A Month in New Zealand - Part II of III

Continuing from part I (read here if you have not already) of my journey through middle earth, where I left you off on the south coast at the end of my first 10 solo days, part II continues through the next couple weeks where I met up with Linda to continue exploring the south island from Queenstown and Glenorchy to Milford Sound (again) and up to Fox Glacier and Wanaka (again).

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The 50mm Lens

Last weekend while recording the podcast with Cody and Thomas, we were discussing 50mm lenses and our love of them. I knew I owned a bunch of different ones over the years, but didn't realize how many until I started counting them off. Holy crap - I have issues I think. I can't believe the number of 50's I have purchased in the last 10 years (give or take).

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One Camera, One Lens, One Preset

I am embarking on a mission to better understand myself and my photographic direction. For those that have been following along on Instagram the past few weeks, I have been on the tail end of a long discovery phase with my work. Not only has the subject matter I have been sharing become concentrated, but my overall look and feel has changed as well. Today's short post is an explanation behind it all.

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The Belted Galloway

En route to New York City this fall, I swung by my folks house in Ellington, Connecticut for my fill of cretons, pork pie and booze. Ellington is the town I grew up in filled with rolling hills, cornfields, cows and a sparse handful of residents. I didn't really appreciate the rural landscape when I called Ellington home, but when I go back these days, with camera in hand, it's a photographer's delight. The road my parents live on crosses a couple towns in a very short span - and about a mile from their house sits the town line for Somers, Ct. This is also a town where livestock seems to outnumber resident humans - and the farm (Scantic Valley Farm) nestled in the valley below my parents house is a pure delight. Cornfield mazes, barns, strawberry fields, pumpkin patches, chickens, pigs, cats, dogs and - my favorite eye candy - the majestic Belted Galloway.

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Manhattan on Film

Last month I headed off to New York City to attend the PhotoPlus Expo and play with the new Zeiss 35mm as well as the new Leica M-A film and Edition 60 digital cameras. While I wasn't at the conference, I was out walking the city trying to capture the vibes on film with one of my best friends, Dori. We ended up doing just one afternoon at the Expo, visiting with Ben, Richard and Nicole from Carl Zeiss Lenses as well as Christopher from Leica.  We spent some time walking to all the booths on the vendor floor, watching some demonstrations and playing with what gear we could play with. Favorites for me were the Zeiss 1.4/35 Distagon and the Leica M-A - though that Leica Edition 60 was awfully nice to shoot.

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NH Highland Games on Film

Last weekend was the 40th Annual New Hampshire Highland Games in Lincoln, NH. I went up north with Linda and her amazing father Jim (both of Scottish descent) to explore this wonderful festival. For gear, I packed my Leica M3 paired with the Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1.5/50, my Leica M2 paired with the Carl Zeiss C Biogon T* 2.8/35, my Weston Master V light meter and my Ona bag loaded with Kodak Portra 400 and Tri-X. In typical Scottish fashion, the weather was a balmy 49º F for most of the day with the on and off spitting of misty rain. It was perfect.  We got to the mountain mid-morning to the sounds of pipes belting out traditional tunes. Though cold, your nose was immediately filled with the scents of great Scottish food - especially my favorite - the meat pie.  I mean really, what's better than a pie filled up with meat? Jim was brave enough to dig into a plate of Haggis - my stomach isn't quite iron enough for Haggis though.

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Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50 Review

Over the past few weeks, I have been posting mini-reviews on the gorgeous Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50 lens (brass/chrome Leica Mount edition tested). This is an amazing portrait lens, giving the right amount of warmth, color and softness that you want to see. For most of my review time, I was busy pitting it against the monster Leica Summilux-M 1.4/50 ASPH.

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4th Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M (and 1955 Summicron)

So, I decided to throw the 1955 Summicron 2/50 Collapsable into the mix. Muhahaha! For this first test, the three were shot at their respective wide-openness from relatively the same vantage point (I was too low to use a tripod). Above is the modern f/1.5 Zeiss Sonnar. Below find the modern f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH and 1955 f/2 Summicron versions. 

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Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50: Portrait Work

This may be the perfect lens for female portraits. (I say female here, as I like male portraits to show more detail in the hair and skin pores and like just a bit of softness to female portraits.) The above photo of my baby girl was taken with overcast skies, mid-day.  This was wide open at 1.5 @ 1/4000 second ISO 160.

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2nd Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M

For round #2, I have 4 SOOC shots for you today. Zeiss on the left, Leica on the right. Top row is wide open, second row is f/5.6. These were all taken at ISO 160 through Leica M-E on a tripod. See below for individual images. Take note of the subtle yet present vignetting of the two top images (Zeiss 1.5 / Leica 1.4). I'd suggest opening the crops below in separate tabs and switching between them - the differences begin to stand out.

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1st Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M

I'll let this first compare speak for itself. These were both taken at ISO 160 at their respective wide-open apertures. Shutter was adjusted for changing light - so by no means scientific here. Just an average Joe's snaps, compared side by side. What are your thoughts? See individual images below - click to embiggen.

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