Shooting the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show with Leica M 240 and 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux lens

This guest post is by Roy James Shakespeare - check out his new e-book on the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show:

A piece of cake

Purchasing the 50mm Noctilux f/0.95 two years ago was a mammoth decision. Shortly after I thought, what an earth have I done. What a load of rubbish this lens was. I struggled with it on the M9 but not all the time. The only focus point where you could be safe was dead in the centre on the split screen. Compromising on composition at every turn. The results were amazing when you could get it right. I struggled also with the disappointing focus length at short distance, not quite getting close enough when I wanted to. The sharpness was a little sketchy also at times in the beginning, wide open and in my mind I was thinking how cute it would be to have a normal little 50mm f1.4.

Two years down the line and I feel much more confident with it and have shot a few jobs now only using this optic coupled with the M240.

There was only really one thing I learnt at college many moons ago that was something called BLF (bracket like f**k). I then ran away in my second year to assist again in the heady streets of London. Back in the late 80’s. BLF has always been with me but only if you feel the need to. Shooting purely at f0.95 for a job is a risk unless you are dead certain of the focus and when you get it right it is crystal clear like nothing else on the planet.

The images in this little book were all shot over two days at the Royal Horticultural Society, Chelsea 2014 show. Held every year next to the Royal Hospital, built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682.

After taking every lens I own with me on the first day. I realised very quickly the 50mm was all that was needed and a monopod. The EVF was essential also. I find myself using the camera in the same way I would my Hasselblad. Looking down into the viewfinder from waist level.

It has taken a while to get used to this lens and how to work with it. I have thought about making myself a focus grip. Like the Hassleblad ones. Focus pulling would be so much faster and smoother. This would be very beneficial for video work.

Recently I also found some 60mm close up filters from Schneider. They are graded NL1 to 5, I have 3 and 1. Here at Chelsea I only used the NL-1. The quality is most apparent in the images of the Iris’s in the middle of the book and the Peonies. Generally also I would use a Polarising filter. Allowing me to shoot wide open in bright light.

There is also links to two very short film clip on the back page. These were shot at f0.95. Not every image here was shot wide open but I think you can tell which ones were. Every lens has it’s own sweet spot and it has been a pleasure to find it on this one.

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