Changes

Things change, everything in our lives seems to have changed one way or another. Photography, particular street photography for me has changed in the last 16 months, a laugh, smiles or talking are hidden by masks and so my photographic life has put on the back burner these last seven months. The first three months of this year both my wife and I had a self imposed isolation at home, neither of us being the most healthiest of people. My wife Helen is a larger lady with related problems. Myself, I’ve had pneumonia twice before, an ex-smoker and was recommended by our Doctor if possible, that we both kept away from others. Other than going out with the dog for a walk, I find myself no longer carrying my camera because everyone is wearing masks, no one is either getting close or even socialising for the fear of the virus and restrictions on any unnecessary travel, my photography shutdown.

I’ve also had to change since moving into our new home. Developing films in the new house isn’t very easy as it was in the old property. The bathroom, (also known as the washroom in the colonies) in the new house is in fact just a shower room with a very small hand basin, not even big enough to get a Patterson developing tank in and so it’s the kitchen then. While my wife is pretty easy going with most matters there’s a line been drawn …I can, but only on a Saturday morning while she’s out doing her volunteering job. There’s no room in the new home although bigger house, for a dedicated developing room. Also with work commitments and continuing work for yours truly to do around the house, I’m finding very difficult to allocate time for film developing but hopefully as this latest lockdown ends I’ll be able to start getting out shooting.

Having time think while driving the truck at work has given to the idea that maybe I should think about using a digital camera, no developing, just upload to the computer …but then I would dismissed the idea a number of times before, cost, new system, not understand what all the buttons, knobs do, file systems and sizes, finding my mind going in circles back to where I started to the original answer, I don’t need one.

I’m not a technophobe, I am just don’t like a lot of unnecessary controls and features that I’ll never use or just confuse the hell out of my simple brain! For me a camera needs just three things, an aperture dial, manual focus and shutter speed dial and this why I couldn’t get on with digital cameras in the past. I’m not interested in noise, histograms or any of this digital manipulation, a bit of dodge and burn, cloning out any spots and adding a frame, then yes.

Then I was reading Thorsten von Overgaard blog about using a Leica digital rangefinders which I know these cameras are very good but getting one of Leica bodies are somewhat expensive. In the back of my mind is also the worry of the electronics with second hand cameras around the £3000 to £4000 mark which could become an expensive problem. Further on, his website has a link to Thorsten’s Youtube videos, one is about buying and using Leica M9, M240 and the new wallet busting Leica M10 in which he mentions the price of second hand cameras. He also goes on to explain about the simplicity of the camera menus which from what I can understand seem no worse than my Samsung phone.

So we come to today, after a lot of research, I decided on a Leica M (Typ-240) body which now retail for around £2500 for in good condition. This went slightly awry when I discovered the Leica shop Mayfair in London. It have never occurred to me that they sell second hand Leica cameras, let alone ex-demo cameras. Having a little money from my late fathers estate I made a telephone call, card in hand. I’m now the owner of a ex-demonstration Leica M-P (Typ-240) complete with it’s box, papers and associated accessories, plus 12 months warranty as it’s classed as a new camera still. Don’t ask how much!

I’ll be selling my M4-2 body to off set the dent in my bank account a little but will continue to use from time to time my Leica M3 with it’s Summicron 50mm duel range lens.

Just hope this new acquisition works out for me …wish me luck.


All images taken with my Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and shot on Kodak Tri-X, rated at 800.

The M3 image was taken with a Nikon FE, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 on Kodak Tri-X film.


Thorsten Von Overgaard website link below

https://www.overgaard.dk/thorsten-overgaard-photography-lounge.html


Among the birds

Arromanches, France – August 2020.

These people had been out sea fishing and were just returning their boats ashore. Apart from the reflections I was taken by the amount of Herring Gulls swimming around them hoping for any scraps. The image is cropped from the original as I only had the 35mm Summicron to hand that day.

Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Kodak Tri-X, rated at 800

Tails wagging

Honfleur, France – August 2020.

One of those days that was really far too hot to have dogs outside really as the temperature was up in the 90’s. Anyway this fellow had spotted my dog and along with the girl at the back of the group peering over at him made for a interesting street scene at one of the many Cafés in Honfleur.

Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Kodak Tri-X, rated at 800.

Retirement

Taken on another very warm day in Arromanches-les-Bains, France, 2020

Moments after I took the shot our dog Charlie barge in to make a fuss and luckily for me they where very accommodating to him but didn’t notice me taking pictures.

Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Kodak Tri-X, rated at 800

The Clarinetist

Must apologise to people who follow me, I been so snowed under with the house renovation work and moving that I lost touch with time.


Honfleur, France – August 2020.


Funny how you remember days like this one. My wife and I where trying to find somewhere to eat out on the harbour front in Honfleur and with Covid restrictions relaxed in France last August, you wouldn’t have realised there was any social distancing rules going on at all! Every outside table was full and with the temperature up in the nineties, we really wanted to be outdoors as many of these great restaurants unfortunately do not have any air conditioning. Making our way through the masses, trying to keep our distance I could hear a what I thought might be a Clarinet being played and eventually found the person standing in the middle of the street playing a very soulful tune.

I had to wait for the right moment to take this image as a some ladies with shopping bags kept standing beside him chatting (bottom right you can still see a bag) but not only that the little girl at the table behind was distracted by his music and looking around to see.

Only after I’d taken the picture did wife point out his face mask below his chin, which for my adds to the image the history of when this was shot.

Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Kodak Tri-X, rated at 800.

Messages

Bayeux, France. August 2020

I do like trawling through previous images I have taken but dismissed at the time. Looking at this picture, lord only knows why I discounted this one, I think flipping through the scans I failed to notice the reason I had taken the picture in the first place. Not only the two girls looking at the phone but up on the balcony above them was an lady doing the same. Did think about cropping the image to portrait, maybe some of you would of done, maybe it should be. Either way I’m happy with the picture final look.

Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Kodak Tri-X, rated at 800.

Along the Broad

Another image from my archives, taken back in the summer of 2017 from a short holiday break to the Norfolk broads, England. My wife said to me I had taken some nice pictures in Norfolk, I’d found I had taken a couple of rolls of colour print in Norfolk that summer, had them developed, scanned and forgotten all about them. Having found this shot I now use as a desktop wallpaper on my Linux PC.


I haven’t done very much photography of late as we are in the process of moving house. I say moving, we are having work done to the new house before we move in which is Victorian built around 1850’s so a lot of work to be completed. We expect to be actually moving in to the new house end of April, start of May. Hopefully, once settled and restrictions have gone I can get out and about shooting again.

Taken on a Nikon FE, 28mm f/2.8 Ai Nikkor on Kodak Color Plus 200 film.

Eastern Patterns

Sheerness, England – February 2021

Morning after Storm Darcy, aka ‘The Beast from East 2’ a cold front eastern Europe and Russia. I’m going start a new club called the ‘Frozen Leica Society’ because oh boy was I so cold my hands started to hurt in the -7°c wind chill …We English are not use to this sort of thing you know!

Anyway I shot this picture purely because of the pattern of the snow fall along the seawall. Later on, further along the front in the distance you can see the waters edge looks very white and as it turned out the sea was starting to freeze.

Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Fomapan 100 Classic film at an ISO of 800

Picnic in the Rain

Sheerness, England – January 2021

Last years Cygnets now matured having a paddle in rain at Bartons Point Coastal Park, which now is always empty except for the occasional dog walker and a fool walking around with his Leica.

Sadly, the Boat House Café is now another victim of the continued lockdown and I’d be surprised if it ever opens again. Shows how much it had rained, these birds swimming around what normally grass.

Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Fomapan 100 Classic film at an ISO of 800

La Cambe cemetery

Last year I shelfed this post because I felt some might be offended by it’s latter content. As I found out, there is still some very strong feelings about this cemetery in Normandy, France.


I have an interest in the history of the second world war and Normandy of course was a battle ground during the months of June and July 1944. On the occasions I have been to France, I have seen and visited few sites where battles took place, museums and Allied cemeteries but I’d never been to the German cemetery in La Cambe. We stumbled across it by chance on our way back to the house we stay at in Vimoutiers.

 The Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at La Cambe, Normandie

I’m always cautious and respectful when taking images around churches, cemeteries or graveyards. In the picture above, there’s a family ahead and when they passed me earlier at the entrance to the cemetery, I could clearly hear they were German speaking and wasn’t to sure how they might react seeing someone with a camera, let alone an Englishmen, but as the saying goes over here …“Keep calm, carry on”

Thankfully a Leica rangefinder is discreet, quiet and small although maybe some would say a bit sneaky! Years ago as I was taking pictures, I did have a woman take offence that I was using a camera in such a place, so I do like to be mindful of where I am and not to disturb others.


Before walking though the entrance a sign tells you, Until 1947, this was an American cemetery. The remains were exhumed and shipped to the United States. It has been German since 1948, and contains over 21,000 graves. With its melancholy rigour, it is a graveyard for soldiers not all of whom had chosen either the cause or the fight. They too have found rest in our soil of France.

I can understand why some in France still have ill feeling about the existence of this place.

As I start walking quietly though the main a gate your meet with a small marble hall with the large letters on the wall ‘HIER RUHEN DEUTSCHE SOLDATEN + ICI REPOSENT DESSOLDATS ALLEMANDS’ translated, Here lie German Soldiers.

Although very uniformed and tidy, unlike Allied cemeteries there are no headstones or white marble crosses, just stone plaques with the names of the fallen with roughly carved black stone crosses in groups of five dotted among the trees. On the overcast but very warm day I visited there where two national wreaths, one French, one German on stands in the middle of the cemetery. A few smaller wreaths lie on some plaques but no flowers or poppies but what stood out to me was among the bare graves, one plaque was covered in flowers and pictures.

Below is the grave plaque of one SS-Hauptsturmführer Michael Wittmann the German tank ace who was killed near Gaumesnil, Normandie.

Michael Wittmann grave in La Cambe cemetery

I was surprised that his plaque was surrounded by coins, some fresh flowers, some not so fresh as well as pictures of him in his wartime uniform. I am well aware of the exploits of this man, his achievements as a panzer commander and his subsequent demise in 1944. Although there is no record of Wittmann being involved with any crimes, he was still a member of the Waffen-Schutzstaffel who themselves carried out war crimes throughout the war and was born out of one of the worst authoritarian regimes mankind has ever known. I think one must forgive that some individuals still have the misguided belief of having a ‘cult’ status is ‘OK’ regardless of the crimes committed by the same organisation that this man belonged to throughout the conflict.


One final point, outside the La Cambe cemetery there are various plinths on which there are famous quotes. One stood out to me;

“The question of peace is not a globe question but a personal question for each individual”

Karl Jaspers

All pictures taken with my Leica M4-2, Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and taken on Ilford HP5 plus film in August 2020.