Great street photography makes ordinary things look extraordinary. It is the beauty of the small things that often are overlooked in every day life. It is there for everyone to see but only the photographer is able to catch the moment and create art. I live nearby the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, so visiting this great museum is something I regularly do. As the museum was packed with tourists the last time I paid the museum a visit, I decided to put my focus on the many visitors instead of the displayed art. Due to the fact that it was so crowded and everybody was taking pictures with their smartphones themselves, I was free to take some pictures of the visitors, something you actually hardly can do anymore these days because everybody is so hyper sensitive for having a picture taken without their strict permission. Looking through the crowd, I saw the three figures on the paintings looking at the three persons sitting in front of it and quickly took a picture. If this is an example of great street photography is for others to decide, but it made me chuckle nevertheless 🙂
The picture you are looking at, is one of an old Mercedes Benz Estate (a W123-T to be precise). It is being used as a daily driver by one of my neighbours in Amsterdam and was parked just around the corner when it caught my eye. Battered and used, with quite a lot ‘patina’ (well, dents and rust to be honest), but revealing a beauty many vintage cars can have. Bathing in the evening light, certain details just caught my attention. Like this detail, shot wide open with the Summilux lens…smooth as silk.
You find yourself in a strange dynamic being a Leica shooter. One day you are being envied and seen as a snob who has spend too much money on a camera that lacks so many features other camera’s have, the other day you are being praised for your pictures you take with it. We live in an era in which the camera itself is a statement and fashion item too, beside being just a tool for creating art of capturing moments. For some people, owning a particular camera seems to be more important than actually shooting with it. I’d guess that’s all right too…whatever floats your boat. Instagram is flooded with ‘eye candy’; just pictures of Leica’s, but also other brands, instead of pictures taken with the camera. Being a substantial financial investment (hence the second hand option I took), it attracts both haters and lovers of the brand and for different reasons. I try not to identify too much with the gear I use, but having said that…..I actually do. I do but more in the sense that this type of camera make me feel they are my soul mates. Not to state something pompously, but the less is more approach of the Leica brand really resonates with me. They really are an extension of my eyes, heart and soul. Stripping the camera of all of the non-essentials enables me to focus (not pun intended) on the key points of my photography: seeing and capturing. I recently saw two Youtube video’s, in which both the M8 and M9 are being praised, despite being ‘old’ and ‘lacking’ or expensive. It prompted me to write this comment:
Hi Mattias, thanks for the effort you have put in this video and the one the M8. It strongly resonates with how I feel using my M8 and M9 (both second hand bought). In this age of ‘low light madness’ and the need for having a camera that does it all (including video), it is refreshing to hear somebody talk about these two camera’s and their specific qualities. What I like the most about using these kind of camera’s, besides obvious things like the IQ, handling, manual focusing and build quality, is ‘the less is more’ approach of Leica. The very reason I still shoot analog besides digital. This makes it not a camera for every one, but if it is it…..it surely becomes a soul mate of you and technical specs will soon be irrelevant :-). You can check out my pictures at http://vincentvankleef.wixsite.com/lightonlight . Cheers, Vincent
Till next time, thanks for reading this post. 🙂
I am fortunate to live just a couple of minutes away of the famous Van Gogh Museum. For a lot of tourists, this museum is a must-see when visiting Amsterdam. For a good reason; both the collection as the building are impressive. The only downside of this museum is that it is packed with visitors all-of-the-time.
I like strolling through the city at night and took this picture from outside the Van Gogh Museum. Although in monochrome, it resonates well with one of Van Gogh’s famous quotes:
I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
-Vincent Van Gogh
I love the Rotterdam Central Station. As I was walking back from the Kunsthal where I had met the famous photographer Peter Lindbergh and had Anton Corbijn sitting right behind me, I saw this segment of the station bathing in the evening light. I had the image pictured in my mind instantly. I made sure to use the f8 aperture in order to have the best performance of the Summilux lens (not that this lens really needed this).This picture has gained quite some praise on my Instagram account, I hope you like it too.
I can really get annoyed by all the scooters in Amsterdam. I try not to (non-responding is a spiritual practice you know….) but boy they can get my nerves as they spit out so much pollution and noises. Foremost however, it’s the way they are driven; often in a reckless way. Having said that the Vespa is true design classic, just like the Leica M and iPod Classic are.This Vespa caught my attention as I walked out the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. I like the structure of the background and the great detail the Zeiss lens produces.
My brother-in-law, that is to say the brother of my girlfriend, recently asked me to join me at going to a concert of the San Fransisco based band Con Brio in the famous Amsterdam Paradiso venue. I did not know the band but a quick Google search quickly did decide me to see this awesome band. The concert took place in the small hall, which holds I think 200 people at most. The small room created an intimate vibe but a challenging situation if you want to take photographs as well. I had to shoot at one position, with minimum light. Luckily, the band gave an exhilarating performance, matching Vintage Trouble (see this post) which resulted in a quite a bit ‘keepers’. I rarely post more than one picture, but this time I simply have to.
As I stated before in this blog, photography is sort of walking meditation for me. It calms me down and makes me more aware of my environment. I practice meditation at home too, but to be honest I enjoy this kind of calming down the mind more than just sitting down. It is something I cannot do in the companion of someone, let alone the fact that I am not in very communicative state when I am in this mode…..
As my subscribers know, I like to combine my passions and that means photography and live music. A good friend of mine and a former band member plays in a Beatles tribute band. I have captured multiple performance of them so I have become kind of the band’s household photographer. I even played along at one of their performances and that was awesome. At a recent gig, they played in a small venue. I sat behind this boy who not only recognised the music from the times his father played the songs in the car, but also was enjoying himself immense. It is quite fascinating that after 50 odd years the music of the Beatles is still relevant and appealing to the youngest generation. Truly timeless musical art!
With all the focus (no pun intended) on high ISO performance these days, one might be inclined to forget about the other things that make you shoot great pictures. I don’t want to go into a rant, because that is unnecessary anyway. I understand that the aspect of high ISO capabilities can be crucial for being able to take that shot that you otherwise could not have taken. But…..working with both the Leica M8 and Leica M9 but also shooting analog, I have learned to appreciate the limitations of my equipment and to adjust my technique whenever it is what helps me to take that shot. Furthermore, it supports narrowing down my photography to the style and subjects that really resonate with me. Last but not least, it lets me appreciate the unique qualities of the gear I use even more. Naturally, this applies to shooting analog. Although not known for the high ISO performance, the Leica’s CCD sensor designed by Kodak (!) creates a truly unique look. Combined with lenses of Leica or Zeiss the results can be stunning. I don’t want to call this picture stunning, but I like it though. Shot in a very dim-lit room, at ISO 800 and wide open with the wonderful 50mm Summilux lens.