Street Portrait

A couple of years ago I dismissed digital photography as not being ‘real’ photography. My perception of digital was all wrong, believing that the digital photography was just computer manipulation and could never replace film was a very naive perspective on my part.


Now having used the M-P for a few weeks, I’m beginning understand where I was so wrong. Few years ago I owned a crop sensor Nikon D7000 and just didn’t get on with the camera or understand the controls let alone how use the it creatively. My images back then were to say the least, were terrible, so I sold the camera and returned to film photography. While I know manipulation in the digital can be done, I learned the format doesn’t have to be or need to use such techniques to get a pleasing image. To be perfectly honest this dim witted fool would have a clue or any idea of how to manipulate a digital image anyway.

It’s helped by the fact the Leica controls are, how should say, to me are normal. Using the digital Leica like it’s film counterpart has helped a great deal and limiting my post processing to what I would otherwise use for negative post production. By sticking to just cropping, brightness and contrast editing plus some dodge and burn has not only won me over but made this very enjoyable experience. To only worry about composition, not be concerned what the camera is doing, which is probably where I went wrong the first time round with the Nikon.

I found these two young ladies in Canterbury and asked if they won’t mind a letting me take a street portrait of them. The jewellery and tattoos lent themselves to a black and white image.

Leica M-P (Typ 240) with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens, taken in Canterbury, England. September 2021

Wisdom

Last Friday I spent a day street shooting, while the wife was shopping in Canterbury, England. Standing on the junction of Burgate and Butchery Lane near the Cathedral, this elderly gentleman walked up, stopped, looked up Butchery Lane, I focused. Then he turned to look back down Burgate, just as I pressed the shutter. I was for a moment concerned he might be lost or a little confused but then a woman called to him.

Luckily for me I had focused the Summilux spot on with aperture wide open and later viewing the image on the computer, to my amazement the picture is pin sharp. Indeed I’ve had to do very little to the picture other than a bit of dodge and burn on the buildings behind plus add my copyright at the bottom.

This for me, this has got to be my best image of this year so far.

Click to enlarge

Leica M-P (Typ 240) with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens, using a B+W Neutral Density 2 Stop filter.

Folkestone

Thoroughly enjoyed being out shooting with the Leica M-P and the Summilux today. I had not been to Folkestone, England in some twenty five years and it has somewhat changed. Last time I been there it was a very run down seaside town, with little or no investment or jobs after the demise of the ferry service to France was closed down in 2000 and the Channel tunnel which had opened six years before. Today it’s a very different place to town I knew.

Although very harsh light all day, I made this work in my favour and managed to get some great street shots and this was after I’d realised I had left my Weston lightmeter at home, so leaving me with no choice but to use the Leica’s own built in meter. Think I’m starting to get the hang of the of the M-P now.

I even got some abuse from a young woman who told me I was breaking the law taking pictures of people in the street. I do love these individuals who like quoting laws that don’t exist in the UK!

Walking along this shore path made out of old railway sleepers located on Folkestone seafront I was looking at the light was shining off them. Just waiting for the right moment, this girl walked pasted me and managed to catch her in the 1.4 depth of field.

Coffee Folkes

Along the old harbour railway station this coffee vendor was parked between a gap under the old railway station canopy with sun lighting up his auto rickshaw. Little tricky getting the metering right but I got there in the end.

Art

Out of tune

Since last being in Folkestone, there’s a lot of art work around the town now. This one is by Norwegian artist A K Dolven called ‘Out of tune’

Quote from the Creative Folkestone website

“It features a 16th-century tenor bell from Scraptoft Church in Leicestershire, which had been removed for not being in tune with the others. It is suspended from a steel cable strung between two 20m high steel beams, placed 30m apart”

…must make a terrible noise on a stormy night!

Reading the news

There was two men on this bench but this larger gentleman appeared in the frame, sat down virtually pushing the other guy off the seat. Then started reading the other man’s newspaper.

Dots & spots

The above image is a crop from a landscape picture, annoyingly other people kept walking into the frame …hard life being a street photographer! This been a film negative I don’t think I would have got away with such a crop without losing detail.

The 50mm Summilux and digital imaging shines through again. If you can get your hands on an example if only for a day, I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s sharpness even wide open is unbelievable. The harbour shot below was taken wide open as was the other images in this post.

House boat

Folkestone harbour …don’t ask!


If your ever visiting the seaside town of Folkestone, I can highly recommend ‘Marleys’ café for a great cuppa at only £2.00!

Marleys

Also back down the same street there’s Nik & Trick Photo Services store. Well worth a visit, cameras, film and darkroom supplies. Link below.


All images taken with my Leica M-P (Typ 240) with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens, using a B+W Neutral Density 2 Stop filter.

Final image at ‘Marleys’ taken with my Samsung A12 phone.

Nik & Trick Services Photographiques

The storyteller

I was lucky with this shot. I’d taken a few images of people sitting outside this public house in Faversham, England on market day and as the sun had made an appearance I couldn’t clearly see what I had captured. Later, having got home I found this one which I thought was ideal with the gentlemen’s mouth wide open to the right and the woman covering her eyes from the sunlight.

I shot the images with the Summilux wide open, ISO 200 using my Leica M-P (Typ 240) and using a B+W Neutral Density 2 x Stop filter.

Faversham Market, England. September 2021

Suncream

I just love the way street subjects get distracted by my dog Charlie. In this shot he is down to my left side. Charlie has got to know me well that when I stop and hold funny black box to my face he knows he’s to stop. He’s very patient, he waits and sometimes wag’s his tail, which is very useful for distracting people. Perhaps it should be a tip for anyone starting out in street photography, take your dog with you!

Taken on my Leica M-P (Typ 240) with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens and using a B+W Neutral Density 2 Stop filter.

Faversham Market, England. September 2021

Gymnastic decorating

Gymnastic decorating

While visiting Headcorn village yesterday, on the drive in my wife pointed out this young lady painting the front of this old grade two listed building. I believe it was an old Inn but now houses a couple of small businesses, one of which I think is a ladies hair salon. I managed to get an informal portrait of her on what was a very hot day for us all in the south of England. To be honest I’m surprised the paint wasn’t drying out before she could apply it with the brush!

‘Painting by numbers’ – Headcorn, England.

Both images taken with Leica M-P (Typ-240) Summicron 50mm f/2.

September 2021.



Decisions.

Jacks‘ the Doberman Pinscher – Summicron 50mm f/2

Recently I made a decision regarding my Leica lenses which I have mulling over for quite sometime. For the last few years I have been mainly using a 50mm lens for my photography and I like the idea of using just one lens but couldn’t make my mind which focal length I wanted stick too. There’s always that thought in the back of my mind that you’ll need different focal lengths for every occasion.

Two years ago I purchased the Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH partly out of wanting to make it easier to do street photography by using a wider lens and the fact that everyone else seems to use a wide angle lens for street images these days. The other thought was it to be used for any landscape images and could even eventually be my go to lens. On conclusion I think this was silly idea on my part and shooting zone focusing at f/11 or f/16 with a fast ISO all the time just to guarantee getting a street shot is not my style of working. While I’ll done it, I didn’t really enjoy shooting street images this way and as for the odd landscape or seascape I might take, interestingly I found most of the this type of images I’d previously taken where with the 50mm lens.

‘Choppy waters’ Isle of Sheppey, England – Summicron 50mm f/2

Another point was finding my dislike for the finger or focusing tab. I found every time I used the 35mm after using the 50mm Summicron (which on version V has no focus tab) I would find the finger tab annoying and did not use it. I think, you either like using a focusing tab or you don’t and I now find it just getting in the way all the time. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great lens but the focal length is just not necessary for me now some how.

The 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit, at the end last year before Brexit came into force I bought this lens from the Leica Vienna store online. It’s a lovely little Canadian made lens from the early 1980’s and wasn’t expensive at all. While thinking it was a good idea to have such a focal length available to use I in fact only used this lens twice since purchasing it. Once for testing and the other occasion for my image ‘Shoes’ you can see below.

Conclusions.

…So I have decided I am a 50mm focal length photographer.

Having rambled on, how I have come to the conclusion, I do only really need one lens, a 50mm lens for my photography and going through my images I found nearly 80% of them were shot using a 50mm lens, so why use anything else. I’m glad I had use of the 90mm but I so rarely shoot portraits or have the need to take pictures at this distance that I found they can also be done with a 50mm lens. I got 35mm Summicron for street photography but it’s not a necessity for shooting the subject nor do I need to have it in my bag for a landscape I might take. Yes it wasn’t cheap but I knew that either way if I sold the 50 or 35 I would get my money back.

Not wanting the 35 or 90mm to be collecting dust on the shelf, I’ve decided to sell them both. While looking up current prices of used Leica lenses on the internet I see a review on a 50mm Summilux lens, a version I wasn’t not aware of, the Leica Black-Chrome Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. Knowing all about the older Summilux’s and yes there’s always that envy factor of the f/1.4 …I know. For sometime I have had half an eye on maybe purchasing an example but the not the new version Summilux ASPH, model: 11 891 with it’s built in hood and focusing tab.

On a side note regarding the Summicron 50mm f/2 version V hood design. I have found the built in hood on the Summicron can get damaged very easily and I read some other photographers having had the same issues with Summilux and it’s built lens hood. Two years ago while in Le Mont-Saint-Michel in France, a woman lost her footing going up some stone steps and fell against me and in turn knocking the lens into a stone wall. While the damage to the lens didn’t seem that great at the time, a small nick on the other edge of the metal lens hood, later I found the hood would not retract properly back into the Summicron lens body …expensive repair!

New acquisition.

So onto the new acquisition, this lens is a modern version of the 1959 Summilux 50mm f/1.4 but with 2014 aspherical optics, made with solid brass, it has no focus tab, comes with a detachable brass hood and should last my lifetime. The extra stop will be a great bonus and the Summilux gives very smooth creamy bokeh which is as far as I know is unrivalled by any other lens.

Image courtesy from Leica AG

I didn’t see the point of owning two Summicron 50mm lenses, so I’m keeping the Summicron 50mm Duel Range lens to use on my M3. By selling three of my Leica lenses, this will cover three quarters of the cost for a used, excellent condition Summilux from Red Dot Cameras, London which hopefully I’m expecting to arrive tomorrow morning.

https://www.reddotcameras.co.uk/

Legs

I came across this Peugeot J7 van converted into a camper among the many that are parked up at the seafront, Minster, England. Apart from the vehicles aged look, I liked the hanging lantern lights and stencilled monkey advertising on the side panel. Lady inside didn’t want her picture taken but did not seem to mind or notice her legs being on show which added to the picture.

Taken with my Leica M-P (Typ-240) Summicron 50mm f/2

First shots

It’s been a few days and I am struggling a little to get the settings right with my new Leica M-P. Keep forgetting to press ‘set’ on the back of the camera and finding the images are not black and white, forgetting I can change the ISO mid shoot or I’ve not used the manual setting for my Summicron 35mm or my 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit lenses nether of which is a non 6 bit coded lenses.

Early days I suppose, other than my user errors I cannot fault the camera.

This one of the first pictures I shot Dahlia in our new garden. Taken using the Tele-Elmarit 90mm f/2.8 hand held, with Weston Euromaster lightmeter. I then find out having read in the instruction manual that this camera actually has a spot meter. Think I’ll still carry my Weston lightmeter regardless. You know how it is, your dying to use your new camera when really you should sit down and read the camera instruction manual first. Still all was not lost, my wife likes the image enough it’s now used as a wallpaper on our desktop PC.

When I can get the hang of this thing, it is really something! Think it’s going to make street photography easier, both to shot and post process. Above taken at Minster Leas, England using the Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH.

One decision I have made is to solely shoot JPG files. As I’ve said before, I don’t alter images very much nor use digital manipulation so I cannot see any reason to use RAW files. Most of my work is going to be black and white anyway and reading reviews it’s suggested that JPG files a better for monochrome pictures particularly for street images.

Image taken at Minster Leas, England. July 2021 with the Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH


Leica M3

Just after we moved into our new house my wife was given some flowers, pink and white lily’s to be exact. Having a moment to spare I used the M3 plus the Summicron duel range 50mm and this was the result of my efforts. Not bad considering the Fuji Color 200 was from my late father’s refrigerated film stock and was dated 03/2002.

Natural light and exposure taken with my Weston Euromaster lightmeter. Film development was done by AG Photographic lab.

I suppose I’d better think about changing my blogs name now seeing as I’m using digital as well as film.

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


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.