When it comes to photography and museums I typically find myself more interested in the visitors than the actual exhibition. It’s a bit exaggerated I admit, however, from a photographic standpoint there is nothing less interesting than photographing other people’s artwork. So even at the Getty I found myself taking more pictures of people than art.
As I mentioned in my previous post the architecture of The Getty is at least as interesting as the exhibitions themselves. Just strolling through the vast gardens and terraces was a pleasure on its own.
Another one of those tips I got from a friend who lives in LA: Canter’s Deli. Supposedly the best Deli in town, and although I can’t attest to that since I did not try any other Deli while in LA, what I can say is that the look and feel is very authentic 50s/60s Deli-style, but more importantly the burgers were just outstandingly good. Oh, and I do not recall ever having had a stronger Margarita than in that place. I believe it only consisted of Tequila. I doubt there was anything else in it to be honest. Fortunately, Uber took care of my ride home :).
Being a tourist you also have to do the touristy stuff at some point right? Naturally, on my first night in LA I had to do the Walk of Fame. After dinner at “The Hungry Cat” (consequently they served primarily fish and seafood) I strolled down Hollywood Blvd. from Vine St. to La Brea Ave. Was a quick walk. It’s one of those “Seen it, done it” checkmark items. It was really difficult to see the interesting things among a gazillion tourists. One of which was this sculptor.
A good friend of mine who also happens to be a photographer and 2D/3D artist (check out his blog: https://groetzschel.wordpress.com) got me a set of Lomography slide films for my last birthday. Which by the way is almost a year ago, so shame on me for waiting so long to get the first film exposed and developed. I wasn’t really sure what would come out of it as long as the film was stuck in the camera. But no risk no fun right? On my trip to California I finally was able to finish the film.
I have to say that cross-developing is really a beast of its own. It does not work for every subject and in every lighting condition. On this particular flavor of film you need lots of light and contrast. Also since green is getting really pushed it doesn’t work with too much vegetation like trees and grass. The whole image then receives a very greenish tint which doesn’t look particularly pleasing. Blue and red on the other hand work very nicely with the “Lomography XPro 200“.
I recently visited Aalborg on a business trip. I was amazed by the somewhat surreal light which shun through the clouds like through a milky glass ceiling. That together with the apparent relaxed lifestyle that seems to slow down everything in Aalborg (or perhaps in Denmark in general?) made quite an impression on me. I’m not sure if I would like to live up there, for that I reckon I like it a tad warmer, and I would like to have shops open a bit longer than till 4, but for a few days I can very much relate to the slightly decelerated way of living.
I was toying with the idea for a while to upgrade my Leica M Monochrom based on the M9 and its CCD sensor (henceforth I shall call it MM9) to the just released new Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246/M246) that is based on the newer Leica M-P and sports a CMOS sensor. There is much said about the differences between the two sensor types, so I won’t repeat them all, but I believe there is a lot of merit to both technologies. And in all truth if Leica wouldn’t have made me an undeniable offer to swap my MM9 for the new M246 then I would have probably stayed with the MM9. There was really very little I would have to complain about the MM9. So we part ways with one or two tears in my eye :).
The new M246 feels like a modern camera and much less like a “classic” like the MM9 did. It’s still very hefty and solid. But it’s also snappier, quicker and much more silent (the strange shutter noise of the MM9 was one of the complaints I had). The LCD display on the back can finally be used to assess the image you have just taken. The small low-res screen on the MM9 that seemed to be a left-over from another century was good for navigating the menus, but forget about using it for telling whether an image was a hit or miss – in particular if you nailed the focus or not. Before using Live View and only reading about it I would have never thought I would find it useful. Mainly because I’m a real fan of the rangefinder. But if you want to shoot from a different perspective (i.e. from the ground or high up) you can’t focus with the rangefinder unless you are a contortionist. Live View really comes in handy here. The focus peaking is not only a nice to have, but when using LV it’s a must. Otherwise it would be very hard to determine focus on the LCD. In addition with Live View you can use all sorts of wide-angle or tele lenses (and from the R-series) that would otherwise require an additional rangefinder module specifically for that lens. That said, that is not a concern for me since I only use a 35 and 50mm lens on my Leicas (for now).
But the most important part is certainly image quality. It’s very hard to top the image quality of the “old” MM9. Its way of rendering is very unique. Almost film-like. That’s what made the initial “Monochrom” so special and that is the reason why I loved it so much. So I was somewhat hesitant if the new M246 would really deliver a better image quality. I haven’t used the M246 enough to be able to make a final judgement, but what I can say is that the images look different. In particular the highlights seem to have a very nice “glow” that gives the image a certain “aura”. It’s very hard to describe, but it’s something special. Where the MM9 was prone to blow the highlights and you in general would have to use exposure compensation by minus 1/3 stop the new M246 isn’t blowing the highlights at all but keeps a nice structure in it. Which is I believe one of the hardest things to achieve for a digital sensor since the tonal difference in the highlights is so minute that both hardware and software need to be very sophisticated to keep them as separate tones.
But pictures tell more than thousand words. So here is one of the first images I took with the new “Monochrom” on a trip to Berlin at Leipzig Hbf (Central Station). Please note that the image is processed in Lightroom CC 2015 and Silver Efex Pro with the Tri-X preset. So the “grain” you see is not from the M246 itself but added in post. I will for sure continue to post my experiences with my new “Monokuro”.
Make sure you click the image to see the full-res version.
Update (6/26/15): For a comparison of the actual image quality with the “old” MM9 I have posted a completely unedited version of the above photo below (again, click to enlarge to see a full-res version).
Shooting something as colorful as a Christopher Street Day parade in black-and-white film sounds crazy? Yes, it certainly does. Nevertheless I thought stepping out of the boundaries of conventional thinking and photographing couldn’t hurt when making photos of an unconventional parade :).
All photos are taken with a Leica MP, Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH., Agfa APX 100 and hand-developed in A49.
(Click on gallery to enlarge)
If you take street photography by the book one should try and tell a story. Sometimes, I think, the absence of a story can be one. There is really nothing unusual or exciting in this picture that I took on one of the main boulevards in Dresden. It’s just plain and simple a reflection of normal lives that people live, chilling, strolling and shopping on a warm and sunny afternoon. But isn’t that a story in itself?