Sunday, November 24, 2013

Leica M9 Landscape Thoughts

I've never really been a landscape kind of guy.  Let's just say that I wasn't until my wife and I spent a week in Moab, Utah

I've always been into the outdoors.  I was eleven years old the first time my folks dropped my twin brother and I off in the woods and said "Hike to your aunt's house if you get into trouble.  Meet us at this spot in a week."  It was the mid 1980's and parents had much more freedom and  didn't have to worry regarding public criticism  from the media as they do today.

Backpacking and hiking have always been a passion in my life.  Other outdoor hobbies have followed.  I do not bring many new hobbies into my life as it is already full and I'm not willing to lessen the time with loves I already have.

The great thing about photography is that it does not interfere with the activities that I do or the adventures that I take.  It compliments them.

My love and I always take at least one week long outdoor trip per year.  We fill the rest of the year with weekend trips as one week a year isn't enough for us.  On occasion I sleep out in the back yard for a quick fix. 

While planning for the Moab trip my wife asked "Are you going to take some landscapes for me?"  My love doesn't feel as much passion as I do for street photography or my attempts at documentary style visual story telling.  I used this opportunity to reply back "I am.  But..... if we want to print the photos big I should probably invest in a wide angle for my M9."  I still can't believe that she agreed without hesitation or question. 

I ended up purchasing a Voigtlander 28mm Ultron f2. 

I  must say that after spending a week in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park I will definitely look forward to taking more landscapes.  On a side note, many men ask how I get my wife to head out into the wilderness for a week at a time.  I always respond...... Keep her gear light and comfortable.  Keep her warm.  Don't forget to hold hands and snuggle in the tent.  Tell her you love her. 

A Leica M seems to be the perfect on trail, off the grid, landscape camera and here's why I feel so:

SIZE:  No explanation is really needed.  Pack a DSLR on the trail with a battery grip attached and you'll understand.  On the trail no one has anything to prove.  Carrying a heavy pack doesn't make you any more tough.  Have a good time.  Pack light and enjoy the trip. 

OPTICS:  Corner sharpness?  Micro contrast?  I don't really think about these concepts as I normally only care about composition and light when shooting street or documentary style.  This matters when printing landscapes.  I look at the landscapes I took during this trip and don't really focus on a single subject but admire the composition as a whole.  I actually look into the corners and into the details of the rocks.  The quality from the M9 and M lenses amaze me.

TRIPOD:  What are those for?  With no mirror slap I shoot handheld.  I've been known to shoot as slow as 1/8 of a second with my M9 in a dark bar while having pints with friends.  I'm amazed that the photos actually turn out pretty sharp.  I actually take a Zipshot Micro for the occasional self portrait when on the trail.  We occasionally run into people when out and about.  When people ask to take our photo for us I'm nice, oblige, and hand them the camera.  But..... we all know where that gets us. 

CONNECTION:  My buddy has a great saying "It feels right."  When I'm on the trail with a pack on, the pack feels apart of me.  It feels right.  When I'm on stage my guitar feels apart of me.  It feels right.  I hold a rangefinder to my eye with a finger on the shutter release.  It feels right.  Shooting a manual rangefinder feels pure.  That's also why I head out on the trail.  It feels pure.

All photos were processed using Lightroom 4.  I couldn't resist converting them to black and white.  I couldn't get Ansel's photos out of my head.  My only two M lenses are a VC 28 mm Ultron and a 50 mm Summicron V4.  I used both for these shots.



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