Postcards from Paradise

So it’s been some time since my last travel blog post. Mea culpa. It has been a very busy time for me and my family, and updating this blog just got edged out by other events. Negative ones: an uncle getting cancer, battling and clearing it twice, and then sadly succumbing to after the second recurrence; an aunty also getting cancer, and then succumbing after a year. Positive ones: my wife recovering from a malignant tumor; and amazingly, our first pregnancy and the birth of our first child (!); we’ve been trying to commute/move between two cities; and I’ve gotten involved with a new health and wellness project in Hong Kong.

It was therefore a great suggestion by my wife that we take advantage of the Chinese New Year holidays last month to have our first proper family vacation in a long while, and we decided to go to Bali, where she had never been before, and I hadn’t been in over 5 years. With our 4 and a half month old baby!

To cut a long story short, we had a wonderful time - I still highly, highly recommend the place, despite the terrible traffic and some pollution along the beaches close to Kuta. Somehow it is still the one place in all the world that for me is a perfect combination of natural beauty, spirituality, great food, and most recently, a Mecca for healthy living.

We were there for just under a week, and split our time between Ubud at the center of the island, and Seminyak, one of the most popular beach areas on the western coast. In Ubud we stayed at the Como Shambhala, an older property but still magnificent if only for its location in the heart of the tropical forest and the amazing breakfasts, and in Seminyak we put up at The Legian - again an older property, but with a great location and good service.

The following are a few of the photos I took while on this trip - some are with an Leica M10-P (with Summilux 35mm/50mm) and some are with a Leica Q-P.

Visit to F11 Foto Museum, and Dinner with Andreas & Mrs Kauffman

I'm very grateful to Leica and Douglas So for inviting me, Huang Jing, Mark Liu, and a few other photographers and enthusiasts to visit Douglas' F11 photography museum and his upcoming new project in Hong Kong yesterday. We also had the opportunity to chat with Leica Chairman Dr Andreas and Mrs Kauffman over dinner. For photography enthusiasts, F11 is a must-see! It is a beautifully restored 5-storey heritage building in Happy Valley housing an incredible collection of vintage cameras, photography books, and prints. The current exhibition is of Werner Bischof's work in Hong Kong in the 1950's. Douglas’ new project nearby is even more impressive! Since it is still a work-in-progress (he plans to open later this year) I will only share a few images of parts of the amazing interior design already circulating on the Internet, perhaps to act as teasers! Suffice to say, I believe it will address the needs of photography enthusiasts at the very highest end of the market, not just for Hong Kong, but also for mainland China and Asia! Thank you Douglas and Leica Asia/China (Jane Cui and Siegmund Sudek)!

F11 Foto Museum
Website: http://f11.com
11 Yuk Sau Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong

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Comparing Out of Camera Images from the Fuji GFX 50S vs the Leica SL, Leica M10, and Leica Q

I was visiting one of my "regular" stores in Shanghai a couple of days ago when their first shipment of the new medium-format Fuji cameras arrived on their doorstep. Oddly enough I had actually been at the store trying out Leica's medium-format model, the S. The store owner persuaded me to try the Fuji instead, assuring me that she'd take it back if I didn't want it...

Unfortunately the weather here has been awful these past two days, and I was also inundated with work, so I haven't had the opportunity to try the Fuji outdoors.

However, last night I decided to do a simple comparison between it and my current Leica workhorses, with an indoor shot at home.

The following are three sets of photos from the four cameras.  All were taken using each camera's aperture-priority automatic exposure settings, at ISO 100, auto white balance, and at f/8, approximately at 28mm focal length (Summilux-M 28mm on the M10, the respective kit zoom lenses on the SL and GFX). No adustments whatsoever were made.

  1. Compressed to 2mb JPEGs (done simply with OSX's built-in Preview application)
  2. Enlarged samples of each of the above JPEGs (screenshots from Preview zooms)
  3. Compressed to 2.5mb JPEGs from RAWs converted in Adobe Lightroom (NEW)
  4. Enlarged samples of each of the above JPEGs from RAWs (NEW)
  5. Out of camera JPEGs (as downloadable files - will upload this weekend)

1. Out of Camera JPEGs Equally Compressed to 2MB JPEGs

The original JPEG files were all different in sizes (probably due to the different types of in-camera processing being done).

Leica Q

Leica M10

Leica SL

Fuji GFX 50S

2. Enlarged samples of each of the above JPEGs

Leica Q

Leica M10

Leica SL

Fuji GFX 50S

3. Compressed to 2.5mb JPEGs from RAWs converted in Adobe Lightroom (NEW)

Leica Q

Leica M10

Leica SL

Fuji GFX 50S

4. Enlarged samples of each of the above JPEGs from RAWs Converted in Lightroom (NEW)

Leica Q

Leica M10

Leica SL

Fuji GFX 50S

Comments

So I used the GFX over the past weekend, and have now decided to return it, along with the zoom lens and 50mm equivalent lens I got at the same time. It's certainly a great camera from a technical standpoint - great resolution and dynamic range, but very very difficult for me to use for my style of street/documentary photography.

Why you ask. The following is why:

  1. It is just too heavy, even with the 50mm-equivalent prime lens.
  2. The autofocus is too slow for quick shots on the street.
  3. Very difficult to zone-focus - there is no distance markings on the lens (I typically set my M lenses to a certain distance and adjust by feel depending on where the lens tab is at the bottom).
  4. The flip-out screen is great for indoor/studio/tripod use, but on the street if you have it pulled out the camera gets even bigger, and starts to look like a BFG from Quake.
  5. It is just too big - specifically, to get close to my subjects with it.

I was thinking about keeping it for special purposes, but somehow I think it would become a white elephant. At least for me.

Here's to hoping Leica come out with an improved SL or S camera later this year!

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My "Neon Taxi" Photo in LFI!

For more than 60 years, Leica Fotografie International, or LFI, has been THE independent magazine for the Leica world. I’m therefore absolutely delighted and honored that the newest issue (2/2017) features one of my photos as a double-page spread. Coincidentally, this issue also introduces Leica’s newest digital rangefinder camera, the fantastic M10, which I tested during my recent trip to India. The photo is my “Neon Taxi” from July last year, with which I tried to capture as many iconic elements of Hong Kong as possible within a single frame, and while keeping one of my favorites movies, Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner, in mind. This photo was one of the first in my current general goal, of trying to achieve the retinal impact of monochrome images, but in color, with a combination of in-camera and development techniques. I’m still working on it, so am grateful for the ongoing advice from my friend and mentor Patrick Zachmann, and also the support of Leica China. I also want to acknowledge the original location recommendation from Cheng Wai Hok of Meteor HK. If you enjoy photography, do pick up a copy - this issue also has great features from some of my own favorite photographers out there today: Giovanni Del Brenna, Fulvio Bugani, Tomeu Coll, William Daniels, Jo Fischer, Zachary Roberts, Matt Stuart, and Ed van der Elsken. I’m honored to be in the same publication as them, if only with a single image this time! Thanks Carol!