Leica M9 + Noctilux f/0.95 50mm ASPH
I always shoot Noctilux wide-open at f/0.95.
For daytime outdoor shots I'd fix a 3-stop or 4-stop ND filters to allow for wide-open shots.
On M9 my in-camera setting is always "B&W JPG + DNG".
I use Lightroom for post-processing.
All my B&W photos are direct JPG outputs of Leica M9, the quality of which which have become a legend.
I seldom do much post-processing on the B&W JPG files other than some shadow recovery.
All my color photos are exported via Lightroom from DNG files.
For color photos I usually only fix the white balance and exposure. I seldom mess with other settings.
I was invited to Porto to speak at a startup workshop and a VC conference. It was my first time not only to the city, but also to the mariner country that centuries ago gave my homeland the beautiful name of "Formosa".
Though it's predominantly a business trip, I still have my Leica with me as I extended my stay to include the weekend so that I have a chance to see the city. I've been to too many beautiful medieval towns in Italy and France that I didn't expect much before the trip, despite several friends told me otherwise. I have to say that I was genuinely and surprisingly charmed.
The city is kind of large but the old town maintained its historical look very well. What separates it from other medieval cities in Europe, though, is its affinity to the main river Douro. The hilly town descends gorgeously to the river banks, where lines of bars and coffee shops provide lots of happy hours.
Across the river is an even more pleasant promenade, where warehouses of the famed port wines line up. One could enjoy a tasting menu of 5 or 6 different port wines with only 5€ or so. As the afternoon sun warmly pours over the banks, life could not be more pleasant.
The city gave birth to three architects of world fame: Alvaro Siza, Pritzker winners Souto de Moura and Rem Koolhaas. As an architecture fan I paid my dues to visit Koolhaas' Casa da Música and Siza's Museu Serralves, both easily reachable in the city, and came away in awe and fully inspired. If you're going to Porto, don't miss out either.
You can't find another city that is a better backdrop for street photography than exactly the city where street photography was born.
When I decided to move to Paris in 2012, all my then colleagues felt I was crazy. I was working at the leading company of the industry, with a good salary and access to all the opportunities in the Silicon Valley. However, it's not entirely exaggerating to say that I made the decision partly because I owned a Leica. The truth is when the headhunter rang me and the word "Paris" slipped off his tongue, a lightbulb somewhere deep in my brain went off immediately. It was just a matter of figuring out the optimal path.
As exasperating as it sometimes could be when it comes to living a daily life, Paris has exceeded all my expectation in terms of street photography.
I quickly got used to taking long walks during the weekends, from the quarter of Vavin where I live, through Jardin du Luxembourg, past either St. Sulpice or Odéon, via Rue de Seine which leads to the (once) gorgeous Pont des Arts, then upstream along the Seine River, till Île de la Cité, hurling a look over Hôtel de Ville where Robert Doisneau took that famous photo of the kiss, swirling through the tiny alleys of Île Saint-Louis, past Pont Saint-Louis and then watching the sun fall behind Notre Dame de Paris...
Paris is not only a moveable feast. It's also the decisive moment. It's in Paris that I gradually got rid off all my other photography gears and shooting habits, reducing my creative tool in a minimalistic way to only my faithful Leica M9 and the enviable Noctilux f/0.95 50mm ASPH.
No words could capture the beauty of this once city-state, despite being frequently inundated by tourists these days, despite that fewer and fewer shops and restaurants are actually owned by locals, despite that acqua alta seems to get worse every year, despite the tradition of carnevale being lost in the seas of cheap China-made replicas of the once exquisite hand-made masks...
A bit like Sicilia, what's fascinating to me about Venezia is not those seen by the eyes or captured in phots, but rather its long history the led to this current state. I got as much vibe reading Roger Crowley's "City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas" as trotting down the ancient streets of Giudecca. Only through decent understand of the root of the first country built purely on trading without land production could one agree with the inner spirit of this city.
I don't know how long Venezia could last against the tides and the exploding tourists. I do know I will keep returning to it, if only to cherish its waning grandeur...
Even if you don't speak Japanese, Tokyo will still be one of the most awe-inspiring cities you're ever gonna visit: the metro, the crowd, the food, the sky-scrappers, the sickly clean streets and the toilettes.
But if you speak the language and find a way to blend in, this gigantic metropolitan of almost 38M people connected by the metro system gives you entirely different layers of sensation, which is what I have been working to capture when I do have my Leica with me during business trips to Tokyo.
Here are some of the keywords to keep in mind when appreciating this city (and this country):
#contradiction : #矛盾
#suppression : #抑圧
#sensual : #官能
#night : #夜
#perversion : #変質
Paris to the Japanese is exactly like Kyoto to the French. In the west there might not be another country whose citizens appreciate Kyoto as much.
Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto is still foreign even if you do speak Japanese - heck! Even to Japanese outside of Kyoto, this old city of more than a 1000 years of history is also more or less foreign.
However, don't get me wrong. The city is very nice to tourists. The problem is it's also very closed to tourists. Majority of people from the outside could only scratch the surface such as taking a walk at Kiyomizu-dera or sitting down for a cup of traditionally made Maccha. One can rent an exquisite set of Kimono, dress oneself up take some selfies on the ancient streets. Etc...
But no one, I repeat, no non-Kyoto people could really go beyond the surface.
Yet, such is the amazing depth of this city that even the surface is intoxicating enough. If you've never visited Kyoto, don't say you've been to Japan before.