utah. Finally my wife asked me what I was looking for and when I told her she made a point to help me look and stop me when we came upon them. I know that out West there are ultra long stretched of road. Most are 4 lanes with lots of traffic. If you see that special scene make sure that you safely stop so as not to irritate the 7 year old in the back seat, pull safely off to the side of the road as you watch for the perfect compositional setup and get out and shoot it! DO IT!
To say that Bryce National Park is anything less that amazing is an understatement. It was right up there with Arches and Yellowstone in amazing views, colors and the wow factor! This is the location that I would choose to visit again to try some different styles of photography. The colors of the Hodoos are simply amazing and full of wild colors and contrasts.
While in Arches, my 7 year old grandson decided that he had enough nature and vistas after driving Arches all day long. I took them (at my wife insistence) back to the hotel and went back out to Arches and drove it again in different light conditions and the 2nd time there were clouds in the sky. This made for much better images that I would not have gotten if I did not go back out again!
Final thoughts on what makes travel photography great!
Now as you have seen here, I presented this trip as a travel log. Attempting to document the many wonders of the high plains in the west. For images that have the possibility of selling you need to:
This type of travel photography is more difficult that personal travel images traditionally done by the millions of photographers who roam the country. These types of images are still travel photography but basically serve to show and remember your great trips! They will include more family member in the scenes, less care about the total compositional elements because those are simply not as important to the memory of the trip and locations! They are just as important, but will not generally generate income from sales and publication.
Yes, you are correct, I shoot with the Sony A7rii 42 mega pixel full frame mirrorless camera! What you cry am I doing with the A6300 which is only 24 mega pixel and an APS-C sensor? Well friends, the answer to that is simple, well perhaps not… I envision the A6300 as a 720nm Infrared camera.
But it has several very interesting and powerful functions that have engaged my curiosity. Those are:
The 4 test images I took today were shot hand held at 1/250s and in RAW with Zone Focusing. I also had the LIVE VEIW DISPLAY: Setting Effect: ON. This enabled the camera to simulate the exposure effects during composition to give me an idea of what I am actually seeing.
The A6300 is a TINY camera system. It is so light (even with a L Bracket installed) that I had to be very careful when carrying it around. I worried over dropping it and not knowing!
The camera does NOT have a built in Stabilizing system, rather it relies on the fact that most Sony lenses have that built in. I has 3 custom WB memories for those of you who are considering the camera for Infrared and it also has 2 custom setup memories that I have found to be very helpful with my A7rii camera!
I found the camera very easy to use and control. I setup all of the custom functions and buttons to make my life easier when shooting it.
As I said, this camera was meant to be converted by http://www.kolarivision.com into a 720nm infrared system and it may actually meet that end, but I really like the ability of the APS system to give me 900mm from a 600mm lens!
Here is the color version (with polarizer) of the image above. The colors are nicely saturated and the overall image is sharp and offers enough detail and sharpness to draw the viewer into the image!
Here is another view of the salt marsh. I have to say that the camera with the 24-70 Zeiss lens is easy to hold and control. The camera control buttons are easy to reach and control without using them by accident.
Lastly, a B&W conversion of the same image.
I am really excited with the functionality of this little system. I am pleased with the results and will use it for a few months as a color system for my long lens. Ultimately it will be converted to IR but for now I will play with it.
There are several issues with its firmware (same as when the A7rii came out). Overheating during hight speed continuous shots is the big one but Sony assures me that a fix is in work as it was when the A7rii camera came out!
I will be experimenting with the system for a few months and see what it can offer me in terms of images and use. Later this week it is going to the beach for some ultra long exposures to see if it has any body light leaks!
What do your think?
Look closely at the image below of the neither regions of the Folley Beach Pier. This was taken with a B&W only DEEP CONTRAST Infrared camera converted by KolariVision.com with their new AR coating. Look at the detail and depth captured here. Do you think that if the sand was actually in color that you would even notice the pier going off into the distance past the initial structure? This is what the power and purity of B&W gives to us!
I love working in B&W, so that I would only create them if the market would support such endeavor. There is something about a well crafted monochrome image, having the distraction of color removed leaves you with the soul of the image.
I find that it is so powerful for me that I look at EVERY scene I approach with B&W in mind. Yes, I can visualize in B&W. So can you! It only takes a little practice… OK, a LOT of practice really, but it is well worth the investment in time and energy!
I am so into fine art B&W that I even have a Leica Monochrom digital camera that is dedicated to it in that it only takes B&W images! Not to mention digital B&W infrared cameras!
The baby blue is a Olympus 35RC rangefinder that I had rebuilt, cleaned and given a nice new set of baby blue clothes! The second is a Polaroid 900 that my daughter found at a garage sale and sent to me. I kept it in a display case for a year or 2 then sent it off to WWW.Alpenhause.com where Steven Icanberry took it apart, cleaned, re-gasket, replaced the lens with a Fujicon 150mm lens and added a 4×5 film back. He also calibrated the internal rangefinder to the new 150mm lens and gave it an adult blue suite! It is a dream camera come true!
I shoot 35mm, 120mm and 4×5 film systems. Usually, I will expose about a dozen rolls a week in 120, Develop, Dry and Scan then treat them as I would a digital image except for the fact that I will never be starting with a color image!
I mainly shoot with my Sony A7rii camera and a selection of 4 lenses in my normal day to day work. I shoot in COLOR but always process both color and B&W in post processing. I can just hear you say “why not just shoot in B&W in camera?” Well the easy answer is while you can do so, you will get much better B&W images by shooting in color then post processing to get the best possible color image, THEN convert to B&W. I use The NIK filter Silver EFX Pro for my B&W conversions, and by feeding it a finished color image it will have enough data to generate a wonderful B&W image!
Here is an example of just what I mean:
First an image of Daddys Girls, a shrimp boat out of Bluffton, SC. The image is a great one, full of colors and textures with an interesting sky! I feel that in color this makes a wonderful image and think that there is a market out there for it. I spent the time with the image during post processing to bring out the colors, textures and contrasts to make the image pleasing.
Then, and ONLY THEN I ran the image through Nik’s Silver EFX Pro B&W converter. I Chose a deeply sepia tinted output with a slightly scratched texture and a minor border. This to me is a pure image with which you can witness and feel the soul of the scene!
Another example from the Sony that I took and post processed today is this image of the shrimper Stormy Seas, likely the MOST PHOTOGRAPHED shrimp boat in South Carolina, IN COLOR.
Again, I shot in COLOR in order to have as much data as possible for the B&W conversion. Again I found myself in a sepia mood and processed it as the examples above! As you can see, it has a totally different look, feel and emotional impact from its color version above!
B&W images can be really powerful in their emotional impact. There was a time when B&W was all you could have, then color became popular because of the fact that it was different! But guess what? B&W is again VERY POPULAR to the point of actually out selling color in fine art shows and to collectors! This should give you pause if you are concentrating in color only. You are missing have of the scene, the most important half!
You know how it is when you walk up to a scene and notice it for the very first time? Usually we are amazed at what we have discovered! We setup take the image and walk away congratulating ourselves as to the amazing luck at finding such a perfect subject!
But wait! You have all heard that you should work a scene, right? Just look at all of the cool parts that make up the whole. I am also sure that you have heard the phrase, “WORK THE SCENE”! Well that actually means what it says. Start wide and work in and around getting closer and more details! When you are as close as you can stand, then work your way back out again!
This is powerful advice…
This is also the secret of all those world class images you see posted or published around the world. Do you actually think that the professional photographer working and Nat Geo only took the one image? Really??? They are just like the rest of us, a 30% keep rate and a 90% garbage rate!
So, knowing that it only make sense to take the time to work the scene. Looking at the top image you see that I could the shrimp boat Stormy Seas with a long liner Charlotte Marie under the strong clouds of tropical storm Bonnie. The scene is full of mood, color and contrasts. I was specifically looking to work the shrimper so I did not pay any attention the the long liner. Here they are a dime a dozen but there are likely a lot of detail shots there also…
So as you can see, I have now walked around to the dock the shrimper is on and take a bow shot composing to keep the other boats, docks and other muck out of the image. I still set it up to get the great storm clouds. A much better shot than the first, no?
Next I move further in, closer to the bow, looking at the painted boat name and the great structure and contrasts hidden the the hull of the boat. As I stand here I think to myself that having the anchor cut off is a bit distracting but then decide that it adds a hint, or suggesting more out of scene that adds a bit is mystery to the image. Again, in post, I have added a bit of mood to the clouds also!
Now I am walking down the boats side, paying attention to the colors and patterns around the wheel house. There is a lot here and the images continue to improve. Having the walkway moving up and away from me give a sense of infinity and curiosity as to what is at the bow above!
Moving further back towards the boat’s stern (back for you folks who live in Idaho!) I come upon the life ring with assorted fishing accessories hanging from it. This scene is the most promising so far. Look at the textures in the wall of the wheel house, the deep rich red tones and the crisp writing of the boats name! It gives me shivers overtime I look at it!
But wait! Just below the life ring hanging on the gunnels of the boat is a coil of heavily textured rope. The rusty bold and chipped and rotting rail add so much texture, mood and stories that I am drawn to create an image just of this one detail!
This is exactly what will happen if you take the time to explore your scene totally working inwards getting more and more details as you go! If the scene is worthy of taking, it demands that you explore it in great depth and detail. Give it the time to do a good job and document all of it’s glory!
Do not forget to work in B&W as well, each and every image you take might have magic wonder hidden within its detail if you look at in in monochrome! Look closely at the image above. The hull has MUCH MORE DETAIL in its structure than the one in color did yet they are the same exposure! The clouds have more depth. Monochrome images discard the distractions caused by color… But that is the subject for another post….
I LOVE shooting IR and have a long history with it in both Film and Digital. I have had over 25 conversions from ALL of the big conversion companies around the country! But, once in a while I would get a camera that no mater how hard I tried, I will get a hot spot with it or the lenses I used. You learn how to deal with this by selective use of the aperture but once in a while you would just not be able to get around the problem and loose the shot….
Well about 3 weeks ago Ilija from Kolari (http://www.kolarivision.com ) sent me a note telling me about a new coating process for his conversion filters. I have a long history with Kolari, LDP and Lifepixel but I have never heard of this till now. Ilija offered to do a free conversion with this newl IR AR coating for me in return for evaluating it in the real shooting world! So I told him that I would send the X100s off as a test camera and that I needed it back fast in order to allow others to play with the camera also! Off it went on Tuesday. Imagine my surprise when I got it back in hand the following Wednesday!
Here is what Kolari says about this new AR IR coating:
So as you can see they are up and almost ready to start filling orders for these new filters.
I have to tell you that with my test conversion on the Fuji X100s to AR 850nm that ALL of my hot spot issues simply went away. This camera has always had a tendency for IR hot spots. I have converted, tried and sold so many IR systems in the past that I have lost count. I could not, would not sell this one as it is one of my most prized IR systems. To say that I am pleased with the results of the Kolari IR AR Coating is the understatement of the year!
Remember, if you decide to order from Kolari, give them my name for a $15 discount!
Don’t you have the feeling sometimes of not reaching that creative high so that when you return home you are almost like an empty husk?
Well me too, and sometimes I really need to stretch my artistic legs. Going out with a Color Camera will just not get the job done and leaves me feeling empty. Working in Film is a lot better and scratches an itch that I just cannot reach otherwise… But when I am really feeling creatively down and mentally cramped I usually turn to my Leica M Monochrom system.
Working directly in B&W is a soul expanding exercise that will re-inflate my creative side quickly and effectively. I am the type of photographer who can actually think and see in B&W. Actually generating those images in the field with a capable B&W rangefinder system really is like going home to Momma. It leaves me with that ohhhh feeling, or is it OHHHHH… Yep, that is the feeling that I am talking about!
First, I LOVE shooting with a rangefinder camera system. ALL of my cameras are rangefinders except for one little Fuji XT1 that sits in my camera bag rarely used unless I take it out for lightning shots. I just love the feeling of using a rangefinder! I am not kidding about the feeling of going home to momma! They take me back to my early days of photography when a rangefinder was all that I had and used. They were and still are a nitch camera system. You generally will not find someone out shooting birds in flight images with one, but that is OK with me because after 50 years of shooting, I am soooo TIRED OF BIRDS (well except for hummingbirds but I can do those just fine with a rangefinder).
So what makes me smile about the M Monochrom? The ease of use, the CRISP release of the shutter, the incredible functionality of the camera and its wide dynamic range! I love the way it feels in my hands and responds to my control! I even love the sound of it. It is almost sensual in nature! Now, couple that with the amazing images that a pure B&W 18 mega pixel sensor with NO Brayer filter and no anti-aliasing filter can create you will be left breathless with the results.
So for this simple and short post about achieving emotional nirvana, I will keep it to just 2 images that make me feel good. Now that I am creatively re-inspired I can go out again with my color camera (rangefinder of course) and while looking at my scenes in B&W create color images again!
Thank you for stopping by for a visit to the blog…
Testing Fumed Alumina…
Van Dyke Brown emulsion is basically on the acidic side of things chemically and as a result of this I have been forced to wash most of my papers with a acid bath. This caused a increase in my process by 2 days. So I am testing Fumed Alumina which is acidic unlike Fumed Silica which is neutral. I decided to go with the Alumina test first and will do a followup post down the line with the Fumed Silica.
Initial results were quite pleasing with both Revere Platinum and Lana Aquarelle papers. I got a MAJOR increase in Dmax with both the Lana and Revere papers, but upon completion of my final wash the Revere was VERY EASY to damage with finger smudges until it dried. The Revere had a tendency for the Alumina to easily rub off the Alumina while wet whereas the Lana was strongly attached.
The Alumina did fix ALL of the spotting issues that I had when using the Revere Platinum paper but the fact that it will rub off when wet causes some concern but it is easily overcome with careful handling.
All in all this was a VERY easy fix to the acid washing step and only added about 30 seconds to roll on the Alumina. The Fumed Alumina can be purchased at Bostick & Sullivan for $15/500g which will do about 100 sheets of 8×12 paper.
The increase in Dmax with the Fumed Alumina is amazing and the resulting images are stunning.
In my recent printing of the 1840 Van Dyke Brown prints, I have experienced a lot of dark spots on my prints. I ordered several types of papers to try to see if it was a paper problem… I have been using Revere Platinum paper which is easy to coat (provided you use Tween 20 in the emulsion) and gives great tonality but seems to ALWAYS have dark spots all through the print!
Look closely at the image to the right. You will notice dark spots (look above the light) that go completely through the paper! This has been driving me nuts and nothing that I did to try and fix the issue ever helped.
I ordered several new papers plus tried several others that I had on hand:
Lets first talk about the Lana Aquarelle paper. This paper is simply amazing! It coats very well with both the brush and a glass rod as long as you add a little Tween at 25%
For a 8×12 print:
Once coated, I let it AIR DRY for 30 min then expose in a 12 bulb UV box in a vacuum frame for 2 to 4 min depending on the paper and negative. Usually the base exposure time is 3 min.
As I said the results from this paper is a nice warm print with great density in the black areas and the edges.
I coated four pieces of paper yesterday, two with a glass coating rod and two with a synthetic Sable brush. Both methods worked very well and gave nice even coatings. The image above was a applied with the Sable brush and the one below was coated with a glass rod.
Notice in the image above if the lone dinghy that there are NO spots at all. The paper was clean on the front and back and gave a nice density in the dark areas! This paper is very heavy and after coating it will want to curl a little but will flatten in about 5 min. Let it dry for the full 30 min in the air and do not use a hair drier.
For a 8×12 print:
Rising Stonehenge Paper is another good paper for the Van Dyke Brown process. It is a MUCH lighter weight paper than the Lana paper but it really does not cost any less! You can find it on Amazon which means free shipping. The shipping charges from B&S are going to kill me, with the average cost for paper being around $20 per order! This is what makes Amazon so great, but they just don’t carry all of the papers that I like to keep on hand…
So far, my work with Rising Stonehenge has been very good. It coats evenly and the emulsion soaks into the paper fibers nicely. The print is very dense and nice dark areas. The paper is quite thin and I discovered that the surface is easily damaged during coating. Since the surface requires much less VDB emulsion I will reduce it the next time I coat (I used 36 drops of VDB and 2 drops of Tween for this test coating) and the surface damage will likely go away due to the glass rod not going across the paper surface more than 4 times ( for 36 drops the coating rod required 8 trips across the paper surface) thus reducing working the papers surface too much and causing damage.
One small problem with the paper that I discovered was that the emulsion has a tendency to migrate from the coated areas to the uncoated areas giving a grey shadow around the image. If you look closely you can see actual small spots of it surrounding the coating. This is really no big deal but I am unsure as to why this is happening.
I will continue to use this paper because it generates VERY WARM BROWN in the print and I just love the look of it!
Now, it has been suggested that I soak or pre coat the paper with an acid bath of 10% citric acid for a 1 or 2 min, then wash the paper and allow it to dry before coating. I am told that this will vastly increase the papers Dmax! I am going to test this next time I print!
The image at the top of this post was also printed on Rising Stonehenge paper!
The Cot 320 paper is a very nice, smooth paper. I love the look and feel of it. BUT, for Van Dyke Brown it has a problem in that it will not readily absorb the VDB emulsion into the paper fibers. Even with Tween added to the emulsion, it is not enough. What happens is that in the first water bath after exposure the majority of the emulsion washes off in thick tendrils of brown goo. Unlike the Arches paper, enough is left on the paper to still make for a good (not great) image.
There is enough promise from this paper that I am going to experiment further with this paper by washing the paper with an acidic solution of citric acid and distilled water, brushing it on and letting it soak in for a few seconds then washing the paper again with distilled water. Once it dries and I will flatten it in a low temp heat press and coat the VDB on it. I think that this will break down the surface coatings enough for it to accept the emulsion better and increase the papers Dmax.
I will report on this more in the future.
OK that is all for this post. I am not going to report on the Arches and Revere papers as I have discussed them in the previous two posts.
The Vandyke brown print is based on the first iron-silver process, the argentotype, invented in 1842 by the English astronomer, Sir John Herschel. Both processes utilize the action of light on ferric salts and their chemistry is very similar. The Vandyke process gets its name from its similarity in color to the deep brown pigment used by the Flemish painter Van Dyck. Vandyke brown prints are very simple and economical to make, with the sensitizer consisting of three readily available chemicals. Clearing is carried out in water and fixing is done in a weak solution of hypo.
As you can see, this is a very early way of printing developed a long time before our current Silver Salt paper process. The images are a deep brown instead of the normal black and white that we are used to seeing. They are somewhat easy to create provided that you have done your homework and created the proper calibration images to create a calibration Gradient Map or Curve to apply to your negatives which adjust them for loss of mid tones in the printing process.
This is strictly a CONTACT PRINTING technique that requires a true negative that is placed on top of paper that YOU as the artist coat yourself with the Van Dyke Brown emulsion that you mix from simple chemistry! The coating process is done with a special brush that requires a very light touch or a glass coating rod that you use to push a line of liquid emulsion across the paper.
The liquid emulsion is measured by the number of drops from a glass eye dropper into a small glass then with a drop of two of a wetting agent like Tween 20 to help the coating process. The paper/emulsion is allowed to dry then the negative which was created using my Epson 7900 printing on transparency material is placed on top of the coated paper. This sandwich is then placed in a printing box filled with 12 Fluorescent Black Light tubes which then expose the paper with UV light. The exposure for the current paper I am using (Revere Platinum) has been calibrated to 3 or 4 min based upon the test chart above.
This process is a POP process in which the image after being exposed can be seen on the paper once removed from the UV box. It is orange and yellow in color. It is placed in 2 consecutive distilled water baths that remove the yellow and darken the orange. Then it is placed in the fixer solution (Sodium thiosulfate) for 2 min. When the image is placed in the fix, it IMMEDIATELY changes from orange to a very dark brown and white picture. Finally the print is placed in a live water wash for 30 min then dried!
This is a simple process that creates beautiful images that will leave you breathless as you view them! I am going to further develop and learn the process over the next month or two before I start on mastering the Platinum/Palladium printing process as well!
In my continuing love affair with the Leica M Monochrome camera system I have learned more each day towards creating amazing etherial B&W art… Keep in mind that I have been shooting B&W film (35mm, 6×7 and 4×5) for several decades and know and understand the process very well. But using the Monochrome is such an easy progression that it seams as though the camera is leading me down this path on its own. Yes there is some small post processing to be done using Nik Filters Silver EFX and once in a while I will add some Viveza as well, but for the most part it is almost perfect out of the camera as long as you get the exposure correct in the shooting!
In the image below of the shrimper Stormy Seas, I used the Leica Tri-Elmar set in 16mm. There is no image distortion from such a wide angle and it is sharp with good depth of field. When using this lens on the Monochrome you are forced to use the frankenstein viewfinder that you purchase with the lens but that is a small price to pay for such a useful lens. I also have a Voigtlander Hellar 12mm lens in the camera bag and it works very well on the Monochrome and uses an external 12mm viewfinder, but it does distort the image slightly due it its wideness but you can correct for that in Photoshop. The thing about the Tri-Elmar is that it replaced 3 separate lenses that were stolen with one small lens!
Using a fast lens like the 50mm Summilux ASPH for the image below of the Roanoke River Lighthouse allows you to hand hold on dark or stormy days and still get crisp images that jump out at you! For this image I also had a yellow filter attached to bring out the structure of the clouds. This is one of the HUGE pluses of the Monochrome in that it reacts to the standard B&W filters the same way as film does!
But as always my main use for the camera is long exposures which is where my true love lives! Being able to take ocean shots and smooth out the waves is exciting beyond words and the Monochrome does a great job of it with its 4 min bulb limit. Look at the image below of the (another version) Roanoke Marshes Light House. I was there when the light was on and each time it circled it created another slightly offset star effect. It allows me to create images full of wonder and depth!
The implied stillness of the water with the graduated reflections create an image full of mood and depth. This is one of my favorite images of this Light House and the fact that during the 16 second exposure the light revolved around 3 times to generate 3 slightly offset star patterns just add more mood to it. This particular shot was done with a B+W 103 3 stop ND filter to allow the longer shutter speed at f/8 for sharpness with the 50mm Summilux ASPH lens!
Now let me share a detail shot of a fishing boat just up the island from the Light House. It is simple yet tells a complex story of the boat and job.
I love the textures of the image and the sharpness. The texture on the surface of the individual floats are great and perhaps would have been better served by a closer shot. It was taken with the Macro Elmar 90mm lens (a great lens to invest in) and was done on the tripod!
Continuing with the 90mm Macro Elmar I give you a closeup image taken just as I left the Outer Banks. This mushroom is only about 2 inches tall and I had to lay down under a log to get it. Yes a tripod was used but it was the Really Right Stuff table pod which is an amazing tool to have in your kit for just this sort of work Look at the textures on the bottom and stalk of the mushroom. This 90mm lens is the only 90 that I will ever buy for my Leica cameras!
I hope that you enjoyed this last dedicated post on the Leica M Monochrome camera. I will have many more images to share from it in the future but I think that you are likely getting tired of dedicated posts!
About a month ago, my truck was broken into and a camera bag was stolen with several Leica lenses, cameras and accessories. After the insurance was paid, I purchased the amazing Leica M Monochrome and the Tri-Elmar 16 – 18 – 21 mm lens to replace 3 missing lenses and 1 camera.
The M Monochrome is truly an amazing camera and the images are beyond stunning! I have found that I actually enjoy using it more that the M 240. So far, I have used it for ultra long exposures in the Outer Banks, family pictures of my grand children during Christmas and on a just completed trip to Boone, NC for the New Year. I am NOT going to do a review here rather I will just show the capabilities of this camera system while photographing my favorite subject matter!
The water fall image above was taken on 1 Jan 2015 at Duggars Creek Falls in the parking lot of the Linville Falls visitor center where I sat on a bridge centered over the stream (I cannot get down to the water level due to a recent operation which limited me to just basic views). Notice the sharpness of the image and the tonality of the rocks drawing the viewer into the scene. There was very little post processing on this image which shows the real power of the Monochrome! For this shot I used the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f/4 lens which is an amazingly tiny yet sharp lens! This image simply takes my breath away with it sharpness, tonality and the way it draws the viewer into the image. This is one of my planned images for a Platinum/Palladium print in a few weeks!
This camera is going to be the cornerstone of a old (new for me) printing process where I will be making LARGE contact negatives on an Epson 7900 printer to use in the making of chemical based Platinum/Palladium metallic prints exposed with a high intensity UV lamp set and chemically developed. All of the images are B&W so the high resolution images generated with the Monochrome will work perfectly with this printing process.
When used with a high quality ND filter set from B+W the most amazing Long Exposures are possible and this camera simply delivers!
The set of ND filters that I keep in my kit for in sizes for each of my Leica lenses from B+W are:
Here is an example taken on the Outer Banks of North Carolina prior to sunrise with 6 stops of ND filter and a 250 second exposure! I used the 50mm Summilux ASPH lens for this image. Look at the tones and graduations of the grays. Simply amazing…
Another example is this image of the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse taken about a month ago at sunrise. The detail in the clouds and water prove the ultra wide dynamic range that this camera is capable of!
For people, I have been coupling the M Monochrome with the Leica SF 58 flash which is simply a pleasure to use and is fully integrated with the M electronics! The camera and flash are so well functionally balanced that it will blow your mind when you pick them up to shoot! Audio indications from the flash for performance and a dual flash head that allows a straight on light plus a bounced light!
As you can see from the image of Jordan, it is exceptionally well balanced and the tonality is perfect yet there is no overt indication of flash in use!
I have used a Sekonic DR750 spot meter along with special software and target to measure the dynamic range of this camera when shooting in RAW (DNG) and get 11 to 13 stops dependent upon the ISO setting being used. Who says that paying big dollars for a camera system doesn’t guarantee big performance!
The system simply amazes me…..
Normally you do not see much in the way of Long Exposure photography in the Infrared world. The reason is that it is necessary to use Neutral Density filters (ND) to cut down the amount of light reaching the sensor to enable very long shutter speeds. The infrared spectrum will reduce the the effective value of any ND filter that you attach to your lens from between 20% to 30%. Have you ever taken a photograph of a person wearing a pair of sunglasses in infrared and noticed that they are totally clear? This is the effect that I am talking about. The general rule is that the cheaper filters suffer much greater loss in infrared and the variable ND filters do not work well at all (yes, even the expensive Singh Ray).
Should you desire to pursue this style of photography I strongly suggest that you purchase and use B+W ND filters which loose around 20%. I am also told that Lee filters do not loose too much effect as well but I have not yet tested them even though I own them all.
The B+W ND filters display the ND values on the side of the ring, but the easiest way to understand them is to simply look at the 3 digit number.
I am using the Fuji X100s for the images in this post. It is a 16 mpix camera that is a rangefinder styled system. I includes an internal, drop down 3 stop nd filter that actually gives about 2 stops of reduction when used in the infrared spectrum. I had the camera recently converted via Kolari Vision, http://www.kolarivision.com to what they call the Dual Spectrum conversion. This is where the internal UV/IR blocking filter is removed and a strong UV filter is put in its place. This gives you the same capabilities as any Full Spectrum conversion except that it will not work with any IR or UV filter that combines multiple spectrums that include UV. This means that the 047b in camera Faux Color or Super Blue filter and the UG1 UV/IR dual band filter will Not work. All of the others work fine from 590nm up!
Plus you can convert the camera back to normal visible color with the addition of a filter on the lens to block UV and IR. With the Full Spectrum filter you need to stack the B+W 486 reflective UV/IR blocking filter with the LDP http://maxmax.com CC1 absorption filter. With the Dual Spectrum conversion you need only add the B+W 486!
So, I have ALL of the normal IR filters sized for 49mm which is what the X100s uses including the B+W 486. I am using the B+W 093 820nm IR filter for this camera almost 100% of the time though.
Another nice thing about the X100s is the fact that it has aperture priority mode with a shutter speed up to 30 seconds and a BULB MODE that goes up to 60 minutes! Where the X100 really excels is the fact that is gives a count up timer in the viewfinder or on the back LCD panel for timing your bulb exposure!
The camera is so small and easy to handle that it is a pleasure to work with and as you can see, the images are stunningly sharp!
I will be posting more long exposure images here in the future and discussing the various post processing recipes with you. Now, one last image. Here is the same shot with only the 3 stop internal filter engaged in the X100s. The shutter speed at ISO 200 and f/16 was 1/6 second. Not nearly long enough to slow the water down or blur the cloud movement but it would likely work for slowing down the moving water in waterfalls!
If any of you all out there shooting in Infrared work in long exposures please drop me a line or comment and we can share data about the various ND failures and successes!
Infrared photography with digital camera systems have been around for several years now and a lot of photographers have embraced this different spectrum of photography. Infrared is wildly popular in photography and fine art galleries now and my workshops are full of lots of talented photographers who desire to learn or expand their infrared skills.
The typical starting point for most infrared shooters is 720nm (standard) or 590nm (Goldie) IR conversions. We have all seen the amazing color images that these two conversions can generate. As previously discussed, we always process not only in Faux Color, but for B&W also. The B&W images are usually more accepted among the arts community though.
But did you know that with each increase in the IR Nano Meter band (the frequency goes down as the number goes up) that the contrast levels go up in B&W as well? This increase in the NM band starts to generate the most stunning, contrasty, ethereal images that have to be seen to be believed! The higher you go in the NM range also increases the white “glow” around the leaves and grass and the blue sky takes on a deep black. This effect is named the “Wood Effect” after doctor Robert Wood who discovered it 1910. What happens is that the leaves get a bloom or glow of white around them that generate that wonderful ethereal feel in the image. Take a look at image 1 which was taken at 830nm. Do you see the dark black where the blue sky is? Look at the leaves on the trees and how they take on the pure bright whites! Now compare that to 720nm image above in Image 2. The most striking difference is the gray sky rather than black, plus the leaves are grayer rather than white.
I would like to suggest that if you shoot in IR or are interested in doing so then you should consider a deep contrast IR conversion beyond 800nm. There are a lot of benefits to be found in that spectrum. This new spectrum sees ONLY in B&W, which will force you to visualize your scene in B&W.
The benefits to a Deep B&W IR conversion are:
There are several ways to have a camera converted to deep B&W above 800nm.
With either the full or dual conversions you can shoot every of the following light spectrums:
* Requires Live View capable camera
Now, Normal Visible Color simply means that your camera can take normal color images as it did from the factory! This means that you have a multi purpose camera that can take anything.
The only issue is that if you have a Full Spectrum conversion you need to stack a B+W 486 reflective IR/UV blocking filter on your lens with a LDP CC1 absorption filter to get back to good normal color.
For the Dual Spectrum conversion you only need to put the B+W 486 reflective IR/UV filter on your lens and it is back to normal color!
Disadvantages to the Full or Dual Spectrum Camera Conversion:
I have several cameras converted to above 800nm and several full spectrum and a new dual spectrum converted Fuji X100s. The images that I am getting from the Fuji with a B+W 093 830nm filter are the sharpest and most stunning deep IR images that I have ever produced! But that doesn’t mean that you need to go out and purchase that one. Any camera with live view will work great with the 830nm spectrum. Keep in mind though, that the more modern your camera is the higher the usable ISO will be!
You can contact Mark at his web site at http://www.MarkHilliardAtelier-blog.com for information on his Color & IR workshops, which he teaches with Jamie Davidson, and for his IR Post Processing DVD Tutorials!
Oh my, I do NOT know where it came from but I got the BUG again for more film photography! I have a cabinet here in the Gallery just full of old film cameras plus a Leica M7 film body that works with ALL OF MY M MOUNT LENSES! (see the last post HERE for more info on the lenses). I decided to purchase a new stock of several films:
I picked up some stainless 2 roll developing tanks with a bunch of Hewes (don’t skimp on your reels, buy the best!) Stainless Steel 35mm Reels. For developing I like Rodinal One Shot due to its ease of use and a life span of around 40 years. I simply mix it one tank at a time usually at a 1:50 ratio with water using a small syringe. It allows a very wide latitude of contrast and iso control. I have used several other developers but I keep coming back to Rodinal!
Now, I am playing with several cameras. As I said my main and BEST camera is my Leica M7. But here is a current list of those cameras I am using:
The Petri 7S has been in my hands since 1962 and still shoots great ( I did send it off to have the light seals replaced and a new leather covering ). The Petri has no batteries but rather a solar cell around the lens that drives a needle exposure meter that you simply place into its center notch for a good image!
All of the cameras in my list above have proven reliable but with the Petri you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young!
The Olympus 35 RC is an amazing small rangefinder with very nice controls. It is smaller then the Petri 7s and actually has better control functionality. It does require a battery to run its metering system though which is a step down from the Petri 7S in my opinion. The nice thing other than the size is the fact that EVERYTHING is displayed inside of the viewfinder. Unlike a refurbished Petri 7S which can be found for around $100 used on Ebay, the Olympus 35 RC camera refurbished is demanding around $250! This is a big difference in price and tells you a lot about its quality and demand! I was lucky to find one from a collectors inventory that he sent off to be totally refurbished and re-skinned for much less than $200.00! For you film shooters out there on a budget this is the camera that I recommend if you find yourself desiring a rangefinder.
The Olympus XA was a 35mm rangefinder camera built by Olympus of Japan. It was one of the smallest rangefinder cameras ever made, together with the Contax T.
It was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani who had joined Olympus Optical Co Ltd in 1956. He was the chief camera designer and managing director of Olympus Optical Co Ltd., having developed a number of legendary cameras during his career. These included the Pen series, the OM series, the XA series, the IS series and the [mju:] series of cameras.
The original model, the XA, was sold from 1979 to 1985. The original XA features true rangefinder focusing, a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture prioritymetering. The lens was protected by a sliding dust cover.
This is the smallest 35mm rangefinder ever made. It will fit in the palm of my hand and will make a great system to have with me everywhere I go!
The Leica M7 uses batteries and sports a center weighted spot meter measured either off the film or off the shutter. I find that it meters very reliable. It is the top of the heap when it comes to 35mm film cameras. There are a lot of high end rangefinder cameras on the market but the Leica is the top. I really excels in the area of long exposures with either a count down timer in the viewfinder for images metered and controlled in the aperture priority mode or a count up timer for exposures done in the bulb mode. In bulb, it will count up to 16 min then stops counting for battery conservation, but will continue exposing until you release the remote shutter release. It will use NO battery power after the 16 min count up timer turns off until you release the shutter then it requires a pulse of electricity to close the shutter. NO other rangefinder can say this unless you use a pure mechanical camera like a Leica M2 which has no metering system at all.
The Leica M7 is surprisingly heavy but easy to handle. I keep reading about other high end rangefinder bodies out there but when you do the comparison of features I always come back to the M7.
All of my cameras are fun to use and reliable. With the Leica M7 you get the world class glass but with the Petri 7S you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young! The Olympus 35 RC is an advanced rangefinder from the 1970 era and is slick and fun to shoot. You will see examples from these cameras towards the end of this post!
I usually develop my negatives on Sundays. I have a film drying cabinet that I use to dry the film without dust spots overnight. I then will scan the negatives on Monday or Tuesday using a Nikon 4000 ED film scanner at 4000 dpi into the DNG format for editing and cleaning later in the week. I usually shoot 2 or 3 rolls a week.
My favorite film is Rollei IR400. This is available at the big camera stores like Digitaltruth, Freestyle and B&H. What makes this film so special is the fact that is very much like Kodak Tri-X 400 as shot. It has a VERY THIN film base which really makes scanning easy. BUT the most amazing thing about this film is that it is sensitive to INFRARED! If you place a Hoya R72 IR filter on the camera lens the film will record 720nm IR images! There is an ISO hit due to the filter being so dark down to 12 ISO but it is worth it being able to shoot in both normal B&W and IR B&W!
Next I like the Kodak Tri-X 400 film. It gives great contrasts and has a very wide latitude in development. It is well known and tested and for ultra long exposures.
Then comes Eastman Double X Cinema film. This is a GREAT B&W film that gives a very smooth gradation and lovely warm tonality with slightly increased contrasts. This is motion picture film so unless you are going to buy a 400 foot reel you will need to purchase it from the store at Film Photography Project. They will sell it in either 24 exposure rolls or a 100 foot bulk loader roll. It develops nicely in Rodinal at 1:60 for ISO 200 but there are ratios for 100 up to 800 ISO! This film is very much worth experimenting with.
I need to say a few words about the folks at Film Photography Project. They offer an amazing wide selection of films and old cameras! This includes Polaroid cameras and film also! Their Podcast is amazing and I find that it is so good that I now have it running all day while I am working at my gallery in Pawleys Island. Good Stuff, check them out here: Film Photography Project.
Whatever film you decide to use you will be pleased with the results. Processing is easy to do with a VERY small investment. You will need:
That is it. It normally takes me about an hour to develop 2 rolls. I will let them dry for several hours then cut them into strips of 6 and put them into plastic storage sheets.
For scanning, as I said above, I use a Nikon 4000ED film scanner. As you can guess from the name it will scan at 4000 dpi and has a lot of adapters for different types of film scan feeders. It has slide auto feeders, single slide feeders, a 6 position film rail for troublesome film and an automatic roll feeder to scan entire rolls automatically. If you couple this with VIEWSCAN software you have an amazing scanning system that rivals those that pro labs use!
Ok, lets take a look at the results of 3 types of film in 2 cameras!
I hope that you enjoyed this post and its associated images. I have been using film since I was 9 years old. At 13 I had my first darkroom at home. I worked in film in my own darkroom until I was 18 when that period of my life can to an end. 42 years later I re-engaged film photography again and cannot help but ask “Why did I wait so long?” I have been shooting digital since my career at Eastman Kodak when you could ONLY get B&W digital camera systems! I have spent fortunes on digital and have loved every moment of it. Film will NOT take any of that away, I still have digital and continue to use it. But I have to be honest and admit that working in film again fills me with a sense of peace that I have not experiences in a very long time….
Well, in a wild turn of events I have picked up some new camera equipment… This is a really no surprise as it is a sickness or rather addiction! But onward and upward!
I do have to tell you that I am REALLY excited over acquiring these new systems though. And unfortunately, one thing has let to another and thus a long journey has also been started into the realm of film again!
But first let me highlight the “What”!
As you can see in the top image, the newest body is the new Leica M240 24 full frame 24 mega pixel body. It also has a true “live view” which allows use of all sorts of other lenses like the Leica R series that you would NOT normally be able to focus. This means everything from long telephotos to true macro (subject of the next post!). After a few months of use I can tell you that this is the BEST digital system that I have ever used! Along with it I also picked up several lenses.
First, the main lens is the Leica M 50mm f/1.4 Summalux ASPH lens in silver. This is a HEAVY lens. If attacked by a bear I could use it to beat him half to death. The lens itself has turned into my main lens that I use 60% of the time. It has a built in leans hood and takes 46mm filters. The Bokah that this lens can generate is amazing beyond description. It is extremely smooth and easy to use and generates images that are truly amazing!
The next lens is the Leica M mount 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit ASPH. This is a TINY light lens that takes 39mm filters. These smaller filters sized considerably cut the cost of purchasing top of the line B+W filters. Since the M240 camera is a full frame sensor the 28mm really is 28mm! The lens is sharp beyond words and quick to focus. I am really please with this lens and use it for landscapes and lightning photography when mounted on my Fuji X-T1 camera.
The example image for this lens below is a texture overlay. The main image was an Infrared image taken by placing a R72 (720nm) infrared filter on the lens giving a white IR image of a palm leaf, then doing a texture overlay of colored flowers.
The next lens is the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 and its macro adapter with split image view. This is a very unique lens in that it collapses for storage. By itself it is a great 90mm lens and has proven useful for mid range subjects as well as for Infrared work with the addition of a R72 IR filter. When you add its macro adapter (extension tube coupled to a viewfinder modifier) it will then give you macro capabilities down to a 1:3 image ratio! Below is an example of a macro image shot with this lens last week at Moore Farms in Lake City .
Now, I already had my two Voigtlander M mount lenses that I was using with the Fuji systems, but they are M mount!
First is the Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens. This is an amazing lens that is very fast at f/1.8. The focus is smooth and long and it works very well with M mount extension tubes for true macro work (1:1 image ratio). I do have 3 of the 10mm extension tubes for it as well as a Canon 500D closeup lens. For my really small stuff this is my goto lens. It is a little long but has a very nice clam on lens hood. While it is NOT a Leica lens it is very close in terms of quality and ease and the f/1.8 aperture gives lovely bokah!
Here then is an example of a 1:1 life-size macro shot with it!
The last lens that I am going to talk about here is the Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical M Mount lens. Another heavy all metal lens with remarkable focus and DOF. Since it is so wide you can almost have a DOF from right in front of the lens out to infinity! Plus 12mm is really 12mm on the camera! Given that the camera is both full frame and has a live view you can see the power of using this lens and the ease of composition and focus!
In the example image below please notice the extreme range of the depth of field!
As you can see, all of the system components are extremely high quality and easy to use giving stunning results. I like to create Long Exposure and Infrared images as well so I thought that I would share some of them with you below.