Archive for the ‘nikon’ Category

I am both a Nikon and Leica shooter.  I shoot film and digital with both brands and the other day I sat down at my Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter–that’s where I do my best thinking on paper–and I wrote out what each camera type is good for.

For shooting street photography, Leica may be classic, but my Nikon with a 20mm, auto-focus and aperture priority beats it every time.

Every. Single. Time.

Because there’s no fuss, I have the Nikons–F100 for film, D610 for digital–set for back-button focus and -0.7 dialed for exposure compensation on the digital, so I make sure I don’t blow any highlights, or +0.7 set for film, to make sure I get a dense negative, and I can shoot out my car window and guarantee a shot.

I can’t do that with my Leicas.  I’m using an M9 for digital, which does have aperture-priority, and an M2 for film. They need attention, finessing.  It’s great for contemplative work.  But not for lightning quick.  At least not for me.

Yes, I use hyperfocal/zone focusing with the Leicas.

These three photographs were all made out my car window with the Nikon as I was passing these scenes at some rate of speed.  I can’t get these with the Leica.

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Businessmen waiting on a corner in Rochester NY.

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A vintage car driving at dusk on I-70W.

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The real people of Las Vegas on a street corner just off the strip on a Sunday morning.

The first two were shot with a 20mm f2.8, the first AF 20mm Nikon made.   The last with a 50mm f1.2 AIS manual focus lens.  They show what I saw, real life, captured in split second.

Even this one, while I was attending an Italian festival in Denver, I stopped to talk to another photographer after I noticed his Sony camera and some behemoth of a lens.  But while I was talking to him, the sausage man appeared and with the Nikon and 20mm, I could turn, focus and shoot in one fluid motion, nail the shot, then it was back to my conversation.

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A man carries his sausage, his winnings, at an Italian festival in Denver.

At the end of the day, story comes first, and it’s all about the photo.  I do love the way the Leica looks and feels, and its small size, it’s just not a street shooter for me.  That’s the conclusion I came to when I was typing out my thoughts.

As a further test, I went out to downtown Denver this past weekend to shoot street photographs with another photographer.  The shoot went so well, I came back with several photos that I’ve included in my updated street photography gallery, ColoradoFaces.com.   Photos #4-13 all came from that Saturday afternoon, all shot with the Nikon and the 20mm.

So enthralled with the results, I went back down the next day with the Leica M9 and M2 and a 21mm Elmarit.  I thought, wow, if I could do that with a Leica and a 21mm, it’s so small and light, it would make a great kit for daily use.  Guess I hadn’t used the M9 recently enough, as I ended up putting battery after battery in it, four in total, and they all quit within a few shots.  I still had the film Leica, so I could keep shooting, but I certainly shoot more conservatively with film.

I wished I had brought the Nikon.

By the way, my Nikon has five bars on its battery readout, and it can be down to two bars, and I can still get a whole afternoon of shooting with it.  Nikon batteries rock for lasting and not petering out.

So, what’s my point.  For me, it’s Nikon film and digital for shooting documentary photographs, they’re quicker and I feel more confident I’ll get the shot with them.  And I do.

Leica is a great camera for portraits and documentary coverage where you’re going to be working the scene.  The build quality is incredible, as you know.  I love documenting my friends with it.  Posing them and creating photographs.  And it’s a treat to use.

But just like a Rolleiflex and a Hasselblad are both portrait cameras in my hands, a Leica is a special camera for portraits or a day of deliberate shooting.  Not grabbing life on the street.

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A portrait with the Leica, HP5, a beautiful negative and the magic of film.

When it’s speed I need, I go with the Nikon with the 20mm.  Or the 50mm.   The viewer feels like they’re in the shot.

And I get it every time.   That’s my story.   And story is king.

When I was a news photographer, I remember getting a business or personality photo assignment the day before the shoot, and thinking all night about how I could make the photograph.  Would I use studio flash or natural light?  What were my location options?

Then, I’d arrive at the shoot, and all the thoughts I had were useless as the real world situation showed the actual possibilities and I would use what was in front of me to decide where and how to shoot the portrait.

I was just on a portrait shoot in Denver, and the same thing happened.  I knew we were going to be at Union Station, and it would offer some opportunities, but I would have to think in the moment and find suitable locations as we moved through the city.  That’s easy for me, because I look for the light.

“We don’t photograph a face.  We photograph the light on a face.”

So, we walked and I watched and the locations proved spectacular for this shoot.  The subject was amazing.  Great light plus a strong subject equals beautiful photographs.  (That’s a mathematical/photographic equation.)

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I couldn’t ask for more.  We worked about 90 minutes, and it’s truly a situation of the more you look, the more you see.  (Since the light is changing rapidly at sunset.)

Seniors in Boulder and Denver, they’ve got a lot of great locations for amazing portraits. They just need a photographer who sees the light to create the portrait.

Because cameras don’t make photographs, photographers and light do!

Near to Denver or Boulder?  Call me to schedule a session: 720.982.9237

Had a walk along the Las Vegas strip–now there’s a place that is full of visuals.  One of the things I noticed as I went about my way making street photos is that this is the perfect place to photograph people–everyone has a camera up, and so no one (or at least most) don’t notice you or care.  So, if you want to make street photographs, this is the perfect place to work and overcome any fear of photographing people.  It’s a street full of stories.

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I work as a professional photographer in Boulder, Colorado, shooting portraits, business headshots, and commercial projects for clients like the U.S. Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force, food and drink for Whitewave/Silk and American Homestead Meats, and event coverage for companies in the cable industry.

On a recent day off, I decided to take a stroll down to the Pearl Street Mall, the local outdoor shopping area in downtown Boulder, and figured I’d build my portraiture client list by photographing people on the mall, getting their email, and offering to send them a photograph. In the email, I asked them if I could add them to my email list where I offer tips to great phone photography (something they’re probably interested in) while promoting my services.

The truth is, while my business clients are regular users of photographs, many people sometimes think to do family portraits or couple portraits, but that’s where it ends, with a thought. They never actually order a portrait session.

OUT ON THE MALL FOR STREET PORTRAITS

On this day off from client work, I took out a Nikon DSLR that is 9 years old, a D90 which debuted in August 2008. Why I brought that instead of my D810 is that I wanted to shoot with a vintage 1970s-era lens, the Nikon 55mm f1.2 non-AI manual focus lens for the soft backgrounds it produces, since I would be working on a crowded outdoor mall, and the information at Nikonians.org about its lens compatibility with my digital bodies says:

NO!
Definitely do not use, for it may damage the camera body. Also, warranty will be void.

That didn’t sound promising. But I was determined. So, I mounted the lens on my backup body, a D7200, and it mounted but it was tight to attach and once attached, the aperture ring wouldn’t budge.  Hmmm.

That mount seemed ridiculously tight. It took a good strong twist to mount it. Definitely not a normal mount. I thought, I’ll do a test with it, and then another one with the old D90 that I had laying around, knowing that at f1.2, I wouldn’t be needing the latest sensor capability for low light performance–I’d be shooting at base ISO (200, in this case) since I was working outside wide open.

The test with the D90 looked as good as the D7200, though it was a 12mp image instead of a 24mp. Good enough for what I was working on. And if it damaged the body, oh well, not much lost since that’s not my go-to camera . (It looks like you can get a D90 these days for under $200.)

So, with that 55mm f1.2 Nikkor S-C extremely securely mounted, I hit the streets.

And then I approached people, folks who looked like they were in a good location to interrupt them. Sitting somewhere, or chatting in the shade. Here’s what I found and created, with the promise to send them each their portrait. psmfamilyBW-kennethwajda
This couple got two images, I liked them as a package. She replied: Thank you so much for the lovely portraits. What a great treat to meet you and let you make these portraits of Pieter and me. Yes, we have been in love since we met in the summer of 1965 in the Netherlands, where we grew up. I will certainly think of you when we need a beautiful family portrait when we are all together in Boulder for a happy family get together. I will also recommend you to our friends. Until we meet again. With warm wishes, Susanna.pearlolder
If I hadn’t made them, would they ever get made? It seems a shame that they might not, and I’m proud to have made them.pearlolder1
This guy was working on the mall. pearl6
These three were sitting in front of an ice cream shop, and looked like a photogenic trio.
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Visiting Boulder from Italy and very flattered to be photographed.
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She tagged me in this Instagram post.

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The ice cream on their faces were what drew me to them.pearl3
Someone was trying to get a photo of them with a phone, when I offered to shoot it for them.
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A couple out on the mall with their dog, who was too old to make it into the photo.
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A dapper man who engaged me in talk of photography.
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A couple of friends out for happy hour drinks.
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A grandpa and his grandson sharing a bit of time watching street performers.
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She wouldn’t hold still long enough to get the three of them in the same plane of focus, so this is the result.familypsm-1-kennethwajdaThey were heartily laughing, which is how I approached them: “I love your laugh.  Can I photograph you?”
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Another guy interested in talking about photography.michaelportrait-kennethwajda
She’s into photography and was talking about my camera, and her interest.
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A daughter and her father sharing a coffee break.

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Two friends cruising the mall, who I asked to photograph them together.
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The only one that I kept in color instead of black and white was a young woman at a local taco joint, while I was waiting for my burrito, who asked about my camera and mentioned that she likes photography. I asked her if I could take her portrait with the light coming through the broad windows of the shop.
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These were all made with a 9-year-old camera body, (a senior citizen of the camera world!), that no one into camera models would take seriously. I took care of that with a small piece of black gaffer tape over the model number. Problem solved!

The people who I photographed loved their portraits. I asked them to please tag me in any social media posts. And of course I included my contact card at the bottom or each of my emails. And now, I have their contact information for my growing list of contacts. These are new contacts to people who have now seen my work, who like my work, who may need anything from family photographs to business images–someone might be the CEO of a company.

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Portraiture is all about the connection to the subject in the image that we create, the emotion we draw out–not just the technical quality of the camera. I wrote this story because I think sometimes we feel we need the latest and greatest, and we really don’t.

It’s really not about the camera. We need something proficient for what we want to create. The D90 is from 2008 and the 55mm f1.2 is from 1972. Good gear matters, but it doesn’t have to be the latest in all cases.

It’s about creating art out of beautiful, wonderful subjects.  And these people certainly are.

Kenneth Wajda is a freelance commercial photographer and film producer in Boulder, Colorado. You can see more of his work at KennethWajda.com.

I realize I shoot film a lot, but I have multiple bodies with film loaded, and I tend to shoot conservatively, just a frame or two on a person or a subject.

I want to change that.  I just added motor drives to two of my Nikons, an F3, and an FM2, the cameras I used as a photojournalist throughout the 80’s and 90s.

I want to shoot more content.  And not hold back.  I think I do that–hold back.   I want to fire up the cameras and move film through them more quickly.

The motor drive will let me do that.  It’s license to burn!

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I have a buying guide for Film SLRs (and TLRs and Point and Shoots, sometimes, too.)

Check it out if you’re looking for a good Film Camera!   Happy Shooting!

I keep running into people who see my old Leica IIIf over my shoulder and marvel that they still make film.  And that it is readily available.  I assure them it is.

I have a standard response to their “I have a great old camera that I never use.”  I tell them to just put one roll of Tri-x in it, shoot a frame once a week or so.  And that after several months, the roll will be done and there will be 36 memories to relive captured on film.

You will have forgotten what you shot.  You will know there’s something good waiting for you after the roll’s developed, and the camera will not be wasting away.  You can always shoot more, but certainly, shooting just one roll a year is still a treat.

You’ll probably need a new battery for the camera.  Many of those with electronic shutters won’t work without them.  Run out, get some new cells, power it up, and load the film.  It’ll all come back.  The feel of those old metal-bodied durable beasts will remind you why you loved them so much.  The heft in your hand will say quality, unlike what you see in many of today’s cameras.  The viewfinder will be big and bright.

It’s a treat.  And the folks I’ve mentioned it to say, “I think I’ll do that.”  I hope they do.  Bring some new life to those wonderful cameras of days of old, er, not that long ago.

How about you?  Have a sweet old camera that isn’t getting used?  How about getting it out and loading it up, just one roll of film.  You’ll be creating a time capsule.

lcpac1If you know you’re never going to shoot it again, donate the camera to a local photography school or art center.  I have one called the Lyons Photography Art Center in Colorado where you can send them.  Address is PO BOX 69, Lyons, CO 80540.  I use them to teach kids to shoot black and white film, to slow down and carefully compose images.  I give them the camera loaded and ready to shoot.  No excuses for lack of equipment.

If you do end up shooting some film, post the links here and let’s have a look!