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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THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING:A VISIT TO THE FORMER HOME OF RUDYARD KIPLING.

Posted in aircraft, britain, Burwell, country houses, England, english village, enthusiasts, europe, Great War Society, Nikon, photo, photoblog, Photography, quaint, re-enactment, renactment, retro, road trip, travel, vintage, walking, walks, warhorse, Western, world war one, writing on August 3rd, 2014 by wabisabipix

A glorious sunny day in August and what better a place to visit than the former home of Rudyard Kipling the author of such classics as The Jungle Book and The Man Who Would Be King. Set in the rolling countryside of the  Sussex Wield,just outside the village of Burwash,it is a wonderful 17th century Jacobean house that was his home until his death in 1936. The house is now cared for by the National Trust and is open to the public. You can wander unhindered around the splendid oak beamed interior left very much as the great man left them. His own writing desk is left pretty much as if he has just popped out for an afternoon tea,scrapped sheets of paper containing his writings piled high in the litter bin opposite his desk,even his own Rolls Royce is on display in the nearby garage for viewing. The rooms are full of artefacts that reflect Kipling’s association with the East. The gardens are a spectacular affair,sunflowers ablaze and fresh vegetables and herbs in the allotment growing in abundance. Here you can pick up one of the kindly offered blankets,borrowed to visitors,and enjoy a picnic on the spectacular lawn surrounded by its rustic charm. My visit coincided with the national commemorations of World War One. Hundreds of events are taking place across Britain to remember the “Pals”-groups of friends,neighbours or colleagues who joined up to form their own battalions in World War One.In the spirit of the event, the lawns at “Batemans”,which is the name of this splendid house,had a wartime biplane parked in its midst and a gathering of tents as re-enactors from the Great War Society sent us back on a trip in time to the beginning of the First World War. Mostly volunteers,they gave authentic displays and explanations of the weaponry from the period including pitched battles that stunned the crowds and sent the gunfire and explosions thundering across the landscape.Truly spectacular and a fitting salute to the man who wrote many classic about the period and who indeed played his well documented part in the Great War.

More images can be viewed here:http://…/p830052178 Images Copyright:Kerry Davies/No unauthorised usage/All Rights Reserved

 

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THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES:FARNBOROUGH AIRSHOW 2014

Posted in britain, classic, England, enthusiasts, technology, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, unusual, vintage, writing on July 13th, 2014 by wabisabipix

The engines glowed red and the ground shuddered as the engines fired up launching the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet tearing up the runway and sending a rippling through my chest.The cool air that followed a rainy morning at Farnborough was suddenly turned warm and the smell of aviation fuel wafted through the atmosphere.

There was the air rippling growl and thunder clap of the last airworthy Vulcan Bomber tearing up the heavens with its ginormous wings.

The death defying stunts of the Breitling Wing Walkers Team and the stunning gravity defying VTOL manoeuvres of a Harrier/Matador from the Spanish Navy,bowing its nose like a bull fighter in the ring, to the applause of the awestruck aviation buffs that gathered in a small crowd at the airfield gates to get a preview of what the week to come had in store.

I was observing the buildup of aircraft both civilian and military from all over the world as they were getting in their practice sessions for the 2014 Farnborough Air Show,one of the largest events of its kind in the world which takes place on July 14th to 20th 2014. One of the most important events in the aviation calendar it is an important opportunity for industry to show off the latest designs and also a great week for aircraft aficionados to admire some of the vintage models also on show. This year looks set to see the appearance of the latest F-35 lightning II VTOL fighter and a number of new additions to the Boeing stable,including the P-8A Poseidon and a new Dreamliner 787-9.

Heres a taster of what I saw.

More images can be viewed at this link:http://…/p998861920

Copyright Kerry Davies/All Rights Reserved.

 

And just to get you in the spirit,a bit of a classic….!!

 

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ALL ABOARD THE CRAB AND WINKLE LINE:A DAY OUT IN WHITSTABLE.

Posted in art, beach, classic, England, english village, Kent, lumix lx7, nature, news, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, quaint, railway, relax, retro, road trip, rustic, steam locomotive, sunday lunch, tourism, train, travel, unusual, village, vintage, walking, walks, Whitstable, writing on July 6th, 2014 by wabisabipix

A short drive out of London, on the Kent coast,lies a gem of a town that still retains the flavour of an old English seaside resort of the kind that is much missed these days on this sceptred isle. Whitstable is a perfect family destination for those in the know,where time hasn’t moved along in a hurry and families can still enjoy that beach experience very much relegated to the halcyon days of nostalgia. An afternoon spent wandering along the sea walls, meandering among the multicoloured beach huts, breathing deeply of the sea air and exploring the old fishing village and harbour with its fresh seafood,Oysters,Cockles and Winkles.Exploring the old alleys filled with boutique shops or simply savouring the peace and quiet and recharging ones batteries here,the traveller is left with the feeling of time well spent. Originally built in 1832 by the Canterbury and Whitstable railway company, the harbour was created to serve what was called the Crab and Winkle line ,which linked Canterbury and London by a steam ship and also helped carry coal and timber as well as providing a thriving sea food industry. By 1849 the town had turned into a bit of a boom town and played its part during the war transporting munitions and grain. Sadly the town fell into a downward spiral after the Crab and Winkle line closed in 1952. As time passed,the town became more of a traveller destination,preserving much of its original character for being quiet,reserved and far enough off the beaten path to feel like a haven away from the big smoke of London. A great plan for visiting Whitstable is to start in the harbour with its seafood markets and walk up the sea front, stopping at leisure and absorbing the atmosphere along the sea walls. Children will be in their element as there is so much to do. The Old Neptune Pub,a famous landmark that has often been seen in films made in the area,would be a great place for refreshments. Why not head into the quaint town centre and its delightful boutique shops and restaurants where you cannot help but feel that there must be a reason this town attracts a lot of artists. After lunch, perhaps a stroll back up the hill visiting Whitstable Castle and dropping back down to the beach to enjoy the beautiful light of the sunset over the Isle of Sheppey while rounding off the day cooking a fish supper over a beach barbecue.

 

See more images here:http://www.surreypix.co.uk/p31361888 All images copyright Kerry Davies/All rights reserved.

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PAINSHILL PARK:HAVING A BLAST WITH THE NAPOLEONIC ASSOCIATION.

Posted in age of elegance, britain, cannon, cavaliers, cool, drama, England, english village, enthusiasts, equine sport, europe, feature, film location, Film set, folk, forts, french, fringe, hussars, legends, london, lumix lx7, moods, muskets, myths, Napoleonic, Napoleonic association, napoleonic wars, nature, news, Nikon, painshill park, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, re-enactment, redcoats, relax, renactment, road trip, skirmish, surrey, swords, tourism, travel, unusual, vintage, Wales, walking, walks, warhorse, waterloo, writing on May 25th, 2014 by wabisabipix

The May bank holiday on sunday 25th 2014 certainly went off with a bang as the Napoleonic Association of re-enactors http://www.napoleonicassociation.org blitzed the Painshill Park near Cobham in Surrey http://www.painshill.co.uk with the thunder of hooves and the crack of muskets and cannon fire. An incredibly authentic experience of the “age of elegance”,they delve deep into all aspects of the period delivering an enthralling battlefield skirmish and other camp and entertainment experiences along the way. You have to blink twice to remind yourself that we are in fact still in the 21st century and cannot help but feel that these were in fact more elegant times. This group clearly eat,sleep and live this colourful period in history and provide a great insight to onlookers who ever wondered what it would have been like to live in these times. I can still smell those camp fires! Now where did I put that musket!

More images can be viewed at: http://www.surreypix.co.uk/p393250091 Copyright Kerry Davies /All rights reserved.

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Your Punch And Judy Needs You!

Posted in britain, classic, covent garden, England, enthusiasts, feature, Festival, folk, fringe, london, may, mayday, moods, news, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, punch and judy, puppet, puppeteers, quaint, relax, restoration, retro, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, vintage, walking, walks, writing on May 11th, 2014 by wabisabipix

“Your Punch And Judy Need You!” proclaimed the stick wielding angry looking Mr Punch illustration attached to the wall of the metal fence of the St Pauls Church in Covent Garden in Central London on May the 11th 2014.

Wandering into to the rear courtyard of the church otherwise known as “The actors church”, I was struck by wall to wall arrangements of multicoloured very striking lines of Punch and Judy tents that screamed of historic beach nostalgia from Britains glory days of old.

“Oh no it isn’t!!, Oh yes it is !!” Echoed around the courtyard and the distinct yell of “Sausages!”,and the clack of wood against wood as Mr Punch received another clobbering from his ever suffering wife and the screech of a Police whistle as Mr Punch was eternally pursued for batting his baby into the stratosphere in a most politically incorrect manner.

I even spotted a pearly King and Queen  and of all things a psychedelic pink Policeman and a brass band thrown into the mix for good measure!

The annual Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival is an event that celebrates the red nosed stick wielding puppet and brings together dozens of puppeteers in a gathering of great entertainment value and nostalgia.

On the wall of the Church an engraving stands prominently in honour to Mr Punch.Covent Garden is in fact the birth place of the troublesome,anarchic chap who was first sighted by Samuel Pepys on May 9th 1662 near this site and the last sunday nearest this date has essentially become his birthday.

So enjoy your sausages Mr Punch but look out for the crocodile,happy birthday!

 

All images and video shot with a Lumix Lx7.Puppeteer Professor Clive Chandler

Images Copyright Kerry Davies/No unauthorised reproduction/All rights reserved.

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Jack in the Green Hastings 2014

Posted in Battle of Hastings, beach, britain, Castles, Celtic, Christians, England, europe, feature, Festival, folk, fringe, gawain and the green knight, green man festival, hastings, Jack in the Green festival Hastings, jack-in-the-green, legends, may, mayday, medieval, myths, nature, news, Nikon, pagan, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, quaint, relax, retro, road trip, saxons, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, unusual, vintage, Wales, walking, walks, writing on May 6th, 2014 by wabisabipix

As the clock ticked over and the Sun rose over Great Britain on May 5th 2014, blowing away the cobwebs of winter, I revisited the Jack in the Green Festival on the south coast of England most famous for being the gateway for the Norman invasion in 1066.

It was a fantastic warm spring day of Morris Dancers and mayhem and quite a sight for the senses.It was held in a field next to Hastings castle and overlooked the splendid sight of the main town in all its glory.At its centre was a stage where performances of various kinds ranging from Morris dancing to belly dancing entertained the masses that descended upon the seaside town.

It starts with a procession around the town and culminates with the symbolic slaying of the Jack of the Green which symbolically frees the spirit and welcomes the transition of the Winter into the Summer.The tradition has many roots and I have another article on the subject earlier in this blog.

Needless to say,this festival never disappoints and is one of the best Green Man festivals in the UK and well worth a visit.

Here are a few shots shot on a Nikon D700 with a 17-35mm f2.8.

More Images can be viewed from previous years at www.surreypix.co.uk.KD_Green_Man_2014_Copyright_Kerry_Davies_45ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Images Copyright Kerry davies/No unauthorised usage .

 

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Sardines and the legend of Lefi Ganderson the Goat boy

Posted in britain, Celtic, England, english village, Festival, folk, legends, london, lumix lx7, may, mayday, medieval, myths, nature, pagan, photo, photoblog, Photography, quaint, relax, Relics, surrey, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, village, vintage, walking, walks, writing on May 4th, 2014 by wabisabipix

You never know what you will discover during a stroll in the West London area of Kingston,Surbiton and Richmond on May 4th. Today was one of such day. In the quiet town of Surbiton,a popular residential area for commuters working in central London, I was drawn to a large gathering of people in a small quiet park called Claremont Gardens.It transpired that it was the manifestation of the Seething Wells Sardine festival.It’s the second year for this event that celebrates the rich history of freshwater sardine fishing in Surbiton. A chance to remember when Seething was famous for its freshwater sardine fishing industry and held its annual festival to celebrate the first catch of the season.There was much merriment and dancing and live folk bands played at the event,a great gathering of the community.The smell of fresh Sardines filled the air and there were various amusements for the youngsters including face painting and magnetic fish catching,even a large number of fairy wing wearing adults.After several great musical performances the day culminated in the crowning of two members of the community who were designated as this years Seething Wells King and Queen of hats.To much applause last years King and Queen swapped hats with this years chosen nominees.Many of the local community was present and also there were banners representing the various ancient guilds in the area such as the ancient Guilds of Seething-The Cheesemakers, The Talcum Miners, The Taxonomists, The Water- Bearers, The Sardine Fishers and The Curriers and I spotted a Cyclists Guild too.Flying on flags were images of a horned rather legendary looking character who also had a prominent statue at the front of the stage. This was a character which I was not previously familiar with but research revealed to me the surprising legend of Lefi Ganderson the Goat Boy,a local half man,half goat character who had a rather cataclysmic clash with a legendary giant.A tale that probably never pops up on the radar of average Londoner but which just goes to show what interesting legends,many ancient,that lie below the surface of even the most quiet,unassuming of places along the banks of the ancient River Thames.They say that if your tired of London,your tired of life and this is an example that there is clearly always stones that remain unturned revealing interesting legends along the way.A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in the spring sunshine. Picture Copyright  Kerry Davies The Seething Wells Sardine Festival.Lefi Ganderson The Goat Boy
Picture Copyright  Kerry Davies The Seething Wells Sardine Festival.

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The new King and Queen of hats. Image   Fresh Sardines served to order. Image   For more on the legend of Lefi Ganderson see this excellent portrayal of the tale here:

 

Pictures Copyright Kerry Davies

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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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