Legacy glass on digital Part 1.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 Lens.

I do like the quality and feel of the old legacy lenses created for the old film cameras. To my mind they are built to a higher standard than the modern lenses made for the consumer market.

I recently saw a Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm lens advertised on ebay and was tempted and was surprised that no one else bid on it. So, I got myself a nice lens of good condition for £31.

There is a lot written about the company of Zeiss Jena and the fact that it was situated in the Eastern part of Germany after the second world war. The company Zeiss originated in Jena but after the war the Americans moved most of the staff and manufacturing to Oberkochen in the West of Germany. Optics were continued to be manufactured in the original factory in Jena and in some cases using the original technicians who chose to stay. Some would say that the quality of the Jena lenses doesn’t match that of the ones produced in Oberkochen but I think there is an element of snobbery in that statement. It may be that the quality control was a bit more relaxed at the Jena works but if you get a good example they are certainly good lenses.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8.

You are, of course, stuck with manual focus when using these lenses on a digital camera but that doesn’t bother me at all. I often use manual focus with my digital lenses. On a Micro Four Thirds camera the focal length for this lens is 58mm which is a good focal length for Street Photography. The lens also has a close focus distance of 0.25m which is better than my Leica 25mm digital lens. I also like the way these old lenses have all the distance scales etc etched on the lens. It’s very handy for when you’re doing zone focusing, again, not something easy to do on a lens with no distance markings.

The lens fitting is the 42mm screw fit so I had to purchase a new adaptor for my micro four thirds cameras (Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Lumix GX8).

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

I chose the K & F Concept adaptor as I had purchased others in the past and some had been problematic and fitted the Lumix camera but not the Olympus. The one I chose was the Pro version which is a couple of pounds more expensive but was of excellent build quality and finish. It fitted both cameras very accurately without any play.

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

The lens and the adaptor look very good mounted on my Olympus OM-D.

Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.
Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.

I mounted the lens to my Lumix GX8 and went out for an afternoon photographing in a small town called Saffron Walden in Essex. These are some of the results. All jpgs straight out of the camera with no post processing:

Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire.

Built in 1650, Wimpole Hall is a neo-classical building and is Grade I listed. The estate itself is Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Owned by the Chicheley family for 250 years the house passed through a number of familys before passing into ownership by The National Trust.
As the National Trust are now opening up access to their properties we were able to book a visit there a few days ago.
I took it as an opportunity to do some photography using one of my 35mm SLR film cameras.

Camera: Olympus OM2n 35mm SLR

Lenses: 35mm f2.8 Zuiko. 50mm f1.4 Zuiko. 135mm f2.8 Zuiko.

Filter: Hoya Orange (G) filter.

Film: Ilford FP4 rated at 125asa. Developed in Ilford ID11 diluted1+1 for 11 minutes @20degC.

Scanned to digital using a Plustek 8100 scanner.

Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall. The rear of the house.
Wimpole Hall. The rear of the house.
Wimpole Hall. Walking across the parkland at the rear of the house toward the Folly.

The park was “naturalised” by Capability Brown. The North Park is particularly attractive with its belts of woodland, gentle rolling hills with individual trees and clumps of trees. The central feature of the North Park is the Gothic Tower known as The Folly and the restored lakes in the valley below.

The folly is designed to resemble the ruins of a medieval castle. It was built on the grounds of Wimpole Hall in the mid-1770s

The bridge known as the Chinese Bridge.

Single-arch timber bridges were often called ‘Chinese’ in the eighteenth century, probably because they were reminiscent of the bridges shown on Chinese porcelain, lacquer, silk and wallpaper. It was designed by Lancelot Brown and was rebuilt in the mid 20th century.

The lake.
Norfolk Horn sheep.

Wimpole Farm is one of the UK’s largest rare breed centres and they play a key role in conserving rare and traditional breeds of livestock.

The Folly.
Detail of The Folly.
The lake.

Walk – Wareside – 3.25 miles.

A very pleasant walk from The Chequers pub in Wareside and along the River Ash. This route follows in part along the old Buntingford branch line which went from St Margarets to Buntingford. Opened in 1859 and closed in 1964.

The walk starts at the Chequers pub in Wareside. If it’s not busy you can park up in the village hall car park beside the pub. Leaving the car park you walk down and turn right beside the pub along the B 1004. Just after this you turn right up the lane signposted to Babbs Green.

Start of the route in Wareside. Turn right just after the cottage on the right.
Looking back at the start at The Chequers pub.

After a few yards up this lane you have to decide whether to turn left up the narrow path immediately to the right of the Bourne Cottage. Alternatively you can continue up the lane to the next set of crossroads where you turn left. Ths time we walked up the lane to the crossroads. Immediately opposite is the old Wesleyan Church, now turned into houses. This property has some history for me as it was purchased by an uncle of mine in the mid sixties after attendance to the services had dropped to an all time low. It was converted by him to houses and remained in the family for some time.

Wesleyan Church (former), Wareside now Wesleyan House.

After turning left at the crossroads you continue up the narrow road and eventually the footpath mentioned earlier and the road join. At the small triangular green turn right and continue up the road until you arrive at Morley Pond. Morley Pond Cottages have another connection with my family as it’s where my grandmother once lived. It’s a pity I couldn’t get a photo but there was a number of vans parked out in the drive obscuring the cottage. At this point continue straight up next to and left of the cottages along a rough surfaced lane. This lane continues on between hedges. In due course the lane drops downhilll and comes out near a couple of farms. Continue on bearing left along the farm drive with Newhole Farm on your left.

Newhole Farm.

The view looking North East just after Newhole Farm.

The road continues on until you get to the B1004 where you cross over and continue on down another farm track. Continue down this track toward Watersplace Farm. Just before the farm turn left to follow track down the right hand side of the field toward the river Ash.

The left turn at Watersplace Farm.

Follow the hedge to your right and then at the end of the hedge turn back on yourself round the hedge and walk back with the river on your left until you reach the bridge.

Crossing the bridge over the River Ash.

Cross the bridge and continue straight across the field ahead of you to the gate.

Looking back toward the bridge over the River Ash,

After going through the gate turn left and follow the track of the old railway.

Looking right as we walk along the old railway track.
The River Ash.
Gate latch detail.
Part of the old railway road bridge. This is close by where the old Mardocks station was which served Wareside.
Inquisitive cows.

Just before the old railway road bridge turn right to descend down to another bridge that crosses the river. The turn left through a gate to walk along fields on the right hand side of the river. You go through another gate and field and then the path turns left over the river and returns across allotments back to the village.

The Memory of Trees.

Some trees are thousands of years old. I’ve often thought that wouldn’t it be great if we could tap into the memory of what a tree had experienced whilst it sat there all those years.

There is a 4,800 year-old Bristlecone Pine which grows high in the White Mountains of eastern California. Named after the Biblical figure that lived for 969 years, the Methuselah Tree grows in the Methuselah Grove, which is in Inyo National Forest’s “Forest of Ancients,” where it is surrounded by other ancient trees. The exact location of the tree, though, is kept secret to protect it against vandalism.

Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan took samples from the tree in 1957 and they discovered it was 4,789 years old. It is estimated that the tree germinated in 2832 BCE, making Methuselah one of the oldest known living trees and non-clonal organism in the entire world. A germination date of 2832 BCE makes Methuselah older even than the Egyptian Pyramids. What a memories that tree would hold!

A recent photography club challenge had the subject of trees and combined with not being able to travel far during restrictions because of the virus gave me the incentive to study some trees on my local walk.

Old trees which had been felled and reduced to just stumps gave some interesting graphic shapes.

This image of a tree reminds me of Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream.
Gnarled and fissured trees have interesting textures.
I spotted this old tree stump on a hilltop on a recent walk and loved the sculptured effect it gave off.
A more close up shot of the tree sculpture above.
Groups of trees can prove an interesting composition.

Stapleford Walk – Along the River Beane – 3.2 miles.

A very nice 3.2 mile walk starting at St Mary the Virgin church in Stapleford near Hertford.

You can start by parking along the road next to the school in Stapleford. Then walk down the road toward the River Beane and on the way visit the mid 12th century church of St Mary the Virgin.

The church is of flint rubble, cement render with stone dressings, stock brick buttresses and with an interesting weatherboarded tower.

The front of the church.
The view of the back of the church.

Walking through to the back of the church, the walk can be accessed by continuing to the back right hand corner of the graveyard and through a gate to continue alongside the River Beane and along a stretch of The Hertfordshire Way (Start). The path is a gravel path with easy walking. There are a couple of benches along the path where one can stop and take a rest.

The walk continues along the path by the river and at one point there is a wood on your left (Foxleys Wood). At this point the path goes slightly uphill to the left of the wood until you arrive at a gate and a barn on your right (point A). At this point, turn sharp left down the farm drive.

(Point A) After this gate turn left down the farm drive.

The walk continues along this surfaced farm drive past the wood which is now on your left. After some time the farm drive arrives at the road (Point B). Continue straight across the road onto another surfaced foot path.

The continuation of the footpath and South End Farm Cottage.

Continue on along this farm drive which eventually starts going slightly downhill toward the river again. If you wish to take a slightly shorter route you can turn left at Point C just after South End Farm which will take you downhill to rejoin the return leg of the walk at Point E.

The drive drops down toward the river.

At this point (point D) turn left through the gate shown and continue up the field track over the hill toward the wall and the gate through and continue along the path alongside the river. The path continues alongside the river and you end up at the road where you parked.

The lovely path alongside the River Beane on the return leg.

My daily lockdown walk with my OM2n.

Perry Green and Henry Moore.

8th May 2020 – My target for today was to go for my daily walk in the morning, expose a roll of black and white film on the walk. Get home and process the film, scan the negs and write this blog post.

I first met a problem with the scanning and had to do it again. I think it may have been a problem with using the dust and scratch removal on the Plustek scanner. They came out a bit blotchy so had to re-scan them all. Second thing I hadn’t factored in was that yesterday was a celebration in remembrance of V.E. day so had to go out for a social distancing street party later in the day and consume vast quantities of beer. All not conducive to finishing the post.

Anyway, continued today. Negs scanned and all OK. Edited in a format to post and ready to go.

The walk; A stroll of about 2.5 miles in the Hertforshire countryside near the village of Perry Green.

The equipment;

  • Olympus OM2n 35mm film camera.
  • Olympus 35-105 f3.5 Zuiko lens.
  • Olympus 200mm f4.0 Zuiko lens.
  • Fomapan 200 film developed in Ilford ID11 1+3 dilution @20degC. for 13 minutes.
  • Negs scanned using a Plustek Opticfilm 8100 film scanner with Silverfast 8 plus software.
  • Minimal post processing. Nik Silver Efex to add 35% sepia toning and black border.

The walk takes you from the church in Perry Green and past and round the Henry Moore Foundation grounds.

Past the farm buildings including what looks like an old WW11 Nissen hut.
Some interesting textures on the old buildings.
The Nissen hut!
Interesting mix of textures!
I like the verticality of the farm buildings against the randomness of the plants!
A good mix of elements!
Details of gates and rusting railings!
Further along the walk we pass one of the Henry Moore sculptures. Large Figure in a Shelter.
Detail of Large Figure in a Shelter.
And more Moore across the road! Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped.
Double Oval.
The modern Visitor Centre to the Henry Moore Foundation.

We do a right just after the entrance to Henry Moore Gardens and follow a footpath which takes us round the other edge of the gardens.

Doing another right at the end of the gardens takes us along the end of the gardens and through the fields past more Moore sculptures.

Henry Moore sculpture. Large Upright Internal/External Form.

Another right turn takes us back along the field behind the Henry Moore Gardens and views of some more sculptures.

Henry Moore; Large Reclining Figure.
Sheep figure a lot in Henry Moore’s artwork and there are many in the surrounding fields.

The life of a Street photographer during lockdown.

Another day of restricting ourselves of travel. Another walk locally.

We are able thankfully to walk in areas of open space at the edge of our estate and keep ourselves away from others. This walk through the tracks and lanes of the countryside has become my new ‘Street’.

Around the turn of the 15th Century, Thorley Manor acquired one of its most illustrious Lords, Sir Richard Whittington. As the legendary Dick Whittington, three times Lord Mayor of London, he made most of his fortune lending money in the City of London. His name, however, now lives on at Richard Whittington School and on Whittington Way. Popular folk lore likes to adopt the successive cats that frequent the church as the local descendant of Dick’s famous cat!

Our walk starts at the local church of St. James the Great, Thorley Church.

Originating in the 13th Century the church gained it’s most prominent feature, in the 15th century. The the church tower, built in the Perpendicular style. The evidence that church towers were still thought of as defensive locations is shown by the ornamental battlements and the extra heigh provided by successive storeys. Thorley’s design of tower with a thin eight sided spire or spike rising direct from the tower is a church feature peculiar to Hertfordshire.

The use of the top of the tower as a vantage point has a modern significance. It was used in the Second World War as a look-out place to watch for the night-flying Lysander aircraft returning to Sawbridgeworth airfield at Allen’s Green less than two miles away.

Moving on down into the valley our ‘Street’ takes us past some old barns, now used by industry.

Down into the valley with the weather closing in!
Down the valley and looking back to the church and the industrial buildings.

On over a small bridge over a stream to follow the valley floor.

The little bridge over the stream.
There’s still some late blossom.
Through a stile!

Back across the fields to the church and home again.

Istanbul Day 1 and 2

Day 1 – March 5th

Each year on my birthday month I tend to go somewhere for a short city break. This year I chose Istanbul in Turkey. It seemed like too good an offer to pass over with 6 nights including flights and transfers from the airport for a little over £400.

The journey from Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, 30 miles South-East of Istanbul, to our hotel in Istanbul took around 1 1/2 hours including our driver getting into a scrap at a busy junction with a yellow cab driver. The timely arrival of a policeman on a motorbike broke up the two characters rolling around on a bonnet of the yellow cab throwing punches at each other. Fortunately the policeman didn’t arrest the cabbies and cart them off so we could continue our journey.

Eminonu where the boats depart along the Bosphorous

With all it’s mix of cultures and the changes throughout the ages to it’s architecture I thought it would be an interesting place to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The area known as the Hippodrome, once a gigantic stadium which stood at the heart of the Byzantine city of Constantinople. It is now an elongated garden and an area where people can promenade.

Istanbul wasn’t at that time showing any cases of the virus but we were scanned at the airport when we arrived by a thermal camera which should show anyone with a temperature.

Across the Hippodrome with the German Fountain. Built to commemorate the visit of the German Emperor Wilhelm II visit.

Formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople and with over 15 million inhabitants, the city stands in a position between Europe and Asia. The city is split by the Bosphorous Strait which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. As the only sea route between the oil-rich Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus is one of the busiest waterways in the world.

Strolling up the street from the Hipodrome to our hotel at the end of the day.

We had a small but very comfortable hotel, The Hotel Perula, just a few minutes walk up a street from the Hipodrome and ideally located for all the tourist attractions.

Located in the Hippodrome is the Egyptian Obelisk which was built in 1500 BC and stood outside Luxor. It was brought to Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine.

We spent the rest of the first day on a short walk around the Hippodrome and the surroundings to get our bearings.

Day 2 – March 6th.

we decided to visit firstly the underground water reservoir called the Basilica Cistern followed by the two local mosques. The Basilica Cistern dates from the reign of Justinian in the 6th century. It consists of a vast underground cavern used to store the water which runs down from the nearby mountains in the vast underground where the roof is held up by 336 columns, each over 8 metres tall.

The inside of the Basilica Cistern.

Following our visit to the Cistern we firstly visited the Haghia Sophia mosque, then Suleymaniye, commonly known as the Blue Mosque.

There were plenty of people posing for shots with the Haghia Sophia in the background.
A selfie on the run!
Another view of the German Fountain.
One of the many cats in Istanbul.
Roasted chestnuts and sweetcorn.
Haghia Sophia mosque.

After wandering round the Hippodrome we vsited the Haghia Sophia mosque. The security here at the entrance is very stringent and I had my mini tripod taken from me. I should have had it in my bag rather than attached to the camera.

Interior of Haghia Sophia.
Interior of Haghia Sophia.
Interior of Haghia Sophia.
Interior of Haghia Sophia

The interior of Haghia Sophia was a little disappointing as they are obviously doing some serious refurbishment and there is a lot of scaffolding up but then at over 1,400 years old I guess it’s not surprising.

Our second visit was to Suleymaniye mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque.

A view of the blue mosque from the Hippodrome.
Interior of the blue mosque.

Built between 1609 and 1616 the blue mosque is known as such because of it’s blue iznik tiling on the interior. As the Haghia Sophia, this mosque is a little disappointing as it has quite a lot of restoration going on. I think I still managed to get some good shots using my fisheye lens.

Interior of the blue mosque. The amount of scaffolding on the right hand side and the rectangular covering of the columns is a little disappointing.

The Streets of Istanbul

Istanbul March 2020 – Beyoglu.

I am in the process of doing the Magnum The Art of Street Photography course. I thought when I started that I would be able go through it quite quickly but it has proved a bit more difficult than I thought. Winter in the UK meant that there weren’t many events happening and then just when I thought I could visit some events in London the corona virus outbreak put paid to that.

Episode 6 is about photographing people, which is one of the difficulties you have to get over if you want to do Street Photography, and not everyone is comfortable with taking candid shots of people. Peter van Agtmael however was correct in his assesment as to why we want to photograph people, in that their expressions and gestures are infinite and interesting.

I couldn’t complete the two assignments exactly. One being to take Street Portraits set by Peter van Agtmael and the other set by Carolyn Drake which is to get to know your subjects of portraits. That we would require me to probably spend more time getting to know the subjects than I was prepared to do on a limited time visit.

Location

On a 7 day city break though I could address some of the issues of getting close to the subjects and making photographs of people doing real things and putting them in place in that rectangle we call the viewfinder. Istanbul being a busy, multi-cultural city proved to be an ideal location.

Obviously the old fellas seat down by the Bazaar.

Equipment

I used my Panasonic Lumix GX8 with either a 25mm f1.4 (50mm equiv) or my 17mm f1.8 (34mm equiv) lenses. The fully articulated screen on the GX8 proved useful for some low level portrait format shots where people were unaware that I was photographing them, especially as I had turned it to ‘quiet’ mode. I also had my 7.5mm fisheye lens but that is for another blog post on the subject of mosque interiors.

Although some areas of Istanbul were a bit quiet, the quayside at Eminonu which is the gateway to the Golden Horn, a flooded river valley which flows south west into the Bosphorous, was a great place for people and Street Photography.

Two girls enjoying a selfie on the quayside.
A family on the quayside. This is where the articulated screen and the silent mode come in handy as people just think you’re looking down at the photos in your camera.

The other area was a walk down from Taksim Square along Istikal Cadessi in an area known as Beyoglu which is a pedestrianised street of modern shops and embassy buildings along where the funicular runs. It is a great place for close-up photography as it’s so busy you hardly get noticed.

The Taksim funicular.
The many cats were also a feature of Istanbul.
Knife sharpener.
The street drops down to the Galata Tower.

Istanbul is a great place for Street Photography and a place I would like to return to. The people are very friendly and don’t mind being photographed and there are some great characters in the bazaars, maybe a subject of another blog!

Through a window – After Saul Leiter

Born in the 1930s Saul Leiter began by training as a Rabbi. He then followed this with a career as a Painter to be followed by a career as a Photographer.

His main body of work was in black and white which was the norm in those days. He was a very humble character who never sought fame but carried out his career in fashion and journalism whilst later on, in the early sixties, doing a personal body of work in colour.

He experimented with using out-of-date film and even film that had been damaged by being stored at too high temperature. The idea being to see how it would alter the colour balance of the results. He never sought fame and it is only in recent years that his early colour work has been recognised for what it is.

My own experience in following the Street Photography genre has been to follow the early photographers like Henri cartier Bresson and Brassai and their ilke and using black and white.

Early evening and monochrome.

Having seen Leiter’s work with colour though it’s got me to appreciate how the extra dimension of colour can be used to enhance the results. I particulary like Leiter’s photographs where he uses windows, often dripping with condensation, to frame his photos and enhance with reflections and colour to give a layered effect.

I like the colour in this one but haven’t got that dripping with condensation atmospheric look.

I’ve recently been doing a series called ‘Through a window’ trying emulate the style of Saul Leiter. Not always easy to get the condensation effect without being somewhere where it is very cold. However the layered effect can still be achieved with the glass of the window to give the reflections of inside/outside.

Still not got the condensation dripping down the window, but I do like the multi – layered effect of these types of shots.

Most of my attempts at emulating this style have been using the digital camera which is handy when photographing late afternoon with the dying light. I did though try to get really retro and use colour film. Very difficult to do with only 200 asa film in dying light. It certainly makes you appreciate the skill Leiter used.

A recent attempt using 200 asa colour film.

One of the problems is that I live in a small town so subject matter is a bit scarce. I’ll have to get myself into London late afternoon for a wander round.

Look out for part II as I’m going to persevere with this. I’ve even got some 400 asa film on the way and will try that with my SLR with its f1.4 prime lens.