Here is a link to the great website American Suburb X and a group of street photos by newly discovered street photography master Helen Levitt. The difference between these pictures and the vast majority of her other previously shown work is that these images are in amazing color.
Seeing those images this morning inspired me to share some of my recent shots. You know, I’ve always thought of myself as a black and white street photographer. But I rarely shoot black and white street photography. I really have done very little in B&W over the last ten years. I think I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m a street photographer who works primarily in color.
Color is the only way to capture the parts of Los Angeles I continue to want to shoot most. Hope these images from my Leica M-E capture both the timeless grit and the gripping palate of colors of life in LA in 2013.
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.
This image was shot in light very much as it appears above. But, I couldn’t resist playing a little with Snapseed so that version is below.
Reposting an old entry from last year for all my new beauty and fashion followers.
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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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.
Minimalist, something Kodachrome about the skin tones in the second image.
Los Angeles is one of those places on this Earth where one can observe the extent to which the disparity between the haves and the have-nots has become a gulf of historic proportions.
Just this week there’s the story of how prospective middle class home buyers, teachers, managers, in the Inland Empire of Southern California, are attempting to purchase homes while prices are at historic lows. But the properties are being quickly bought up by cash buyers. Not local individuals, but far-off investment firms ranging from places like Wall St. to beyond including China and the Middle East.
People who live, shop, work and pay taxes in cities like Riverside and San Bernardino, and certainly soon to be Los Angeles and everywhere else in California, can’t take advantage of these never-seen-before prices for homes because people from far far away will capitalize financially at this advantageous time.
The plan, as has been reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere, is to create a super-industry of residential rentals, owned and managed by the wealthy firms on Wall St. and elsewhere who can easily buy up these properties with cash. That’s right. They will then RENT these homes to the very area residents who were willing and able to buy those same properties at the prices they were sold at and, in many cases, even more as these locals have learned that they must often overbid by tens of thousands of dollars to even have a chance of winning the prize of their dream home.
Permanent far off landlords will take the place of the American dream of owning one’s own home. Someone will get rich on those locals instead of them being able to claim homes and property they were more than willing to buy and own.
Meanwhile in places like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica and I’m sure in the better parts of Manhattan and Boston and the northeast one can easily see up close how extremely well some people in this world are doing financially. What it really means to have the stock market hovering near record highs while unemployment and other economic indicators measure what continues to be an ongoing economic ditch for much of the country and the world.
I think we all better start getting used to it. Or get used to the idea that we’re going to have to do something about it at some point. Because the wealthy of this world are pulling together, across national or ethnic lines, their wealth binding them as an unstoppable force, while the proverbial and literal 99% of the rest of the world, maybe more, are relegated to being spectators watching how they live their lives.
Two years of shooting film with my M7 and then an M6, limited but unconcerned by the usually 200-400 ISO range of the film loaded in my cameras, I think I learned to stop whining about high ISO performance and noise and learn to do the things necessary to take pictures after the sun goes down.
Yes, sometimes I would shoot some really wonderful and cheap Kodak 800 speed film I’d picked up. But the process and discipline of making what in the digital sense are low ISOs work, holding the camera very still, tight against the face, learning to love shooting at 1/8th of a second instead of needing 1/250th… these are the changes that have enabled me to feel free and easy shooting with a camera that most photographers today consider to be lagging in the ISO and image noise performance area.
A while ago someone surmised that with the high ISO capability of modern digital cameras, we don’t really need the superfast 2.0 and 1.4 lenses that Leica happens to specialize in making and selling for thousands of dollars. Who needs any of that when your camera will produce clean usable images at 12k ISO?
Well, that kind of thinking and that kind of equipment will certainly give your photography a certain look, along with the capability afforded in the high ISO performance. And for professionals, at this point, there really isn’t any substitute for great high ISO performance.
But I would counter that the opposite of the idea of chucking super fast and expensive glass is equally as true for photographers wishing to use their cameras to create unique work that differentiates itself from most modern digital photography by its emphasis on photographing light where it exists and an adherence to the old ways like simply holding a camera as still as is humanly possible.
But as evidenced here and in a lot of images to follow, there’s also other ways to get around the problem of shooting low ISO film or digital camera sensors we can’t push much beyond 800 ISO and that is to photograph lights themselves or things that are well lit.
The images here aren’t intended to be a demonstration of any one technique for shooting in low light. They’re intended to be a demonstration of boldness and an attitude of let’s get over blaming equipment for what it doesn’t do and instead praise the almighty dollar that we can afford a cell phone or a Diana or a Pentax or a Leica film or digital camera and just get out and make the pictures your gear allows you to make.
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.
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.