color

Fast glass in fading light…

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Living Color

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Not sure what was going on here…

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I know it’s Polish model Joanna Krupa. But I don’t understand the photography aspect. Can’t be paparazzi, they’re too geared up and professional and paparazzi would have NO interest in whatever her name is. Can’t be a photo shoot. Photo shoots uh.. usually involve ONE photographer. Why would there be so many photographers fighting for a shot? Of Joanna Krupa. I just don’t get this. Someone enlighten me please. The only thing I can think of is that she’s got a really good publicist and it was a slow day in pseudo-celebrity land.

Why shooting Leica is Orgasmic

20130426-L1012797-2Men can say something is ‘orgasmic’ can’t we? If not then disregard the use of that word by me. 😉

Point is, it’s almost like that. What specifically am I talking about? What’s so special about shooting Leica that is different than other cameras or systems? MANY things, but I’m thinking of one in particular.

The other night we jumped up into Beverly Hills for a couple of margaritas at Chipotle on Beverly Drive. I brought the M-E and the 50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH. Many great opportunities for low light shots along the street up there but, unfortunately, after two or three of those Chipotle margaritas I’m just lucky to be walking upright.

So I’m shooting some store windows etc. and the young lady I’ve spent my life with points to a window and says something effusively positive. But what’s behind the window is unlit and there’s a large store front awning shading the glass itself from any visible ambient light from the surrounding stores or street. So I go into the photographer’s speech about, well, honey, you don’t understand, there’s NO light here. It’s a nice display but your eyes had to practically adjust to even see it.

We photographers look for LIGHT, silly non-photographer. Etc.

Then I thought, well, of course, we can SEE it. So there must be some light illuminating it. So I have my camera on 800 ISO and I don’t even open the 50 ‘Lux all the way. It’s at f2. I stand very still, press the camera against my cheek. Dial the shutter till I get a solid dot. And then I watch something in my image as the shutter is open to make SURE I don’t move. That is the Leica Death Stare. Master it. Lock on an object and YOU WILL KNOW if you’ve moved and have to retake the picture.

Honestly, this has become one of the most fun things I do with my Leica cameras. I LOVE shooting at disgustingly slow shutter speeds. I’m not happy if I’m not doing it. It’s orgasmic.

The old photographic rule of choosing a shutter speed that’s faster than the focal length of your lens in order to eliminate camera shake? If you shoot Leica, you should know that, OF COURSE, this rule does NOT apply to you.

Not to be a jerk, but you SPENT that whatever thousands of dollars you spent to shoot this gear. And you’ve all too often heard people say… What’s the difference? What’s the point? It’s the photographer, not the camera!

Well this is a difference. A huge difference. And one of just many.  I shot Nikon pro gear for most of the last ten years. A heavy D2Hs and D3 and D700. Massive lenses that jut out 6 inches from the body of the camera, and more. I wasn’t comfortable shooting less than 1/250 of the second! You’d BETTER adhere to photographic rules and guidelines like the one stated above. And then, hold your breath!

But with a Leica M-anything? Just never mind all that. It’s not your concern at all. If it is, you’re doing something wrong. The flatness of the M bodies and the slim center of gravity allow you to hold the camera firm against your cheek and there’s NO long heavy lens to teeter the center of gravity and blur your photograph.

And, as a result, you can practically make your own light. Yes, the light is bad. No, I don’t really care. There IS light, that is the only relevant point to a Leica shooter. We just have to operate in a different universe of expectations about how much is there and what we have to do with our camera to capture the light that is there. And these cameras do that like no other cameras on Earth.

The above shot was taken with a 50mm lens in almost no visible light at all. The shutter speed was 1/8th of a second. And I was drunk.

The thousand yard stare

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Color I can live with from the Leica M-E

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After two years of shooting and scanning film, what I wanted in terms of skin tones and the general color look from my new M-E was something much different than what I settled for when I owned an M9 three years earlier. By living with the results of scanning analog film I came to accept that color would rarely if ever match the accuracy attainable with modern professional digital systems by Canon and Nikon.

Maybe if I’d had the processing and scanning done at a professional lab, and paid through the nose for some premium service, I would have seen markedly better results. But I opted for the much less expensive, and more satisfying, route of scanning myself.

So when I decided to go back to shooting Leica digital my desires and expectations for color and tonality had been changed. But also my aesthetic for the end result of the act of photographing something itself had changed.

I now looked at final images that I put online or show to people as the product of a process of ME applying those tastes and desires to all of my shots as opposed to just going with either the look of the RAW file, or, worse, going with the crowd and ending up with an image look that was consistent with what other M9/M-E shooters were choosing for their work.

The color that I go for now, what I’m shooting for in my post processing, comes as a result of dealing with film scans for two years. It may not be the same technology and the end result may look nothing like film scans to me or to anyone else. But what I want now from my images is informed largely from the experience of shooting and scanning film.

Bottom line. There are no rules. The camera produces a RAW image file. We owe no loyalty or fidelity to the look of the RAW file or to what other M9/M-E shooters are doing with their images. The color in these pictures pleases me. That’s a heck of a statement as far as I’m concerned because that has not always been an easy place for me to get to with this gear. I’m happy to be getting there with some frequency this time around.

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