. . . well I would watch it.
“That guy must really like his camera, he hasn’t stopped looking at it for the past 10 minutes?”
At least that’s how I imagine the average ‘Joe’ might regard someone shooting Street Photography with a TLR camera, such as the Mamiya C33.
In all honesty I’ve never felt more comfortable photographing strangers and candid situations, than when using the Mamiya C33 TLR Medium Format camera.
Admittedly the ‘outfit’, with it’s 135mm Sekor lens (90mm in 35mm terms) does weigh as much as a Carling 8-Pack (whatever one of those is). Fortunately this minor (?) handicap is utterly negated by the unorthodox (by modern standards) shooting style.
. . . continued from Part 1 . . .
It’s all well and good owning what many regard (or regarded) as the ultimate Street Photography camera (Leica M), but if you don’t use it for what it was intended, it becomes nothing more than an expensive piece of jewellery, or bling, or even an extravagance. More worryingly, outside of the relatively ‘clean’ environment of the street, the Leica M could be quickly ruined through dust and water contamination, or damaged from the slightest knock, etc.
What I needed in reality was a camera that would do everything. A camera I could ‘throw’ into the cavernous pocket of my motorcycle jacket and not have to worry about it getting cold or dusty. A camera I could clip to the ‘day pack’ on the front of my Kayak and not worry about it getting wet (or god forbid submerged if I capsized), or a camera I could simply stow in the glovebox of the car. All of this whilst still being able to turn it’s hand to the occassional bout of street photography.
Hence I narrowed my choice down to the Ricoh WG-5 GPS, an all weather, rugged, waterproof (to 14m), dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof and crushproof, 16 megapixel compact point and shoot camera, or as Ricoh prefer to simply describe it, ‘Adventure Proof’.
. . . The Leica M-E has gone to a new home.
For that matter, the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Nokton and Voigtlander 28mm f/1.9 Ultron lenses and the Leica M2, now also find themselves spread far and wide and hopefully providing many more years of photographic excellence to their respective owners.
Am I mad ?
This was a recurring question that I kept asking myself over many a month. Would clearing out all of my ‘Leica kit’ really be such a bad thing?
. . . To be completely honest and as far as I was concerned, photography was dead to me.
Regular visitors to the Street Photography Blog will be all too aware of my eternal battle with ‘seasonal disappointment’, brought on when the days shorten and the sky turns an uninspirational shade of morbid-grey.
In this frame of mind I would habitually ‘hibernate’ throughout each autumn and winter period, until one day the overcast horizon’s lift, that strange ‘light in the sky’ makes a much anticipated appearance, and it’s no longer necessary to wear five layers of clothing just to go shopping.
This time round however, things felt oddly different.
. . . “Hello, is there (still) anybody out there?”
Truth is (and now over 3 months since my last post), it makes no real difference if there isn’t. Photography doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. There, I’ve said it.
Even presented with the opportunity to take photographs, I find my mind drifting towards other more attractive propositions, like playing guitar, or riding my motorcycle, or Lamb Balti Vindaloo.
A case in point would be last weekend and I find myself at my favourite campsite in Delamere, near Chester. This rather convenient ‘stop over’ is a particular first-choice of mine, specifically because it features a railway station not 50 yards from its entrance gates. Step aboard this incredibly swift and cost effective public service and the wonderous realms of not only Manchester and Chester, but also Liverpool are between 15 minutes and one hour away.
Having always fallen into the comfortably familiar routine of Chester on the first day (because it’s a Saturday and hence more people) and Manchester on the Sunday (it’s a huge city, so still busy), I’d considered it a refreshing change to try Liverpool.
It’s that ‘quiet time’ on the blog again. The London trip came and went, a good time was had and many favourite photographs were captured, using both the Leica M2 and M-E.
Truth is however that before I knew it, my number-one pastime was becoming more of a ‘job’ (again and unpaid at that), with ‘appointments’ being made, promises promised and items for review provided.
So I decided to take a break from the whole photography scene, with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram ‘holidays’ booked. 🙂
And what an absolute joy it’s been without the constant thought of ‘this has to be done’ and ‘must sort that out’ etc. Instead I’ve been able to completely forget about all of ‘that stuff’ and concentrate on other things instead, such as music and my first motorbike in 3 years – nice.
So what about the pictures from London? Well for now I’d like to present what is for me, probably the finest photograph I’ve taken to date (in my opinion). Taken with the Leica M2, Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 Classic lens, Ilford HP5+ and processed in a new (for me) developer, Tetenal Paranol S (review to come).
Chow for now and enjoy.
. . . Have you ever stopped for one moment to evaluate just what it is that you hope to get from your photography? Maybe you just do it for the enjoyment? Possibly like me, you also write a Blog? If the latter, why go through all the time, expense, effort and worry (yes really) of doing so – surely it can’t be for the money?
With regards that last point, I was struck by this particular question a short while ago – how much money have I earned in the last 20 years from my photography, or the 3 years of this blog, or for that matter, the many countless photographic ‘weekends’ away?
Well that’s easy and you may or may not find the answer surprising – Ten pounds.
Yes, Ten Quid, a Tenner, a Bill & Benner, a Cockle, an Ayrton Senna, a Cock & Hen – and I can easily recall how I came to be in possession of that beautiful (if slightly limp) ‘Brownie’.
Five years ago I had this crazy idea of selling photographic prints. As chance would have it, there was a local photography exhibition just a few weeks away and in a moment of utter madness, I chose twenty of my (then) favourite images and had them printed as 16×12″ black & white photographs. As a finishing touch, I lovingly mounted each one in a chunky ebony-coloured wooden frame. Three hundred pounds later and on a cold and dark morning, I headed off to the exhibition. At an asking price of just £25 each, I was sure to make my money back AND turn a tidy profit for my troubles?
(Please be sure to see the end of this review for an important update).
. . . During the previous installment of this review, I got to know the M Edition 60 a little better and gained a clearer understanding of what it can offer photography today. Now in this, the final chapter, I took the Leica M Edition 60 out and onto the streets of Chester and Manchester, where I could properly put the camera through its paces . . .
. . . The brief was simple. Evaluate whether a digital camera can function as an everyday ‘shooter’, without a screen – just myself and the Leica M60 enjoying a relaxing stroll through the sights, sounds, smells and inhabitants of two popular, sprawling and rugged cities in the North West of England.
How in fact is it possible to spend an entire two days shooting street photographs and using only a camera that provides just the bare minimum of options necessary to capture a picture – those being shutter speed, aperture, focusing and ISO sensitivity?
. . . Previously in the article Leica M Edition 60 – A Design Concept (and deliberately avoiding the term ‘Part One’ if only in the interest of originality), I looked at the M60 from the point of view of Leica and in particular their designers and marketers, what ‘it is’ and what it means to Leica themselves. Now I’ll examine the camera, what it’s like to use (with the resultant photographs) and what it can offer the photographer of today . . .
. . . Writing camera reviews (or any written work for that matter), is rather like designing a camera itself. Typically and when beginning such a creative endeavor, it’s common practice for the Design Team (or writer) to draw inspiration and ideas from areas seemingly unconnected to the task at hand. This is often achieved by the creation of a ‘Mood Room’ – an area whereby objects or photographs are collected together and that in some way instill a particular feeling, or an emotion, or place the individual ‘inside’ the mind of the prospective customer. For example, someone wishing to create a vehicle that evokes a sense of the 1950’s may watch a movie from that period, such as ‘Rebel Without A Cause’.
Another approach is to seek enlightenment from one’s own memories and experiences, and which is a technique I frequently use when piecing together the basic premise of an article, such as this one.
In my case and through the course of the 3 or 4 days spent so far with the Leica M60, I was beginning to form a sense of what the camera ‘says’ to me as a photographer. During this period, two distinct and completely unrelated memories began to surface – my favourite old Television Set and Eric Clapton.
. . . There is a saying in the world of product design and marketing that is as old as those professions themselves – “There’s no such thing as bad advertising”.
Take for example the case of Leica, for I believe that with the release several months ago of the M Edition 60 (simply called the M60 from now on), there must be at least one or two Designers and Marketers sat in front of their computers at Leica HQ, rubbing their hands with glee?
On the surface however and judging solely by the multitude of impassioned comments this camera has garnered on forums and social media, this would appear to be a peculiar assumption to make.
With words such as irrelevant, unnecessary, snobbish, pointless, expensive, elitist, bourgeois and outdated appearing with almost nauseating regularity, how could one deduce that this would in any way work favourably towards building a successful and sought after product?
Well, from the wisdom of Oscar Wilde, “There’s only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about”.
. . . Yep, following my visit to Bowness near Windermere in the Lake District and my experiences shooting Street with the Medium Format Mamiya C33 TLR, I have emerged from the fumes, flames, smoke and explosions of the Street Photography Blog laboratory, with another eBook.
“The British – A Pictorial Guide for Other Nations” is a light-hearted and ‘tongue-in-cheek’ search for the elusive and stereotypical representations of how other nations (may possibly) view the British. As it turns out, there is actually a strong basis for these (possible) misconceptions.
As usual, click eBooks to visit that page and download the eBook (PDF), or click the picture below.
. . . If anyone was to tell you that ‘film is dead’, suggest to them that they place a post on Twitter and include the hashtags #Film #Photography. Leave to simmer for a few hours and if the number of favourites, enthusiastic responses and re-tweets they’ll receive are anything to go by, film is apparently continuing to grow in popularity – and I for one can understand why.
Leaving aside the obvious attractions of its inherent image quality, the ‘feel’ and the limited number of exposures available (with the benefits this brings to your photography), there is also a level of anticipation and excitement when it comes to viewing your finished images, which is impossible to achieve with digital. (UPDATE : Unless you’re shooting the Leica M Edition 60 – My 3-Part review starting here).
These unique qualities can be experienced whether you send your films away to be processed, or choose (as I do) to do the work yourself. However, it’s only in the darkroom that you’ll experience the full gamut of emotions.
Take for example the last two days, one Mamiya C33 TLR and four rolls of ‘expired’ Ilford FP4 Medium Format film.
It began a few days ago, when I accidentally tripped over my ancient (and beige) National Geographic canvas camera bag, poking out from under a table – “Ah the old Mamiya” I thought. Very shortly I’d pulled the camera from the bag and soon discovered there were also four rolls of unexposed black & white film in a front pocket. A quick once-over and several film-less test shots later confirmed everything was (somewhat surprisingly) in good order. The old grey-matter quickly got to work and in no time, a plan was hatched.
. . . Following the many encouraging comments I received for my first eBook “Street Photography – A Personal Point of View“, I was keen to set to work on my next ‘magnum opus’. 😉
This time the subject is both a series of 15 Portraits, taken with the Leica X (Type 113) that I recently reviewed, as well as many sentences regarding my views on the meaning and (perceived) limitations of the word ‘Street’ in Street Photography.
. . . With this review I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try something completely different, both for the Street Photography Blog and (possibly) for camera reviews in general. So in documenting my experiences with the Leica X, I’ve split it into two distinct parts.
Part One consists of this review, which is a hands-on look at how the camera performed when recently taking it round the UK Photography Show.
Part Two is an accompanying (and FREE) eBook in PDF format. The eBook “Not Of The Street” features (as well as writing) the main ‘body’ of photographs taken during the time spent shooting with the Leica X and which are themselves a first for my photography, a series of 15 portraits. Enjoy . . .
. . . There’s an old saying ‘The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry.’
In my case, at the Photography Show, that’s so very true. But on this occasion, it’s all for the better – much better.
I’d originally made a mental-plan of things to do, places to go and people to see. That was until today . . .
. . . The following is a summary of those exhibits I felt had a relevance to Street Photography . . .
. . . My eyes have been opened to a whole other world – that of the ‘jobbing’ photographer. In particular and if my feet are anything to go by, I have gained a newfound respect for those who make it their living.
I’d made a point of arriving at the show some 30 minutes before the doors were due to open, in anticipation of finding a good parking spot (near Hall 5) and in the hope of beating the ‘mad rush’. Sadly it appeared that everyone else had the same idea. Doubly sadly and not knowing the layout of the N.E.C, the carpark I was directed to was some 1/2 mile from the Photography Show. Oh well.
After what seemed like an eternal walk, I’d arrived at the entrance to the show and was greeted by an immense gathering, everyone congregated in anticipation of the large black curtain being removed – and there I stood at the back. “This is gonna take forever” I thought . . .
. . . So tomorrow is the start of the N.E.C. Photography Show. Now this is the first camera show I’ve ever been to (yes really), which probably explains my anticipation and rather strangely, nervousness.
Nervous you ask, but it’s only a photography show?
Typically it wouldn’t be an issue, after all I’m no stranger to visiting shows for subject matter such as motorcycles, or guitars. However, this is the first time I’ll not be attending from the perspective of Joe Public, but as someone looking to provide coverage and insight of the events and exhibits at the show ‘for Joe Public’.
So here I sit, in my camper van, somewhere on a campsite about 10 miles from the N.E.C. – glass of Chateu du Chatalais in one hand, iPad in the other, typing this post.
The final checklist was done this morning, before making the 190 mile journey from Cumbria to ‘the Midlands’.
The Gods of Photography must be smiling down, as not only have I secured a Press Pass for the upcoming Photography Show at the N.E.C. Birmingham on 21st – 24th March, Leica have very kindly provided me with one of their latest cameras for review, a Leica X. Thank you Leica UK . . .
. . . I’m quickly discovering that in the world of camera reviewing, it’s easy to fall into a ‘standard’ frame of mind. Take one camera, compare it to similar models from other manufacturers, ‘peep’ at the images on a pixel level, examine the spec’s and from that, offer an opinion as to whether it’s better or worse than the others. Simple really?
There’s of course a problem with this much favored style of appraising a cameras’ strengths and weaknesses – it tells the reader nothing about what it’s actually like to use in the real world.
Therefore you won’t find any of that ‘stuff’ in my reviews. Yes I may make passing comparisons to another model or two, but this is always from a usability point of view – which leads me to this rather smart offering from Leica, the ‘X’.
. . . With The Photography Show 2015 at the N.E.C. Birmingham starting next weekend on the 21st March, my poor little feet (and fingers) are going to be taking a hammering.
What initially started out as ‘just a day at the show’, has in a short space of time become a huge logistical exercise (for me at least).
Since planning a visit to the Birmingham exhibition, I applied for (and received) what is probably the holy grail as far as enthusiastic photographers are concerned – a Press Pass.
This of course opened up a multitude of possibilities for what could be achieved at the show, amongst many being – free access to all 4 days, access to the Press Room (with comfy chairs), desks, refreshments and free wi-fi.
Then there’s the ‘press pack’ on a USB stick, as well as ‘press only’ Q&A sessions and interviews with many well known and famous photographers, including Martin Parr.