I have a weak spot for the Dutch singer Sabrina Starke. Not only because of her music, voice and presence, but also her look on life. I heard an interview with her a couple of years ago on the radio about the Buddhist teachings she has adopted. She came across as a lovely, warm and compassionate human being. She has just released a new album and is in the midst of a new tour to promote her album. I was at the first concert of the tour and shot these two pictures of her with my trusty Leica M8, paired with the classic Voigtlander 35 mm.
I caught these wonderful children lying flat on their belly. Their plan? Let’s find out what the doves will do if we make ourselves even smaller and keep quiet….
When was the last time you let you inner child take the decision?
I can shine it all on and still be amazed.
If I want it I pay
My true love
Well she threw it away
Mark E Everett-Eels
Shine it all on
Everyday is an opportunity to have a blissful moment. An encounter with someone who sticks in your mind or is a start of something meaningful, being a witness of something beautiful or just having something ‘click’.
Last week I added a new lens to my camera gear. It’s the Voigtlander 35mm 1,4 MC lens. It’s a tiny almost pancake-like lens and has a classic, vintage lens and aperture blade design. It’s a match made in heaven with my now vintage Leica M8.
I often use the pont across the Amsterdam IJ, to sit across the water with a cup of coffee, a book and my thoughts. On the photo you can see the buildings on the left side of the futuristic Eye Theater which is on the right. That’s my place of stillness.
It was last week when I spotted this man, looking across the water as we waited on the pont to start the little trip to the other side of the water. I decided to grab my camera and take this shot.
Due to the ancient metering system of the M8 this shot was under exposed. Correcting in post production it brings out the wonderful ‘grain’ of the Kodak CCD sensor. Combined with the nice bokeh of the lens, it produces a wonderful film-like look.
Although I am a huge fan of Mark E Everett and his band Eels, due to some personal little earthquakes last year I had a difficult time listening to his music that has often a melodramatic character. He is a master in expressing the struggle he has with romance and love:
What I Have To Offer
What I have to offer
Well, there’s a lot
Now I’m a modest man
But look at all I got
For all the wear and tear
I look OK
I got good manners
And I make good pay
And you know I’m all full of love
What I have to offer
Well, there’s so much
I care and nurture and a
I got a pleasin’ disposition
And I don’t care about
Football or fishin’
And you know that I’m all full of love
What I have to offer
Well, check it out
I’ve learned some things
And I know what it’s about
I’m quite discerning and
I’m pretty smart
It takes an awful lot to
Win my heart
But you know that I’m so full of love
So when this amazing artist recently visited The Netherlands, I hesitated for a moment to go but just for a brief moment. I took my beloved Leica M8 with me and being signed by Anton Corbijn it resulted in this photograph which reminds me of the Rattle and Hum period of U2.
Thanks Mark and Anton for your art and inspiration.
Swiftly he manoeuvred his bike to the right as he approached me. I was totally in the moment, in a meditative state as I always am shooting with my Leica’s. I could not be bothered less. It rained slightly that evening in Amsterdam. Tourists moved from the Central Station towards the city centre. I decided to shoot with the old M8 again, paired with the magnificent Zeiss 28 mm. Furthermore I had set the camera in Jpeg and black and white, inspired by the photo contest (see this post). Reviewing the picture later, it showed a fair amount of under exposure, due to the headlight of the bike pointing directly into the simple centre weighted metering of the Leica. It results in a noisy image, but having the awesome Kodak sensor it yields a nice grain like look-I think.
I alway shoot in the RAW format. I makes shooting kind of sketching; just the outlines of the composition and the subject are important. With the latitude you’ve got with shooting RAW, adjusting the picture to your liking is something you do in post. However, when I recently got invited to a photo contest, I was forced to shoot in Jpeg because you had to deliver the photo’s at the end of the day to the jury. It forced me to take some test shots with the M9 around my apartment the day before. I actually like the result and have set my M8 (which is known for its excellent B/W pictures, hence its name “poor man’s Monochrom) and will take it out for a test-drive soon.
This is awesome: I got interviewed by the renowned Dutch Leica photographer Joeri van der Kloet. Joeri is a friend of me too, so that’s a double whammy eh? No featured photograph this time….just check out the interview 😉
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. 🙂
Nature surpasses all concepts of greatness. The wonderful thing is that you can be awed by it in so many ways. As I live in Amsterdam now, all the places that are not occupied by concrete or cars are safe havens for the mind. I took this picture in the Westerpark, a park along a busy road. You can sense the different state of mind of people when they are surrounded by nature, even if it’s a park.