Enjoy Very Long Exposures With Will Cheung And MPB

Surprise, surprise


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Surprise, surprise

22 Jan 2022 8:51AM   Views : 455 Unique : 265


I was exploring the idea of Ďglimpsesí with Amber Belle, and had taken along a couple of long, manual focus lenses Ė Iíll say a little bit about the two of them first.

My 100mm Canon f/3.5 is an old lens Ė I reckon it dates from about 1960. Itís a narrow alloy tube, with a lashed-up lens hood that the previous owner, my good friend Fred Whisker. Itís Leica screw fitting, and I attach it to my camera with a pair of adaptors Ė a cheap Leica bayonet to Sony FE (black, from China) and a rather expensive Leitz screw-bayonet adaptor.

The Canon lens is actually impressively sharp, but the contrast is very low, and has massive susceptibility to flare. It also gives a very cold image Ė it would have been very disappointing on colour slide film, needing a heavy colour correction filter. But on video, colour correction is easy, and Levels allows fine-tuning the image tones, leaving a lovely soft-looking image that models love. Itís very flattering.


The other lens is a Samyang 135mm f/2 manual focus lens, designed for Sony cameras. Itís a modern design, and has the same sort of characteristics as the Sigma and Sony f/1.8 offerings, but at a fraction of the price. Itís not AF: so itís slow to use, and it isnít quite as good Ė but value for money is stellar. Completely different from the Canon, it gives a precise, hard-drawn image with excellent contrast. And itís big and heavy, and the physically longest 135mm Iíve ever used.

Iíd been shooting with the Canon, and decided to change the look. Imagine my surprise when the image was again ethereal and misty. It took me a couple of frames to think Ďthereís something odd going oní and actually look at the lens.

Simple, really: the lens had been cold in the boot of my car, and had misted up completely in a warm room. So a classic trick: breathe on the lens and shoot at once for an ad hoc misty look. And keep your lenses warm if you want to retain the full contrast and definition that youíve paid for!


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
22 Jan 2022 8:52AM
Top to bottom: Canon at f/4; misty Samyang at f/2, and after warming up, again at f/2.
kaybee Avatar
kaybee 19 8.7k 29 Scotland
22 Jan 2022 9:51AM
What fantastic eyes she has.
I rather like the soft, hazy look I have to say.
bluesandtwos Avatar
bluesandtwos 14 544 1 England
22 Jan 2022 9:58AM
Soft hazy look for me too! Smile

Acancarter Avatar
22 Jan 2022 11:15AM
Really useful and interesting observations John. Can you achieve the same effects with filters in PS? Do they look contrived and synthetic in comparison? I've always tried to avoid conditions where misting might occur. I had a slightly scary experience in SriLanka 15 years ago, where it took my (then) precious and new EOS20D a couple of hours to demist after being in an air conditioned hotel room!
Imageryonly Avatar
Imageryonly Plus
3 208 11 United Kingdom
22 Jan 2022 4:09PM
As most of my photography is in the open air, misting is a serious problem. solved by a Ziploc bag in the kitchen with dessicant in it. 10 mins as temps normalise and lens and camera are dry. Silica gel is on my must have list SmileSmile
I love the misty look, and ,as John points out, i used to breathe on a lens for Pet portraits, also, not unknown to smear a little Vaseline round the edge of a plain filter to get that magic look.
The nice thing about breathing on the lens is that it never clears exactly the same pattern, so two shots can be completely different.
JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
22 Jan 2022 5:46PM
A lovely model. Top one is my favourite
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 451
23 Jan 2022 1:46AM
Note to myself: Never use a plastic lens to shoot a hot woman cause the lens may melt.

Good advice dudler. 👍📷😃
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
23 Jan 2022 2:52PM
Andy - I assume you can do the same in Photoshop, if you know enough and work hard and subtly enough. But I like the way that the Canon lens does it repeatably, reliably, and sharply - providing one remembers to set the right focal length for the IS system, and focuses accurately...

It took me by surprise because I hadn't realised the Samyang lens was cold!

And yes, Roy - Amber's eyes are amazing. I count myself very fortunate to be able to work with her as often as I have!

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