Leica M7

Angelinos en película

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Syrian Protest in Los Angeles

Love seeing those who hail from these beleaguered nations where their friends and family are living under murderous regimes enjoying the freedom we have in the US to protest those situations. M7, 35mm Summicron 2.0 ASPH, Walgreens 200.

Originally published here in November 2012 but after reading a recent article on the atrocities the regime in Syria has perpetrated against children, I think unheard of in any of our lifetimes, I wanted to repost these images as a reminder of the continuing hell that is Syria.

Pictures of a Bus Stop

I think images should require something from the person who is looking upon them. A photograph doesn’t or shouldn’t have to be obvious in order to be something that holds some value. I think this image could be taken as an example of that. I don’t want to say much more about the picture itself. It either makes a statement to you or it doesn’t. It made a statement to me.

Now it has a sequel. The top image was shot almost a year ago and was taken with the Zeiss 50mm Sonnar 1.5. I think the color representation of that lens is evident in the image. That lens is just stellar and classic. The second image, the one at the bottom of this post, was taken with the Leica 50mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH, and I think the color signature of that lens is also amazingly evident in this shot.

I call the color I get from my 50’lux ‘comic book color’ and I mean that as a high compliment, although some people have taken issue with that characterization. I think you can see what I mean by that description, however, by looking at this image in comparison to the Zeiss image.

The 50’lux  does the most stunning job of slapping an abundance of the primary colors all over the film plane. I love it. I’m addicted to it. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I couldn’t live without it at this point. 😉

Both were taken with (shhhh!) Walgreens 400 ISO film. Light was much different, though. The first image was taken in sunlight, and the second was taken after the sun was down behind the buildings. Aperture opens up and everything here in Los Angeles at that time is bathed in a fantastic blue glow, I’ve always imagined because of the close proximity of the mighty Pacific.

My plan is to shoot more images like this that are attempting to make statements (even if only to me) that express the humanity of my subjects and hint at some of the complexities of their lives and their predicaments and the costs of their struggles as shown on their faces.

There are so many cliches surrounding the largely Mexican American immigrant base in California and the United States.

I’m not expressing a political perspective with what I hope to be an ongoing photographic project. But the Hispanic population, their families, their contributions, and their various ‘roles’ in what makes up Los Angeles is so complex that the cliches and the level of understanding around the country of their presence here amounts to an affront to true cultural understanding.

Being Mexican in Los Angeles, or El Salvadorian or Guatemalan, be it as an illegal or as a someone born of legal immigrants, with rare exception, is to live a life that makes you collectively part of the cheap labor engine that enables so many of the rest of us here to live crisp clean unburdened lives. Los Angeles is a story that is built, not just historically, but every single day, upon the labor of this population base.

There is a flip side to this story, of course, which is the effect that having such a massive cheap labor population base made up of one ethnicity has on other, even American-born, ethnicities. But these pictures can only tell the story that they tell, and it is, I think, an important one to tell.

Thanks for looking, and long live FILM.

WNBA Star, Jamba Juice Tackle Childhood Obesity

Comes the news the last few weeks that Los Angeles is probably going to lose its WNBA franchise, the mighty LA Sparks. This is an emotional time for me and a lot of people I (kind of) know. I covered the Sparks as both a photographer and as a reporter for many years. For four years (at least) the franchise gave me the privilege of being a media voter on the league’s end-of-season awards like Most Value Player, Coach of the Year, etc. I’ve followed the league from day one. Anyway. It’s a big blow. I devoted a ton of my time to WNBA basketball and the Sparks.

The WNBA is active in the community and especially focuses its efforts on the very young and impressionable. One special afternoon that took us to the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica and with no digital camera to use I had to settle for my Leica M7 and M6 TTL, with the 50mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH and the 35mm Summicron 2.0 ASPH. I used Kodak 800 speed color (obviously) film and here were my keepers.

50'Lux

Attended an event at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica co-sponsered by the WNBA and Jamba Juice.

Talked to Los Angeles Sparks guard Alana Beard about what they hoped to accomplish in their combined efforts to impact the national epidemic of childhood obesity.

Grabbed a lot of shots with my Leica M7 and M6, the Leica 50mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH and incredibly useful Leica 35mm Summicron 2.0 ASPH. All shot with Kodak 800.

And the kids. I broke a record for sweating I’m sure. There was a guy following me around with a mop. Hope the pictures are okay.

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Pretty Shabby Chic: Fashion’s Night Out 2011 in Beverly Hills

Reposting an old entry from last year for all my new beauty and fashion followers.

50'Lux

Getting back to some Leica photography. The date has been announced for the annual Fashion’s Night Out 2012 and it is September 6th.

Sooo… this entry today here at 50lux.com has a triple purpose.

First, I would like to give Leica and other lowlight shooters a heads-up to the coming FNO extravaganza, Vogue Magazine’s world-wide phenomena and to let you all know that this very impressive event is probably coming to a city somewhere near you.

It’s an incredible opportunity to get out and photograph great style and beauty and all in the vibrant colors and exact low-light conditions where our super-fast Leica glass really shows its stuff.

Second, of course, I want to showcase my own humble efforts in that regard from last year. All the images you see here were shot on film, with my trusty M7. Mostly with a Zeiss 50mm Sonnar f1.5 mounted, but there’s more…

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First Time Out With Leica 50mm Summilux 1.4

Was back in May at the Los Angeles Sparks Media Day. I’ve published these shots and posted them elsewhere, but I came to realize that I’d never posted them here on the blog. Duh. All shot with the aforementioned lens which lends its name to this blog, and a Leica M7, with Kodak 800 Max color film. The last show below of the LA Times reporter holding a video camera is just a gratuitous oh-that’s-my-first-shot-of-the-bokeh-I’ve-always-dreamed-of shot. Please excuse.

WNBA Star, Jamba Juice Tackle Childhood Obesity

Attended an event at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica co-sponsered by the WNBA and Jamba Juice.

Talked to Los Angeles Sparks guard Alana Beard about what they hoped to accomplish in their combined efforts to impact the national epidemic of childhood obesity.

Grabbed a lot of shots with my Leica M7 and M6, the Leica 50mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH and incredibly useful Leica 35mm Summicron 2.0 ASPH. All shot with Kodak 800.

And the kids. I broke a record for sweating I’m sure. There was a guy following me around with a mop. Hope the pictures are okay.

Slivers of Quirk and Light

There is a fairly famous street/fine art photographer whose style is images with mostly shadow area and only sunlight to illuminate his subject’s profound humanity as displayed on their faces. His name escapes me as I write this but I think he would certainly qualify as a king in the world of those who stalk the light.

I didn’t know about his work over the many years when I would employ a similar solution to the difficult light here in the city of Los Angeles. The profundity of it all only became apparent to me after the fact, I have to admit.

I’m very often looking for some revealing expression on the face of subjects on the street. Something that reveals what I may see that someone else might not see that I can maybe photograph as proof or evidence that it exists. But somehow the combination of this natural spotlight on the faces of subjects combined with some moment of human vulnerability revealed on those faces seems to me to be over the top. It works great for this other photographer, but it wouldn’t feel right to me.

I find it works better for me in order to isolate a person or group but more from a distance where it may be something about their posture or circumstance or a gesture that I find interesting. I don’t have a lot to say about this all right now. But I hope the pictures have something to say to you.

These are all shot on film. Leica M7 with either the Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar or the Leica 35 2.0 Summicron ASPH

Thanks for looking.

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Keepin’ it Real

Downtown Los Angeles on a glaring Saturday morning this spring. Leica M7, Walgreens 200.

The First Roll of Film Put Through My Leica M7

Back in mid-2010 and it was Ektar 100 and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing with a Leica rangefinder. The setting was beautiful and I hope that comes through in these humble offerings. But it was contrasty and I knew Ektar is kind of contrasty and that my 50mm 2.0 Summicron is contrasty and this is the first roll of film I’d shot in almost two decades. I had very little confidence that I was getting anything but blown highlights and shadow with detail. It wasn’t that bad, however. I should have been concentrating a little more on composition and using the attributes of the lens. Oh well. I still like them.

How About Something Non-Controversial for a Change?

Two shots of light coming through the trees reflecting off the creek that runs through the Muir Woods National Monument in the San Francisco Bay area. Leica M7 with the 50mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH and Walgreens 200 film.

The obligatory daily greenish quirky LA street character shot…

The Road to Somewhere Else

“I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” – ‘Shug’ Avery in The Color Purple by Alice Walker

(Originally published on stevehuffphoto.com – July 2011. Feels appropriate for another blistering July.)

I-15, the highway to and from Las Vegas, is traveled by an endless caravan of Southern Californians every year, alternately speeding and crawling their way to Sin City to pass the hours into weekends throwing money away in smoky casinos. With the disposable income gone and the pool parties over, the line of cars moving back through the desert to Los Angeles is most impressive in the sheer single-minded execution of its purpose. Eyes fixed (we can only hope) on the road ahead, it’s pretty clear that everyone just wants to get home.

The setting of this perpetual movement of cars and people is what calls to mind The Color Purple thought quoted above. More on that setting in a second.

But first, does God really get pissed off when we pass by the color purple without noticing? For an athe-nostic like me, the question would go more like this: if nature has created something spectacular to behold, what does it say about us if we routinely pass by it all with our eyes squarely focused on the road ahead, our perspectives blinkered by our desire to simply get someplace else?

Whether it’s an angry God watching down on us or the collective guilt of too few of us, given the sheer magnitude of both the transgression and the number of souls involved, the 270-mile drive between Las Vegas and Los Angeles — through the Cajon pass and over the Mojave Desert — would surely amount to something of a worst-case-scenario for someone as thoughtful about such things as the fictional Suge Avery.

The vast empty expanse of the high desert alone has a visual silence that borders on the metaphysical. One turn of the head and the eye takes in endless vistas completely absent the presence of humans. Appropriately miniscule in scale, the only people to be found are contained in the narrow band of highway snaking through the midst of a truly timeless landscape.

Drivers blow through the desert as fast as they can. Except for a few small towns, there’s only a smattering of rest areas along the way and the occasional supersized gas stations. With nothing really for hundreds of miles but great scenery, it would be difficult for anyone inclined to deviate from the beeline of automobiles to actually do so.

We take the drive ourselves just about every year, always in the winter or late spring. There’s usually weather off in the distance and sometimes we run right into it. We stop occasionally at one of the rest areas for 10 minutes or so, in a hurry, like everyone else. There’s a wind that seems to live at those huge gas stations that can’t in good conscience be called a breeze and, while the cold smack of it after two hours on the road is exhilarating, it always feels really good to get back in the car.

There were the familiar clouds, rain, even thunder, and snow on the ground in the mountain passes, but this time driving through the higher altitudes there was the disorienting sight of even more ominous looking clouds lying in the valleys far below the highway. There was sunshine, maybe mostly sunshine and, of course, the wind. Not surprisingly the air smells like desert and I guess to recall the old vent windows in cars from my childhood, I like to open my driver’s side glass just a crack to hear the whistle of the wind as I drive.

Maybe it’s too much of the things we did back in the seventies, but my imagination plays in the flat desert and hills there in the wide panorama shot. I’d like to hire a helicopter and tell the pilot to set down in the hills underneath the clouds in the left part of the image, get out, take pictures for a while, breathing in the desert, then point to a sun-drenched valley in the distance and say, “Okay, let’s go over there.”

I’m not a natural scenery shooter and I think the snapshots presented here will attest to that. I hesitate to add that the Leica M system of cameras is said not to be well-suited for landscape photography. The hesitation is because the M7 was more than adequate given my capabilities.

I hope these shots from the California high desert find you in a place and time where you can take notice of its incredible beauty. With most of the country sweltering in a mid-July heat wave it would be wonderful if this article even briefly transports some of you to the brisk springtime captured in the photographs here. If you try, you just might hear the wind whistling at my car window and imagine for a moment the cold desert air in your face.

Remember, God may be watching. Personally, I don’t think so, but I’ve been wrong before and these shots and this piece amount to my own personal penance just in case.

All the images taken with a Leica M7, Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm 1.4, and Kodak Portra 160 VC.

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Peace, please…

Sometimes the message gets lost in the flow and crush of humanity. Click on the image for a larger version.

Fashion’s Night Out Beverly Hills 2011: T-MAX P3200

Leica M7, Zeiss 50 Sonnar 1.5, T-MAX P3200 (click for larger version)

Nothing much to say here. Just a slideshow from a couple of rolls of this very fast and grainy film. I liked it. I just didn’t really have the easiest time scanning it. Actually shooting it was also something to get used to as well. Would have to get used to it and think about shooting it much differently than I did.