Cheung Chau is a charming island located 10km Southwest of Hong Kong. You can take the ferry from Central Pier and you’ll be there in less than an hour. The ride is quite enjoyable.
People are living a traditional and quiet life. There are many fishermen and seafood restaurants. Hongkongers come during the week-end to enjoy fresh seafood and a walk along the beach.
I went there in December and I shot a roll of Kodak Portra 400 with the Leica M6 and the lens Noctilux 50mm. I tried to document the life of the island with the street markets, the temples, the beach, the tourists, and the local fishermen.
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Film Washi “S” is a film used by motion picture professionals for sound recording, this requires a very fine grain and a very high definition. This sharpness is guaranteed by a special anti-halation layer located between the film’s base and the emulsion layer, while its usually in back layer for ordinary films.
I tried this film for the first time in Brussels in the iconic Grand Place and its neibourhood. The rendering is very original, with a great contrast. The film has a good dynamic range and I could get back a lot of details in the shadows in Lightroom with the shadow slider. I also reduced the highlights sometimes. I didn’t do any other editing, I liked the pictures as they came from the lab.
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In June 2018 I was in New York and I decided to shoot some film at the panoramic desk of the Empire State Building. It’s a great place to get some amazing 360 views of New York. This day it was raining which adds some charm and mystery to the pictures. I shot a roll of Cinestill 800T because New York is a very cinematic city and I thought it would fit perfectly with this film which comes from the motion picture film Kodak Vision 3 5219. The major landmarks of the Big Apple are there on the pictures : Flatiron, New York Life (golden top pyramid), Chrysler, 432 Park Avenue (the new and tallest building of the hemisphere), and the Hudson river!
I used my trusted Leica M6 TTL and the lens Noctilux. I had a lot of light despite the rain, and it’s a 800 iso film, so I was most of the time at maximum shutter speed, and the aperture was between F8 and F16.
You can see below the video and the pictures
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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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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 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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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.
Continue reading “Hong Kong neon signs and street photography : Cinestill 800T, Leica M6 & Noctilux”