Going Pro: Lara Rossignol Tests the D-Lux 5

I began shooting professionally in Los Angeles after I graduated from Art Center College in the late ‘80s. Less than two years later I moved to NYC and over the next 14 years worked with clients ranging from Rolling Stone to Vogue to Max Factor. In late 2002 I moved south to Atlanta and have expanded my repertoire to include food & lifestyle. In April of 2009 I launched my photo blog, Piewacket, incorporating an editorial approach by creating original content on a range of subjects I find interesting. It has gained a loyal following with over 230,000 unique visitors in the first 18 months.

I started working with Leica last year when I got a chance to try out the amazing M9 for a couple of weeks. I am always on the lookout for a great point & shoot since it is just not feasible to bring your pro gear with you where ever you go. It is an especially invaluable tool for blogging, so I was very excited to try out the D-Lux 5.

My first impression of the D-Lux 5 was that it’s the perfect size. Much lighter and more compact than my Canon G-10, I could easily see carrying this camera with me on a daily basis. It was also very easy to use right out of the box. It only took a few glances at the manual to figure it out.

My absolute favorite thing about this camera, without question, was the ability to shoot in a square format. Having cut my pro teeth on a Hasselblad, I love composing in a square. To me, it is just inherently more interesting and once I discovered this option, I used nothing else during the time I had it.

I experimented with the different settings and ultimately found I really liked the snapshot mode when I was out and about. It was easy and consistent and I knew I could make any adjustments needed in post. In my studio, I chose to work in full manual mode where I found it easy to manipulate the settings for the results I wanted.

I was also very impressed with the results I got shooting with the macro. A really great tool for shooting food especially. Amazing clarity, this is by far the best macro I have used on any point & shoot.

I found I came away with strong, basic files that easily held up to my post editing process. I did not shoot raw, since I am still working in CS4 and I did not want to upgrade yet. All images were shot in the large, color jpg mode.

Having good editing software is essential in this digital age and here is my work flow method. After I download my images, I open that file in Bridge and do my first edit, marking all images that I think might work. I move these to a new folder and open them in Lightroom. I then make my final choices and adjust exposure, tone, saturation and cropping. I also sometimes added vignetting by using the lens correction function. I then open the photo in Photoshop and complete the processing from there, saving the final file as a tiff.

On occasion, I like to take the post processing one step further and I will email a finished version to myself so I can open it in the Picture Show iPhone app. It allows you to add interesting effects and frames. I did this with the series I shot on hunting collectibles for my post about the beauty of ordinary objects.

I was very happy with the results I got using the Leica for fashion. Using the square format gave a slight portrait feel to the images, though I was still able to get some spontaneity from the model. I would have loved to shoot an actual portrait series with it. My favorite are the images of the old victorian house. It is in my neighborhood and had long fascinated me. At first glance it appears abandoned but on closer inspection there are signs of occupants. I shot these on a cold, cloudy day and the images feel as haunting to me as the house itself.

-Lara Rossignol

You can see more of Lara’s work on her website, http://www.rossignolfoto.com/ and her blog, http://www.piewacketblog.com/.