Rainy Day Flowers


Yesterday was a cool rainy day, and we headed to Fairchild again. Butterflies were not in the best of moods. We got some, but spent more time with the flowers, since it was cloudy, we could work longer than we usually would.
 the beauty of decay
In this case, I sussed the Leica 35 Summilux ASPH FLE, with a close up filter. I have found this to work very well for me vs a macro lens. I’m not aware of an f/1.4 macro lens, and if there is, I’m sure it would be really big. So happy camper with my combo, that coupled with the mirror less Sony a7 mkII is now my favorite macro rig.
Slipper slice
Tomorrow it is supposed to be record cold here, low of 37F, praying for cloudy skies to go out again. In the meantime, here are some from yesterday.
 Inner beauty
FC orangeorchids
FC Chastity
FC littleorchid

Butterfly Expedition


For one reason or another, mostly health related, we had not visited the Butterfly Garden at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. So Valentine Day seemed like a good time to do it, since the rather was on the cold side for Florida. Sun was out and a little breeze for macro, but were going to be inside an enclosure, so it should be OK.
Black Butterfly

Lots of people since it was a week-end. We were there early and enjoyed lots of spots with shade. Sun will yield tremendous contrast and many times, white glare from the sunlit leaves in the background, so we avoided it. The cool weather was perfect because they get a bit lethargic. Happy butterflies move too much for good pictures.
 Indecent proposal

We took a lot of gear, not knowing which would work better. One camera, the new Sony a7 mkII, and a handful of lenses: Leica 35 Summilux, Leica 75 Summicron, Sony 70-200G with extension tubes, Lensbaby Sweet 35 and Edge 80. No tripods, although they are allowed, I would think kind of difficult when the place is busy. You gear will most likely end up on the ground. No flash is allowed in consideration to a couple of Hummingbirds in there. I was laughing thinking the ones in Costa Rica and Ecuador must be extinct right now with the 8 flash set-ups.
Crystal

Since I wanted a certain look to the pictures, most successful came from the 35mm with close up filter and the 70-200 with extension tubes. All wide open in my case.
Looking forward to our next expedition, on a week day this time, to work a little more comfortably.
White

Monarch

Minimal

 BlueDrop

Miami Mystery


So Art Basel Wynnwood was here again, and we took Maggie Steber’s workshop again, Miami Mystery, to Miami Noir as I like to call it. It was great, very good at motivating Maggie is. Although Wynnwood is certainly changing, less wall writers and more galleries, it is still a spectacular place to view art, interesting people and enjoy yourself, if a little warm for December.
Here is a short slide show of my story line. You may interpret yo your imagination:

So Epcot again it is!


After a long summer break, mainly due to the Florida summer heat and humidity, we decided to take a chance and visit Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.
I still had the knee problem, so we rented an electrical scooter to move around. It was very cool and efficient, and it made our visit so much more pleasurable. Even though I had the carriage, I chose to go light on the gear and just carried the newly acquired Sony a7s and a couple of Leica lenses.
The little Sony is the youngest one of the a7 family. We had the a7r for while, but it was problematic with the Leica lenses because of purple fringing and vignetting. There is a Lightroom plugin, called Flat Field, that will handle that, but you need to take a control picture and we really did no want to go through the trouble.
This little gem does not have that problem, being a newer camera. At least, it worked perfectly on my 35mm Lux, which is my main lens when I use Leica.
The ISO capabilities are extremely good and pixels are very dense, except it only has 12MGs, which does not really bother me. My beloved Nikon D3 was that exact resolution and it was fine.
So here are some of the pics we captured, most of them with the 35 Lux. Only used the 24 f/2.8 for the fireworks, though I could have used the 35 after all.
I used the B&W 3X filter for some flowers or objects close ups. Be aware that you need to focus moving back and forth until you find sharpness exactly where you want it. I tend to use it wide open, but if you like more detail all around you can use a smaller aperture.
More to follow soon!

Sony a7s, Leica 35 Lux ASPH. f/1.4, 1/25, ISO12800
Sony a7s, Leica 35 Lux ASPH.
f/1.4, 1/25, ISO12800

Sony a7s, Zeiss 55/1.8 f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 320
Sony a7s, Zeiss 55/1.8
f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 320

Sony a7s, Leica 35 Lux ASPH plus B&W 3X filter f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 250
Sony a7s, Leica 35 Lux ASPH plus B&W 3X filter
f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 250

Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH f/1.4, 1/6400, ISO 100
Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH
f/1.4, 1/6400, ISO 100

Sony a7s, Leica 35 Lux ASPH, B&W 3X filter f/1.4, 1/800, ISO 100
Sony a7s, Leica 35 Lux ASPH, B&W 3X filter
f/1.4, 1/800, ISO 100

Sony a7s, 35 LUX ASPH, B&W 3X filter f/1.4, 1/1250, ISO 100
Sony a7s, 35 LUX ASPH, B&W 3X filter
f/1.4, 1/1250, ISO 100

Son a7s, Leica 24 Elmarit f/23.8, 1/60, ISO 10000 hand held
Son a7s, Leica 24 Elmarit
f/23.8, 1/60, ISO 10000
hand held

Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH f/1.4, 1/640, ISO 100
Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH
f/1.4, 1/640, ISO 100

Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH f/1.4, 1/100, ISO 100
Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH
f/1.4, 1/100, ISO 100

Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH f/1.4, 1/6400, ISO 100
Sony a7s, Leica 35 LUX ASPH
f/1.4, 1/6400, ISO 100

Sony a7s, 35 LUX ASPH f/1.4, 1/100, ISO 100
Sony a7s, 35 LUX ASPH
f/1.4, 1/100, ISO 100

Sony a7s, Leica 35mm Lux ASPH, hand held, 1/60, f1.4, ISO 5000
Sony a7s, Leica 35mm Lux ASPH, hand held, 1/60, f1.4, ISO 5000

How we do fireworks


We love doing fireworks and Florida’s Disney World has three parks that offer nightly shows. You can choose from a variety of locations, using foregrounds to make the photo more interesting. Fireworks by themselves are kind of boring. Cityscapes under them usually work, but incorporating people or structures usually give you a stronger image.
Normally we do the fireworks with a tripod mounted camera and slow shutter speed to have light trails common in this type of image.

Sony A 7r Leica Super-Elmar 18mm f/3.8 ASPH Hand-held, no filters 1/500, f/4, ISO 1250
Sony A 7r
Leica Super-Elmar 18mm f/3.8 ASPH
Hand-held, no filters
1/500, f/4, ISO 1250

I will have to give credit to my husband for the idea of trying high shutter speed and ISO to experiment hand held firework images. I happily went along, since we travel to the parks a few times a year. Nothing to loose but a night of shooting.

There is a great element of luck capturing fireworks, even if you are familiar with the show. Even if you do fast shutter speed, there are no guaranties of getting a good image.

The Sony 7r is a great camera, but it has an DSLR sensor, which becomes a problem with Leica wide angle lenses. Anything under 50mm and even the, you get vignette and a color cast. Leica lenses are range finder lenses, not totally compatible, except for the WADE lens, Tri-Elmar 14-16-18mm, because of it being a new design. There are still way to go around this, using Lightroos free plugin called Flat Field, which calls for you to take a control picture through a clear white balance filter, and the software will use both pictures and correct the problem.
We didn’t have to do this, because the sky was going to be dark anyway.
At the beginning of the show, I was trying the 50mm Noctilux, further away from the people. Mid show, there is a laser show and some talking, and I sued the time to change lenses and go wider.
Instead of standing up to eye level, I decided to kneel on the ground and look up, getting more space in the sky.
I set the camera to Aperture Priority, Auto ISO, f/4 and -1 Ev compensation, to avoid burning the white lights. Normally, at the end of every show, the intensity of the fireworks is much bigger than before and many times a lot lighter, so it is a good idea to move your aperture to a smaller one or your shutter speed to a quicker one, and you have more chances of getting a better exposure.

Since our lenses are manual focus, we either focus on infinity and go back a point or two, or in the case on the structure, we use the magnifying feature of the camera and make sure the borders of the structure are sharp. My suggestion is, if you use AF, to lock the focus and then turn the lens to MF to avoid AF jumping as you shoot.

Here is an example of slow shutter speed on the same show and location. This time, I used the Leica M240, 24mm Elmarit ASPH at f/4, ISO 200 (This Leica’s native ISO is 320) and a shutter speed of 1/500. A three stop neutral density was used to be able to extend the capture time.

Your camera may have long exposure noise reduction. On the Leica M240, you cannot disable this, but on the Sony A7r you can. The bad part about noise reduction is that it takes a while to process, as long as your exposure time, affecting the amount of images you can take during the show. My advise is that it is worth keeping it on. Best to have less picture with a clean sky than many with artifacts and posterized darks.

You can clearly see the difference it makes. This is a traditional approach to fireworks and what most people expect to get. Nothing wrong with that, but trying something different is also good. A cable release was used to avoid camera movement in the long exposure. No mirror up needed, Leica does not have one.

Leica M 240, Elmarit 24mm ASPH, ND filter, ISO 200, f/4, 8 seconds. Tripod and cable releasse.
Leica M 240, Elmarit 24mm ASPH, ND filter, ISO 200, f/4, 8 seconds. Tripod and cable releasse.

Here is another example of hand held fireworks:
Leica M 240, 500mm Noc, ISO 100, 1/60, f/2.8, HH
Leica M 240, 500mm Noc, ISO 100, 1/60, f/2.8, HH

You get a lot of smoke when you do fast shutter speed, which may be an asset getting what we call the nebula look.

Results:
Since this was an experiment, we did not know it if was going to work or not. Some of the images were very interesting, getting a complete different look, almost like galaxies in the sky. Most of them we will not keep, but we did get a bunch of interesting images not available with longer shutter speeds.

Hints:

Scout location if you have the time and try to get there early to secure a good spot.. If you are using a tripod, be careful of somebody tripping on it or moving it while you are capturing a long exposure.

Try to include other elements, like structures or people in your image, they add interest.
Try to include other elements, like structures or people in your image, they add interest.

If you only have one night of fireworks, you can try to do one camera in a tripod with long exposure, and another hand held for fast speed hand held. This requires quick reflexes and the ability to multitask.

Leica M 240, 50mm Noc, ISO 200, f/4, 8 seconds, ND filter
Leica M 240, 50mm Noc, ISO 200, f/4, 8 seconds, ND filter

Sony 7r, Leica 50mm Noctilux f/0.95, ISO 2000, 1/2000, F/2.8, hand held
Sony 7r, Leica 50mm Noctilux f/0.95, ISO 2000, 1/2000, F/2.8, hand held

Epcotfireworks18mm
Leica M240, Christmas fireworks
Leica M240, Christmas fireworks

It has been a long time


We have not been to the blog since December 1st of last year. Shame on us!

It is not that we are not taking photographs, nor stopped in our testing of new equipment. Sometimes our priorities get a little shook up and we need to stop and re-evaluate.

Some of you know that I went through a life chafing event, health related. Although I am officially rid of the Big C, some of the sequels are still around, in the form of lack of interest and energy, which I try to fight, sometimes with no results.

Yes, we have been active in photography. Yes, we have tried new things, but since I am the main communicator in the couple, the bucket stopped there.

We had big illusions to a trip to Guatemala with Raul Touzon, to document the Holy Week processions and events. An unexpected surgery got on the way and we were left behind and hospitals enriched their bottom line. to be perfectly honest, missing the trip hurt me more than having the surgery.

But I have come to terms with the cards that were dealt, and slowly put the pieces back together.

Since December, we have acquired and enjoyed the Leica monochrome, that has only one channel and shoots only black and white.

Very enjoyable camera, not for all uses, but worth having if you like B&W.

I will ask Alfred to write a small review, he’s more tech oriented than me. In the mean time, just to break the ice, I will include some pics taken after the last December post.

Will try and keep up the Blog, it used to be fun. I will reclaim that fun!!!

Great to be with you guys again!

Coral Gables tree. Leica M Monochrome, Voigtlander 12mm
Coral Gables tree. Leica M Monochrome, Voigtlander 12mm
Leica X-Vario. Youth Fair
Leica X-Vario. Youth Fair
Leica M, 35 Cron. Little Havana
Leica M, 35 Cron. Little Havana
Leica M240, Super Elmar 18mm, Magic Kingdom
Leica M240, Super Elmar 18mm, Magic Kingdom
Leica M240, Christmas fireworks
Leica M240, Christmas fireworks
Leica M240, 18mm Super Elmar, from the hip
Leica M240, 18mm Super Elmar, from the hip
Leica X-Vario, Youth Fair
Leica X-Vario, Youth Fair
Leica M240, 18mm Super Elmar, Youth Fair
Leica M240, 18mm Super Elmar, Youth Fair
Leica M240, Voigtlander 12mm
Leica M240, Voigtlander 12mm
Leica M240, 75mm Cron, French Pavilion, Epcot
Leica M240, 75mm Cron, French Pavilion, Epcot

EpcotChinesepavillion

M240, 35 Lux, Port Orleans, Riverside WDW
M240, 35 Lux, Port Orleans, Riverside WDW

Santa’s Enchanted Forrest


One of our favorite night shooting locations for the year and a fine place to use the fast Leica lenses.    All images made hand holding, including the Ferris Wheel which was taken at 1/15 sec.    Might make one more trip this year and post more images.

Family outing !!!   Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
Family outing !!! Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
In amazement !!    Leica  75 APO-Summicron Asph
In amazement !! Leica 75 APO-Summicron Asph
One wild ride !!!!     Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
One wild ride !!!! Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
The drag strip !!  Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH
The drag strip !! Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH
The eyes have it !!   Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
The eyes have it !! Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
Mechanical  bull operator     Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
Mechanical bull operator Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 ASPH
Looking fine with iPhone !!     Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH
Looking fine with iPhone !! Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH
Riding !!!     Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH
Riding !!! Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH
The big wheel !!!   Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH
The big wheel !!! Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH