Posts Tagged ‘Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE’

It’s been a long long time since I had a chance to post. Work and family had kept me fairly busy. Still had a bunch of backlog of pictures I had taken in the past couple of years that have not been edited. Likewise, I did had a chance to post some of them up on Flickr. Just didn’t have any chance to write about them.

Even though I haven’t been shooting, I still have been doing some reading about street photography. Especially some blog post by Eric Kim. One of the skills I’m always timid to try was approaching people and ask them for their portrait. One of my buddy recently moved back to the States. He’s the one I blogged previously about how I got started in photography. With the recent passage of the equal rights marriage on Friday and the Pride Parade happening on Sunday, it was just as good of a chance to dust off my Leica and go hang out and shooting with my buddy. Likewise, there would be ample opportunities to mingle with the people as well as people that are just dressed for the occasion.

To make sure I work on the goals I set out to do, I brought only 1 camera and 1 lens. I choose to bring the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux so I can get up close to the people I’m shooting. Likewise, the Leica M240 since shooting in color was a must for such an event. I did contemplate about bringing my film Leica as a backup camera, but I know I’ll end up focusing too much on which frames I want to shoot and miss all the decisive moments.

I had 2 criteria I set out to do.

  1. Talk to people before I shoot. Looking to get the eye contact in the camera.
  2. Add multiple layers of complexity in the composition.

I can’t say I achieved it in all the frames, but overall it was a good experience.  Likewise, all the folks were beautiful, wonderful, and very friendly subjects.

Enough blabbering.  Here are the photos and commentary.  Remember, you can always click on the photos for larger image and camera settings off my Flickr account.  All photos were only lightly retouched and/or cropped in Lightroom.

Love Won
Love Won

This was the first frame I captured right off the Powell Bart station.  It was a good start to the theme of the rest of the day!


The other trending theme of the day.  Lots of vibrant colors and jovial groups of people.

Ahead Merging
Ahead Merging

For those that have followed the blog or seen some of my work.  I like to shoot streets.  Literally.  With the right angle, they are visually appealing (Well, to me anyways).  Likewise, be able to find something that always conveys the theme of the Pride Parade.  We are finally merging all diversity and creating equality.

Selfie Stick
Selfie Stick

Now days, you wouldn’t be able to go to any events or destinations without seeing one of these.  But for this couple, I’m sure the selfie sure will create lasting memories!

All Ages Welcome
All Ages Welcome

It was a great sight to see how true the statement on the banners says.  EQUALITY WITHOUT EXCEPTION.  This is truly crossing not only gender, race, orientation, but even AGE!

 Wrap Around
Wrap Around

There were plenty of Rainbows!

Disco Inferno
Disco Inferno

And Dancing!


And People


And More People


More Dancing

Shall We Dance
Shall We Dance

Even more dancing

No Turning Back
No Turning Back

This was one frame I really wanted to capture.  But I don’t think I was able to fully convey the multiple meaning in the photo.  The US rainbow flag was fully extended when the cable car wasn’t there.  As soon as the cable car passed by, the flag dropped.  The message I tried to show was Cable Car = SF.  US Rainbow flag = Equality with out exception.  One way Sign/No Turning back = we are finally progressing.


Here is yet another missed opportunity.  After taking this frame, I notice there was another couple to the right of them.  Both couples were arm in arm, very focus on the parade.  As soon as I got the picture I wanted framed up, a pink tutu girl on the cellphone stopped right in my frame blocking the arm position of the couples I try to capture.  When she finally walked away, both couples had already dropped their arms.

Black and White
Black and White

I wanted to capture a portrait of each of the LGBT.  Starting with this one. [L] It was the hat that drew my initial attention.  Further more, it was the contrast in the black and white shirt that created a sub-context of Racial equality.

All American
All American

[G]  This was a lovely couple.  Showing the true meaning of America, where equality is achieved in race and orientation.

Boogie Night
Boogie Night

[B] It was deliberate pose he did, showing it all.  I was playing on the store name behind him to insinuate “Peck Cashing”

Smoke a Fag (Brit)
Smoke a Fag (Brit)

[T] I intentionally put a controversial title for this photo.  He was very kind.  He even took a break from smoking to pose for me.  I only wished I had capture the full body in the frame.  He had on a lovely black 5 inch heel.


As I approach this gentle-lady and asked for a portrait, I was surprised on what happened next.  Though it was fitting with the face half veiled and the bottom exposed.

Thor’s Uncle
Thor's Uncle

Even Thor’s Uncle showed up.  It was fitting especially we’re in the Leather Alley “The Fetish Zone”!!

Hog Riders

It wouldn’t be a SF event with out the Police presence.  Especially one donning a black leather jacket.

Chasting the Law

And more police presence to make sure no Chasting of the Law happens!

Danke Schön

If you made it this far reading and viewing my photos.  I like to say Thank You!  This was an interesting capture as there were a plethora of street venders selling everything.  Funny part was you have these old Chinese ladies selling all exactly the same cereal, can food, juices.  While you have Mexicans selling bacon wrapped hot dogs.  Then you have the Brothers selling waters and beers out of igloos.

Anyhow, it was an eye opening experience for me.  This was an experience beyond what I originally setup out as a photography expedition.  I’m really glad I was able to participate as part of history and celebrate Diversity and Equality without Exception.  Likewise, I like to thank all the subjects that graciously allow me to capture their portraits.


New York New York!

New York has always been an great place for photography.  We originally had a family trip planned in 2011 that fell through so there were a lot of flight credits that we had to used up before it’s one year expiration.  Tough problem to have right?

New York has always been a favorite destination with my wife.  With all the shopping, sight seeing, and exploring all the foodie spots, what’s better way to burn off the airline credit with an extended weekend in New York.  Within one week left to spend the credit, we booked and took flight!

Here is the link to the entire NYC set in Flickr

New York City
Flickr link:


With the new 16mm Sony E-mount lens in-tow, I had to capture something during flight.  I love the ambiance of the Virgin America interior with the glowing comfort color lighting.  Just by slightly twisting of the perspective with the lady peaking back at me gave me a uneasy feeling during flight.  Of course, the flight was fine and very comfortable with the large screen between each seat.

Sony NEX-7 + Sony E-Mount 16mm f/2.8, ISO 1000, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, No Flash


New York is filled with contrast.  I also taken a habit of shooting out of my hotel windows.  As soon as I looked out of the window, I knew this would a b/w shot.  The old red brick building contrasting with the modern white apartment/office buildings.  The old twin water towers with the light water stains.  Truly giving me the feeling of New York homology.  As a trend I try to build with my black and white shots, keeping the Yin with the Yen balance.

Sony NEX-7 + Leica 35mm f/1.4, ISO 100, f/8, 1/1600 sec, No Flash

NYC Glow

I wouldn’t be doing New York any justice if I didn’t include any landscape city view picture as a top 3 pick.  This one was shot on top of Empire State building.  Originally we took the ride up to the top not expecting to be staying around that long.  Then it dawned (Pun intended) on me.  Wouldn’t it be a great picture to capture the sunset off the Empire State building.  I must give a lot of credit to my lovely wife for hanging out with me for an hour on top the Empire State building waiting for the sun to set.  Also, for her to fend off people trying to squeeze into my perfect spot!  Prior to the count down of sunset, I already scoped out the areas I wanted to shoot and the shot I was looking for.  Figuring out the correct exposure was tough.  With the sun right in your face, trying to capture enough detail of the city as well as the sky.  The make the entire process even more difficult, finding a spot to prop since I didn’t have a monopod or a tripod.  At the same time trying to shoot with people constantly bumping into you.  Atlast, one of the shot came out exactly as I imagined.  The glow from the sunset lighting up the streets while the City lights are slowly getting brighter.  At the same time capturing the blue sky with the white clouds.

Sony NEX-7 + Sony E-Mount 16mm f/2.8, ISO 100, f/8, 1/320 sec, No Flash
NYC Glow

First stop.
Flickr link:

Burj Khalifa

With the busy meetings schedule, I finally found some time in the late hours to try to snap some picture of the tallest building in the world. With no clue on my bearing, I just walked aimlessly with this building in my sight. Eventually I stumble upon this spot right across from huge man made lake. I knew capturing this monument would require a very wide lens. The only lens at my disposal was the Voigtlander Heliar Ultra Wide-Angle 12mm f/5.6 M-mount. I guess lenses don’t get wider than this for a Leica M mount. The only issue was that at f/5.6 in such a dark setting means even the most steady hand is not gonna cut it. I need a tripod. Where am I going to find a tripod in the middle of the night in the middle of Dubai when all the stores are closed. I wanted to capture this. Next option, bump up the ISO. The Sony NEX-7 does have somewhat of a usable high iso through not as good as the trusty 5D MKII nor the 1D MK4. Without any choice, I bumped it up to ISO 6400. Even at ISO 6400, I still need to be very steady. I found a spot right next to a light pole on the stairs. Literally contorted my body around the pole and wedged between the stairs and fire off the shot. I think the image of me taking this photo might actually be more interesting than this landmark.

Sony NEX-7 + Voigtlander Heliar Ultra Wide-Angle 12mm f/5.6, ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/5 Sec No flash.

Burj Khalifa


I had the opportunity to head out to the dessert to enjoy a very interesting meal.  It was about an hour and half bus ride to the middle of no where.  All you see is sand.  Since the meal was buffet style ie. there is no requirement for seated course meals, I had a chance to wonder around.  I saw a Camel caravan that was resting near us that’s just begging for a photo to be taken.  It was very dark with only a few fires stakes and lights making the entire caravan barely visible. Taking the picture was pretty much impossible not to mention checking focus.  Once again, no tripod so long exposure requires special talent.  Being in the middle of the dessert, there is no light pole for me to wrap around.  I got on my knees and dig in to the sand.  Bump up the ISO as high as the camera can go, set the aperture as wide as it’ll go.  Frame the picture as good as I can, then guess the distance so I can do the zone focusing the aid of my cellphone’s light on the barrel of the lens.  Hold still then click.

Sony NEX-7 + Leica 35mm Summilux-M FLE, ISO 16000, f/1.4, 1/8 Sec No flash.

Milk Bar

Dubai is a very interesting place.  For being in the middle east, it’s a very westernized locale.  Getting around speaking English is no problem.  Likewise, besides all the standard chain restaurants/bars you see in the state side, I came upon this bar as I was searching for dinner.  It immediately reminded me of Clock Work Oranges’ milk bar with the middle east twist of Arabic script on the ceiling.  The lighting was perfect.

Sony NEX-7 + Leica 35mm Summilux-M FLE, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/60 Sec No flash.
Milk Bar

It’s been a few week since I had some time to go shoot. A buddy of mine recently sold his Leica M8.2 while waiting to pick up his M9. It kept getting delayed. He had a wedding to shoot so he borrowed my M9 over the weekend. In return, he let me borrow his Sony NEX-5n to play with. I thought this would be a good chance to try out the NEX series before my pre-ordered NEX-7 arrives (Whenever that is…).
Here are 3 initial shots of it with 2 different lenses. First impression was very good. The camera was easy to use and very easy to handle. I did wish for some more manual adjustments (which I hope the NEX-7 would cover). I still don’t think it’s even close as a replacement for the M9. The picture rendering just doesn’t have the M9 qualities that I like. The lens selection does make quite a big of a difference on the capability of the camera. It quite interesting to have the Noctilux mounted on it. The lens is bigger than the body!! I should have snap a picture of the setup before I returned the camera. I’m sure I’ll have another chance soon to take some shots with it.

Title: Stich
Lens: Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux

Title: Homework
Lens: Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux

Title: Peju
Lens: Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux

I’ll be posting more pictures I took with it in another post focusing more on food. Stay tune!

OK, I got a lot of great feedback on the last Movie Look post. One challenge I got on GetDpi was to see if I change the colors around, would it give it a different feel to the pictures? Like I mention in the original post, I knew the color treatment that I wanted to do to depict the scene. Therefore, it was kinda challenging for me to change the complete feel of the pictures. Instead, I decided to pick the greenish Matrix hue again and apply it to all 4 pictures. This time, going for the darkish feeling that Matrix reloaded gives. I made the pictures a little bit more edgy to stress the high contrast movie look. I’m still not sure if I like this set better, but it does give quite the contrast to the original set.

Title: Matrix Reloaded
Matrix Reloaded

Title: NekoJin Reloaded
NekoJin Reloaded

Title: Cold Stone Killer Reloaded
Cold Stone Killer Reloaded

Title: Scream Reloaded
Scream Reloaded

So here is the last set I had of the fun day at the park. This is more of interesting thing my camera told me to take. The Central Park in San Mateo had a nice Japanese Garden. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back soon to do a full set like I did with Kelley Park in San Jose.

I’ll start the set with something HARD. This tree was just begging to get taken out of context. Childish, perhaps but definitely no ED over here.


Here is a sign that’s very low to the ground. I think it was a sign to tell the kids not to feed the fish. Yes, I know. This would probably be an award winning picture if there was actually a kid in the picture. I didn’t have a kid handy at the time, but I love the geometric shape and the wood texture with the burnt carving enough to get on the ground to snap the shot.

Starving Koi

This was a little sitting area in the Japanese garden. Once again, the juxtaposing of the circular paper screen with the vertical wood planks and the branch breaking the harmony of the scene.


Rocks! I love the rock formations in Japanese Garden. It always gives me a sense of serenity when I look at it. Especially how the collective tiny pebbles contrast with the large stone steps.


That’s it for this set.

I actually got a challenge from on my post about Movie Look. I will be writing about that shortly. Stay tune!!

So here are couple abstract shots I took during Fleet Week. I know I’m jumping chronologically on my post but I didn’t want to start posting these abstract shots in comparison to my people shots.

Anyways, this first one is of a vendor stand. It was a hot day and I thought this would be a great opportunity to put some of my product shots experience into this to make it look like a soda ad. I will be doing more write up and pictures of some of my product shots in later blog posts.


This 2nd shot is part of my attraction to doors. If you been following my flickr or blog, you probably seen me shoot a bunch of doors. For some reason, I feel that different types of doors just create different type of opportunities and it’s always a mystery on what’s behind the door. It is hard to tell a story just by looking at the door, but a worn out door tells a story as well as a brand new door in vibrant colors. Hopefully I will collect enough doors to make it a set on my flickr one of these days. In the mean time, check out this door.


My next set of pictures will be abstract as well as landscapes. Stay tune!

Once again, using any excuse to go out and shoot!! Day at the park with the kids turned into a great photo opportunity. Kids always makes good subjects for photography. I remember I mention during the Leica Akademie that I rarely shoot my kids. I shot everything from Formula One Racing to Studio Portraits to Weddings and everything in between. But rarely do I actually take picture of my kids. Taking picture of kids area all about capturing that decisive moment. Kids have expressions that are so natural. No wonder Henri Cartier-Bresson uses them as his subject all the time. I figure today would be a good day to start taking pictures of kids. I’ll eventually get around to take more pictures of MY OWN kids!!

Here are 5 shots that I thought was interesting.

Here is a mom that’s trying out the new full 8 megapixel iPhone 4s camera. Ok, the reason I know that was the brand spanking new iPhone 4s? I stay up till 3am to pre-order it for her so she gets it on launch day. I wonder how that picture turned out. I should have reminded her to take off the back plastic that was covering up the camera on the phone.

iPhone 4s

Here are two girls that I saw trying to get a drink at the fountain. They were really playful and just looks like a great photo opportunity to capture the moment.


I really like this picture. I’m always on the look out for the composition. Foreground, midground, background. Ok, this picture was not originally intended to be a violent picture. I had my son jump around by the bridge and I was trying to capture the two girls on the left side looking at him. This shot I got him right when he was jumping and spinning around. It just look like he was about to do a soccer kick on that little kids ass. In reality, he was no where near him!!

I'm gonna Kick your Ass

This one is probably my favorite of the set. I notice these two looking over the bridge. They look like siblings. The lighting was great and I found a gap between the trees that perfectly frames up the two.

Friendship Bridge

Here is a fun shot of the playground. I thought it was interesting to see someone play with the tic tac toe.

Tic Tac X

It was a fun day. I had fun taking pictures. I will be posting up another set that have more abstract scenarios without kids. Stay tune!

Here are some more street shots from Fleet Week 2011 in San Francisco. These are just things I found interesting while walking around in the crowd.

I found his gesture as well as all the typography on his shirt and store front very fitting. It was a decisive moment!!

“Yesterday won’t slow me down because I’ve been blessed with Today, a New American!! Doh!!”

Here is another from the BART. I’m sure we see this a lot. But I just love the concentrated look on this women. Must have been a good book!

Not to talk Politics or if the title of this picture is PC or not. I must admit, I saw the shirt first. It was just ironic that a Black lady was wearing a black t-Shirt that depicted a “White” Obama. Then, considering how the economy is right now, I find this Obama ’08 slogan quite contradictory. I only wish she was standing next to a sign of Uncle Sam pointing fingers with “I WANT YOUR” “CHANGE”…


What drew me to this picture was something Will Palank told me during one of the Leica Academie Photo shoot. Always look for contrast. Whether it’s the basics like color, shape, etc. or more abstract like people. One of the example he gave was he would shoot a couple that has someone that’s tall standing next to someone that’s short.
Well, the first thing I saw when these couple was walking by was how straight up she was standing next to the gentleman with the walker. Of course, the age contrast, the race constrast. One thing I found interesting was how they both wore similar color pants and cloth.

I have couple abstract picture I shot that I’ll post up soon. Like I mention in the last blog post. I guess I’m taking Fleet Week as an opportunity to shoot people and not planes!!

I never knew riding BART was so dramatic.

This was Fleet Week in San Francisco. I promised the kids and wife to take them to see planes. Knowing traffic and parking was gonna be a pain, we decided to take an adventure on BART. I will be posting more Fleet Week pictures later on, but I figure this would be a good set to start with. Don’t be expecting your normal plane across the Golden Gate Bridge or Bay Bridge picture. I know my limits. Armed with the M9, I doubt I’ll be able to catch anything that’s flying faster than 5 miles an hour, let alone a fighter jet cruising at 700mph.
I knew I need to capture some interesting pictures within the limitation. Also, knowing that I will be walking around pushing a stroller, I’m even more limited on how and when I can shoot. So, what’s better than to see what interesting characters and scenes I can find on BART while the kids are strap to the stroller?

Starting with this pic. What feeling does this picture invoke for you when you see it?


I notice this mom and kid sitting across from me. Talk about “Decisive Moment”. As the door open, I notice they both turned their head. *Click* caught it. Since this is a set about Movie Look, I should digress a little bit here regarding my color treatment here. Ever since I started playing with Color while editing video in Final Cut Pro, I started to study more and more of movies and how color play a role in creating the drama. You can read about my video venture in my autobiography part 3.

Since street photography is about capturing a moment, about capturing a picture that tells a story. What’s better to augment the picture with color to build drama. Of course, the picture will need to have some substance in it, but by tweaking the color for that Movie Look, it will help develop the story even more.

Back to the question before you saw the picture. What feeling does this picture invoke for you when you see it? Now, are you curious on what’s going to walk through that door next? Does it invoke fear and anticipation? Could this be a scene in a horror film?

Here is the next picture. Once again, What feeling does this picture invoke in you when you see it?


I notice this gentleman walking in and resting by the door right in front of me. I knew I had to take a picture. Focus, *Click* Got it right when my kid turn to look at me. I’m sure this is a very nice man just waiting for his stop, but the contrast between the look on the kids face and the veins popping out of the fist of the man make me want to create a sense of fear and sinister in this scene. I gave it a cold blue tone. This is actually not too far fetch from the cold fluorescent lights that typically white balance on subways in New York. The cold tone also complements the man’s blue jacket and blue push cart.

Looking at people on BART used to be one of my favorite pass time. I used to commute on BART 5 days a week, at least 1 hour each way. Typically crowded during commute time. What do you do for 2 hours day? Look at people of course. I used to pick an interesting subject per trip and start to study them. Start with their look, their outfit, their gender, their age, their body language, their facial expression, what they’re doing at the moment, etc. Trying to figure out what they do. What’s the story behind them. And hopefully before they get off on their exit, figure out a story for that person. Of course, I never approach anyone to confirm what my observation told me. All in all, it was an easy way to kill an hour.

Here is another one. What feeling does this picture invoke in you?


I first notice her ear. NekoJin!! I love Cosplay!! ok, that and in many other ways! But this was interesting. She sat parallel to me on the other aisle. I had to do some pre-focusing and shoot with the camera rested on my leg.

This picture could easily be a sci fi anime movie remake into live actress scene where she’s feverishly checking her iphone. Perhaps to see where her next destination is? Or to make sure she doesn’t loose contact as she goes through the tunnel. Yet another picture with the color quality that creates drama. Creates anticipation. Once again, telling the story.

Here is the last shot of this set. What feeling does this picture give you?


The title of this picture gave away what I tried to accomplish. The greenish Matrix Movie Look of course. I notice this Asian guy standing between the crowd. His hair, his leather jacket, his demeanor. I had to take the pic. I actually already packed up the camera since it was crowded and I’m sandwich between my kids stroller and bunch other people. But I knew I need this picture. I already had the Matrix words scrolling down my eyes. Put the camera to the eye, focus and *Click*. Then quickly put the camera away again.

As you notice in this picture. I tried to capture the scene with foreground, Guy with ear phone one to show high tech, our main “talent”, leather clad Asian NEO, and the back ground, questionable guy Agent Smith checking out NEO. The green shade just put this picture into the whole Matrix context.

Once again, another picture that’s able to tell a whole story.

Overall, I must admit, this is probably one of the most interesting set I done so far. I’m sure a lot of Leica purist frown upon doing too much “Photoshopping” to the picture. In fact, Everything I done was in Lightroom. Everything you see here is just a matter of playing with white balance, contrast, and crushing the black to give that Movie Look. If I do get a lot of interest, I might write up more of a tutorial on how I achieve these looks as well as provide my presets. But do note, you will still need to tweak your own picture since lighting is all different.

Is the Movie Look still true to the heart of Street Photography? I think so. Street Photography is about capturing that “Decisive Moment”. It’s about making a picture tell a story. It’s about invoking a feeling when you see the picture. The Movie Look enhances all of these criteria without adding/Photochopping to what’s already store in your Camera RAW file.

Feel free to leave comments if you agree or think otherwise!!