A year with the M Monochrom!

A special gift!

A year ago, I bought myself a very special gift - a black & white camera! This may not be my favourite camera in my collection, but it is definitely the best tool I have for black & white photography!

The experience!

Owning a camera that takes only black & white images feel very special! My love of using manual focus lenses not only allow me to take control of focusing, it helps to slow me down too! Image quality from the Monochrom sensor is second to none, minimal adjustments are needed in most cases unless I want to push the shadows to the extreme for a more contrasty look!

I have yet to try out different lenses with this camera, the one that is used most is the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH.

Panoramic within square!

Being different!
Long live the squares! But there were times I didn't feel like doing my norms, I thought panoramic could be an interesting format for my next challenge. From square to panoramic, it seems like I can't settle on anything ordinary!

A different approach!
Similar to how I deal with squares, I always shoot in landscape mode. But my approach to cropping is somewhat different in panoramic form and it plays an important role in post. Honestly speaking, I usually don't have a clue how I want to frame my image – this could be the reason why I find it interesting!

DO I NEED TO UPGRADE?

It has been quite exciting in the past few months in mirrorless sector, there are Fujifilm's flagship X-H1 and some SONY A series - A9, A7RIII, A7III. Specs from these new models look promising, but the question is: "DO I NEED TO UPGRADE?"

Faster auto focus, more focusing points, 4K video… all of these improvements have nothing to do with my style of shooting. I'm a single point shooter, manual focus, never does video, don't care much anymore about ISO performance and DR; and for megapixels, who needs more than 16 really! And more importantly, do these features help to improve my photography?

NO!

I'm Captured!

It is about time to switch again!

When I started photography, Apple's Aperture seemed to be an excellent choice for RAW processing and for archive management. Having the ability to sync albums to my iPhone was a great feature I thought I couldn't live without. Unfortunately, Apple's decision to pull the plug forced me to look elsewhere, and I ended up with Lightroom. Lightroom was great and is still great for certain tasks.

One system I use for my street photography is Fujifilm-X, apparently most users consider Lightroom isn't the ideal software to handle the Fuji RAF files. With Adobe moving to cloud-based recently, I thought it might be time for me to look for alternative. The first name that pops up was Capture One!

Switching software is never easy! So far I have tried a few Fuji RAF files, the outcome is quite good! Can I live without Fujifilm's film simulations from Lightroom? I wish Capture One will incorporate the popular Fujifilm film simulations in the next upgrade.

So here are a few samples!

Hazy morning!

Getting up early and driving around the neighbourhood has become my norm during fall and winter. That morning, I was so delightful! Extremely foggy, I couldn't even see the road clearly when I was driving to a pond nearby.

The trail was lightly covered with snow and there was a think layer of ice underneath. Not even this made it more interesting to photograph, it was quite a challenge walking the trail too.

Good times won't last! Luckily I was able to capture a few before the haze disappeared.

2 incredible brands, 2 incredible stores!

During my recent trip to Amsterdam, I bumped into 2 stores that I simply couldn't ignore! 

Leica + TASCHEN!

Photos: iPhone 6 Plus

My focal length!

I love fast lenses, particularly 50!

At one point I had four 50mm prime lenses for my Canon system. The very first prime I collected was the Canon 50mm f/1.2 L, then it came a Zeiss Marko Planar T* 2/50, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, and a Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50.

Since the adaptation of the M-System, there are 2 in my small collection for the rangefinder. The Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. is my day-to-day lens, the Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50 serves as an alternative.

 

Winter Wonderland

"Winter Wonderland" – this was my first photographic awarded image from a nation-wide photo competition in Canada. Ironically this was not shot using my usual landscape setup, this was captured using a Fujifilm X-PRO1 with a XF56mm f/1.2 lens.

I'm the type who always love doing landscape. I think it is greatly influenced by where I live. Farms, corn fields, barn houses, trees, horses, ponds and lakes… there are endless opportunities around, all within a few minutes drive. How wonderful!

With winter approaching, I should start thinking about my plan for this year. Forgoing my favourite Zeiss Distagon T* 2/25 ZE, I am now working with 3 fixed focal lengths: 21mm - 50mm - 85mm! Not being a typical range for most landscape photographers, but this is how I make it DIFFERENT!

What I use: Canon 6D, Zeiss Distagon T*2.8/28, Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50, Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85, Zacuto Z-Finder, Gitzo Mountaineer GT1532 with GH1780QR, Lightroom Classic, and Capture One Pro!

iPhone photography!

I love taking snapshots when I travel! Doing it with an iPhone is fun, convenient, and fast! With powerful app like Snapseed, I can quickly tune my images before posting to my blog.

10x10

In 2014, Leica celebrates the centenary of Leica photography, that began back in 1914 with Oskar Barnack's seminal creation. Leica approached 10 photographers asking them to develop an idea for a series of 10 photos each. This resulted in 10 series, a total of 100 images - a contemporary kaleidoscope of photography.

Travelling light!

For many years I carried around a big backpack loaded with heavy DSLR's and lenses when I travelled. Two years ago I started to carry only 2 small cameras with 2-3 lenses max on any trip. Carry less allows me to be more creative and also more likely to spend longer exploring.

In my recent trip to Netherlands, I mainly shot black & white with my Leica Monochrom + Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH and for colour I was using Fujifilm X-PRO2 with a 35mm f/2.

Carrying a minimum of equipment also makes me look less obtrusive, important for working in public areas!

It feels classic, Fuji's Classic Chrome!

It is no secret that I love Fuji's “Classic Chrome” film simulation! Images generally have low color saturation and full-bodied tones, very natural looking! This has quickly become my go-to setup for street and travel photography.

Classic Chrome, one of the growing list of reasons Fuji users tend to connect so strongly with their cameras!

Project 365

A project I started in the summer of 2015. The motivation came from a 365 project of a X-photographer Jonas Rask.

The whole idea behind this was to force myself to pick up my cameras to shoot, anything from macro to landscape and street. I won't say I did great in the project, but it really gave me chances to do a mix of different things including the fun of playing with light.

Will I do it again?

Landscape: a desire to get closer!

Landscape photography to most people means using wide or ultra wide angle lenses, just like everyone else this was how I approached landscape at the beginning. I had a few lenses that I used exclusively for landscape: Canon EF17-40mmL, Zeiss Classic 2.8/21, and Zeiss Classic 2/25, with the Zeiss 2/25 being my all-time favourite.

Not too long ago I had a desire to use a different focal length for my outdoor experiences, somehow I had chosen exploring with a 50mm lens - Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50. This is one of the best lens I've ever owned, period! Love the colour, love the construction, and obviously I love the silky smooth manual focus ring.

With my latest addition, a Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85, my landscape kit now contains a trio of Zeiss lenses in these focal lengths: 2.8/21mm, 1.4/50mm, and 1.4/85mm.

I used to own 2 Canon full frame bodies at the same time (5DII/6D) for shooting landscape. With the acquisition of a black & white rangefinder camera, I had to make a choice to let one of the Canon go. The 6D was left behind simply because it has better image quality.

Other equipments include a Zacuto Z-Finder, Gitzo Mountaineer GT1532 tripod, and some B+W filters.

[ simplicity in monochrom e ]

The idea of building my own site came about a few months ago, having a space to display my photography the way I like makes a big difference, at least to myself! At the end I'm glad that I did it!

A BIG commitment!
The process was long and a bit painful! A decision was made to mainly showcase black & white images wasn't an easy one. I guess earlier this year when I decided to go for a Monochrom 246 instead of the newest M10, I was already committed to something - black & white!

Is "LESS IS MORE"? I do think it is! It has been a design principle that I follow and practice in my whole career. Naturally, the same principle has greatly affect the approach in designing this site and in a way to my photography too!

Simple yet dramatic, and being different!

Printing my work!

Ever since I started taking photographs, printing out my work has never been a thing on my "to do list". But the idea came across my mind about 2 1/2 years ago when I purchased a Canon Pro inkjet printer… the funny thing was the printer was kept in my home studio unplugged until now!

I use a x-rite i1 Display Pro display calibration device for colour management. Knowing colour accuracy is a key, I probably will acquire an Eizo monitor for colour printing in the future. For now, my iMac is good enough for monochrome. Choice of paper is the Canon Photo Paper Pro Luster LU-101, I figured it couldn't go wrong with this combination.

Seeing some of my work printed on beautiful paper and framed just feels good. It’s almost becoming an addiction for me… What I need to do next is to go buy more frames! It’s just so much fun.

 

99 - NINETYNINEYEARS

A book to celebrate 99 years of Leica with 99 pages, created by a publishing house called 99 pages. A coffee-table book I can read chapter by chapter, page by page…for years!

Creatively put together by Ansgar Pudenz, Rainer Schillings and Till Schaffarczyk - 1,500 English copies were available in North America when it was released in 2012!

Part history lesson, part collection of personal stories, Ninety Nine Years Leica is a must own collector item whether you are a Leica camera owner or not, ushers readers into an undiscovered "Leica Universe".

A different view - Leica Elmarit 28mm f/2.8 ASPH.

Ever since I started shooting with the M-Monochrom along with my other two systems (Canon/Zeiss DSLR and Fujifilm X), I had no strong desire to put on a different lens besides the Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH.

35mm and 50mm have become my favourite focal lengths recently, I feel like I can just create any type of images using these two type of lenses. Why 28mm then? If money wasn't a concern, I probably would have bought a Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH., but I wasn't prepared to spend an extra few thousands on top of the M-Monochrom. The 28mm Elmarit was the most affordable at the time and I thought why not trying something different!

Wanting to go shoot some street photography with this lens one day, I think this is perfect to get close to the subject and yet can also capture enough background for a better story. In the meantime, I have used it around the house just to try out. Can't wait to use it for street!

Chapters at Bayview Village

Out of all of the Chapters near where I live and work, the one at Bayview Village seems to have the largest collection of photography books. You never get enough books, here a few I'd like to have on my shelf.

Sebastiao Salgado: Exodus
Magnum Magnum
Elliott Erwitt Personal Best

Morning shadows!

I have never been to Eldred King Woodlands in the summer since I do prefer shooting landscape with richer and more colourful leaves. These are obviously not the best photos I have taken at this location but I wasn't disappointed at all!