Maternity Shoots

Kate

Maternity shoots are always fun, I have done a few in the past for ladies who have never been in front of a photographer before, its always important to remember the small talk and concentrate on building a relationship with the person, I often have the future father present to give support and if I can persuade them to take part as well.

Fair testing and reviews

Watching the initial viewpoints of the new Nikon Z9 has led to some controversy.

The first one is the small buffer, only 30 shots before the buffer fills in lossless compressed RAW. That video was from a reviewer who only had slow XQD card. Another reviewer who had a faster CFExpress card got 90 shots. So a big controversy was generated over nothing. Next year when the next gen CFExpress cards come out this will not be an issue for people who need that performance, but that seed has been sown in peoples mind and will hurt Nikon.

Some of these initial reviews have been big events organised by Nikon, the camera getting passed from reviewer to reviewer. One video I saw, the reviewer was getting a good hit rate for focus on birds in flight but it some times struggled to initial get focus. Towards the end of the video the reviewer mentions that the focus had been setup oddly, not on animal or auto, so later he reset it and now the camera was focusing and getting that initial lock straight away. Someone watching the first half of the video would get a very different impression of the focus abilities then someone who watched all the video.

Some of the better videos have been with Nikon Ambassadors, some who have had the camera for nearly three months and really gotten to grips with the features. The problem with videos from these people is can you believe them? They are chosen by Nikon and would not want to hurt the hand that feeds them so to speak.

I think with any camera its better to wait until everything is finalised on the camera (these were pre-production models with early firmware), and a reviewer that can spend some time learning the ins and outs of the camera. The release of the Z9 by Nikon has been handled fairly well, much better then the Z6 an Z7 which had very early firmware and still were not focusing very well, this was fixed and then revolutionised with firmware v2 and v3.

Too many hobbies – Music

I like many people have too many hobbies. Not only that but they all some to want all my free cash. If I had one hobby life would be much easier. My main daybjob is an IT Engineer; that’s my main income, but messing around with computers is also a hobby. My second job and second income is that of a Photographer; Portraits, Portfolios, Weddings and commercial business portraits but its also a hobby.

I love travelling to lovely areas to take landscape photographs, using a mix of equipment including film, small, medium and large format.

I also have a small watch collection, mid tier pieces like SINN, unique pieces like British watchmaker FEARs; with my love of tech there is also an Apple Watch.

Watch Macro with Profoto A10

I have a fountain pen collection from low end Kaweco and TWSBI to higher end Pelikan and Montblanc and my love of coffee could also be called a hobby, I have brewers from Kalita, Chemex and Aeropress and a mid range espresso machine, and believe me once you get into espresso at home it really does become a crazy hobby, and you start buying custom, distribution tools, porta filters etc.

Lastly my love of music, I used to play the guitar, and now play banjo and piano (badly), but enjoy it. I also love listening to music. From popular opera, Beethoven, and Mozart, to pop like the recent Taylor Swift like her Evermore Album, Lana Del Rey, and most 1980’s pop, like the Communards, Duran Duran, Eurythmics and country and folk like Edwina Hayes, Ashley McBryde and even Sheryl Crow.

How do I listen to my music. Well when on the go, its an iPhone and Apple EarPods, its not hifi but its good enough. Sat at my desk in the company office, I may use a higher in ear sennheiser headphones, sometimes with an external battery DAC like the Cord Mojo. I have detailed how I listen in my office at home, A usb out of my desktop Mac, to a Schiit DAC and pre-amp then either to a pair of higher end Meze over ear headphones or my Ruark active speakers.

In the lounge I have may main hifi.

Its a low-end system I have had since my student days, with for now a days a basic Denon amp and a pair of Celestion DL4 stand mount speakers.

Its now fronted by a decent CD player, and a DAC being fed by an old iPad acting as a Roon Ready end point to stream to.

At some point I want to upgrade all of this starting with a dedicated streamer/dac and new speakers. If I was being sensible I should get something like a pair of Kev LS50 Meta’s, but part of me wants a nice set of floor standers but would they be too much for that room.

As always things will have to wait, I have a new studio flash to buy but I keep looking and investigating. As I said at the start – too many hobbies and they all seem to cost too much money.

a Walk through Lincoln with a pretty Model

I am now the proud owner of a Nikon Z7. I managed to get an amazing deal on so now to practice with it before I use it professionally.

Old Wood, Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S

I spent a while taking snapshots round the village, setting up the controls as I wanted then spent a Monday walking round Lincoln taking shots around the castle and cathedral.

Once I had a good feel for the camera I then spent some time developing some Lightroom presets to process the images.

Street Fashion, Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S

So now time to put the camera through its paces. I messaged a few models and the lovely Casey came forward to spend a cold Saturday, walking around Lincoln with me.

Casey at Usher Art Gallery. Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S

We got some good images and I have to say despite what you may hear on social media, the autofocus is excellent.

Time to Buy a new camera

While in the current climate cameras are difficult to get hold of for some models, in the current economic situation some truly great offers are available.

It’s time to bite the bullet and jump into mirrorless. I have decided the camera is going to be mainly studio and location portraiture with some landscape work. For events, action and street I am going to continue using my Nikon D800 and Leica M10.

I want good flash support and high megapixel count, stunning primes at f/1.2 and f/2 but at a reasonable price. So that rules out the Leica SL and tends me towards Nikon and Canon rather than Sony.

Then ergonomics and feel good in the hand, that again raises Nikon and Canon to the top of the list.

  • Nikon Z7 46MP
  • Canon R5 45MP
  • Sony A7R IV 61MP
  • Leica SL2 47MP

The Sony is 61MP, the highest in this list, the Canon the lowest at 45MP but practically these are all about the same resolution. The old Nikon D3 which 12MP not quite half the resolution of a Nikon Z7 at 46MP. Resolution is measured linearly not over the area.

The difference between these cameras is not going to be visible to the human eye. So on that front they are all about equal.

Build quality and weather sealing for when I shoot landscapes is going again to put Nikon and Canon to the top of the list.

I have used Canon and Nikon in the past and been happy with both. I currently own a lot of Nikon F mount glass, Nikon is always going to be top of the list.

Now to see who has the best offers, the Canon is generally above £4000 but I have seen the Nikon Z7 under £1700, leaving more money for things like the Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 when its released.

Practically image quality is pretty similar, you may as well buy the model that you get on with the most. I have recently tried the Sony’s and Nikons and due to my years of using Nikons’, that felt the best and was very easy for me to use, so I have purchased a Nikon Z7.

The Leica M11

I remember waiting for the M10 release, immediately placing. my order and waiting patiently.

Leica M10, 50mm Summilux-M 1.4 ASPH

Now five years later with have the M11, and in so many ways its a better camera, easier to work with quickly, a quick access USB-C port in the bottom, better colour, dynamic range, stronger and lighter.

Many reasons to upgrade.

Leica M10, 50mm Summilux and Ivory Flame modeling

For my model shoots where I use the Leica M10, the new M11 makes a lot of sense, and a worthwhile upgrade.

But this is a niche use for me. I mainly use it for street photography and a carry everywhere camera when I do not want to have the size and weight of medium format or my SLR.

While the model shots above and this landscape would benefit from the upgrade, for a general purpose camera currently 24 Megapixels is easier to handle.

Leica M8 sample – walk to the gig

So for me I’ll be sticking with my M10 for now, while I spend the cash investing in a mirrorless studio solution.

Contrast and Black and White

I love high contrast Black and White but it can be quite tricky.

I find using the Tone Curve in Lightroom the best way of controlling contrast and then tweaking it with the contrast, highlight and white point sliders. Starting things off with a nice high curve and gently tapering it off seems to give the best results.

These were the initial settings I started with on the original colour image, I then took it to Photoshop to add a gradient on the background and touch up the skin slightly, then back to Lightroom for a BW convert and Orange boost and then I added some more contrast.