Less is more (part 2/2)

Leica M6 with Elmar 50mm f2.8

Leica M6 with Elmar 50mm f2.8

I know a Leica is not exactly as “bare photography” as a pinhole, but it’s a lovely camera and fits in the “less is more” category for the following reasons:

  • As his collegues full manual film SLR, there are no fancy menu to get lost in: speed, aperture and focus. That’s it.
  • The mirror-less design enables the use of very simple optic formula, which, when built with excellent lenses as the Leitz or Zeiss ones, provides outstanding results (FTM, flare)

As strange as it may sound, having to deal with manual exposure make things easier once you get used to it, compared to DSLR or modern automated film SLR.

When shooting landscapes or street scenes, the light seldoms changes in a 15mn time frame (except when clouds mess up with the sun), and that’s true for indoor portraits too, when using available light. So once you’re set, the only thing left to do is compose, focus and shoot.

When you choose your exposure, you usually aim for a mean grey (or the palm of your hand in what you consider the average light). This gives you a starting point, and then you can adjust, depending on what you shoot and where is stands, or if you want to shoot against the lights and keep only people’s shapes against a blown up background.

With modern matrix exposure or even weigthed centered measurment, you always do and re-do the ligth measurement, sometimes locking with AE-L. The more intelligent your system, the more picky you get in case it would mis-estimate what you would like. You’d never mess with matrix system adding exposure correction as it is far from being linear.

That’s of course if you’re into zone system, and such things as controlling your exposure.

And as stated in former posts, the mirrorless designs (viewfinder, large format, twin lens reflex) are, in my humble opinion, better than the equivalent reflex systems.

Try to get the results of a Zeiss Biogon with a SLR: I guess you can’t. Even Zeiss’s own 21mm for Nikon has (besides it’s magificent FTM and flare performances) distortion.

And it costs a lot…

Enought talking, here are some shots taken in La Defense (business quarter near Paris) with the M6 I borrowed from my stepfather (may he be thanked enough for trusting me).

As the light was hard (noon…) and I had roughly one hour during my lunch break, I choosed to shoot a lot to fill my 36 exposures, and use a fim with hard contrast -Rollei ortho 25- processed in Paterson FX39.

La Defense Elmar 50mm Ortho25 FX39

La Defense Elmar 50mm Ortho25 FX39

This is an example of adjusting the exposure to shoot against the light: you set yourself up for the indoor grey, and -3EV to turn people into deep black shapes.

La Defense Elmar 50mm Ortho25 FX39

La Defense Elmar 50mm Ortho25 FX39

The grey was measured on my hand, and I shot the buildings with this setting, this is also true for the two following pictures.

La Defense Elmar 50mm Ortho25 FX39

La Defense Elmar 50mm Ortho25 FX39

La Defense Elmar 50mm Acros100 FX39

La Defense Elmar 50mm Acros100 FX39

For this last shot I used the viewfinder, which is wider than the actual lens field-of -view, so I saw the pedestrian was about to enter in the lens’ FOV, I had the timing I wanted. Before that I was framing to have my own shade positionned as I wanted, I didn’t expect a pedestrian but decided in the second it would be a stronger shot with him passing by.

This is a strenght of viewfinder camera which is usefull when shooting street scenes, when timing is of the essence…

The essential thing in all of this litterature is: I enjoyed taking photographs that day, that’s a feeling I hadn’t had for a long time. Like when using large format, sometimes you go home with no decent shot, but you enjoyed it (-:


About dreamlenses

Amateur photographer, seeking for photo gear (no matter film or digital) that keeps me from flare and distortion!
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