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/

The Spider

Funny how you take a shot and don’t notice a small element of the image until post processing. I was taking pictures of the grasses lit up by the morning sunlight using my new M-P and having shot a number of images I returned home.

click to enlarge image.


Even while finishing the image I still hadn’t noticed the spider until as always I view my finished pictures large on my 30 inch computer screen. Although the spider is very small, the detail of the web when seen large is just amazing to me and completes the picture in a subtle way. Think this image is going to used a large wall print for our new home.

For those of you struggling to see the creature and think Martin has lost his marbles, below in a close up of the image above.

Taken with my Leica M-P and Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH

Shining through

I’ve shot this sort of image before but this time the clouds where just right covering the whole of the sky giving very soft low light when sunlight wasn’t breaking through the cloud bank.

Picture was taken the following morning after Storm ‘Evert’

I just love the way our Met Office has for the past couple of years have to name these weather fronts we have from time to time here in the UK. Think they’ve got jealous of the United States and other parts of the world with the cyclone, hurricane and typhoon names.

Taken with my Summicron-M 50mm f/2, digital yellow filter preset and shot in Minster on Sea, England.


Colour saturation worries.

Finding my feet with my new Leica M-P, I have been a little concerned about colour images being too rich. I discover there two colour film presets built in to the camera. Not wanting to get too deep into digital manipulation of any kind the original JPG image below was taken without ‘smooth’ film setting. This might look ok to some but me looks wrong, missing detail and doesn’t represent what observed this morning when I shot this image.

On the one hand I wonder if this is cheating but on the other realise it a get way of toning down the colours which would be in my eyes over saturated. Shot with the film Smooth setting, I still had to bring down the levels within Gimp to get the picture below just right though.

Taken with the Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH at Bartons Point Coastal Park.


Reading the Leica M-P operating manual while walking around and using this camera I feel like the German officer played by Gert Frobe in 1956 film Those Magnificent Men
in their Flying Machines

In the film having never flown a flying machine, he said “there is nothing a German officer cannot do” …later you see him reading the aircraft flying instructions while flying the aeroplane!

Image courtesy of forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com

Canada

Mote Park, Maidstone England. July 2021

Great day for light yesterday. Very stormy with broken sunshine here in the UK, some places like London had localised flooding but for us not much rain to speak of. Walking around Mote Park, Maidstone I found unfortunately there was very few people visiting and so I had to find different subjects to shoot with my new Leica M-P. Walking up from the boathouse in the background of the picture above I spotted the Canada Geese were standing in a row along the lake edge. Walking slowly around so not to disturb them I want to capture image with the storm clouds in the background but as I approached the birds to get closer with the Summicron 35mm many birds jumped in the water and paddled away leaving only half the amount of birds. In my mind I did wanted to get down to their level but with a lot of hissing I thought better of the idea …must carry my other lenses with me!


Digital filters

All went well with this shot even managing to use the built digital yellow filter. I’m half and half on using the built in digital filters, while the jury is still out on this idea seems to work well though. I would be interested to here other peoples thoughts and ideas on using this type of built in filter, maybe any pros or cons there are on using digital built in camera filters.


After a great morning shooting when I finally got home I noticed I’d still had forgotten to manually add the 35mm Summicron which is not a coded lens. May have to consider having my Leica lenses 6 bit coded. Final image is crop from the original as to the right of the picture was half a bird leaving the frame. Post processing was kept to a minimum as usual. Picture was shot in JPG, with a little dodge and burn mainly on the birds, plus the added frame by using Gimp 2.8.

Image taken on my Leica M-P (Typ-240) Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH

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


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.