Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still Loving The X2!

For its size, the Leica X2 is an absolutely stunning performer. Now, six months after getting mine, I'm still loving it! The photo quality rivals and, in some instances, exceeds that of my best cameras, including the M9! The vibrant color and sharpness of the images right out of the camera is still so uncanny. The RAW files just seem to have a ton of dynamic range!
The X2 has also been a real winner on family trips and vacations - lugging the Canon 5D mkII and lenses across the Pacific was a pain-in-the-ass due to its bulk and weight so it was a great relief to just take the X2 the second time around!

This is my X2 decked out with the Rainbow Imaging half case, filter adapter tube and hood:

My previous X2 article can be found here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Just a little piece I've been working on for a while. Click for a larger image...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Leica M9

Okay, I admit it, I was driven to check out the Leica digital rangefinder cameras because of the great time I've been having and the excellent photos I've been taking with their little X2 point-and-shoot! (See my X2 review if you'd like.)

The rangefinder paradigm is admittedly not for everybody but if you ever fell in love with shooting 35mm film on a Contax or a Zeiss Ikon, the M9 might be just the perfect digital camera for you!

The body is solid and the build quality is unequaled. A perfect fit in the hand with just the right amount of heft, it's great to know that highly engineered objects of this kind of precision and quality are still being made! You'd be hard pressed to find any plastic on this camera! Let me just get this out of the way now: The Leica does indeed cost a bundle but is worth every penny. Also, for what it's worth, the new M-E version is $1500 cheaper than the M9 though it is, for all intents and purposes, identical. Used M9s are even better deals, especially if you find one with a low shutter count.

I shot Canon gear for years and finally, after some considerable time hands-on with Leica rangefinders, I've completely liquidated my 5DmkII and a bunch of Canon "L" lenses. The M9, a spare battery and three lenses all fit in a tiny camera bag that only weighs a few pounds! Compared to the bag I used to lug my DSLR and lenses around in, this is practically effortless, plus it's much more discrete to carry as well as shoot. The compactness of the M9 is unrivaled. People don't react in the same way to the M9 as they did to my huge DLSR - they're more relaxed and comfortable. This thing just doesn't look that imposing. ;)

The Leica M lenses are simply phenomenal! They're extremely sharp, even in the extreme corners (where my Canon L glass didn't fare so well). These lenses are sharp and contrasty even when shot at wide open apertures and that even applies to the wide-angle lenses! The 50mm Summicron and 35mm Summilux have been excellent partners for this camera, though my favorite is the 21mm ultra-wide Elmarit as it's helped me to capture stunning landscapes and seascapes in contrast and clarity I could only dream of before.

The CCD sensor in the M9 and the new M-E buck the CMOS trend of most modern digital cameras and certainly affords the Leica a unique image signature that is absolutely lovely. Overall, I've found it to be very film-like. From my own experience, I've noticed that the M9's files require much less post-processing than my Canons or any of my other cameras.

If size and image quality are paramount, and you like the rather considered process of using a rangefinder with a manual focus lens, then maybe the Leica M9 or M-E is a good fit for you. It's certainly worth trying as it is so radically different to a DSLR. Though a good photographer can take a great picture with just about any camera, a superb one like this certainly makes it a lot easier to get the results and consistency I want.

Rent one, see if you like it, and if you do, save up and buy a used one from a reputable dealer like I did. :)

I've attached a few images below - click on them for larger versions:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012


Mourning comes upon me here
For all these dreams have faded
I've spent too long within this form
With all my senses jaded
Because your flesh is Sun
I touched your face with mine
Felt tears of flight and fun
Cradled there outside of time
This rough beast of light
Takes every breath despite
The measuring of night
With the short days of its life
Behind this cold museum
Under this persistent rain
I'm waiting in my cardboard ruin
For the show to start again

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Roland Kuit's Awsome "Laboratory Of Patching" - an Illustrated Compendium of Modular Synthesis

Perhaps you remember my earlier post about his Soundlab II book and patch compilation. Suffice to say Roland Kuit has done it again!

Sometimes I think I'm a bit of a completest or perfectionist but I've got nothing on Roland! :)
The Laboratory of Patching can be described as sort of a superset of his earlier work but is much more than that. The book comes bundled with the Nord Modular G2 demo so you can experience all of the included patches and tutorials with your own ears as well as fully interact with them yourself.

This is one of the most thorough and in-depth collection of instructions and tutorials of modular synthesis it has ever been my pleasure to experience. Some of my favorite areas are the investigations of off-the-beaten-track synthesis methods like Additive, Formant, VOSIM, Physical Modelling, Wave Terrain and Granular, just to name a few.

The basic sections start with simple building blocks and take you all the way to constructing replicas of famous synthesizers like the Korg MS-20 and Arp 2600. But that is just for starters! From there you move through a myriad of synthesis methods and audio processing that touch on areas as diverse as Techno/House music, extreme Experimental music and the history of sound synthesis itself.  There is also a wealth of info on external signal processing and manipulation of existing audio.

By all means, please check out Roland's page for a complete explanation of what's on offer in this massive cornucopia of information and sound. It's hard to convey the vast amount of information, audio examples and first-hand-experience included in a package like this. It is truly astounding!

Link: The Laboratory Of Patching

Discounts are available for Soundlab I & II users as well as College and University students.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The new Leica M really brings out the haters...

Wow! There's a lot of prejudging going on regarding the newly announced Leica M camera. People seem seriously obsessed about the cost at the expense of their own rationality.

I've extensively shot a Canon 5DmkII as well as a Leica M9. Rangefinder focusing is admittedly not for everyone but I can certainly say at low-to-moderate ISOs the photographic quality of the M9 easily exceeds the 5DmkII. The Leica glass is simply phenomenal! Canon has nothing even remotely close to Leica lens quality, especially on the wide end. I'm very eager to see RAW results from the new M's sensor.

Is $7K a reasonable price for a camera? Given the resulting image quality, the insane build quality and the compactness of the M9, certainly I think so.

The disdain some folks have for Leica and its users borders on pathology. I'm a decent photographer who takes great pride in my work and having people dismiss me as a "dupe" or fool simply because one of my cameras is rather expensive is idiotic in the extreme.

A rangefinder camera doesn't make sense for *every* shooting situation but for the ones it does, it excels!

Am I rich? No.
Did I have to sell a ton of gear and save up to afford the M9? Yes.
Was I duped into buying for "fashion" or "glamour" reasons? Not on your life.
Is the quality of the output everything I hoped for? Damn right!

These people commenting on the new release actually need to *try* an M.

Some of the hubbub can be sampled here:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Leica M8 and Old Trains at 35mm

We took an excursion today out near Snoqualmie.with my M8 and Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon. The weather actually held out and we avoided the rain!

Click for a larger view:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Ship Of Dreams

Hours upon hours spent traveling in the VW, sitting next to my dad, we drove the back roads of Washington and persistently persuaded Mother Earth to offer up her hidden mineral delights. Carnelian agate, thunder eggs, obsidian, jasper, garnet, fossils and even chunks of jade. My dad is absent this year but the stones remain.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Leica X2

I had been looking for a fun/elegant/simple camera for when I didn't feel the love of lugging my large and heavy DSLR kit around. The decision finally came down to a choice between the Leica X2 and the Fuji X100. I chose the X2 for the color balance, image sharpness and overall quality build...I wasn't really convinced by the X100.

A fixed lens combined with simple, elegant aperture and shutter speed controls make for an engaging and compelling connection with the photo-making process reminiscent of a 35mm film camera.

Having used it for almost a week now, I'm honestly blown away by the quality of the experience...and the pictures! The images require almost no post-processing at all. Gorgeous right out of the camera!

Please click on the images for larger views:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Roland Kuit's "Soundlab II" is stunning!


Another amazing offering from Roland Kuit.

Roland has probably taught me more about sound synthesis than just about anybody! Back in the day, I used to spend hours deciphering the patches he made for the original Nord Modular synth. Years later, and not much has changed. Roland has been sharpening his genius programming skills and is now offering a mind-blowing package of innumerable patches that open for listening with a single click in the included Nord Modular demo software.

 I've been slowly working my way through these beautiful aural constructs and am enthralled again as I was a decade ago, inspired to create fabulous monstrosities of my own! Equal parts tutorial, demonstration and resource, Roland's Soundlab II is a fantastic project.

 Highly recommended even if, like myself, you don't have a Nord Modular G2. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


My Universe is a sentient thing. (Though, not by any definition, a deity). It just is what it is, something like a "mind", though this mind is beyond ours, contains ours and is contained by ours in a fractal embedding/repetition. So-called "religious experiences" of universal oneness or equivalence (or even more mundane epiphanies) are merely junctures when these fractal curls of Mind momentarily align and the illusory mind/self we cling to is temporarily eclipsed.

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