Tag Archives: Leica M6
After someone on Twitter asked for shots taken on Kodak Kodachrome, I dug through some slide scans that I had shot right before Dwayne’s Photo (the last lab in the world to develop Kodachrome) stopped developing Kodachrome. Most of the shots were decent; they were taken with my Leica M6 35mm camera, which at the time I thought was the perfect camera. Now I can see that it really didn’t fit my style.
But these two photos, when viewed together, really made me smile.
Kodachrome slide film, finicky as it was, did have a timeless feel. This is my favorite area in Chinatown; essentially Doyers and Pell meet at this weird angle (known back in the day as The Bloody Angle, b/c of heavy gang fighting in this little cul de sac) and not much light makes it to street level. The low light makes for a very contrasty image – bright sky and dim street level detail. These images, without the use of filters or photoshop, look like they may have been taken 50 years ago, but they were taken in 2010. The first shot of the woman walking up Doyers toward the angle was also double exposed. You can see the post office building superimposed across half the image. The second image, a man walking down Pell Street towards me and away from the angle is slightly underexposed.
Last week Kodak discontinued its slide films. This was met with much gnashing of teeth and doom and gloom reports online concerning the “death of film.” As well as comments like these regarding tricky exposure with slide film: “And you just gave the main reason why nobody wants to shoot film anymore. I love the ability to check the exposure on the camera, and the ability to decide if I can push it more to the right or keep it as it is. Film is just dead in general. I should get rid of my film gear before it is 100% worthless.” Sigh…
In truth, the announcement really only matters to the photographers who were still using the three remaining Kodak slide films. I’ve never used any of them, though I did use Kodachrome and much of my childhood was captured on those slides. Since Kodachrome has went away, I’ve used Fuji slide film. I might try to grab some remaining rolls of Ektachrome E100G/E100VS or Elite Chrome Extra Color 100 though to see what the fuss is about.
These are the first shots from my new to me Nikon F3 that I picked up at Adorama. After considering selling my Leica M6 for a couple of months, I finally did. Then I used a tenth of the funds from selling the Leica to pick up the Nikon F3 and a fistful of film.
I’ve been struggling with this decision for some time really. I loved my Leica M6, but I think I loved the idea of it more. It gave me gorgeous pictures and felt solid in my hands, but as I started using my Nikon FM2n I found my style was more suited to the Nikon. I never liked taking vertical shots with the Leica; it always felt awkward when I did. Even worse, the LED circle metering system on the M6 TTL never felt as intuitive to me as an analog needle (Olympus OM-1) or the +/- (Nikon) display. When I shoot with the FM2n, it feels like an extension of me. I don’t have to think. It’s indestructible and doesn’t draw a lot of attention like the Leica did.
Most people told me “You don’t sell Leica. You don’t sell a classic.” But sometimes you do. And I did. I haven’t regretted it for a moment. A camera is just a tool to help you make the photograph that you want to make, but it’s got to feel right in your hands. Sure the Leica looked cool on the bookcase (which is where it spent most of its time lately), but my cameras are not made for display. They are made to be used and used hard. I’m a photographer, not a collector.
So far, I love the F3. I’ve only run one roll of color through it, but it’s every bit as solid as the FM2n. These are low resolution drug store scans, but I have a roll of Tri-X 400 in it now, which will give me a better idea of what it’s capable of producing.
Wet Pavement, Red Lights, and Girl with Umbrella walking in Nolita
Vintage Green Cadillac in East Village
This is the very first picture I took with the Nikon F3. I can’t imagine anything better for a first shot than Kate sipping sparkling rose at Barbuto in the West Village.
Roa Bird on the side of a building in the East Village
Paramount Textile/Boltex Textile’s Green Wall and Door in Tribeca
This lion water fountain was one of my favorite things in my favorite park as a kid. Now, every time I see it on the back of this truck, I stop and Kate say’s “Go ahead, take a picture of it.” And I take another picture of it. I’ve probably taken 8-10 pictures of this thing that all look the same. I like this one the best though, even if it’s slightly askew.
Jane Knox Clown Art on The Mars Bar Wall East Village
All images shot with the Nikon F3 and Nikkor 28mm f2.8 Ai-S lens on Kodak Portra 160NC film developed at scanned at Duane Reade. These are very low res scans, but I’m happy with the F3.
Our second round of snow was perfect. Big, fat, fluffy flakes of snow fell and didn’t really stick to the sidewalks or roads. I loaded the Leica M6 up with a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 and zipped across the street to Hanover Square. The Summicron 50mm lens on my Leica is from the 1950s, so it gives the pictures an old, dreamy quality. I developed the film in Kodak D-76 for 6.75 minutes.
In Hanover Square Park
In Hanover Square Park
Our corner, with much less trash than last time
Christmas Tree in Hanover Square Park
From our front door
Also from our front door
Since I rarely used my Nikon 85mm f1.4 lens or my Nikon D90, I decided to trade it in for something I had been lusting for…
It’s a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 lens for the Leica M mount camera. I’m kind of a sucker for fast lenses, since I shoot in low light and hate to use flash. On the surface it gives you exactly what you would ask for – slightly more than an extra stop over an f2 lens. But it also gives you incredible bulk and weight on a camera system that’s supposed to be light and nimble.
All of these images are shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 film pushed to 1600 ISO and developed at home in Kodak D-76 (stock solution) for 9.5 minutes. The Nokton allowed me to use a little faster shutter speed than an f2 or f1.4 lens, but not really enough to justify the extra bulk. Most of these images are fine.
Jim Campbell’s “Scattered Lights” in Madison Square Park
Empire State Building from 17th and Broadway
Empire State Building and Tree
Night Foosball in Herald Square
Victoria Secret Window
Paying for Water
Ultimately, here’s why I decided to part with this lens. Sure, it’s heavy and bulky, but I absolutely hated the distorted lights in the corners. I know it’s a lot to ask of a lens not to give you these seagull looking lights in the corners, but I noticed these on two night time rolls with this lens.
There’s a happy ending though, the Voigtlander got traded in for a 1982 Nikon FM2n SLR with a Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens. Pics from that coming soon.
Several weeks ago, someone on Tumblr organized a Tumblr Film Roll Swap and paired about twenty people together in ten pairs. The first person in the pair snaps off a roll of film, rewinds, and then sends it to the the second person in the pair. The second person loads the roll into their camera, snaps off a new set of exposures, and then develops the film. I was paired up with a student in Malaysia. She shot the roll of film first and then mailed it to me in NYC. I loaded up the roll on Saturday morning and went out for a day of random shooting. Here are the results.
On December 31, 2010 Dwayne’s Photo, the last place in the world to process Kodachrome film, will cease processing Kodachrome. I’m sure it’s not financially feasible to continue to process it and what stock that’s out there is on the second hand market and auction sites. No one has actually walked into a store and purchased Kodachrome film in years. And to be fair Kodachrome is notoriously finicky. It has to be exposed just right or it’s a dim, flat mess. I wasted two rolls earlier this year just trying to figure out how to properly expose it. Someone told me that you had to expose it at 80 ISO instead of the box speed of 64. Wrong, too dark. Unfortunately I had to get my slides back from Dwayne’s to learn this.
So, I started shooting it at 50 ISO and have been happy ever since. This is my second to last roll and I liked almost every shot of the 36 exposure roll. You lose a bit in the translation from the actual slide to digital, but you can still get the idea of how vibrant a Kodachrome slide is – and not that make you sick to your stomach vibrancy that an overly saturated digital file gives you – just beautiful color as only film can give you.
Here are a handful that I liked the best. All shot with Leica M6 and Zeiss 35mm f2 lens at Fishkill Farms just north of NYC.
A row in the apple orchard against a deep blue sky
Ready to buy pumpkins
Kate has hers all picked out
Golden Delicious Apple Tree
Perfect little golden delicious
We bought some eggs from these very happy chickens
The pumpkin Patch
Graveyard just north of Fishkill Farms
Popped into the Levi’s Workshop for Photographers in Soho (18 Wooster Street at Grand) last week. It’s a really cool playground for photographers in the NYC area. You can rent out vintage cameras, as well as modern Leica digitals. They also have large format printers and studio space on a first come first served basis. I had my new Voigtlander 50mm f1.1 lens (I traded my Nikon 85mm f1.4 lens for this, since I hardly ever use digital) on the Leica M6 and it did a good job in dim lighting even with 160 ISO film.
Vintage camera wall
Hasselblad 501cm chalk diagram on the wall
Wider shot of the vintage wall taken with Nikon D90
Free Photo Booth
Of course, we took advantage of the photo booth…
Somehow I let the month of September and almost all of October slip by without visiting The Hole gallery to see Mat Brinkman’s PHANTASMATGORIA. On the last day, I managed to slip up to Soho with an hour to spare before closing time. I’ve been a huge fan of Brinkman’s work since his mini-comics days (still have a copy of “Oaf” around somewhere) and then his “Teratoid Heights” and “Multi-Force,” so I knew I was in for a treat.
The exhibit was smallish and took up the first two rooms, but the walls, washed in intense colored lights, were packed with his drawings. I happened to have my Leica with me and also had a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film. Tri-X 400 pushed to 1600 would give the perfect grainy texture and give me just enough light. The colored lights were part of the exhibit and made the work extra creepy, but I’m fond of the grainy look that pushed black and white film gives these pictures.
Click the pictures for extra grain and larger size.
It seems that you can take the boy off the streets of NYC and put him anywhere in the world and he still takes the same kind of shots – walls with graffiti, people walking, store fronts or magazine stands. That’s definitely what attracts me no matter where we are. These shots were on Kodak Portra 400 NC (color) or Ilford Delta 100 (B&W).
Face in Barcelona
Lady shopping, Barcelona
Donkeys watching, Barcelona
The obligatory catching Kate unawares shot, Madrid version
Man pissing on wall, Madrid
Magazine Stand in Madrid’s Latin Quarter
Cross in a small Madrid plaza
Face behind wire
Guy Pausing in Madrid
La Pulpo, Madrid
I also snapped a few rolls of film during our trip to Dublin and Spain, alternating between Kodak Portra 160 and 400 NC.
Dublin Alley with Cobblestones
Dublin Angel Graffiti
Leprechaun Museum Sign
Kate in Dublin Alley
Dublin Street Musician
Graffiti in Barceloneta
Cornerstone of Barcelona Alley
Barcelona Beach Tower
El Gato de Botero, Barcelona
Raval Graffiti, Barcelona
Barcelona Plaza Sculpture