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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Pasadena Museum of California Art - Brett Weston

There is a terrific exhibit of the work of Brett Weston at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. He is one of my all time favorite photographers who is vastly under appreciated in today's photography world.  

Born in 1911 he was the son of one of the most famous photographers ever, Edward Weston. Edward had 4 sons, Chandler, Brett, Neil, and Cole. While still in his teens Brett started to make a name for himself and his work was shown with his fathers and later in solo shows. There was no father and son rivalry, Edward respected his son and his work and they worked side by side for many years.  When Edward was diagnosed with Parkinson's in the late 40's Brett put aside his work and helped his father with printing his negatives. After the death of his father in 1958 Brett resumed his work.

Brett's work is very graphic in nature and quite beautiful to look at. It is such a shame that there have not been any books printed in the last 20 years showcasing his work. There are 42 prints in the exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of Art. They are contact prints and the detail in the work is incredible.  

Back in 1991 on the occasion of Brett's 80th birthday he gathered dozens of friends over to his home and did the unthinkable. He burned all of his negatives. He was upset that his family had been reprinting Edward's negatives for so many years and did not want the same fate for his work. He felt that only he should print his negatives. So into the fire they went. He continued photographing and when he was done printing each project he burned those negatives also. 

If you live anywhere in the Southern California area please go to the Pasadena Museum of California Art and see the work of Brett Weston. This is a rare opportunity to see some masterful black and white photography. 

The show runs thru September 11. 

 

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Color Management - X-rite ColorChecker Passport

Color management is so easy to control these days it is surprising that everybody is not utilizing monitor calibration and using a color checker.

Xrite ColorChecker Passport

Xrite ColorChecker Passport

Before digging into exposure and cold practices from my past, notice anything odd about the above photo. A Macbeth ColorChecker? That is an original 9 x 13 color calibration chart. Macbeth is no longer around, they are now part of X-rite. I have been utilizing a managed workflow a lot longer than computers have been around.

Exposure Box from 1981

Exposure Box from 1981

This is the very first image that I took at the start of my photography program. Yes the date says 1981. All assignments started with an image of the exposure box. This was a box in the far corner of one of the studios that had controlled daylight balanced illumination that had a grey card and a gray scale. This was to make sure that the camera light meter was calibrated and would show if you processed your film correctly. The school that I attended was geared towards turning out working photographers. Consistency in results is a sign of quality work.

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This is how we standardized the exposure of Black and White proof sheets. All proof sheets included a Kodak T14 exposure scale. When step 7 was neutral gray the proof sheet was properly exposed and it would show if the film was properly exposed and developed.

Florescent Lighting Test

Florescent Lighting Test

This image shows the process for the beginning of color management. This project was to show how to filter for florescent lights. There are many different bulbs that emit light at different color temperatures. This is all done automatically with todays digital cameras. It is only a problem these days when you have mixed lighting. Daylight and tungsten in the same scene is very common problem. Yes the slide is faded, but you get the idea.

Kodak Gray Card

Kodak Gray Card

Kodak grey cards had multiple purposes. Before matrix and multi-zone metering the use of grey cards was wide spread in professional photography. It was the surest way to get a correct exposure in difficult lighting situations. Another trick was to include a grey card in a photo to assist printing. Many of times I would have a grey card in the corner of a product shot on large format film. The card would be cropped out during printing.

Colormunki Display

Colormunki Display

I now have all of my screens calibrated with X-rite products. The are easy to use and are reliable. I remember back in the 90's using a control panel on my Mac to visually color balance my monitor. Technology marches on. One of the great features of the Colormunki is that it has an ambient light sensor that monitors lighting conditions and adjust your monitor accordingly. I carry a ColorChecker passport with me on all shoots so that when I get back I can profile my camera for best results. One of the best examples I have ever seen to justify the use of a monitor calibrator was when I was shooting official portraits for soldiers. On the uniforms soldiers wear awards that are various colors. When comparing a calibrated monitor verse an uncalibrated monitor the color of the awards would change. The red awards appeared pink. A calibrated monitor doesn't just remove a color cast, it renders individual colors properly. 

Add a calibrator to your workflow. It is not a calibrate once and never use it again. Monitors change as they age. Rental laptops need adjusting. Make your work look better on the web. The more you learn about exposure and color the better photographer you will become.

LACMA - Richard Serra and Japanese Exhibit

Just visited the LACMA (Los Angeles County of Modern Art) to see the Robert Mapplethorpe show that is the sister program to the show at the Getty Center. While there I stopped to look at the work by sculptor Richard Serra. I could look at his work for hours. His art is just mesmerizing.

Richard Serra

Richard Serra

Richard Serra

Richard Serra

Below are details in the Japanese pavilion. I saw the work of Daido Moriyama here some years ago when he gave a talk at LACMA.

Exhibit Detail

Exhibit Detail

Exhibit Detail

Exhibit Detail