4.07.2020

I just tracked down one of my favorite portrait lenses from the "golden years" of photography; the 1990's... Yes I bought it.


There were two portrait lenses for 35mm which formed my idea of what a focal length for head and shoulders images of people should be. One was the 90mm Leica Summicron and the other was a 90mm Leica Elmarit. The Summicron was the faster of the two since its maximum aperture was f2.0. It was also a bit more complex of an optical design. But the one I got the most use out of on my R Leica cameras was the Elmarit 90mm f2.8. In the close-up range it wasn't any sharper than the Summicron but that was okay for portraits. Where the lens really came into its own was when I found the magic combination: f4.0 with the focus set at about six feet. The lens became pleasantly crisp but wasn't so analytical that it was mean to people, and the out of focus background rendering at that combination was absolutely gorgeous.

By modern lens standards the optical formulation was nothing to write home about. It's a four element, four group design. But each version of the lens (there were three successive models) was built out of solid metal and the focusing ring was, well, perfect. The final version, which I found in mint shape, was equipped with a built-in, extendible lens shade and a 55mm filter ring.

The lens is small and fairly light (especially when compared to the monstrously huge Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens I use for this range right now.

I like the way Leica's R series lenses render images of people and I can't wait to use it. I pick the lens up tomorrow (one of my friends bought it a while back and never got around to using it or getting an adapter ring for his system) but I have to wait to use it until a Leica R to L-mount adapter arrives on a slow boat from Amazon.com. This is a lens I'd happily pair with my Zeiss 50mm f1.7 lens as pretty much a perfect walk-around set for a Panasonic S1R. Plenty sharp enough but with character and without the need for weight lifting classes to transport by foot.

Can't wait to give it a first try. Fun on the cheap.

And, by the way, in all the years of using digital cameras with older, MF lenses there's never been a camera that's easier to manually focus with them than the S1 Lumix series. Must have something to do with the 5+ megapixel EVF. That, and a convenient button to get quick image magnification. But remember to set your S1 to Raw+Jpeg if you want to get the highest finder magnifications when previewing...

Finding fun stuff everywhere. Wait till I tell you about the new swim training stuff I ordered. It's so cool you'll want to swim right now.


It's Tuesday, the 7th of April, and we're learning day-by-day new ways to entertain ourselves. Mostly with old photos.


A previous (to 2019) production of a Janis Joplin musical at Zach Theatre. 

This is a quick report from Austin to keep in touch with all my VSL friends. Last night I stayed up late looking through boxes of prints that span decades. Wow. Everyone progressively grew up and got older. Buildings in Austin got newer and taller. Theater productions got bigger and the lighting got much, much better. 

Yesterday I played around with the GX8 and the 45-150mm Panasonic lens and it was much better than I remember it being. Or maybe I just shot that lens with older cameras that didn't have the capability to do as sharp and noise free a file as the newer camera. I wish I had some good samples to show you from the combination but I was disappointed with the weather and nothing gelled for me; photo-wise. 

A bit of sad news, but it was bound to happen... The State of Texas officially closed the state parks for the time being. Sad because I was looking forward to climbing Enchanted Rock this week, out near Fredericksburg, Texas. It's also a great trip out because the highways are lined with the beautiful colors of the Spring wildflowers... Seems that people were disregarding social distancing but I think a bigger issue was with the need for much more frequent sanitizing of the facilities in the park. Either way, that's some wide open space that's off the table for now.

A bit of good news. The painters arrived this morning to splash some samples of tinted wood preservatives on an exterior, cedar wall. Belinda (being a picky graphic designer/art director) shot down four different tint samples and we ended up choosing a clear, oil based wood preservative. The house is about half rock and half natural cedar. We've been needing to treat the wood for while... The exterior work is allowed by both city and state ordinances during this time and the two workers came in separate vehicles, are focused on social distancing and are wearing faces masks and other protective gear. 

People need an income stream and we think it's a good idea to keep hiring local companies to do as much as we need, and can legally and ethically manage, in order to help keep folks paid. We've put off interior work until the pandemic subsides. The cedar is looking so much better already...

Since the Easter holiday is coming up and Belinda is trying to limit her grocery shopping to once every two weeks I head over to Trader Joes twice a week to get produce. There are fewer people in their stores, they have a time just for "seniors" from 8-9 a.m. And both customers and employees are wearing masks at all times. They limit the number of people in the store at one time to facilitate social distancing. On today's adventure there I found everything on my shopping list including: bag salads, fresh cauliflower, broccoli and green beans, gruyere cheese, goat cheese, Kerrigold butter, organic milk, my favorite muesli, organic blackberries (so sweet), greek yogurt, sourdough batard, and hand sanitizer.

What more could you ask for? Oh, and though I didn't need them there were paper towels and toilet paper. 

Life goes on here with few rough spots but the lack of socializing is taking its toll in slow motion. I'm so used to seeing friends, colleagues, clients and swimmers, in big doses everyday that our current existence seems like science fiction. At times as though we are pioneers on Mars. But pioneers on Mars with cameras. 

I hope you are happy and well. Don't let dread rob you of the joys of the moment. It's wise to consider the future but not at the expense of the present. Looking forward to making a sandwich with toasted sourdough bread, Dijon mustard, ham and swiss cheese. I stick the half with the ham and swiss cheese under the broiler for five minutes and the whole thing is so damn yummy I can hardly stand it. That's today's lunch --- along with a bit of fruit and maybe a slice of raw onion on the sandwich. Gotta look forward to stuff....

A previous (to 2019) production of a Janis Joplin musical at Zach Theatre. 

Remembering when Samsung used to make cameras. And send them to me for free...

Demonstrating the "dirty baby diaper" camera hold engendered by EVF-less cameras. 
Like my Sigma fp. Dammit. 

Renae and her adorable daughter.

I already miss the agony of modern travel...

Remembering my first (and only) trip to Berlin. It's the #2 destination on 
my list of immediate, future travel plans. Hope they are doing well. 

S. Korean Photographer I met in Berlin. Having lunch together at a Chinese restaurant in 
Germany. How multi-national of us...

Berlin. Opera House lunch break. 2013. 

How to not practice social distancing. Not to worry, this was a few years ago...



 Every night, as I go to sleep, I hope there will be a time again soon when we can make portraits.