|Leica M2, 50mm Summicron, Tmax 400 developed in Firstcall Superfine.|
T.O.D. contributor David M., in a comment on my previous post, advised against gathering together my "Greatest Hits", lumping them into a box and calling it a "portfolio". David's view is that images benefit from being organised into related groups or themes with each group, if desired, given its own distinctive appearance through image size, paper size, print tone, etc.
As usual, he has a good point. This was something I gave some thought to on my previous portfolio ponderings of 2013 but I was thinking along the lines of a 35mm portfolio and a 6x6 one. I think it jars when a portfolio mixes different formats. I'd even go as far as to suggest that the 35mm groupings might be split into portrait and landscape formats.
Thinking about David's comment, I wondered if there might be a case for a Leica portfolio. Another of his comments on my LEICA Diaries - Part Six post came to mind,
"An interesting thing seems to be happening to the Man/Leica partnership. It's teaching you what sort of pictures it likes to take."He'll probably deny it but he's a very perceptive guy. Phil Rogers and one or two others have also suggested that I might start to see a change in the type of pictures I take with the Leica M2 as opposed to, say, my OM2n. After a slow start, I think I'm beginning to see a little of that emerging.
Now, it could simply be that the Leica outfit I have is somewhat limiting in certain areas, namely wide angles, long teles and close-ups. That almost rules out particular types of photograph and forces me to concentrate on what the M2's good for. Or perhaps the Leica does indeed encourage a different way of seeing and this leads to a different style of photography.
I'm inclined to think it's the latter simply because I seem to be going after photographs that I quite probably wouldn't have with the OM2n. For instance, there's a greater tendency for me to concentrate on small parts of the landscape or beach rather than take in wider views. Another comment that springs to mind is one of Phil's where he said the M2 with standard lens (he was talking specifically about the Elmar but I suppose it applies to the Summicron as well) is great for pics around the 10 ft range and closer.
Take the photo at the top of this post. I would never have taken that with the OM2n but I can't quite work out if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Is this shot of just a small section of sand on a beach too minimalist to have any value? What it does do is demonstrate that the Summicron - even the one I have which needs a clean - is no slouch. The neg is sharp all over apart from at the top where I ran out of depth of field.
But returning to the portfolio issue and the merits of having a Leica one, I suspect there's a certain synergy to be gained by printing all the M2 shots on the Focomat 1C enlarger and the 50mm Focotar enlarging lens. I can't help thinking that the M2 and the Focomat 1C, albeit separated by about 15 years, were made for each other. The fine engineering of the camera is carried over to the Focomat in a way it isn't with the more modern Focomat V35 enlarger, excellent though the latter is. An all-Leica "workflow" just seems like a good thing to try. Now, if I developed the film in a Correx tank, that would really be a Leica portfolio!
One of my photographic heroes was pioneering photojournalist J. Allan Cash (that's him above). He recorded much of Europe in the 1930s, particularly Germany during the rise of Adolph Hitler and post revolution Russia. He used a Leica II, a 50mm f2 Summar and developed his negs in a Correx tank. There's just something romantic about using the same set up but I know I'd never be able to get on with a Barnack body because of the viewfinder. But the successors to Allan's Leica gear - the M2 and Summicron - are close in both body and spirit!
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