I recently got this new photographic toy in the mailbox and wanted to test it out.
I gathered my willing subjects Yasmine and Linnea and started to make a temporary studio in my hallway using a few Nikon SB flashes and a lastolite background.
I have actually never used a ring flash of any sort in the past so this was my first shot at testing one. I decided upon the ”Roundflash” after reading a lot of positive things about it. Especially for the price it seemed like avery good choice. I read about the Orbis and some other cheaper alternatives but i thought the Roundflash got better reviews overall than the others.
I read several users claiming it could be a pain to set up so was preparing myself for a bit of a hassle there, but to be honest it was quite nice and easy to put up.
I DO agree on that folding it tp put it away was a bit more tricky, but that is the case with most things in my opinion, like tents and umbrellas and all sorts of things you have to fold. its always easier to set it up. I never seem to be able to put it back like i got it out of the box the first time 😉
My subjects choose their wardrobe for this one themselves and that was sort of the deal for them to be the willing subjects today. The themes seemed to be either very ”dressy” or martial arts in style!
Once i started shooting everything went quite smooth. I do have to say the Roundflash is quite easy to shoot with. It gives quite nice results and much like i had in mind when i bought it.
That was a minor problem though but a little annoying from time to time.
I must say that i like those pictures the most myself of the lot i shot and together with the ring flash it gives a nice effect in my opinion.
Overall I’m very satisfied with the job the Roundflash did. Its easy to use, very light and quite easy to fold and bring along.
I can say i recommend it if you want something that give you good results for a good price.
/Over and out..
Ok, so the title suggest something majestic is going to be reviewed , but it is only a bag. For me though the bag is something special, and worthy of a mention and a quick review.
For people who know me or have read the blog at some point they know i only write about things i use on a daily basis or feel is something special.
I heard about the On a bag from reading other peoples reviews, and i was drawn to the look but also the quality people spoke of. Also the passion people had when they described their ”relationship”( yes…us guys also have relationships with bags!) to their On a bags made me very curious and i decided to buy one to begin with.
First of all the price is not for the faint of heart, i have to get that out of the way first. A middle sized bag goes for like 300 Euros. yeh, a pretty hefty sum for a bag you use for a camera, one would think it is sewn together with threads made from diamond dust!
Even so I’m going to say it is worth it, if you find a model that suits your needs. Because these are bags you will grow fond of and that will also get ”better” with age, yes almost like a fine wine.
Especially the leather bags. I started buying the Ona Prince street bag. And the leather Cognac version. It cost me around 400 Euro.
It is a middle sized bag which will fit basically a body with a lens fitted and 2 more smaller primes. Then you can also fit an ipad in the back and some batteries and a phone and smaller gear you need like cleaning equipment etc.
For me it was pretty much what i wanted from it. The look and quality alone made me think it was worth it because like i said it is a bag i can use for a very long time and that i believe i will not get tired with as with some of the other bags i own.
For a trip on town it is a perfect bag if you talk size and shape. What i can say though is that the leather bag is on the heavy side for being a smaller shoulder bag . If that is a concern for you but stil want the same size they have the canvas version is different colors as well. And i actually got one of those as well. They cost slightly less as well. Plus the can take the rain, which the leather version can’t brag about. It will be ok for a light sprinkle, but in heavy rain it will surely be ruined.
Another thing i miss sometimes is some more practical inner pocket with a zipper or something to put smaller gear etc. As it is you have 2 open pockets on the outside which i feel things could fall out if tilted forward.
So also if you are after the most practical and smart bag to carry your gear in, the On a bag is not the most intuitive bag out there. Then Thinktank for example is a better alternative. But the quality and look of the On a at least in my opinion, blows the other bags out of the water. I love the style and it is the only bag i would contemplate going to town with almost as an ordinary designer bag for guys.
So i really recommend this bag. They have some different models to check out and they all are great for different purposes. I might get a smaller leather On a bowery bag as well for my X-T1 in the future.
So i did this photoshoot for a friend a while back. It was going to be for an article in a Swedish newspaper.
He called me and asked me to do something close to where i live in Sweden,
I thought it through and decided i would do the shoot in the school i went to as a child.
His company is promoting an app that is against bullying so i like the idea and decided i would not charge him for it, also i saw it as a fun exercise for my photography and to test my new Westcott Rapid softbox out.
It turned out to be quite a cold day and i know some shots my friend wanted to wear only a T-shirt with the brand which i thought was kind of fun. He would suffer in this shoot for sure!
The shoot took like 3 or more hours all in all and we shot at 2 different places, the school and also a private airfield nearby which at the airport ended quite late just before sunset. beautiful.
My kids were also involved in a few pictures which was fun for them and made the shoot pretty fun and spontaneous.
So after the day was at its end we went and had a a few Hotdogs together, the kind of shoot that everyone have fun. I know my friend DID suffer from the cold, but so did i from time to time and the wind actually knocked down my softball a few times and i also forgot my glove at one of the location which was kind of annoying!
Still it was a fun experience.
The newspaper apparently choose 3 images which i have yet to see…
Here are some images from the shoot.
So, Autumn is here. Just thought i would make a quick entry about that and upload a few pictures that i took exploring the wonderful colors we all associate with Autumn.
To be honest, overall Autumn is not my favorite season here in Sweden. But the few days where the sun shines through the bleak autumn sky, it can be magic. And every year it makes me go out to capture it, even if just a few shots to make me feel i have done it so i can cross it off my list of things to do.
This particular day i had the family elsewhere so it was a good opportunity to go out for almost the whole day to find some good places and also just relax. The weather was definitely just as i wanted it to capture the colors.
I decided to go to a place called Bogesund which is located about 10 kilometers from where i live. There is an old castle there and also a lot of forest and some sea nearby that we usually visit during the summer.
But one of the best things besides having good locations to shoot is a cafe called the ”Parkvilla”. One of the better places around these parts if you are looking for homebaked bread and pies.
That it is located like 100 meters from a fairytale castle and the garden to match does not hurt either in my opinion.
So i sped down the serpentine roads of Waxholm nearby the place of my destination and passed a place i also think is very cool. It is a Bog that looks very eerie at night and pretty spectacular during daytime.
You can sense people in the old days had to stay clear of this area due to getting stuck or drown there in the bog.
So i parked just beside it and shot some frames before continuing to the Cafe where i would begin my expedition.
At the cafe it was unfortunately not deserted!
But considering the weather and time of day that was not so strange. I ordered a home baked apple pie with vanilla sause and a huge home baked cinnamon bun and sat there marveling at the view and feeling the sun on my face while i drank that fresh coffee. So a little slice of paradise there before traveling further.
Then i got going and walked around the castle and castle gardens. I have been there several times in the past so i did not really find anything that i had not seen before, but i just felt like i wanted to view it now in autumn to snap a few pictures before going to other places nearby. The forest around the castle consist of a lot of oak trees and birch trees. Beautiful in the Autumn. So done with the castle and its grounds i traveled further into the forest down to the sea where i found the sun started slowly to go down, creating probably the most beautiful scenery i had seen this autumn with the swans traveling the sea and the sun shining on the beautiful birch trees nearby the little beach. The kind of day you thank the higher powers for being alive and be allowed to witness something like that before your life is over. Great stuff indeed.
After strolling the beach getting those shots i wanted i walked to the car and started to go into the forest nearby because i spotted a hill not too far away where it looked like the sun just about reached the top.
At the top i managed to find a strange place where some trees had died in the middle of the hill. It looked so sad. But at same time very natural. The beauty of the yellow colored birch trees around surrounding the dead old grey tree. Almost like they were paying homage to its life.
I tried to capture that but i am not sure i did it justice to be honest. But here is another shot that i thought looked interesting. After climbing down i wnt to the car again and started to head home. I actually stopped by the Bog because i wanted to go a little closer through the woods. That proved to be a bit difficult but i managed to get pretty close without going down into the bog and becoming a zombie they would stumble upon in centuries later.
It looked like a cemetery for dead birch trees near the Bog and i got a few frames there before hurrying back to the care parked beside the road.Then i went back towards my home and i had one final stop in mind that i had seen from the road. An alley that would look very nice near sunset and the time proved perfect if not too perfect because i knew i only had like 30 minutes before the sun would disappear ! So i parked nearby a church there, set the tripod and took a few shots just before the sun went down. After that i felt like i had enough and with not much light left i felt i had been a good a good time to call it quits.
As i went back though fate had something else in mind. Like a few kilometers from my home , the fog started to roll in from all over and i realized this would not only become somewhat of a hazard to the cars driving but also be a pretty cool thing to document somehow before the last bit of light left the sky.
I Sped towards the Church in my hometown and the fog was all over now making it difficult to see much. I set the tripod and took a few atmospheric photos of the church and surroundings before giving up finally. I got back to the car and went to pick up my family that were patiently waiting at the translation a few kilometers away…
So that was my blog from this years Autumn. Done and filed!
A little fun sidenote from the trip was that during my excursion through the woods near the bog, i managed to pick up a few ticks. in the end though i felt it was worth it…just hope it was not carrying anything i will regret later!
Thank you, Over and out, Martin.
So thursday evening and some time to kill made me think through what my next gear review should be. I am going to try to be consistent with only reviewing things i have actually used for a while, and actually like using. I will always try to review if from my angle, because the way i see it people having the same style or liking the way i shoot will be mostly helped from these reviews. I will not post a lot of technical details but rather give my impressions of the lens and what i feel are the pros and cons of it.
After reviewing the D700 and also the X-T1 which were both two pieces of equippment that i loved using, i feel that my next gear review will naturally be one of my favorite lenses.
Lets just state the obvious for people that knows the qualities of this lens that it is definitely not for everyone. First of all the price itself will put people off. I was REALLY lucky finding this on an auction and getting it for a price you normally would not find it for anywhere. Then if you actually do find it to a reasonable price there is the very specialized quality of the lens. Originally it was a lens for nighttime photography, and the way it renders lightsources like citylights or stars etc are very unique. It is also the fastest lens out there so it is a joy to use in lowlight in general.
Also the odd 58mm might be something to put people off, it is not a ”normal” length to shoot at, slightly short for portraits and alittle too long for street or architecture etc.
Still it has reached a sort of legendary status as a unicorn of lenses that is rare to find and very good to use. I read so much before i had the chance to shoot with it and knowing its characteristics in beforehand i jumped on the opportunity to try it when i at last got it.
Shooting mainly portraits i was dreaming about how the Bokeh would look on the Noct. And after shooting with it a few times i could right away it had something special none of my other lenses have. The way it renders the background when opened wide is just incredible. I know some people out there does not like the ”swirly” bokeh it gives. I love it. Also the character of the pictures that it produce is also so unique. It is a joy to use.
The look and feel of it is also like no other lens i have. The build is great, heavy and solid like an old tank!
Paired with my Nikon DF it feels like it was made for that lens alone. The pairing is perfect.
Balanced perfectly, and blend very well together, i actually have the black DF so it is not my DF on the picture above.
So what are the cons then you ask?
Well, it is manual of course being an old lens. So if you want something fast or modern it is not for you. Also it is a heavy lens for its size, that is actually a plus for me because i preferr the solid built to the new plasticky things they sell nowadays.
Also i use it strictly for portaiture. And if i need to shoot something else i leave it at home.
Or like a street/portrait lens. I sometimes take only that when leaving for a trip to town for example, the 58 lend itself to being quite versatile since its close to a normal. I would not say its the best architecture lens or the best tele lens or even the best normal lens though, as its very best characteristics comes out when you take portraits and make use of the Bokeh which is spectacular.
Also if you do not like the ”swirly” look of the Bokeh you might not like the lens either.
So why do i love to shoot with this lens?
Like with so many other things you just feel right away if it suits your needs. I can see why many think it is a fluke or a pretty quirky thing to get since of its pricetag and its very special use.
For me it really makes me want to shoot with it. I love using it, which for me in itself is a incredibly important thing. Also since of that very special look it makes the picrures very personal and stand out, and not many tools out there does that now in my opinion. So for that alone it earns a very special place in my photography heart.
If you have a chance to try it out, do it if you think it might be for you.
/Over and out.
Just a short post to celebrate the fact that i got ahold of this gem of a book finally after several years of searching for it. It is out of print and just by sheer luck did i find a copy at a ”Nygårdsanna” store here in Stockholm which promised it to someone else at first. Then they called me today and said it was mine. So happy.
I did my internship at Carl Bengtsson when i went to photoschool and he was a great inspiration for me, and actually was he who made me to push towards taking portraits more and more rather then the path i was on back then in school.
So now it is time to put on the kettle for some steaming Java, put my feets on the soffa and enjoy this masterpiece. Joy.
So, It was going to be hard to top the tour we made with Brian on the next day. But i know Kreuzberg was high on my list of places to visit before leaving Berlin.
So we decided that going there was dedicated to a whole day traveling around in Kreuzberg but also doing some shopping( to keep everyone happy!) and some ordinary sightseeing.
We were not sure what station to go to exactly just where the boundary for the Kreuzberg area started and ended. that left quite a few stations, but we decided on one that looked to be in the heart of it.
That station was Hallesches Tor and proved to be way of our mark off course. In hindsight that was actually a good thing it turned out. That way we got to walk through a large part of Kreuzberg and see a lot of amazing street art and other pretty cool things. The words cool and amazing were not the words my wife would use to describe Kreuzberg though and she was longing for the more ”safer” areas around Tiergarten etc as soon as we left the subway platform.
Already outside the station there was graffiti and street art all around to see. Sure the area was a lot more ”rugged” and poor than the other parts of Berlin we had visited thus far. But i loved it. And know i would love taking photos there.
But i would not go there during the night or late evenings even in some way it would have been cool to see that aspect of Kreuzberg as well. That would not be recommended with your family in company though.
Even so i enjoyed the walking across Kreuzberg a lot. Meeting interesting people, seeing great art that covered almost every corner along the way.
One thing we completely forgot before this day was to bring some sunscreen. So i went into a small local pharmacy with probably the most shrewd sunscreen seller in the whole of Germany. I asked for a good sunscreen that would not stain or oil too much since i had the camera gear with me and did not want that ruined or messy. She talked me into buying something far to expensive and that also in the end stained and oiled more than any sunscreen i have ever tried. So not a good deal 😉
After a lot of walking we started to arrive in the more crowded parts of Kreuzberg that were also more ”pleasant to walk around in. Lots of cosy personal shops with some pretty cool stuff to buy in my opinion. Even my wife liked it somewhat!
Very atmospheric music stores, cafes, giftshops, you name it. Anything you wanted it was there but in a much more personal way than in downtown Berlin. I would highly recommend going there if you ever visit the place. Here also all houses were in different colors and made the whole area feel very different and inviting.
We spent almost half the way wandering the streets of Kreuzberg, and i snapped a lot of shots there, using mainly my 24 lens since of all the architecture.
I also passed a very cool camera shop that specialized in Leica( what else!), that also made me want to be a millionaire the next time going there. It was a really special shop though even if you did not buy anything. Just browsing it was cool. Also the Dj shop posted a photo of here was one of the cooler Music stores i have ever been inside. It was not a huge place, but all the Vinyl and art on the walls and the atmosphere there made me want to stay there for several hours.
Im glad we did even if it left you sad and empty afterwards. Still, it is just a place you have to visit, you owe it to yourself if you are into history and also owe it to the people lost in the horrific time that was during the holocaust. The structure itself was almost worth seeing because it was so out of place in the middle of Kreuzberg.
The inside had a very special layout of rooms that sometimes just were filled with empty space and voids to let you feel or not feel for yourself how void the world had become after loosing so many lives in the holocaust. It was a pretty powerful thing.
The thing i recall the most and that left the biggest impression on me afterwards besides all the testimonies from people telling their horrific but interesting stories, was the ”fallen leafs” room and monument. A memory of the victims of war. Something to make us NEVER to forget the atrocities of war.
After that we went and had dinner at an asian place in the centre again.
And discussed all that we had seen that day and planned ahead to our coming trips to Potsdam and other places in downtown Berlin.
All in all, a fantastic day in interesting Berlin.
So, I finally made the trip to Berlin this summer in late August and it was amazing. It was all i had thought it would be and then some.
In the end i decided on packing the Nikon DF and 3 lenses. The lenses i brought was my 24 f1,4 , the 58,f1,4 and my 135 DC f2,0. So for me that was going to cover most of my needs. In my mind what i looked forward to the most was making either spectacular wide angled architectural shots or some good street portraits with my 58. The 135 i thought would be good for those candids in crowded places to make some good shots of people like on the subways or plazas in Berlin. As an afterthought i think those lenses was a pretty good choice actually.
The smaller Lowpro flipped sport 10 L was just enough to take the body and the lenses and room for some cleaning gear and batteries. Of course a small bag like that will always leave you wanting more space and the need to put extra stuff in pockets or let your fellow travelers carry something. But nothing beats having a small bag when you have to cover a lot of distance on foot!
I traveled with my Wife and my oldest son , none of them had ever been to Berlin and neither had i. I had been to Germany before though and always thought i wanted to go back to Germany and especially Berlin because of my photography.
I had booked a hotel near the ”Hauptbahnhof” which i know was a decent hotel but more important a very central hotel that made it easy to reach the sites we wanted quickly and without hassle.
The flight went well and we arrived in the burning sun in the early afternoon. The bus left us actually just beside the hotel, but after my huge misstake of reading the map i brought i thought us to be further away, so we walked several kilometers( with bags!) in the wrong direction and ended up having to ask our way back to the original destination to the dismay of my fellow travelers 😉
The Hauptbahnhof was an amazing place for photography, and especially street and candids. I made a mental note to go back there at another point of the trip, at a time when the bags where in the hotel and my wife was not tired and hungry!
The hotel ( Meininger Hotel) was exactly as advertised , decent but with a good location. It was literarily next to the station. I remember thinking that it was lucky i was not a light sleeper, and that proved to be right the following nights when trains and people constantly moving in the area made it very noisy.
So something to think about if you ever go there.
Otherwise it was perfect for our needs. We decided on leaving the bags and trying to go to at least to a few places that first day so to not miss any opportunities of sightseeing the first day
We went directly to the Brandenburger Tor and the subway near Zoogarten just to get a grasp of what the Subway was like and to buy some tickets for traveling around the rest of the trip. We always try to sort that the first day when we travel, to not have to worry about buying extra tickets etc when we travel around later. The Berlin Subway was a joy to travel with in my opinion. Very well organized and a lot easier i feel than the Paris one.
So that first day we just traveled by ourselves and did not take any tours etc.
For Tuesday i had booked a pretty big tour that was called ”Famous Walks and hidden Berlin” which promised to take us into all known and secret places that would teach us the history around the ww2 and also the Berlin wall.
That proved to be the best Tour of my life. The day after we hurried to make it to the point of meeting for the Berlin tour. We came like 1 hour earlier near Zoogarten again and waited at a Mcdonalds there to spot the tour leader in time.
It was not hard to spot Brian as he was called, a tall and very charismatic man with a broad american accent and a fun looking hat that looked to small for his big frame. He told us already in the beginning that the tour was supposed to be around 3 hours but that he had some special guests joining us, some people that had seen his tours in the past and wanted to go with him again. So this time he would take as long as he felt like and needed to make the tour extra special for us and them. I had some second thoughts then regarding the heat that day( around 36 degrees celsius) and realized it would most likely become a problem for my wife and my son. Then again we could always leave, and i know Brian was going to try and take breaks a long the way and keep to the shadow as much as possible when choosing his spots for the walk.
The tour with Brian as the guide was as i said earlier the best tour i have ever taken. He spoke of Berlin and its history with such passion and love and humor sometimes that we all got pulled into his universe and his Berlin the way he viewed it. At some points when he almost broke down telling us about the horrific crimes against the jews during the war, or the times afterwards and the struggles the people that were alive had to go through to rebuild Berlin, or about the desperate last years of trying to tear down the wall and the stubborn politics around it, it made us all tear up as he masterfully told the stories of people and their different tales and destinies. It was fascinating.
The 3 hours actually went on for 6 hours in the burning Berlin heat, and that was pretty difficult for many in the group, but even so they ALL stayed until the end when Brian held his last great speech near Branderburger tour telling us about how Kowalski made the political error at the last press conference that made the final nail in the coffin for the Berlin wall. A small amount of time after that error people started to cross checkpoint charlie and get to the other side and West Berlin. Then we all remember the things from News that TV stations all over the world showed us of happy Berliners crossing the wall and tearing it down. So i won’t bore you with those stories but rather focus on what the tour gave me as a photographer. well to be honest not much! As a person it gave me everything. I loved it just as i said. But the pace of the walk and also the heat made it very difficult to try and snap some pictures along the way. It did however give me a lot of inspiration and insights into where i would go by myself after the tour the coming days to take those shots i so wanted.
I will continue in the next blogpost and cover the rest of my trip to exciting Berlin….
Just a quick post about traveling and gear, as a follow up to my last post about reviews and gear.
It is summer here in Sweden, and a few new trips are scheduled this semester . I will obviously bring a camera to these trips, but one of the constant dilemmas are what to bring and how much you should carry with you to maximize your photographic experience and get those money shots with you back home.
The last 2 trips i skipped all my heavy gear after a trip i made to Rome a year back. It was a great trip, but i had backspins and shoulder pains a while after because of bringing too much stuff. Also before that i only had my D700 and brought that with lenses for all my trips.
It was after that i got my X-T1 and lenses and bringing that to Paris for 2 trips was just a joy. So light in comparison! And still got great pictures and had fun shooting with it.
Now i also have the pleasure of choosing between that and my Nikon DF also. So now the X-T1 have a serious competitor for me since it is also lighter than the D810 i will most likely leave back home for the more serious assignments.
So, what do i bring for my Berlin trip this Summer? Any suggestions?
I have sort of made up my mind about what house i will bring actually, and it will most likely be my DF, and i am still contemplating what lenses i will bring. They will have to fit my new Lowpro Flipside sport 10L bag. So about 3 lenses. No zooms. So will be 1 wide lens, one normal, and also some sort of tele.
it is a nice dilemma to have though. Summer, photography , choosing what to bring for my trip. Life is good right now 🙂
Do not burn yourself!
/Over and out..
So just quick update to my blog about gear. We all know that photography can become very expensive and that you often get a slight case of ”gear addiction” over the years.
We always find a new camera bag for different needs or a new lens or just a complete new camera body that will need a whole new set of lenses again!
I have gone over my share of bags, cameras and lenses and feel i can now finally say honestly what i like to use and what i did like to use and point out some pros and cons about said equippment.
I will keep posting reviews about things i own but that i also liked so much that i can recommend them to other photographers.
It will be everything that you use as a photographer, from Bodies, bags, straps, lenses, you name it. A few upcoming reviews are going to be around a favorite lens of mine the Nikkor Noct 58 mm, and about the Ona bags that i used lately. I spend a lot of time with my Noct after acquiring it and felt i have to make it justice and let people know why i like it so much.
Also an upcoming review will be about the Nikon DF which i also spent a lot of time with this year and that i feel need a new updated review on the internet after all the negative ones i found out there before buying mine. Because if people like me want to give it a chance i want those people to know why i liked it and if they have a similar shooting style to mine why they will also probably like it so much.
It got a lot of flack in the beginning due to the high expectations and the high prietag that people felt was not justified, but now that the dust have settled and the price also have gone down it is indeed one of the better cameras out there if not THE best if you can live with its shortcomings.
So stay tuned for the upcoming reviews and also thoughts about the gear i use or like in the near future!