Tag: photography

Street Photography Guide in Centro Havana (Cuba)

Street-Photography-Guide-Centro-Havana-Cuba-tahusa-blog-suggested-guide-street-lovers-central-america-vintage-travel-tips-film-photo-cameras-explore-area

Street Photography Guide in Centro Havana (Cuba)
Cuba is often crown as one of the most photogenic cities for street photography lovers. I’m sure you have all come across the extensive work on this magical place by famous Magnum photographers such as David Alan Harvey, Alex Webb, Elliott Erwitt…etc. No difference to those of you who are inspired by and are curious of this place, I decided to pack my bag one day and off I went on an almost 30 hours journey to Havana.

going-home-with-mama-and-kids-n-centro-havana-wandering-cuba-taken-with-hasselblad-xpan-II-xpanII-45mm-pano-panoramic-camera-agfa-vista-400Afternoon walk, Havana Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II with Agfa Vista 400)
car-making-left-turn-in-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fleGoing left in Malecon, Havana Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II with Agfa Vista 400)

I had a lot of fantasies about this place before I actually arrived at the airport. My head kept replaying some of the scenes I saw from movies and Instagram. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but certain for one thing – to try live with the vibe and capture something that represents the Latin America colours.

The-gas-station-petrol-next-to-Malecon-sunset-busy-repair-car-Leica-M10-digital-summicron-35mm-travel-street-photography-guide-centro-havana-cubaDaily life, Havana Cuba (Leica M10) (left) (Leica MP with Agfa Vista 400 (Right top, bottom)
housing-around-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fleoutskirt-seafront-gathering-place-in-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle

One Step in and You Enter a Different World
You don’t have to wait till you land at the José Martí International Airport to feel that you are officially separated from your family, friends and loved ones (if you’re not traveling with them). Everything in Havana exists as if time has frozen. Highly restricted internet access is probably the first and most significant hit you would get on your first day but to be honest, I actually grew to enjoy time with no instant messages and social media towards the end of my trip, it made me appreciate the time and attention for quality conversations with my traveling partner and the new friends I met.

Barber-shop-visit-portrait-of-client-local-cuban-in-centro-havana-tahusa-leica-film-summilux-35-1.4-asph-fle-travel-tips-guides
Barber-shop-visit-portrait-of-client-local-cuban-in-centro-havana-tahusa-leica-film-summilux-35-1.4-asph-fle-travel-tips-guides-haircutbarber-shop-haircut-salon-fc-barcelona-supporter-centro-havana-cuba-agfa-vista-400-leica-film-analog-35mm-summilux-1.4-asph-fle-street-guide
car-fleeing-speed-drive-driveway-highway-in-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fleVintage Cars, Havana Cuba (Leica MP Summilux 35/1.4 asph fle with Agfa Vista 400)
colorful-vintage-cars-vehicles-in-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle

You know those vintage cars that you see in the opening scene of Fast and Furious 8? Well, they are literally everywhere. They are also known as ‘almendrones’, a popular means of local transportation. If you are feeling touristy, there are car tours that you can sign up so you get to enjoy the sun and breeze while zooming through the allies and lanes of Havana.

soldiers-marching-centro-havana-wandering-cuba-taken-with-hasselblad-xpan-II-xpanII-45mm-pano-panoramic-camera-agfa-vista-400Marching, Havana Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II with Agfa Vista 400)
Gas-station-men-entering-vintage-vehicle-in-centro-havana-cuba-summicron-35-leica-m10-street-photography-guide-travel-tipsVintage Vehicles, Havana Cuba (Leica M10 (Left) (Leica MP Agfa Vista 400 (Right top and bottom)
Busy-road-filling-with-cars-vehicles-centro-havana-on-the-way-to-malecon-cuba-street-scene-leica-summilux-35-asph-agfa-vista-400-negative-film-coloron-my-way-to-find-TV-cafe-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle

One point to note, its vibes during the day and at the night are very different, I still remember vividly the moments when I stepped out of the airport arrival hall to when I was greeted by my first hostel owner, I was in this super intense yet excited mode the whole time; these mysterious scenes and landscapes hidden in the dark corners and shadows were constantly challenging my visual perceptions.

Navigating your way in the offline world
I love unplanned trips and city explorations but one thing that I can’t live without here is to have a map that orientates me to this new surrounding. Language barrier is one thing and there are too many split roads and back lanes that branches off the main streets, you can get lost very easily! Also, the meet up points for collective taxis are dispersed around the city, the map always comes in handy when you ask for direction, at least there’s something that the locals can point to!

Maps.me was my lifesafer, download it in advance. This app has a library of maps that covers other parts of Cuba and continents. Anyway, when in doubt, follow the main road, it’ll eventually take you to the city centre.

please-listen-to-me-phone-card-centro-havana-cuba-agfa-vista-400-leica-film-analog-35mm-summilux-1.4-asph-fle-street-guideOffline World, Havana Cuba (Leica Summilux 35/1.4 asph fle with Agfa Vista 400 (Left and Right top bottom)
skateboard-skating-streetkids-centro-havana-cuba-agfa-vista-400-leica-film-analog-35mm-summilux-1.4-asph-fle-street-guidecouple-kissing-in-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle

A Natural Street Photography Heaven
Every corner and person, each sunshade and moment,  anything that came into my eye insights had my attention. The ever changing sceneries made it challenging to decide what I want to focus on, so I strongly recommend you to have a careful think about this and have a list ready, so that you don’t get too carried away with the buzz that goes on around you.

tight-fit-between-parents-motorbike-centro-havana-cuba-agfa-vista-400-leica-film-analog-35mm-summilux-1.4-asph-fle-street-guideLocal Neighbours, Havana Cuba (Leica Summilux 35/1.4 asph fle with Agfa Vista 400) (Left and Right)
painting-the-frame-neighbors-centro-havana-cuba-agfa-vista-400-leica-film-analog-35mm-summilux-1.4-asph-fle-street-guide

Some might think it’s easy to capture unique shots in Cuba but in fact everything is so typical that it looks as if it is staged: that perfect natural sunbeam and warm bouncing sidelights against the colorful walls and people, you’ll need some creativity on composition to add your signature to the photo. If you’re truly into street photography, I challenge you to take this extra step and visit other towns and neighborhoods located on the South East of Cuba, you may unveil more surprises. I personally like Trinidad a lot more than Havana, I wil explain the reasons in another post.

black-man-under-sunshine-next-to-colorful-vintage-car-centro-havana-cuba-agfa-vista-400-leica-film-analog-35mm-summilux-1.4-asph-fle-street-guideToo Sunny, Havana Cuba (Leica Summilux 35/1.4 asph fle with Agfa Vista 400)
Lady-outside-hostel-sitting-waiting-for-her-husband-vivid-color-Cuba-havana-tahusa-centro-Agfa-400-Vista-Leica-Summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle-11663-film-photography-guide-street-travel-travel-guide-tipsold-man-in-restaurant-giving-me-gentle-smile-centro-havana-leica-summilux-35-1.4-asph-fle-agfa-vista-400

Suggested map
suggested-map-of-centro-havana-cuba-tahusa-Street Photography Guide Centro Havana-blog-travel-tips-guides-malecon-route-places-to-visit

Suggested spots

  1. Malecon
  2. Calle M Area
  3. Avenida de los Presidentes Main Road
  4. Monumento al General Antonio Maceo (Cross section)
front-view-of-Che-Guevara-Mausoleum-in-centro-havana-cuba-travel-photography-guide-street-trip-scenic-attractionsPlaza de la Revolucion, Havana Cuba (Leica Summilux 35/1.4 asph with Agfa Vista 400)
Hotel-Nacional-de-Cuba-iconic-place-in-havana-agfa-vista-400-summilux-35-1.4-asph-fle-leicaHotel National, Havana Cuba (Leica Summilux 35/1.4 asph fle with Agfa Vista 400)

Street photography tips in Havana

  1. People in Havana are more alert than other parts of the country, so you either do it quick or you make an effort to communicate with your subject so that they don’t feel ambush and less of a shock. This will also avoid you being asked for money after you pressed the shutter.
  2. Don’t get me wrong, Cuban people are kind but just stay alert to those who act overly generous, in case they have their eyes on your money instead. And for those who offer you restaurant suggestions, make sure it is the place that you want to go and not been forced into, the locals get commissions for bringing in customers.
  3. Sunglasses are the go-to neutral density filter (even better than your camera viewfinder!) And it saves you from the harsh highlight from the sun and gives you a better idea on composition.
  4. Always wear comfortable shoes. I walked an average of 25,000 steps each day and I have to lift my legs up for better circulation and reduce swelling when I go to sleep at night.
  5. Follow the light and the main road to the Malecon, there is always something interesting to capture.
  6. Bring a few more spare batteries, unlike other cities there is no way you can find a spare battery that could fit into your cameras.
neighbors-in-squart-complex-n-centro-havana-wandering-cuba-taken-with-hasselblad-xpan-II-xpanII-45mm-pano-panoramic-camera-agfa-vista-400Local Neighbours, Havana Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II with Agfa Vista 400)
Street-around-hostel-in-centro-havana-wandering-cuba-taken-with-hasselblad-xpan-II-xpanII-45mm-pano-panoramic-camera-agfa-vista-400Local Neighbours, Havana Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II with Agfa Vista 400)
workers-construction-n-centro-havana-wandering-cuba-taken-with-hasselblad-xpan-II-xpanII-45mm-pano-panoramic-camera-agfa-vista-400Construction Workers, Havana Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II with Agfa Vista 400)

Money Exchange
There is an auto money exchange machine at the arrival hall of the Havana airport. But I also did some exchange at the banks in the city center. The best way is to ask your Casa owner for advice, it does take some time to familiarize yourself with the money system and the way they work.

Wifi Card
This is essential for you to keep in contact with your families and friends and of course for sharing your amazing photos on social media. Usually the wifi cards are available for sale at the park, you can get 1hr, 2hrs and 5hrs card. I would suggest you getting the longest hour option so you can go without wasting another hour in the queue. I was very conscious with the time limit, I have my eyes on the watch regularly and spend less than 20 minutes online each day. From my experience, 10am is the best queueing time because the sun isn’t too bright and there should be plenty of stocks. Look for the end of the queue when you get there, give a head nod to the person before you so the he acknowledges that you’re behind him, then you’re free to move around the area. When it’s almost your turn, just join the queue again.

block-and-complex-n-centro-havana-wandering-cuba-taken-with-hasselblad-xpan-II-xpanII-45mm-pano-panoramic-camera-agfa-vista-400
tree-and-green-man-blue-vintage-car-centro-havana-cuba-agfa-vista-400-leica-film-analog-35mm-summilux-1.4-asph-fle-street-guideFunny shape tree with vintage car, Havana Cuba (Leica Summilux 35/1.4 asph with Agfa Vista 400)
morning-yawn-in-front-of-telephone-stand-waiting-for-wifi-card-shop-in-centro-havana-cuba-Agfa-400-Vista-Leica-Summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle-11663-film-photography-guide-street-travel-travel-guide-tipscandid-man-under-sun-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle

TAHUSA Recommended Film ISO and Focal Length
I would suggest bringing your favourite film camera because it has a lot to shoot in the city itself. The light is always perfect so ISO100 film is good enough but if you want to do something more extreme in zone focusing, you may use ISO400 film and stay at F11 without worry about focusing and a 35mm lens would be a perfect match.

sports-stadium-in-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fleSports Stadium, Havana Cuba (Leica Summilux 35/1.4 asph with Agfa Vista 400)
Stadium-sports-centre-in-centro-havana-next-to-malecon-agfa-vista-400-street-snap-photography-guide-leica-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle
Taxi-in-the-corner-of-the-road-centro-havana-cuba-dim-light-evening-travel-street-leica-m10-summicron-35mm-f2-IV-rangefinderTaxi, Havana Cuba (Leica M10 Summicron 35/2 pre-asph V4)
local-produce-farmers-in-truck-delivery-centro-havana-cuba-after-sunset-dim-light-leica-m10-summicron-35-travel-street-photography-guide-tahusa-tipsafter-sunset-getting-dark-in-centro-havana-cuba-not-many-street-light-dark-returning-casa-leica-m10-summicron-35-travel-street-guide-photography-tips

 

Check out other City Guides

Street-photography-guide-yangon-myanmar-film-shooters-tahusa-traveller-travel-attractions-list

Street-photography-guide-in-mongkok-mk-banner-travel-guide

 

31 Film Cameras, 73 lenses in 8 Years – My Film Cameras and Gears Journey

8-years-film-cameras-and-gears-journey-enjoy-film-analog-leica-MP-black-paint-analog-leicavit-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle-11663-copy

Endless Gears Upgrade
The shallow depth of field or the lack of “bokeh” was one of the main reasons for the change.

Bokeh-of-sakura-blosoom-taken-with-M9P-leica-Noctilux-50mm-f1-e58-large-aperture-lens-kyoto-japan-philosophy-walk
Creamy Bokeh from Noctilux 50mm f1.0, Japan 2016



From Canon 50mm f1.2 LTM to Noctilux 50mm f1.0, my later photography years were a period of endless gears upgrade as I focused heavily on the character of the different lenses. Trying the “King of Bokeh” Summicron 35/2 version 4 was not enough, I upgraded to Summicron 35mm f2 V1, “8 elements”, and this beast has a special power in bringing black and white images to the next level.

You know that feeling when your instinct tells you something isn’t right? I definitely get that with cameras. I’ve listed the gears I tried below. For some, I almost knew immediately that they won’t be the ones I keep, but for others, I might have owned them a couple of times. I strongly believe that the gears you own represent your photography mindset at the point in time; people’s taste and perspective change at different stages, there should be no shame in wanting to try something new out of your usual gears, it’s the variety that would lead you to another stage.

collection-of-cameras-M10-leica-M240-Nikon-F2-film-cameras-rangefinder-MP-black-paint-gears-lenses-28mm-summicron-elmarit-leica-M2-LeicavitCamera and lenses line up (Leica M240, M10, MP, M2 and Nikon F2)
Camera-gears-brought-for-trip-in-japan-2014-sekonic-lightmeter-leica-m2-summicron-35mm-v1-film-photography-voigtlander-vciiLeica-M9P-on-table-with-summilux-11663-FLE-Steel-rim-35mm-1.4-noctilux-50mm-f1-e58-v1-goggle-MS-optica-35mm-f3.5-50mm-1.4-v2-kanto-repaintedMaster-yu-repairing-my-leica-lens-repairman-in-hong-kong-specialistvintage-leica-lenses-on-table-with-summilux-11663-FLE-Steel-rim-35mm-1.4-noctilux-50mm-f1-e58-v1-goggle-MS-optica-35mm-f3.5-50mm-1.4-v2-kanto-repainted-summicron-35mm-f2-v1

In 2014, I had my first backpacking trip in Germany, that’s when I forced myself to pack one camera and two lenses only. Surprisingly, it was a very pleasant experience. Given that I had so few equipments to play around with, I had a lot of time to fully understand the characteristics and performance of the different lenses and films at a short time. By the end of it, it even got me started on colour negative films.

Surfers-surfing-in-English-Garden-Germany-Hasselblad-Hassel-Xpan-45mm-f4-pano-panrama-panoramic-scenic-view-Kodak-Ektar-100-iso-100-low-speed-film-film-photography-film-shooter-Leica-lens-travelHasselblad Xpan is one of my favourite travel buddy

After so many years, my philosophy is this: to only have one lense at each focal length. Just pick up a lense that you like most, at its best focal length, and start compositing. I am more of a rangefinder person than film SLR because I find rangefinder coupling easier to use. I tried many SLR cameras including Nikon F2, F100, Canon F1, point and shoot cameras Yashica T5, Rollei 35 (and the list goes on), but none of them gave me the full control. After all, I would still choose my Leica M2 over others.



Exploring the Medium Format Cameras
My dark age came in 2013 when I sold all of my beloved Leica cameras. It took me almost a year to start looking at cameras again and that is when I ‘met’ Hasselblad 500CM. I have never tried medium format before and I thought, why not give it a go and see if it can help me pick up my photography passion again.

Hasselblad-500cm-80mm-2.8-Planar-Carl-Zeiss-Medium-format-camera-6x6-120format-hong-kongHasselblad 500CM and Portrait taken with Fujifilm Pro400H
Fay-portrait-taken-with-hasselblad-500cm-80mm-carl-zeiss-CT*-pro400H-Fuji-film-photography-color-negative

I quickly moved from 500CM to GW690II simply because I found the focusing screen hard to use and hard to handle. The Texas Leica is very reliable but it was never my first preferred camera, so I found him a new home in 2018. I have tried Pentax 67 twice in 2017, the images impressed me so much, the creamy bokeh from the 105mm f2.4 was superb it was slightly heavy to be carried around. I brought the “Tank” with me on a trip before but I sold it right after, that was when I knew I am not a medium format person.

Tank-medium-format-camera-grip-Pentax-67-6x7-camera-120format-SLR-105mm-f2.4-lensPentax 67 with 105mm f2.4
Japan-Travel-trip-with-family-Gary-in-forest-pentax-67-6x7-medium-format-120-120format-RDPIII-RDP-Provia-Fuji-Fujifilm-Japan-Gunma-Snap-55mm-f4-asahiFujifilm RDPIII with Pentax 67, Japan 2017
Medium-format-camera-Fuji-fujifilm-GW690II-6x9-rangefinder-filmrangefinder-EBC-super-120format-film-texas-leica-gearFujifilm GW690II(aka Texas Leica)
Fuji-fujifilm-acros-100-iso-black-and-white-film-hong-kong-tung-chung-GW690II-texas-leica-shot-samplesMacau-ferry-terminal-Hong-Kong-HK-geometry-JCH-japan-camera-hunter-street-pan-400-iso-black-and-white-bw-film-review-analog-GW690II-fujifilm-medium-format-120Film pictures from GW690II

I am sure everyone has their own habit and preference in capturing images with different cameras. For me, I try to really understand the camera by using it, but if I can’t comfortably enjoy its companion, I will get rid of it. I tried not to have too many items in my dry cabinet. I landed with a Rolleiflex 2.8F in 2017, hoping this creamy lens will do the magic for me. But indeed, this 120 format didn’t work out. I think the reason was because I couldn’t break my personal style and shape it to fit this camera. But if you are a portrait person, you should definitely try the medium format.

portrait-of-me-using-rolleiflex-kodak-tri-x-black-and-white-2.8E-6x6-medium-format-camera-TLRSelf Portrait with Rolleiflex 2.8E
Sister-portait-using-ilford-HP5-hong-kong-bokeh-Rolleiflex-2.8E-TLR-6x6-night
Camera-gears-Mamiya-C330-TLR-6x6-medium-format-120-tripod-cheaper-option-to-start-withMamiya C330 in black and white film
Fishermen-swim-catching-seafood-hong-kong-lei-yu-mun-Mamiya-C330-TLR-medium-format-120-6x6-square-format-Ektar-100-Kodak-seaFisherman in Lei Yu Mun, Hong Kong (Ektar 100)

Out of Curiosity: Large Format Photography
Now that you are halfway through my article, the logical guess for my next step would obviously be large format. To backtrack slightly, I actually tried Large Format Cameras at a much earlier stage when I was picked up photography because I felt the best way to understand the subject is to start with the traditional equipments. I spent quite some time with the Chinese made Shenhao 4×5 camera sitting on the tripod, a Petzval classic brass lens and a Schneider 210mm f5.6 lens, shot mainly with black and white sheet film and Fujifilm Instant Pack Films.

My-large-format-photography-set-up-shenhao-4x5-sheet-film-gitzo-tripod-schneider-210mm-5.6-LFI was shocked and impressed with the image results from large formats, and this 4×5 (10cm x 12.5cm in actual measurements) gives you rich textures and sharpness as the size of the film is so large. I like how large format photos gives you high quality and you can possess a basic weekend photoshoot set-up at a relatively cheap price. I believe there is always a trade off between size and quality, but I am happy that I experienced the whole process of shooting portraits with large format cameras and enjoyed the time with friends walking around with this wooden box. Its emphasizes is on the communications between the subject and the photographer. You are moving from an “Observer” position to an actual “Involver” place. You stimulate the photographing process because the portraits and movement require extra care. Each shot requires the subject to stay still until the shutter is pressed and usually this process might take up to 2 minutes – focus, check the reading, set the lens aperture, change the aperture back to normal mode and shutter speed, make sure the subject is still holding the position then insert the film black, remove the plate, take the shot.

This form of communication and trust furthered developed myself to be an “involver” in different photography environments, to quickly blend in with the shooting subject and environment.

Portrait-of-bryan-taken-with-4x5-sheet-film-2011-large-format-photography-shenhao-4x5-schneider-210mm-5.6-portraitBlack and White Portrait with 4×5 sheet film (left) Fujifilm Pack film (right)
Bryan-protrait-taken-with-shenhao-4x5-large-format-polaroid-packfilm-fujifilm-black-and-white-fp3000b

From Black and White to Color – Golden Age
I first started shooting mostly with black and white films in 2010. Probably similar to many beginners, I was inspired by Magnum photographers. The form and texture of black and white are so strong that they capture the soul and mood of that moment, and at the same time, you can play around with the light and show easily. For my backpacking trips in 2014 and 2015, I shot only with black and white films, and used some color slide film when in Europe. But I still felt that something was missing. There should be warmth in a photo. I went to Cambodia in 2015 and started using color negative films to capture the vibrant colors in South East Asian countries (Cities Snap). I have seen so much work from photographers using color reversal films in these countries, with other popular countries including India, Cuba and Mexico. Before that, my Black and white to color films ratio was 9:1. Between 2016 to 2018, the ratio increased to 7:3, the 70% is color! In 2016, I bought a few rolls of Kodak Super Gold 400 (Jp Ver.), it is cheap with high quality and I especially like the warmth that Kodak films give me.

Bringing-40-rolls-of-film-to-develop-in-colorluxe-after-cuba-trip-in-december-cannister-analog-negative-C41Developing 40 rolls of film after Cuba trip
Nikon-f100-hanging-tree-35mm-f2D-SLR-filmSLR-film-photography-analog

My favourite black and white film is Kodak Double-X 5222 black and white film. But today, I try to use only 2 different films in Black and White and 2 different films for color. Ilford HP5 and Kodak Tri-X, Agfa Vista 400 and Kodak Portra 400. Occasionally I shoot some Cinestill 800T at night too.

Black and white, BW, B&W, film, analog, snap, snapshot, night tone, smooth, self develop, HC-110, ilford HP5, HP5, iso400, pushed 2 stops, 1600, iso 1600, 黑白, 黑白攝影, 菲林黑白, 新手, beginner guide, ilford DDX, Kodak, Eastman, 5222, motion picture, cinefilm, cine, double-x, doublex, XX, double x, what black and white film to shoot with, other brand, try film, test filmKodak Double-X, Berlin Germany 2014
children-chasing-around-in-waterfront-documentary-in-sri-lanka-colombo-galle-face-green-local-life-kodak-supergold-400-iso400-Leica-summilux-35mm-f1.4-FLE-ASPHthrowing-stuff-documentary-in-sri-lanka-colombo-galle-face-green-local-life-kodak-supergold-400-iso400-Leica-summilux-35mm-f1.4-FLE-ASPHKodak Super Gold 400, Colombo Sri Lanka, 2017

Seasonal changes of a photography journey
It changes depending on the your mood state at the point in time. Have you ever wondered why human has to try so many things, go through trial and error, before knowing what we truly like? Sometimes, I find myself quite stupid, wasting so much time to go round a big circle before finally landing at where I am now. But on the other hand, I know I need that experience. Each small incident from these great memories made me clearer and clearer of what I really want to shoot, and my preference of color palette in the digital world. Another big benefit is, once you have tried everything, you will grow this sense of content with your inner self, and that made me less prone to making impulsive purchase significantly.

Taking-pictures-of-children-kids-with-leica-in-trinidad-cuba-travelling-in-central-america-filson-backpackTaking pictures of local people in Trinidad and Havana Cuba 2017
Me-taking-pictures-of-skateboarders-in-cuba-havana-iphone-behind-the-scene-travelling-in-central-americaBehind-the-scene-i-was-capturing-pictures-of-local-in-Trinidad-barber-shop-travelling-in-central-america-filson-backpack-magnum

What Camera am I using now
So 8 years in, what is my current photography goal? The hardest thing to achieve is not about mastering a camera so that you take a good picture, but how to use a camera to create your own series of images that tell great stories. My ultimate goal is to be able to establish a colour tone and composition style that is unique to my character. I am satisfied with my Leica M2 who has been a great traveling companion; my other favourites also include Hasselblad Xpan II for panoramic shots and the pocket size Rollei 35 T. Go take a look at this short interview clip “Film is alive” if you are interested, it captures some great views on film photography and I had the honor to be featured.

My-girlfriend-holding-my-hasselblad-xpan-xpanii-panorama-pano-panoramic-camera-film-photography-long-format-135-dream-cameraSummicron-competition-comparing-comparison-V1-vs-IV-pre-asph-35mm-f2-line-up-gears-leica-famous-popular-lenses
My-Leica-MP-with-Elmarit-28mm-viewfinder-f2.8-in-Hong-Kong-Cameras-gears-film-photography-lover-journeyMy-leica-mp-with-summicron-50mm-f2-rigid-repaint-black-kanto-leicavit-camera-film-gears

I love film photography because it not only let me capture the scenes I like but freezes the mood with it.

Share your own story
If you want to understand my first half of the journey, you may refer to the post “My Film Photography Journey Part 1”. I am sure you have a very unique and interesting story to tell, and I would love to hear it. Please share your story with me by leaving a comment below or email to me at tahusa.co@gmail.com.

my-8-eight-years-film-photography-journey-cameras-hasselblad-xpan-polaroid-one-step-2-reasons-why-i-started-shooting-film-how-to-begin-film-analog-leica-

8 Years, 32 Film Cameras, 500+ rolls of films – Beginning of My Film Photography Journey

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8 Years, 32 Film Cameras, 500+ rolls of films – Beginning of My Film Photography Journey
8 years ago in June 2010, I came across this Japanese drama called “Sunao ni Narenakute” talking about how social network brings people together. In the first scene of the first episode, the main character was staring at a camera displayed in a shop, and it looked absolutely beautiful.

My head kept replaying that same scene over and over again, and at the end, I decided to google it. I typed in “Leica M7” and there I was, my very first introduction to this German brand. Not just that, for someone who shoots with digital cameras for most of his life, it was a very sad surprise at the time to find out that it is an analog camera.

travelling-with-leica-film-cameras-photography-blog-europe-map-shoot-film-begin-journey-personalMap of Prague when I travel with Film cameras

My-leica-m2-black-repaint-with-summilux-35mm-1.4-fle-asph-favourite-essential-camera

My First Film Camera
When someone is hooked to a camera brand, you know what’s next – I spent days and nights searching for the different Leica models.

To give you some background, I bought my first Canon 40D DSLR in 2009, then became super obsessedwith Bokeh, wanted to try out all the lenses and upgraded every single lense to premium Canon L prime and zoom lense. In less than a year, I decided to sell my entire Canon DSLR and Prime lenses family and give film camera a try with my first ever Leica, M6 with the famous 35mm f2 Summicron aka King of Bokeh. The shutter impressed me most, so quiet, stable and clean. But I felt that something was still missing, I kept asking myself “what, is this it, surely Leica has much more to offer other than its solid and simple design!?”

Sometimes, Simple Is Perfect
After a while, I fell in love with Lecia like everyone else for the very reason, its simplicity. It has distinct shutter dial, ISO dial, Aperture ring and film insertion process. The simplicity cleared my mind from the complex setting of DSLR. Of course, DSLR has its own benefits and its settings help professional photographers to achieve better results. At the time, my head was just fixed on taking nice pictures and wanted to leverage the best tools for best results. But after using Leica, it gave me a moment to step back and realize that mindset is equally important, if not more, than the gears you use. It’s all in your head.

color-reversal-film-in-medium-format-camera-mamiya-7ii-mamiya7ii-rangefinder-try-film-photographyInserting color slide film into Mamiya 7ii
how-did-i-pick-up-film-photography-ilford-hp5-reliable-black-and-white-film-leica-cameraIlford HP5 film with Leica M2



Begin the Journey with the First Roll Of Film
YouTube and Google taught me how to load a film. I can still remember my first roll of film – Black and White Ilford XP2. It marked the beginning of my film photography journey. I was dying to get the film developed after hitting the shutter 36 times. Phew. The relief I felt when I received the scanned copies from a local lab, I got all 36 shots exposed. They were definitely not appealing from a professional photography perspective but to me, they meant the world, a vivid memory that would stay with me for life. Even today, I am still in awe when I flip through my archive sheets for this collection, trying to recall the mood and thoughts when these shots were taken.

8-years-film-photograph-journey-how-begin-film-Rollei-black-and-white-film-camera-bw-sydney-australiaFirst black and white film shots with Leica M6 and Summicron 35, Sydney 2010
8-years-film-photograph-journey-how-begin-film-Rollei-black-and-white-film-camera-sydney-australiaBlack and white film shots in Bondi, Sydney
Canonet-film-photography-color-negative-sunset-sydney-australia-begin-photographyVery first film images taken with a Canonet, Balmain Sydney
Canonet-film-photography-color-negative-sunset-sydney-australia-begin-photography-yellow

Film Developing and Film Scanning by Myself
One day, my friend Franky said, “Hey Anson, let’s go shoot the Mardi Gras at Oxford Street”. Okay. I packed my film Leica with two 50mm lenses, hopped on the car, and off we go. After a quick ferry ride, we arrived at the Sydney City Centre.

In my bag there was Ilford HP5, Pan 400, Arista Premium 400 and Legacy Pro 400. These names shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you but unfortunately some have already discontinued. We shot from 2 to 9pm, then went home. Pouring, mixing and stirring, we got all the chemicals ready in the containers. Started with my favourite film developing app, Film Dev Chart, we began the process: develop, stop bath, fix, hypo clear. Twenty minutes later, I took the films out of the develop tank, hung it up and examined the picture one by one. I took a deep breath. I could have screwed this up in as many ways possible but yet I was so fearless.

leica-ilford-pan-400-Noctilux-50mm-f1-begin-film-start-photography-sydney-australia-bw-black-and-whiteSelf scanned and developed Ilford FP4 at ISO800, shot in Mardi Gras, Sydney 2011
leica-ilford-pan-400-summicron-collapsible-begin-film-start-photography-sydney-australia-bw-black-and-white-portraitleica-ilford-pan-400-summicron-collapsible-begin-film-start-photography-sydney-australia-bw-black-and-white
leica-ilford-pan-400-summicron-collapsible-begin-film-start-photography-sydney-australia-bw-black-and-white-portraits-dress-up-propsSelf-developed Ilford Pan 400, Sydney 2011

In all honesty, scanning films is not my favourite hobby, but I enjoy previewing the images from the negatives. The long hours needed for dust removal and color toning completely outweigh my interest in film. However, having improved my workflow consistently, I am now used to scanning black and white images only.

8 years on, I have tried Nikon Coolscan V, Epson V700 and V850, and the last one is what I still use now.

ilford-ddx-rodinal-developers-film-stop-bath-fixer-tried-photography-self-development-journey-black-and-whiteMy favourite developer Ilford DDX and famous Rodinal
darkroom-print-printing-of-my-work-on-photo-paper-black-and-white-bw-film-process-develop-test-papers-adjust-timedarkroom-print-printing-of-my-work-on-photo-paper-black-and-white-bw-film-process-developTrying to make actual prints in the darkroom

Second part of my Film Cameras and Gears Journey, please click the link below

8-years-film-cameras-and-gears-journey-enjoy-film-analog-leica-MP-black-paint-analog-leicavit-summilux-35mm-1.4-asph-fle-11663-copy