• Sat, 08 May 2021 18:32:05 +0000

    5 Tips to Dramatically Improve Golden Hour Landscapes

    You’ve likely heard it said that golden hour is by far the best time for photographing landscapes. We have a lot of colors and dramatic light and atmosphere during that time.

    Let’s start with what golden hour is. It is the period of time just after sunrise and just before sunset where the light is more colorful and saturated, and it will almost always come to any landscape photographer’s advantage. The question is, how?

    Here I am sharing my five favorite tips to dramatically improve your golden hour shots! Let’s begin.

    1. Look for Side-lit or Back-lit Subjects

    Even when you are shooting photos in golden hour, the light needs to be dramatic on your subject. The composition will hugely vary on this basis. Look for subjects that are lit from the side or back, giving a stunning effect on the whole image.

    From the above examples, in the first image from Chatakpur, the light is hitting from the side of the trees in the woods, and in the second image from my hometown, it is hitting right from behind the clouds, creating a dramatic scene. You can see how enthralling the overall image becomes when the light falls on them from the best directions possible.

    2. Check for Contrast in The Frame

    Make sure to have a habit to look for contrast in the frame because golden hour will be automatically providing it to you, you just need to find it. The highlights will be very bright and the shadows will be equally dark, so, by definition, you already have contrast. Utilize it in the best way possible.

    In the above two images (the first one taken at Rishyap, North Bengal, and the second one taken at Simana, Nepal border), you can find contrast between foreground and background. In the first one, the man standing on the nearby cliff and the clouds provide opposition to the rays, in the second one, it is the layers of the mountains that have supported the clouds in creating the immense contrast in the frame.

    3. Use Filters and get Creative

    Use ND filters and create stunning long exposure and/or slow shutter images which will have an absolutely different feel in the images as a whole. This technique will obviously work with images where there is motion, so try it on your waterscapes – seas, oceans, waterfalls, and the like.

    In these images, the first one is a sunrise shot at Gopalpur while the second one is a sunset shot at Kanyakumari. In both the images, you can see how the movement of the water has been caught in a very creative way, thus making them different.

    4. Try Silhouettes

    Since we already know golden hour provides a lot of contrast and good back-lit images, combining them will give you brilliant silhouette structures to work with. Choose the correct subject and create a silhouette out of it by putting it properly in the frame. Either put them in your foreground (what I mostly do) or in the midground, get creative with silhouettes.

    In the first example from Chitre, I have put the range of pine trees on the mountain as a simple silhouette for a clean image. In the second example from Rishyap, the tree in the foreground is the silhouette and providing balance to the main subject which is the hill beside on which the sun rays are falling.

    5. Work with both wide and tele lenses

    Use both wide-angle and telephoto lenses to create more dramatic frames during golden hour. If you find an image where there is a lot of interesting elements in the foreground while the background creates more of a subject, use an ultra-wide or a wide-angle lens, like in the first photo from Kanyakumari. In the second photo from Rishyap, the mountain was very far away and I used my telephoto lens to take the shot.


    Shooting at the golden hour is one of my favorite things to do in photography, if not the favorite one. I have shot a huge number of images at this time of the day. Along with blue hour, this time of the day provides stunning light conditions for every landscape photographer to use. I hope this article helps you with some basic ideas for improving your golden hour photography.

    About the author: Subham Shome is a landscape and travel photographer based in Agarpara Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Shome’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

  • Sat, 08 May 2021 18:14:30 +0000

    A Photographic Homage to Melbourne’s Vanishing Small Businesses is a Form of Time Travel

    David Wadelton understands that photography is a form of time travel. Small Business, his new book of photographs, transports us to Melbourne’s vanishing architecture of interior workplaces created by largely working-class, post-war immigrants from Europe.

    It forms a natural complement to his first book, Suburban Baroque (2019), which paid homage to their domestic interiors.

    Both books are the product of years of wandering, especially in the rapidly gentrifying inner north of Melbourne.

    Wadelton has lived in Northcote since 1975, and has long shared his massive archive of initially black-and-white photos of his beloved suburb through his Facebook moniker Northcote Hysterical Society. Social media has proved an ideal vehicle for such obsessive localism, extending to the crowd-funding campaigns he uses to underwrite the publications.

    Thornbury Espresso, High Street Thornbury, 2016. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    In some ways, what was once hysterical or obsessive has become the norm. As people spend more time in their local neighbourhoods, interest in their character and the history of the city seems to be flourishing. This is reflected in the popularity of Instagram accounts like @oldvintageMelbourne, with its nostalgic photos from the State Library’s archives.

    Small Business apparently started with the decline of local fish and chip shops in Northcote. Over the course of the past decade, Wadelton photographed more than 600 small businesses, with over 140 featured in the book. The businesses are organised into groupings: milk bars, cafes, laundrettes, tailors, shoe shops and repairers, barbers, VHS shops, and so on.

    A Foukis Professional Men’s Hair Stylist, Park Street, South Melbourne, 2020. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    Wadelton’s photographs are carefully composed and depict the spaces in all their fluoro-lit, chaotic detail. They are far from iPhone snapshots. But their significance is as a collection rather than individual images.

    Collected together in this book, they form an extraordinary record and a compelling artistic project. Paradoxically, the effect of the typological approach is to reveal how, in spite of superficially similarities, each business is unique.

    Each image tells its own story, aided by all-too brief captions that offer a note about the owner or history of the business. From this book I learnt that Kosovo TV Repairs, which sat vacant for a decade around the corner from my house in North Fitzroy, opened in 1956, the year TV was first broadcast in Melbourne.

    Kosovo TV Radio Repairs, Scotchmer St, Fitzroy North, 2019. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    Wadelton photographed Monarch Cakes, the legendary cake shop in Acland St, St Kilda, in 2019. But it could be much earlier, because Monarch Cakes have been baking the same cakes from the same recipes since the 1930s.

    On the wall behind the counter of Polish cheesecakes are a series of other time capsules — framed photographs of visiting celebrities and a signed copy of Aboriginal St Kilda footballer Nicky Winmar’s defiant anti-racist gesture from 1993.

    Monarch Cakes, Acland Street, St Kilda, 2019. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    In her introductory essay, Natalie King OAM, Enterprise Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Melbourne, evokes the lost European Melbourne of Jewish coffee shops. As she puts it “Wadelton apprehends the idea of the city as a cosmopolis and small businesses as repositories of family stories”.

    The families themselves are almost never pictured directly (a cobbler on the front cover of the book is misleading). But they appear regularly in the form of family photographs stuck behind the counter.

    Wadelton makes portraits of dated interior décor, not to sneer but to honour the well lived-in spaces of people’s labour. His camera pays homage to all the bits and pieces used to provide retail services and repairs, and the various traces of social and retail exchange.

    Moonee Star Espresso Bar, Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds, 2020. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    Nevertheless, the absence of actual people is critical. These are businesses on the verge of extinction. By the artist’s count, around a third of them have already closed.

    These spaces belong to a different era — when things were made here, and TVs were worth repairing. They represent the life’s work of a former generation of migrants who made Melbourne the city it is today. As long-running establishments, often in family-owned buildings, they became part of the fabric of the city.

    Sila Espresso, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 2017. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    It’s all the more poignant that Small Business was completed during Melbourne’s long lockdown last year. For a variety of reasons, including the health of the owners, Wadelton tells me that some of those featured in the book have not re-opened since.

    Perhaps conveniently, given Wadelton’s preferred aesthetic, normally busy places were deserted during COVID-19. In some of the more recent images you can see tape markings on the floor and other signs of virus-induced social distancing measures. Photography revels in details.

    Alexanders Shoes, Smith Street, Collingwood, 2020. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    By documenting businesses as they disappear — building on precedents such as Eugène Atget’s documentation of Old Paris a hundred years earlier — Wadelton is doing Melbourne, and history, a great service.

    Pellegrini’s Espresso, Bourke Street, Melbourne, 2020. Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

    Above all, this book of photographs is a reminder of a slower and simpler way of living. Before chain stores, throwaway clothing and online retail. Before inner-city gentrification, and before wood panelling became fashionably ironic.

    About the author: Daniel Palmer is a Professor at RMIT University. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. This article was also published at The Conversation and was licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0.

    Image credits: Header photo: “Patti Shoes, Station Street, Lalor, 2020.” Courtesy of David Wadelton and M.33

  • Sat, 08 May 2021 17:47:15 +0000

    A Brief History of Ground Glass Focusing Loupes

    This article is dedicated to a very helpful yet often-overlooked photographic accessory. After scouring the Web, I have only been able to find few brief entries dedicated to those devices, so I hope my writing will be found helpful by inquisitive minds interested in the history of photo equipment.

    From 1872 book ‘Ferrotypes And How To Make Them’

    My passion for vintage large format focusing loupes was sparked by a visit to Will Dunniway’s home about seven years ago. A pillar within the wet collodion community, Will Dunniway was kind and generous, with a real passion for the history and craft of the wet plate process.

    During my first very brief visit to Will’s, I noticed a display cabinet on his wall, which was filled with beautiful little brass gems. At that point, I only had one loupe, acquired in early 2013 from the estate of late Ernst Purdum, who was famous in photo circles for his extensive knowledge of photographic shutters and their history and mechanical development. After his passing, Mr. Purdum’s massive estate ended up in a second-hand retail shop. It was from there that I picked up my first loupe by Taylor Taylor & Hobson loupe.

    My main interest has always been in producing images, and knowledge of equipment needed to fulfill particular results is therefore essential but not central; other than admiring its minty finish, didn’t think much of my first little loupe, until my eyes caught sight of that cabinet at Will’s place. When I got home, I searched the web to see what was available on this topic, but my inquest came up woefully short. This lack of information acted to further strengthen my resolve to learn as much as possible, and to share my findings with the world.

    Through the years, I visited Will’s place a number of times and purchased or traded for more than a few choice pieces from that cabinet. Sadly, Will passed away on April 8th of this year. I was thinking of waiting to make this post until I reach 10 years of collecting, but decided to rather do so now in memory of Will Dunniway, may he rest in peace.

    Will Dunniway collection as seen years ago

    Challenges of gathering antique brass loupes and information about them are as follows. First off, they are generally small, and to someone who is not an avid large format photographer, it’s not obvious what they are, so the vast majority of loupes must have gotten lost or tossed out when someone died and their relatives wouldn’t know what they were. Let’s face it, half of that small percentage of photographers who even shoot large format today would likely not recognize some of these for what they are.

    Secondly, most of them have no engraving or stamp, and those that do very rarely mention anything other than the maker, so sellers have a hard time describing them precisely. More than one maker made not just different iterations of their loupes, but in each generation, there would have been 3 or more various sizes offered, and so there’s thin hope for assembling an entire line of 6 or 9 variants.

    Add to that the fact that there is a myriad of other types of loupes out there, and the fact that a lot of other small optical pieces could easily be confused for loupes and would actually function as such to some degree. Even in Will’s cabinet pictured above, of 36 objects seen 10 are in fact not loupes at all, but this will be addressed later.

    Just what is a ground glass focusing loupe, and how is it different from other similar objects? By definition, ground glass focusing loupes are made specifically to aid photographers with bringing the image upon their large format camera ground glass to the critical focus point. To ease this crucial task, photographers at times use a countless number of DIY magnifiers and gadgets, but nothing beats a well-made loupe designed for that exact job.

    These loupes should be able to focus sharply at a distance of about 2mm from the bottom edge. A ground glass focusing loupe also has a completely opaque body, which blocks stray light and brightens the image. Their magnifying power varies from around 4x to 8x and even 10x, though most seem to be at about 6x.

    Since the ground side of the glass is perfectly flat, most makers went through the trouble of making sure their loupes have a relatively flat field of focus, something that isn’t as crucial in botanical magnifiers for example.

    I’ll quickly note here that as far as actual use a lot of other things can replace an actual true ground glass loupe; loupes made for negative examination are nearly identical in all respects, map reading magnifiers and even hand-held loupes can be used. 19th-century magnifiers for botanical specimens often also very closely resemble focusing loupes, and can focus in the correct plane.

    I have used center group from Canon 28-80mm lenses as high power magnifiers, and with one camera I purchased came a thing someone made from a film canister and a single element with some enlarging power glued into it, and that thing also worked to show the image larger. I feel that a lot of photographers may actually resort to using all sorts of substitutes simply because they may not even be aware that specific focusing aid loupes do in fact exist, and so I hope this post helps out.

    Variety-wise, photo loupes seem to have been not as plentiful as lenses, cameras, and other equipment; after all, they were meant to do one thing only, and how many ways can one achieve that rather straightforward task? However, there’s more than enough to explore and marvel at.

    The simplest photographic loupes have no focus adjustment at all, or basically a minimal capacity for that, with top glass on a thread, which can be unscrewed a bit. These loupes usually have just one element, and image quality is not exactly great. Next level up: have a way to slide the central part up or down, to adjust for the personal eyesight of each photographer, as well as to change focal plane to ground glass of different thicknesses. Better ones will have either a sliding or turning central adjustable part, which is then locked in place.

    No focus, focus with no lock, focus and lock

    The simplest way to have a loupe be able to focus of course is one tube sliding within another one; only simple precise machining is required for a fairly tight fit. For more control, some companies made that central part have a spiral or even a full-fledged thread; this makes adjustment more precise, but the finer the thread is more turns it takes to get it to where you want it.

    A more complex mechanism involved a guiding pin placed on the outer surface of the inner barrel and a slightly spiral channel in the outer body part for that pin to ride inside (though of course that channel was hidden buy outer skirt). This is a very smooth and exact way of achieving focus, but indeed it required a whole bunch more machining and assembly, so not a lot of loupes exhibit it.

    Types of central columns

    To lock that central sliding part in place of correct focus, most loupes have a threaded ring on the outer part of the body. As that ring is screwed down, it presses inward upon carefully cut wings, and that locks the central column in place. Some makers resorted to a simpler setting screw. Yet others had their loupes focus via a long thread that had a stop-ring on the same thread.

    Types of locking systems

    Glass configuration varied drastically; from simple one-glass magnifiers akin to hand-held reading aid to complex systems with cemented crown and flint glass elements. Most good models have a single element on top and a cemented double at the bottom. More complex loupes had complex achromatic groupings of elements both on top and bottom. Below at left are elements with a spacer from Waterbury loupe, and at right are three cemented elements by Goerz.

    Two glass configurations

    Just like lenses and cameras, loupes were also rebranded, and multiple retailers often sold the exact same ones. Some loupes may have been sold without company engraving, while others were finished differently. For example, a Hansa loupe is identical to Zeiss Ikon, except Hansa has an incredible enamel finish and is made of brass rather than aluminum that Zeiss went with.

    Did Hansa buy rights for that design or did they have Zeiss make them a batch from metal they considered better, and then enameled them in Japan? Hard to tell now, but they surely are related. Dallmeyer seems to have copied Ross loupes almost completely except for making them shorter, Montauk ones are identical to those marked Waterbury, Busch loupes were also sold by various retailers engraved with their own labels, etc.

    Rebranding samples

    It’s usually rather difficult to determine the date of manufacture with these objects. They are rarely marked in any way, and of those that have an engraving, few have a serial number, which is also near impossible to trace for the vast majority of vintage manufacturers. Endlessly searching through old catalogs can at times give a glimpse of which configuration of the loupe was made in which decade by which company, but some makers kept their loupes the same for decades, while others have no catalogs available for search online.

    After a while of working with antique brass lenses, one can start seeing similarities in the progression of types of brass and lacquer used by makers, and that can be used to place a loupe within this decade or another with a relative degree of accuracy.

    I believe one of the oldest loupes in my collection is probably the Scovill Focusing Glass pictured below at left. It seems that they haven’t changed their form from the early 1860s through the 1880s, and so this loupe in theory can be from any year in that period, but basically, it’s the same ‘60s loupe.

    In the middle is a loupe seen in LaVerne catalogs from France, and it seems it was imported and sold by Edward Anthony as well; it dates from mid-1870. Judging by machining and type of brass and lacquer used, Darlot loupe on the right is also likely from either the late 60s or early 70s. I’m not certain when Ross or Dallmeyer started making their loupes, so I didn’t include those in this group of old-timers.

    Scovill, Anthony, and Darlot

    Parisian lens maker Hermagis is credited with inventing spiral-shaped central columns, which make the process of tuning the loupe to your eyes very precise. Some of their loupes have no spiral, but instead employ the guide-pin system; I’m assuming those are a later type but am looking to find even one of those in an actual catalog for verification. Some of their models are plain brass finish, some black lacquer, and some bodied came covered in leather.

    The spiral central column design was copied endlessly through Europe, and no-name examples of these are probably the most common of all loupes to come up for sale. All spiral loupes I’ve seen sport a single element on top and cemented double at the bottom. It’s possible that the central spiral tube was bought in standard length, and then, if the top and bottom glass needed to be moved apart a bit more, a ring of appropriate height was soldered onto the spiral. Occasionally an example with much finer thread is seen in the wild, but for the most part, the spiral is nearly identical through many models and makes.

    Hermagis and ‘Hermagis Type’

    Darlot loupe design was kept around almost unchanged for at least 30 years, and it also sprung a bunch of nameless copies. Other companies even advertised their loupes as ‘Darlot Type’. Darlot brass type and lacquer finish changed through the years, very much consistent with their lens bodies from the same time periods. Below is a Darlot loupe that was likely made around the mid-1880s, and three examples of other makers copying the same general design.

    Darlot and ‘Darlot Type’

    Most loupes are between 40mm and 60mm when closed, extend by 10-20mm, and have an average weight of about 100-150g. Space is often a consideration for photographers on the go though, so some loupes were made in miniature sizes. This makes them even more susceptible to being lost of course and the image is tiny, but in a pinch, they work quite well.

    The below example of an early E. Krauss loupe is only 30mm tall and weighs 54g. If space is in fact of absolutely no concern, and if one really wants to get the widest field of view while having a marvelous object in their hand, then the obvious only choice is the Grande Model loupe by Hermagis. This mid-188s giant weighs in at 235g and stands 105mm tall when extended.

    Grande Model and early E.Krauss

    Hermagis deserves another quick mention here. Ground glass can be scratched by the bottom metal edge of loupes. To prevent this, on one of their models, Hermagis inlaid a ring of whale baleen in the most careful and beautiful manner. This is the only example lined with baleen I have seen. Later loupes were made of plastic, but among brass-bodied loupes, this may have been the only meaningful effort to protect the glass from scratches, and what an elegant effort it was.

    Baleen lining in Hermagis loupe

    For clear focus, the bottom edge of the loupe is placed squarely against the ground glass, with the line of sight being at 90 degrees to glass. At times, the spot you want to check focus on is a bit lower or higher than the angle you can comfortably bring your eye to, and a few companies gave their lopes the ability to tilt, so you can look into it from above or below. Notice that they tilt around the central axis of the bottom plane because that is where the focus is adjusted for ground glass depth; if you just keep one point of the edge on the glass, the focus plane will be lifted, and your loupe will be totally out of focus.

    Tilting Darlot and E. Krauss

    Another problem one sometimes encounters in the field is checking critical focus along the very edge of ground glass because it is usually sunken into the wood or metal frame around it by a millimeter or two, so the edge of your loupe hits that edge. This sole example by Taylor’ Taylor & Hobson, with its lovely patina, combats this problem by having a small cutout on the bottom edge, which allows it to stay perpendicular to the glass while going over the frame wood. In theory, tilting loupes seen in the above picture can also answer the call, because their center can also be brought closer to the edge than most.

    Taylor Taylor & Hobson with cutout

    I think that for the first time anyone who glances upon the ground glass of a regular large format camera, they may have been a bit confused by the image being upside down and left to right reversed. After having worked with LF cameras for over 20 years, I now see what my college professors were saying about the benefits of this.

    Having an image reversed serves in some subliminal way to detach the ground glass image from what is actually happening in front of the lens, so lines, tones, and other compositional elements stand on their own, uncoupled from reality by being inversed. Not everyone shares this sentiment, and so we all know of those large reversing prisms that go behind ground glass and orient the image correctly from at least top to bottom by the use of a mirror. Some loupe makers attempted to offer photographers that same solution by adding an extra element between the two groups and having that element reverse the image in both directions.

    Using a loupe like that is actually not as fun as it may seem. First off their magnifying power is really high, so you end up seeing too much of the actual gran structure of your ground glass. Plus area of view is also rather limited, so you have to move it around a lot to find where those points of interest are. When I tried using these loupes, I could not for the life of me get used to having the image slide upward as I’m moving the loupe down, and also it makes you want to move it in the wrong direction, to begin with. Still, it’s a novel innovation worth mentioning.

    Image reversing loupes

    With the advent of smaller cameras in the late 1890s and through the 1930s, there came to be a lot of folding cameras that still had a ground glass on the back but were meant to be hand-held. Holding the camera, focusing it, and also holding a loupe against the glass is a trick that only select Hindu gods can perform with ease, but for those of us with only two hands, some companies had a bright idea to make tips of their loupes into little rubber suction cups. I imagine this worked pretty well when they were new, but those early forms of rubber would become hard and very brittle after a while, and so all those loupes now have that rubber either missing completely, or it’s hard as a rock, and usually with cracks and chips missing.

    Suction cup loupes

    Those smaller cameras also often had a leather hood that would pop up to reveal the ground glass and shield it from stray light. In more modern cameras, Graflex has a metal shade in the back. Getting your hand with a loupe in there is nearly impossible, and so a longer loupe is very handy in those situations. Aside from the collapsible example shown above, 1950s Ednalite answers the task very well, though I can’t say it’s the sharpest loupe on the shelf. There are also quite a few examples to be found by Wista, and, provided that the glass is reinserted correctly after cleaning, which wasn’t the case with mine when I first received it, it’s actually a very sharp loupe.

    Long body loupes

    Some loupes came with a provision for their own little ground glass, which would slide onto or screw to the bottom side. Turn that ground glass toward you, and you can actually focus on the scene in front of you, which basically serves as a quick preview viewfinder. Provided that you’re shooting with about a ‘normal focal length’ lens, this can aid you in selecting a good spot to set up the camera. It’s a bit of a gimmick, as the image is small and not easy to see, but it’s the nifty thought that counts. Seeing the first loupe with such attachment is what gave me the idea of making a series of images by using loupes as lenses.

    Loupes with viewfinder attachments

    Loupes are among the smallest of objects in a large format photographer’s bag, but it’s also pretty handy to always have it by your side without fear of losing it. Hence the old solution of putting a neck strap on whatever you need rapid access to. Surprisingly, not a lot of loupes actually came with neck strap provisions, and in those that did the string, the loop is often missing.

    Neck strap loops

    Vintage focusing loupes are hard to find in general, and so to come upon them with original carrying cases is a great treat. Only about 10% of my collection have original cases, and below are a few examples. Some were supplied in Moroccan leather cases akin to those for Waterhouse stops cases, others made paper or pressed board boxes. At some point in time, TT&H chose to make their cases from thin wood veneers. Some cases were hard and lined with velvet in a formed shape, while others were but a suede satchel. Limpet loupes, which originally had both a rubber end and a circular ground glass that could be inserted into that rubber, came in a thin tin canister.

    Various original cases

    Being worried about losing one of the vintage ones, in the field I use a Nikon 7x and in my studio, my go-to is this Sima, made in West Germany back when there was such a country. Both of them are exceptionally sharp, though some of the better antique examples aren’t far off quality-wise either. In the past, I’ve tried a few Peak and Wista loupes, and they were very well made. I assume Horseman wouldn’t have made a bad loupe, but I never did hold one in hand.

    More modern loupes

    I think this just about covers most all loupe variants I came across. For the sake of those who are just learning, I feel I should add a brief word of caution. In the past few years, interest in loupes seems to have grown tenfold. Not sure if this is due to some great influx of large format photographers with poor eyesight, or maybe the fact that over that time every once in a while I would put out open calls for them on social media. Either way, prices have tripled if not more, though some sellers actually don’t try and gouge and keep things at reasonable prices.

    In the latest development, careless sellers are misbranding things that aren’t loupes at all, whether knowingly or not. For example, it’s relatively easy to see that a toy magic lantern lens isn’t a loupe, but with just a bit of an imagination stretch, their ability to focus on the needed plane of ground glass can spell dollar signs as far as sales.

    Meant for eventual destruction by playful and maybe less than attentive children, these objects are cheaply made of very thin metal, with simple glass being held in place by a spring. They do happen to focus on the ground glass but aren’t lockable and the image is much poorer than in good examples of actual ground glass loupes.

    Microscope eyepieces also sometimes happen to focus just in the right plane to work. I actually wrote here that I have so far not seen those sold as loupes, but right as I was editing this article, indeed one shown in a collage below appeared on eBay; it’s not brass, it’s not a loupe, and that seller should know better. A seller in France appears to have a monocular mislabeled as a loupe, and it’s been on eBay for at least a few years now. I tried multiple times to confirm whether that’s a loupe or not, but he never did answer his messages.

    Not ground glass focusing loupes

    I would like to extend a great deal of gratitude not only to the late Will Dunniway but to all those who helped my collection through the years. I couldn’t have done this in such a relatively short time without the support of dedicated loupe hunters scattered around the globe. Their selfless generosity stands in stark contrast to blind competitiveness observed elsewhere. You know who you are folks, and the world is a better place with you in it. Thank you!

    Oh, and a good collection is never finished. I wouldn’t want to give an impression that I am done hunting for examples that I don’t yet have. In fact, I ask any kind reader who thinks they may have a vintage loupe that I don’t have to contact me, and I would be glad to talk of possible purchase or trade.

    About the author: Anton Orlov is an analog photographer and the man behind The Photo Palace, a 35-foot school bus that has been converted into a darkroom and presentation area for educational and artistic purposes. He previously created a transparent camera and the world’s smallest tintypes. Visit his website for more of his work and writing. This article was also published here.

  • Sat, 08 May 2021 17:06:26 +0000

    Photos of Dancers Blending Into London Architecture

    Shapes Of The City is a project by London photographer Luke Agbaimoni that explores visual interactions between the architecture and art of London and the medium of dance and yoga.

    “It celebrates the huge variety of shapes and patterns that we experience as we travel through the city,” Agbaimoni writes.

    Each of the photos in the series features one or more people posing in a way that reflects the location, whether it’s an art piece right next to a dancer or whether it’s a massive architectural masterpiece looming large in the background.

    Twisted Delivery. Sculpture Alphabet Spaghetti at Latimer Road. “Dancer Andreya twists and makes a complimentary pose next to sculptor Alex Chinneck’s ‘alphabetti spaghetti’ knotted post box. You can find this just outside Latimer Road station.” Having a Blast. Cannon at Old Royal Navy College, Greenwich. “Andreya jumps so she looks like she’s been fired out of this 18th Century Turkish cannon at the Greenwich Old Royal Naval College.” Dance of the Commuter. Holborn Station. “Sometimes the journey to work is like a long laborious dance. Here we played with the idea of being tired and slouching on the way to work.” Crossing Lines. Piccadilly Circus Station. “There are lots of shapes to discover in the city of London. A good place to start is the London Underground where its full of interesting angles and patterns. Andreya (@andreya0820) & I attempted a visual continuation of the powerful leading lines from these tiles at Piccadilly Circus Station.” Stuck In A Loop. The London Eye. “Fun photo of the London Eye with dancer Andreya. It was difficult getting the jump exactly in the middle, but well worth the effort.” Between Kisses. Coal Drop Yards, Kings Cross. “Ballerina Romana embraces the shape of the kissing roofs of the 2 joined Victorian sheds at Coal drop yards in Kings Cross.” Pointe at Buses. Vauxhall Bus Station Dancing In Circles. The Circle, Bermondsey. “Andreya matches the diagonal balcony lines of The Circle building in Bermondsey.” Split. Bascule Bridge, Shadwell Basin

    Agbaimoni is also the photographer behind Tube Mapper, a project that aims to document all of London’s tube, overground, and DLR stations.

    You can find more of the Shapes Of the City project on its website, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • Sat, 08 May 2021 16:26:54 +0000

    5D Mark II vs 5D Mark IV: Comparing Two Legendary Canon DSLRs

    I recently wrote a review of the Canon 5D Mark IV. In it, I mentioned that before buying it, I used the 5D Mark II. The Mark II has been nothing but good to me.

    I love the camera and can’t recommend it enough to anyone who is starting out. Perhaps I would say to start off with a used 5D Mark II. The full-frame sensor is better than any cropped sensor. A medium format sensor, even from 2009, generally beats anything full-frame. It’s just how the physics of sensors is. But what would happen if I was to put two 5D models side-to-side?

    Interestingly, I don’t use a 5D Mark II for my work now, as I go with a 5D Mark IV. So could it be that me recommending the 5D Mark II is hypocritical and I should really ignore Mark II? I don’t think so. The reason, as I outlined in my review of the 5D Mark IV, is simply that it gives me more resolution, which is critical for crops and large prints that inevitably most fashion photographers deal with. A few more things like the improved autofocus and better sensor made the transition more necessary.

    That said, could I still do a shoot on a 5D Mark II? Absolutely! But how different would it be? That’s the question I want to answer in this article.

    I took a 5D Mark II and 5D Mark IV to a test shoot and tested them in two situations: beauty and fashion. To do both cameras justice, I will examine raw files that were not retouched. While retouching is where much of the magic happens, I feel it is only fair to show what the camera can do, not what a post-processing software can.


    Holding two cameras in the same hand for hours shows the 7 years of development between them. The Mark IV is better in this regard, it’s more stable to hold in your hand. When it comes to the Mark II, I am often worried about it slipping because the card slot cover is bare plastic that lacks grip. Otherwise, the cameras are essentially the same in terms of weight, dimensions, and size.

    A big edge the Mark IV holds is its locking mode dial. I’d often accidentally switch the mode on the Mark II, and it got so bad I taped the dial at one point.

    Sensor and Image Quality

    Here is where the biggest difference is, but it is important to put that difference into perspective. Having had them side by side, the difference is noticeable, but not day and night.

    The biggest for me is resolution. I crop to fit different print purposes often, so the extra ~10 megapixels (21MP vs 30.4MP) make a difference. That said, if you like to get everything perfect in-camera good, for you. My shooting style is quite quick, as most of the time, I am working with a strict timeline.

    Model: Hadisha Sovetova @hadishasovetova Hair & Makeup: Karina Jemelyjanova @karinajemelyjanova

    For ISO, I rarely used the 5D Mark II on anything beyond ISO 3200. Fashion work shot on a Mark II anything above ISO 800 isn’t usable, but it is rare to go that high. With a Mark IV, ISO 1250 is usable to some degree. As with all cameras, old or new, detail and contrast are lost.

    Sometimes a high ISO is needed when the strobe doesn’t have enough power or the location dictates it. The 5D Mark IV is noticeably better in that sense too. The sensor has a better dynamic range as well as color depth. Both sensors have similar color reproduction which is second to none. Yes, both cameras tend to shift the red to orange while giving blue a more cyan shift, but that’s just how Canon’s color science works. I found the Mark IV and II to be identical in terms of color reproduction.

    Model: Hadisha Sovetova @hadishasovetova Hair & Makeup: Karina Jemelyjanova @karinajemelyjanova


    The 5D Mark IV is packed with different features that make it a lot better than the 5D Mark II.

    The Mark IV has a touchscreen that makes navigating a lot faster and more intuitive. For photographers interested in time-lapsing, the Mark IV has a built-in intervalometer that I used to make this time-lapse of some clouds:

    The two game-changing features for me are the dual card slots and USB 3.0 connectivity. I shoot tethered most of the time, so the improved transfer speeds are always welcome. When I cant tether for some reason, I find myself using the dual slots all the time. It gives me peace of mind that my images are likely not going anywhere. With Mark II, that was a constant worry. When tethered, the Mark II is a solid camera with okay transfer speeds. It can certainly work and do a good job at it.


    A Mark II has only one usable autofocus point. You can disregard the rest because they simply miss too much. The Mark IV solves that problem, which makes shooting a lot easier. I noticed that the 5D Mark IV nails the focus a lot better. Having programmed the AF-ON button to switch to continuous focus when pressed makes the Mark IV ever so much better. Sometimes images I shoot are quite dynamic, and the AI-servo really helps in that situation.


    Price is a key factor in any camera, regardless of its features. I am proud to say that I’ve never bought a new camera. For that reason, I will give average street prices. A 5D Mark II in good condition will be around $400-$450. A Canon 5D Mark IV will be around $1,500. These prices vary dramatically from location to location. If you’re starting out, a Mark II is a great budget-friendly investment. If I were to start again now, I’d go for the Mark II and buy a decent lens with it.

    Closing Thoughts

    Does the 5D Mark IV improve over the Mark II? Yes, it does, and I’d be silly to say that they’re equal. But at the same time, I can’t say that the Mark II is so bad it’s not usable anymore. For people shooting on later models, it is a great backup camera, and for ones looking to switch to full-frame from APS-C, the Mark II is a fantastic budget-friendly option.

    About the author: Illya Ovchar is a fashion photographer based in Budapest, Hungary. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Ovchar’s work on his website.

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