ZEISS Loxia 35mm f2 lens – walking around Lisbon

The Loxia line of lenses for the Sony Alpha ILCE camera system consists (so far) of two, the 35mm f2 and the 50mm f2. These lenses are manual focus, but provide electronic comunication with the cameras. Thus, manual focus aids like peaking and automatic viewfinder magnification are provided, should one desires to enable them.

I have always liked shooting with a 35mm lens, so trying out the Loxia, when it became available in Portugal, was a natural thing to do. The lens is robustely built of metal, with a typical Zeiss buttery smooth focus ring, plus the traditional aperture ring. This is a lens that combines purist tradition with modern day electronics. The design is probably borrowed from the ZM lens line, where 35mm and 50mm have always been rangefinder afficionados favourites.

With this in mind, I set off shooting for a day in the streets of Lisbon, with the lens on my Alpha 7II camera. The Loxia 35 f2 is a pleasure to shoot with, thanks to the simple operation and the manual focus aids provided by the camera. The lens performs as I was expecting, in a traditional way. It is not bitingly sharp from corner to corner wide open (for that, there is the Batis 25), but stopping down to normal street shooting apertures (say between f4 and f8), it provides plenty of sharpness, plus the typical Zeiss colour and microcontrast.

I shot various types of subjects – people on the street, buildings, details, even close-ups. The light varied from soft cloud cover to direct sun light, but the image files (RAW) came out very well, with more than enough latitude for my usual processing.

In summary, I can highly recommend this lens if you want a fast 35mm to shoot in a classical way. Below are some images from this day.

Sunrise
Sunrise
On reflection
On reflection
Old Alfama Quarter
Old Alfama Quarter
The Old Sé Church
The Old Sé Church
Shop
Shop
Old Alfama Quarter
Old Alfama Quarter
Inside the Sé Church
Inside the Sé Church
Tram
Tram
Praca do Comercio
Praca do Comercio
Old Lisbon
Old Lisbon
Autumn Colours
Autumn Colours
Crinkled
Crinkled
Street Art?
Street Art?
The Rossio Train Station
The Rossio Train Station
Selfie...
Selfie…
Selling Roasted Chestnuts
Selling Roasted Chestnuts
By the river
By the river
Abandoned
Abandoned
Lines #1
Lines #1
Lines #2
Lines #2
Old Cafe
Old Cafe

Some images from the ZEISS Batis 85 f1.8 lens

After the (excellent) Zeiss Batis 25 lens, I also managed to grab one Batis 85, thus completing my lens set. My plan is to use the Batis 25 mostly for landscapes, and the 85 for portraits. However, this first set of images from the 85 comes from spending some time on the streets of Lisbon with it. Granted, an 85mm lens is not the first thing it comes to my mind when going out on the street, but I was surprised how versatile the lens turned out to be.

In one afternoon, I shot some street portraits (of course), but I also used the lens to shoot some details inside a church, some street scenes, and some city views. The lens performed very well, responding quickly to find the focus on moving people, and not missing focus in poorly lit venues. The detail and rendering I am seeing in the files is pure Zeiss, with plenty of detail, microcontrast, and colour fidelity.

Below, are some images that came out of this first session. These were shot on the A7II, using aperture priority, which is my default shooting mode.

ET
ET
On the bench
On the bench
Autumn colours
Autumn colours
Waiting
Waiting
Street car art
Street car art
Who's calling?
Who’s calling?
Lady
Lady
In support
In support
From up here
From up here
Square
Square
Castle
Castle
Choice
Choice
Smoke
Smoke

Kuala Lumpur – photos from a short visit

I recently visited Kuala Lumpur on a business trip. As with all my trips, I always carry a small camera to take some travel photos. Particularly when it is the first time that I visit a particular place, as was the case. It is a 12 hour+ travelling time from Portugal, where I live, so when I landed at around 3pm local time, with a 7 hour time difference, I was pretty knackered!

Of course to take photos outside of business hours involves waking up early and staying out late, and walk, and shoot a lot, on the street. Let me tell you that KL in late October means rainy season, high humidity, strong showers, and nice temperature (around 30 Celsius). The good news is that there are plenty of photographic opportunities even if you don’t have much free time; the bad news is that during my visit, the atmosphere was hazy due to fires in Indonesia, so I hardly saw the sun.

Anyway, the best way to know a new place is to simple walk around, so that is what I did. Friendly people everywhere, street food stalls with a lot of tasty foods, modern shopping malls and interesting architecture (both old and new), there are many things to see and visit.

To tackle all of this, I took a highly competent little camera with me, the Canon Powershot G7X. It packs a lot of power and image quality potential, with a relatively large (for a compact that is) 1 inch sensor, a bright 24-100mm lens, and a touch screen. I spent all the time in aperture priority mode, auto-iso, and touch focus on screen. The image stabilization helped immensely when the light levels were low. All in all, a great little camera for travel. Of course I shoot RAW all the time, to get the most bits from my bucks.

In the end, after 5 days in KL, I came away with some photos that I am happy with, and that is the most important thing.

Tasty food
Tasty food
High end
High end
Towers
Towers
Heavy rain
Heavy rain
Old & new
Old & new
Old & new
Old & new
At night
At night
At night
At night
Rapid KL
Rapid KL
Resting
Resting
Reflections
Reflections
In a nutshell
In a nutshell

Almograve beach summer sunrise

Today I just to post some images I made recently in a place that I love: Almograve beach, in Portugal’s southwest coast. I have known this region for almost 40 years, but it always seems new and fresh to me. When I was a kid, I used to dive from some of these rocks. Today, that is not possible during the summer, because the life-guards will not allow it.

The rocks have been eroded for sure, but at our human scale and time frame, we cannot spot the difference. What we can appreciate is the change in the beach profile, which changes every year, as the sands are shifted along the shore. This year is one of high sand content, and many rocks are buried under it.

One morning, very early, even before sunrise, I went out to photograph the beach at low tide. This is in August, so one has to go really early to catch the best light, and to avoid the high number of people that flock to the beach. The weather was cloudy, which is good for photography, but bad for beach goers… Lucky me, I managed to get some nice images, with interesting sky and clouds.

almograve_9_8_15_5_bw_net

almograve_9_8_15_3_net

 

Low tide and sunrise
Low tide and sunrise

Early morning fields

Portugal’s Southwest is home to some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere, many of them still in pristine condition. Justifiably, that is where most people end up spending their time, hopping from beach to beach. However, just a few kilometres inland, it is possible to find many small farms, where life still goes on at a leisurely place. Actually, it is this dichotomy of land and sea that makes one of the fundamental characters of the region, underpinning its classification as a Natural Park.

One of the various interesting subjects to shoot while visiting the region are the typical hay bales that cover the fields. At sunrise and sunset the light is best for these landscape shots, as the light changes from soft pastel tones (just before sunrise) to more strong side lighting, leading to long shadows.

Below are some photos from a recent shoot at sunrise. Of course, during the summer, this means getting up very early, but it is well worth the effort. These photos were shot with 20mm and 90mm lenses; the wide angle provides more sweeping vistas, but the tele allows the isolation of some interesting parts of the landscape.

cercal_26_7_15_10_net

cercal_26_7_15_9_net

cercal_26_7_15_7_net

cercal_26_7_15_5_net

 

Old and new
Old and new

 

The Mutrah Souk in Muscat, Oman

The Mutrah souk in Muscat is one of the mandatory places to go for visitors. It is a very traditional place, with various shops lining the narrow alleyways. It is actually quite small, but still one can feel “lost” inside, due to the narrowness of the streets, and the ambience inside: traditional fares like incense and spices are available, as well as all other types of products. Be sure to visit one of the juice stands for a really good natural fruit juice, or the more traditional teas and samosas.

Less known to visitors are the streets located just a stone throw’s away from the more commercial streets; in here it is possible to find busy men unloading merchandise for their shops, and traditionally decorated wood and steel doors. Away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial activity, I was able to concentrate on capturing some of the “flavour” of the souk, the details that often go unnoticed.

In this regard, the Sony A7II and Zeiss C Sonnar f1.5 50mm lens are a wonderful combination, for this more contemplative type of photography. Having visited this place so many times before, this time I wanted to obtain some different results, other than the more “normal” shots inside the souk proper.

muscat_29_3_15_46_net muscat_29_3_15_3_net muscat_29_3_15_6_net muscat_29_3_15_8_net muscat_29_3_15_13_net muscat_29_3_15_16_bw_net muscat_29_3_15_17_bw_net muscat_29_3_15_19_net muscat_29_3_15_22_net muscat_29_3_15_24_bw_net muscat_29_3_15_26_net muscat_29_3_15_27_bw_net muscat_29_3_15_29_net muscat_29_3_15_30_net muscat_29_3_15_35_net muscat_29_3_15_36_bw_net muscat_29_3_15_42_bw_net

The Vasco da Gama Bridge, Lisbon

The Vasco da Gama Bridge, inaugurated in 1998 for the Lisbon Expo, is one of the places to visit and photograph in Lisbon; preferably at dawn, when the light is more interesting. There are several photographic opportunities, from the typical wide angle shots that include the bridge and the river, to the more unusual viewpoints, such as right underneath it.

So pack a tripod and your wide angle lens, and explore the area, as there are many more interesting structures to photograph. These shots were taken with the Canon EOS 6D and the EF 16-35 f4 L lens.

lisboa_6_3_15_6_net lisboa_6_3_15_9_net lisboa_6_3_15_15_bw_net lisboa_6_3_15_18_net lisboa_6_3_15_17_net lisboa_6_3_15_16_net

Photos from Odemira – Sony A7II and ZEISS C Sonnar f1.5 50mm ZM

These are some photos I took recently in the town of Odemira, in South Portugal’s Alentejo province. The name of the town comes from combining “Oued” (from the Arabic Wadi) and “Mira” (name of the river). This town is located about 20 km from the coast, inside the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. As such, it is very close to some of the best beaches in Portugal, but it has a rural and interior feel to it.

Unfortunately, as many interior towns and villages, the younger population has migrated to the large centers, in search of better opportunities. This leaves behind an aging population, plus some houses going to ruins. But Odemira still preserves a charm and character of its own, with the gentle rolling hills, and a life style that takes its own leisurely pace. There are also some local industries and associations that try to preserve old ways of life and traditions, in areas such as tapestry, pottery, and farming.

In this occasion, I visited the town in the morning, just walking the streets and going to the local market (I actually wanted to buy some fruits and vegetables!). The Sony A7II and ZEISS C Sonnar f1.5 50mm ZM lens continue to impress me very favourably as a documentary and travelling photographic tool. It is really liberating just using the basic photographic controls: set aperture priority, choose the aperture according to the shot (lens ring), focus manually (lens ring), and shoot.

odemira_28_2_15_22_bw_net odemira_28_2_15_21_bw_net odemira_28_2_15_18_net odemira_28_2_15_17_bw_net odemira_28_2_15_15_bw_net odemira_28_2_15_14_bw_net odemira_28_2_15_12_net odemira_28_2_15_10_net odemira_28_2_15_8_bw_net odemira_28_2_15_4_bw_net odemira_28_2_15_23_net

The Grand Mosque of Muscat, Oman

The Grand Mosque in Muscat (Oman) is one of the “must see” spots of the city. The best times to photograph are at dawn and dusk, but these do not overlap with public visiting hours (8 – 11 am). So, when the light is more interesting, you are limited to take photos from the outside; this is still interesting, and makes for some nice photographs.

To photograph the interior of the Mosque, as well as its environs (gardens and surrounding complex), it is better to arrive at 8 am, to still have some interesting light (during winter), and avoid the crowds. Inside the Mosque, there is a pathway that you must follow, but still, some interesting photos can be taken. Also worth documenting are the various archways (which provide interesting viewpoints) and the several styles of ceramic tiles. It makes for a very interesting learning and photographic experience. A wide angle lens, or wide angle zoom, is recommended to photograph the Mosque.

At the end of the day, you can then relax and unwind in the beach front of the city, even trying your luck at football!

muscat_26_1_15_10_net muscat_27_1_15_4_net muscat_27_1_15_14_net muscat_27_1_15_19_net muscat_27_1_15_25_bw_net muscat_28_1_15_16_bw_net muscat_28_1_15_25_net muscat_28_1_15_41_bw_net muscat_28_1_15_34_net

Some photos from Muscat, Oman

Any trip to Muscat is incomplete without a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This is one of the (many) highlights of Muscat, and even more so if you enjoy photography. Having lived in Muscat for a few years, whenever I return, I always try to include a short incursion to the area, to photograph the mosque around sunset time. Of course it is possible to visit the mosque interior and surrounding grounds, which are very beautiful too. This time around, I did not had the time to do so.

This is the time when the lights in the dome and the minarets come on, which make a nice combination with the remaining natural light. The gardens and the mountain make for a scenic foreground and background, respectively. Using a small travel tripod makes it easy to shoot the longer exposures required.

I also include some photos from other small trips I was able to make during this visit, from the areas around Mutrah Corniche, and the beaches of Barr Al Jissah hotel complex.

muscat_17_10_14_15_net muscat_17_10_14_14_net muscat_14_10_14_11_net muscat_14_10_14_10_net muscat_14_10_14_9_net jissah_19_10_14_11_net jissah_19_10_14_6_net