There’s been quite a lot of deliberation over the past week, Australia is imminent and calling & I’m having a long hard look over which photography gear I actually use & what to keep? Believe me I’m a bad hoarder, this has been a painful week too.
I casually mentioned to a great friend this week ‘Oh think my might sell the 1957 Rigid 50mm Cron’ there was silence…. ‘Yer right, are you kidding me?’ was all I got! His advice was, you can NEVER sell that thing!
I’m normally a 35mm focal man, or I tell myself that. I felt fifty never really gave enough of a spatial environment telling the story, but now armed with the M10 (oh boy, that’s another story) I thought I’d give the ole girl another try. I’m like a mad professor, dipping into the gear cupboard concocting a mixture of old & new ingredients, I tell myself I’m inventing something new…
I spent all of Sunday morning, carefully cleaning the Cron & couldn’t wait to test it out in the field, how pleasantly surprised I was! The old lens gave a beautiful timeless character, highlights gave a magical soap bubble look, yet retaining a wonderful centered subject. My only complaint if I really had to, was something was happening on the infra-red end of the spectrum with the lens, blacks seemed to have a purplish tinge – a bit like the blacks from the old M8 days?
To summarise, I don’t think we can ever leave these old lenses in the cupboard without some TLC & a deserved service, they’re our history, our heritage..
I recently flew into Inverness to join up with ‘The Leica Meet’ team, attending an organized photographic tour around the Isle Of Skye with seven other members from the meet. We quite frequently holiday as a family in that part of the UK in the Western Isles, but never Skye! So I travelled there with an open mind as to the landscapes we’d see.
As the title hints, the meet received a good mixture of weather in Scotland. Some of the inclement types exhibited real mood & emotion on the images taken. This answered a personal old photography question of mine – when to use & appreciate film grain!
Equipment wise, I decided to take both the M240 and a 1957 M3. Film choice was Kodak Ektar & Tri-X, being quite pushable within it’s limits. It was interesting chatting with other attending members & hearing their general aim to shoot minimal ‘free & light’ I think in future, it’ll be only the one camera to minimize any distractions.
So I thought I’d take along a 12mm wide angle lens with the normal 35mm Summilux. With the Isles having such unpredictable weather hence low light, I wanted to show another edge to my images, emphasizing perspective to give some kind of scale to this plentiful landscape.
With the heavy vignetting associated with the 12mm Voigtlander on digital, I quickly found myself using this to my advantage when photographing through bridges & tunnels etc.
The trip also reminded me the need to keep one’s spatial awareness & vision open wide… It’s pretty surprising to stand cocooned amidst closed terrain in bad weather looking for inspiration when a multitude of things are always happening around you. I recall a funny moment earlier on in the trip. Totally oblivious, I was pointed to a rainbow overhead… my hilarious reaction/reply was ‘but I’ve only got black & white film!’
These meets are an incredible experience with the other LTM members, discussing and sharing photography styles & experiences. We all came together with a common interest in Leica, it was interesting & educating to see everyone’s niche on this.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed such talented company, good food & an excellent Talisker single malt..
This is a recent casual shoot I did with the lovely Erin, taken on both Leica’s, the M240 & a 1957 M3. I’m not going to write a digital vs film comparison, as I think each have their own equal merits & qualities. It actually feels quite pleasant to have both cameras around my neck & to be able to pick either whilst shooting.
These first set of images are off the M3 film camera . Images taken with a 1957, 50mm Summicron lens with which I thought I’d try with a yellow filter fitted to alter contrast. Film was Kodak Tri-x 400 –
This second set are with the digital M240, fitted with a 35mm Summilux f1.4 lens. Cameras aside, thinking about focal length, I’m starting to prefer the 35mm focal distance – I feel it puts more of a spatial environment with my subject into the image. I’ve recently required a vintage Wetzlar 35mm viewfinder so I can use this lens on the older M3 (more on this later)
A special thanks to Grant (Dad) for the reflector light fill, high expectations there really after your previous experience in the sunflower fields of Southern France!
Fast forward to what I’m using film wise at the moment. The above camera is as close as I can get to large format, keeping it to 120mm film (Medium Format) It’s a beast to say the least… it’s hardly your convenient candid Leica M3 size. Sometimes we need a little more resolution to play with & this gives me a comfortable 6×8 negative.
As mentioned above ‘as close as I can get to large format’ the reason behind this, is this particular camera has the ability to tilt & shift, there’s not many other camera’s out there in this format that can do this without the need for expensive niche lenses! I can control the lovely soft focus & perspective on my intended portraiture with this camera. I found the camera relatively easy to operate with interchangeable backs as well as a Polaroid, I’ve ordered a load of FP-3000 instant black & white film from Germany (I believe Fuji are no longer making this!) Instant pics to follow.
Below are images taken from my first shoot with this camera & also my first home developed 120mm with the lovely Samantha, location Warkton & Weekley –
Pictures taken on Fuji Neopan Acros 100
I’ve had my Leica M3 with a 50mm Summicron f2 for about 8 months now & it’s truly changed the way I think and practice photography. Film photography feels to me, an organic way of documenting our family growing up. To compliment this organic workflow, I now home develop – darkroom to follow. I’ll deviate away from camera specs etc on this first posting, I feel it so fitting to explain the journey from the start!
Let me tell you a little about acquiring this wonderful piece of engineering (sorry guys I’m a design engineer – it’s engineering). Armed with Ken Rockwell’s advice, I took a gamble purchasing my first film camera off ebay. I knew no history of the camera & with plenty of my wife’s patience – we had to travel all the way down to Brighton to fetch it (a 3 hour journey from here). Arriving at the address given, I was like an excited school boy with all my saved money lodged in my pocket safe. Reggie, the seller was an elderly gentleman in his 80’s, he had taken a fall earlier in the day, cutting his cheek but had waited in for my arrival before his daughter took him to hospital. At that particular moment, oh man…. I felt so humbled & fortunate…
I looked the camera & lenses over, it was almost mint! I gave his daughter the money & explained to the Reggie, I wasn’t a trader ‘this camera was for me’ Leaning forward & holding me with his now unsteady hand, he said ‘this camera will take very special photos sir’ I nodded, totally agreeing with him – I felt like I was in a movie. Here was a fella passing this/his timepiece down, it didn’t feel like a purchased transaction at all!
I bid farewell, thanking them for their patience, then quickly checked out to see what Brighton had to offer with our boys in tow, before returning home. I later learned from my mother, that Brighton & specifically the pier was my late father’s Walkabout into his adult life… another story & one I wish deeply I could see any old photographs of!