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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in Leica (7)

Saturday
Mar112017

Life and Lecia - an analogy

Like me, my Leica camera is well worn! It shows the scuffs and scars of everyday life.

However, it has kept its sharpness over the years. I, on the other hand, have tried to soften some of my edges as I grow older - it is a work in progress. It takes thought and deliberate intention. I am grateful for life. And yes, I am grateful for my Leica. It slows me down. I have to think about light, shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. Every shot is deliberate, it is composed, considered.

This is not an action camera. It is a tool that invites reflection. When the picture is taken it has a story - some moments in history, accumulated experiences captured in time.

Why the return to my camera in recent months? Well, for the past three years I have been working on a big research project - a second PhD. It has been a wonderful journey! I have learnt so much. However, for those who have ever undertaken such a task you will now that hardly a moment goes by where you do not feel guilty that you are not reading, thinking, and writing. Such a project is started with an end in mind - it is teleological. The end invites action in the present. That can create pressure.

My PhD is done. The manuscript was completed and sent to my promoters at Radoubd University. I am not awaiting feedback from one of them (I already had feedback and the final 'sign off' from one). Once that is done the manuscript will be prepared for examination and defence in Holland.

So, that pressure has lifted. It has given me a bit of a psychological 'margin' - some space to think, to reflect, and to pick up my camera again without feeling guilty! It is a gift. 

I hope to post pictures here from time to time. However, you can follow me on Instagram - @digitaldion to see almost daily pictures under the hashtag #Leica365 

Friday
Jul222011

Leica 365 - a Photo a day with my Leica M8 camera

I love my Leica M8 camera! It has such a tactile photographic experience - all manual! It reminds me a bit of famous John's Pizzeria in New York (I ate at the Times Square pizzeria with my friend Steve Johnstone from Unashamedly Ethical recently. John's Pizzeria does traditional pizza pies - no slices, no delivery, no credit cards! It was awesome Pizza!)

My M8 feels a bit like that! No autofocus, a fixed focal length, not even a built in flash on the camera. But boy, oh boy, the images that come from the camera are so beautiful! And Incan't take much credit for the photos. There is something about the Leica design, the Kodak sensor and that German glass that makes it beautiful. I love the feeling of raising the camera to my eye, framing the shot, setting the aperture, the ISO and shutter speed and then lining up the two images in the rangefinder until I get perfect focus!

In order to improve my photography I have decided to take a photo a day with this camera and this lens. You can follow those posts on my tumblr blog at http://digitaldion.tumblr.com

Wednesday
Jul202011

Cleaning dirt from the sensor of a Leica M8

I am loving my Leica! It goes everywhere with me (just in case I spot something that I can photograph).

Recently I noticed that I had a few small blemishes, and what looked like a hair, on all of my photographs. Take a look at the top left corner of this image that I took of Table Mountain in Cape Town from Robben Island (the blemishes are particularly visible when I have my Color Skopar lens on a high F stop - this photo was taken on F22).

Table Mountain dirty sensor.jpg

I removed the lens and cleaned it just in case the dirt was on the lens itself. However, that made no difference. So after a little bit of investigation online I discovered that the M series cameras are prone to getting dirt on the sensor when not treated carefully. If you remove the lens in a dusty or dirty environment it is quite easy to get dirt onto the sensor.

Personally I never open my camera in a windy or dusty environment, and if I remove the lens I always put the lens cover on both ends of the lens and on the camera.

So, here's how I CAREFULLY cleaned the dirt off my Leica sensor (WARNING! This is a very delicate procedure and you do it at your own risk! The sensor is a precision piece of kit and is extremely fragile and easy to damage).

1. Purchase dust removal spray from your camera shop. Note, it should be just plain air - Don't use anything that has a solvent in it! It is also important that you test the can to ensure that only room temperature air comes out when you spray it (if the air is moist, or too cold it will leave droplets on the sensor that will damage it).

IMG_4806.jpg

2. Remove the lens from your camera in a dust free environment. Please the lens caps on the end of your lens to protect it.

IMG_4810.jpg

3. Press the Menu button on your Leica and scroll down to the Menu item 'Sensor cleaning'.

IMG_4808.jpg

4. Press the 'Set' button and you will be asked if you want to inspect the sensor. Select 'Yes'.

IMG_4812.jpg

5. If your battery has sufficient charge in it (I would suggest at least 60% charge) you will be presented with a Menu screen that reads: 'Press Release Button. After inspection switch off camera'. If your battery is not full enough the camera will not allow you to inspect the sensor and you will have to charge the battery first.

IMG_4816.jpg

6. Next press the shutter button as if you're taking a photograph. The shutter will now open revealing the M8's sensor. Whatever you do, don't allow anything to touch the sensor!!! You have been warned! Next take your dust removal spray and hold it a good distance away from the camera (in my case I held it about 50cm away from the camera). Then gently spray room temperature air onto the sensor to remove any dust or residue from the sensor. Remember, you're doing this at your own risk! I my case I could see the hair on the sensor and as I sprayed it with the air the hair and some dust particles were removed from the sensor.

IMG_4818.jpg

Warning! I discovered that you MUST NOT shake the aerosol can or even move it too quickly before or during the spraying process. Since it contains compressed air it gets extremely cold if you shake or move it too vigorously. That could be disastrous! It could leave droplets on your sensor. I also first sprayed the air onto my hand to feel that it was not too cold and make sure that any moisture was sprayed away before I sprayed into the camera body.

7. Having removed the grit from the sensor simply switch the camera off and you will hear the shutter closing. Next replace your lens. I then took some test photographs using a high aperture (F22) setting. It is best if the photograph is of something with a consistent texture and a light color (I actually photographed the back of a beige door). This will allow you to see any blemishes that remain on the image. I was able to see that small hair and the majority of the dust particles on my sensor had been cleaned with the air!

So, that's how I cleaned my sensor on my Leica M8 - now I can continue to take lovely photographs without having to photoshop out blemishes! Once again, this is a very delicate procedure that you do at your own risk! However, if you do have success (or failure!) please drop me a line and let me know how it goes!
Sunday
Jul172011

Making memories ice-cream at Strand beach (Leica M8, 50mm Voigtlander Color Skopar)

First we have Liam eating his ice-cream - that's the way it should be eaten! Face full of chocolate!

Next it is my beautiful wife Megan and our special little girl Courtney. If you look carefully you can see that Megan is standing on her 'tip-toes' to try and look taller than Courts! Ha ha! Beautiful!

Last up is Courts and I. Megan took this photograph - she is so great with the rangefinder focus on the Leica M8.

I just love the way this camera and lens give 'warm' colours. The bokeh in the background is fantastic when compared to the sharpness of the in focus scenes. Beautiful. Taking pictures with this camera is fun! Tweaking the aperture, changing the shutter speed and ISO to see how each shot differs. I love it! I have noticed a 'hair' on my pictures (top left corner when shooting at higher F stops). I need to get the camera cleaned.

Saturday
Jul162011

The start of a love affair - Leica M8

Love is a wonderful thing! Of course this is not truly a love affair, but I think it comes pretty close!

On Thursday the 14th of July 2011 a package arrived from Gauteng Johannesburg.  It had been sent by a Dutch Reformed Pastor.  The package contained a Leica M8 digital camera and a Voigtlander 50mm Color Skopar lens. I was so excited to open the package! And, my excitement was surpassed with joy with what I found.  My very own Leica rangefinder camera! My camera came with the hand grip base plate. It is such a beauty! See the image below.

The Leica camera is a thing of great beauty.  It is carefuly hand crafted from a solid piece of metal.  Unlike the Nikons, Canons and Sony cameras it has no automatic functions. Yet, it is one of the most sought after cameras in the world.

I had to sell my brand new Apple Macbook Air, a secondhand Sony Vaio laptop and my almost new Leica D Lux 5 digital camera (with electronic viewfinder and leather case) to fund the purchase.  It was worth every cent!

The M8 makes you want to take photographs.  It is heavy in your hand and feels absolutely solid.  The rangefinder is amazingly simple to operate. And, once you get the hang of aperture and shutter speed you can take beautiful pictures.  The Leica has a very distinctive picture style - the Voigtlander 50mm Color Skopar lens just adds to that refinded beauty.  The pictures are full of colour, super sharp and have a certain kind of warmth to them.  It is strange to try and explain it.  Take a look at this photograph of my son, Liam, as an example.

Here is a picture of my daughter Courtney and I.

The rangefinder takes a little getting used to.  Unlike a DSLR camera one looks through the viewfinder and there are 2 differences.  First, what you see in the viewfinder is not what you see through the lens.  There are framing lines (related to your lens) that help you to frame your shot.  However, you can see what is outside of your frame as well.  That helps to see what is coming into your shot in case you need to adjust your framing for a better picture.  Secondly, the rangefinder has a small 'patch' in the center of the picuture as you adjust the focus on the lens two pictures in that patch need to line up perfectly in order for the picture to be in focus.  This makes it super fast for focusing on any object within your depth of field.  Simply focuss on a distant object to have that in focus and foreground out of focuss, or focuss on a closer object to have that in focus and the background out of focus.  It is super accurate, and once you get the hang of it you can get quite quick at focussing the camera just by judging how far your subject is from the lens and 'pre focusing' the camera as you lift it to your eye.  

Of course manual focus does mean that the quality of your image is dependent on your skill!  I have a Nikon D50 which can take lovely pictures without any effort. Just point it in the direction of the object you want to film and the camera does the rest.  While that can be quick it does take some of the fun out of photography.  Plus, if the camera decides to focus on the wrong point you have to do some 'trickery' to get your focal point corrected within the frame.

Lastly, the Leica is just so beautifullly made.  It is solid, heavy and has a feeling of absolute quality. A classic style icon - just see how lovely that 'Red Dot' looks!  This photo was taken using my iPhone 4 camera and adjusted using instagram's 'tilt shift' function to higlight the Leica logo.

This is a classic camera.  It doesn't do video.  It can shoot in JPG and Raw (DNG) format. My 11 year old daughter and wife have already mastered some of the manual controls.

Does anyone else out there have a Leica camera?  I know there are quite a few film camears, but how about anyone with an M8 or M9? I'd love to hear from you and hear about your experiences, tips and tricks, and any advice you may have for shooting with the M8 and carng for it.

 

Monday
May232011

Beautiful, inspiring, well worth watching

Henri Cartier-Bresson – The Decisive Moment video

Cartier-Bresson achieved international recognition for his coverage of Gandhi’s funeral in India in 1948 and the last (1949) stage of the Chinese Civil War. He covered the last six months of the Kuomintang administration and the first six months of the Maoist People’s Republic. He also photographed the last surviving Imperial eunuchs in Beijing, as the city was falling to the communists. From China, he went on to Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), where he documented the gaining of independence from the Dutch. Photograph of Alberto Giacometti by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Read more on LeicaRumors.com

 

HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON - Decisive Moment, The from bt465 on Vimeo.

From Leicabuzz

Wednesday
May182011

My Leica D-Lux 5 camera (and the Leica lens)

I am not a good photographer! Megan is far better than I am.  She has a real eye for composition.  She also knows how to use her Olympus Digital SLR (it is a micro cour thirds camera).

However, since I travel quite a bit and get see some pretty amazing stuff I love taking photos.  But, as I mention above I need all the help I can get. After receiving a gift on a reacent trip I bought myself a Leica D-Lux 5 camera at the duty free in Hong Kong.  It was much cheaper than buying it in South Africa (even after I declared it at customs upon entry).

This is what my Leica looks like.

It is a classic looking camera (particularly when it is in the brown leather case).  It takes incredible pictures, even in the lowest light conditions.  In fact I hardly ever use the flash! The Leica lens is what makes all the difference with this baby (oh, and I believe the sensor is also pretty good). Even on auto mode it takes amazing pictures.

Truthfully, the best camera you have is the one that you have with you. I could have bought a similar camera to Megie's. But in truth I would never travel with a camera bag with lenses etc.  The Leica is about a large as I would go.  

Let me just add that the iPhone 4 has one of the very best camera's I have ever used.  It is super fast, takes great quality pictures.  But it doesn't compare to the Leica.

As I mentioned it is the Leica Lens technology that makes all the difference. Take a look at this cross section of a Leica Lens and the text below from BoingBoing.

Hefting and peering through a high-end camera lens, you get a sense of the craft, the precision engineering, and the thoughtful design that went into it. But look at it in cross-section, as with this photo a neatly bisected Leica Tri-Elmar-M 28-35-50mm lens and the hellish, gorgeous complexity is revealed in a visceral way: "These were actually made by Leica students as a graduation project and boxed as a 'cutaway model' of the lens."

Cross Section Views of Leica Lenses (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Of course my Leica doesn't have a lens quite like this  one! But, the lens it does have is pretty super regardless!