second batch of leica photos

Another 2 days, and 20 more photos. I gotta say, I love the lens on this camera. Summicron wide open is just a really nice look. The fine detail you get out of this system is just unbelievable. That said, highlights are still garbage and the meter is so bad; not just a little bad but super inconsistent. My guess is that they’ve biased it to underexpose to compensate for the highlight issue. My conclusion so far is that there’s nothing I can’t do with my Fuji by using it in aperture priority and shooting with lower ISOs.

The house across the way from ours. Different house, same fence. Sophia takes an important call. Kage? This little toy just cracks me up. Not Santa. Me, by Sophia. Real Champagne. Classy joint. Much less classy. They made me take my hat off after 10pm; something about gang fights. Sophie, towards the end of the night.

Posted by Matt on 2017-12-23 17:54:11 +0000

first pictures from the rented leica

So the first 24 with this camera have been a little rough. You might say it’s a little peculiar. I’m not used to an exposure meter that’s center-weighted (and don’t tell me to use the live view). It takes kind of a long time to wake from sleep. The truth is, though, for all it’s problems, I really like it.

This morning, for no reason I could discern, I woke up at around 6:30, and I could tell that there was light behind the curtains, so I figured right then and there was as good a time as any to take the new rig out for a test ride. (The first photo is from last night, but I liked it enough to leave it in the edit). I pulled on yesterday’s clothes and my boots and went for a walk.

I didn’t walk too far before hopping on the 72M bus, which took me north to Albany. I’ve been meaning to go shoot up there for the San Pablo Project. I got to shoot for about an hour. The light was super contrasty, and the camera had a tendency to underexpose that I’m not mad about, really. At the lower end of the ISO spectrum it’s got tons of information before it’s really clipped. Probably an extra stop over the in camera warnings. On the other hand, highlights clip like it’s 2006. I’ll have to do some actual tests if I get a chance, see where this thing actually clips at each end, and calibrate my shooting accordingly.

I look at these photos and I can tell right away they’re mine. But there are a couple (the green one with the reflections esp.) that I simply wouldn’t have gotten with a different camera. This thing encourages shooting wide open, something I really miss, and also the focusing mechanism is set up so that it can’t get confused by the near objects in front of you. If you can see it, you can focus on it.

Of course, I’ve had an hour with it so far. And then tonight at the gym I did something to my knee, on the MCL side, that made me get one of my crutches out for support. So, I might not get to do as much walking and shooting as I’d like. I’ll still be shooting, though. I’m here till the light goes out.

(update after day 2: yup, didn’t get out to shoot at all).

Posted by Matt on 2017-12-21 07:09:08 +0000

dinner club picnic

So, yesterday, when I finished scanning these and started looking at them, I got so excited about them I started texting them to everybody in them. Sort of forgot about the whole Instagram thing and just sent them out. Sorry, Edgar and Annie, for blowing up your phones. Then I remembered, and dutifully posted the top one.

I’m not sure why I’m so jazzed about these; it may be shooting with a real rangefinder is working for me, or it may be that shooting film agrees with me for some reason, but I suspect it’s neither of those, and mostly that I’m shooting candid portraits again. With the landscapes, with the street pictures, there’s no urgency; they’re pure exercises in form (the objectification and the problems therein are not lost on me; I have read books and written essays on the subject, but I digress). I suppose I shot those kinds of pictures because they were available to me, but I’m not sure it was actually a good direction. Portraits of people, that’s the ticket.

So, I’m gonna try to do that more. I spent a long time (the first 10 or so years I was taking pictures) hating on landscapes because I thought they were too easy, that exercises of form were beneath me. I don’t really think that any more; not because they’re harder than I thought, but because I’ve taken enough of them now and found it a good learning experience. A meditation, if you will. But portraiture feels really good, and so I’m gonna do some more. (of course the next set I have in the queue is all landscapes from Point Reyes, but there’s at least a good shot of my dad in it).

These photos are of the dinner club where we went to lake merrit and had I don’t even remember what, because I didn’t have any other camera, and I didn’t want to take a picture of my food with the film camera.

Posted by Matt on 2017-12-12 06:59:35 +0000

photos from the texas leica

These are all from last summer, June and July, when my mom was here, and not. I’d just gotten the Fuji, and was super excited to shoot with it. I put 10 or 12 rolls of film through it, and had them souped at a local lab, SF Photoworks. Then, because their scanning prices are just silly, I bought a scanner and started scanning them all in myself. I may have said this before, but I really like the images I get out of this camera. I really don’t like the process of scanning images. The epson software sucks and is slow; the film holders are fiddly and kinda shitty.

I’m not sure I’ll keep going in this vein. It’s possible. The newer cameras are a lot easier, which isn’t always a good thing. I see my primary job is to tell stories with the camera; take pictures that at least tell a little part of a story. Sometimes it’s just setting the mood; sometimes it’s something really explicit. Sometimes, it’s telling a joke. The determining factor in this work (among others) is paying attention to what’s happening. Sometimes, if the pictures are easy, I forget and just shoot a bunch without thinking, without knowing what I’m getting.

I feel kind of off when I’m doing this, and the main way to break out of it is to change what I’m doing. Change lenses, exposure modes, put my hat on backwards. Tricks and superstition, maybe, but also things that work to get my head back in the viewfinder. Anyway, the limitations of the camera, the fact that it only has 10 exposures on a roll, is fully manual, and large, and slow, actually help push the mental state. It’s like stretching before a run.

Posted by Matt on 2017-12-09 08:52:56 +0000