Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) 1:1 Aspect Ratio

The 1:1 aspect ratio offers a unique style of capturing images that is often over-looked or completely forgotten about. Made famous by medium format cameras such as Hasselblad, Rollei 6x6 and a multitude of Twin Lens Reflex Cameras, the 1:1 aspect ratio is truly singular. 

For some reason, 1:1 aspect ratio gives photographs a reality to them that 3:2 or 16:9 does not. Sure, you can drop any image in Photo Shop to 1:1 but when you shoot in 1:1, you have to think about your composition in a completely different way. Because 1:1 is a perfect square, you're not always going to be able to get everything that you might want to get in the shot. You have to be selective about where you place your subject.

I like shooting in 1:1 aspect ratio on my Leica for selfish and frugal reasons. Namely, it's likely I will never be able to afford a digital back for my Hasselblad 503CW. I recently purchased a poor man's digital back for the Hasselblad in the form of a Hasselnuts "digital back" adapter. The adapter looks like a regular Hasselblad A12 back but it has a slot for your iPhone 4 or 5. The image is captured to your iPhone and ends up being something close to a 6 megapixel image. This product is sort of "gimmicky" and has a few severe limitations. I'll be doing a video review of that product in the near future over at

The Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) features an easy to use aspect ratio selection dial in the lens dial, right next to where the body and the lens join. You can choose form the standard 3:2, 16:9 which will give you a wide, cinematic view, 4:3 and lastly, 1:1.

Leica lenses have much the same qualities as the Zeiss Hasselblad lenses. They feature colors that are neutral and very true to life. Clean, clear images with fantastic bokeh. Swtich that dial on the Leica over to 1:1 and BAM, you've got your digital 1:1!

I've been meaning to write this blog post for a couple week, but boredom ultimately drove me to shoot a few photos around the house today. I heeded my own slogan of "Everything is a Picture" (Get your "Everything is a Picture" T Shirt right here) and shot some photos in the empty house, empty all except for my sisters dog "Molly".

Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Model Shoot with Alma and Brissa - Sony A7RII

I've been itching to work with models again, which is understandable given that I've been shooting events, landscapes and street photography almost exclusively for the past 3 years. I plan to redesign my web site soon and that will require a completely updated portfolio and I definitely want to include some glamour and portrait work.

As a photographer, and as a normal, red-blooded man, I often notice a beautiful women during my daily travels and activities, it's only natural sometimes that I think to myself about how much I would enjoy capturing their beauty in photographs. I ran across just such a woman near where I work recently.

Brissa has a magnetic smile and a bubbly, friendly personality. She works in a small retail shop and she's hard to miss. I politely introduced myself and gave her my photography business card. I complimented her on her beauty and asked if she might be interested in having her photo taken. She took the time to look up my web site and once she saw that I was legitimate, she let me know that she would indeed be interested in a photo shoot. Great right?

I met my other model, Alma, through a local photography Facebook page. She is a classic Latina beauty. Dark, raven hair, long legs, nice hips and lips! After just a few Facebook messages and a short introductory phone call, she was in.

The shoot would be a straight trade for portfolios, meaning, the models would not be paid, nor would they pay me. They would trade their time and modeling in exchange for copies of the photos. That's not to say that the shoot was free of expenses.

Once I booked the models, it was time to find a professional make up artist. I have always found that spending a little money on a make up artist is well worth the expense for several reasons. Firstly, it never fails to put the models in a good frame of mind going into a photo shoot. What model doesn't enjoy being pampered and made to feel like a star? It all starts in the make up chair. And secondly, a professional make up artist can take a gorgeous girl and turn her into a goddess with the proper application of a great make up job.

One of the great things about the internet and social media specifically, is the ability to connect with people all over the world. It took only 5 minutes after posting that I was looking for a local, professional make up artist for me to receive a referral to Cynthia Cecille Fuentes. Cynthia turned out to be a fabulously talented artist who communicated extremely well with the models and did a fantastic job. You can contact her through her Facebook page

Her rates are extremely reasonable and her work far exceeds her modest rates. I look forward to working with her again.

So far I am financially into this shoot the cost of the make up artist and I had already made up my mind to give the models not only gas money but I gave them each a Target gift card. Who doesn't like shopping at Target, right?

Next, I needed a location. I don't have a studio here in El Paso (I don't have one anywhere for that matter), so my first choice would be to book a nice hotel room. Options are limited here in El Paso, but there is one, very nice and stylish boutique hotel in downtown called the Indigo Hotel. I looked over the photos on their web site and knew right away this was the place. They have some decent-sized executive suites with stylish furniture that made for good props and backgrounds. The room was $179, which I think is a fair price considering I could shoot for as long as I wanted to.

I went to the hotel a few days early and met the sales manager, Christy or Cindy, I can't remember exactly and discussed the possibility of shooting around the pool area. The fee for shooting around the hotel is $100 per hour, also very reasonable. As it turned out, the day we shot was a wash out, it rained most of the day and night, so we were limited to shooting indoors. No matter, we found a few decent areas.

There's also food and beverage to consider. You can't have a photo shoot with two models, an assistant (who I am getting to momentarily), a make up artist and their friends and not feed them. So I stopped by the store and picked up a bottle of vodka, cranberry juice, margaritas and Smirnoff Ice (I think that's a good selection. Vodka with cranberry was the first choice of the night) and plastic cups. For food, we went with chicken wings (Brissa is a fiend for chicken wings as it turns out) 60 dollars worth.

Lastly, I needed the services of a production assistant and second camera. There was no question in my mind who it would be (although I did meet a talented photographer during the week, he was my waiter at Koze, a really, really good sushi restaurant but Claude didn't get back to me), anyway, how could I not invite my good friend Jorge to the shoot? I knew he would have a great time working with the models and he's a talented photographer in his own right. So, in exchange for helping me out and shooting second camera, as well as behind the scenes video, I'd let him shoot some photos with the models as well. It really worked out great and Jorge is just a really great friend. You can visit his Facebook page right here

Now that all the pieces were in place it was time to select my gear. Admittedly, I am a bit of a gear head. I love collecting and adding all sort of photography shit to my kit. Some of it is essential and some of it I might only use once, or never. But in the case of this model shoot, there were some definite "must haves" when it came to gear.

Cameras: When I want the absolute best results, I always go with the best cameras in my kit; the Sony A7RII features a 42 megapixel, back-lit CMOS sensor that rivals digital medium format heavyweights. I brought along the Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 and the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lenses. I also brought a few others like the Zeiss 35mm FE f/2.8 and the Zeiss SAL 85mm f/1.4 but I didn't use them. For video I brought my 4K beauty, the Sony AX33 which captures stunning video, even in low-light conditions. I also set up a Sony Action Cam AS100 to get some "hidden camera" type shots. And lastly, I brought along the Sony RX1RII , which boasts the same 42 megapixel sensor that the Sony A7RII has, but with a fixe, Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens. This camera was perfect for behind the scenes photos.

Lighting: My good friend Kevin taught me quite a bit about professional studio lighting for glamour and portraits. I put into practice what I learned from him years ago. Firstly, get the flash off of your camera and secondly, don't forget about the background. With this in mind, I brought along my new Godox X1 wireless flash trigger which controlled 3 Godox 685s TTL speedlights

I set-up one speed light as a key light, with a soft box and set-up the other two speed lights with colored gels to give the background some light and color. It worked out great because the room we shot in had these long grey drapes which really caught the light well.

With everything in place, it was time to shoot. And with that, I'll let the video and the photos speak for themselves.

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All photos by and Garlapse Photography copyright. Photos may not be copied or republished without express written consent. Thank you.