Just wanted to quickly share two images i just took tonight.
If you feel that portraiture are beginning to bore you and you have been doing way too many portraits, try doing it at night.
Its a totally different level and playing field at night and the resulting images often brings a long lost smile to that photography kid hiding inside.
All images below are taken with Nikon CCD sensor camera at F1.4. As to which camera it is, you will have to dig around my blogs to find out, i have been very vocal about how underrated this camera is, i bought three of them just so i have some assurance of its continuity.
The model is Amanda CME, also known as Mak3upQueen, you can find her on facebook and if you happened to be in Malaysia, do engage her makeup services for your model photoshooting.
I going to be real blunt here even if that includes shooting myself on my feet. Having been thru several sessions and shooting both films and digital, it gives me the pleasure of filtering out the gems from the garbage.
First off let’s talk about LOMO LCA120. This is a medium format film camera that i bought after using the LCA+ for few weeks. My opinion was that if i had so much fun with LCA+, LCA120 would be worth the purchase. My opinion now is that it is a camera that should be avoided. Like many others i read phoblographer’s raving review on LCA120 but here are some reasons why i am find it off my recommendation list.
4.5 is a slow for the LCA120, the problem is the shutter button, unlike the LCA+, the button on LCA120 is challenging to press. Makes me wonders what got into Phoblographer for even recommending this camera. While the LCA+ have an aperture of f2.8, its usability was decent. On a light plastic camera like the LCA120, its horrible. Don’t expect to use it anywhere except bright outdoor or tripod.
At f4.5 the autoexposure is crap when used on a medium format LCA120. Vignetting on a medium format is just silly when you have to pay over USD 400. When phoblograher says this is best for street shoot, i think what he means is this is only usable for bright, outdoor street. period.
Distortion everywhere. See the picture above, notice how distorted the pillar is. Unless you are shooting infinite all the time, expect all kinds of distortion on this Minigon 38 f4.5 lens.
So get yourself the LCA+ from the same LOMO company and ditch any idea to buy the LCA120. I have a LCA120 totally like new now with all the original box and packaging if you want to give it a go, make me an offer. But my conclusion is that LCA120 is best used as a prop not as a photographic tool, its defnitely nowhere as fun or as useful as the LCA+ .
When you own and major in shooting film, sometimes the digital itch rears its head and i digged out whatever digital camera that is left with me to bring to a shoot along with my film gears. The picture above is taken with FZ1000, took me like 2 seconds to take it and 10 minutes to post process it with a barrage of mix presets from VSCO. You know that saying “Once you go film you can’t go back” …it’s true (though i made up this quote). I find digital output a bit too clean and not a single picture i took ever since was released without post processing them with grain. If you like film grains, use the Color EfexPro, its not just adding grain blindly, its adding them like how a film would have them.
Film gears comes in two flavours. The Autofocus and the manual ones. The F100 that i use for this picture is autofocus and it works with any lens created for Nikon F mount as well as older autofocus lenses such as the “d” lenses. While i do enjoy shooting film manually, sometimes its a joy using autofocus when you want to lean your thoughts more towards results and yet enjoy the beautiful tones from professional grade films like Porta or Fuji Pro.
I have sold off my Nikon D610 too to a good friend, at a huge discount. During my ownership of the camera, i often spend way too much time processing the output into film hence i rather use F100 for my projects. Example above is a result of processing with VSCO AGFA preset .
These last 2 pictures are taken on the Fuji XA2 and 16 f1.4 fujinon lenses using in camera film simulation of FujiChrome. The still look digital to me, but the film simulation provides a closer gap between film and digital.
I will be going on a trip to Croatia soon and after much pondering, i will bring the fuji with f1.4 over. It is a family trip and travelling light is the priority. I do find myself mulling over this decision and thinking of ways to fit in one of my film gears with me, perhaps the Leica M7 with 35mm zeiss.
There is just something about the noct on the leica CCD that keeps you addicted to it. These images are taken casually without much editing, in fact, when i saw the colors and bokeh, i just loved them. This particular shot exhibits candylike pastel colors and it didn’t require much effort on my side. If i were to be downright frank, in reality the rendered image beats the actual image.
It takes a little bit of practice and once you developed what i would call the “bokeh eyes”, you can envision certain aspect of the images and bet that it would turn out amazing. An example would be the distance and lights behind the subject, the noctilux f1 is at f 1.0, it renders it very differently than say a 1.8.
These images are taken during the non flattering hours of the day. They are all taken in shaded location without any form of reflector nor flash. In Malaysia, the equatorial position guarantees that the sun will be directly above the country most of the time and you have very short side lighting than other non equatorial countries.
Using the noct, you need to get around 3 meters away to allow a certain margin of movable recomposition. This is because on the rangefinder like the M9, you can compose only in the center and you recompose by moving the camera horizontally, but because you are using f1.0, you only have a very small margin of depth in the subject you are shooting.
I should be shooting a lot more and sharing them. The GR now lies in my other bag as the noct’s alluring call for action is just hard to resist haha. I have been offered to goto Korea to do a portrait shoot for a girl whom i think has just undergone plastic surgery and wanted to have an album to share her newfound beauty, but we’ll see.
I been struggling to master the bokehless portraiture. This struggle has motivated me to force myself to use cameras with deep depth of field and hence inability to produce bokeh photos. One such ridiculous camera is the Casio TR. If you read my previous blog, i took this camera and went walking around Singapore as well as shot my model friends in Kuala Lumpur. Things took a change when i decided to ask Angela Lieche to do a shoot with me. Angela (x.x.angela instagram) have been creating beautiful bokehless images and her fame instagram is rising fast, thanks to her images.
Bokehless portraits, takes a very different set of eyes and mind to capture them. When i had the Casio TR, i tried my best and eventually i admit i could not take any satisfactory portraits with it. You can read about how the model herself could take a better picture here.
I am lucky to be the owner of a Noctilux f1. An ancient lens granted by Leica to possess magical qualities. I maybe exaggerating but the fact that you use a rare aperture, it can only create different bokeh and imagery. So in this shoot with Angela, i use the new skills of utilizing both bokeh and bokehless cameras. The bokehless camera is the Ricoh GR 28 mm f2.8 and the bokeh camera is my trusty Leica ME Noctilux F1 v3.
If i were to be downright honest here, i am one of the best outdoor portrait photographer anyone can find in Malaysia. Not the best, but definitely one of the best.
Well, let me correct that statement earlier, “best outdoor female portrait photographer”. LOL.
I pay my dues with constant learning, practicing and restrain in learning and enhancing my skills, do visit my other articles and photos to see the various themes that i have done and collaborated with. I learn from the best, be it Dragon Chow from HK, Ming Thein of Malaysia or a freelance model like Angela who is gifted, i take my lessons with no prejudice.
Is it profitable? No by a far margin, photography to me is like an art and a gift to me and people that i meet.
Please do enjoy the images below and drop me a comment if you enjoyed my images and lame jokes.
Its been a week now with the noctilux f1 since i first published my initial shots with the “legendary lens”. You can read my first review here. Its not any kind of extensive review but one based on portraiture and my actual use and journey with it. So this week i had a chance finally do an outdoor shoot. Instead of trying to use the noctilux in dark and dim light situations, i just went outdoor with it.
I set myself a condition during this whole shoot, use only f1.0. I see no point of using this lens at any other aperture except for what its made and paid for. Forget about the name Leica or the numerous marketing hype associated with paying for such a lens. This is me, Marcus, as a common portrait photographer, one model and one lens. Its like me telling the Noct, “Look here guy, lets see what you can do, i ain’t going to sell myself some bullshit about your heritage. Show me. F1 or nothing”.
We were late to the scene. Time is 9 am and we have got like only 30 minutes of shooting time before the sun goes up into a position that makes photography crap. Being in an equatorial country is really tough for any photographer. We have like the worse quality of light at the minimum window of opportunity. I digressed. As the shoot continues, i am often surprised by the results, i could shoot at f 1500 and f1000 outdoor without overexposure badly. The bokeh is beautiful and different in its own noctilux way. Images are not razor sharp but sharp enough. Love the colors.
You can find more of the images that i did in the outdoor forest here . I had to cut short the forest creature theme because there were just too many mosquitoes. We took a break at a cafe and we did some casual shots. The model name is Stephy. You can find her at facebook here : Stephy Yiwen.
In summary of this week’s sharing, i am really very happy with the noctilux f1. I have owned the Nokton 1.1 before and i have no idea how that lens could be compared with the noctilux | f1. The Noctilux’s contrast, color and subtle vintage bokeh makes a huge difference in the output. I guess one can always shoot some selective subjects and try to show how little the differences are. On a final note though, photography is the art of making images. You decide if the value a lens is what it is. I still think the Noctilux | f1 is overpriced, but if people are willing to fork out USD 4000 for a Zeiss Otus, the Noctilux gets u images that modern lens can’t. Its like a magic wand, that you wave over “good” images and it adds those little magic to it.
A large part of the fashion industry are driven by the Europeans. Millions of models photos are largely based on certain fashion ads and models expression. In asia i noticed that its inevitable that models here follows the style of shooting and poses as demonstrated by these portfolios. However, asian models inherently are shy in nature and portrays grace and the gentleness that are associated with asian culture. Think of the japanese cultural geishas, korean and chinese traditional costumes and you can imagine the presence and display of grace.
In this shoot, while i shamelessly refers to Emily Soto works and albums, i tried to focus on the poses that shows more of the Asian character rather than the european smokey eyes and strong angular poses. How does one portrays “shyness” of the asian models? A stolen stare and a tilted gaze brings out some of these characters.
Its ironic though that Mico Phun, the model i chose for this theme happened to just dyed her hair to blonde months ago. However, you can clearly see, the hair color don’t make her anymore European in anyway. One look at her face and you can tell she is an Asian, even a chinese perhaps. This makes the album more interesting as she poses in this beautiful garden in Bukit Jalil, Malaysia.
Overall i am very happy with this album. However, since i have done more than five(5) times floral shooting here, i decided to just apply a color change to the otherwise evergreen foliage in the garden. Crimson leaves highlights her golden hair.
Often the need for strong angular poses are only relevant in fashion poses and not when you want to showcase the calmness and quietness of the scene and the personality of asian models. Asian models, in their original nature are just that, shy and calm. Given that most girls i know rarely exceed 170cm, that rules out the ever speedy attitude in cat walk jobs that they can find.
Inspired? Try booking an Asian model and try to shoot her album without asking her to do those standard fashion poses and if that fails, just ask her to relax and be herself as though as no cameras are pointed at her.
I hope u enjoyed these images. They are all taken using Nokton 50 1.5 VM on the Leica ME.
Throughout 2012-2014 when i engage myself in doing photoshoot for models and freelancers, i learnt a few important things in life and would like to share them here along with my new aspirations. Photography is a popular hobby and passion for many people i met during these few years, so much so that some would commit hundreds of thousands if not more to their altar.
It really depends on what someone is looking for when he or she creates an image. What drives you exactly. Having enough time to contemplate and the luxury to try out any camera i set my heart on, i came to a realise that for a long time, i have no idea exactly what it is that was driving me in this field.
For some its the pride and ego associated with owning high ended cameras, the hoo and haas of the community fields when showing off the gears. For some it provides a way to escape from the the routine job they have in their daily lives. There is a large number of shooters that have their background in technology or science and photography being more on art and creativity, provides this escape.
Still there are those guys, typical guys, that are just in it for meeting up with beautiful people and getting to know them, snapping up photos with no advancement in image making but rather they are driven indirectly by that primal lust for the opposing sex appeal and imagery. Typically these guys would be attending motorshow events and any launches with pretty faces, uploading the same images taken by the next guy and flooding our facebooks. Well its still a healthy way to spend their energy vs drugs and other negative activities.
And then, we have those who, like me, believes that photography allows us to help others in a non monetary ways and by capturing their lives and moments whether it be beauty or ashes and sharing it to the world. Making images that makes people happy and letting that process becomes viral. Portraiture is a subset of this intention. When portraiture is specialised into the streets, i call it street photography, other specializations are wedding, reportage and models. Nonetheless, the key point here is people. People are mortals and images of them are priceless. They will never be the same, not in looks nor in fashion when the force of time sweeps over.
When some photos found hidden in the attic belonging to a jewish family that was sent to the concentration camp was found, those photos are considered treasured possessions, priceless. This is why portraiture is what i am focused on, i feel the need to capture the looks, the visual representation of a person as much as possible and in various natural expression and as beautiful as they are.
Now back to my topic. I find that there is no point in publishing just one session of a particular model’s photos in a given theme. For example, 10-12 images of the same person in a garden. Instead, this year i am going to capture a few sessions and combine them into one album and yet limit the digital album to say, 10-12 photos. This allows me to share the person’s expression and image in a much wider and comprehensive ways. The album should cover as much natural expression of the model and various candid poses, light hearted poses, fashion poses and emotional scenes. They don’t have to be very artful and artistic shots, that would defeat the whole purpose, but shows the variety mood and expression of the person.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
I summarised the logic behind my new approach.
While this blog and article i could only share some of these photos and not the actual album, i would do so once i have processed the whole 4 sessions of it.
SD15 did it again. This sigma camera is worth every cent i paid for it. Although i am pretty much in love with Film’s medium format but when it comes to digital, the Sigma cameras are God sent. 4.7 mp makes my editing lightning speed and Foveon sensor are just so sharp.
Have you ever tried a Sigma Camera? I suggest you do. Its the closet thing next to Film..no joke. Its usable iso is only 400.