|Through the Lens Darkly|
The second in the series. I am at home ill today, so I am looking for things to do. A great opportunity to catch up with the missing shot from yesterday, and to finally photograph these flowers so I can throw them away. 90 Macro and a spacer ring on Visoflex III.
It's a shame you can't see all the detail present in the original. 90 Macro with Visoflex III. The rose was from a test Jana took and scored really well in. I have never heard of teacher's giving students red roses, but the teacher is nice enough, so I didn't complain. The rose has since gone to meet its maker, but I have kept it around, and dried it, partly to please Jana, partly to take pictures of (which she knows and approves of).
An experiment with a B+W 092 filter, which cuts almost all visible light, but lets infrared through. It is really hard to white-balance these shots, and even harder to get some interesting colours to show. The sun dumps a lot of infrared light on earth, so maybe just before sunrise or after sunset would yield more interesting results, when the balance of infrared to visible light is more favorable.
I wish I had been a little faster here, and had opened the window. Fun shot. It was raining unusually heavily, and pedestrians were taking their shoes off just to walk down the street. Meanwhile, cars were plowing through deep troughs of water, just next to this guy, but it was hard to get a good shot of that.
This shot is a homage to a similar but different shot in the same Bellevue Bahnhof, by iron flatline in his photo blog, Western Flatline. The first time I saw his photo, I remember how struck by it I was, the simplicity yet lovely feel. My photo is very different, and much less abandoned-looking, but I also like it.
This is the strongest flare I have ever seen! I heightened the contrast dramatically by raising the black point, removed a little magenta and yellow, but otherwise it is true to the original. The sun hit the front lens element. This could be a very interesting lens to do experimental photography with!
I am going to be in Hamburg with Patricia for the next four days, so you won't see any images here for a little while. Then there will be a sudden spurt as I catch up.
I bought a 1937 Leitz Elmar 35mm f/3.5 lens with an M39 screw mount. I want to take some pictures with an authentic old look, and this was a cheap way to try that out. It takes interesting pictures, low contrast and it is very susceptible to flare, but it is not as unsharp as I expected, nor does it have as much vignetting. I tried a slightly newer lens, and it was much too good for my purposes, easily being mistaken for modern results. Again, it might have been flare susceptible, but I didn't try that out. Anyway, there will surely be some results from this lens here sometime soon. Here it is on my M6, with my 50mm Dual-Range Summicron standing there for scale. The new lens is really tiny.
An experimental image, made after reading an article about "camera tossing". Since I don't want to toss my M8 (nor do I want to eat it), I twisted it around and around on its strap, set it on self-timer, and let it go. This was the result. Somehow neat, but I wonder about those bright streaks. I should try it again.
Yet another Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin shot, again the large diesel engine at the entrance.
I have resized all images from 480 in the large dimension to 570, which is the most which will fit comfortably without resorting to surgery. I might resort to surgery later, to reach 600.
I went with Patricia to her best friend Ulli's birthday party last night, and got the opportunity to take some available-light photos. Here is my favorite for the evening, a shot of Ulli from behind as she is singing, while two guys were playing guitar (only one being visible in this photo). The Canon 5D had smoother results at these kinds of ISO values (1250 and 2500), but the Leica has much better colours, and overall I prefer this.
This is actually a test shot, made with the 35 Lux Asph. I still have my 35 Cron Asph, and I am now borrowing a 35 Cron IV from Holger Fehsenfeld, so I am trying to narrow down what the important differences are between these lenses. The IV has a nice look, but the newer lenses, especially the Lux, are ahead of the older lens in most areas, not surprisingly. The IV does sometimes have a smoother bokeh than the newer lenses, but not always, and it has lower contrast, which can be both an advantage and a drawback.
Shadow on a tombstone. 35 Lux Asph. I really like the texture on this. A bit abstract, but recognisable nonetheless, once you know what it is. Patricia wanted me to post two shots of this, side by side, since I have another which is cyan. However, the cyan cast is caused by incorrect white balancing of the M8, so I think I will leave that one out :)
A fellow photographer, practicing his craft, at ease with his surroundings. 35 Lux Asph. Today's and yesterday's photos are nicer than is reflected here, but they are just too small to let you soak in the details, at 480 in the maximum dimension. I will think about growing the pictures, perhaps to 600 in the larger dimension, which might help a bit.
A kid climbing the Kreuzberg, with man watching from above. 35 Lux Asph. Patricia and I were out walking, and she showed me the monument at the top, as well as the "mountain" in all its glory. After five years, I had still not been here, or even realised that it was here. The real name is the Liberation Wars Monument in Victoria Park.
A typical shot, not so interesting. The 35 Lux lends it a nice look, and the B&W makes it less typical. The shadows still have lots of detail, and the white spot near the top right corner is the sun shining through. Quite an achievement, technically, to have both with detail in one shot. The Leica M8 is a great little camera, I must say.
A slight variation on an earlier picture, this time taken with the Noctilux. I find the two lenses render blur very similarly most of the time, but sometimes the Noctilux gets really wild, and most of the time the 75 Lux is a little less blurred, except at very close distance. The Noctilux has an unmatched look for portraits though. The glow reminds me of the 80 Lux-R I used to use with the 5D. The 75 Lux, although apparently the same design as the 80 Lux-R, has mostly lost this glow.
Hopefully my last date-cheating picture for a few days. A locomotive.
Today I received a used Leica Summilux-M 1:1.4/35mm ASPH. from a fellow Leica User Forum member. I expressed my interest in the lens to him, while confessing that I didn't have the money at this time, and he simply sent it to me, telling me to test it carefully, and send the money when I have it, if I want to keep it. Among certain members of the forum, there is a fantastic level of trust and community that I still find hard to believe. The price is very good, and the lens is very nearly perfect, apart from two tiny little marks, not even scratches, on the edge of the rear element, and which would likely never be visible in a photo. It also happens to be a chrome edition, my personal first, and the last Summilux I was missing from the current lineup. By the way, Summilux means f/1.4 in Leica-speak. When the Noctilux arrives sometime in late fall, I will own a copy of each lens ending in Lux, quite a neat fact.
These are some of the fastest and best lenses in the world, perhaps the very best in their respective classes. All are great for portraits in their own way, and all are perfect for low-light photography, again, each in their way. I feel very privileged to be able to afford such lenses (even though I do have a loan to help it happen). It is easy to forget that many people could never afford such equipment, and it is humbling to think that some of these people still manage to take better pictures than I, even with clearly inferior equipment. I do try to improve, and I do want to be good enough to deserve to have such amazing cameras and lenses.
Okay, enough of that. Being humble makes me hungry. I am off to buy some food...
I did go past Camera Work today, to see the new Peter Lindberg exhibition. He is clearly very accomplished and has some beautiful work, but somehow this particular selection of super-models on the ground floor and Mick Jagger/Keith Richards on the 1st floor, left me relatively cold. I have seen other work of his which I preferred. I am not so keen in general on photographers who focus on the most beautiful and famous people in the world. It seems so artificial and far removed from real life.
Perhaps my favorite machine detail of all time. I have been back a few times to photograph this bit. It is an oil level checking glass on the side of a 5-ton industrial diesel engine, at the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin. Okay, I am still cheating a little on the dates of these images, but the last few days have been demanding, and the weather has been awful, so all I have been able to do is portraits which I do not have permission to post.
Another Noctilux shot, but this time stopped down a little, to see how sharp it is. I must admit that given how old this design is (this copy is from 1981), I am very impressed at how clean the photo looks. This reduction loses the impression of overall sharpness which the original has. At the pixel level, it isn't as sharp as the new aspherical designs, but it is not far off.
I took this shot with the Noctilux while walking. The f/1 allowed me to get 1/1000s. Even an f/1.4 lens would have used 1/500s, and if I had used the 75 Summilux, I would have needed another stop for the focal length difference, and I am not sure that 1/250s would have been enough to stop their motion as well as mine. Any slower lens would have been dead in the water. It truly has its uses. It is huge though, and I doubt I will end up carrying it around much, but when you need it, there is nothing else that will do.
Another shot from the Technikmuseum. I gave this one a grainy B&W treatment, which suits it rather well.
I spent some time reading up on the DNG format yesterday, but didn't actually do any photography. I am toying with the idea of making a program which can read and convert DNG files, as well as generate HDR images, including auto-rotating, aligning and cropping a batch of images, given some manual input on the first image in the series, and of course, tone-mapping. I have enough ideas that I think this ought to work, so I am researching the available algorithms to fill in the holes in my knowledge.
We went to the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin today, perhaps my favorite museum in Berlin, and as usual, I was taking pictures of the mechanical details, which is not so easy, since there really isn't a lot of light in this museum.
I was using the Noctilux I have on loan as well as my 75 Summilux, but neither of these lenses is that well suited to this type of work, being too soft wide open, and too slow stopped down. I should try the 75 Summilux again at f/2 though, since that might yield a workable compromise between speed and sharpness. I am not sure which lens would be better, but perhaps the 50 Summilux ASPH, having a large aperture wide open—to gather as much light as possible in this very dark museum—as well as being very sharp compared to the Noctilux and 75 Summilux. There is also the 75 Summicron, which is both exceedingly sharp and focuses relatively close compared to the other lenses mentioned, but I don't own a copy of this (yet). I would like to use the 90 Macro, but it is just too slow, and the high ISO performance of the M8 is not strong enough to compensate. I stick to ISO 640 for shots like these.
The museum has added a large photography section in which there is not only older historical cameras, but also an abundance of Leica, Zeiss and Rolleiflex cameras, which isn't all that surprising since all three manufacturers are German. There were also several Voigtländers, but less of these. Voigtländer is now owned by Cosina in Japan, so perhaps that explains it. The were especially many Leica rangefinder cameras in the various display cases, including one display of the different viewfinder types where they even had an Ur-Leica, one of the original prototypes Oskar Barnack made, on the left in the middle row of cameras in this photo.
A fun composite of Jana playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS. At the end she falls into a gap with Super Mario. She is rather animated. I have to find a better way to do such a little movie without making a movie, and getting better colour than from an animated GIF. If you want to see it again, right-click on it and choose "Open in Tab" or something similar. Then you can press reload as you please.