Gaining in Confidence – Part One

By April 22, 2013Blog

Leica Portrait Photography

I'm nothing if not determined.......

Jason Howe

This is certainly proving to be an adventure and I have to say I feel I’ve taken a stride forward with this latest shoot, it’s fair to say I’m slowly gaining in confidence.

My first experience HERE was really more a case of getting acquainted with the model, sharing ideas with a view to doing something more elaborate at a future date. In this, my second experience we looked to plan more depth and meaning in to the shoot, essential if I am going to continue to do this.

I’d been wanting to collect some images for a User Report on the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and also looking to get some more time with the Konica Hexanon 60mm f/1.2, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to do both. I wanted to capture a taste of the east in these images and I had an idea of a look I liked although in truth I didn’t know what it was called!! A quick email exchange with my model and we were on the same wavelength, I’ve been really fortunate so far with the models I have worked with, helpful, enthusiastic and reliable, so far so good.

With the look sorted I then set about gaining permission to shoot in the location I wanted, I’m continually blown away by how easy it is to get this kind of permission here in New Zealand, two emails later and I have the perfect location arranged.

To take things a stage further I would also have a preconceived idea of some quite specific post processing that I wanted to attempt in an effort to really complete the whole theme. 

I’ve decided to split this post in to parts, Part Two will contain B&W images (no elaborate post processing) shot on the M Monochrom using the Konica 60mm f/1.2 lens.


  • Leica M9
  • 50mm Canon f/1.4 
Model: Alicia Sim
The Canon 50mm f/1.4 really delivered in this shoot, these images shot wide open at f/1.4 have just the right amount of sharpness to them and the bokeh is really rather pleasing. I also cranked up the ISO to 640 in a bid to add a little more texture to the images and I think it’s given them a little edge.
Image 1 – Leica M9 – Canon 50mm f/1.4 Leica Portrait Photography L1004110-4Image 2 – Leica M9 – Canon 50mm f/1.4 Leica Portrait Photography L1004111-2Image 3 – Leica M9 – Canon 50mm f/1.4 Leica Portrait Photography L1004112-2Image 4 – Leica M9 – Canon 50mm f/1.4 Leica Portrait Photography L1004119-2Image 5 – Leica M9 – Canon 50mm f/1.4 Leica Portrait Photography L1004118-2Image 6 – Leica M9 – Canon 50mm f/1.4 Leica Portrait Photography L1004123
I’ve been fooling around with this processing technique for a few weeks and whilst it won’t be something you see from me often it was definitely the look I had in mind for these shots. I’m almost exclusively using LR4 to process my colour images now and it’s becoming difficult to imagine moving back to Aperture 3, I never thought I’d say that.

I’ll be honest, if I was reading this post I’d be wondering what the original files from the Canon 50mm f/1.4 looked like, I will be showing both the B&W conversions and the original colour files of these shot’s in my upcoming User Report on this lens.

Remember, in Part Two of this post I’ll be showing my first images from the 60mm Konica Hexanon f/1.2.

Cheers, Jason.


  • Michael Kay says:

    Hi Jason,

    Interesting to note your comments about moving from Aperture to Lightroom. I too use Aperture but am getting fed up with Apple’s failure to produce Aperture 4. They don’t seem to update software much since Steve Jobs died and I think they are losing their edge. Perhaps you agree?

    It could be another article – ‘Why I switch to LR’? Would be interesting.



    • janrzm says:

      Hi Michael,

      I feel exactly the same way, I am/was a big Aperture fan. The truth is that Apple do not support the software with any level of commitment, the lack of speed at which they update camera raw support tell’s you everything you need to know. I’ve had several bad Apple experiences in the last few months. As a family I’d say we were exactly what Apple want, a couple of iMac’s several MacBooks, iPhones and iPods etc……it would be difficult to imagine that changing but the Apple of today is not the same one Steve Job’s left behind.

      In relation to the second part of your comment, we’ll have to see, I continue to be impressed by LR4 and looking at the LR5 Beta there are a couple of nifty enhancements.

      Cheers, Jason.

      PS. I am getting around to the scanning posts, it took some time to procure the various scanners I wanted to look at and also I had a three week break from my iMac…..yes three weeks to replace a Graphics Card under Applecare!!! More like Apple Crumble……

  • Umberto says:

    I totally agree with you, Michael. Apple does not seem to care much for Aperture.

  • Umberto says:

    Dear Jason,
    thank you for your user report on the “old” and fascinating Canon 50 f1.4. Looking at your pictures and comparing them to those of your previous post, in my humble opinion the overall results as a portrait lens from the “soft” Canon are much better than the ones from the Summilux. That could also in part depend from different light conditions.
    Please go on experiencing portrait and nude photography and I am sure you will achieve the same wonderful results as in landscape photography.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Umberto,

      I hope you are well.

      My full User Report on the Canon 50/1.4 is still a work in progress but these give a taste of the Lens. I actually prefer the B&W and less processed colour versions of these images but I decided to post these ones because they reflect how I imaged these shots to look before I took them.

      In relation to your comment “Looking at your pictures and comparing them to those of your previous post, in my humble opinion the overall results as a portrait lens from the “soft” Canon are much better than the ones from the Summilux.” I agree 100%. There are a several reasons for this, at f/1.4 the Canon is still sharp but nowhere near as sharp as the 50 Lux. The artificial light in the previous post along with the level of detail captured by the Monochrom make the images far more clinical in appearance.

      The processing technique on these images is also making them look a little softer than they are, when I show the B&W & Natural colour versions of these shots you will see they appear sharper but not overly so. The Canon 50/1.4 is perfect for this application.

      The images from the Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 which will feature in my next post are some of my favourite shots to date so look out for those. Thanks again for the words of encouragement, appreciate it.

      Cheers, Jason

  • Ron Evans says:

    Of all the photos you took this one is the most successful to me:×1022.jpg

    Probably because the subject is making eye contact. Her face looks sincere so the whole shot looks sincere. In the shots where the model is not ‘selling it’ with her face, all the props and accessories seem contrived. In the non-facial shots if you’re not careful its just so many sexy shots and that’s always fun in and of itself… but maybe a bit thin after awhile.

    Because your model is so stunning and alluring, its hard to view these photos from a technical perspective. Its tempting to say, go for a cleaner look; lose all of the wigs, make-up and cool clothes… but NO, keep all that and please please please keep shooting –if you can with that model or in the same vein. The location and the whole motif is very interesting. Please continue to push the whole set up (model, location, props, themes, technology) to their limits.

    Thank you for sharing your work.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Ron,

      Thanks for your considered comments and encouragement, I am at the begging of a long road with this and all feedback is welcome.

      Cheers, Jason.

  • […] on this shoot with the Canon 50mm f/1.4 on the Leica M9, you can of course see those images HERE. Not surprisingly I actually preferred my B&W versions of those particular images. However, as […]

  • […] stylised processing look. I was really pleased with the lens performance, you can see the full post HERE. […]

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