California Museum of Photography

I visited the California Museum of Photography in Riverside California this weekend to see two of its current exhibitions. On the main floor is a general overview on the state of Fine Art photography and on the lower level is an Andy Warhol photography exhibit.  

 

FB8D8673-6F93-4528-873E-2B292A668FD6.JPG

The Warhol exhibit was a selection of Polaroids that had been taken for paid commissions. These Polaroids were the basis for some of his screen art that was so popular in the 1960-1980 period. This work has been popular and has been quite influential in the art world since he produced this work at his New York studio. It has been copied by numerous artists since.  

The aspect of his work that I hadn’t read much about was his commissioned work. An info card said that he charged $40,000 for a screened portrait. He would take piles of photos and then select the image to be worked on later after the client left. He averaged from 50-100 of this projects a year. Not bad work if you can get it.  

A104C151-2A0F-45AD-9EE7-780217231451.JPG
CF949CDD-CBCF-42DD-AC57-D67BEA05E3C6.JPG
99E5C612-205B-4C51-8005-0FD96363DB6B.JPG

Warhol used a SX-70 and Bigshot Polaroid camera’s. I enjoyed one of the quotes by Warhol printed above the images.  

All photography is Pop, and all photographers are crazy.... they feel guilty since they don’t have to do very much - just push a button. Andy Warhol

 

45459D14-283C-4735-BE39-365D50FCF5CE.JPG

Upstairs at the museum they have a collection of old cameras and vintage prints. Here is the Leica I that is in the collection.  

These are the current exhibits.  

 Andy Warhol

An Instant Sketch

California Museum of Photography

December 8, 2018 - May 26, 2019

 

In the Sunshine of Neglect

Defining Photographs And Radical Experiments in Inland Southern California, 1950 To The Present

California Museum of Photography

January 19 - April 28, 2019

 

Mirror Mirror

California Museum of Photography

February 9 - May 12, 2019

Leica Q2 Introduction

I was invited to introduction of the Leica Q2 and I choose to attend the one at the Las Vegas Leica Store. First off it was a good time enjoyed by all. 

The store gave out gift bags for those who were invited. Always nice to get Leica goodies. The highlights were a red dot camera hat, a Leica logo water bottle and a premium lens cleaning cloth. Very nice.  

IMG_0630.JPG

I will have a separate post about my impressions of the Leica Q2 coming soon.  

Museum Leica Book

If your a big Leica fan the Leica Museum book by Lars Netopil is a must have addition to your library.

This set of books is different than most Leica reference books. It tells the history of Leica through photos of their cameras and is light on technical information. That is both good and bad. The quality of the photos are much better than most camera history books. And then there is the sheer volume of them. The Leica Museum book would make a great coffee table book. Great to pick up from time to time just to browse.  

This set of books is different than most Leica reference books. It tells the history of Leica through photos of their cameras and is light on technical information. That is both good and bad. The quality of the photos are much better than most camera history books. And then there is the sheer volume of them. The Leica Museum book would make a great coffee table book. Great to pick up from time to time just to browse.  

museumbook-2.jpg
It’s nice that the books go beyond just a photo or two for each model. There are also lots of rare models and prototypes. These I find of particular interest. I enjoy seeing how designers go through various design choices to end with the models that we end up buying.  

It’s nice that the books go beyond just a photo or two for each model. There are also lots of rare models and prototypes. These I find of particular interest. I enjoy seeing how designers go through various design choices to end with the models that we end up buying.  

From the authors site.      The new Factory Museum at Leitz Park - including items from the Rolf Fricke Collection by Lars Netopil.     Lars Netopil has compiled an exhaustive volume to illustrate what future visitors to the Leica Museum can look forward to discovering. The Leica expert and historian, who also owns a Leica Store for vintage and contemporary cameras in Wetzlar’s Old Town, has published several books within his field in the past. For this endeavour, his well-established team has documented the treasures to be displayed at Leica’s factory museum. The book was designed by David Pitzer, the over 600, mostly large-format photographs were created by Wolfgang Sauer.   In 36 chapters, the essential exhibits from the inventory of the new Leica Factory Museum are described - from the UR-Leica to the red anodized Leica.    - 672 pages with over 600 large size colour images  - Text fully bi-lingual (english/german)  - 21x30 cm, 2 sub-volumes in one slipcase, hardcover in cloth with dust-jacket

From the authors site.  

 The new Factory Museum at Leitz Park - including items from the Rolf Fricke Collection by Lars Netopil.


Lars Netopil has compiled an exhaustive volume to illustrate what future visitors to the Leica Museum can look forward to discovering. The Leica expert and historian, who also owns a Leica Store for vintage and contemporary cameras in Wetzlar’s Old Town, has published several books within his field in the past. For this endeavour, his well-established team has documented the treasures to be displayed at Leica’s factory museum. The book was designed by David Pitzer, the over 600, mostly large-format photographs were created by Wolfgang Sauer.

In 36 chapters, the essential exhibits from the inventory of the new Leica Factory Museum are described - from the UR-Leica to the red anodized Leica.

- 672 pages with over 600 large size colour images

- Text fully bi-lingual (english/german)

- 21x30 cm, 2 sub-volumes in one slipcase, hardcover in cloth with dust-jacket

museumbook-5.jpg
museumbook-6.jpg
museumbook-7.jpg

There are only 2 negatives that I have to say about the books. First, from a commercial photographers view I wish the shadows had been filled in. Sometimes the light falls off to abruptly. Second, there are a lot of white marks on the pages from paper dust in the printing process. But don’t let these flaws keep you away from these 2 books. There is a lot of information packed into these 2 volumes.  

Leica LFI Magazine- 2.2019

FullSizeRender.jpg

The latest issue of the LFI magazine has arrived. I always look forward to each issue. 

I subscribe to three photography magazines. The Leica LFI which I have subscribed to for over 30 years. APERTURE magazine which comes and goes depending on how I am feeling about the latest issue. And LENSWORK, which I like because it just does portfolios and no equipment news. 

In the pre-internet days the LFI magazine was the only venue for Leica news and reports. The rest of the mainstream magazines ignored Leica products. They only time they were mentioned was when a new camera or lens was introduced and that seemed like it only happened during solar eclipses. 

I enjoy looking at the old magazines from time to time. Before digital there were just 2 lines of cameras. The “R” line which was the SLR. And the “M” line which are the rangefinders. I always kinda felt like the “R” line was treated like a second class citizen. The reporting was more specification based, not opinion based like today. Nowadays camera reviews are more like reading the opinion page of a newspaper and less like just the facts on the front page. 

Limited Edition Leica M Lenses

Leica has released 3 limited edition lenses based on current production models. They are the 28mm 5.6 Summaron in black paint, the 28mm 1.4 Summilux in silver finish and the 50mm 2.0 APO with the scalloped focusing ring. 

 

IMG_0621.JPG

Info from the press release is below followed by comments.  

 SUMMARON-M 28 F/5.6, MATTE BLACK PAINT

Available February 28, 2019

The Leica Summaron-M 28 mm f/5., matte black paint bolsters the range of classic Leica lenses with a new and exclusive color option, making for a stealthier variant of such an iconic lens with vintage aesthetic signature.Limited to 500 lenses worldwide

SUMMILUX-M 28 F/1.4 ASPH., SILVER ANODIZED

Available February 28, 2019

For the first time, the Summilux-M 28 mm f/1.4 ASPH. wide-angle lens is available in a silver anodized version. Owners of M-System cameras and lenses in silver now have another matching high-performance lens for their systems in one of the most versatile and fast wide-angles of the Leica portfolio. Limited to only 300 worldwide

APO-SUMMICRON-M 50 F/2 ASPH., BLACK CHROME

Available February 21, 2019

Reminiscent of the vintage Summicron 50 mm f/2 (II) from 1956, the APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH., black chrome features a scalloped focusing ring with barrel components machined from brass. This special lens has engravings for the focal length and distances measured in feet with red enamel paint, meticulously applied by hand. Limited to 700 lenses worldwide

 

If you have gone through the reviews on this site you may have noticed that I own the Silver Chrome version of the 28mm 5.6 Summaron. I am very happy with the results that I have been getting with this lens and really enjoy the retro look. It is small and light and takes up practically no room in my bag. I am considering picking up the black paint version just so that I can own both copies. 

Jürgen Schadeberg Leica Hall of Fame

Leica has announced that Jürgen Schadeberg is the newest member of the Leica Hall of Fame. He is know mostly for his work in South Africa during the apartheid era. His most famous photo is of Nelson Mandela in his former prison cell in 1994. Here is the beginning of his biography from his web site:

Jurgen Schadeberg was born in Berlin in 1931 and, while still in his teens, worked as an apprentice photographer for a German Press Agency in Hamburg. In 1950 he emigrated to South Africa and became Chief Photographer, Picture Editor and Art Director on Drum Magazine.

It was during this time that Jurgen photographed pivotal moments in the lives of South Africans in the fifties. These photographs represent the life and struggle of South Africans during Apartheid and include important figures in South Africa’s history such as Nelson Mandela, Moroka, Walter Sisulu, Yusuf Dadoo, Huddleston and many others who have been documented at key moments such as during The Defiance Campaign of 1952, The Treason Trial of 1958, The Sophiatown Removals and the Sharpeville Funeral in 1960.

The life that this man has lived is difficult for most of us to relate to. He was not just a photographer he was a social activist that put his life on the line for others many times in his career. This award is for a man that the term “Photographer” just doesn’t do justice for. He stood up and made a difference.  

We live in an age when people are given the title “ A Great Photographer” because they have X number of Instagram followers. Jürgen Schadeberg is not just a great Leica Photographer, he is a great man. Congratulations for a well deserved lifetime award.  

Leica Q2 is coming

FullSizeRender.jpg

Spy photo of the Leica Q2.  

Come on, have a sense of humor.  

What has to be the worst kept secret in the Leica world these days is the pending introduction of the Leica Q2. Although there is not much that needs to be changed cameras are updated from time to time because that is how the companies make money. A friend of mine that has owned a camera store in Los Angeles for close to forty years told me that most of the sales of a new model are in the first 90 days of a camera’s release. It is in a companies interest to get some hype around the release of a new model.  

The Leica Q has been a very successful model for Leica. Salesmen and the manufacturer representative have both told me how the “Q” has been a big surprise for the company. When it was introduced many pundits were down on the camera because of the choice of a 28mm lens. Turns out that was a good decision on the part of the company. When purchasing the “Q” you are buying a high quality 28mm f 1.7 lens and getting the body as an added bonus. The camera appeals to both first time Leica users and to current users that would like to have an autofocus second body. 

The Leica Q2 looks to be the same as the current camera with the addition of a higher megapixel sensor and waterproofing. Talk is that the sensor fill be in the 45-50 MB range. The crop settings for the camera will be at 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm in addition to the native 28mm lens. 75mm is a nice addition but not a desperate need to the camera. My concern is that a lot bigger files will need a lot more hard drive space for storage. Those will be big files for the occasional 75mm crop factor. 

I have gone to the Leica Store twice with the intention of buying the Leica Q. Both times I changed my mind because of the fixed 28mm lens. I really like the concept of the camera and it has an exceptional build quality. It feels like a real Leica. But I’m a 50mm guy at heart and I don’t feel comfortable going out with just that focal length. I own the 28mm Summaron 5.6 lens and I enjoy shooting with it but it has a specific look that is not what I want for all of my images. 

I’m sure the Leica Q2 will be a success and I will recommend the camera, it’s just not for me.  

Leica Lens Repair - Over 6 Months

IMG_0601.JPG

I usually have nothing but good things to say about my Leica experience but I must admit I’m disappointed with Leica this time. This is not the first time that I’ve sent a product to Leica for repair. Usually it takes a little longer than normal but I don’t mind because Leica is a small company and I’m paying a premium to get it done correctly. 

But this time has gotten to be too much. I sent my 35mm Summicron from the pre-digital days to be converted to 6-bit so that the lens info would be written in the data stored in the files. There is nothing wrong with the lens, I just wanted the lens mounted updated to 6-bit. I was quoted 3 months for estimate and repair at the Leica Store. It took almost 2 months just for the estimate. I am almost at 6 and 1/2 months so I called and they are going to try to get it back in about a week.  

Leica, if you can hear me, you must do a better job at repairs. Leica Rumors even recently posted that repairs is one of the areas that the company needs to improve. It makes it hard to do work with a tool when the manufacturer takes over 6 months to do a simple repair. This has been a long time without my favorite wide-angle lens. I am a Nikon Professional Services member and they do make repairs a priority for working professionals. Leica please bring back your program for professional photographers.

 

UPDATE 

After 203 days my lens has been returned.  

Connecting Atomos Ninja V to DJI Ronin-S

The use of hybrid cameras for shooting video has been mainstream for a number of years. It seems like employers of still photographers are expecting them to shoot video as well as stills. Handheld gimbals are getting as common as camera bags in a photographers toolkit. One of the most popular is the DJI Ronin-S gimbal. 

arm.jpg

The Ronin-S is great but is missing the ability to use a monitor such as the Atomos Ninja V monitor-recorder that is so popular these days. The Ninja V is great to work with and it makes it so much easier to shoot and edit videos.  

I have been aware of a company called SmallRig that makes cages and accessories for mostly Dslr’s and Mirrorless cameras. My understanding is that they make top quality products. I came across a YouTube video on how to attach a different brand monitor to the DJI gimbal so I ordered the parts for my setup.  

The three parts that are needed are as follows: Smallrig Mounting Plate for Ronin-S #2214, Smallrig DSLR Monitor Holder with Nato Clamp #2100, and Smallrig ENF Mount with Nato Rail #2113.  

arm-5.jpg

The first step is to remove the accessory cover plate of the Ronin-S with the supplied hex tool. Attach the Mount Holder with the attached screws. Attach the Monitor Holder Mount to the Holder. Then attach the ENF Monitor Mount to the Ninja V. Slide this attachment onto the attached arm and adjust for the proper viewing angle. It takes longer to describe than to do the work.  

arm-4.jpg

Now you just attach a HDMI cable to the port on the camera and the monitor and your in business. The setup is a little heavy after long use but the quality of the work that can be achieved is well worth the trouble. This level of filmmaking was only achievable by the big movie studios just a few years ago.  

arm-3.jpg

The little gadgets are really the things that make life so much easier. The SmallRig accessories are made with an attention to detail that I really appreciate. I plan on looking forward to getting one of their camera cages for my LUMIX GH-5 and tricking it out with some of the attachments that are available.  

arm-2.jpg

After the Golden Hour - Leica M10

IMG_0317.JPG

Just because the Golden Hour is over doesn’t mean it’s ok to pack up your equipment and go grab a slice of pizza. Yes the hour before sunset can give you beautiful light, everybody knows that. But stick it out for a little longer, the glow in the sky combined with the last ambient light of the day can match up to give some wonderful light.  

This is also when those fast lenses that are so expensive start to pay off. That faster aperture allows faster shutter speeds and also captures more of the light spilling from various sources that cannot be planned on, they just happen. Also remember to watch your ISO so that you get just that right combination of image quality but not to much grain. The auto ISO setting can be vary helpful.  

These showers are always placed just between the beach and the parking areas so they are usually good areas to try at the end of the day. This particular beach has two sets of showers located a short distance from each other so I was walking back and forth and shooting based on the number of people and by the rapidly changing lighting conditions. I find people cleaning their hair and feet make the best images.  

There seems to be an ongoing discussion in all forums about using UV filters on lenses. Some say why degrade that expensive lens with a filter and others say protect that expensive lens with a filter. No matter what your preference on the issue is I recommend always using a protection filter at the beach. Salt water spray is very corrosive to camera lenses and bodies so I see no reason to take chances. Even if your not right at the waters edge that spray can go a long way if the wind is blowing. I remember a camera repairman showing me a camera that was not functional because of one grain of sand. It was hard to believe but it was literally one grain of sand.  

Remember, bad light can be good light.  

Ralph Gibson - Self-Exposure and The Black Trilogy

Ralph Gibson books

Ralph Gibson books

Ralph Gibson has written an autobiography, Self-Exposure, and I couldn’t be happier. I have been a fan of his work for over 35 years so when I found this title on Amazon a few months ago it went straight to pre-order. I received my copy on November 20, the day of release, and read it the same day. 

Ralph Gibson has been a photographer since the early sixties after a brief stint in the Navy. Early on he started on the road to be a Magnum member but wisely chose not to go the route of a journalist and started a career as a fine-art photographer. His first book “The Somnambulist “ was a great hit and he was on his way. Not only is he a great artist but he has been a successful and influential book publisher as well. 

Self-Exposure tells his life story in a candid way. He goes into detail about his early years and reveals a mixture of good times and a fare amount of sad episodes. Once out of the early years the book travels through his life touching on the living of an artists life. If a man is judged by his friends than Ralph must be a remarable person. Over half of the book is dedicated to talking about the people that have been in his life. Since Ralph has spent so much of his life running workshops and mentoring photographers it is only natural that there are many chapters about the technique of photography. 

Except for when he talks about the early years most of the chapters are quite brief. From a few pages to just a few paragraphs. Another thing that is unique about the book is there are a lot of photographs. That is to be expected from a photographers biography but they are scattered every few pages in the book. Not just a few in the middle. If you are new to the work of Ralph Gibson you will have a real sense of the man after reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.  

Images from Self-Exposure by Ralph Gibson

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

 

The Black Trilogy 

The second book that I’m reviewing here really is a companion to his biography. The Black Trilogy is a reissue of the early work of Ralph Gibson. It includes the work of three of his most influential books. They were, The Somnambulist, Deja-Vu, and Days at Sea. Ralph has shot with Leica’s since he started to get serious about his work and these images are prototypical Leica work. This is what you strive for your work to look like when a Leica camera is held in the hand. The images are not just beautiful to look at but a whole photography program could be built around the study of these images. The compositions are just so strong. The way that he moves close to his subjects and frames so precisely really shows a master at work. Just study how he selects his vantage point for an image. Just a little higher or lower, and the image would not be as strong. His use of framing devices is so clever and sophisticated. He also shoots often in the vertical format. Why don’t we take more verticals? He has said that 75% of the images in the first book came to him on just one weekend of shooting. That is amazing. But just as amazing is that he has also stated that it took him 3 more years to get the last 12 images for the book. 

One thing I do to judge the strength of images is to look through a book upside down. I learned this from many years of working with large format cameras where the image is projected on the ground glass upside down. You really see if the composition works this way. The images in The Black Trilogy pass the test with flying colors. His compositions are just so strong. The book is a master class in composition. Another aspect of his work is the way that he uses the film grain as an element of expression. The grain adds so much to the images. In today’s digital world with all of the sterile images that today’s cameras produce, his use of grain is almost shocking. The use of grain is also one of the signatures of his style. Another thing that makes his books so good is that he is so good at sequencing his images. He just takes this to another level. Not only are the images strong, but they work together to tell a story. Open his books anywhere and compare the image to the previous image, then compare it to the next, then the next. The flow is so seamless. He makes his images combine to make an even stronger experience than just looking at single images on the wall. The books themselves are works of art.  

Images from The Black Trilogy by Ralph Gibson

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg