Saturday, June 29, 2013

Is Bart Simpson a Working Graffiti Writer?

I was walking through my favorite alleys of Vancouver looking for any new graffiti art and I actually found 3 graffiti artists hard at work on a private parking lot. The owners were tired of all the tagging along their walls and decided to allow proper graffiti writers to refresh their walls with a proper mural from time to time. Even the taggers stay off a properly done up wall out of respect...for a while anyway.

I ran into Combo (professional tag name), Joe and Jordan "The Red" working on this Simpson's themed graffiti mural wall at 300 block West Hastings. They were hard at work trying to finish their cartoon masterpiece before it started raining.

These guys work hard and they work fast, and they don't get paid for what they do... at least not these guys. They can spend up to $100 worth of paint for just a 20' x 15' section, and this mural was probably over 120' x 15'. Why do it then? They're artists. Why did Picasso paint? To become rich? Many artists die poor. They do it because they want to express themselves. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Leica X Vario Almost Perfect for the Street

Shot with Leica X Vario @ ISO 1600 and 1/1600 sec F/3.5 at 28mm equiv

I've posted more street shots here.
My full review of the X Vario is here.

Some people feel that shooting with a Leica is like driving a Rolls Royce: mostly show and very little performance. However, I've found that shooting with the Leica X Vario on the street has been a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Let me explain. It's not that I didn't expect to enjoy shooting with this "mini M", but I didn't think it would actually help me become a better street photographer. What makes the X Vario so good? True manual control. Manual dials, manual zoom, manual focus lens. Without looking at a screen, I can see my shutter speed, aperture, focal length, and most importantly my focus distance. This is the key: a true manual focus lens, not focus by wire. This one feature has helped me get more shots more often.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Impromptu Portrait with Leica X Vario

This morning as we were getting ready to go out, I thought I would do a quick Bokeh test with the Leica X Vario on my wife. Shot at 28mm equiv wide and F/3.5, I thought the Leica did really well. The sharpness of the lens is amazing wide open, and the background blur is just right. I'll perform a proper Bokeh test outdoors soon, but enjoy this one for now. I only have the camera for a few more days so I better get shooting! Full review coming soon.

Check out my full review of the Leica X Vario here.

Check out my street pics with the Leica X Vario here.

P.S. this image was cropped to a 21:9 aspect ratio to focus on my wife and the background, not the foreground clutter of our kitchen table. This gives you a good idea of the Bokeh at wide open. I can't wait to see what it will look like zoomed out to 70mm, but at F/6.4. This is a super sharp lens though!!

The Graffiti Writers of Vancouver: Meet Joe

Leica X Vario @ ISO 400 1/400th sec F/4.5 at 36mm equiv

Meet Joe. He's a graffiti artist, or as they call each other, a graffiti writer. He likes to draw with a spray can. He draws on walls, under bridges, and on trains. Why? The same reason why I take pictures, or why some like to play musical instruments. It's an expression of ourselves through our chosen medium, let it be a spray can, a camera, or a guitar. 

I ran into Joe, Jordan and Combo (tag name) as they were working on an amazing Simpson's themed mural in a parking lot in downtown Vancouver. I will post those pictures in the next few days but I just wanted to get this backwards portrait of Joe up first. He's a quiet guy, mild spoken, and very easy to talk to. They just finished the mural as it started to rain, and Joe was taking off to get his hair-cut when I got this one last shot of him. 

Thanks for posing Joe. I hope you get a decent haircut...

P.S. this picture was taken with the super cool but expensive Leica X Vario. I didn't think I would like it as a street shooter, but it's actually really awesome, especially if you know how to scale focus. More on this on my upcoming review....stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Leica X Vario, Minolta XD and Schiedmayer

Shot with Ricoh GR D IV @ ISO 1250, 1/80 sec F/4.0 

What does the Leica X Vario, Minolta XD and a Schiedmayer piano have in common? They are all German, but also a way. The Leica camera is made in Germany, but with the help of Japanese electronic components on the inside. The Minolta XD is made in Japan but is a sibling to the Leica R4 (so similar that their backs are inter-changeable). The Schiedmayer piano is an all wood action, German designed piano, but built in Japan by the Kawai Piano Company. I love what happens when the Germans and Japanese work together to build something.

Thanks to Eric Kerwin of Leica Canada, I have in my possession for 1 week the new Leica X Vario. I've only shot with it for a few hours today, but I can tell you that I love the concept already. It's a manual zoom, manual focus (with AF) APS-C sensored point & shoot, with full shutter speed and aperture dials on top. You can see all your main settings from the outside. That's awesome. 

I'll post my full review soon, but I'll probably do a comparison with the Ricoh GR which I am also testing, and I also have a Fuji X-100S on its way soon. However, I won't be doing any pixel peeping side by side image comparisons. What I will do is review how it shoots, and how it feels to shoot. That's the most important to a street photographer. All three cameras will give you amazing images, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. 

So keep checking back for my upcoming reviews and images. Don't forget to subscribe to my Twitter, Instagram, or my mailing list.  Happy shooting!

Shot with Leica X Vario at ISO 400, 1/160 sec F/6.4 zoomed to 70mm equiv

P.S. for NERDS: The SCHIEDMAYER is my wife's, and it has a beautiful sound and action for an upright. The Minolta XD-11 is one of two XD's that I own. All XD's have the Leica anodized black finish on it, so they look and feel amazing. I also have mounted the MD 24mm F2.8 lens. All Leica's SLR bodies from the R4 to the R6.2 were all based on this Minolta chassis from the 1970's.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Backpacking Model and Biology Student

It's amazing who you can meet while taking the bus. We usually see interesting people all the time, but never have the courage to start up a conversation for fear of rejection. I sat behind Rosa and the first thing I noticed was her big hair. I wanted to take a picture, but it's hard to ask to take a picture while sitting on the bus. However, we both got off at the same stop and were going the same direction so I started talking with her. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gastown in the Rain in 21:9 Aspect Ratio

I like shooting in the rain because it adds a bit of mood to the image. As long as my camera is easy to hold, shooting while its wet isn't too cumbersome. That's the beauty of the Ricoh GR series cameras, as they are designed for one-handed operation. Its perfect for shooting with one hand, while holding an umbrella with the other.

The above shot was taken in Gastown in front of the Flying Pig restaurant. I liked how the bike was parked, and I liked the two guys sitting at the window eating. I think the movie aspect ratio of 21:9 works perfectly here, as it gives an open feeling to the image. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Retail Store Ideas that are Too Specialized?

I'm walking around in one of the most rapidly developing areas of downtown Vancouver, the DTES. This spot is traditionally the poorest neighbourhood of Vancouver (actually, it's the poorest in all of Canada), but many new businesses have opened up here to much success. Many food joints such as Acme Cafe, Save on Meats, and Cartems have successfully maintained a good balance with the neighbourhood, as well attracting new people who would usually not venture into this part of town.

When I saw the above "coming soon" business, I thought to myself, I don't see it doing well here. Poor neighbourhood, not a lot of money, and a very specialized group of people who shop for lingerie, and on top of that, plus size men only. I was also wondering what the window display would look like. Would it be tasteful, or just plain tacky? Where would they get plus-size men's mannequins? I checked up on it a few months later, scared to see what would be on display, and this is what I saw....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ride On Vancouver: Bike Couriers Are Cool

When I first saw John taking a break from his job, he was exactly as you see him in the above picture. I told him not to move. I liked the way he was using his bike like a foot stool, but also holding it like he was protecting a friend at the same time. I introduced John in a previous post holding the Minolta CLE camera pointed at me. He was just as interested in my camera equipment as I was in taking a picture of him.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bokeh Test between Ricoh GR-D IV & GR V

 Taken with the Ricoh GR V @ F/2.8 1/40th sec at ISO 800

Taken with the Ricoh GR D IV @ F/1.9 1/26th sec at ISO 250

I thought I would do a short series of comparisons between the new Ricoh GR and the previous Ricoh GR D IV. I know when it comes to sensor size, there's no need to do a comparison. In terms of resolution capabilities, APS-C is superior over 1/1.7". However, I would argue that there are a few advantages to GR IV, which includes the fact it has a smaller sensor.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hanging Out with the Boys of Livestock did a poll on the top 10 coolest sneaker shops in the world, and Vancouver's Livestock made number 3! That's pretty good, beating out other major sneaker shops from Tokyo, UK, San Francisco and New York. To work at the #3 coolest sneaker shop in the world, I guess you have to be pretty cool yourself? Meet Stan and Evans, two guys who's shoes fit the bill. Stan wears his retro Guns and Roses t-shirt and backwards cap with style, while Evans pulls off his more understated flatcap and black t-shirt with a quiet confidence...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Ricoh GR, a Hipster, and a Yellow Fixe

I was out testing both the Ricoh GR and GR-D IV when I saw a young hipster leaning up against a pole next to a hip yellow fixie. Cool shot I thought. I asked him if the bike was his and he said no. He didn't like the narrow handle bars, more show than function. We debated the merits of different handlebar shapes and configurations since we both like riding bikes, especially fixies.

I asked Joseph if I could take a picture of him next to the bike since it seemed to match his style (in my eyes anyways) and he agreed. His pose was totally natural. I didn't ask him to move or stand in any particular way. The reason why he's looking down at his hands is because he's admiring one of my Moo business cards. Thanks for the shot Joseph. Perhaps I'll see you around on your bike next time.

This picture was taken with the Ricoh GR D IV at F/2.8, 1/90 sec, iso 80. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ricoh GR Trio: The Tiny, Full-Frame & APS

I finally have in my possession the latest and greatest Ricoh digital camera, the Ricoh GR. Unofficially it's called the GR V or GR 5 since it's the 5th generation Ricoh GR digital camera. The big deal with the new GR is of course its APS-C size sensor crammed into its slim little Japanese camera body.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Quicksilver: The Real Life of Bike Couriers

Meet George. He's from Leeds, England so he has a super cool accent...well, it is to us plain English speakers.  When I asked him if he loves his job, he gave me a smile. Of course he loves his job. Then I asked him if he's seen the 80's movie Quicksilver starring Kevin Bacon, and again it's a smile and another yes. It's kind of a cult classic among bike riders, but especially bike couriers.

However, unlike Kevin Bacon's character, most of these guys aren't ex-millionaire stockbrokers who decided to take a break and ride bikes for a living. But like the movie, they do this job not to make a whole lot of money, but because they love the thrill of riding and they like the lifestyle...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zone Focus Street Photography with Ricoh

As most of my followers know, I rarely steal pictures in public. I usually ask permission before I take an image, or else I'm shooting a wide scene with lots of elements, including random people. I'm not ethically against "stealing" images, but I don't do it often. I tend to do it more when I'm on vacation. I don't know why that's so...I'll have to think about that one.

Anyways, the above picture was "stolen" while shooting with the Ricoh GR-D IV camera. As you can see, I didn't get the focus right (more below for the nerds) but I think I caught the mood of the shot. His cool, confident stride reminded me of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever strutting down the street with his tight pants...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Preview: Ricoh GR-1 vs GR-Digital IV

Full Review of Ricoh GRD IV here

I've recently retired my beloved Panasonic LX-3 after 4 years of faithful service. It's been to Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore and other faraway places and it's never let me down. It's replacement? I don't know yet, but I'm testing the discontinued Ricoh GR Digital IV. Why test a discontinued camera you ask? Unlike many digital cameras that are easily forgotten, for some reason the Ricoh GR series cameras tend to be come cult classics as soon as they come out. From the original GR-1 film camera (pictured above with the GR-D IV), to the latest and greatest APS-C sensor equipped Ricoh GR V (I know that's not the official name), Ricoh cameras seem to have staying power. Just type in Ricoh GR on E-bay or Craigslist and you'll see what I mean.