Photoessay: Bruno Menard at Forlino

I was in Singapore recently to run a few food photography 101 sessions under Leica at the World Gourmet Summit. One of the perks of the job was getting to enjoy the samples. In this case, by 3* Michelin chef Bruno Menard, who formerly ran L’Osier in Tokyo – widely thought to be the best restaurant in Japan at the time. I ran a very basic setup for the participants with a couple of small LED video lights, a Leica D-Lux 5 compact and some modified settings (optimized for food work); I shot tethered and showed the results instantly on a HDTV via HDMI out. There was a little PS work done to the images afterwards (i.e. for this set) but for the most part, the D-Lux 5 makes a surprisingly excellent little food camera – especially when there’s enough light around. MT

Images shot with a Leica D-Lux 5.

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Photoessay: Workers, in the style of Sebastiao Salgado

This is a continuation from an earlier post with one image. The back story is not quite what you’d expect: I was killing time at a culinary academy in Singapore while waiting for one of my classes to start (I was teaching food photography, not cooking, though at some point I’d love to attend a proper cooking course, however, I digress) and happened to notice a building site out of the window. The 6th floor was a great vantage point to get far enough away to see the entire scene, but not so far that you’d miss out the details. Add in that wonderful directional light that comes immediately after rain when clouds just clear and the sun starts poking out (plus the textures and wet reflections) and the light was utterly gorgeous. Colors were still muted, and this was one of those occasions that just screamed ‘B&W’. Just another example of one of those times when you don’t plan to shoot, but somehow an opportunity presents itself – enjoy the results for yourself. On an unrelated note, I’m really loving the square format, too. Or maybe I’m just lazy to turn the little camera sideways. MT

This series shot with a Leica D-Lux 5 Titanium.

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POTD: Urban geometry

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Outtake from a recent architectural assignment. Look out for a future On Assignment post about shooting buildings. Leica D-Lux 5.

Although most architectural images are shown with nothing but the building, in a vaguely abstracted product-shot-kind-of-way, I personally find the images I like best are the ones which have some human scale or context included; it’s otherwise tough to gauge scale of the building, how it fits into its environment, and more importantly, how does the end user perceive it? Do they use the intended main entrances and traffic routes, or like water, do people find a path of lower resistance? Are there flow routes that the designers didn’t envision, i.e. connections between two back streets? Does the vehicular circulation work? How does the facade look from a human perspective? Once again, it comes back down to understanding something about your subject before you shoot it. MT

POTD: After the dinner party

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After The Dinner Party. Leica D-Lux 5. From a private dining event in Singapore where I recently held some food photography workshops.

A gentle reminder: don’t forget our fine art print offer!

POTD/ Quick review: Details in the fabric/ Leica D-Lux 5

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Details in the fabric. Traditional Japanese spring kimono. Leica D-Lux 5 Titanium

Now may also be a good time to share a few quick thoughts on the Leica D-Lux 5 Titanium – it arrived early last week for me to use as a backup/ pocket camera. In short,

The Good:
-Very flexible controls.
-Multi-aspect ratio switch – I’m using it a lot more than I would; it’s now easier to fit the frame to the subject.
-Image quality is excellent up to ISO 400; useable at ISO 800; I wouldn’t go any higher than that.
-It’s one sexy looking camera.
-Battery life seems to go on and on and on – first 200 frames shot, still showing full.
-Sharpness is good throughout the frame, and even at macro distances – cross-frame consistency close up isn’t usually a strong point of compact cameras. This was a big, pleasant surprise.
-Usefully large RAW buffer; i.e. you don’t notice any penalty for using RAW instead of JPEG (which I of course highly encourage).
-Mode dial is much stiffer than its predecessors, and can’t easily be knocked off position.
-Like all leaf-shutter compacts, the flash sync speed is all the way up to its maximum of 1/2000s! (*More on this later – I also shot a food job with it this weekend, which will be the subject of a future article.)
-Like all Panasonic-based cameras, an excellent optical image stabilizer – I can’t quantify this in any way, but I’ve always felt that their IS systems are on par with or even slightly better than the systems Nikon and Canon use on their SLR lenses.

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The not so good:
-It is expensive for what it is – the standard D-Lux 5 represents fair value for money, because if you take out the cost of Lightroom (bundled) and the extended warranty, it’s not much more expensive than the Panasonic LX5 it’s based on, but arguably a better looking camera. The Titanium version, on the other hand, isn’t real titanium but commands a hefty premium over the standard one.
-The LCD is pretty poor; in fact it’s difficult to gauge the quality of a shot using it alone. The one on the V-Lux 3 is much better.
-Could be faster – startup feels decidedly leisurely and focusing isn’t as fast as the older Ricoh GR-Digital III. There was a time when these prosumer compacts were much faster than the mirrorless compact system cameras; my Pen Mini blows both of them out of the water.
-The included gray leather case looks cool, but is bulky and totally impractical. It stays at home for storage only.

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I’ll be traveling for the rest of the week; depending on internet connection availability, frequency of posts may be reduced (don’t worry, I’ve got some great stuff prepared in advance and auto-scheduled in case I have no internet access at all). MT

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