Leica Glow:An appreciation of classic Leica M photography.

Posted in age of elegance, camera, England, hobbys, Leica, Leica Lens, Leica photography, luxury camera, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, road trip, rustic, travel, Uncategorized, vintage, Wales, writing on September 9th, 2014 by wabisabipix

kd_leica_m6_1The Leica rangefinder camera has over the years become as legendary as the famous photographers that have become synonymous with using it.

Cartier Bresson,Eve Arnold,Robert Capa,Robert Frank and Vivian Maier to name but a few, have all been associated with its name and the body of work created with this photographic tool has spanned over many decades.

In an era where photographic quality and longevity seem to be taking a back seat, in a world obsessed with the quick fix and inherent obsolescence and yearly upgrades, it seems the ubiquitous smartphone has dominated the requirements of the masses.Even internet service providers are struggling to cater for the deluge of every day images flooding the internet and it is allegedly rapidly running out of capacity in its current form.

Interestingly there appears to be a rekindling of interest by many in the younger generation that have read and learned about the photographic legends of the golden era of photojournalism and are kicking back against the digital world that cocoons them.Many are seeking to learn more about the old techniques of dark room printing and the power and minimalism of black and white photography.

Film appears to be making a come back and even the film industry is turning away from the current vogue to use video and returning to celluloid in a bid to recapture that classic 35mm look.Such is rumoured to be the case in that of the new Star Wars Film currently being filmed at Pinewood Studios in the UK.

The legendary Kodak film Tri-X, famous for use by such photographers as David Bailey,Don McCullin,Anton Corbijn and Sebastiao Salgado,is also gathering resurgence of interest,especially for those seeking that natural film grain and rich blacks and whites that add character and depth to an image,a complete contrast to the digital, rather clinical, grain free effects of todays digital offerings.

Indeed a close friend who had a fridge load of date expired film has found that it was purchased enthusiastically on ebay by fans of Lomography who love the psychedelic effects of the film in their Holga and Lomo cameras who cannot get enough of it.

Many are now stepping off the digital merry go round and seeking out classic film cameras to shoot their important pictures and memories, after all its easy to scan a negative for internet purposes and you can keep a negative for archive purposes for hundreds of years, but when your hard drive dies or becomes obsolete thats a big problem,who can remember zip disks?

Over the decades I have used many cameras,but one that I have a special fondness for is the Leica M6 with a 35mm F2 Summicron IV pre aspherical.

This lens has become known as the “King of Bokeh” among rangefinder aficionados.

A true jewel of a lens,this optic is possessed of a unique set of characteristics that almost give the lens a life of its own.

When shot wide open this lens gives an extraordinary creamy bokeh(Japanese Bo-ke),a term coined by the japanese to describe the out of focus or blurry background effect when a wide aperture is selected.It also gives a wonderful glow in the specular highlights and a full range of tones that really jump out of the picture giving an almost 3D quality frequently described as the Leica glow.It is almost as if the lens maker has dropped a tiny pipet of bottled nostalgia onto the front lens coating and all images suddenly seem in some way like a captured frame from a dream sequence.

Mechanically the optic really is a dream.It has beautiful click stops,silky smooth focus and a full array of depth of field settings,enabling a photographer to take full advantage of setting hyper focal distance and pre-setting the camera for street photography.

I also like the 90mm Elmarit f2.8 which is ideal when you need that extra little bit of reach or a tight portrait and the gorgeous Elmar 50mm f2.8 is a cracking pop out pancake lens in the old tradition and style for keeping in a discrete pocket.

In modern times the Leica M6 body may not seem the most ergonomically designed of film cameras and the loading procedure can be a little bit more time consuming than opening the back door of a typical 35mm film SLR, however in my opinion this is not what rangefinder photography is about.If you require a camera to rattle off 12fps and send the images directly online via a wifi connection to your laptop then you are looking in the wrong place.However if you are the kind of person for whom the internet is a mere after thought and you want a small discrete camera that can be hand held to stunningly low shutter speeds and which is whisper silent and doesn’t draw attention,and if you enjoy doing your own black and white prints or thrill when you get back your prints from a lab,then this could be for you.

The Leica rangefinder is for people who prefer to smell the roses and enjoy life at a more laid back pace while taking the scenic route.It is for those who may relish the pleasure of sitting in a cafe watching the world go by while enjoying the pleasure of winding on the gears of a classic precision photographic instrument,almost like a swiss watch,that instills you with confidence in its design and the quality of its build and optics.The enjoyment of following a classic ritual from an age of elegance that makes you feel that taking pictures with it should be more thoughtful and considered.

 

In essence,shooting a Leica rangefinder eventually becomes an almost Zen like experience as one can see all the action prior to the subject entering the frame,preset the focus using hyper focal distance and use experienced judgement to set the light levels.Combining all these elements successfully creates an almost instantaneous extension of your mind and eye and culminates in a single understated whisper quiet click!

They are such mechanical wonders that they do not even require batteries.In my opinion thats quite something in this modern age.

It takes practice and discipline to master this technique of course,but the reward is there for those patient enough.

Indeed Leica cameras and their lenses are not cheap and seeking out the classic lenses is a costly affair.However of all the cameras on the market they are clearly an investment and you will almost certainly find that the camera or lens you buy either holds its value or becomes more valuable as the years pass by,the problem is that you probably will not want to sell it anyway as it becomes very much a part of your life.

There is also something pleasing knowing that in all likelihood that rangefinder will still be shooting when those digital wonders are are long gone into the annals of upgrade history or are relegated to the status of expensive paperweights.Indeed a battered and bronzed Leica with years of usage,has a certain beauty and appeal to it that is quite frankly priceless.

 

 

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WINGS AND WHEELS

Posted in aircraft, aviation, britain, camera, classic, classic car, England, english village, FIGHTER PLANES, london, motoring, news, Nikon, paratrooper, photo, photoblog, Photography, re-enactment, relax, renactment, retro, surrey, technology, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, unusual, vintage, Wales, wings and wheels, world war 2, world war one, writing on August 24th, 2014 by wabisabipix

 

A sensational bank holiday weekend at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey watching the fantastic Wings and Wheels event, an absolute gem in the air show calendar,celebrating its 10th Anniversary. Wings and Wheels combines fast cars with stunning flying demonstrations. There was a fantastic range of aircraft and cars on show as well as World War II  re-enactment societies and displays. There was a awesome display by the Breitling Wing Walker “amazons” who at times, were showing steely eyed skill as they held on without harnesses and inches from those deadly propellors and amazed the crowds.At one point they almost touched hands while flying inverted,remarkable!

Iron Maiden rock star Bruce Dickinson made a surprise appearance and hopped into a World War 1 Fokker Triplane and duelled his Great War adversaries  around the airfield in a  simulation of a world war I air battle. Also present were the famous last two remaining Lancaster Bombers,one from Canada,bringing a nostalgic tear to many eyes as they flew with a battle of Britain fighter escort. There were also many cars speeding around the race track including a Ford GT40 a variety of classics and supercars and a selection of motorbikes,some with side cars,tearing around the track famous for its role in the Top Gear TV Series.

A short video clip of an Apache Gunship and the British and Canadian Lancaster Flypast shot on a Lumix LX7 compact camera:

More images from Dunsfold can be viewed here:http://…/p763200112 Copyright Kerry Davies/All rights reserved. 

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All the fun of the fair

Posted in britain, camera, classic, english village, enthusiasts, europe, fairground, Festival, galloper, london, may, mayday, moods, news, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, quaint, relax, restoration, retro, steam engine, steam locomotive, surrey, Uncategorized, vintage, walking, writing on May 4th, 2014 by wabisabipix

SP_Carter_Steam_Fair_22The Mayday bank holiday 2014 rolls around and the famous English Carter steam fair rolls into town settling on the village green in leafy Hersham in Surrey.Very much a part of vintage Britain,It is quite a sight to see the superb antique steam fairground rides assembled and running with the nostalgic sounds of ride organs playing the melodic tunes of times past.It was formed in 1977 by John and Anne Carter,collectors of all things vintage and grew from strength to strength into its present form and is very much a part of treasured British heritage that is constantly being lovingly restored and cared for while delighting new generations of children and adults.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

  images and video copyright Kerry Davies/No unauthorised use or reproduction.

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THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

Posted in Anthony Quail, britain, camera, Donald Pleasence, Donald Sutherland, drama, England, english village, falschirmjager, film location, Film set, german, hollywood, Jenny Agutter, kidnap, Larry Hagman, lumix lx7, mapledurham, michael caine, paratrooper, photoblog, Photography, quaint, Robert duvall, soldier, star trek, studley constable, The Eagle has landed, thriller, travel, Uncategorized, village, walking, winston churchill, world war 2 on October 22nd, 2013 by wabisabipix

“StarTrek to Mapledurham” read the notice board on the wall of the Medieval Church in the quaint English Village of Mapledurham  a few miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Reading.This yellowing old press cutting on the church wall was giving a glimpse into the glamourous past that this sleepy hamlet indeed had that few may be aware of.In fact this classic olde worlde village with its alms houses ,village church,Mapledurham House and village watermill  has had quite a blast so to speak and is quite a location in film mythology and well worth a visit.

One would be quite forgiven asking for the local pub known as the” Spyglass and kettle”, well known from its famous past, for it along with its row of shops in fact never existed, other than as part of a grand film set built in 1976 for that classic World War 2 film known as THE EAGLE HAS LANDED written by Jack Higgins.

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A fan of the book and the film I set out with a newly aquired travel camera the Lumix LX7  with a 24mm f1.4 lens to take a look at what remains today.

A classic film from the golden age of all star cinema ,THE EAGLE HAS LANDED,starred Michael Caine as the leader of a renegade German Paratrooper special forces team tasked with kidnapping Winston Churchill in a Norfolk village known as Studley Constable disguised as Polish soldiers on a training exercise.Based on the many myths that arose after the war it derives its legend from the famous military unit that rescued Mussolini from his mountain top prison after a glider assault by the newly developed Fallschirmjager paratrooper unit that blazed a trail during the war.

The all star cast included Donald Sutherland,Larry Hagman,Robert Duvall,Jenny Agutter,Donald Pleasence  and Anthony Quail among many others.

During the film the locals discover the real identity of the disguised paratroopers after one of them meets a gory end when trying to save a young child after it falls into the water near the waterwheel and culminates in a huge shootout when American Rangers led by Larry Hagman roll into town. During the firefight a Jeep ends up crashing into the river near the water wheel and a rolling firefight spreads through the town to its ultimate climax at the local church.

Mapledurham Watermill

Mapledurham Watermill

Mapledurham Watermill

Its a film full of intrigue and action and in my opinion one of the best from the 70’s.

Today the village has returned to its quaint former self and you are more likely to have a pleasant cream tea at the nearby  Mapledurham House than dodge bullets and hand grenades.

Mapledurham watermill

Mapledurham Church

Mapledurham Church

Mapledurham Church

Mapledurham Church

The Church notice board

The Church noticeboardThe” Spyglass and Kettle” was in a position just in front of the church along with a row of shops in the position of the car park opposite the church.A false front was built on the front of the water mill and in fact blown up during the filming.

Mapledurham House

All in it makes a great afternoon out especially if you watch the film first and let your imagination run wild.

I’m still trying to find the secret passage way in the church.

There are film stills here as well:http://www.reelstreets.com/index.php?option=com_films&task=view&id=270&film_ref=eagle_has_landed&limitstart=10

enjoy.

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