Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Windows in photographs

I often find myself photographing windows and doors. They are the kind of architectural details you will find practically everywhere with many details of their own: locks, knobs, decorations. They also bring a strong human element to photographs with people looking from windows deep in thought or hurriedly coming and going through doorways. Windows and doorways make simple frames and provide lighting. They can essentially be the subject, frame the subject, or light it. And they are everywhere around us in the urban environment providing endless possibilities for interesting photographs. Actually, I think I don't find myself photographing windows and doors anywhere as often as I probably should.

Here are some photographs with windows I chose for this post. The first two pictures feature a window as the main subject. The first one is really about the humorous balance between two halves of the window: one side advertising the store with the text "now open" while the other side suggests the store is under renovation. The second photograph features a window in a lighthouse.

2007 - Canon EOS-300D, 1/125, f/8, ISO 200

2009 - Sigma DP1, 1/200, f/8, ISO 100

In the next two shots the window acts as a frame. The first of the two I took in the same lighthouse as the previous photograph.

2009 - Epson R-D1, 1/2000, ISO 200

2009 - Canon EOS-1D, 1/3200, ISO 250

In this next photograph I really liked the window frame. However, with its nasty reflections the window alone does not make for a very pleasant subject. The man sitting on the bench gives it both a context and scale.

2009 - Sigma DP1, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 400

The last image features an open window, which breaks the pattern or repetition of closed windows. Emphasis is given to the open window by using a tilted lens (essentially this just gives a very shallow depth of field in this example).

2009 - Canon EOS-1D, 1/8000, ISO 320

I used a Carl Zeiss Jena 80/2.8 lens on 1D, a Sigma DC 18-50/3.5-5.6 lens on 300D, and Leica Summicron-M 50/2 on R-D1 for these photographs. The 80/2.8 lens was used with a tilt adapter.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The almost-a-digital-rangefinder is here

I haven't been this excited about a digital compact camera since the Sigma DP1 launch. This time it is Fujifilm's turn. Only a few days ago did we hear the news about their new GF670W medium-format camera, and now their latest announcement is here: the FinePix X100. This is a 12.3 megapixel camera with an APS-C size CMOS sensor and all that. Forget all that. The really interesting thing is the viewfinder technology: this new baby sports a hybrid viewfinder that combines the brightline optical viewfinder used in many film cameras of the past and digital rangefinder cameras (such as my Leica M8) — and an electronic viewfinder used in most compact digitals!

Okay, most compact digitals only have the LCD on the back and lack a proper viewfinder altogether, but some good ones probably have electronic viewfinders. Think about the not-quite-so-compact Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 and its viewfinder. That's what I mean. Trust me, this hybrid thing is big news.

According to Fujifilm's marketing material, both the optical and electronic viewfinder in their hybrid system should be of high quality, and you should be able to switch between the views without much effort. If it works anywhere near as well as advertised, this will be great. Kudos, Fujifilm!

I have waited for this to happen for a long time, and soon it may very well be a reality. This camera is basically a digital rangefinder camera without the actual rangefinder focusing.

The FinePix X100 should be available from early 2011.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Going underground

Two photographs away from the sun light, two photographs of decay. One is from the Jaurés metro station, the other from the Catacombs of Paris.

2010 - Leica M8, 1/125, ISO 640

2010 - Leica M8, 1/20, ISO 1250

I used the Voigtländer 35/1.4 Nokton SC lens for both of these photos. The shot from the Catacombs was taken wide open and pushed 2 stops in Apple Aperture. No noise reduction was used. I believe the metro station photo was taken at f/4, but it could be f/2.8.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Subdued colours of summer

It's September and the summer is pretty much over. Well, here anyway. So, let's look at some summer colours while they are still fresh in our minds. I took these photographs to test an old Leica screw mount lens, a Canon Serenar 85/1.9, on the Leica M8. It's a reasonably sharp lens that however produces images that have rather low contrast (which is typical for old lenses). This can be beneficial in harsh light, but usually you need to add contrast in post processing. I believe all these photos were shot wide open at 1.9.

2010 - Leica M8, 1/4000, ISO 160

2010 - Leica M8, 1/750, ISO 160

2010 - Leica M8, 1/2000, ISO 160

There are several old, fast 85-mm Canon lenses. Internet legend has it that the best of the group is the 85/1.8, which I have never seen myself. If you find one, grab it. The 85/1.9 and 85/2 are supposedly pretty close in quality and both are considerably cheaper than the 1.8.

I like the overall rendering of this lens. It has a round aperture even when stopped down, which should help to produce some pleasant out-of-focus highlights. I have however mostly used the lens wide open or very close to wide open so far. Unfortunately, my copy does not focus quite correctly, which is why I'm not using it that much. It has considerable back-focus issues that I need to look into. I hope I can fix it. In the above picture of the reed I have compensated for the back focus.