This past month my wife and I were on our annual trip to visit our boys in Oregon. Even though the days were beautiful we were not out shooting when the light was at it's best. So the best I could hope for was muted light with some light cloud cover. This was the case on our way out to Cannon Beach on the coast. My son John had been out this way before and he had taken some photos of this really cool place called "Camp 18" which is a restaurant and part historical museum of a logging camp. So you can imagine there was some pretty cool stuff hanging about. Here are some of the images form Camp 18. I had a great time on this trip shooting with the Leica M-P 240 and the Sony Nex-7 with my Leica glass. More to come as I upload galleries of the 45 or so select images from this trip.
Reflection, railroad carThis reflection in the window of a railroad car was really interesting. You can see the windows of the inside of the railroad car as well as the scene behind me. Metal railroad car siding and pineLeica M-P 240 35 Summicron Foliage and saw bladeLeica M-P 240 35mm Summicron Rotting Hiking BootsSony Nex-7 w/Leica 90 mm Tele-Elmarit Logging chains and TiresLeica M-P 240 35mm Summicron Logging Boots and Shackles Leica M-P 240 w/35mm Summicron
Today I was on assignment to cover the opening of the "Wall That Heals" more commonly known as the Vietnam War Memorial Moving Wall. It is a replica of the granite Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. It was an honor to be there and to honor the memory of the 12 people from Cape Ann that lost their lives for us in Vietnam. I got some good images but the memorial is available to the public on a 24/7 basis with lights above the names. I knew dusk was the best time to go as the lights would be on. So on the way home I stopped by for a look and brought the Leica M-P 240 and the Leica 35 Summicron with me. This camera is the ultimate stealth camera. I was able to photograph in near silence as this couple studied the memorial after they found the name they were looking for. It is such a personal thing for these Vets as they come back and honor friends or relatives that have fallen for us. It was moving for me to see and I know you will feel the same as you see the image below.
Yesterday I really wanted to do some street photography using the Leica 21mm Super Elmar. It's a great lens for this because the depth of field is so great at f8. Who needs auto focus when you can use a lens like this using hyperfocal distance and the depth of field scale on the lens. On this little lens everything from 3ft. to infinity is sharp at f8. So before I left I set up a test in my living room to see what was what using this method. So I tried different distances and it turned out that focusing at five feet was the sweet spot. That meant that the previous equation of 3ft. to infinity worked very well. I headed down to Dock Square in Rockport to see if I could find some people. What I ran into was a great surprise. The Rotary Club was holding a reading of the Declaration of Independence with everyone dressed in colonial attire. What a great opportunity! The crowd started to gather, townies, tourists, little kids, older folks, great photographic opportunities everywhere. I started out using the camera on aperture priority. This seemed to work well shooting from the hip and also framing images with my analog viewfinder on top of the camera. The Leica M-P 240 was in it's element not many people were paying attention to me. But the biggest problem was me. I shot the event like a news photographer so people did notice me and in some of the frames I had people looking at me. Some of the people there knew me as well so they were aware of what I was doing.
I did focus every once and a while and that was fine but the most interesting images were made using the camera in street photography mode. Here are some of the images from yesterdays shoot.
Rockport 4thThe crowd started to grow from a small group to a very large one as people were called to the town square. Rockport 4thThe Constitution was handed out so people could read along as it was read out loud. Rockport 4thWhen you know the people everyone is aware you are making photos at some point. Shot from the hip notice the lower angle. Rockport 4thBefore they started everyone was doing something different. This woman was texting while her kids were playing with their flags. Rockport 4thThe crowd is notified that the reading will begin. Rockport 4thAs the Constitution is read folks were encouraged to yell Huzzah when something good about the colonies was read. One woman followed up. Rockport 4thYou never know when Uncle Sam will make an appearance.
Rockport 4thThis young man found a spot in the tree at Dock Sq. and was kind of listening. Rockport 4thThe guy with the pitch fork had an interesting look on his face and so did the woman looking my way as the Constitution was read. Rockport 4thA hardy clap as the reading is over and the pitch fork is raised. Rockport 4thThis woman was giving me the stare or was she just waiting to hit me up for a donation for our town fireworks in August.
You never know when an opportunity will arise for a great photo. Or as Thorsten Overgaard says always wear a camera, the opportunities are endless. Yesterday I was coming back from a PMC event and was stopped at a traffic light when I noticed a Chow dog hanging out of a window in a small truck. I had the G15 ready and zoomed all the way out to 140mm and just got off a shot as the truck started to pull away. One shot not a boat load of them. So I figured that I got an interesting shot of the dog hanging out of the window. When I pulled it into Lightroom I was surprised to see that not only had I made the shot but the dog had decided to yawn at the exact moment I tripped the shutter. What a great surprise.
We had a great time out on the island this past Wednesday. Myself and three hearty souls braved the rough ride out to the island for a fun filled day of photography. There was a large group of volunteers working hard on repairing the walkway and re-shingling the side of the Keepers cottage. We started shooting right away and the island did not disappoint as it was a beautiful clear day with some wispy clouds moving by. These clouds provided a really interesting perspective to the granite towers of the Twin Lights. The large rookery of gulls provided some entertainment as we moved about the island. Below are a few images I made with the Leica M-P 240 and the Sony Nex-7 with the Leica 90mm Tele-Elmarit. You can see a full gallery of images here.
Guarding the NestA gull looks out over a chick hidden behind the daisies at this shack on Thacher's island. Gull guarding chick, June 2015This gull made sure we did not get to close to her chick we were sitting on out at Thacher's Island. Rot Iron Bench, June 2015This old rot iron bench starts to rust up out on Bearskin Neck. Looking in the window, June 2015This stuffed bear was staring in the window of a shop on Bearskin Neck in Rockport.
After some debate with myself I decided to buy this accessory for the Leica M 240. I did the usual back and forth of do I really need it or is it overkill. I have been using my old 21mm viewfinder from the 60's which is a little soft in the middle from being dropped and have been getting tired of it. So after reading up on how this finder works and everyone saying for wide angle shooting it's a must I tracked one down on Fred Miranda.com. I looked for a used Olympus one but they don't make them anymore and the ones I did find were still about $300. So I decided on the Leica version.
It comes with a nice little leatherette case and a rubber foot cover for protection when not in use. It is very light (read plastic) and fits very nicely on the camera and is tight enough so it won't fall off, very nice. When I picked it up at the post office I had the M-P with me and the 35 Summicron attached so I went right down to a familiar place to see if I could use it right out of the box with no fooling around with the menu's.
I must say it was all pretty easy. There is a button on the back to turn the EVF on and off. On the front of the camera there is a button to assist in focusing by blowing up the image either x5 or x10. You then move back and forth between them and full image with the wheel on the back. I learned quickly to go into the menu and make the focus assist automatic every time you turn the focus ring on the lens, nice feature. If you change the magnification with the wheel and then shoot it will stay on that setting the next time you focus the camera so keep that in mind. The red focus peaking is nice but not very heavy and there is no adjustment in the camera to increase it. This would have been nice. I am used to this in the Sony. As you can see by the image above the diopter is right on the eyepiece and stays were you set it and is easy to use. Here are the first raw files out of the camera.
As I got more used to the EVF and discovered new things it did the more excited I got. For instance no matter what f-stop the lens is set to, you focus wide open and then when you press down the shutter part way it closes down to show you a preview of what the exposure actually is. Kind of like shooting with a DSLR. Keep in mind that using the EVF2 is not a fast way to focus but it sure is accurate. Tack sharp images with whatever lens you are using. I used my old 21mm 3.4 Super Angulon on it and the images were tack sharp. To bad the edges were magenta. More to come on using this lens for B&W. Back to the EVF2. The camera itself is slow to wake up after being off or asleep. I have a 64g card in the camera so it's pretty fast at about 1 sec. But after focusing, re-framing, shooting and then waiting for the EVF to come back up it certainly is not fast. So it still makes you think about what you are doing.
I find myself checking the rangefinder back and forth with the EVF to see if I'm on target or not. It seems sometimes I am off a bit. So using the EVF has been a great tool to get better at using the rangefinder. I'm still pretty accurate using the rangefinder but I can always get better. For me the EVF is so much bettr than using the old 21mm viewfinder and I don't think I will be going back in that direction.
So far I have enjoyed using it and it will a fixture on the camera when I am out shooting so I don't have to take it on and off. That being said I will not be using it all the time only with the 21mm Super Elmar and the 90mm Tele Elmarit. I have done some early testing with my 135mm Tele Elmar but it was a bit tricky to focus. At 10x multiplication the image was bouncing all over the place and I did better focusing with the rangefinder.
The shot above was made at 1/8s at 3.4 using the 21mm Super Elmar and the EVF2 with camera balanced on one knee, pretty amazing what the Leica can do.
Most people that love shooting landscapes know when the golden hour is. It's widely known that an hour before and an hour after sunrise or sunset produces very colorful warm images with strong side light which gives your images a three dimensional look. But this does not always produce dramatic images that jump off the screen or print. Weather plays a huge part in determining how an image will look at certain times of the day.
In the spring and summer thunderstorms roll through and if caught at the right time of day can produce very dramatic images. It's important to always be aware of the weather and what it's doing and what it is predicted to do so you are prepared to make that iconic shot. My favorite subjects are storm fronts and and thunderstorms. Dramatic clouds have always been a favorite subject of mine. Tracking thunderstorms by radar is relatively easy now with GPS on our phones with weather apps that do this. The shot below was made after tracking a thunderstorm and getting to the right place just as they were moving through.
As you can see the clouds are very dramatic. The light is starting to come down on the horizon but not at sunset. Prior planning as to where to go made this shot successful. As Ansel Adams once said, "There's nothing worse than a bald-headed sky". I have always remembered that and keep it in mind when making images that use the sky as the main ingredient.
I have always felt that if you seldom carry a camera then you will never be ready when that iconic photo presents itself. The photo above is just such a case. I had the full arsenal with me as I came home from work. The weather that day was interesting with a cool ocean breeze coming in under a warmer land and producing this wonderful fog along the shore. I knew this was going to happen after listening to the weather report in the morning and knew that the wind was going to shift to an on-shore breeze in the afternoon. I hoped that sunset would give me something so after work I tried to think of places to go that would hopefully give me something. Little River in Gloucester is right near the highway so it was an easy task to stop by on my way home. I was blessed with this lovely scene as the sun came down and the fog moved in.
Paying attention to what the weather is going to be can help produce the most dramatic images in your portfolio. I have been chasing sea smoke for most of my career. Back in the 80's the best shots for the day's paper were the dramatic B&W images of sea smoke as it rolled across some of the harbors of the North Shore. The shot above of Thacher's Island was made a few years ago but is still my favorite. Sea smoke happens when the air temperature is much lower than the sea temp. The morning this image was taken it was -9 degrees to the sea temp. of 40-45 degrees. I made the shot about an hour after sunrise. This usually occurs in January as the sea temperature is still somewhat warm but the air temperature can be very low. By listening to the weather report the night before I was able to determine that this condition was going to happen. So I was ready.
Winter always produces some great images. The weather is always changing and listening to the weather report will give you a good idea of what will be going on. Rapid temperature changes will always give you something. The photo above was made after we had a light fog and mist moving through after a light snow. I think you know what I mean as a snow comes through with a rising temperature and then it starts to become a light rain and then a mist and fog. Then very rapidly the temperature drops, freezing everything. That was the case here as the water froze to the trees and the mist became a light snow again for a brief period of time.
So as you can see weather plays a huge role in dramatic landscape photography. I am always keeping an eye on it so that I can make that next iconic image that will spruce up my landscape portfolio.
Yesterday I was up in Newburyport for a softball game and the clouds were unbelievable. The wind was coming right down the Merrimack and the clouds were flying by. I parked out near the outfield and there was a big net that went up to the light posts. Everything came together for a couple of very interesting photos. I watched the clouds for interesting patterns and the 35 f2 was a great lens for this. The 35 is a great walk around lens which in my early days was my lens of choice on my M5. When I switched over to shooting with Canon SLR stuff in the early 80's the 24 became my lens of choice.
While I was looking at the cloud formations an older man walked by with his dog and I was able to work him into a photo with the clouds and net. I think the the clouds, net, and man make an interesting photo.
This image was shot as a B&W jpg and then brought into Silver Efex Pro for more processing.
Clouds and netClouds and net make an interesting image taken with the Leica M-P 240 and the 35 f2. This image was shot in color optimized and then converted in Silver Efex Pro.
I had the distinct pleasure to meet 91 year old Frank Cotoia today. He is a spry active man that talks about his years of service like they were yesterday. He was a member of the famed 3rd Division that fought through so many major campaigns of the war from Anzio to Hitler's Eagles Den. He fought next to three time Medal of Honor recipient Audey Murphy saying how much of a regular guy he was. Cotoia's tales of the war were captivating. He taIked about his bronze star as if it were nothing but we know otherwise. I happened to have the M-P along with the 35 Cron attached and made some photos as he was talking. This camera is easy to use in a reportage situation and I found that in continuous mode three frames a sec. was plenty to capture his varied expressions. I used center weighted metering which worked well for the situation. I have the camera set to what I call news mode which is ISO 400, jpg fine, and srgb. This works best for my computer at work. I also used my Canon 5d Mk3 with the 24-70 and those images were just as good. The nice window light really added to the images.
Leica M-P 240 w/35 SummicronWW ll veteran Frank Cotoia of Swampscott talks about being a member of the famed 3rd Division that fought at Anzio all the way to Hitlers Eagles Nest. Leica M-P 240 w/35 SummicronWW ll veteran Frank Cotoia of Swampscott talks about being a member of the famed 3rd Division that fought at Anzio all the way to Hitlers Eagles Nest. Leica M-P 240 w/35 SummicronWW ll veteran Frank Cotoia of Swampscott talks about being a member of the famed 3rd Division that fought at Anzio all the way to Hitlers Eagles Nest. Leica M-P 240 w/35 SummicronWW ll veteran Frank Cotoia of Swampscott talks about being a member of the famed 3rd Division that fought at Anzio all the way to Hitlers Eagles Nest.
I have been a big fan of the photo blog Steve Huff Photo. Steve and Brandon have done a great job with this website and have added to the conversation over the present state of things in the photo industry. He accepts articles by other folks so I decided to write an article on our trip out to Oregon and the use of the Leica M9 for B&W landscapes. I submitted a bunch of images and he used them all along with the article. You can see it here at Steve Huff Photo.