Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Fabulous, Unique Leica Store, Tamarkin Camera, Chicago

A "hidden gem" of the photography world, Tamarkin Camera in Chicago.
Located on the 2nd floor at 300 W. Superior St.

There's a hidden gem in the photography world, well, not literally hidden, it's actually on an easy-to-find public street, in Chicago to be exact. It's a family-owned, boutique-style camera store and gallery specializing in Leica brand cameras and lenses. You don't have to be a Leica aficionado to appreciate and enjoy the magic found inside, but I think it's safe to say that Leica lovers will feel as if they've found a little slice of heaven. 

The owner, Dan, inherited the business (and his passion for Leica) from his father, Stan Tamarkin. Tamarkin Camera is located very close to downtown Chicago in the hip, upscale gallery district. There aren't very many Leica stores in the United States, I think the nearest Leica dealer to my home in El Paso, Texas, is an 8 hour drive away in Austin. Therefore, I never pass up an opportunity to visit a Leica store when I get the chance. I was spoiled while living near Seoul, South Korea from 2013-2016, there's a a beautiful, well-stocked Leica store and endless numbers of camera shops that carry used Leica gear. But I've been feeling like an addict in need of a fix, so I made a point to visit Tamarkin Camera when I was in Chicago a couple weeks ago and I'm glad I did.

It was a pleasure talking to Dan and he took time to give me a personal tour of the current gallery showing. I feel guilty about not buying my Leica M240 from him. He had a couple of very nice, minty, M240's but I just happened to find a great deal on a nice package which included a Leica EVF ($250), 2 x Thumbs up grip ($125 ea), genuine Leica hand grip ($225), genuine Leica 1.4 x magnifier ($395) and the M240 itself was in like new condition in the original box for $3650 USD. It wasn't a case of going to Tamarkin Camera just to "try out" a M240 before buying one online. I have been wanting an M240 for a long, long time. Aside from the package deal I found, I also did not have the funds to buy my M240 until a week after I visited Chicago. Anyway, I still feel bad because I always try to support local businesses whenever I can. I did, however, purchase an excellent "things to see in Chicago" book from Tamarkin, which was written and photographed by a friend of Dan's. The actual title of the book is "111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss" (available on Amazon). I highly recommend this book if you're visiting Chicago. 

The current photo gallery being shown at Tamarkin is "Complete Cuba", an impressive collection of images from several recent trips to Cuba, captured with a variety to Leica cameras. Dan was nice enough to point out images taken with the Leica D-Lux Typ 109, which is the camera I had around my neck the day I visited the shop. I have great respect for Dan's inclusion of gallery space in his store. Although the square footage could be used for retail space, it speaks volumes that he is keenly aware of the priceless value of the importance of spotlighting the beautiful and unique images produced with leica cameras.

I spent a good hour, to an hour and a half in the store and I would have spent more time studying and appreciating each individual image in the gallery and each individual item on display in the store but I had already taken up too much of Dan's time and I was intending to pay a return visit before leaving Chicago. Unfortunately, my return visit wasn't to be but I will make a point to stop in and say hi to Dan the next time I'm in Chicago, and you should too. Tamarkin is a beautiful, special place. And while you're there, buy a camera, buy a lens or buy a book from Dan.

There's more than just cameras and lenses at Tamarkin
There's also a gallery that showcases several showings throughout the year.

A beautifully brassed Leica M4 fitted with a Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 lens

Leica Q (I still kind of want one)

A very rare Leica GG 250 Reporter (1937) in excellent condition!

1965 Leica M2 with Summilux Lens

Leica M3 pictured with a Leica III, not sure which one exactly.

I was extremely tempted to pull the trigger on this Leica CL kit with 18mm lens.
But, I've had my heart set on a full frame, either the Q or M.

Dan Tamarkin, owner. (Photo courtesy of Tamarkin Camera)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Chevy Camaro RS - Sony A6300

Chevy Camaro RS shot with Sony A6300, Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8

I recently rented a Chevy Camaro RS for an evening out on the town and figured I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to shoot some photos of this beautiful car design, especially in that head-turning cherry red color.

My good shooting buddy, Austin Armendariz @createyourvizion had been wanting to get together to shoot some photos, this car presented the perfect opportunity. I picked up the car from Enterprise at 4pm and didn't have to pick up my date until 9pm, this 5 hour window gave us the perfect amount of time to meet up in downtown El Paso, shoot the Camaro at a few locations, and still leave us time to enjoy a beer together and time for me to get home to shower and change.

We were both shooting primarily with our Sony A6300's but I also brought along my A7RII with a fantastic Zeiss FE 35mm f/4 lens. Both set-ups performed well.

The first set of images were shot by me, scroll further down the page to see Austin's images and a couple of instagram screen grabs that show our rigs.

By chance, we ran into another local photographer 
who was shooting a "Quince" photo shoot.
I offered him the use of my rented Camaro RS, he would have been silly not to accept, so he did.

Austin Armendariz, in action!

The below images were shot by my good friend and shooting buddy Austin Armendariz @createyourvizion

And here you can see the gear we shot with 2X Sony A6300, Sony A7RII, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4, Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 with Sony LA-EA4 adapter and Sigma 30mm.
Check out more of our gear on our instagram page @heydontshoot 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Photo Shoot with Mark Louvier (Nikon D800E)

Watch the video -

I had the great pleasure recently to shoot with a talented photographer from College Station, Texas, the incomparable Mark Louvier

I met Mark while working my day job in the US Army. I spotted him shooting photos at the rifle range with a top of the line Nikon camera and lens combo, a kit that wouldn't be used by most average photographers. I introduced myself and we exchanged web sites. Later that day, I paid a visit to his site and I was overwhelmingly impressed with his work. Mark is a Captain in the Army Reserves but apparently he has been quite busy with photography in his spare time.

He shoots with a plethora of beautiful models and enjoys experimenting with various light sources for special effects, he even shoots some impressive underwater images. Take a moment to check out his work on Instagram

Unfortunately, at the time I met him, Mark was slated for an overseas deployment, as fate would have it, he would return home early from that deployment to take care of some family business. He alerted me to his impending return and mentioned shooting together. He had been wanting to shoot out at White Sands National Monument again and we both set to work find a model. Mark struck gold first with a model named Alex from California, who as it turns out, is also a Captain in the Army reserves. It just so happens that she has some modeling experience, in fact, she was one of the best models I've ever worked with. She moved from pose to pose without much direction, however, when Mark did adjust her poses or give her direction she listened well and followed his instructions like a pro.

Both Mark and Alex would only be in town for a couple of days, so we had to work fast and work as a team as neither of them had a car her in El Paso. We decided to do the first shoot at my pool. Both shoots had to be at sunset because both Mark and Alex had obligations during the day, which works out fine because the light out here in Southern New Mexico / South West Texas is amazing at sunset. It reminds me a lot of the light in Arizona.

Mark shoots with a Nikon D800E and a full line up of Nikon lenses including the 135 DC f/2, 105 DC f/2 and 85 G 1.4. I think you'll be impressed the results he gets from this kit, I know Turner would be!

Nikon D800E
Nikkor 135 DC f/2 lens
Nikkor 105 DC f/2 lens
Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 G lens

For our second day of shooting we made our way out to White Sands, which on the normal route from El Paso, could take up to 90 minutes to get there. However, due to all of us being in the military, we could take a short cut through White Sands Missile Range and cut about 30 minutes off the drive. Even so, we had to hustle to make it in time for the sunset. Fortunately, Mark and I have both shot at White Sands and he knew the exact location he wanted to shoot at, so we made a bee line and got to work.

It was a real pleasure watching a pro like Mark at work, I think you'll enjoy the resulting and the video! Mark has some big changes in his life and a big move so I'm not sure if I'll get to work with him again. Our model, Alex, lives in California, it's likely that we might find ourselves in close proximity to one another and if so, I would love to shoot her.