Street photo walk in Luxembourg city with the new iPhone 8 Plus: a gorgeous camera that will surprise you!

Yes, I’ve bought the brand new iPhone 8Plus, but no, it wasn’t for a caprice, instead, I took the opportunity as my 6s went broken just a few days before… (good excuse, isn’t?)

Anyway, I had few doubts before buying, because of the expensive price and the big size, but now, after a couple of days of usage, I don’t regret at all:

the iPhone 8 Plus is more than just a phone, is a powerful tablet and a high quality camera.

One of the main reasons why I chose the 8 Plus is the new camera features, different from the standard 8 model. Indeed, the 8 Plus has two 12 Mp cameras, wide angle and telephoto, while the standard 8 model has just one. And also the new portrait mode is an exclusivity of the 8 Plus.

But let’s see the technical specs:

  • 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras
  • Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • Telephoto: ƒ/2.8 aperture
  • Optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
  • Portrait mode
  • Portrait Lighting (beta)
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Six‑element lens
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
  • Panorama (up to 63MP)
  • Noise reduction
  • Auto HDR for photos
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Photo geotagging

As you can see, from the list above, the new specs are really promising and interesting too, but, hey, the main focus of this post is photography, so, I will not annoy you by talking about the beauty of this iPhone:

it’s time to show you the real pictures i took after a pleasant promenade in the lovely city I live, Luxembourg.

All the pictures have not been retouched or altered, so what you see is the result straight out of the iPhone.


Gallery – Photo walk in Luxembourg city with an iPhone 8 Plus

 

Conclusions

This new iPhone 8Plus is extremely good, powerful and fast, other than having a wonderful design. On a photography point of view, the two 12 Mp cameras, wide-angle lens with 1.8 aperture and a telephoto lens, with a 2.8 aperture, together with the new “portrait mode” feature, makes this phone become a truly high-quality photo-camera for everyday usage and street photography.

The iPhone 8Plus can be a very good backup or side camera paired with my Leica SL, to be used in those situations where you need to be very light and discreet.

Well done Apple, once again!

Thanks for reading,
Sabino

 

 

One night in Osaka, Japan – 20 street photos

After a long journey of more than 20 hours, my first contact with Japan has been Osaka, catapulted into the vibrant nightlife of a Japanese futuristic city.

How could I go to sleep while having plenty of street photo opportunities right down the hotel?

So let’s have a walk…

with a Fujifilm X-T1 and the great lens XF 18-55 mm f2.8-4 LM OIS

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My thoughts on Osaka

Definitely a great destination for a street photographer, you will never get tired of taking pictures while walking.

The thing that fascinates me is the constant contrast between modernity and tradition, perfectly in harmony between them and never annoying.

A big thumbs up for Osaka!

Thanks for reading,
cheers,
Sabino

I traded my Leica lens for another…Leica lens

A new lens is in my bag as for today, but this time, for the sake of my bank account, I’ve not spent any cents. Yeah, it is possible, even for a Leica lens. How can?

Easy peasy, I traded one of my Leica lenses for another…Leica lens. An M for an R. Bad or good deal? mmh, to me, for now, very good, but will see in the future…

Anyhow, one of my trusted shops here in Luxembourg, Fototrade, showed in the shop window, a very interesting second hand

Leica APO Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8

and the monkey on my shoulder, started screaming out loud…

The reason for the switch

Since I’ve bought the Leica SL, I’m trying to build the perfect set of lenses for all my needs, travel, street and still life studio photography. The only lens I was missing, or better, the option I was missing, is the close-up or macro photography,

But not because I want to see which pant is wearing a micro mosquito.

Usually, I use the macro lens for my food photography studio shooting, where I need to have a sharp image to sell on stock agencies, as Fotolia or Shutterstock. And so far I’ve always used the CANO EF 100mm f2.8, a gorgeous lens.

But I want now to have this option also on my Leica SL camera, and there it comes to the trade.

On the other hand, I had the Leica M Elmarit 90mm f2.8, a lens that over a year, was barely used on my cameras, SL or Leica M. The market value of the M 90mm was exactly the same as the price of the second-hand R-100mm so, I had not so many doubt to trade them, even after reading very positive review around some forums and websites.

And there it is, the new lens on my Leica SL.

(using the Novoflex adapter, LET/LER)

I will be in Puglia, very soon, and I’m planning to do another genuine food photography session in my parent’s farm.

So, stay tuned, keep following me because lots of new pictures are coming veeery soon 🙂

Thanks for reading,

cheers, Sabino

My new old lens, promising a special bokeh: the Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8 (test image gallery)

You know, I have a true passion for old vintage lenses and one of the reasons why I recently switched to the Leica SL is because this camera allows me to use almost any existing lens from the past.

I own already several vintage lenses, but not only for collection purpose. Anytime I prepare my bag for a trip around the world, I open my box and I chose one or two vintage lens to carry with me.

The advantage of a vintage lens is, most of the time, the size and the cost, as they are usually very compact and cheap.

But I love exploring the different characters and styles that each of these old pieces of glass brings with it.

The Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8

  • Format: 35mm SLR
  • Type: Prime lens
  • Focusing: Manual Focus (MF)
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.33 m
  • Lens mounts: M42
  • Focus lenght: 50mm
  • Max. aperture: 1.8
  • Aperture blades: 6 elements in 4 groups
  • Filter diameter: 49mm

Meyer Gorlitz was a German optical company, founded by an optician, Hugo Meyer, in Görlitz, in 1896. The company made a key business decision in 1920 when decided to work with former Zeiss developer Paul Rudolph, who was previously significantly involved in the success of the Protar, Planar and Tessar lenses. (Source: Wiki)

In 1990 the company was liquidated, but then, in 2014, they have been back, producing new re-designed lenses, combining the background of a long history and modern innovations. Their vintage lenses are now quite popular among the photographer enthusiasts.

By the way, their vintage lenses are now quite popular among the photographer enthusiasts.

In particular, this 50mm f1.8 lens is known for its very unique “soap-bubble” bokeh rendering, warm colours and a distinctive vintage look. You can see some amazing example here and here.

Another very interesting Pros of the 50mm f1.8 Meyer’s lens is the minimum focusing distance of 33 cm that makes it handy for portraiture and close up shots, despite is not so sharp at f1.8.

A complete review of this lens can be found here:

http://vintage-camera-lenses.com/meyer-optik-gorlitz-oreston-1-8-50/

The lens I bought

Usually, I buy second-hand stuff at the flea markets around Luxembourg and France, but this time, as I knew what I was looking for, I bought it from eBay, winning an auction for a reasonable price, around 60€.

The Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8 I’ve just bought and received is in mint condition, I was not expecting to be so clean and as new. Looks like has never been used before.
It has an M42 mount so I can use it together with the Novoflex adapter LET/CO (M42 to Leica SL)

A quick test

Thrilled to test, it I’ve quickly done few shots down the street, nothing special but still a good preview of what this lens can achieve.

And here comes the test pictures, all hand held (thanks to my yellow special model…)

N1 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/400sec – ISO 100

N2 –Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/400sec – ISO 100

N3 –Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f5.6 – 1/100sec – ISO 100

N4 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2.8 – 1/250sec – ISO 100

N5 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/640sec – ISO 100

N6 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f5.6 – 1/125sec – ISO 100

N6 –100% Crop

N7 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/800sec – ISO 100

N8 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/600sec – ISO 100

N9 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/600sec – ISO 100

N10 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/125sec – ISO 400

N11 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/200sec – ISO 400

N12 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/160sec – ISO 400

N13 – Leica SL + Meyer-Gorlitz 50mm f1.8 – f2 – 1/200sec – ISO 400

Conclusions

Well, I knew already, the lens lack a bit of sharpness when shot wide open at f1.8, but stopping down already to 2, the quality improves.

To me, the most intriguing application would be a more creative shot playing with its dreamy “soap bubble” bokeh. In this test, the bokeh is not yet so “bubblicious”, but I also like the shapes in picture N3, at f5.6
And the relatively close focus of 33cm it’s a very good added value.

I’m curious to use it on a nicer set and for portraiture. Stay tuned…

Thanks for reading,

cheers,
Sabino

 

 

15 photos of the amazing Mezquita de Cordoba, Andalusia (with a Leica SL)

As already mentioned in my earlier post about Cordova, the Mezquita is the most famous spot of this nice city in Andalusia, other than being the most important testimonies in Islamic culture in Europe.

In this post, I show you my best 15 photos I have taken with my Leica SL

15 Photos of the Mezquita de Cordoba

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

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Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8

Conclusions and photography reflections

The Mezquita is a very nice spot for photography, full of interesting details. I had the chance to visit the inside of the ancient Mosque, but I could not enter the tripod so all the photos have been made with the Leica SL, hand-held, and ISO 800.

The main issue I had, other than the very low light, it was the presence of tourists scattered all around and, you can imagine, invading any framing I tried to make. I love placing a human being in my pictures, but It should add value to the shot.

To make some nice pictures I had to really move a lot and act very quickly, shooting as soon as I had no people walking in front of me.

At some point, I thought that the only way to get rid of the tourists was to have long exposure time, but I had no tripod!

So I found a nice spot, placed my leather bag on the floor and stabilised the Leica SL on it.

That was a good idea though, the final photo was indeed very good. (picture nr. 1 of this series)

 

About you, which picture from this series do you prefer the most and why?

I would highly appreciate your comments.

Thanks for reading,
Sabino

Discorvering Cordova, photos and useful tips – Andalusia on the road

The third stop of my trip on the road to Andalusia is the historic city of Cordova, serenely lying along the Guadalquivir river and at the foot of the Sierra Morena.

In contrast to the most dynamic Granada and Seville, Cordoba is in fact very quiet. Life around the majestic Mezquita and in the alleys of the Jewish quarter of Juderia, named World Heritage by Unesco, runs at a mild and quiet pace.

Cordova in one day?

Yes, the city of Cordoba could be visited even in one day, as it is not too big and everything can be reached in a few minutes walk. But the serenity that transmits this place invites you to spend much more time, because, I assure you,

stroll along the Guadalquivir shore or cross the beautiful Roman bridge at sunset and then dine at the tables of one of the many great restaurants in the historic center, is a regenerating experience.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

The Mezquita

Built by the Omeya princes, between the 8th and the 10th centuries, this mosque is one of the most important testimonies in Islamic culture in Europe as well as an extraordinary example of Moorish architecture.

As happened to other mosques in Andalusia, the Mezquita was converted after the Christian conquest, in the Cathedral from 1523.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Free admission at the opening!

Being the most popular and visited site in Cordoba, I planned to visit and photograph it as soon as it was open to the public. The cost of the ticket for a visit without a guide is 8 € but, with pleasure, once on the spot, I found out that the entrance is free for those who access the opening, so at 8:30.

Unfortunately, though, there was already a fair group of visitors so my enthusiasm dropped instantly as soon as I got in. The inside of the Mezquita is very beautiful and impressive with this set of columns and bows but as soon as the visitors are scattered, it has become very difficult to make decent photos. Also, it is not allowed to enter the tripod so I had to hold the ISO high and hand-held.

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

At some point I sat on the ground and placed the Leica SL on my bag to give it stability, and took some photos with slow exposure time to try to somehow eliminate the tourists presence.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

The Juderia and some street photos

Juderia is perhaps the most famous Jewish quarter in Andalusia. Losing yourself in its white lanes is the best thing to do to enjoy it at best. But also here, as in Granada, there is not much life around, everything is static but clean and finely decorated. For a street photographer like me, it is almost boring.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Plaza de los Capuchinos

This was for me one of the most striking and photogenic spots of Cordoba, for its mystical atmosphere. A small and cute little square with theCristo de los Faroles, a crucifix illuminated by eight lanterns, and the convent of the Capuchin friars.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Plaza de la Corredera

This square, have a very similar architectural style than the one in Madrid, and is the most extensive portico of Andalusia. A large rectangle enclosed by three-story residential buildings, in which hundreds of balconies are aligned. Very beautiful and photogenic.

iphone 6s

iphone 6s

Hotel in Cordova

My accommodation experience in Cordova was fantastic because the hotel I chose turned out to be really great in all aspects, so I highly recommend it:

Hotel NH Cordoba Guadalquivir (Esperia )

Strategically located, just a few steps from the Roman Bridge in an area with free parking and a beautiful view of the Mezquita. Large double room and huge bed. Nice also the rooftop pool, small but very pleasant.

iPhone 6s

My photography, in Cordoba. How did it go

To be honest, nothing special and memorable. Street photography opportunities were very rare. I alternated all the lenses, trying to stimulate the look with different focal length, but in the end, the subjects were almost always architectural.

I may say that, speaking on photography, Córdova, it is not a place that has stimulated me particularly.

The most beautiful photo opportunity?

Definitely the panoramic photo at sunset on the Roman bridge and on the Mezquita, from the roof of the hotel NH Cordoba Guadalquivir, from which I had a privileged and unique view. Although this is not my favorite type of photography, at least I justified bringing the tripod with me, as this is the only place I used it.

Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

 

Conclusions

Did I like Cordoba? Yes, much, especially for its quiet and relaxed atmosphere. As in Granada, I was disappointed by Juderia’s Jewish quarter for the same reason: I expected a more genuine and loud life. Maybe I still have in the eyes and in the heart the life in the Moroccan Medina, and this influences my expectations a lot. But certainly the global vote on Cordoba remains positive.

Vote: 7

If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact me, I will be happy to answer you.

Thanks for reading,
see you soon,

Sabino

 

 

20 street photos of the lovely Hoi An, Vietnam

Today I take you outside for a pleasant walk through the elegant and colorful streets of Hoi An, Vietnam. Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site as a well preserved southeastern commercial port, this small city has been subjected to influences by foreign settlers such as Portuguese, Dutch, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese.

In fact, the delightful historical center, in addition to having a strong Vietnamese atmosphere, shows a unique fusion of local tradition and foreign influence.

Chilling around with a Leica M

Obviously photographic opportunities are many, though the streets are invaded by tourists any time of the day. I photographed it with a Leica M, alternating the lenses like the Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH e Summicron 50mm f2.

20 street photos of my lovely Hoi An

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(selfie time 🙂 )

Which of these photos do you like the most?

Many thanks for,
a presto, Sabino

3 good places where to eat in Granada, Andalusia

After exploring Granada, it is time now to give you some little hints on where to satisfy your appetite. This Andalusian city offers a lot and it is, therefore, difficult to choose from the many bars and restaurants. Calle Elvira is certainly the most popular street for a tapas and cervezas, but to me, I liked the atmosphere in the most characteristic Albaicin neighbourhood and with fewer tourist venues. In this post I suggest three places I have personally experienced and that I feel particularly good.

3 Top places for breakfast, lunch and dinner

1 –  Panaderia/Pastelleria La Tentacion (Calle San Juan de Dios, 28)
Small and humble artisan bakery, but with fantastic crafts, both sweet and salty, and at very low prices. I would recommend a breakfast with small croissants stuffed with nutella.

Pastelleria – La tentacione

Pastelleria – La tentacione

2 –  La cueva de 1900 (Calle Reyes Católicos, 13) – Great tapas bar – high-quality Jamon. A menu at 12 € with Jamon Iberico de Belota, chips and two bread slices with ham, croutons with fresh tomato sauce and two red wine glasses.

3 – Bar Los diamantes (Plaza Nueva, 13)
Fresh seafood tapas. A drink is served free of charge with a plate of excellent clams.

Buon appetito,
Sabino

25 photos and stories from The Color Run. And why a photographer should get dirty…

I have just come back from the front line of a very special “war”, from where I came out dirty, destroyed, happy and colorful. I photographed “The Color Run” in EchternachLuxembourg, an event now widespread around the world and inspired by the famous Indian Holi Festival, but applied to the race. The main theme of the event is, therefore, the colors that are thrown on runners when they pass through dedicated and monochrome spots.

Obviously, such an event can gift original and special photographic opportunities, so I did not miss it.

“If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa

But, let me tell you few thoughts I’ve recorded after the event, based on what I’ve seen…

During the race, I saw so many professional photographers in action, sent by newspapers, TVs and websites, and one thing I particularly impressed was:

to not see any of them get dirty and dive into the heart of the scene, except one, fool, with the camera completely dusty and stained by the colors: me. And I’m proud of it.

Everyone is free to be a photographer as best they believe, of course, but I see too many photographers who just observe and do not tell. I mean, too many comfy and lazy photographers. Seeing those fully camouflaged, protected, covered cameras and then see them off the “dirty” area, safe and clean, well, it made me laugh a bit. As perhaps they laughed or scoffed at me, surely.

In my humble opinion, a “reporter” photographer has to be in the center of the scene, can not photograph at its margins. The photographer has to touch with hands what happens, feel it on his own skin.

You can not tell a story standing comfortably behind the window to observe it passively.

Most importantly, in such a dynamic and moving situation, you must dive inside and live it. It’s even more fun.

But then we damage the camera!?

No, you’re the slaves of your camera. It is the tool that has to adapt to you, not the opposite. And the camera does not get damaged (internally, I mean), if you comply with simple rules, like not to change the lens while it is immersed in a cloud of dust.

I can tell you, my cameras and lenses come back stressed, dirty and full of signs at the end of my travel or reportage. Just as me…

They are not memorable to keep immaculate inside a vacuum, clean and perfect. No. They have to live and get scratches, bring the signs of a thousand trips and keep memorable memories of unforgettable stories.

So, dear friends photographers and enthusiasts, to tell a story, leave home cleaning kits, air blower and protections and get inside, get dirty you and your gears, breathe the moment.

Maybe your pictures will probably be dirtier, but certainly more alive and emotional.

My 25 pictures of the Color Run

For this reportage, I used the Canon EOS 5D Mk III with the EF 24-70mm f2.8 mkII zoom lens. I chose this lens because it allowed me a lot more flexibility and versatility in a situation where I knew I could not change the lens during the action.

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And what’s your favorite picture among these? I would like to read your opinion and preference.

Thanks for reading,
Sabino

25 photos that brings you inside the stunning Alhambra in Granada

After telling you about my experience in Granada, today I bring you into an authentic wonder of architecture and history, declared Unesco’s Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1984: the Alhambra.
(I will not write here the history of this place as you can easily read it on Wikipedia.)

Instead, I want to describe it through the photos I took with my Leica SL and consequently through the emotions I felt, the environments, atmospheres, and details that struck me most.

Most of the photos were taken inside the Royal Palace, Palacio Nazaries, the most beautiful Islamic building in Europe, a series of rooms and patios in the most classic and sophisticated Moorish style. A real wonder.

Unfortunately, I can not write the aperture value for each shot because I used old and uncoded lenses, so the camera doesn’t show it.

The following first picture was taken by Mirador de San Nicolas at sunset, on a tripod, with an old Pentacon 135mm f2.8 with M42 mount, a lens that gave me amazing results on Leica SL.

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Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8 

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

 

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

 

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8 

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

 

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Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8 

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Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

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Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Conclusions and photography reflections

With so many tourists around, it is very difficult to take special pictures. Even wanting to insert the human element, which I usually love to do, I can not isolate it from others, aside from being, the tourist, not especially photogenic.

In this case, the only way to make the photo interesting is to use the cinematic technique of the “fifth”, a predominant element set in the foreground but out of focus, as in photo N.11, where the child makes almost unnoticed the presence of other people in the background.

Photo N.5, on the other hand, is the one where I managed to get what I wanted, that is to isolate and insert a distinctly human element in a frame that characterizes and identifies the place. I saw the image as soon as I entered that room, but I only had a few seconds to shoot, because then it was a continuous flow of tourists passing by, outside and inside.

For the rest, I have focused more on the beautiful architectural details, often placed above me and thus free from other disturbing elements.

About you, which picture from this series do you prefer the most and why?

I would highly appreciate your comments.

Thanks for reading,
Sabino