Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART Lens

No matter what job I am on, I always have a fast 35mm lens with me. If I have two bodies, one wears a 35mm all the time. For around eight years I used a Canon 35/1.4L, but it was nearing the end of it's natural lifespan and I dropped it again, so it needed to be replaced. (It literally had Crazy Glue holding parts on, but it worked fine.)
A couple of days before I had been out with a Reuters news photographer who was raving about the Sigma 50/1.4 ART. I checked out the reviews for the Sigma 35/1.4 and bought it the same day.
This lens is at least as good as the Canon, and maybe better. The corners are pretty much perfect wide open, as long as there is sufficient exposure. Color, contrast, everything. It's an amazing lens at two thirds the cost of the Canon.
The only downside is that the lens hood sticks and it seems permanently welded to my lens until I can take it in for service.
Sigma is doing an amazing job of picking off the Canon Holy-Grail lenses. Once they release an 85/1.2 they will grab a big chunk of the fast glass market.
I now use this lens, with the Canon 85L and 135L for about 80% of my commissioned kids work. The 24L and 70-200 2.8 IS gets the rest.
More samples from this lens here and here.



Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens


Lomography Petzval

I made a rare impulse buy in the lens department recently and grabbed the new Lomography Petzval Art Lens. This is a fully manual brass lens based on a 1840s design. The look of the images is completely unique, with the sharp center of the image and swirling out of focus backgrounds. Not for everyone I imagine, but as I like to shoot wide open, I thought it was worth exploring.

The lens itself seems incredibly well made. It's a beautiful 'thing', solid brass. For around $500 it seems like a bargain.

The packaging is impressive, they should have moved some of those resources into better design of all the elements IMO. First off, the lens cap is too big and doesn't stay on. The beautiful leather bag doesn't really make sense as it isn't easy to get the lens into, especially in the field. The waterhouse stops are not secure and fall out if you tilt the lens. But, the lens itself is beautiful.

Here are a couple of shots with the lens. Not for everyone perhaps, but it works for my style.

Petzval
lens
Petzval



Fuji X-T1

When I first bought a digital camera in 2005 I just brought it along on shoots as a back-up in case my film camera went down. I sort of feel the same about this new generation of excellent small cameras on the market. Last year I had the Sony A7 for a while, now I have the Fuji X-T1. I am now getting to the point where I am using the Fuji for lots of projects.
For now I am still using Canon for my day to day kids photography, mainly because I have a great set of lenses. Secondly due to the ridiculously great autofocus on those DSLRS. But for almost everything else, this Fuji is the camera for me. I'm not going to go on about the specs etc, that has already been done to death. I'm just going to show a few examples from a decent variety of situations. Kids photo sessions, documentary stuff for an NGO here in Bangkok (day and night), as well as a few street images and random shots.
I can see a day soon where these small cameras are going to be all most of us need to make a living. My aching shoulders will love it.

Fuji X-T1

Fuji XT1
Fuji X-T1
Fuji X-T1
Benz Blues - Bamgkok
 

Hong Kong Street Photography 


 
XF 18mm
 
XF 18mm
For The Human Development Foundation, Thailand
 
Human Development Foundation, Bangkok
 
Fuji X-T1, ISO 2000
ตลาดลาดชะโด
 
XF 35mm f/1.4
 
Fuji X-T1
 
XF 35mm f/1.4
 
XF 35mm f/1.4


Canon 35mm f/1.4L

As a photographer I have some pet peeves for sure. One of them concerns "portrait" lenses.
For me a portrait lens is a lens I use to take a photo of a person. I have used 15mm and 200mm,  but prefer a couple of focal lengths in between those extremes.
My all time favourite is probably the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L. This is a perfect focal length for the type of environmental portraiture I do day to day. (That means showing the subject in their environment.) 35mm is just a bit wider then the eye sees, and the 1.4 aperture allows me to really blur the background as is my style (or schtick).
Which brings me to my peeve. In so many of these online photography forums you have people saying that 85mm is "the perfect portrait lens". Don't get me wrong, 85mm is one of my other go-to focal lengths, along with the 135mm. But to limit yourself to this kind of thinking hobbles your efforts before you even take a shot.
Don't worry about what others tell you to use. Use your eyes, then the gear. Don't worry about these ridiculous camera club rules.
Here are a few samples of my work with the 35L.

Canon 35L

ian taylor bangladesh
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L

battambang
Canon 35/1.4

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L


bangladesh
Canon 35L

Cambodia

Vicki's Veggies, Black Creek, Prince Edward County (Fuji XT1)

I was recently back in my hometown of Picton Ontario to help my parents move out of the house we had been in for 50 years. My friend, food stylist Ruth Gangbar, organized a fun little shoot at Vicki's Veggies, arguably the most well known farm in Prince Edward County. They grow a huge range of vegetables and specialize in heirloom tomatoes. 130 varieties!

So, here are a few shots from that afternoon. All done with the Fuji XT1 and a couple of their prime lenses. I am really liking this little camera, such a nice change from DSLRs.

the county
Vicki's Veggie, Black River

Ruth Gangbar

Ian Taylor Photography

Black Creek Cat

Vicki's Veggies, Prince Edward County

Fuji XT1

Fuji XT1



Singapore Children's Photography

I was recently back in Singapore for a great round of children's photography. Singapore is an always a great place for my style with a massive range of locations - urban, park and beach. Unlike Hong Kong, some people even have back yards!
Here are a few sample from my last trip in June 2014. You can see more from that trip here, and lots more here and here

Thanks for checking these out. If you'd like to contact me about my next trip, please just send me an email.

Singapore Children's Photography
Singapore Kids 
Singapore Children's Photography
Singapore Children's Photography

Singapore Kids Photography

Singapore Children's Photography
Singapore Kids Portraiture



Singapore Beach Photography
Singapore Children's Photography
Singapore Children's Photography

Road Trip: Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Leica M9)

I was incredibly lucky last month when a friend asked me if I'd like to make up the fourth person for a drive around the Tibetan area of West Sichuan, Province. Obviously I grabbed it. We were two Canucks, and two Chinese.
We took a couple of weeks to make a 3000 km loop starting in Chengdu. For photographers who love scenery and interesting cultures, this has to be one of the best corners of the world.
But rather than type about it, here are a few images. I have a larger gallery from this trip here.
If you'd like to check out more of my work, you can check this and/or this.

All images Leica M9 with Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses.

Leica
马尼干戈乡 Xiongba

Ganzi
སྐོར་ར M9

སྡེ་དགེ
Tibetan Woman, སྡེ་དགེ Dege

kham
Leica M9, Zeiss 25mm

Tibet
Tibetan Pilgrim

 དཀར་མཛེས་རྫོང།

Leica M9
 སྡེ་དགེ

Kham
སྐོར་ར, Ganzi
Kham, Tibet
Up to Chola Pass (5000m)

tibetan
马尼干戈乡
Tibet
 དཀར་མཛེས་རྫོང།

Zeiss 25mm
Ganzi Horse Festival 
Tibet
Zeiss 25mm

Leica
Voigtlander 75mm Heliar

Leica
Leica M9དཀར་མཛེས་བོད་རིགས་རང་སྐྱོང་ཁུལ

Tibet
Dzogchen Monastery རྫོང་ཆེན་དགོན།

Zeiss 25mm
Derge Parkhang

 Derge Sutra Printing Temple

M9
Eastern Tibet

德格
Derge Parkhang

Tibet
50mm Nokton f1.5


You Say Kolkata, I Say Calcutta: Leica M9 in India

So, I did something I had never really considered doing, I bought a Leica. A lightly used M9. After snickering at the Leica-heads for years, I now am one. I did however avoid acquiring the subsequent Leica Lens Fever that can kill savings accounts.
Instead I bought a few very reasonably priced Voigtlander lenses. This glass comes in at around 20% of what similar Leica lenses would cost. Sure, Leica lenses are the best, but these Japanese lenses are just fine for my needs. Voila, my new travel kit.
To kick the tires on my modest little rangefinder package, I went off to India for a few weeks. For the first couple of weeks I wandered aimlessly around Calcutta, shooting portraits and drinking tea. Then I headed to Jodhpur, Rajasthan to take part in conducting a workshop on travel photography. This gave me plenty of time to find out what would and would not work with the rangefinder.
Obviously I love this camera. It's amazing to use, it makes me slow down, and best of all, the files are beautiful. Warm and more 'filmy' than the Canon files I am used to. (It's the CCD sensor I'm told.)
Here are a few samples of images I made with the Leica, and my cheapo Voigtlander lenses.
You can check out a larger gallery of these recent images on my FB page and my website.

Voigtlander 75 Heliar
Leica M9, Voigtlander 75 Heliar

Voigtlander 35 Color Skopar
Leica M9, 35 Color Skopar

Voigtlander 35 Color Skopar
Leica M9, 35 Color Skopar

Voigtlander 21mm Color Skopar
Kolkata, Leica M9, 21 Color Skopar

Voigtlander 35 Color Skopar
Kolkata Rickshaw, Leica M9

35 Color Skopar
Saraswati Puja, Kolkata, Leica M9, 35 Color Skopar

Voigltander
Jodhpur, Leica M9, 50 Nokton

Voigtlander 35 Color Skopar
Kolkata Rickshaw, Leica M9, 35 Color Skopar
Kolkata, 21 Color Skopar
Kolkata Rickshaw, Leica M9

Rajasthan Photography Workshop

I am just back in Bangkok after taking part in my first photography large workshop. Hong Kong photographer Gary Tyson and I had nine participants from a bunch of countries. We congregated in Jodhpur, ("The Blue City"), and spent four days shooting in alleyways, markets and desert villages. Here are a few of my "Behind the Scenes" shots from the event.



On the last day all the participants made a slide show of their strongest images. Here are a couple of those slideshows.
Steve Pike's great B&W street photos. Steve shot with a smaller camera and fixed 35mm lens. Just to show it ain't about the gear.

 
Jodhpur India - Feb 2014 from Steven Pike on Vimeo.

And Laura Simonsen's beautiful images.

 
INDIA-Delhi Jodhpur Osian from Laura Simonsen on Vimeo.

We will be running more of these workshops. Please contact me through my website to make an inquiry. 

Mondulkiri

mondulkiri
Article on my Mondulkiri images in Thai paper "Daily News" (12/13)

When I lived in Phnom Penh from 1994 till 2000 I had a chance to see some parts of Cambodia long before the tourist hordes discovered the place. Camping at Angkor Wat, hanging out on empty beaches in Sihanoukville, or just enjoying Phnom Penh. Despite the lack of some basic things, it was still a great place to live and work.
One province I didn't get to till last year was Mondulkiri. I headed up for a week or so at the start of rainy season. It didn't disappoint. Beautiful rolling mountains, rivers and lots of great produce. I hired a local guide who is ethnic Bunong (or Pnong) and visited his village for a few days. (The last time they had seen westerners there was during UNTAC in 1992.)
Here are a few shots I took in Mondulkiri. As always, lots more on my site and FB page.

elephant
Mondulkiri

cambodia
Bunong kid, Mondulkiri

Mondulkiri
Bunong kids, Mondulkiri

Bou Sra Waterfall, Mondulkiri

mondulkiri
Tourist dresses as Bunong, Mondulkiri

Pnong man, Mondulkiri

Mondulkiri

Bunong Kids, Mondulkiri


Mondulkiri
Mondulkiri

mondulkiri
Bou Sra Waterfall, Mondulkiri


FHI 360: The Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Asia

Ian Taylor
FHI 360 shot used for international conference on HIV/AIDS in Asia..

I have had the chance to shoot a couple of shorts projects for American NGO FHI 360, one in Dhaka, Bangladesh and one in Cambodia.
As an extreme counterpoint to my day job as a kids photographer I love going back to Cambodia, where I spent six years in 1990s, to photograph people at the other end of the spectrum. All images are used by FHI 360 promote it's work in some very tough places.
Targeting family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, mainly in urban areas, I have accompanied their staff to some intense locations. Photographing junkies shooting up in the back of a busy abattoir in Old Dhaka. Trying to sneak a shot in at a Siem Reap massage parlour while the owner told me I couldn't shoot. Into a slum in Phnom Penh's north end, where a smart 24 year old girl explained how she had been working the streets since she was 13 years old. And how she and her friends smoked meth every night after work. Or shooting hijra transgendered sex workers in the public parks of Dhaka, waiting for customers.
A few shots from those projects. More on my site.


fhi360
Junkies, Old Dhaka (FHI 360)
fhi360 bangladesh
25 years a junkie, Old Dhaka

fhi360 cambodia
Waiting for methadone, Phnom Penh

fhi350
Waiting for clients, Cambodia (FHI 360)

At 24, 11 years on the streets. Phnom Penh 
FHI360 =The Tight Against HIV/AIDS in Asia
Waiting for clients on the riverside, Phnom Penh

FHi360 Bangladesh
Hijra waiting for clients, Dhaka

FHI360 Cambodia
Peer educator, Phnom Penh

Dhaka
FHI 360: The Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Asia

Hong Kong Kids Photography

Hong Kong is an awesome location for children's photography. Within 20 minutes I have amazing beaches, parks, hiking trails, colonial buildings, antique boats and urban jungles as locations. Of course they are often crowded, but that is what makes it Hong Kong.
I just shoot candidly, without lights, props or gimmicks. so this is perfect for my style.
Here are a few shots from the trip I am just wrapping up. This is just a tiny sample of some of the locations we have here.
Lots more on my site and FB page.

Hong Kong Children's Photography

Hong Kong Children's Photography


Hong Kong Children's Photography




ian taylor photography
Hong Kong Children's Photography



Sony A7

Last week I got my hands on the new Sony A7 here in Hong Kong, a week or so before it was released around the world. I'm not much of a gear-head, and haven't actually bought anything new in years, but this camera is interesting. A full frame, 24 MP mirrorless machine. Advance notices were very positive, so I grabbed one on the active HK used market. (I don't think it had even been used once.)
I just had a weekend to kick the tires a bit and check it out on a couple of jobs. I am using it with manual focus Voigtlander glass - 75/f1.8, 35/f2.5 & 21/f4. I hadn't used a manual focus camera in years, as my main gig as a kids photographer requires quick and accurate focusing, as I tend to work at wide open apertures with fast Canon primes. (e.g. 85/f1.2 & 35/f1.4)
I was surprised to find focusing extremely easy with the 'focus peaking' method, even wide open. Sure, it's not quite as fast, but almost. The major winner for me is the size and weight. The camera and 3 lenses feels like nothing, much less than some of the Canon lenses I use.
I am going to take it on the road this winter to do some travel photography, along with my Hasselblad Xpan film camera.
Here are a couple of quick samples from this weekend. I will be posting more in the near future.

Sony A7, Voigtlander Heliar 75/1.8

Sony A7, Voigtlander Heliar 75/1.8
Sony A7, Voigtlander Heliar 75/1.8

Sony A7
Sony A7, Voigtlander Heliar 75/1.8

Sony A7, Voigtlander Color-Skopar 35mm 2.5  

Canon 135mm f2

I don't use a ton of lenses, I have maybe a dozen. Of these I really rely on four or five to make my living. One of these is the Canon 135mm f2. This is an incredible tool, especially for its size. It has more or less taken over from the heavy 70-200 2.8 IS and the expensive, heavy (but incredible) 85mm/f1.2.
I bought it for travel stuff, but find myself using it for day to day portraiture as well. It focuses incredibly quickly, is ridiculously sharp and creates beautiful out of focus backgrounds when used wide open. For many of my candid portrait sessions, I use it along with the 35mm f1.4. That's enough.
Here are a few samples from this glass.

battambang
Canon 135mm f2
Canon 135mm f2



vietnam delta
Canon 135mm f2


Canon 135mm f2

Think Tank Urban Disguise

I'm not really into talking about camera bodies and lenses. It's pretty obvious what you need based on your style. I haven't bought a big ticket camera item for years.
But, I can talk about camera bags! Since my work takes me to a lot of different places with a variety or camera and lens selections, I have around 10 bags for different purposes.
One of the most useful is Think Tank Urban Disguise. This is an incredibly well designed and constructed bag. I use it for day to day shooting when I need two bodies and four or more lenses. It is also useful for big trips, as it holds an insane amount of stuff. Check out the video I did showing what I safely packed for a big road trip job last year.



Think Tank Urban Disguise 70

Battambang (ក្រុងបាត់ដំបង)

I have been hanging out in Battambang since the late 1990s when I first went up there on the train. It has always been a very old school Khmer province, with lots of rice fields and a cool main town.
In the past few years it has been overrun with the typical channeled backpackers, in town for one or two nights, clutching their Lonely Planets and going where they are told to go. I know that 99.999% of them are going thisaway, so I just go thataway. You can still see the 'real Cambodia' only a few miles from town.
I just spent a bit of time there, wandering around the countryside. Here are a few images I took. You can see a lot more here.

fisherman
Fisherman - going out to catch food for his family. (Battambang)

Battambang
Man & his cow, or cow & his man. (Battambang)

Cool old monk.

Replanting rice. (Battambang)

Duck herding.

Off to the fields.

Transplanting rice.

Battambang
Battambang - "The Rice Bowl of Cambodia"


Hasselblad Xpan

I sold off all my film camera a few years ago: a bunch of Canon 35mm stuff, a Pentax 645N and my Super Speed Graphic 4x5. The one I kept was my Hasselblad Xpan panoramic camera. This is an amazing 35mm film camera that takes these amazing frames. Here is a sample I took on slide film a few years ago. I would love to do a trip to India with this thing and get back to shooting 20 frames a day rather than 500 or more. 


orrville, ontario
Hasselblad Xpan