Inspiration: Claudine Doury

Claudine Doury is a French photographer born in Blois and based in Paris. She was awarded the Oscar Barnack Leica in 1999, the World Press and Paris Match prize in 2000 for her "Peoples of Siberia" series. 
In 2004 she was awarded the Yan Arthus Bertrand and Niepce price  for all of her  work. 
You can see her work at the Camera Obscura Gallery in Paris and is a member of the VU (Agency).

Translated from her website:

I mostly love her teenage life portrait work, but her earlier work in Siberia is properly awesome.
It is very lively, close to the human action, sometimes reminds you of the view you get in a third person shooting video game, which embeds you into the scene as a performing member of it all.

Brilliant stuff.

A great online shop for camera parts

Yes the site looks like crap, but you can find for a very low price tons of little parts you might have broken or lost.

Why is that awesome? Because nothing rocks more than and old Nikon F series, FE, FE2, FM, FM3A, FA. The only problem is : what happens once you messed up the rewind knob on a 35yo camera? Or what if you broke the battery door shell of you camera?

Well no need for duck tape anymore, this site has it all: I got my rewind knob + shipping for...15$ !

Even for modern compacts you can find battery door shells.

So you have a vintage piece you love, no need to go on Ebay to get another one for a simple missing clip or thingy that's missing :)

Damnit Nikon !!!

Ok it's not really their fault, but that D800 seems like it's never gonna come out. Due to flooding of the Thailand factory apparently, announcements planned today have been postponed to...whenever.

Now I got a interesting piece of information from a Irish reseller who was originally invited to an announcement in the UK (very likely it was going to be a SLR announcement).

Well his "informed guess" is that the D700 will be maintained for 2 reasons:

  • to justify a high price for the D800
  • because a D700S or something like that (basically the same + video, similar to the D300 / D300S change) could come up

That's all I got so far, so I'm thinking getting a FE2 as a complement to my FE, to allow 1/4000 shutter speed. Then, instead of wasting money on an expensive body, I might get the 50mm F1.2 AIS Nikkor...

Why? because the lens makes a bigger difference than the camera body, and you'll keep it forever so overall, it's always a better investment :)

1 year, 10 000.

This blog is now 1 year old, and after quite a slow start, = me not being committed enough, it reached for the first time 10 000 visits in a months.

I would like to thank you for taking the time, hoping that you found what you were looking for or other nice stuff you were not looking for.

I'll try to make it even better during the year to come. Also if you would like to show your work around, I'm always looking for inspiring photographers whose work to share, so don't hesitate asking me !

Thanks !


More Natalja

The 35 rolls of trix are back from the lab, half of it scanned. I used a 35yo Nikon FE (a must have, 70$ now on Ebay and you got a full frame :p) + a recent Nikkor 85mm f1.8 lens.

Antonina, at home.

Shot with a Mamiya 645 + 80mm f2.8 lens, provia 400 film for color, Tri X for B&W. Edited in element 6.


Shot with a Mamiya 645 that is turning a little faulty (rrrr...), hence the weird color halos that are  NOT post processing. Luckily they look kinda cool. Film was Velvia 50 (the last shot), and Fuji Pro400h for the rest.
Lens was the 80mm F2.8

A lot more from a 35mm FE + acros then trix next week.

Thank you Natalija I had a great time :) First shot is one of my fav in a long time, told you I had it when I shot it !

Beware of marketing !

A short post about things you should NOT look at when buying a camera, and things you should.

1/ First things you should not care about, or even avoid, weither they are features pushed by marketing or quality criteria looked at by un-savvy reviewers:

Zoom: the more it can zoom, the lesser the quality
- X7, X16, even X23 optical zoom ! That's one of the main things manufacturers and reviewer push forward. And the best lens on a compact is...the 35mm of the Fuji X100. A prime 35mm lens, that zoom nothing at all, since the only focal length you have in the same as the human eye. So why do prime lenses or lenses that zoom on a limited range outperforming large range zoom? It's mechanical and simple : on a prime lens, the elements inside the lens are not moving, perfectly aligned and optimized for this length. The moment you expand to zoom range, parts inside the lens move, and you need to make compromises so it work ok at different focal length. The larger the zoom range, the more compromises, the less optimal the quality, and in particular, sharpness.
- Because it's harder to get a good zoom, it's more expensive. If it's zooming tons and cheap, run away, it's crap.

- Megapixels don't determine sharpness, they are a resolution figure, a simple pixel count. The only thing they change is how big the file is, how big you can print. Now I bet less than 1% of ever printed A3 or more, in which case you are fine with 10MP. On your computer screen, 8 or 16MP won't many any difference, the 16MP will just be....slower to open. Sharpness and resolution are different: sharpness is the perceived edge between 2 different objects, that is lens related, and for optimized sharpness, read the previous paragraphe again on zoom lenses.
- The more pixel, the less light sensitive. More pixels doesn't mean the sensor gets bigger, it means there are more smaller pixels on the same sensor. As they get smaller, they have less room to catch light. Period.  That's why the 6000$ D3X is only a 12MP: it allows it to shoot wildlife in very low light.

Live view (seeing the image on the screen before you shoot) VS view finder
- All recent DSLR offer live view, so you don't need to aim with your eye against the camera. First of all it's plain stupid when it comes to framing. Second of all, auto focus in live view are much much slower!

A great example of marketing made product : HX9V by Sony: X16 zoom, 16MP, on a sensor the size of a nail.

See the results (open full files!), here zoom at only ISO 400: sharpness is awful, but mostly no depth at all, and that rubbish melting pixel feel.

2/ Things you should look for

The lens
- if you are buying a SLR, put all the money in the  lens. Period. All SLR can do pretty much the same, some are better, yes, but image quality is about the lens, and the sensor size. In line with what we said for the zoom, prefer a little zoom or prime lens, and privilege a actual camera manufacturers. No wonder why Fuji as a great lens on the X100 . They do some really premium stuff for pros. I would expect good stuff also from Pentax, Nikon, Canon...well you know.

Maximum aperture (the "F" numbers) of the lens
- You already know small zoom range or prime lenses are to be preferred. You should also look for lenses with large aperture, that is to say small "F" numbers, F2.8 and below. On zoom lenses, you can hardly reach F2.8, but try to get a lens with a fixed F number, instead of the F4.5-5.6 kind of lenses.

Sensor Size
- the equally most importing thing with the lens: one rule, the bigger the better. I would buy anything that is less than 25x17mm (Fuji X100, most SLR, some rare compacts)

Screen that moves at the back (for movies only)
- You would expect me saying it's worthless, but actually if you shoot videos it's rather essential. Imagine shooting from strange angles otherwise. No can do.

Now a Fuji X100 picture: see the depth, the blur, the sharpness, this is at ISO 400 too for comparison. Yes it cost 3 times the price, but photography is like having a passion for sports cars, it's not cheap.

Update: Fuji X100 or X10 ?

A while ago I reviewed the Fuji X100, long story short: excellent lens and sensor, but arguable ergonomics and poor AF.
Overall a very good product. Well built and clearly designed at people like me who, as much as we'd like a compact product, can't tolerate a compact image quality. If I had to buy compact, I would buy a Fujifilm X100 , it's the only one that gave me an overal image feel that compares to a SLR. It's due mostly to the DX size sensor, much much larger than other compacts. As said previously, sensor size is the variable that determines the quality level of camera.

Also, my reserves concerning ergonomics might not be valid anymore since firmware as been updated. I haven't had a chance to try that, but I've read it corrected most faulty features. Thanks Fuji.
Last time, I mentioned it'd be worth waiting for the X10 if you are looking for a premium compact, knowing that it would be:
  • cheaper
  • with a zoom lens (X100 is only a 35mm, but I love that)
  • optimized compared to an X100
  • even smaller
  • still likely to be built as good and with a rather premium lens.
Now I haven't had the chance to use one yet, but the sample shots produced by Fuji and other sites allow me to confirm what was to expect. Click on photos for full size files.

@ F2.5, iso 400, where is the blur ????

Dynamic range on this is pretty good, balance between dark and bright areas is nice.
Those are X10 Sample shots, courtesy of Fuji and

It is very good for a compact, but it crossed my personal line. Too far away from my image quality threshold. The small sensor doesn't allow proper depth of field play, it lacks the crisp feel on close up portraits. Noise level is not good enough to shoot past ISO 200 and print large. However, macro is very good, dynamic range is also impressive. Fuji is really nailing it when it comes to pushing those small sensors to their limits. Also the bright lens that is a reasonable zoom is a really good pick.

My final call: the X100 is at this stage the only compact that can satisfy a very demanding photographer, used to full frame and medium format. It compares at least. Still room for improvement, but it's very good. It won't however get you anything close to the results of full frame film SLR and black and white TRI-X film.

The X10 appears to be excellent for a compact, probably the best for this XMas. If you are looking for a premium compact under 600$, you found it. If you want the freedom of a DSLR when it comes to playing with optic, it might be too much of a stretch. If you can't go the extra buck, get a used Nikon D90 instead.

Overal Fuji is doing a great job with compacts. Unlike other film camera monsters like Pentax and even Nikon who are taking us for idiots a little too much lately.

The only real question you should ask yourself...

...if you feel the photographic fire burning inside you : do I spend 3000$ upgrading my gear to full frame SLR and XMAS, or do I spend that money on the real stuff, medium format film gear?

Ok I should have said "the only real question in case you are about to buy a full frame camera and feel the photographic fire burning inside you", but that'd be less catchy.
If you don't have a DSLR at all, get one. It's so convenient, gives you room to practice etc. It's not sufficient to fully explore the scope of your photographic potential, but it's a must have.

Back to Ze Biblical Question of our times: full frame or medium format film?

That is pretty clear to me:
  • If you shoot sports, wildlife, porn or anything that moves, get a full frame DSLR. 
  • If you shoot portraits, landscapes, and a lot of black and white get a medium format film camera.
Remember, a full frame SLR sensor is 36x24 mm, medium format film is used up to 60x90mm. When we know how crucial sensor / film size is, it makes you think twice about going 35mm. Also keep in mind photography was originally large format, and 35mm was only invented for portability. It's like CD and MP3, no one listens to CDs anymore, but quality remains on the CD side.

Good luck getting those results with a digital camera, and it sucks you can't see the large prints, the tones, dynamic range, definition.

 Courtesy of Pierre Herbert, Rest in Peace.

Now remember, I made the assumption you are a photography junky, you love the cause, you'd sell your PS3 to replace a lens. If you don't have that level of dedication, forget about film. You'll always be a 30% photographer then :p, covering 30% of the potential. Mwaaahahaha! I'm mean...and stupid because if you all shoot just digital, I'll be the only pulling amazing portraits. The fact is the real thing is medium and large format film.

What what? but my friends have a 5D MKII and I'm enviouuuus! With the biiig lenses they look soooo seriouuuus and proooo !

Ah...well, sorry you have to compensate for something, but this is about the images, not the how the gear looks on you. Anyway, you look way cooler with a vintage piece of gear than with a 5D.

On the left corner, weighting 3000 to 4000$:
  • A great full frame DSLR, the Nikon D700 or soon to come out D800. A D700 now costs 2500$. 
  • Prime lenses that matches your expectations of greatness would be the 35mm f2 and the 85mm f1.4 . That costs from 400$ to 900$.
  • Or a zoom lens for full frame, matching the D700 quality standards like the 24-70 F2.8, 1500$, for a result that is quite questionable regarding the money.

On the right corner, weighting 3000$:
  • Let's go for the top, to mach the other corner, a Pentax 67II, used in mint condition from Adorama or B&H for 1200$
  • 2 lenses, a portrait lens, a landscape lens, used from the same shops, 500$ each. Those will DESTROY the best SLR Nikon lenses. I mean destroy even the prime lenses. The zoom lenses, ah ah please, be serious for a sec, it beats even the best Leica M lenses. My Mamiya 200$ lenses already outperform all of that.
  • A negative scanner. Yes you'll need that, the Epson Perfection V700 does a great job for 550$.
  • Film. A roll developed costs about 8$ if the shop doesn't rip you off. You get 10 shots on it.
You can also read my more complete post on what you need to start shooting film.

So here it is. The second choice is the one that is not guided by marketing or the safe feeling of buying the same as everyone else. It's the choice of passion. I won't even write a rational, just Google sample images.
Yes, you'll have to wait to see your picture, and learn how to expose properly, and the characteristics of each film, and focus manually, but it'll pay off. The shutter sound of a MF camera...oh yeah. You'll be thinking every shot, framing carefully, turn into a perfectionist machine to maximize your ratio of good shots. You'll find the pleasure of crafting, then be impatient to see the film developed. Instead of bombarding a village to hit one man, you'll be the sniper that needs one bullet to hit his target.
The truth is, if you go medium format film for portraits, you won't be able to go back to digital, this I can promise you.

What desktop configuration do you need to edit pictures & video?

You might have bought one of those fancy DSLR that shoots HD video, not to mention that sensors beyond 16MP are now quite common.
Last but not least, if you scan negatives, especially medium or large format, you easily produce 3x4 meters photos weighting up to hundred of megs. Edit that...
I once tried to rotate 90 degrees a 1.1GB picture from a 6400 dpi scan. (ok useless, just for fun), it took my Core 2 6750 pushed to 3.4Ghz + 2G or ram memory 4.5 hours...then it crashed.

Now I'm sure even my 3 years old desktop still beats some of your even older stuff, so I can hardly imagine how much you struggle with editing. My Macbook pro does a good job, but SSD + mobile i5 processor and all the Apple marketing (RIP Steve Jobs) cost an arm. If I am to spend 2700$, I'd rather it be in film and lenses, or plane tickets! Thank God the Macbook I didn't pay :)

What would be an ideal computer for a reasonable budget to edit photos and videos?

First of all, let's break the neck of a well spread yet totally incorrect idea: your graphic card has NOTHING to do with it. I know it seems like photos and videos are "graphics", but a graphic card is to calculate 3D images in real time. That is to say, create a dynamic 3D environment as you perform an action, such as, and 99% of the time, in a video game. Photos and videos are 2D files, and rather simple data in comparison.

You will need 3 things in particular:

  • A good processor. Intel core I5 or Intel Core i7  preferred, according to your budget. O/C fanatics can enjoy those, they have potential. AMD Phenom II X4 also do a pretty good job for cheaper. Count 185$ for a Intel i5, 250$ for an i7. Don't be cheap on that processor, especially for video editing.
  • RAM memory. The non geek among you might be confused by the difference between that and the hard drive. When the processor needs to work on data, he can't do it directly from the hard drive, which is simply where all your data is stocked. It needs to pull it from the hard drive and put it a working memory, the RAM. From there he can work the data. So see for yourself, if you only have 1G of RAM memory, and you are processing 10G of data...processor gets lost transferring data like crazy. See it like this: the hard drive is the closet where you store your food, the RAM is the kitchen work space where you prepare the dinner: if too small, you keep having to clean, put stuff back in the closet etc. It is simple: the more you get the better, 6 to 8G is a good idea. Keep in mind that if you still run window vista 32bit, it can only run up to 3.6G of RAM. Having super fast RAM is for show off, it won't impact your comfort considerably. 8G of really good RAM by Corsair costs about 55$, it's cheap, get plenty.
  • Hard drives. First of all, digital cameras produce tons of data, so get plenty of disk space. I fill up about 100G every month. SSD are very fast, but the storage space / $ ratio is not so good. Get a Western Digital Velociraptor 600 GB at 10000 RPM if possible (200$). If not Samsung does good 7200 RPM hard drives. 7200 RPM is a minimum, forget about the 5400. A good 7200 1T (1000G) disk costs about 65$.
How much all together?
With a decent mother board (no need for a fancy over-clocking device here), PC case and the rest, you can get yourself a great machine for about 900$. We're far from the Apple price tag. Screen not included of course. That is without a fancy graphic card, but if you want to play, that's on a different blog that you need to go to :)

However if your PC has a decent configuration, such as a Core 2 and 4G of RAM memory, and you still struggle to edit a 10MP photo, you just need to reformat and reinstall Windows !