So off to Vietnam for Xmas 2019, for a bit of chilling time over Christmas. In the bag, the usual kit, M262, M6, 28,35 and 50 crons and of course a couple of Tri-x rolls.
Hanoi is a great place to shoot. People are friendly and generally not photo adverse. There are so many pictures to take, that if you cannot take one, just walk to the next.
As usual, the M6 is most often mounted with the 50 cron, that ensures a reasonable distance for candid shots.
Street side food vendors and their patrons are still a great subject.
I was last in Hanoi 10 years ago and the traffic has not changed, crossing the roads still feels like an adventure and motorcycles are omnipresent.
We arrived late on Christmas eve, so our first outing was a walk to Saint Joseph Cathedral on Christmas day. The mass was already going on when we reached and people were standing outside of the church.
After the service an orchestra was playing outside.
A good opportunity for selfies.
We walked down to the Metropole hotel, where the two Citroen below are standing guard. I stayed there 10 years ago, and at that time they could be sent to fetch you from the airport in style.
We then walk north in direction of Long Bien bridge, going through the old quarter.
Among many, I met these local photographers and we took shots of each others.
Finally we made it to Long Ben bridge.
Where I met the two young film photographers below.
Hey this was a long post. Be reassured the next roll is not as good.
This is my third post about the Polypan 50 and thanks to my friend Felix who is always eager to feed me some more this is probably the 10th roll I have shot.
This roll is a bit old and traveled in and out of the fridge a few time, also Felix warned me about the first two frames to generally better be avoided. Finally the film is quite thin and this may result in a bit of struggle when loading the film on the reel. so one or two early
So this particular roll I decided to shoot with the Leica IIIc and the Color Skopar 21mm. I am still trying hard to love this lens and the camera looks super good with the VC finder I bought last summer.
At this point I have small problem because I am not really able to guesstimate the light and I have relied on my Sekonic 308, that i bought new in 2010 with my first Leica. The little fellow is now more dead than alive, draining batteries like hell and giving random measures. So after the first half of the film I decided to go the the shop and get a new light-meter. To cut it short I bough the same one, lets hope it last as long.
So this is a recipe for disaster, a slow film, an old camera, and a slow lens. Luckily last Saturday the weather was nice when I hit Chinatown and came across Felix of course.
I am not a big theoretician, but what i like with the 21mm is the dynamic it gives to (rather mundane) pictures where people are moving like above or below.
Chinatown is also the opportunity to catch again and again the old folks playing Chinese checkers or chess. Some slow action going on, so speed can be lessen, perfect for my set-up.
Another obvious thing with the 21 : you need to be close to your subject. How close is close? Probably all the pictures in this post are done between 2 and 4 meters ; the one below more like 1 meter.
And finally a bit more panning for that young lady.
Saturday Low Che Ng, the man behind the facebook group “Lets shoot Film SG” organized an outing in Toa Payoh area in central Singapore ; mostly visiting two markets (apparently there are more around there)
I packed a bit too much gear, but mostly for this post, I shot two rolls of Cinestill 800 with the Hasselblad 500cm and 80mmF2.8. The films were processed in express by one of the labs we still have here : Konota. They were scanned at home on the Epson v800 and Silverfast, using the Portra 400 VC 6×6 profile.
I never really managed to get perfect exposure with the 800T, but generally I shoot them at 640 and process at box speed, giving it a bit of over exposure. The markets were very nicely lit and indoor and shots were generally done at 1/125 F4.
The first market has a first floor hosting a few stalls and giving a nice view of the ground level.
The reluctant model (I will print and bring her the picture in order to appease her)
For outdoors shot I did not use any filters. Just a bit of post processing in Lightroom ; it looks like the color rendering is quite OK.
These two rolls are dating back from the kick-starter project of the Cinetstill 120 format, it appears they survived nicely in the fridge (there are 3 more there).
The second market (Toa Payoh Lor 7 Market I think) is a bit smaller in term of food but the hawker center was quite busy and nobody seemed too bothered by six photographer hanging around.
The amount of detail in the shots is amazing despite of the grain, in the shot above at full size, you can see the cigarette butt glowing.
A lot of sitting and waiting it seems.
And playing with phones
At the back was a small shrine attended by the lady with the green hat.
And finally a stall selling the king of fruits : Durian.
As for every activity in Singapore we have a fodd break, tasting an amazing carrot cake at xin ji fried carrot cake (for non Singaporeans you have to google to check what this is, and come around to try it) .
I also did two half rolls of B&W in 35mm so maybe you will hear more about the Toa Payoh markets soon.
A few weeks back I was in Riceball Photography shop where our friend Leon tempted me with the new Voigtlander 21mmF3.5. This is a beautiful lens, particularly with the metal hood attached. I had a try on my M262 in the corridor of the mall (below) and also a week later on the M6 (above).
I was very enthusiast about the test shots, very sharp, no distortion to my eyes, no color shift on the digital sensor, unlike the test I did of the old Super Angulon F4 a couple weeks before (see below).
At a price of about 800USD, even when adding the hood (100USD) and the finder (200 USD for 21-25 metal finder), this is a steal for a bout a third of the price of the next Leica lens.
At this point I came back to my senses and remembered that I bought a 21mmF4 Color Skopar back in 2013, to fit the Leica IIIc. This lens did not get a lot of love for the following reasons : the plastic finder is shait and was replaced once and repaired twice, the color banding on the digital bodies is awful, more subjectively I have a bit of difficulty with the 21mm : I always end up with skewed perspectives that I don’t like very much and also, yes, 21mm is very wide.
So the reasoning was that, as I have a 21mm already, why not try to address the finder issue first and if I still don’t love the 21mm then there is no point getting a new one. Of course that does not address the digital issue, but everything in its own time.
So lets hunt for a 21mm finder. There is a bit of choice on the market : the plastic VC, the metal 21-25 VC, the old Leica in plastic or metal version, the Leica Universal Wide Finder. Ken Rockwell vouches for the plastic version of the Leica, but I ended up with the VC metal version that Riceball provided me in two weeks.
The VC metal finder is a nice piece of kit. It feels very good in the hand, (it better for about 200 USD), fits the cameras (IIIc, M6 and M262) and provide a nice view. I immediately tried it on the digital body and on two rolls of film. and I must say I am pleased with the results.
So now what about the 21mm? Well I will probably have to shoot more before I decide, but already I think going back to my VC 21F4 by buying a new finder was a smart move : shall I love the 21mm and get the new lens, I already have a finder, shall I want to sell it I have a full kit now, or maybe I can just stick with the 21F4 for a while.
The 21 is very (very very) wide, the three street shots in this page were taken at about 2 to 3 meters from the subjects and they feel like I was miles away, so I will really need to step very close for my candid shots.
I generally shoot 28, 35 and 50 Summicrons, so I must say that F4 is not mindblowing, but this is minor. On another hand the 21F4 is very tiny and pleasant to use, so I feel very comfortable when walking around that I look inconspicuous.
On a final note about the color shifting on digital bodies, some of the Leica profiles help correct it, I think one the 28mm F2.8 profile provides better results that others, have try.
Film color shots done on Kodak Portra 160NC with Leica M6 Classic
B&W shots done on Kodak TriX with Leica M6 Classic
These are pictures taken during the LUGS (Leica User Group Singapore) outing in August to the area of Redhill in Singapore. Redhill area is accessible by MRT. Places of interest are the newly renovated market (dried goods, meat and veggies, but also religious artifacts) and the soon to be demolished Redhill close estate.
Picture were taken with the Leica M6 classic (mine is black but that does not affect the pictures) and my new, Summicron 35mm Asph v2. In my opinion this particular version has not a big added value on film, but it seriously kick ass on digital.
I used the two rolls of Ultrafine Xtreme 400 film. This is the first time I hand roll film myself (I bought a 100ft roll and a bulk loader, for 100$, this is about 18 roll of 36 shots for roughly 5.5$ a piece). I shot 14 rolls of it so far this year, this is quite a good film, with fine grain and good contrast. I don’t develop myself, but my local lab does a good job with it.
Last week I went out with fellow members of the “Lets shoot film SG” group, in the area of Arab Street in Singapore. The intent was to shoot the crowd : this has became a very popular spot now and there are many opportunities for candid shots.
I loaded the Agfa Isolette III with my second roll (on 3) or Pancro 400, to see how it fares with a slightly better camera. I must say this was not some precision work, the uncoupled rangefinder is not working so the distances are guestimated and I preset the exposition most of the time. I put the original yellow filter (probably 1/2 stop) in front of the Apotar 80mmF4.5 lens as well as the aluminium hood for good order.
The film was processed at the same lab as the first one, I was not told the film need pushing this time, so maybe they worked out how to process it “normally”, go figure!
The results : as the first film, this one came fairly flat from the lab and was easy to scan. A bit of tweaking in Lightroom, et voila!
Is it the conjunction of the small aperture used and / or the yellow filter? The results surely have more contrast that my first roll but still shows pretty smooth tones, and no hard contrasts. Highlights were easily recuperated, underlining the claim to large latitude.
Something keep on surprising me ( as I also just scanned my first roll in 35mm format) it is that this film manage to be quite grainy and still preserves an impressive amount of details even in under or over exposed shots (no shown here) or areas.
I will shot the last 120 roll with the Hassie; maybe I’ll try to do some portraits to see if in a more controlled environment something else is revealed.
Last holidays trip was in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. This is my second trip there and I love place. This is the second time I travel with a Leica kit both Film and Digital. I have two bodies a M6 and a M262, a 28 Summicron, a 35 Summaron F2.8, an old Summilux 50 v2 and an Elmarit 90F2.8.
2 Bodies, 4 lens that sounds a lot and actually I packed the big Crumpler 8 Mio dollar bag. It is a bit over-sized, but then I have room for papers, wallet, reading and sun glasses and on the flight I can pack in a book, you can probably pack a tablet as well. I am proud I resisted the urge to buy a new bag.
I shot 4 rolls of film and a few hundred (but less than 1K) digital frames; this first set was done inside the Warorot market with the M6 and mainly the Summilux; film is the Kodak TMY 400.
I like the TMY400 for its low grain and slightly lower contrast that the Tri-x. I think all in all these shots turn out to be quite pleasant.
The Summilux is suffering from back focusing on the M262 but that does not show at all on the film shots.
People in the market are quite friendly, actually it is quite a touristic spot so the view of a tourist with a camera is not news.
I try to follow the advice of pro photographer Bobby Lee : let people know you are here, that you want to take a picture of them or their activity, but once they agree (or ignore you) don’t just snap and run away; as they don’t bother the least you can do is hang around until you have a good shot.