Archive for Leica

Weekend Duality with a Panasonic GF1+20mm and a Leica M2 with 5cm Leitz Elmar

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2012 by yammerman

My old friend Ian Whiteley came to visit last weekend bringing with him his fifteen year old son Silas. It is hard to imagine we were once that young and difficult to admit that we are now this old.  It was to be a weekend of duality, old and young, night and day, film and digital etc. If you can’t shoe horn some clichés into a blog, when can you?

While sorting through my cameras and trying to decide what I might use, I came across an old 5cm Leitz Elmar f3.5 that came in a lot with my Leica M2. It looks old and I’ve hardly used it, mainly because the aperture is on the front of the lens making it a pain if you use a filter. I couldn’t find a serial number at first but Google soon showed me it was engraved with tiny numbers on the black rim of the lens. Even with a magnifier I struggled to see the first digit but after much tilting I dated it to 1937.

Now, there’s a date to make you feel young, it being 20 years before my own birth. It makes you wonder what it has snapped in its previous 75 years and easy to see why it might regard my camera bag as a good place to retire. I love the mojo in old objects and so felt compelled to shoot with it for the weekend. I had a few rolls of Fomapan 200 to use up so I fitted it back on my M2 which dates from 1960 when I was but a toddler.

We decided to take our visitors across the barrage as we could combine the brave new world of 21st century Cardiff, the Barrage and the Bay, with my son’s favourite food – pizza. We set off late in the day and though it had been spectacularly sunny the light was fading fast and my shutter speeds got slower and slower. It all seemed a bit dull photographically and the problem of being sociable on a group walk while maintaining a cutting edge artistic aesthetic raised its ugly head. My family are used to it but it hardly seemed fair to the members of the party who had made their way half way across the country for the visit.

It took an age to be fed and watered (I mean wined) so it was quite dark as we picked our way back across the barrage. The council while having done great work to secure a passage through reluctant businesses land, have not bothered to light the way. This proved a master stroke, as it is not often you get to walk through a darkened urban space with half the cities lights reflected in the water beside you. With judicious use of posts I was able to shoot some digital snaps with my Panasonic GF1and 20mm. Using the film camera would have been slow and left me isolated from the party and prey to what ever evil may have lurked in the darkness. The couple sitting on the rocks by the Bristol Channel strumming an acoustic guitar in the dark, had B movie victims written all over them. Let’s hope they made it home because we know how those scenes go. The next day we walked to Penarth Pier, a must for every visitor, and I finished my first roll. I finished another roll back at the barrage during the week as two is a must for me when processing.

I processed them in Rodinal 1+50 @21degrees for 9 minutes. Then the trouble began because the first roll I shot had a line through for about 24 frames which I suspect was a piece of grit in the film canister. I’m used to these kinds of horrors with analogue photography and should, I suppose be grateful for the 12 frames that remained. The second roll wasn’t without its problems as the grain is lumpy and, for some reason when scanned, covered in white specs. I suspect a combination of factors produced this result which is all most unsatisfactory but there is not much I can do now. I salvaged what I could from the two rolls and hope that when I next process things will turn out better. Below is a mixture of the digital shots and a few of the black and white that were usable. I used an Antique Greyscale  preset in Lightroom to cover a multitude of sins.  I guess I’ll retire the Leitz Elmar 5cm once more and go back to something more modern. Still apart from the photography a fine weekend was had by all.

On Plymouth Hoe with a Leica M4P and Voigtlander 28mm.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2011 by yammerman

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Walking in Penarth with a Leica M4-P

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by yammerman

Today I felt compelled to drag the boy away from the computer and trundle off down to Penarth Pier. He only comes for the ice cream and to inform me I’m old enough to be his grandfather. It is reassuring that his maths might finally be improving.

I have squeezed the photographic life out of this walk but am ever hopeful that the changing seasons and weather may fool people into thinking they haven’t seen these shots a hundred times before.

I decided, as the weather has been inclement all day, to use my battered Leica M4-P. I picked it up cheap on the back of it being worn enough to have lost its red dot and been recovered. The lens too is an old, well used 50mm Summicron and no doubt both would benefit from a service.

These come from an age when Leica had finally realised it would have to succumb to some modern methods in order to survive.  After the poor reception of the M5, a first attempt at escaping the past, Leica were all set to concentrate on the R range of SLRs when Walter Kluck CEO of Leitz Canada suggested a lower manufacturing cost M4. This M4-2 is credited by some as saving Leica and my M4-P is part of that evolution towards the very popular M6.

It lacks the beauty of my hand built M3 but, as a go anywhere camera, it can’t be beat. I normally use it with my 28mm Voigtlander lens but on this occasion I stuck with the Leica 50mm. It was a very dull day and I expected rain, but in the end a weak sun attempted a break through. I probably should have been using 400 films but the first bag I reached for had plenty Fomapan 100 Classic in it so I went with that. I shot all these at 1/60th with a yellow filter that happened to be on the lens and never went beyond F5.6.  I shot two rolls in the hope I’d have half a dozen to put on here; as it is I went for the full dozen.

I processed as soon as we got home, in Rodinal. The Massive Dev chart came up with a rather unhelpful 8-10 mins at 1:50 so a quick Google suggested a time of 7 mins @20 degrees. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered I had a bit of a disaster with this film when I’d ended up with the thinnest negatives imaginable and binned the lot. As it turned out, my fears  that 7 minutes would be too short were wrong as if anything they’re a bit over developed . The scanner prefers them thin but it’s not the end of the world.

The darkroom is ticking over again.

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The Best of the Rest using a Leica M3 and 50mm Summicron

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by yammerman


I just wanted to post some shots from the other two rolls that were processed in the same batch as in the previous blog. These were shot on a Leica M3 with a 50mm Summicron DR both of which have been recently serviced by Malcolm Taylor .  It is a beautiful camera and the lens seems to shoot like I’m still living in the 1950s or maybe everything black and white looks like that. This Rollei 400s is a cheap film but I really like the grain I’m getting processing it in Rodinal. 

Here they are.

Spring in the Garden with Leica R4s and 60mm Macro-Elmarit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by yammerman

So back to the photography and all those films I have piled up in the darkroom. I developed three films today shot on Rollei 400s. I had no idea what was on them so I was throwing some mystery in to the delayed gratification equation. It is as well that I’ve started using Rodinal as its attribute of sitting on the shelf for ages is coming in very handy.

I found some very long development times on the Massive Dev database but found one at a dilution of 1:25 for this film that would take 10.5 mins @ 20 degrees. In the end, the water was at 21 degrees so, knowing I was going to scan the film, I took it down to 8 minutes. The fix and stop seeming to be holding up, despite lack of use, and the results came out pretty much as expected.

There are many random factors at work here, mostly stemming from my cavalier attitude to what, to some, is a very exact science. But, starting with my exposure calculation then chemical dilution, water temperature and agitation regime etc, I’m never going to do the same thing twice and so have come to love the happy accident and shrug at the disasters.

These seem to have come out with a pleasant grain and this first sample, if I remember correctly, is from the Spring. I have a vague recollection of getting out my Leica R4s and 60mm Macro Elmarit and spending a pleasant hour in the garden. This kind of shooting seems to suit me and that lens is a cracker and rarely disappoints. The camera is one of the lower budget SLRs that Leica once produced and a bit of clunker but, if it lets me use this lens, then I’m happy enough with it.

 Here then are the best of the bunch, scanned with Epson V700 and toned with the Antique Grayscale preset in Lightroom

Boy in a Pool using a Voigtlander Bessa R2a and Leica 35mm f2 ASPH

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2010 by yammerman


So the film has been piling up for months and I’ve not been inclined to process it as the darkroom was a mess and I simply could not put down the guitars. With the boy back at school, a peace has once more descended on the house and with it the energy to tackle the mess in the attic. With a semblance of order returned, I decided to tackle the four rolls of Rollei Retro 100 I’d shot this summer.    

 The problem of leaving it so long is, once I see the images, I then have to rack my brains as to which camera it was using. For the pictures I’m posting here I’m sure it was the Voigtlander Bessa R2a and the Leica 35mm F2 ASPH  which is the holiday camera of choice and 35mm being the compromise between 28 and 50mm when trying to travel light. Plus there’s a picture of me on one of the rolls and the Bessa is the only one with a meter and aperture priority enabling Gillian to shoot with confidence.    

The Rollei Retro 100 was a cheap film I picked up in bulk having at first been drawn to the 400 version. I’ve started using Rodinal which seems to be going well as these negatives came out fine. It was 9 mins @ 23 degrees with 15 secs of agitation to start and then one turn of the tank every 30 secs. I was some what alarmed when the developer ran black as I emptied the tank but it must be a dye on the film because it processed well. I’ll probably reduce the time a bit more  as a thinner negative will be easier to scan.   

 These shots are just a few from our villa holiday in Portugal in June where we did nothing for a week except lounge, swim and eat. This naturally reduced the subjects to photograph down to one namely James doing his best impression of a fish.  With water, light and movement, what’s not to interest a photographer? 






Garden Macro with Leica R4s and 60mm Elmarit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by yammerman

On Sunday, I spent some time in the garden in order that I had two rolls of Rollei Retro 100 to process and I used one of my favourite macro lenses the Leica 60mm Elmarit. I used it with a Leica R4s which as SLRs go is a bit clunky but if it lets me use this very fine lens I don’t mind. One of my favourite things is taking an ordinary space and, by really exploring it and looking for interesting shapes and forms, make it come to life under the close inspection of a macro lens.

I’m warming to this Rollei Retro 100 as, apart from its sharpness, its seems to have processed well  in Xtol (1+1).  I’ve yet to print any of the negatives in the darkroom but they seem to be scanning  with some good tones. Once I took them into Lightroom  I decided to play about with some of the presets and I do seem drawn to the Antique Light that is on offer.  Rather a guilty pleasure as the purist in me feels this amounts to cheating.  There was certainly more magic when I used the chemicals to tone some  prints earlier in the year but these  results are very good and without the risk that I’ll come in to contact with some noxious chemical.