Fadzly's blog on his photography

Photography

Operating a leica lens at its full capability

Untitled by elias.and.theresa.carlson
Shot by Elias and Theresa Carlson (graphic designers) in Seattle with their Leica III and Leitz Elmar 5cm 3.5 on Fuji Provia 100F transparency film

The outstanding optical performance of the lens is so apparent and it performs at its full capability when it gets coupled with a good photographer.

From my personal experience, a Leica lens, due to its superb light gathering power, can produce nice photographs even at difficult lighting conditions, twilight hours and dim light rooms. It provides full details for the shot and offers remarkable experience. It gives a clear view in the viewfinder and works impressively in every aspect. The critical lighting conditions like disturbing reflections, stray light and unwanted exposures are perfectly eliminated.


A Life Shot In Black And White

Gears: Nikon FM2 and Nikon Nikkor 50/1.4 AI lens | Kodak Tri-X 400 Film Location: Under Kuala Ibai bridge, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

FM2 | 50/1.4AI | Tri-X 400
Chendering Fisheries Complex, Kuala Terengganu (2007)

One of the best things about street photography is that it is like going on an unknown voyage. You just never know what you are going to find, or what shots you are going to make. Maybe a real nightmare for the average coordinator but such a treat for those who dislike any form of planning. And mind you, most other forms of photography demand heaps of preparation in advance. So there! A life shot in black and white.

Gears: Nikon FM2 and Nikon Nikkor 50/1.4 AI lens | Kodak Tri-X 400 Film Location: Under Kuala Ibai bridge, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

D50 | 50/1.4AI
First day of Ramadhan, Tok Jembal, Terengganu (2009)

Many people believe it is necessary to study arts and design in order to come up with a satisfactorily constructed picture.
But since photography is a tool for both documenting and self expression, the design of a photograph is inferior in importance. The composition of a photograph should be spontaneous to the scene and employed by the photographer’s vision not by a set of rules for correct design.

Not that a basic understanding of composition and design could hurt anyone, but don’t let that bother you too much and definitely don’t let it be the main factor when making your choices.

Next I’d like to quote an article from a young photojournalist, Lizane Louw, where she described how her passion in photojournalism has affected her life very much. This is what she had to say,

Gears: Nikon FM2 and Tokina RMC 135mm f/2.8 lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 Film Location: Under Kuala Ibai bridge, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

FM2 | Tokina RMC 135/2.8 | Tri-X 400
Under Kuala Ibai Bridge, Kuala Terengganu (2007)

“In my job I meet many influential people. Sometimes my road crosses with a person that inspires me on various different levels. I had the privilege to meet someone that changed the way I think, that changed my spiritual perceptions and that moved me and my thoughts very deeply.

Since meeting Hylton, I have been spending many days sitting and thinking about his story. In my heart and in my mind there are so many emotions that jump around if I think about our brief encounter. I struggle to find words to describe my gratitude and admiration. I thank the creator for choosing me to take these photographs and to let my path in life cross with his. It was a privilege to speak to him.” (Quote from Source: Lizane Louw)

Nikon D50 | Sigma 70-200/2.8
SUKMA XII Swimming Competition, Batu Burok Swimming Complex, Kuala Terengganu (2008)

However, one has to remember that in some unfriendly neighborhoods, shooting on the street can be extremely difficult and close to impossible. Any attempt to take pictures would inevitably lead to unwanted attention from the neighborhood drug dealers who populated the street corners and alleys. I personally do not believe in “assaulting” people with a camera. Don’t be surprised when most of the subjects that you approached may not be willing to be photographed. Should they be blamed?

There have been so many approaches to street photography, so far ranging in their unique style, that I believe the lack of exploitation and ability to contain meaning into the image which is technically competent are the big necessities in street photography or photo journalism.


Venturing the Medium Format world: The feeling of expansiveness, closeness and detail.

Seagull 4A TLR | 75mm ƒ3.5 | Fuji Pro 160S
Tok Jembal Beach, Terengganu, Malaysia (2008)

I’ve been craving for a medium format system and had done quite some research over the web for the said objective. Thus, over the last year or so I’ve tried (i.e. tested and borrowed) a few medium format bodies, namely RB67, Hasselblad 500 C/M and a Seagull 4A (TLR).

One thing that marks the medium format experience is the feeling of expansiveness, closeness and detail that is visible through the finder and the elegance of the shape relative to the angular, distant and cramped (my view) 35mm view. I get these things with 6×6 and 67.

Personally I don’t get this feeling with a 645 system results that I see on the web which I guess is another way of saying that it all looks too similar to 35mm for me. I hope I could have my hands on a 645 system so that I can really get a proper feel for the system.

That said there is certainly enough film size to produce great large prints. At the moment I am more inclined towards getting a camera with the largest negative that I could afford (i.e. 6X6 or 6X7)… Maybe a system with reputable lenses like Mamiya or Hassleblad. They are quite easily acquired from some good stores like KEH, some camera strores in Singapore or Evil Bay if my budget gets too tight.

Quoting Mr. Philip Partridge, Jan 09, 2006; 02:15 a.m. (Photo.net Forum)
I sometimes ponder why some people cannot see the ‘sharp edge/ poor tonal separation’ syndrome one encounters all over the place with digicam images. Maybe there is a kind of visual literacy at play?

In a word, better images, so typical of larger pieces of film real estate, exude *authenticity*. It’s a combination of clarity, fine detail rendition, lack of obvious grain, and tonality (or tonal separation) and even the range of tonal values. It’s not apparent sharpness (MTF) as such – many top MF lenses rate with the finest from Canon/Nikon; check out photodo.com.

Notice that most of these qualities do not lend themselves to ready quantification or measurement. Which explains the plethora of ‘6mp vs (pick a film camera)’ comparos on the web, that narrow it all down to *resolution*, which is perhaps the least significant metric of photographic image merit. Witness the rich heritage of the accumulated photographic record from the olden times down to the present. Not too many ‘L’ lenses in that lot…

IMNSHO, the jump from small format to medium format is a good leap, whereas the step from there to 4×5 is well, a good step. It’s a threshold in image quality you cross when jumping to MF. LF cameras also suffer all manner of drawbacks technical and practical – you miss plenty of shots that are eminently takeable with MF, esp. the more auto ones. Most LF guys use dumbed-down flatbeds; no good desktop film scanners are available for them..

The tonality smoothness is the biggest benefit of MF over 35mm. If you look at the LPM figures for assorted lenses, there are actually 35mm lenses that can resolve detail nearly as well or better than some common MF and LF rigs, but film grain and the need for greater enlargement prevents that resolution from ever approaching the clarity of even a relatively low grade MF or LF lens.


Hope, a fading glow

Gears: Leica R6 and Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 90/2.8, on Kodak Gold 400
Location: Gas Processing Plant, Kerteh, Terengganu, Malaysia

The hotter temperatures make plants become net emitters of carbon dioxide instead of net absorbers of it. It seems that as temperatures get hotter plants risk losing water through evaporation and respiration. In order to prevent water loss they reduce the size of their pores, and that in turn reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that the plants may take up.

LESSON LEARNED HERE: If you underexpose print films, you will not get the necessary shadow details. But given the wide latitude of print films, you can overexpose print films by 2 stops and yet get great results.

This ability for color neg films to be over-exposed and still reproduce decent images also accounts for the ability of print films to record much more brightness range than slides.

We often refer to this as “dynamic range”. In a slide, highlight information is stored as clear parts of the film that at a point contains nothing more than blank film base. Color negs continue to stack up increasing density (highlight) information until the film simply can’t record any more information.

Overexposing color negative film also makes it easier for most labs to get decent prints or scans, because more info is recorded. How much exposure compensation is needed? This probably varies with film but start with +.3 to+.5. Some film, maybe even one full stop.

This latitude doesn’t mean you’ll get an optimal result. It just means that within these ranges you can get a useable (depending on your purpose) result. Over- and under- exposure are mistakes. Film latitude should not be relied upon to cover mistakes in exposure.

Many people will intentionally reduce exposure of slide film by between a 1/2 stop and a full stop to increase colour saturation, retain detail in highlight areas and reduce grain. Some will also intentionally increase exposure on negative film by 1 to 1 1/2 stops to increase colour saturation and preserve details in shadow areas as well as reduce grain (grain can become very noticeable in underexposed areas of print film).


The swampy lagoon in Kuala Marang

The swampy lagoon in Kuala Marang is probably at it’s most beautiful in the late evening just as the sun is setting and the creatures of the night begin to stir their shift.

Gears: Leica R6 and Leica Summicron 35mm F/2.0, on Fuji PRO 160S Location: Marang Fishing Village, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

Gears: Leica R6 | Summicron 35mm F/2.0 | Fuji PRO 160S Location: Marang Fishing Village, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

In this post I’ll tell you how I discovered a beautiful swamp in Kuala Marang, about the crystal clear water that was full of real beauty, but the kind of beauty that you look at but don’t see unless you open your eyes and your heart.

Gears: Leica R6 | Summicron-R 35/2.0 | Fuji Superia 100
Location: Marang swamp land, Terengganu, Malaysia

Much of the area is a mosaic of wetlands and mesic flatlands subject to seasonal flooding. Flood and small bushfires largely govern the composition and distribution of vegetation, creating a distinctive mosaic of natural communities. Flooding also limits intensive agriculture and large-scale development, resulting in one of Terengganu’s most significant natural areas.

This is what the camera sees, so it has to be there, and it is! But often we don’t see the beauty because we are “beauty blind”. People are always in a rush, always rushing about, I guess that comes naturally when you live in big cities. I am just as guilty sometimes but not very often now my eyes are open.

Do you remember when they say, “see it through the eyes of a child”. Full of excitement and desire to explore. I truly feel that is how we should view the world around us.

Unfortunately often the case is the greed for land and money from the people of the past has endangered beautiful places like this. I often say “beauty is everywhere”, so try to see it and it will enhance your life like you would not believe. Just try it right now, look at something and try to see the details, the colors, the textures, the shapes see it differently than you did before.

Gears: Leica R6 | Summicron-R 2,0/35 | Kodak Gold 100
Location: Kuala Marang Fishing Village, Marang, Terengganu, Malaysia

The fools spent millions of dollars trying to built what they call progress and the damage they did may even now be irreversible. Thus beautiful swamps like this one we have here in Kuala Marang may be dying a slow death many and many species of plants, animals and birds are are on the endangered list they are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Gears: Leica R6 and Leica Summicron 35mm F/2.0, on Fuji Velvia 100 (RVP100F) Location: Marang Fishing Village, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

Gears: Leica R6 and Leica Summicron 35mm F/2.0, on Fuji Velvia 100 (RVP100F) Location: Marang Fishing Village, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

Interestingly, of course there are alligators in these swamps. I did not see any in the water but I was told by the old folks in Marang about the legend of the massive alligators. The alligators would certainly camouflaged very well and its hard to be see. The natural beauty of the area is beyond words.

If you get a chance to pass through Marang while you’re on your way to Kota Bharu to the North or going south to Kuala Lumpur, please take your time! Please go slow, please stop at overlooks, please take the time to hit a trail or two, it would be a real shame to drive by everything this awesome roadway has to offer.

Gears: Nikon D50 and Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO Location: Oyster farm, Marang Fishing Village, Terengganu, Malaysia

Gears: Nikon D50 and Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO Location: Oyster farm, Marang Fishing Village, Terengganu, Malaysia


Life’s steep and thorny path (499570008)

Leica R6, Summicron-R 35/2.0, Kodak 200
Location: Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia

As we have weathered many storms, trying to maintain our inner flame as we walked the steep and thorny path of high-truth with integrity and honor, we now hope to establish ourselves as true spiritual humans. No longer is this a concept of the future, but a realization of our now.

The Photo: This place is situated in Brinchang. It is quite easy to spot with its mock giant cactus replica at its entrance. It is located on a hill slope overlooking the night market area facing the Star Regency Apartment Hotel. As it is located on a hill slope, the center is terraced and the covering is built with skylight roof.

The Cactus Valley boasts of having the most variety of cactus plants. Some cactus is as old as 60 years old! Apart from cactus, several varieties of crops are cultivated here using hydroponics method. Tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers among others are grown here.

The hydroponics method of growing is not without is problem though at one time it was hailed as an efficient alternative way of growing crops.

However, the chemicals used though, give rise to other environmental problems when it has exhausted its nutrients and require disposing. Rows of potted giant cactus plants, want one for display in your house? Crops and cactus apart, other plants and flowers are grown here too. Roses, Calla Lily, Fuchsia, Camellia, Hibiscus, Rhododendron, Bird of Paradise to name a few, all can be found here.


Bokeh Schmokeh Fish Cart (36810028)

Leica R6 | Summicron-R 35/2.0
Teluk Ketapang Beach, Kuala Terengganu (2006)

IMO, the fewer the lens elements, the more you have to stop down to get adequate sharpness in the plane of focus. This results in less blitzed out backgrounds in actual use. This applies to 3 element lenses vs. Tessars vs. Planars.

These are the findings of Mr Rick Denney which I find very useful and which you can also read at length on his site

1. Bokeh has several components, including edge effects around out-of-focus highlights and false edges in the rendering of out-of-focus details.
2. Bokeh rendering is not the same in all situations, and some lenses will be better than others in some situations and worse in other situations. The Vega in this test has produced some really ugly bokeh, not consistent with these results. Lens bokeh is not a single value, and each lens requires considerable experience to understand where it is good and where it is not.
3. Wider apertures do not necessarily improve bokeh.
4. Specular highlights and other out-of-focus bright spots don’t tell the whole bokeh story.
5. Longer focal lengths improve bokeh. If smooth rendering is important, get a longer lens and back up.
6. Double-gauss designs aren’t necessarily bad, but the bad ones are really bad.
7. Sonnar designs don’t necessarily have better bokeh, but they have the potential.
8. Reputation for good bokeh (e.g., the Jupiter) don’t always show in actual results.
9. Lens complexity seems to have little bearing on bokeh. Lens design, however, is paramount.
10. Apertures shapes are not really an issue with bokeh, especially near wide open. In none of these tests was aperture shape the main determinant in apparent bokeh quality. So, we should stop counting aperture blades. The lens with the most aperture blades was the B&L Tessar, but it had uniformly the worst bokeh.
11. Bokeh is subjective, but it is not an illusion.
12. Canon knows how to design a zoom lens. Nikon didn’t do too badly, either.
13. The Biometar is NOT better than the Vega, at least in these tests.
14. The inexpensive Zeiss Jena Sonnars provide a lot of bokeh quality for the buck.

Copyright © 1999, 2009 R. W. Denney, Jr.


Twilight by the Chinatown jetty (36890024)

Leica R6 | Summicron-R 35/2.0
Teluk Ketapang Beach, Kuala Terengganu (2006)

Just imagine this for a moment…
You’re on vacation. You’ve spent a fair bit of cash getting here, and arranging to have time off work.

The first place you are compelled to go to is a magnificent scene with the most beautiful landscape. You excitedly get your camera out. You don’t rush into ‘snapping away’ as soon as you see the scene anymore.

You stop and look at the light, the weather, and a few things around you. You visualise how the landscape will look as a photo. Then you apply a few secret landscape techniques that only professionals know and then….click.

Then you eagerly press the preview button on your digital camera and… Ooops! You forget something, this is film and there’s no preview and there’s no certainty that you’ll get on film what you just seen.


Coming Home (36810027)

Do you ever think what orientation suits best for the subject you are trying to capture or do you just press the shutter release button and try your luck?

Orientation can greatly affect how and what image is presenting.

Most novices shoot everything horizontally – well it is much easier to hold and shoot in horizontal mode – especially the compact cameras, no?

Gears: Leica R6 and Leica Summicron 35mm F/2.0, on Kodak Colorplus 200 Negative
Location: Tok Jembal Beach, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia


Admiring the sky (DSC_1250)

Gears: Nikon D50 and Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO lens
Location: Marang Fishing Village, Terengganu, Malaysia