Alternative scanning

My setting to use something different than a dedicated film negative scanner. I used as shown a trip, my Nikon D800 and a light table.

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After photographing the images I import them into Lightroom where I made a preset for an inverted curve. The only thing to be aware of is that all sliders are moving mirrored to the normal adjustments. I just had as a trial the HP ISO 400 film taken with Leica M2 and 40sm lens at f8 zone focusing.

New horizons ahead

 

My life can be characterised by international moves. While I won't even begin to pretend this is not awesome, the starting time in a new country can be disorienting at best, sometimes completely depressing at worse. This autumn it seems I am facing another international move and I’m already thinking what to do in advance before without jumping off a ledge afterwards.

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As a photographer you might get trapped in a rut and need a push to excel in another or even in your already explored field. Be it professional or amateur, the need to get equipped with new ideas to nurture your photography is a quintessential prerequisite that demands always your attention. To move to a different country is already a good tip to overcome ruts in a certain way.

To move can be fun or you can make it so. Here some ideas I have about that:

I always pick some items and take them with me — no matter where I’ll go to live - don’t wonder it will be my cameras. No matter where I am living these objects live with me and remind me that this will be my new home.

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As soon as I know where I’ll be going to I will sign up for a language class. If I already speak the language I join a photography club. Language classes are helpful because you'll not only develop ever-so-important linguistic skills, you'll also have a chance to meet other new arrivals — people who are probably just as desperate for company as yourself.

Coming to a new place I try as fast as possible to figure out where the locals buy their groceries and go there as well. This saves me tons of money and make me feel so much more at home. 

Next thing I get a mobile phone. It might seem to be a little weird, but the sooner I got a local number the better. For one thing, it makes it much easier to make friends.

Still at my old place I know that as soon as I know where I’m going, I’ll pick up something precious and hurl it out the window. Just kidding. But it might get you into the right attitude for what comes next - it certainly would be the right move.

I will divide my belongings into "Stuff I Want to Bring Bring" and "Stuff I Can Sell," and may be "everything else " I'll invite friends to take whatever they want. Oh no that’s the wrong attitude. In reality I’ll offer the “Stuff I can sell” at reasonable prices. Keep your eye out there is something ahead!

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I hope to get official written notice soon but as I already got a phone call it seems you might find me sooner or later in this new and exciting country 


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Horrible traffic dreams in black and white

There are often articles on the net about the fact that gear don’t make you a good or better photographer but your vision and your ideas how to use the gear. And they are right. But gear – especially your choice of lens combined with a camera body and other equipment rules what you can or can’t do. In the long run your own given constraints should work in your favour and make you a better photographer. I like to use and mix old and new gear as much as possible but used lately mostly one of my Sony Alpha series cameras mostly with old lenses. Especially in street photography there are only so much you can change in a spur. You have to be fast adjusting your settings in manual (there is mostly no autofocus or auto aperture possible with the Sony, adaptor and old lens setting) before the target goes away. 

 

With the new Sony I can quite comfortably chooses aperture, ISO and as well speed and just have to cover the focal distance setting. Everything else is set. Aperture priority from wide open up to f 11, with the new A7s even the smaller apertures are fast enough. Working this way is just liberating: I know perfectly well what I get and I do not need to worry about anything else. When I started to use the Leica M with a 35mm lens, the constraints are different, but the challenge is fun as well. Using different gear I found that change is giving me some creative jolts, evidently I see the world differently to my taste. It is opening doors that I didn’t know or have seen before.

 

Apart from using different gear at different settings I like to shoot street photography. Sometimes I am wondering: is my photograph a street photograph according to the standards? Are there valid standards? Does it look candid enough? Do I successfully portray “contemporary life”? A lot of photography seems to be founded on a set of rules, and asking this questions may be useful. But I like to remind myself that the genre of street photography can be much more versatile than certain group think. I don’t go for most of the established conventions, do’s and don’ts. The medium of street photography for me is a platform to challenge myself within my own set of constraints.  

 

Trying it my way I hope to get my own kind of innovation and creativity flowing. Loyal members of my different social feeds and my vision of street photography validate kind of my approach. My own definition for street photography is broader than established conventions. Defining street photography is as well the idea to tell stories of humanity. This should be an important purpose of street photography.Apart from the humanity factor I think that street photography should be urban by definition, mostly candid, never staged and have kind of a human factor included. 

What does street photography mean to you? And how do you try to achieve a unique vision? Here some images I took today with a Nikon V1 and a 25mm HDTV lens - just for fun.

Manual Mode - the holly grail

A friend of mine lately asked me what kind of shooting mode I would prefer as there are quite some on each of our gadgets. Looking up the internet or photo books from popular photographer you might have found yourself rotating on the dials and asking  the same question. there are many quite scared and confused about the different information and tips as to be overloaded by information.  Everyone has been there…

There will be always the one who tells you that the only way to take a decent photo is in this or that mode and if they take themselves seriously most will refer to manual mode. To be frank I think there is no real true path to photographic enlightenment which mode to choose. 

My approach is to use the mode that helps you to capture the image you want.

But for my friends just let’s dive in into the different plus and minuses you might expect.

An old lady looking out in the night taken with an old Nikon 24 mm wide angle

An old lady looking out in the night taken with an old Nikon 24 mm wide angle

Auto Mode

I already hear some photographers cry out: “That’s not a mode for a real photographer” but nevertheless I think it is sometimes the most overlooked mode. In Auto, your camera does nearly everything and takes all the decisions related to exposure according to the light your camera’s sensor picks up. It selects shutter speed, aperture as well as ISO. You point your camera, have time to compose and don’t be bothered by any thinking of the above mentioned settings and click. Done.

Auto Mode can be a good “snapshot” mode. Perfect if you have no time or no inclination to delve into the potential of your camera. Apart from being less than precise for every situation there are reasons to look more in-depth to the other settings.

Aperture Priority Mode

This mode should be used when you want a certain depth of field.  Either shooting wide open to get separation between the desired subject and the background. You can choose your desired aperture and in this the depth of field and compensate for lighting conditions in adjusting the ISO ifor example in low light situations.

Shutter Priority Mode

Sport, moving, action that’s the idea behind using mostly this mode. This is the simplest way to control shutter speed on your camera. You will be able to “freeze” motion. Just increase your shutter speed.Want to get streaking lights at night for example just reduce your shutter speed to a low setting.

As a fast shutter speed will decrease the amount of light you are able to capture an adjustment of ISO will give you the possibility to get the image you’ll like to get. Vice versa for slower shots like flowing waterfalls in daylight where it might be so much light that you even need a natural density filter

The time for the band is not come yet

The time for the band is not come yet

And now the holy grail for some the Manual Mode

It gives you for sure the ultimate in control over the functions of your camera. You are the boss in choosing aperture, shutter speed, and ISO on your whim.  

Yes it is like this but on the other hand “Manual Mode” is simply another tool to get the shot that you are looking for. It’s not a magic mode.  Your photographic brilliance will not skyrocket in going manual - sorry. But you should take time to get acquainted with this mode and become as proficient as possible.

Ultimately, there are tons of options and it’s very easy to become overwhelmed when trying to determine which is best for you. The most important thing to remember is to get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot!

I am often shooting in manual mode myself but out of necessity. It allows me to use all the different third party lenses with adaptors on my mirrorless camera because the adaptors doesn’t give me the automatic settings. Another reason to get a grip on manual.

Behind bars

Behind bars

Under a pool of light

Under a pool of light

Travel, going abroad, elsewhere

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Do you get stressed as well feeling how much you want to travel. There are so incredible different places to go to. How to even begin to narrow it down enough to make any sort of concrete plans. I visited about 98 countries outside of my birthplace up to now, though I suppose if you count layovers and such I have been to 105 countries, but the last I think doesn’t count at all.

I’ve hit up the Northern States of Africa, some of them twice. I basically lived in France, Russia, Japan, Greece, Hong Kong, Switzerland…. seems I’m quite getting around. I spent some time in the US and Canada as well. How many layovers I had on my trips I can’t even remember.

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On the other hand I often met people who have no ambition to travel at all. They don’t even want to go cross country let alone across an ocean. I’ve never understood that, how can someone be that way?

Lately my travelling has mostly been all over Asia and Australia but at the same time I’ve always wanted to traverse all other parts of the earth, parts of Africa, South America, Russia, India,…you name it. There are some reason why I couldn’t manage to go to certain areas up to now. Honestly I’d jump on a flight to literally any of this countries if you handed me a ticket.

Today I started daydreaming and it got pretty bad I’m just now looking desperately at my bank account, looking at the calendar, starting to look for flights and accommodation. I’m just eager to leave the country for any period of time to somewhere. I know how to budget, how to save. I can get by on very little (just looking at first class flights, five star hotels, resorts ..…) - daydreaming!

But apart from the joke the only richness I’m looking for is the richness of travel, of experiencing cultures, of living a different life in a different place. That’s all I’m asking.

I’ve looked around me, and all I know is that I need to be elsewhere.

Beat the monkey

Photography is actually quite a simple process. All you essentially need is a tight box where only the light is captured you want to be there, you don’t even need optics to concentrate the light, a mere well done hole will do and at least a sensitive medium to capture the light.

Instant film taking with Polaroid 350 land camera

Instant film taking with Polaroid 350 land camera

Getting as well some optics in this setting will give provide you with fun and incredible creative possibilities for many years to come. Pinhole cameras, Holga’s, Diana’s and more sophisticated other brands up to the expensive Leica’s are the creative tools you can use. 

Now as we are in the digital revolution and everything is going easy peasy a lot had been swept aside. When everyone nowadays can do photographic project our ancestors could only dream off I like to ask the question if this brought as well ” better?” photographers and better images? Looking through thousands of images on Flickr, 500px, Facebook, Google plus or alike it seems sometimes it’s getting worse, less creative, more slavish and lemming like. Everyone is just part of the big herd trampling down the same road.

Back in the day when most professional cameras were not automated and didn’t do the thinking for you you had really to think about how to control the flow of light onto your film plane and because of this fact you started to know how to expose, external meter what the heck. Practice makes perfect. Don’t get me wrong I like as well the easiness of todays fast workflow from shooting and getting the instant result on the back of my devices. But once in a while going backwards and making it harder for yourself might give you different insight how light and your gear works.

Hong Kong in square format

Hong Kong in square format

You’re no longer a monkey pushing a button. You certainly start to see different things; you start to notice light again in not letting the machine do the thinking for you.

Try to get the hang on the sunny 16 rule (wikipedia helps). By far it's not 100% accurate but neither are the light meters in camera especially when you don’t know what kind of metering is best to use. As a matter of fact film has some latitude to compensate for a guessing f stop. Don’t be obsessed  to much the more you practice  the better you will be able to estimate the correct exposure for your purpose.

So get creative don’t get in the monkey habit just pushing buttons as well as pray and spray but do some conscious creative work. And most and foremost: Have Fun!

Rangefinder shot taken in Bangkok

Rangefinder shot taken in Bangkok


Leather wraped camera

Today has been one of the nice sunny days here in Hanoi. Apart from nice sunny places sitting in a coffee shop and looking at the ongoing pedestrian traffic there where as well some hazy skies. Walking around the Westlake I suddenly got the message from my "leather man" telling me that my leather camera is ready. 

Quite exited I met him in a coffee shop and he presented me with my new designed leather wrap for my Leica M2. Here the first images. I think it looks quite well. Easy going with a wrap like that. Just pull the camera out, fold the wrap, put in my jacket and good to go. It's as well a fine protection if I just put everything in my bag. 

 

A glimpse of my new wrap

A glimpse of my new wrap

Brown buffalo leather as wrapping with a lighter colored strap  

Brown buffalo leather as wrapping with a lighter colored strap  

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Going geeky crazy into Polaroid

With several new innovative products Polaroid came kind of back at this years 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In the 1960s and 1970s, Polaroid was in a way what Apple is today: one of the coolest technology companies on earth. In its heyday, Polaroid was an absolute innovation machine—a scientific think tank that periodically kicked out a fantastic products. 

Well it's no secret that I'm crazy in love with photography. So as you might imagine, I was thrilled to see any news about photography from this years CES Show. But there weren't many. But Polaroid reminded me of an old Polaroid Land camera — which it seems was created especially for geeks like me - which I dusted of and got shooting again.

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Taking a photograph and having the print in front of you instantaneously is quite different even in digital times. I own a Polaroid 350 Land Camera which is in general, one of the higher-end Polaroid pack cameras which are well-designed and tough. The bellows are nearly indestructible, and the body still very solid.

Part of the Polaroid camera series start with the Automatic 100 and finish at the Automatic 450, they shares some common set of features:

Folding Bellows

Automatic Exposure

100-series Packfilm

The 350 is one of the higher end models of the 100-400 series line of folding Pack film Land Cameras; the main difference being the inclusion of a development timer on the rear of the body, and a smaller eyepiece on the rangefinder. The shutter speed is automatically chosen from a range between 12-1/1200s.

The main advantages of this higher end model over others is:

Zeiss Ikon-designed rangefinder

projected frame lines and parallax compensation.

Tripod mount on all-metal body

3 element glass lens (114mm f8.8)

What about the availability of film you might think. No problem at that. Apart from the Impossible project there are film packs from Fuji

– FP-3000B Professional Instant Black & White Film (10 Exposures) 

– FP-100C Professional Instant Color Film ISO 100 (10 Exposure, Glossy) 

The Polaroid version of this cameras are all expired, not in production, expensive, and hard to find, I think the Fuji films are the way to go.

Here a trial of long exposure at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

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First Photo Walk of the Hanoi Photo Club and than it starts to drizzle

Getting everyone together for the first photo walk in Hanoi - exiting, exiting. And than it starts to rain, rain, rain….

Sitting dry warm and cozy in a taxi

Sitting dry warm and cozy in a taxi

At least I didn’t have to go alone, but it has been a very close group (two wet driven enthusiasts).

As often and everywhere in the world most photographers do not like taking pictures in rainy conditions because of different problems. They might be astonished to learn and see what sometimes breath-taking world can exist and enfold during rain.

TET, Vietnamese New Year, is not far away and you'll see these fruits everywhere

TET, Vietnamese New Year, is not far away and you'll see these fruits everywhere

Looking on these conditions in a favorable way you’ll see that rain provides photographers with an opportunity to let their creativity run wild. The possibilities to capture some stunning pictures, as there are not so many taking photos in these conditions, is quite great. Many professionals consider photography in the rain to be a form of fine art photography as it requires skill and patience to capture remarkable images.

However, everything is not as difficult as you might imagine. Just be aware to set your shutter speed and ISO at an appropriate setting – considering that the main light source is reduced by the clouds and the drizzle.

Two Vietnamese elders grinning at the dumb foreigner walking unprotected through the rain

Two Vietnamese elders grinning at the dumb foreigner walking unprotected through the rain

If it is your cup of tea to show the falling rain to add additional impact to your rain-drenched background try the following tip. All you need to do is putting your shutter speed to about 1/30 or 1/15 (think of using a tripod or monopod), and try different apertures.

Flower with rain drops

Flower with rain drops

Photographing in the rain can be very exciting. You can capture shapes, shadows and colors that cannot be captured on a sunny day. Raindrops hitting the surface, rain on petals and leaves, water droplets, reflections and color casts by wet objects. Just some ideas that you might include in your project on a rainy day.

Cheap rain protection can help considerable

Cheap rain protection can help considerable

Apart from all possibilities it is important to protect your camera and equipment. Cameras are quite sensitive to humidity. A few droplets will not do any harm, prolonged exposure under rain without any protection on the other hand is not advisable.Some tips that can help to protect your gear when photographing in the rain:

Under shelter

Under shelter

Change your lens under a shelter. This way, the camera is protected and you get a moment to dry likewise.Place the camera under your raincoat whenever you are moving around to find a photo location or if the camera is not in use. Otherwise just try to embrace the different weather and let your creativity flow!

A wall with drops of rain running down

A wall with drops of rain running down

Getting dry - nearly impossible

Getting dry - nearly impossible


Victoria Harbor

Walking along the new built shore of Victoria Harbor I happened to approach the Star Ferry coming from Admiralty in late afternoon as the sun started to get lower behind Central and the peak. This winter day had been quite grey and grey but at about one o'clock the sun started to burn through and at least burn away the kind of grey veil of the city. At last the two big towers IFC and ICC representing a kind of big entrance door to the harbor could be seen very clearly.

 

With my new 16-35mm Zeiss lens I got a very good shot. I enhanced everything in Lightroom, cropped it for Instagram in a square and voila her you can see it.