Posted on July 28, 2018
Posted on July 22, 2018
A while back I posted the below photo of Marienplatz, part of the Munich U-Bahn network. I promised that I would do a project on that one day. Well many moons have past, but finally I was able to go back and work a little more on the project.
So what was the occasion? Well there was one, I managed to get the final piece of my new wide angle kit. I no longer use the 16-35mm 2.8L II but have changed to the Zeiss Milvus 18mm 2.8 and the Sigma 12-24mm 4.0 Art. The 12-24mm is the final piece, and it’s ideal for U-Bahn photography! I have only taken about 100 shots with it so far, but I can confirm that the Sigma 12-24 is really special. It is better than I expected, and has surprisingly low distortion, very uniform and high degree of sharpness… Its lovely to use. I can also say it’s bigger and heavier than I thought :(. When I have a few more keepers from the lens I will write a separate post on the Sigma 12-24mm 4.0 Art lens.
Back to the U-Bahn! I spent an evening on the network, and took the U1, U2 and U3 around a bit. I got an all day ticket called the Munich XXL for 8.90 Euros. That allowed me to use all the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and buses. I was out from 9:30pm till 12:30am but really I could have used a lot more time. I will need to come back again. The U-Bahn was introduced in 1971, and has been added to ever since. There are 96 stations and over 100km of track. Many of the stations are wonderfully designed, and this is much of the photography appeal. Due to my time restrictions on this occasion, I was only able to photograph three stations! So here are my favorites from the evening:
Below is a gallery from the night. Happy Shooting! Don’t forget to like and share my work!
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Posted on July 7, 2018
Heard a lot about Monaco, so we had to check it out! This tiny little nation has more millionaires and billionaires than anywhere else in the world. Often thought of as snobby and expensive – maybe, but Monaco is really quite charming. There are beautiful gardens and parks on every corner, it is modern, clean and tidy. It reminds me in some ways of Sydney.
We combined our visit with some surrounding areas close of Monaco. Its a very nice part of the world, with great weather and coastline. We had a good time, so check out my photos in the gallery below!
Posted on June 30, 2018
Posted on June 30, 2018
A little known fact is that Vietnam is a huge coffee producer, ranking second in the world for coffee exports. The Vietnamese have a great coffee culture, if a little different from more conventional coffee fans. This love of coffee was originally introduced by the French, but today is truly unique.
Vietnamese coffee is typically a coarse ground strong and flavourful coffee. If you like strong coffee go to Vietnam, it’s the strongest coffee you will ever have. In the old days, the French colonists could not get normal milk, so condensed milk was used instead. Today you can get a range of coffees in Vietnam, from egg coffee to fruit coffee, weasel coffee to yoghurt coffee.
I took a few photos of how we prepare Vietnamese coffee (Ca Phe Sua). This is how we have learnt it from the locals, and certainly not the only way. You will need the following:
- Vietnamese coffee, we use Trung Nguyen
- Vietnamese coffee filter
- Glass or cup, depending on the type of coffee made
- Hot water
- Condensed and sweetened milk (for Ca Phe Sua)
- Tea spoon!
Take out the top filter in the Vietnamese coffee maker. Add 2-3 tea spoons of Vietnamese ground coffee.
Use the top filter to compress the coffee a little. You do not need to apply a lot of pressure. Leave the filter press on top of the coffee.
Put the coffee maker on top of a glass or cup. Pour in a little hot water, just enough to moisten and swell the coffee. Wait 20 seconds, before filling up the entire filter. This delay is to allow the coffee to expand and prevent the water passing through the coffee too quickly. Failing this step can lead to poor taste.
Monitor the progress of the water, and when all the water has filtered through the coffee is ready. If you like a white coffee then add one tea spoon of condensed milk, and stir up. If you like black coffee then drink as is, however black coffees are enjoyed cold in Vietnam. Typically the filtered coffee is poured into a glass filled 50% up with ice cubes.
Posted on May 13, 2018
The search for the perfect ultrawide angle prime lens
Over the last year or so I have been wanting to upgrade my ultrawide lens, the 16-35mm 2.8L II. This was a difficult task, as the 16-35L II has been a real dependable workhorse for me. It has netted me many good photos. There was a lot to like about it, but its age was beginning to show. More than that, as a prime lens shooter, I felt that the zoom was making me lazy with composition. For the most part, I used the lens at 16mm where it has maximum effect. I also use the excellent 24mm and 35mm 1.4 Sigma Art lenses and sometimes I’d be lazy and use the zoom at those focal lengths. The 16-35L II really does not excel wide open at 35mm so I was missing out. Apart from inviting laziness, the 16-35L II also has weak corners and a bit of distortion at wider focal lengths. Really, I can’t complain too much, its been a great lens, and I have got a lot of great images from it. I feel like nowadays with the 16-35mm f4L IS lens, everybody has a 16-35 and that just doesn’t appeal to me. I like to be a little different.
So, the search for a good alternative started long ago. I was hoping to find a great prime lens 18-21mm. Like all photographers in the internet age, I looked up sample images on the various photography sites. Zeiss of course is famous for its manual focus prime lenses which really excel for landscape and architecture. And while browsing the many internet galleries, you occasionally see Zeiss images which possess that special ‘Zeiss’ character. I started to wonder if a manual Zeiss lens could really work for my style of photography? In the end I had four good possibilities:
- Carl Zeiss Milvus 18mm 2.8
- Carl Zeiss Milvus 21mm 2.8
- Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art HSM
- Canon 16-35mm 2.8L III
Always go shopping with a list of focal lengths! I needed a lens 18-21mm. Zeiss offers two good lenses here. I thought the 21mm might be too close to my existing 24mm 1.4 Art, which I use a lot. The Milvus 21mm 2.8 lens also uses the older 2008 launch 21mm 2.8 Distagon optical design, just wrapped up in a new lens body. While a potent formula, the brand new Milvus 18mm 2.8 was more appealing, also in regards to the focal length. The Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art was a top contender, and the image quality is great. But I wanted to use conventional screw-in filters and you can’t with the 20mm Art. It also has a bit too much distortion at 2.5%, but its f1.4 and represents excellent value. The new version of the 16-35mm 2.8L was also an amazing option, which offers so much compared to a manual focus Zeiss lens…
The 18mm 2.8 Milvus VS the Canon 16-35mm 2.8L III
In absolute terms, the 16-35mm 2.8L III offers so much more than the Milvus 18mm 2.8, so why the hell did I choose the Zeiss? Both lenses are tack sharp corner to corner. Its amazing that the Canon is so good. Its sharper than most prime lenses. The build quality and general use in the field are also top notch. Both lenses are weather sealed, and if a filter is fitted you have a rig that can be used in all conditions. Both choices have excellent colour and contrast. It was really a difficult decision.
The simple answer is that I wanted to try something different, and it boils down to personal choice. I have wanted to try a Zeiss lens for a while. I get satisfaction using well crafted instruments, and the Milvus 18mm lens is a pleasure to use. I also love primes, there is something very satisfying about nailing a good image with a prime lens, rather than merely zooming in on something. The popularity of the Canon ultrawide zooms today is also a bit off putting to me. The Zeiss lens is lighter, smaller and simpler than the Canon lens, and it gives a certain exclusivity as only a handful of people use it. The Zeiss has better colour and less distortion than the Canon. It also focuses closer at 18mm than the Canon. Sure it has its down sides. Its manual focus for one thing, by far the biggest problem. But I have the 24mm 1.4 Art and will have the 14mm 1.8 Art lenses to back up the Milvus.
So what is it like? Well, its very well made, its compact and feels very nice to use. Its tack sharp corner to corner from 2.8 to f16 and even f22 looks good. The files are punchy and the colour is typical Zeiss. There is a lot of vignetting at 2.8, but that does not bother me. Regarding the manual focus (people leaning forward), its really easy to get sharp focus. Unlike other lenses I have used manually, the Zeiss appears to have a ‘flat spot’ of sharp focus, rather than a difficult to hit peak. I use the AF confirm light, and get good results. I have also tried liveview, but don’t see added sharpness compared to using the AF confirm light.
Its is early days, but the image quality is far better than the old 16-35mm 2.8L II. The colour and micro contract is very nice. As is typical with Carl Zeiss, the lens renders blues and blacks in a very unique and rich way. Most of the images I have taken have been in very harsh light, as the weather has been awesome in the alps lately. I look forward to also using this lens in softer light, but haven’t had the chance yet. The manual focus thing does not seem to be a problem, especially at this focal length. I really could not have asked for a better ultrawide for landscape and architecture. It is complemented in my case, by the 24mm 1.4 Art and in the future I will add a 14mm lens as well.
Posted on May 9, 2018
Hello everyone! I finally processed some photos from last Autumn where my wife and I went to Chamonix. As ever, living south of Munich means you don’t have to travel far to see some of Europe’s best sights. Chamonix is located in France, at the base of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain. It is not only a cosy town but Chamonix always has a feeling of adventure. This time we dropped by Zurich in Switzerland on the way.
The next day we did a bit of hiking, and took the train up to the Mer de Glace glacier. It is a magnificent place surrounded by towering peaks with the vast glacier curving its way through the valley.
On this trip I took the following lenses; 24mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, 85mm 1.2L II, 135mm f2L and 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II. The primes are great for taking photos in the town, and the telephoto lenses are great for getting good photos of the mountains. Here are some of the keepers from the weekend! Hope you enjoy.