I spent a week in London recently with my family and brought the usual travel kit (Leica M, M262 and the Summicrons 28mm Asp, 35 Asph v2 and 50mmv5), I brought a nice set of films but in the end I did not shoot much, only a roll of TriX and half a roll of Portra 400. And on digital as we are here I took a mere 300 shots.
Looking at the TriX shots I am quite pleased; as usually they have been dropped for processing at Ruby photo in Singapore and scanned at home ; but when I was there I was a bit puzzled about what or who to shoot.
On one hand I am so used to travel in Asia that I am a bit lost in European cities, I am not sure about people reactions to the camera (I like candid shots), but also I think the whole way the big city works need so getting used to. So a bit of frustration. Maybe also my expectations were a bit too high, who knows.
London as changed a lot since I was last there 14 years ago. The south bank area is so lively now, also packed with tourists and street performers.
Asian tourists selfy-ing themselves are everywhere, but that’s the same all over the planet. Here at the Borough Market, a place that I never saw before, this is definitely a good area to shoot.
There are many food stalls there.
Some attractions on South Bank are using old lorries that are worth a shot imo. I only realized today that the London eye was reflecting on the bonnet of the lorry, I would have framed it better if I have known.
A morning stroll in SOHO, is also a nice opportunity for people shooting.
Or just window shopping.
In the places I never visited before was Ealing Broadway, home of the Ealing Studios who produce(s/d) cinema and television shows.
Finally another happy discovery was Old Spitalfields Market that I visited the day of the vintage records market.
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
I always found the mix of photography and beach repulsive, the salty breeze, the sand that gets everywhere, hands oily with sunscreen, splashes and the odds of falling into the water,… so much things happening that you don;t want a camera, let alone your precious Leica mixed into.
Well I must say I am a bit fantasizing here, as an adult the experience of the beach is not necessarily the one I had when I grew up along the shore of the french riviera. A stroll along the water not involving leaving the camera on a beach towel or in a bag in the sun is now more common that is use to be, and if it is a day I intend to go for dip, I generally take a lesser camera (read MEDIUM FORMAT ON THE BEACH : “LE CABANON DE LA PLAGE” AND MORE)
The sea side always offer a special quality of light, that works particularly well in black and white.
Also it is an endless opportunity of activities, landscapes and man made constructions.
All shots with Leica M6 on Kodak TMAX400 (The shop ran out of TriX), the first three were taken with the Summicron 50 v5, the rest with the Summicron 28mm Asph v1. Shooting at 400 on this very bright morning means the lenses are completely stopped down and the shutter speed at 1/500s or 1/1000s, which may not be idea technically. My favorite film the TMAX100 would surely have been better, but…
As I am here, on the same roll of film were also some street shots taken in Bangkok on the say back from Hua Hin.
A young film photog with his Olympus pen, he also shoots medium format.
Below are four shots of the food hawkers around our hotel near Lumpini park.
A friendly and muscular worker along the Chao Phraya river near the Grand Palace
Finally below are two shots of worshipers inside the Grand Palace i think.
What took me so long to write the next post? Frankly no idea. I probably said that I have a few other projects, like running a half marathon in June and also keeping an eye on the counter of the bike so I beat my mileage of last year. Plus a couple of family, friends and (yes) work related things adding up.
Nonetheless I keep shooting, so here are the digital shots of the week end before Chinese new year. These are shots with the now familiar Leica M262 and the not so faithful Summilux 50mmv2.
The Summilux is back focusing a bit but I think I manage to compensate for it now.
Traditional CNY outing is in Chinatown, where you can find a lot of stall selling food.
And a lot of people hanging around, shopping or not.
Amazing enough this year is the year of the Pig again, meaning I arrived in Singapore 12 years ago and completed the cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
The 50mm is a bit tight sometimes as below; I must say I am a recent convert to the 35 focal length.
Below one of the many murals in town inspired by local life as it was a few decades back.
The Church of the light is Osaka, is one of the most famous designs of JapanesearchitectTadao Ando and it was the highlight of our first day is Osaka.
Built in 1989, is it located 20km from the center of Osaka. It is a quite small building the chapel which is the original building is only a bit more than 100 sq meter.
When the parish approached Tadao Ando, the most important point was the lack of funding that was available for the building. That suits the minimalist approach of the architect who also chose to use some recycling planks for instance to built the bench.
The most iconic feature of the building is the wall of the chapel at the back of the altar wit its hollowed cross from which the light pours.
Bare concrete, narrow spaces, the emptiness is expected to make room for the spirituality.
The chapel also contains an organ (with rear view mirrors)
10 years later a second building, the Sunday school, was added on the side of the chapel with similar architectural elements.
You will learn that the church is not open for visits every day and that you have to register online for the visits. (we did). The ladies there were so nice that I don’t think it is a problem if you forget to do it, but given the time to get there better be safe. The entrance is free but you are asked to make a small donation for the maintenance of the building
Accessing the church from Osaka you have to take the train to Ibaraki station (30 minutes) and then the bus the church. All in all it should take 45 minutes to an hour. At the station there are not many signs, you have to take but number two which starts on the left most bus stop outside of the station when you face outside. There is a taxi stand there, you better ask than wandering for 20 minute like me.
The are plenty of excellent resources on the web of the church itself.
Color shots Leica M262, BW Leica M6+Ultrafine Xtreme 400ISO lens – Summicron 28,35 and 50
Summer holidays have been over for a few weeks, and it is time to go back to this blog. As usual I did not shoot as much as expected during the holidays. One poor roll of medium format Rollei 80S with the old Kodak Autographic, and with the M6 a roll of Kodak Gold and the present roll of Rollei Vario Chrome.
The Rollei Varichrome is a reversal (slide) film, claimed to have high latitude and can be shot between 200 and 400 ISO, 200 being recommended for scanning. Although introduced in 2017 it seems it is a “new old” stock that will have a limited availability. some reading suggest this is altogether expired material already. Note this film can be cross processed in C41 as well.
My complete roll is a bit over exposed, in particular those of the Atomium, generally the dark areas are not dark enough.
Above shot of the botanical garden in Brussels is very pleasing, the lack of contrast gives a great mood.
The following street shots taken during the FIFA world cup final also work quite ok. The vintage look is overall quite nice, except maybe the picture of the two young ladies, but it may just be the exposure being off on that one.
I like very much the first shot and the one above taken in the vintage café “La Mort Subite”.
All in all this looks too much like an Instagram filter to me, some shots are very satisfactory, but it will become very gimmicky to use. The experience is quite expensive as well, I think the roll was like 18SGD and the processing 13 SGD, so more or less 1SGD a shot. Shooting a roll of Kodak Gold would cost half of this and Instagram filters are free. In conclusion it is worth giving it a try, but then it’s better have a subject on which you will shot your whole film, the gimmick effect being lost in the consistency of the subject. For instance I imagine a wedding photographer may like to shot a roll of this as a special feature. For me I don’t think I’ll use this again.
Finally two shots below on quite different subject :
All shots at 200 ISO with Leica M6 and one Summicron or the other (28, 35, 50) and scanned on Epson v800.
Hello, today a little pointless exercise consisting in reviewing the shots of an entire roll. You will see below keepers in a larger size that the dismissed shots.
I loaded the roll during the LUGS (Leica User Group Singapore) outing in Little India last month inside Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. This is always a good place for shooting.
Lesson from the first frame: always skip the first 1 or 2 frames, otherwise in the unlikely event you like the shot, it may be half burned.
It is quite rare that I shoot color films with the IIIc, actually I mostly shot Black and white film anyway, I feel very restricted by color film, I generally prefer to shoot digital for color.
So far no shot is great, maybe number 5 is ok, street activity, a bit of the documentary style, probably ok technically. I like the color of the Ektar for “street” photos.
There are many mural in little India now, this one is in a back alley, it is not so great , or maybe too much. The shot is quite bad, not sure its even in focus.
Probably an Indian actor, the first good shot, nice color. Taken bottom up with the 35mm, the vertical line are of course not straight, but that’s the name of the game.
Not as good.
Ok you get that it it about the plight of people making a leaving from urban scraps. Not such an uncommon sight in Singapore. Informative, but not necessarily a great pic.
I would find that picture quite uninteresting, but technically ok; color-wise it is another chance for the Ektar to rock.
Leaving Chinatown and moving toward city center, two visions of hotel 81 in Jalan Besar.
Second shot is better exposed an less traffic in the middle. Roughly ok, The Art Deco building is attractive, but not overwhelming.
In the street with a camera in hand it is tempting to catch passers by, in particular if they are charming.
Too far, would you even have noticed her?
Motion blur, Out of focus, bad framing.
Maybe yes, maybe not, that was just a try.
The same afternoon I walked into Chinatown
Quite a bad pic, maybe OOF ? Shame. I thinks it’s also not Ceno2’s best mural.
The two commercial buildings are quite ok, I would be happy to show the second one, the colors and details are good to my taste, and the composition not so bad.
Second version is probably an ok street shot, movement, color and overall an umbrella.
Buddha tooth relic temple, one random shot
I tough the light was great and worth capturing
I quite like this one, unusual.
Another random shot, not great angle, too far, not showing much.
Ok ok we can try.
Next great spot is the Merlion Park, it is always endless fun shooting people taking selfies there.
It would have work with better light, the subject here is a bit lost in the background.
This one is really random.
Something was going on, but it was not the right moment yet.
I think that one is ok, just average but ok. Nice light, funny pause and all.
Nothing easier to ask somebody who pause if you can also take a shot. Too contrasty but probably OK.
These three Muslim ladies remind me of the good fairies in Walt Disney’s Cinderella. They were very happy to oblige. I like he colorful bags, maybe a second closer shot without the bags would have been a nice complement.
The new building on Beach Road in the evening light. Nice tourist shot.
Finally the next 5 shots were taken during the next LUGS outing in Tiong Bahru, on my birthday.
Ok I think I took enough fish stalls so far not to call this one a keeper.
I would keep this one, framing is nicer, action is clear. technically I think it’s ok, may need to be overexposed a little bit.
The lens was attracted by the lady in the center, but one week later it does not look like it is enough.
So where am I a the end of the exercise? I managed to shot 36 and half frames on this roll, all exposed properly and focused reasonably well (two are debatable), the only thing you can take from this is that my IIIC works reasonably well and, probably, produces a comparable result to a modern camera. One picture out of three, I will probably share on one of the Facebook groups I partake in. Real keepers (going on Flickr), will be “Working Class Hero“, “Strangers with brolly“, “the three good fairies“, maybe the “Other fish stall“.
At this point in time he Leica IIIc is my favorite 35mm film camera : it is small and sexy and over the time it get slightly improved : by the addition of the a 35mm Summaron (f3.5), then by the one of a 35mm finder. I always dismissed the 35 finders as being not useful, but in the end this accessory proved very good for composition. Over the years I had the curtain changed, there is still a a small defect when shooting at fast speeds, the right side exposure is a bit under exposed, but it looks like using it more often, at least one roll a month, it seems to be less obvious.
Hope you enjoyed the reading and viewing, to later