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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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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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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