Large Format Photography

How’s this for an example of the evolution of photography. On the left is an image taken with a Sinar 8 X 10 studio view camera and on the right is an iPhone 8.  

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I used to love shooting with my Sinar. I had an 8 X 10 model that also had a 4 X 5 back that I could switch to when shooting “small” format. With the 8 X 10 the standard lens was a 300mm and for the 4 X 5 I used 3 lenses, a 210mm short telephoto, 150mm normal, and a 90mm wide angle. The controls on a Sinar are so precise it is like using a medical device. Photographing with a view camera makes you use different switches and gears in your head. The image is upside down and reversed and you hold a dark cloth over your head to see the image and focus. A small lupe is held up to the ground glass for focusing. Quite different to the autofocus cameras of today. The sheets of film were loaded in complete darkness into the film holders. The film had notches that had to go into the correct corner to ensure the film was loaded properly. When I started in the studio we had hot lights so I had to deal with long exposures and I had to use gels to correct the lights to the film color balance. Later I switched to Broncolor studio lights which made life a lot easier. Shooting large format cameras in the studio is a lot of work. High end product work is difficult but can be creatively and financially rewarding. I do miss the old days of photography. I have so much knowledge from this era that has little use today. I would love to shoot or teach how to use Sinar cameras but there seems to be little demand for this kind of work. Not every aspect of film photography was the best especially when considering the cost, quality and time when compared with the digital workflow but I still miss those days. 

 

Tenba Tools Reload Battery Pouch

These days I'm carrying two Leica's on my travels. I shoot with a Leica M(240) and a Leica M10. Shooting with two cameras allows me to leave the 50mm on one camera and the 35mm on the other. I seem to have the wrong lens on all the time. Back in the days of film I used to shoot with a black M6 loaded with black and white film and a chrome M6 loaded with Kodachrome. Shooting with two cameras has always been my operating procedure. 

Tenba Reload Battery 2 Pouch

Tenba Reload Battery 2 Pouch

With digital the need for spare batteries is a must have. Unfortunately the Leica's take two different size batteries. Since the batteries always seem to migrate to the bottom of my bag and unless you check them close when changing batteries it is easy to try to put the wrong battery in a camera. I have found a battery pouch that solves my problem. It is called the Reload Battery Pouch by Tenba. I think they are designed for the standard size batteries that Nikon and Canon use but they are perfect for the M series Leica's. I have purchased two pouches and use one for the M(240) and one for the M10. The batteries fit perfectly. The are made of nylon and have velcro on the front to keep the cover closed. On the back there is a velcro strap to attach the pouch to a belt or the camera bag strap. There are also "D" rings for attaching to an optional lanyard. The Reload battery pouches come in single and double battery sizes. Nice and sturdy workmanship and they are only about $12 each so the don't break the bank. As I was searching for a case for my batteries I came across companies that made similar cases made out of leather. Kinda nice looking but no way was I going to pay $75 for leather. 

Tenba Reload Battery 2 Pouch

Tenba Reload Battery 2 Pouch

I have color coded the pouches for easier identification and that makes choosing the correct pouch when I want to travel light with just a camera and batteries easier. I highly recommend these little pouches. 

Tenba Reload Battery 2 Pouch

Tenba Reload Battery 2 Pouch

Ona Bag Review - Ona Brixton

Well I guess one Ona Bag just wasn't enough. After purchasing a Prince Street messenger bag and being completely satisfied I went looking for a reason to get another Ona Bag. Mission accomplished, I just picked up a Brixton Bag.

The Brixton by Ona Bags

The Brixton by Ona Bags

Ona's Brixton bag is a step up from their Prince Street that I already own and love. The leather Brixton comes in Antique Cognac, Black, and Dark Truffle. The standard colors are Smoke, Black, Field Tan, and Black Nylon. The specifications are below:

  • Exterior dimensions: 13.5"L X 10.5"H X 5"D
  • Interior dimensions: 13"L X 9"H X 5"D
  • Weight: 4.1 lbs
Ona Bags Brixton (back) and Ona Bags Prince Street (front)

Ona Bags Brixton (back) and Ona Bags Prince Street (front)

Brixton on left, Prince Street on the right

Brixton on left, Prince Street on the right

I have included photos of the Prince Street and the Brixton side by side to give you some idea of the size difference. The Brixton is just a little taller and wider. 

Brixton end pocket

Brixton end pocket

The end pocket on the Brixton is larger than on the Prince Street. Large enough for an iPhone 7, which fits comfortably in the pocket. 

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The back is as beautiful as the front. Notice the lump on the back flap, there is a magnet to keep the back closed. The carry handle is a loop that is attached to the center of the back. On the Prince Street it is a detachable strap that goes the length of the bag.

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Detail of the back.

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The bottom of the bag has lots of stitching for durability and is very well padded.

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You can put a lot of gear inside of the bag. Multiple cameras and lenses. There are also plenty of pockets for accessories.

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The computer section is designed for a 13" MacBook. It has padding all of the way around. This is my iPad Pro 9.7".

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Adjustable brass snaps to keep the cover secure. No plastic, only strong brass. They are easily operated with one hand.

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Brass receiver for the snap.

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Large front pockets for the extras. The are deep and really hold lots.

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Ear flaps to keep out the elements.

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The shoulder pad can be adjusted for fit. These take a little while to break in, then they mold to your shoulder.

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Just look at the room. Two bodies and four lenses and room for more.

Ona has done it again. A bag that can carry all of your gear but still has a small footprint. The leather Brixton sells for about $440. A little expensive but it is a fair price for a bag with this much room and plenty of padding. Highly recommended.

match Technical Beep Soft Touch Review

I always use a soft touch release when I shoot with digital or film Leica's. I like the feel and I find that slower shutter speeds are possible.

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Beep

BEEP-O-L Black

The BEEP is going to be attached to my Leica M10. Match Technical makes various sizes and styles of soft touch releases. The BEEP O model has a convex top that has a matt finish. The BOOP O has a concave top. They also come in threads that are long or short. The O in the name is for the O-ring that is attached just below the top. The O-ring compresses when you attach it to give a nice tight, secure fit. 

O-S: with short thread for Leica M-E, M9 Monochrom, M240, M246, M262

O-L: with long thread for the Leica M3, M4, M6, M7, M8, M9, M10

Beep 
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I really like the look and feel of the Beep. It has a nice soft touch and makes for a smooth release. They have other gizmos for Leica's that I should look in to. Highly Recomended.

 

Birding - Leica 8 x 42 Binoculars

Yes, I have interests other than photography. I also love to go Birding. My current list is 412 different species of birds. Not a large list by any means but even though my count is not that high I make up with enthusiasm. Birding can be a lonely adventure but is more fun with other enthusiasts. I have met some great people over the years when taking a break from staring up into trees. 

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I started Birding in my early teens with a pair of Bushnell 7 x 35 binoculars. They were kinda in focus in the center and the sharpness fell off quite a bit on the edges. They did the job and got me started on a path that I enjoy to this day. One thing that I have never done is take photos of the birds. I have always keep photography separate. Birds are so fascinating, I can watch their behavior for hours. Wherever I travel to for my photography I try to make some time to go Birding.  

I purchased a pair of Leica Trinovid 7 x 35 BA binoculars in the mid 80's as new old stock. They were great binoculars. The rubber armored finish makes them rugged but they are small and light so that they are easy to carry everywhere. I'm a big owl fan and it is with these that I have seen all of the owls on my life list. I have taken them to the beach, to marshes, country fields, deserts, and high up in the mountains.

Being an optical connoisseur the choice of Leica binoculars was an easy choice. Leica has been making binoculars since 1907, long before the introduction of their line of cameras. I have tried other peoples binoculars over the years, and yes some are very good, I have chosen to stay with my Leicas. 

About 10 years ago I decided to treat myself with a new pair of binoculars. I tried the big 3 and was happy with all of them but I decided to stay with Leica's. Something about their glass that just speaks to me. I also like the finish on the new models. My old Trinovids were getting slick from years of wear. I chose the Leica 8 x 42 Ultravid model. Leica binoculars are an investment that lasts a lifetime and I plan on passing mine on down to my daughter.  

Leica 8 x 42 Ultravid and 7 x 35 Trinovid

Leica 8 x 42 Ultravid and 7 x 35 Trinovid

Maybe someday I will teach a birding workshop. I love talking about Birding and with my photography background there would be some great possibilities for an educational and fun time. 

Photo Stamps

The Postal Services is always issuing commemorative and. special edition stamps. Back in 2002 the United States Postal Service introduced some stamps that had some appeal to photographers. It was called the Masters of American Photography.

Stamps honoring Photographers

Stamps honoring Photographers

The photographers are mostly Documentary and Fine Art photographers. Included are the following: Albert Southworth and Josiah Hawes, Timothy O'Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, Gertrude Kasebier, Lewis Hine, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Edward Weston, James VanDerZee, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, W. Eugene Smith, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Andre Kertesz, Garry Winogrand, and Minor White.

Pretty impressive list. Although he is not American I would have include Robert Frank because of his work "The Americans".

Chris Killip's 'In Flagrante' At the Getty Museum

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Now Then: Chris Killip and the Making of In Flagrante

May 23–August 13, 2017

GETTY CENTER, LOS ANGLES, CALIFORNIA

 

Although there is no connection to Leica's the exhibit of Chris Killips work at the Getty is a must see. It is some excellent documentary work of England in the early 1980's.Much of the work was done with a large format camera which is quite an achievement. Lots of strong composition and a viewpoint that tells a story. Both qualities sadly missing in much of todays photography. 

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This image is so strong, nothing extra and nothing missing.

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Graphic but actually says something. So many photographers today find the graphic in an image and stop there. You have to have something to say.

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Perfect image. Subject looking off the image and horse mimicking the gesture in the opposite direction.

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Classic image. I just admire how Killip built this image in layers.

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You can just feel the cold and the solitude.

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Get into the action. So often the image is taken from behind the spectators.

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If you really want to learn photography looking at proof sheets is one of the best teachers you can get. Seeing how a photographer works a scene and later edits the images is pure gold. Seeing the misses next to the final image is so educational.

Leica M6 Disassembly

Is your Leica M6 giving you problems. Here's the Leica M6 repair manual.  

 

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I acquired a whole set of Leica repair manuals on microfiche about 25 years ago when a camera repair shop went out of business. I also have the manuals for a M4-2, M4-P, MD-2, Leica M lenses, R3 MOT, R4, R lenses, Trinovid Binoculars, and the US Army technical repair manual for the M3. 

Speaking of the Army version of the M3, I was actually issued a body and the 35mm and 50mm lenses to use as a backup for my Nikon system. The body was called a Leica KE-7A. I used it for a couple of years until we turned all of our film cameras in to go digital. That was in 1995. 

Nikon 100 Anniversary - Nikon Professional Services

I had a small but bulky package appear in my mail box the other day. The return address was Nikon Professional Services. To small for my free Nikon D5. Maybe tomorrow. Once I got it opened I discovered my Nikon 100th Anniversary gift inside. 

I have been a NPS member for about twenty years. Whenever a new top of the line pro body is introduced Nikon sends out promo packets. I still have mine from the introduction of the F6. I have only used the services that NPS offers a few times but when the need arises it's nice to know that Nikon will take care of me quickly and professionally. 

So I must say I was surprised when out slid my gifts. Nikon had sent me a nice NPS Anniversary pin and Notebook with attached Nikon NPS pen. The pin will go nicely with the 100th Anniversary pin set that they are releasing latter this year. The notebook is spiral bound with a Moleskine like band with silver embossing. Camera geeks will love the first couple of pages of the notebook because there are four pages of color photos of all of the SLR’s that Nikon has produced. From rangefinders to the current DSLR’s. The book then has about 100 pages for notes followed by a multi-year calendar. An elastic band keeps the pen in place. 

Nikon 100 Anniversary

Nikon 100 Anniversary

Nikon 100 Anniversary

Nikon 100 Anniversary

Nikon 100 Anniversary Pin

Nikon 100 Anniversary Pin

Aquarium of the Pacific - Leica Noctilux

I recently felt like doing a tourist day so we decided to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It is a well done attraction with lots to see and numerous interactive exhibits. I hadn't shot with my Noctilux in a little while so I switched lenses to try my luck. What a mistake that was. It was difficult photographing the fish as they swam around with a 1.0 aperture. It was simple with my iPhone but I was up for a challenge. After taking some shots of the little fish and not being happy with the results I settled on shooting Jellyfish. Shooting at the minimum focus distance so there was basically no depth of field. I tried Live view with my Leica M (240) as well using the rangefinder. Moving the camera froward and back while looking through the rangefinder seemed to give the best results. I really earned those images, and must say that I liked how they turned out. Using the iPhone with it's 28mm lens and auto everything gives great results but shooting with my Leica gave me more of a sense of accomplishment.

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Leica M (240) with Noctilux 1.0

Sad day in the Photography World

Popular Photography magazine is stopping production.  

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I'm really sad to read that they are no longer publishing their magazine. Way back in the 70's I read every issue that came out. Before leaving to get my degree in photography I learned so much from every issue of Popular Photography. I started subscribing again a few years ago because it was so cheap and I enjoyed the nostalgia factor. Good bye old friend. 

My Photography Workstation

Here's my Photography Workstation

Photography Workstation

Photography Workstation

The most common question I get after what camera do you use is what is your computer setup. I have been a Mac user since 1986. At first I used a company owned Mac but it was used for graphics and page layout. I have personally owned Apples since 1999. When I went to work as a government contractor we used IBM clones for about a year and then switched to the Power Macintosh 8500. That was a long time ago. The government upgraded us. To various Mac’s over the years until the government IT department switched to PC’s about a year before I left. The Mac has been my choice for my personal computer all of these years. 

Currently my workstation is a 27 inch iMac. Lots of RAM and a terabyte hard drive, nothing fancy. After using whatever was on sale for my external drives I have standardized on G-Technology hard drives. I am pleased with their performance and reliability. I use them for backup and storage. I have a 8tb thunderbolt raid drive as my main working drive and two drives for redundant storage. A 4tb USB drive handles the Time Machine duties. 

I am on my 3rd Wacom tablet. The medium tablet is just right for my use. I am more comfortable with a tablet than a mouse. I use the pen even when I don't need pressure sensitivity. 

Since you can't be a photographer these days without also shooting video I have a nice set of audio monitors. They are Mackie HR-824 mkII speakers. I just love the sound from these speakers. The are so flat and clean sounding. The only other brand that I considered were Genelec speakers but they are quite a bit more expensive and I had used Mackies on a recording session and just fell in love with them. They are really sweet. 

Everyone has there little dorky product that they can't live without and mine is a product called a Page-Up. It is a small plastic piece that has a narrow slit in it for holding sheets of paper upright on your desk. They are great for referring to shot lists or editing notes while working. They are about $10 at Amazon. 

I am a big fan of X-Rite color calibrators and ColorChecker passport. I use mine all of the time and they are so easy to use. Get one now, the will make your work so much better. 

As far as software goes I use what pretty much what everyone else uses. I use Capture One Pro for image capture. Lightroom CC for organization and simple editing and Photoshop CC for serious edits. For video editing I use Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve for editing. Of course Protools for audio editing. 

For all of my writing needs I use Scrivener by Literature and Latte. It is just a perfect program. I use it both on my Mac and iPad and sync with Dropbox. I would like to be a writer just so I could use this program all day it is that nice. 

 

Final Word. 

Now just a comment on workstation placement. I see so many photos on the internet of people working with their monitor in front of a window. Please move your monitor now. Having that light coming from behind your monitor is terrible for color correction. Just a friendly piece of advice. 

Fujifilm Instax SP-2 Review

I recently picked up a Fujifilm Instax printer and I must admit it is a lot of fun. The photo below gives a sense of the size of the printer. It is advertised as a printer for smartphones but will accept jpg's from camera's that are wi-if enabled. 

 

Fujifilm mini 8, Fujifilm Instax SP-2, Fujifilm Instax film

Fujifilm mini 8, Fujifilm Instax SP-2, Fujifilm Instax film

The Fujifilm Instax is an instant film process that bucks the "digital has taken over storyline". Digital images are so perfect and clean looking that when comparing an Instax print to an image on an iPhone the nostalgia factor tanks over and the print is kind of view as artwork. I have shot so many Polaroid image in my life that I really didn't appreciate how instant can be such a compelling and unique art form. Now that it is such a big deal to shoot in an analogue fashion the wonder of it all has returned. I especially recommend an Instax printer to anyone that has been raised only on digital photography because you get such a different feeling when viewing instant images. 

 

Fujifilm Instax SP-2

Fujifilm Instax SP-2

The printer is small and lightweight so that it can be carried in your camera bag while out taking photos. There are two trains of thought on using this printer. On one side it is convient to sit down at home after a shooting session and print your favorites. The alternate argument is take the printer with you when shooting and stop and print images as you go. I prefer the latter. I seem to feel more in the moment if i stop and contemplate my photos while shooting. The prints are great give gifts to give to the subject while shooting. On our trip to London in the 90's we took along a Polaroid Spectra and shot images as we traveled each day and when returning back to the room in the evening we displayed the prints around the room. That made the trip even more enjoyable and repeated this on each trip until Polaroid stopped making film. I am looking forward to having prints around our room on trips again. 

 

Instax SP-2 on/off and reprint buttons

Instax SP-2 on/off and reprint buttons

The printer creates a wifi network that uses Bluetooth to connect to the printer. Setup is drop dead simple. Remember to update the firmware when you first get the printer. This achieved with the Fujifilm Instax Share app available at the iTunes app store. This app is also how you send images to the printer. It acess's images through the Camera Roll so you can work on the images in you favorite iOS editor before printing. The images are low resolution but look great.

 

Instax SP-2 battery

Instax SP-2 battery

The SP-2 is the second version of the printer. The best change they made was making the battery rechargeable. The first version had a funky hard to find battery. It comes with a cable that you can just plug into your iPhone charger. Real convient. 

 

Instax SP-2

Instax SP-2

Loading film is as simple as opening the door and aligning the yellow marks on the print cartridge and the printer. Once loaded don't open the door or you will fog the next print. 

 

Instax Photos

Instax Photos

Instax photos have a nice "Polaroid" look to them. I personally prefer to shoot with my iPhone and send them to the printer than using a Fujifilm camera. I like to see the images before making a print. Less waste and I find that I use the camera more this way. It really is a nice product and if you have any interest in instant photography I recommend you get one. Fujifilm is really making some great products. 

William Eggleston : Portraits

William Eggleston, master photographer of nothing. I just received the book “William Eggleston: Portraits” that is currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Being a lifelong Eggleston fan I new I was going to appreciate the work but I will admit it is different than the usual work that we have come to expect from him.

The greatest hits that we have come to expect are here but the majority of the images are not familiar to even fans of William Eggleston’s work. Many of the early black and white images might not be even recognized as his work. The style is so different that one is forced to realize that Eggleston was not born with has signature style and that it was developed over time.

Once the work switches to color the work seems to achieve more depth and excitement. If the was ever a photographer who was destined for color photography it was William Eggleston. He has such a master of color work. He can slam you in the face with bright garish colors or tiptoe around the edge and use just splashes of color to decorate an image.

The work is very good but there are a few misses. This book would not be recommended as an introduction to Eggleston’s work. It is probably because limiting him to just portraits does not do justice to him because of the wide range of subject matter that is seen in his other books. Critics of Eggleston’s work are going to point to this book and say “See, much ado about nothing”. For better or worse every book that has his name on it is going to be compared to his majestic book “ William Eggleston’s Guide”. That is ok because that work has already been done, and good or bad, these images are going to be copied and inspire photographers for generations to come.

William Eggleston : Portraits

William Eggleston : Portraits

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