1. februar 2015

FSU cameras, the Moskva-5

During the fall-months of 2014, I bought a very nice camera while I was in Prague.

The store I bought it in, is called Foto optika video Jan Pazdera (http://www.fotopazdera.cz/)
If ever in Prague, go visit, it is just 1 block further from Fotoskoda and they have all kinds of old cameras, binoculars, microscopes etc, a real gem of a store.

The camera in question, was a Moskva-5, made in the former Soviet Union (FSU) in the 50's.
This is a medium format 6*9 rangefinder camera, originally made as a copy of the Super Ikonta C, later it was....."refined"....and "Sovietified" (cruder, heavier, more solid, easier to produce in large quantities).

The camera is dual format, which means that you can slip a mask inside the camera, switch a knob and shoot 6*6 if you so prefer.

Selector between 6*6 and 6*9 and the button to open the front-end of the camera

Film type reminder (if you can understand Cyrillic) and the shutter-release button

Mine did not come with the mask (many don't).
In fact, the camera-store in Prague, had secured the back of the camera and glued/locked it to 6*9 (the camera is known for light-leaks trough the red windows).
Red windows and sliders to alter between 6*6 and 6*9

I was ok with that, I have other 6*6 cameras and was planning to use this for 6*9 exclusively.
- I may go onto eBay and see if I can get hold of another one, with mask and proper CLA's/working bellows and back, they aren't really expensive cameras. :)

Front view, using the little kick-stand on the cover, so it stands on it's own

After some initial shooting, - where you operate most things backwards, I found the focus to be off. (back-focus)
Back-focus close up (close focusing distance anyway) example, focus was on the larger piece of the fence, sharpest point was about 10-15cm behind it.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Focus was set on the statue, it's apparent that the focus is really behind the statue
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Bottom of the camera, showing the tripod mount. This mount is different from modern mounts, but you can get converters for them

After some Googling I found this very helpful resource over at Rick Oleson, illustration and explanation, showing how to properly adjust the focus on a rangerfinder.

How to measure up your rangefinder

I measured the distance as shown in the illustration, then put the "+" and the "x" on a piece of paper with the same distance between them. Then I set my camera to infinity and checked.
- Sure, mine was off, as suspected.
The beauty of this method, is that you can check your infinity on a target which is at any distance starting from the close focusing distance, so this can be done in-house, the marks should form a star when you have your camera at infinity -at any distance from the initial close focusing distance.

I adjusted my Moskva-5 by loosening the screw, holding the rangefinder-coupling. When you do this, you can remove the black part around it, and you expose two small screws below.

Illustrations are borrowed from The Kiev Survival site

Illustrations are borrowed from The Kiev Survival site

These two screws must then be LOOSENED (NOT taken off, or you will be in a world of hurt!).

Turn each screw around 1 turn and check if you can loosen the coupling to the lens focusing gear mechanism.
After LOOSENING the two screws a little, you should be able to gently lift the coupling up from the lens focusing gears.

In this position, the rangefinder and the lens focus operate independently

Make sure your lens is at infinity, then adjust the loosened rangefinder with the normal focusing knob on it, until the "+" and the "x" on the paper form a star "*" shape in the focusing window of your Moskva-5. After that, gently push the rangefinder coupling back into it's place, making sure that the gears take on the lens focus and that the rangefinder is engaged well.

Fasten the two screws and then put the black lid back on and securing it with the final, single screw.

My Moskva-5, lens detail

After this adjustment, the camera was spot on. The optics on mine isn't sickeningly sharp, but I suppose there are variances in the production-line.

It's a funny camera over all, you do everything "backwards" while operating it. For example, pulling the film from the right to the left, your shots will come out "upside down" on the film as well and finally, you need to press the left button and not the right one to take the photo. ^^

Example after rangefinder adjustment, focus is spot on.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Example after rangefinder adjustment, far away subject
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Example after rangefinder adjustment, corner sharpness and film-flatness test.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

All in all, I really like the Moskva-5, it's solid, the negatives are huge and it's also pretty fun to walk around with. It's not super heavy and it is also impressively compact when folded, you can slip it into a coat-pocket of the larger kind with no big problems. :)

- Never advance the film, before you are actually going to take a photo. If you advance the film after a shot, close the camera, walk around and open it, the film may have developed slack, the suction-effect from the bellows opening up can also cause slack on the film. So always advance, then take the shot. ^^

- Never use the self-timer with speeds faster than 1/100s, the shutter on this thing is very strong and it's not recommended to use the self-timer with the faster speeds due to the great tension in the mechanism.

- Set your shutter-speed before you wind up the shutter.
I am not sure if you will ruin the camera, but you will strain the shutter if you change your speed after winding up the shutter.

You can read more about the Moskva-5 and the previous versions here:
Alfreds camera page
Matt's classic cameras

17. desember 2014

Pin-up massacre!

Finally, I had a solo-shoot with miss Marion Massacre!

We've sort of orbited around each other in the photographer-model community for a few years and on earlier occasions sent some messages back and fourth, relating to shoot-ideas and concepts, never actually ending up having a shoot :D

Some of this can be related to life-events for miss Marion (child, among other things), so it's understandable, most of it can be related to me, not following up the contact good enough =D
Though, really, no pressure/stress either, we had time to do this whenever everything fell into place.

In the end, I met Marion during the Tursday-workshop initiative, where the theme for a particular week, was pin-up, then she sort of just popped in and we had a shoot, together with miss Nicky Namnam.

As mentioned in that blog-entry, it was a fun time and we agreed to hook up a little later for a solo-shoot.

In this particular shoot, miss Marion had a leopard style lingerie-outfit and even cat-ears, haha, loved that detail, gloves were also present, very stylish ^^

'Meoooww' :)

Burlesque show

Low angle "stage shot"

We did a variety of settings during the shoot, here she is even posing with my old-school Rolleiflex Automat from the 50's, very fitting. ^^

Vintage style

Here's a shot I did, using my own Rolleiflex 2.8F and Fuji Neopan 400, came out really great!

Rolleiflex 2.8F with Fuji Neopan 400
The bin was a lovely prop ^^

The lying-down poses were done in a couch. I always have problems "seeing" how I am supposed to place the lights on lying down poses and lying on the back towards the camera poses, but I somehow managed to find the right angles  ^^


The final settings were her being very cat-like, having a bowl of milk, as cats tend to do ;-)

Milk break

Very cool to shoot with Marion in a solo-setting, chatting about this and that and generally just having a good time, would definitely be cool to do something again at a later time ^^

This lovely entry, rounds off 2014, a year filled with lots of photography-fun, cool shoots and great inspiration.

I wish the people I've worked with trough the year a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year, the same goes to you, who read and follow this blog ^^

See you all in 2015 \o/

17. november 2014

Fia in the rain

Fia Rouge....wow, the name sounds like it comes from an action/adventure movie or a Bond-movie with a female villain running the show ^^

Though, Fia is a very calm, friendly 19 year old, with a very unique style ^^

I had messaged with Fia back and fourth a little on Modelmayhem in June, but due to messy planning on my part, I kind of fumbled and never got round to actually book a shoot-date before holiday-time struck the country.

- So the summer more or less went, before we finally hooked up. ^^

In the end though, we managed to do a meet-and-greet-shoot in Frognerparken in Oslo at the very end of August.

- I like to start there, or in a public setting with models that I have no previous experience with. It's just less pressure and a better setting to relax for both parts in, I think.

Cute pose

We started with some poses while the sun was shining, the warmth caused me to sweat too much for my own liking, as usual! =D

Long-haired vamp

I tried to vary the setting as much as possible and used various bushes and paths in the park for effect and mood.

Park-trail catwalk

Stopped pose

Stockings and look

Then, as we got to the great monolith monument, the northern sky turned pitch black, a wall of rain was heading our way, and fast!
Lingering storm

Luckily I had my umbrella with me, and I also had a few plastic bags in my kit (hey, I like to be prepared for anything).

So, I covered up most of my gear, gave Fia the umbrella and stripped my setup to the very basic (camera, the Canon 70-200 and a mounted Speedlight 580EX II, all weather-sealed).

I put a clear bag, meant for bread over my 70-200, strapped the end around my camera, opened the end at the tip of the lens, and secured that with my lens-shade for extra protection.

Just in time, the downpour started just as we got everything safely covered.

I did some extra processing on these, to create vintage and slightly cross-processed/tinted look to the shots, to add to the atmosphere.

Sweet downpour


I ended up ditching my 580EX II after a while, because I quickly saw that the flash was accentuating the rain too much, and continued to use natural light only (knew I had to adjust the shots in post anyway, the only addition without the flash. would be adding some fill-light).

Here are two really in-control poses and scenes that I really liked a lot from this shoot.

Much better-looking rain without the flash, the flash tend to freeze the drops, as well as being reflected back in an unnatural way.

The intensity of the downpour changed almost from second to second, from super-saturated showers, to lighter rain and back to drenching showers again. ^^

The cool thing about this incident, was that the park got completely deserted, people ran like mad chickens. (If I didn't know better, I'd say that there was pure acid coming down, based on the panic in the park lol).

I myself, got soaked, but didn't mind.

The next two shots are a bit more romantic in the mood, striking eyes in the second shot.

It was worth it and the rain was pretty warm anyway, and I was too heated from the ongoing shoot, so the rain was simply just nice. =)

I think Fia escaped quite dry and not too cold, she did a really bang-up job, looking relaxed, sexy and collected while the whole world was falling down form the sky, the shots came out great!

These final two shots, are processed, to create a quite dramatic '300' kind of look, very punchy skies, check out how the rain was really hammering the ground on the first shot, almost creating a mist on the ground.

Who's the boss?

After the rain had subsided, I decided to call it quits. The camera and lens, even though it was pretty well protected, did get some water and I didn't want to push my luck too far...!

- Even though my camera and lens is supposed to handle a bit of water, you're not supposed to keep going with wet equipment. It's sealed so you may quickly wrap up a shoot, get into cover or not loose your equipment due an accidental splash or two.

I hope to shoot with Fia again, perhaps in a dry and warm studio-setting?

Possibly working on a interesting concept together, while she is still in Norway ^_ ^

You can visit Fia on these links, both on facebook and modelmayhem.com :)

7. november 2014

Beach shoots, recap and technical

My last two entries, have been about my two model-shoots at Hvaler, which is located at the south-eastern tip of Norway. This area is known for a multitude of beaches, and a rock-sloped archipelago landscape.

Hvaler archipelago, satelite view

My equipment decisions for the beach-shoots:


Paul C Buff, Alien Bees 1600
I decided to bring with me my strongest flash, the Alien Bees 1600, because it can overpower the sun. There are more powerful options available though, but I have this one, the AB1600, which is 640 watt-seconds.

The vagabond mini battery pack
With the increasingly added confidence and comfort of the super-strong, light-weight Paul C buff Vagabond mini battery pack, based on other shoots on location mentioned in this blog, I had good confidence that one battery would be sufficient for a single shoot, but I charged the extra battery as well.
The whole pack weigh maybe 2 - 3 pounds and clamps onto the flash-tripod.

Paul C Buff beautydish with and without the sock

The modifier I planned to use, was a beauty-dish, mounted on a weighted boom. This rig with the weighted boom is seriously heavy, but I thought it would be a good choice to battle the ever present and never-ending wind at the coast.

The choice of using the beauty-dish, was twofold:
1) It's a 'directional hard/soft light source' (contrasty, soft light source? ^^), which I felt would fit the bill and light the models perfectly in relation to the scene.
2) The construction is much more sturdy and not affected by deformations due to wind.
- and that proved to be a sound choice.

My particular dish is a large Paul C Buff white beauty-dish, and I also brought with me the 'sock' for the dish, should it be necessary to cover the dish itself, if the wind was so strong that it grabbed the dish and pushed the heavy boom out of position.

- also proved to be a sound choice on Kristin's shoot, as the wind was tougher and more gusty.

General observations 

I had to try and plan the shoots, so that the two separate results would be different, but still retain some of the same style. So, some of the setups were very similar and overlapping, while others were unique to the particular session. (it's important that the models don't feel that they ended up with the exact same result).

The reason for the similar setups, was that I needed more location-experience with this rig, and by running similar settings under slightly different lighting-conditions, I could learn a whole heap of things to put in my experience-bag.

- Also, by gaining good shots while shooting a certain way, I made sure that both models would end up with good shots, not just experimental, weird ones. ^^

Conclusion and lessons learned 


Some of Kristin's shots
Things to be aware of:

I find that the 1/200s sync-speed of the Canon 5D mk III to be annoying/constricting. (Nikon is much better in this regard, providing 1/500s).  1/200s is the max-speed this camera will sync properly with a studio-fhash. The 1ds and 1dx series isn't much better, with their 1/250s sync speed. 

The problem arise when you try to freeze movement, or shoot with longer lenses, both which can cause blurry photo's. I was already aware of this, off course, but it was more of a struggle on these shoots, due to the models having hair and cloth, moving in a fresh breeze. I also had to shoot with the stabilizer ON on my 70-200, which drains the batteries in the camera faster.

Flash-recharge time with the battery was impressive. Still, one need to reduce the number of shots and the number of shots per second(!) to one shot per 2-3 seconds (which is more the burst-norm for me on model shoots anyway), or one will end up with shots having a variance in exposure.
In other words let the flash charge.
Also, be aware that the charging-time will be more and more affected as the battery reach between 1/2 to 1/4'th of it's capacity, then you need to wait 3-4-5 seconds to have a fully charged AB1600 flash.

Some of Nicky's shots

Positive suprises and experience-points

The Vagabond battery really proved to be a impressive and powerful pack. I changed the battery on the very end of Nicky's shoot, just as we reached the final setting of the day, by then it was at 1/4 (or lower).
The shoots, respectively, produced
Kristin: 302 shots, 1 battery
Nicky: 366 shots, battery 1 was changed at 298 shots.
 - most of the shots were done using close to full power on my AB1600 flash-unit!

Pretty sick for a 3 pound pack I must say! Paul C Buff, I bow do thee! o_O

Recycle-time, as mentioned, did not suffer much, until the battery was down to 1/4 of full capacity, also very impressive. On Kristin's shoot, I simply turned down the power, as the light was already fading, so I could wrap up the whole shoot on one battery. The recycle-time was normal when I used my flash on 1/2 power and below, so I basically didn't notice much difference and just kept on shooting.On Nicky's shoot, I started to notice longer recycle times more and decided to swap the battery for the final scene, just to avoid any pauses as the light was changing quickly.

The beauty-dish proved to have just the right qualities, to create natural-looking flash for a model on the beach. A softbox would have been too soft (I think) and an umbrella too spread out and soft as well, a smaller lightsource would be too hard and contrasty (from my experience with 580EX-flashes anyway). The dish was cumbersome to carry, but is sturdy and really gives nice light.

Got even more experience in placing the sun, in conjunction to the flash, balancing the exposure and shooting with a sea-background.

A few other secrets as well, that I noticed and put on my experience-list for future shoots.  :)

21. oktober 2014

On the beach with Nicky

As mentioned in my last blog-etntry, I did two beach-related shoots at Hvaler, this second entry, relates to my shoot with miss Nicky Namnam .

This shoot was done a couple of days after the first shoot, luckily the conditions were fairly similar, nice sunshine, not too many clouds, the wind was also slightly less intense. This also meant that I didn't have to worry too much about my flash-rig toppling over from the wind.

The equipment I used, was also the same as the previous shoot, but I dropped a few redundant items, that I noticed I really didn't have any use for last time, like one extra studio-flash + flash-tripod, one octabox, one Canon 400mm 4.5L, power-cords and some bits and pieces. This made it easier to actually move around and lug all my stuff on location.

The shoot setup then, consisted of my Canon 5d mk III, my Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS, one Alien Bee 1600,  one weighted boom, one large, white beauty-dish, one Vagabond mini battery-pack + cords and triggers for the whole lot.

Nicky, blonde for the occasion (not sure what she is these days, as she change her style ever so often ^^), brought with her some cool clothes, hair-bandana, some cool sunglasses  and even a brand spanking new bellybutton-piercing =)

I did some of the same types of settings as I did previously, ie. walking towards the camera, glancing out to the sea, generally posing while walking parallel to the shoreline.

However, we also did some artsy-poses at the same time, to mix it up a little.

Playing with the waves
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Fabric display
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Nicky did some clothing magic and style changes, and we continued with a few similar shots, but we also moved onto the sand and into the water.

Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Checking out the water
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Cool pose
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Here I created a new type of duo-tone black/white version of one of the shots, I think this style fit Nicky well, giving her an ethereal, marble-skin and almost statue-like look, especially with those eyes ^^

Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

After all the fun with various outfits, we did some bikini-shots as well. She brought her US of A-kini ^^ , which not only look cool, it also fit her body perfectly.

So, with the red, white and blue, coupled with tanned skin and blonde hair, we got cracking, first in the water.

Testing the water
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Stylish beach-babe
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Then some sandy ones, trying to make it slightly different from the previous shoot, regarding poses and angles, while still retaining some of the same style.

Owing the sand
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

The look
Canon 5D mk III, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Last shot is one of those dual-toned versions again, very strange but lovely mood in those, I like it in this partcular shot as well, as the face/pose/setting is really cool and controlled.

As a round-off for this shoot, we did some romance-style shots as the sun was setting. As is typical with Nicky, we also did some weirder ones as well, while we were at it :)

Italian style veil glance

Mysterious woman in fog

Golden sunset hue

It was a nice trip and shoot, as always. :)

I've known Nicky for a few years now (many when I think of it), and it is always cool to meet up and have a chat, laugh and a shoot together, I am sure we'll work again on some weird or interesting idea in the future as well. ^_^