Street Photography – Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Part Two) – Leica M6 . . .

. . . Of my two days shooting Street Photography at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I spent half of the first day with the Fuji X-E1 (article here) and the remainder of that day and all of the next shooting with the Leica M6 & Voigtlander 50 1.5 LTM Classic lens (review here). Here then are the photographs taken . . .

What is this ‘thing’ with film that you just don’t get with digital? It can’t be superior image quality as digital technology has more than surpassed 35mm in that respect. Nor for that matter can it be grain, as software such as Silver Efex can easily add as much or as little to your digital files as you like.

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It’s not because of the ‘speed’ with which you can take an image and moments later have it processed and printed or uploaded to your favorite website, as digital has a definite ‘handle’ on that one.

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Then there’s the smelly chemicals, the lengthy processing rigmarole, the dust, the hairs, the scanning and the ever growing number of folders to store and protect your fragile negatives.

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You can’t even review what you’ve just photographed and to add insult to injury, your limited to just 36 shots per roll !!!

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The answer I believe is that despite all of these ‘drawbacks’, it’s because of them that film continues to maintain it’s hold and fascination with photographers such as myself, around the world.

Film simply refuses to die.

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Take for example the image quality. There’s no doubt that in a direct side by side comparison and at full magnification, the detail of a digital image is something to behold. Every minute piece of information, such as the print on a newspaper – crystal sharp and easily readable.

And there in lies the problem. Digital images often have a tendency to be rather clinical and can lack character because of it. With the equivalent film image, there is an inherent sense of age to the photograph. When was this picture taken . . . 1945 ?

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Then there’s the inability to review your images and the restriction of only having 36 exposures.

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This is one of films true strengths. It slows you down, it makes you concentrate, it forces you to choose. With only 36 precious frames at your disposal, gone is the privilege of being able to ‘machine gun’ the subject in the hope that at least one shot will be usable.

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Each one of these images presented here are one of a kind. One shot taken per subject. Knowing that each time you press the shutter means one less frame available, forces you to wait and to study your subject, concentrating on the moment when things ‘look right’.

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Then after your day is done, there’s the uncertainty of what you’ve taken and how they’ve turned out. Maybe it’s a sign of approaching middle age, but apart from a few memorable subjects, I struggle to recall what I’ve taken that day.

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Which brings into the equation the element of surprise. More often than not, it can be anything up to a week after taking the pictures that I’ll develop the film. No matter how many times I process a roll, the sheer anticipation of carefully studying the negatives with a magnifying glass as they hang to dry, never loses it’s edge.

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Least not forget the actual process of developing your pictures. Those smelly chemicals can actually grow on you and in time, become rather pleasant. Now if I even get a whiff of fixer, I’m instantly transported to the darkroom – a cozy, warm and private place where time stands still. Rather like the images themselves.

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It’s a fair bet that with a Bulk Film Loader full of Ilford HP5, a bottle of Rodinal and a Leica M6 with Voigtlander 50 1.5, I’ll be shooting film for many years to come, whether it goes out of fashion or not.

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Long live film. 🙂


eBay UK always has a good selection of the Leica M6 for sale here.

 

Author: Kevin Shelley

Street Photography. eBooks. Blog. Shoots and reviews cameras. Develops film. Writes novelesque articles.

8 thoughts on “Street Photography – Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Part Two) – Leica M6 . . .”

  1. Hi Kevin, another well put together story and the images ain’t half bad as well.I agree totally in what you say about film, I keep saying to myself get yourself out there and just take along one of the many film cameras that I have, and maybe that’s the problem I’ve got to many I should narrow it down to just two, one as back-up and get rid of the rest?..and when your out there shooting with film knowing that you only have 36 on a roll and maybe a spare roll in your bag I find that you find yourself at a slower pace no rush see something take a shot and move on no sweat no of this looking at the LCD screen checking to see if you got the shot, you should know you got it the minute you pressed the shutter fingers crossed, and then as you say it could be a week or so before you get them back from the lab in my case or you dev yourself good or bad it doesn’t matter and that’s the beauty of film it goes along at it’s own pace unless of course you have a trigger finger and plenty of money…Keep them coming cheers mick.

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    1. Hi Mick and cheers. A pleasure as always.

      I had no idea you had so many film cameras. What do you have?

      As you say, it’s so much easier to decide what to take when you’ve only got one film camera and one lens. Focuses the mind.

      Cheers,

      Kev

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  2. Film vs digital seems to be an infective meme that drives normal people crazy.

    Once again, good photos. The coarseness of the images lends a different feel compared to the work you showed with the Fuji. Both have their merits. That Nokton 50 does a lovely job on both film and sensor bodies, and it suits the various Ms well.

    When it comes down to it, pick whichever aesthetic you like and work with it, that’s all. There’s really no need for all the angst and foofawraw. I enjoy using, exploiting, all my cameras. They all see differently—my challenge is to bend how they see into what my eye sees. That’s where the magic lies.

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  3. Nice! Rodinal and a bulk loader full of HP5 is how I roll, except with a Zorki 4K.

    I use both film and digital and I use them both in a similar fashion always on manual, it makes it interesting.

    Cheers,
    Si

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  4. I stumbled across this post quite by accident, but was very surprised to find out we use the exact same setup for nearly everything. Leica M6 (mine being a TTL, however), Nokton 50mm 1.5 LTM, bulk loaded HP5+ and Rodinal for developing. Crazy!

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