I was in Lisbon in June 2018 and it was a good opportunity to do a “Bokeh Challenge f/0.95” ; it’s about shooting an entire roll of film wide open at the aperture of f/0.95. I used my Leica M6, the lens Leica Noctilux, and Ilford HP5 Plus 400. As it was a bright day, I was afraid of overexposing the film even at the highest shutter speed of 1/1000s. So I used a yellow filter to block a little bit of light, and at the same time it could give me more contrast with the black&white film ;
Heliopan 60mm #8 Medium Yellow Filter made in Germany, bought in B&H New York 3 weeks earlier for $65. It blocks one stop of light. But I didn’t have to worry about this because my M6 is TTL so it measures the light through the lens. I just had to follow the internal meter.
I started shooting avenuda de la Libertad, Restauradores , then I went to Praça Rossio. I walked to Baixa-Chiado via rua do Carmo. This is a very lively neighborhood with locals and tourists. Fernando Pessoa used to come here regularly for a coffee in the famous Café A Brasileira. Then I walked down to the Praca do Commercio on the banks of the Tejo river. Not far from there, there is San Antonio’s church, build above the crypt where Saint Anthony of Padua was born in 1195. I finished my roll by walking around and shooting the legendary Tram 28.
You can see below the video and the pictures.
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June is a great time to shoot Street Photography in Paris. The weather is beautiful, many tourists are visiting and there is a lot of action in the city. I choose Montmartre and le Sacré Coeur to try for the first time the TechArt Pro adapter for shooting street photography. I had the Sony A7R2 and the Leica Noctilux. In order to add some fun to that I shot all the pictures wide open at the aperture of f/0.95. It’s rare to see this kind of pictures at this aperture. Usually people use the zone focusing technique with an aperture around f/8. As I don’t like to do like everyone else, I did the contrary, I shot wide open! At this aperture you need to nail the focus perfectly. That’s where the autofocus function of the Techart Pro is essential. The depth of field at 0.95 is so shallow that too much time would be necessary to manual focus and I would miss the shot. Obviously people won’t pose for you. The concept is to catch a slice of life, to capture a special moment, to document street life. To do that you need to focus quickly otherwise the scene will change and you miss the picture.
The adaptor worked perfectly! Sometimes the face detection was working, but not always. When the face couldn’t be detected it was not a problem because the focus points could detect my subject and I just had to shoot. I was really glad to have it and try this experience because street photography makes more sense at this aperture. As only your subject is sharp, it draws easily the attention on it and immerses instantly the viewer into the story.
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I was in Singapore a few days and I tried for the second time the film Rollei 400 infrared with the Hoya filter R72. I shot it with my Leica M6 and the lens Noctilux. Following my first experience with infrared, I knew how to expose it : you have to add 6 or 7 stops to the shutter speed of a standard reading. I used the app My Lightmeter Pro. I selected the ISO (400) , the aperture (f8), and the app gave me a shutter speed for a normal film. Form this, I added 6 or 7 stops. For exemple, if the app indicated 1/2000s, I would shoot at 1/30 or 1/15. After shooting half of the frame, I realised that I could get the same result by following the internal lightmeter of my M6. Because the M6 TTL takes into account the light coming through the lens, it takes into account the filter. The filter blocks a lot of light, but at the same time the Rollei film doesn’t have an anti-infrared filter as the other films or as a standard digital sensor. With a standard digital sensor you would have to add 14 stops of lights.
So I went to the Supertree Grove gardens at Marina Bay because there’s a lot of plants and trees and that’s how you get the most of your infrared shots : if your exposure is correct, they must appear white and that’s beautiful! I shot as well in other parts of the city and from my balcony to have some landscapes.
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Coscom Aloha is a great Cosplay event taking place in Bangkok, at the Suan Dusit University. Many beautiful cosplayers attended the event to join the contest and to have their picture taken.
I tested my new Techart Pro adapter from E-mount to M-Mount. That makes my Leica Noctilux an autofucus lens when mounted on the Sony A7R2. It works very well even with face detection.
All the pictures below are shot wide open, at the aperture of f/0.95
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The concept of the Bokeh Challenge 0.95 is to shoot an entire roll at the aperture of f/0.95. I was in Singapore and I went to Chinatown with my Leica M6, Noctilux and a roll of Portra 400. I started by the Sri Mariamman indian temple and I was very lucky because there was a special ceremony, a Puja. It was very lively, colourful, musicians played a typical indian music and the priests were performing the ceremony. Then I went to a taoist temple, Thian Hock Keng, build for the worship of Mazu, a Chinese sea goddess. I was a quiet atmosphere , very inspiring, with beautiful details of decoration to capture.
Doing these challenges is very interesting because you need to take pictures which fit the special aperture of f/0.95 with a very shallow depth of field. The photographe is then encouraged to find a special inspiration, to look for original angles, and to shot subjects that you might not think to shot usually.
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I wanted to shoot with my Leica M6 with a flash for a long time and I’ve finally found a flash SF 20 at the Paris Leica store. It is the only flash compatible with the TTL fonction of the M6. It was a second hand of course because this model is not in production anymore. It’s in mint condition and works beautifully.
TTL stands for Through The Lens because there is a sensor in the camera which mesures the light coming through the lens.
In order for the flash to fire, your shutter speed has to be 1/50s or slower. Higher than 1/50s the flash won’t fire.
When you set your iso at the back of your camera , the iso value is displayed on the flash screen. In the viewfinder you can see the flash sign which shows that the metering system (arrows and the red dot) will take into account the flash. That’s the beauty of this TTL system ; everything is taken into account to mesure the perfect exposure ; the shutter speed, the iso, and the distance from your subject. So when you look into the viewfinder the arrows indicates if you are under or overexposed. The only adjustable data is your aperture ; you can’t change the iso nor the distance to your subject, and you don’t want to shoot under the shutter speed of 1/50s because your image might be blurry. So you have to adjust your aperture to get the right exposure. You have to turn the aperture ring according to the arrows inside the viewfinder. When you see the red dot, you have everything in line and you can press the shutter button.
So I went to the Bangkok Motor show to try the system and I shot some portraits of the beautiful presenters that were working for the car makers.
I shot 3 rolls this afternoon ; Cinestill BWxx 250 (black and White) Cinestill 800T (color) , and Kodak TX 400 . That’s the order of display in this article .
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This is another F/0.95 challenge : shooting the beautiful models of the Bangkok Motor Show with the Leica Noctilux wide open. This time, I didn’t shoot film : the lens was mounted on my Sony A7R2 with the Metabones adaptor.
It was indeed challenging because I didn’t have much time to focus, the models were busy and they were not always still. At 0.95 if the model moves a tiny bit you loose your focus. Besides, the lighting conditions were difficult ; many lights of different colors. I had my flash to fill the shadows and to get rid of the ambiant lights. All in all, I’m happy with de results, the bokeh is amazing and the very shallow depth of field creates a significant separation between the model and the background. And finally, the special look of the Noctilux makes the pictures unique!
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I was in Paris in January and I went to Montmarte and the Sacre Coeur to shoot some street photography. It’s a very lively neighbourhood with many cafés, restaurants, musicians, painters, street sellers. In January there are not so much tourists compared to the spring and summer , but it’s still busy and entertaining.
I shot with the Leica M6 TTL, the lens Noctilux, and a roll of Kodak TX 400. I choose to push the film 1 stop at 800 because it was not very sunny and I wanted to have a descent depth of field for street photography.
You can see below the video and the pictures.
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The “Bokeh Challenge f/0.95” series consist of shooting an entire roll of film at the aperture of f/0.95 , which is the widest aperture possible with a lens as of now. This is a difficult task :
1- first you need a find an interesting subject that you can shoot closely ; the closer you are the better the effect.
2- then you need to find a background that will melt properly to form a nice bokeh
3- finally, you need to nail the focus precisely because at 0.95 the depth of field is very shallow and with film you don’t see the result immediately. and consequently you can’t start again if you fail.
The point of these challenges is to take advantage of the capacities of one of the most legendary lens ever made, the Leica Noctilux. Wide open, this lens produce unique and outstanding images. Being able to separate the background from the subject makes your picture more “understandable” to the public. They will understand immediately the concept of your photograph and won’t be distracted by another element in the frame. Beside, in a pure artistic and aesthetic point of view, it makes the picture more beautiful and eye catching.
I was in Paris in January for this photo walk. I had my Leica M6 TTL loaded with a roll of Kodak Portra 400. As it was a cloudy day, the shutter speed didn’t need to be so fast to compensate the huge amount of light coming through the lens. It was 1/500s in the morning then 1/250s and 1/125s in the evening. Anyway, overexposing of one stop or two a color film doesn’t hurt.
I started the day in Le Marais, then I walked to Saint Michel and I finished at Place de la Concorde with the illuminated giant wheel which makes a great blurry background.
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Great celebrations are taking place in Chinatown Bangkok for the Chinese New Year : dragon dance, parade, shows, food etc… This year, in 2018, it’s the year of the Dog. I went to Yaowarat (Chinatown) with my Leica M6, the lens Noctilux f/0.95 and a roll of film Kodak Portra 400. The vintage look of this film is perfectly suitable to shoot a traditional event and the rendering of the colours is perfect! New Year is very colourful and it had to be seen in colour and not on black and white.
It was a sunny day and Iso 400 was enough to shoot at a high speed (between 1/250 and 1/500) and to have a comfortable depth of field (between f/5.6 and f/8) . And for the sake of it, I shot 2 pictures at f/0.95 ; will you be able to spot them ?
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