Monday, December 6, 2010

City of Lights

It goes without saying, for Thais, that December is usually a month of celebration.  Not only it is a X-mas and holiday season, but it's also our King's birthday.  The city of Bangkok is always lit up during the month of December to celebrate the King's birthday, and later X-mas and New Year.  

As a Bangkok resident, I had never been out on the streets on our King's birthday, but there's a first time for everything.  This first time, however, is a little tricky.  Ask any taxis or Tuk-Tuk and they decline heading to the old part of Bangkok this evening, simply because the traffic is so bad with tons of people heading to the same location.  So a motorcycle taxi is the only choice.  

I decide to bring my 24 'Lux because I have not used it much, and the Noctilux because of the low light environment.  Strangely, I find it very difficult to shoot with 24 'Lux maybe because the crowd are always in the way, or maybe it's just too wide for the surrounding with so many people.  Somehow I feel that the 35'Lux would have been a perfect one-lens choice for the night.  The focus throw of the Noctilux does make it a little tricky to shoot quickly, and low light doesn't help.  

Fortunately, I also have another equipment with me, the Olympus EP-L1 with the latest Panasonic 14/2.5 (28mm equivalent).  The EP-L1 doesn't disappoint even with f2.5 (I wish it's 2.0) and is able to capture some good shots in a relatively dark environment.  I walk a lot and probably spend too much time looking around, taking in the experience (as it's my first), rather than shooting.  Anyway, I hope you like the photos.

Anantasamakhom Palace - Leica M9 + 24 Summilux

I spot a small area where visitors light the candles, wishing our King prosperity on his birthday.  Then I see a handicapped woman reaching down to set her candles on the street. 

Lighting the Candles - Leica M9 + 24 Summilux

Lighting the Candles II - Leica M9 + 24 Summilux

Flower Woman - Leica M9 + 24 Summilux

Balloon Woman - Leica M9 + 50 Noctilux

Electric Bows - Olympus EP-L1 + Panasonic 14/2.5

Lights @ Makhawan Bridge - Olympus EP-L1 + Panasonic 14/2.5

Night Singer - Olympus EP-L1 + Panasonic 14/2.5

Ride with Me - Olympus EP-L1 + Panasonic 14/2.5

Constitution Monument - Olympus EP-L1 + Panasonic 14/2.5



PS:  I should also add that processing these photos was a bit tricky as the street lights cast a strong yellow/orange hue to all the photos.  I decided to customize the white balance to balance the mood (i.e. yellowness) and the natural color reproductions (a small degree).  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One Wedding and A Leica, Part III

As far as I know, this is the third (and the last for this year) wedding among our classmates this year.  What a year it's been with many great moments as well as sad ones where many of our friend's parents had passed away in the past 11 months.  

I bring the M9 along with the Noctilux and the 35 Summilux only to find a banquet room so densely arranged it's difficult to walk, let along taking pictures!  Other challenges for this shoot are the mixed indoor lighting, tall stage and high contrast stage lighting.  As a friend of the groom, and a lazy family man (after a long day), I only shoot as much as I could given the limitations.  The Noctilux works superbly at f2 and the Summilux is always handy for a wider angle, low-light shoot.  In a few shots below, you can see the "Leica glow" in the low light shots. This is what I love about M-lens!

The mighty D-Lux 4 also comes into its own on this trip especially when shot in RAW format.  Its f2 aperture and 24mm lens work like a charm!  Noise starts to get in the way at ISO400, but Noise Ninja does a fair job at smoothing them out.  I can't wait to get my hands on the D-Lux 5! 

Here are some of my favorites.

The Happiest Couple - Leica D-Lux 4

Classmates - Leica M9 + Noctilux

The Interviews - Leica M9 + Noctilux

Beer Boys - Leica M9 + Noctilux

The Groom's Gang - Leica D-Lux 4

Up - Leica M9 + 35 Summilux

Glow - Leica M9 + 35 Summilux

"Da Man" - Leica M9 + 35 Summilux

Night Tour - Leica D-Lux 4
(Raw @ ISO 400, Aperture + Noise Ninja)

Colors of the Night in Pattaya - Leica D-Lux 4

Wishing you all a good week ahead,


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back to Germany

I still cannot believe this could happen.  No, I did not send the M9 back to Germany.  The M9 is still working fine and I had a great time shooting with it in Germany during my short visit last weekend!

A short stay in Germany is part of the plan as my business trip takes me across 10 timezones. Crossing 4-5 timezones at a time (and adjusting) is my preferred choice.  As a car fanatic, I don't take long to figure out where to go in Germany.  Stuttgart is the natural choice.  On this trip, I have the 24 Summilux and the 50 Summicron with me so that I have a good range from just two lens.  It isn't easy to shoot cars with the M9 and prime lens but I do like quite a few shots from this visit.  Here are some photos from the Porsche and Mercedes - Benz Museums in Stuttgart.  Enjoy.

 Where It All Started - M9 + 50 Summicron

 Roadster Dream - M9 + 50 Summicron

 Speedster Dream - M9 + 50 Summicron

 Racing Heritage - M9 + 50 Summicron

 Passage At the MB Museum - M9 + 24 Summilux

 Silver Arrows - M9 + 24 Summilux

 Pathway at the Stuttgart TV Tower - M9 + 24 Summilux

 GT3 Eye Candies - M9 + 50 Summicron

 Downtown Stuttgart by Night - Leica D-Lux 4

Have a good week,


Friday, October 8, 2010

Deja Vu

As I'm packing for my long trip and taking a break, I stumble upon this site, canonrumors.  The M9 really has a tremendous effect on the way we photograph.  It's exactly what happened to me about 10 months ago.

The Leica M9 Reivew -

Time to pack the M9.  See you soon.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Problem with Leica...

These last few weeks have been exceptionally hectic.  I barely had time to shoot and to update the blog, and this may be the case for another several weeks.  

Anyway, on with the update.  The problem with Leica, you may be a little worried seeing the title.  Worry you should be as there's obviously a major problem with Leica.  Their M lens are too darn good and too different you can't have just one!  Few weeks ago I finally collected the long-awaited 24 Summilux, thanks to a few good friends who sourced it for me in Hong Kong.  While the 24 Elmarit is a great lens, I always like the 24 Summilux and its ability to throw the background out of focus at such a wide angle.  Well, I haven't had much time to shoot with it, but I will share a few quick shots with you.

Crying Baby - Here you can see how much the 24 Summilux can isolate the subject at f2.0. (This is something the 24 Elmarit cannot do with the f2.8 aperture.)

True to Leica's tradition, the 24 Summilux still offers great sharpness.

Also below are a few more photos taken with a recently acquired 50 Summicron.  I really need to spend more time shooting this wonderful lens.  My M-lens collection has grown too big, too quickly!  Time to make a few hard decisions and let some of them go!

50 Summicron, cropped.  Note the smooth bokeh.  I will try to compare it with the Zeiss Planar soon.

A few more from the 50 Summicron.

Soon I will be on a long business trip.  I'm still not sure if I can update the blog during the trip but definitely when I return.  The M9 surely will come long.  The problem is which lenses!

Have a good week!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Precious Metal

When it comes to optics, glass plays the key role in rendering lights onto film or sensor.  Yesterday, I received a PM pointing to a great opportunity for a 50 Summicron, box & papers in tact.  I have not had much luck with finding one in the last several months.  As you may have read, I already bought a ZM Planar 50/2.0 as a substitute.  As great as the Zeiss is, this Summicron is a silver chrome version (made of brass), produced in 2001.  It just feels different than aluminum M lens.  For one, it's heavier.  It also turns fluidly and quickly.  After a few test shots, I couldn't resist and now I've got it!  I only had time to take few pictures with it, so here goes, in sepia tone:

The 50 Summicron, in mint condition.  It's amazing how fast these things get picked up.  As soon as I said yes, the seller received another phone call asking for this lens!

Soon I will have to decide which lens(es) to let go as I have too many! LOL.  

Have a good week,


Saturday, August 28, 2010

One Wedding and A Leica, Part III

This must be a great year.  I don't remember having so many close friends getting married in the same year like this.  It's also great because I can now bring a real camera (other than a compact) to the wedding and stand a  chance of getting a few good shots.  This wedding is slightly different than the one earlier few months ago.  There are three separate events from the traditional Thai engagement, the church ceremony, and the evening reception.  The major different, though, is the size of this wedding which includes all the big names in business.  This alone entails a rather large group of hired photographers and videographers throughout the three events.  Which means getting a few good shots can be a little tricky, to say the least.  

Going to the wedding, I want to keep the M9 light so I can also keep my kids in check and mingle with friends without having to worry about my equipment.  So after some thinking, I decide on the following: 

Engagement ceremony - (held in confined space without too many guests - and, boy, was I wrong about that one) M9 + Zeiss ZM 50/2.0

Church ceremony - M9 + Noctilux for that low-light, magical background rendering, making the most of the church environment

Evening reception - Lots of people, low-light, M9 + 35 Summilux to handle low light and group photos

The biggest challenge, for me, shooting this wedding was the videographer who frequently swoops around the couple with his Canon DSLR, trying to shoot video footage.  This is an additional video to the main video camera.  I'm sure the photographers (from a different studio) were equally frustrated with him. Sometimes I wonder if the wedding photos / videos are actually more important than the wedding itself.  

Well, the final results are posted below.  Another confirmation that the M9 is truly a superb equipment that doesn't get in the way like big DSLR would. I hope you like them as much as I do.  

One of the better formality shots. My friend, the groom, seems tensed most of the time.

Just as the ceremony finishes, the couple is much more at ease.

The church exit fills with swooping videographer and other photographers.
I struggle with the Noctilux focusing here but the images are not too bad.

I like this candid shot of the groom.

The next couple to be married in November!

I pre-focus the 'Lux to shoot from my waist level. A fun shot of a friend of mine!

An evening formality on stage.  I love the contrast and how the backdrop is rendered.

A very happy couple cutting their wedding cake!

A small surprise from the groom who requested his cousin (a singer) to sing a special song for his wife.

Have a nice weekend,