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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I was in Hua Hin this December, a beach resort in Thailand and I thought it was the ideal place to try for the first time the film Rollei 400 infrared ; sea, beach, green space, bleue sky. I had a Leica M6, a Noctilux 0.95, and of course a Hoya filter R72. I previously tested the filter on my Sony A7R2, with the 35mmF2.8 . According to Hoya, this filter blocks 14.5 stops of lights. So I added 14.5 stops to the exposure and it worked. This was my digital experience. With film, it’s a whole different story. I read the forums and they said that we need to add only 6 or 7 stops. So I didn’t know if I had to follow Hoya or the forum. I choose to bracket. For each frame I took 3 pictures : +6 stops, +10 stops, + 14.5 stops. I metered with an app on my iPhone, myLightMeter pro, and I had the tripod Manfrotto 190.
You can see all the pictures below, so you can check which exposure is the best.
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I was in Hong Kong for a week in December and a friend told me that a movie that I love, Accident by Soi Cheang (Milky Way production) with Louis Koo, was shot near the wet market of North Point. For those who know the movie that’s the famous scene when they kill the pawn shop owner at the tramway station. Last year I went to this market, without knowing this anecdote, and I shot pictures with my Sony A7R2.
So I decided this year to go there again to check if I would recognise the scene from the movie. And this time I was shooting with the Leica M6, Noctilux f/0.95, and Kodak Tri-X 400. I was not disappointed. The atmosphere is really special in this neibourhood and I understand why they shot a scene there. For example, he famous tramway “ding ding”, is passing through the market and people have to step aside every time they hear it…
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I was in Hong Kong in December 2017 and I wanted to shoot something that was unique to the city : the neon signs. They create a part of the atmosphere of the city at night.
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I’m a fan of Cinestill, I shot many rolls of 800T and 50. I love the cinematic look which comes from the motion picture film Kodak Vision 3. The absence of the remjet filter makes it even more special with the halo coming from the lights and neons at night. When they announced that they would sell again the bwXX in November, I went everyday to their website to be the first to order. This film comes from the motion picture Eastman Double-X 5222/7222 Neg. Film. Which means the same concept as the 800T , but in black and white. That was very promising!The movies Raging Bull and Schindler’s List were shot with this film.
I received my rolls in December before going to Hong Kong… perfect timing.
In Hong Kong I had the chance to go on a photo walk with 2 friends who are film enthusiasts as well, Victor and Carmen from Annie Barton 1972 (high quality leather straps). We loaded our bwXX in our camera ; Carmen with the Leica MP, Victor with the X-Pan TX2 , and I had the Leica M6 and the Noctilux. We went to the harbour front of Wan Chai. This is a great location, with tourists and locals fishing or having a walk. We had a great time shooting, and when I got the film developed and scan, I was so happy with the result! The cinematic look is even deeper than the color films, it’s a little bit grainy, and sharp enough.The contrast is not too high, well balanced, and some pictures look as if they were coming straight out of a movie. This film has a strong character and the look is very special!
You can see below the video of the walk (soundtracks composed by the great Mijonju!) , and the pictures coming from the M6.
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The festive season is very joyful in Bangkok. We can enjoy beautiful decorations inside and outside the hotels and shopping malls. One of the main attraction is CentralWorld where they have the most impressive Christmas trees and other funny decorations. That’s the ideal place to shoot Cinestill film 800T. This film is made from the motion picture film Kodak Vision 3 and has a nice cinematic look. The absence of anti halation filter makes the neons and lights even more special. I went there just after sunset with my Leica M6 and the Noctilux. I took a few classic shots of the global landscape, but the most interesting was to make some closer shots wide open at f/0.95. That makes more special and appealing pictures. For that I had to find a subject that I could get close to because if you are far from your subject you won’t get this creamy blurry background that we call bokeh. So I was hunting for funny statues or decorations. Everybody was in a festive mood, there was a good atmosphere and it was a nice experience. You can see below the video of the shooting and the pictures.
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I was in Paris in November and I wanted to shoot a special film, to change from the usual brands that we often shoot. So I went to Nation Photo at Chatelet and I purchased a roll of Washi Film D “Sputnik” , made by a french company. This film was originally made for aerial surveillance and cartography, I thought it would be interested to try it.
I went to Montmartre and le Sacre Coeur, the basilic of Paris, and I shot street photography, monuments, cafés, and the painters of la Place tu Tertre.
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Autumn is a beautiful season in Brussels, the foliage of the trees show multiples colours that we can see only at this time of the year. And when the sun shines, it’s splendid! That was the case last Sunday so I decided to shoot my roll of Cinestill 50d. This film comes from a motion picture film with the rem-jet/anti-halation layer removed is order to be developed with standard C-41. I choose to go to the Brussels Park, close to the Royal Palace, because I knew I would find the widest variety of trees and colours. I shot with my Leica M6 and the Noctilux lens.
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Cinestill 800T is a special film which comes from the motion film Kodak Vision 3. Consequently it has a cinematic look and it’s amazing for night pictures. We often see this film used in Asia or chinatowns in western countries because there are a lot of neons and it looks great. We rarely see Cinestill 800 pictures of classical monuments from western countries, that’s why I wanted to try it in Paris to shoot the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde, le Louvre and its pyramid. For this shooting I used my Leica M6, the lens Noctilux f/0.95 and a tripod. As it’s a fast film, I didn’t need very long exposures, however for 5 seconds I still needed a tripod to have sharp pictures. I had a cable release as well to be sure that the camera would not move.
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