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Photo of the Month – August

Leica M10
Leica Summilux-M 1:1.4/50 Asph 50mm f/1.4
50mm, 1/150 Sec at f/1.4,  ISO400
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic V10.4

Photo of the Month – July

Ivory Flame

Nikon D800
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
70mm, 1/1250 Sec at f/2.8,  ISO400
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic V10.3

Studio work post lockdown

Since the end of lock down I have been hitting the studio every few weeks, having some fun, trying out new ideas and new lighting techniques.

I have been shooting some fashion, glamour, even maternity shots.

Its been good try out a few new models as well.

Despite lockdown its been a good photography year.

Where do Nikon lag and lead

Get the Light Close – edit completed

If you follow the internet and especially some well known Youtube channels then Nikon are doomed and failing and about to go bust.

Actually Nikon are doing well. Stock is low and it can be hard to get stuff but with the world semiconductor shortage everyone is suffering. Canon have just admitted that the new R3 will be in very short supply and it looks like the Nikon Z9 may be delayed. The Z cameras are competitive, each new firmware upgrade has improved them. I feel where they get a kicking is generally either because something works differently then other manufacturers or like the banding issue with the original Z7 (what issue who underexposes by 6-7 stops) is also a problem with other manufactures but no one is talking about it.

I like two card slots but its a very niche case for people who actually need them. Yes its useful for backup if your using SD cards which can suffer from reliability problems but the new CFExpress cards are engineered not to suffer from the software and hardware issues that SD cards suffer from. Nikon did listen and put two cards in the mark II models but I would have preferred two CFEx card slots and not CFEx and SD.

So where are Nikon a head, or behind, well I feel Thom Hogan in a recent article wrote about this best so go and have a look on his zsystem web site.

Using flash with daylight

Occasionally I give myself a bit of a challenge.

In the studio just using flash I find it fairly easy now to get a good image.

Outdoors with good daylight again with correct positioning and control of contrast its relatively straight forward.

This weekend I had a few ideas so with it being a hot summers day with bright sunlight, I gave myself the challenge of trying to come up with something different.

setting up the flash

A hot shoe flash on a light stand behind the model, with a gel and diffuser on it, and for the front a battery flash head with gels and a grid.

The model was my long suffering wife, while I took several shots changing the balance of daylight to flash, using grids, diffusers and gels. Its given me a few ideas for my next out door shoot with a professional model.

50mm to long, 35mm to wide – meet the 40mm

Corset with 35mm

For street photography people I would say 40% use a 50mm lens, 40% use a 35mm while the rest are either shooting very wide or with a mild telephoto.

Leica M4, Summicron 35mm Ilford Delta 400

They call the 50mm the standard lens for full frame 35mm photography but actually its more like 43mm but I think Pentax are the only manufacturer to actually produce one, but in the past 40mm and 45mm lens were very popular with street photographers, and with the explosion of interest again in fast 50mm lens rather then zooms, small 40mm lens are now also making a comeback.

Kings Cross, Leica M4, Film HP5Plus

Canon had one for their EOS mount which in its pancake format made for a lovely little everyday walk around lens, far easier to carry then a bit heavy zoom.

With mirrorless cameras offering the chance of small bodies and small lens it seems strange that no-one has released a small 40mm. Instead we have large very fast heavy 50mm f/1.2 and 85mm f/1.2, but this week Nikon announced their new 40mm f/2. A small light lens with a plastic mount. Its nothing like their un-compromised and optically stunning Z 50mm f/1.2 but then its not over £2000 and weighing over a kilogram, instead its £250 and weighs 170g so is the ultimate always carry with you lens. Lets hope more manufactures jump on this.

The niffy 50

Camera – Leica M10; Lens – Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH- Model Cariad Celis

Since the 1980’s the 35-70mm zoom has taken over as the standard lens, now all of the major camera companies have the modern equivalent the high end 24-70mm f/2.8 and a more budget 24-70mm f/4. As a quick aside, the Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 kit lens which was released with the Nikon Z system is simply phenomenal and deserves better recognition.

Now the traditional 50mm is making a come back, people getting hold of old Leica M lens and using them with adapters on their mirrorless cameras is proving popular.

We now have Canon and Nikon releasing very high quality f/1.2 50mm lens and Youtube seems full of photographers showing what a great 50mm lens can do.

The photograph at the top of this post was taken with the stunning Leica M Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 wide open. Myself and the model were scouting for locations and taking snapshots before I got out my main Nikon SLR for the actual shoot.

The natural look of the 50mm and the ability to shoot wide open at f/2 and faster, giving far more options with depth of field and creating that dreamy look everyone seems to love is very much en vogue now. It seems all manufactures are producing large fast 50mm lens and us photographers are buying them.

Nikon Z System and early view of the Z9 prototype

Bonnie, taken in studio with a Nikon D800

The Olympics is often used by Canon and Nikon as a test bed for new professional cameras. Both had there new mirrorless cameras being tested which is good to see. The high end pro mirrorless Canon’s and Nikon’s will not be for me but will suit a lot of photojournalist and wildlife photographers.

Canon and Nikon are building out well and while still have a way to go to catch Sony range of glass, they have produced some stunning bodies and glass so far. In fact for the cost the Nikon glass has been simply outstanding. Come on Nikon release that f/1.2 35mm and 85mm you have on your drawing boards.

I am feeling the pull of the Nikon Z system and with all my Nikon glass its certainly difficult to justify going to another system.

Coffee: Pour over or Espresso

What is your preferred coffee?

Here in the UK most people drink instant coffee at home, even in this tea obsessed land most tea drinkers have given up with loose leaf tea and now use tea bags.

Here now in the UK we seem to have rediscovered our love of real coffee. By the 1670’s we had over three thousand coffee houses in England. Today it seems we have a Starbucks on every corner, and we all love are milk based caffeinated beverages.

So what do you prefer, espresso or brewed coffee? I have to admit they are very different drinks. Getting good espresso at home is a challenge, requires expensive equipment, and skill. Do you have the time to learn? I think for most people the answer to quality coffee at home is a good pour over, and to leave espresso when your out to the professionals.

Photo Tip – Check image after changing Flash Power

If you change the flash power, remember to check the next few shots carefully, are you getting flash sync errors, has the colour temp changed so do you need to do a fresh white balance. Its not just getting the exposure right.

When I am using studios with cheaper flash heads I often need to check these things or lose shots.

When you can shoot tethered it does make it easier to spot if things have changed.

When on location as in the shot above of the lovely Ivory Flame, I was mixing changing daylight with flash, in this situation having a flash you know you can rely on is definitely and advantage.