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Monday, March 16

The LEICA Diaries - Part Five

Here's a strange thing that I wasn't expecting with the Leica. Most of us have a "vertical bias" when framing a scene in that we end up with a tilt one way or the other if we're not careful. I hate squint horizons so I try to do my best to keep everything plumb and even.

Sometimes, though, despite thinking I've got everything bang on I'll look at a tilted scene on a negative and wonder how I could have have managed to do that! Surprisingly, this isn't happening with the M2.

I seem to be getting the horizons spot on most of the time. I know this because there is, as often as not, an even border round the scene when I leave a bit of the negative rebate showing. I put this down to the viewing system and the extra space there is beyond the frame lines which helps me line things up better than with an SLR.

Do you see a face here? And a wee hat, perhaps? 

I've photographed these steps before a couple of times - can't resist this shot
regardless of the camera I'm totting.

Another thing I've noticed is that the M2 seems to be a one lens camera to me. It feels natural when out and about with the OM2 to take three lenses with me - wide angle, standard and tele. Conversely, that seems un-natural with the Leica. I don't know whether this is because the lenses are small and heavy-feeling and there's not much to grab hold of when switching them around or if it's just the nature of the beast.

The M2 seems to me to be a camera that you pair up with a lens before leaving the house or car and just stick with that combination. My pal, Phil, found exactly the same thing with his M2 which he seems to use on his photographic excursions with one of his four lenses but never all of them at the same time. Having said that, I know there will be loads of readers wondering, "What's he on about now! I routinely carry two bodies and four lenses and the whole kit fits inside a matchbox". Good for you, is all I'd be able to say by way of an answer because it's not like that for me.

In fact, "good for you" might have to become my stock answer to some readers since there are plenty who have moved seamlessly from an SLR to a rangefinder and who have absolutely no trouble at all using the Leica and can't understand what I'm getting at when I describe some of the difficulties or foibles I'm having.

The pics on this page - just snaps really - are from a brief trip along the coast to Boddin Point. That's the spit of land in the first shot taken with the 90mm Elmar. I've written about it before but just to quickly recap, the building jutting out over the North Sea is an old lime kiln that's slowly crumbling into the water. It's an out-of-the-way spot reached by a narrow road that terminates at the promontory. You're not likely to stumble upon Boddin Point unless you're looking for it or can't resist driving down every road you've never driven down before...

A pic made up almost entirely of triangles.

There are a couple of houses dotted around, a ruined fish processing factory - at least I think that's what it was - and a fairly basic bothy which is fine if you're on a back-packing trip along the coast but maybe not for a romantic night in with your new girlfriend.

That's a Summaron pic of the old fish factory immediately above with orange filter used to darken the sky. The photo above that was taken with the Summicron and shows the inside of the chimney that I'm guessing was connected to the fire where they smoked the fish - no, I don't why I took it either!


Andrea Ingram said...

I rather like 'squint' horizons - like the work of Rax often.

Richard G said...

I almost always go out with one lens on a Leica, and carry a bag with two others if I'm photographing my son's rowing. The ragnefinder patch is also a great leveler. With very wide lenses and an external finder I will do the final framing in the camera just to check level with the ragnefinder patch.

Dr. Elliot Puritz said...

Nicely done! Rich tonality and wonderful composition. I especially like the tension created via the various lines.


morris1800 said...

Quality shots posted Bruce. Would you have shot these with an orange filter if out and about with your Olympus? When out with my M5 I take 4 lenses 15mm to 135mm . I set off with the 35mm voigtlander color skopar mounted on camera with the 15mm viewfinder mounted in the shoe. This enables me when looking at a scene in a matter of seconds switching viewfinder, auxiliary or internal frames for evaluating a shot for any of the lenses carried. This also eliminates unnecessary lens changing in the field. I have noticed since I have used the M5 I am shooting more 135mm shots as this frame is displayed within the 35mm frame of the viewfinder. Although it needs the eye of an eagle to focus accurately not my tired old 'bins'. Look forward to the next entry in your Leica diary.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I really like the pictures illustrating these articles--subject matter, approach, and--wow!--contrast. I have a question about your working method. Do you use a light meter to determine exposure with your Leica? When using my om1, I usually set aperture and shutter speed based on experience. That said, I can check the in-camera light meter, and I like being able to do that. Having to use a handheld light meter would slow things down for me, and so I am curious about how you determine expose with your Leica camera. Bill W

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks, Bill. I nearly always use a handheld meter, an old Sekonic. I just use a reflected light measure and take several readings to get an idea of the contrast range. I then figure out on which zone I'd like to place the key tone and calculate how that will affect the highlights and shadows.