Mar 2, 2009

Leica Galerie Wetzlar + Leica Galerie Solms - 1988


In 1988 my long taxi-driver nights were finally a memory from the past: I was working as a photographer at the Kunsthistorisches Institut der Universität Heidelberg (Art History Institut).

The nightmare of driving ten, twelve, fourteen hours each night was over!

No more small-talk drunkards to drive home, no more lonely hours sitting in the dark waiting for a stranger to come in, no more CB radio beeps, no more rushing like mad for my Pfennigs, no more cold, rain and snow...

Saving for my Leicas behind the wheel belonged to the past!

Leica IIIc+Summitar 5cm, Portugal, Espinho (Feb. 1984)

Don't ask me the month because I can't remember, it got lost somewhere in my brain, but I know that in 1988 I managed to get an exhibition in the Leica Galerie in Wetzlar.

For some months I dove in my darkroom making print after print, rejecting this, accepting that, trying to get a cohesive and meaningful selection of images to display.

My self-appointed theme was Iberia, and the photographs needed to be made with a Leica camera. No one imposed that on me, I decided it like that.
So all the images, with the only exception beeing shown above, were shot with Leica M equipment.
For authenticity's sake, I also refused some "nice" photographs that could easily fall in the touristic style of pictures.

I wanted "raw" stuff!

(On FILM of course!!!)

Leica M2+50mm, Portugal, Castelo Rodrigo (Jan. 1984)

You are actually looking at the "vintage" prints that hung on the wall.
As they were too large for my scanner and I didn't want to stitch or scan the negatives, I reprophotographed the original prints with a digital camera. I didn't even use a repro lens, but just a consumer zoom.

Yes, shame on me, but my repro lenses only fit my analog cameras, and that would have been too much trouble for me.

I apologise, I know (and now you know it too) that I could do better...

Leica M2+28mm, España, Santiago de Compostela (Aug.1981)

In those days I had a Belfort 4x5 inches (very similar to Omega) fitted with a Cold Light tube.

That's the enlarger I used to make the prints.
The enlarging lens was a 60mm Rodagon from Rodenstock.
Most prints were made using Ilford Galerie paper developed in Kodak Dektol.
I also used some then new Ilford Multigrade FB to give it a try.
I think that all the prints were made shortly before the exhibition, that is in 1988.
They are mounted in acid free Museumskarton and I cut the matboards myself.

You are watching a lot of work, but I am going to shut my mouth and let you take a look in peace...

Leica M2+28mm, Portugal, Amareleja (Jan.1984)

Leica M2+35mm, Portugal, Coimbra (Aug. 1981)

Leica M2+35mm, España, Salamanca (Aug. 1981)

Leica M2+50mm, Portugal, Lisboa (Aug. 1984)

Leica M2+90mm, España, Toledo (May 1983)

Leica M3+90mm, Portugal, Lisboa (Aug. 1987)

Leica M3, Portugal, Aveiro (Aug. 1987)

Leica M3, Portugal, Mourão (Feb. 1984)

Leica M3+21mm, Portugal, Lisboa (Jul. 1987)

Leica M3+50mm, Portugal, Lisboa (Aug. 1987)

Leica M3+50mm, Portugal, Aveiro (Aug. 1987)

Leica M3+50mm, Portugal, Braga (Aug. 1987)

Leica M3+50mm, Portugal, Braga (Aug. 1987)

Leica M3+90mm, Portugal, Lisboa (Aug. 1987)

Leica M3+90mm, Portugal, Praia de Mira (Aug. 1985)

Leica M3+90mm, Portugal, Amareleja (Jan.1984)

Leica M4-2, España, Segovia (Dez. 1983)

Leica M4-2+35mm, España, El Escorial (Dez. 1983)

Leica M4-2+50mm, Portugal, Nazaré (Sep. 1980)

Leica M4-2+50mm, Portugal, Peniche/Cruz dos Remédios (Mar. 1980)

Leica M4-2+90mm, Portugal, Sesimbra (Feb. 1984)

Leica M4-2+90mm, España, Segovia (Dez. 1983)

Leica M4-2+90mm, Portugal, Fátima (May 1983)

Leica M4-2+135mm, Portugal, Fátima (May 1983)

Leica M4-2+W+35mm, Portugal, Lisboa Jan. 1984)


Now try to figure out how amazed I was, when someone called asking me if I would agree that the photographs would stay for one more month...

They should make the small trip to Solms, to hang on the walls of the new plant (that's when I knew about Solms) that was going to be officially inagurated soon.

Of course, I could only say yes! And it felt so rewarding...

Can you imagine my photographs hanging on the walls in Wetzlar and Solms for two months? Me, the cab driver who had to save his little coins for his Summicrons and Elmarits?
Me, who had to drive endless miles to buy my rolls and my soup (meaning my developer)?

In that little moment in time I understood that somehow all the struggle was worthing it, in that little instant I could see a light shining somewhere down the road...

Maybe it would not shine forever, but it shone then...

The images below are from Solms. It was Tag der offenen Tür (open house), and the public was invited to visit the plant.

I drove to Solms with my friend Jorge Gomes, and we had a very nice and interesting day.

Not only the atmosphere was very relaxed and easy-going, with Bier, Bratwürst und Luftballons, but it also was a very good chance to take a look inside The Sanctuary of 35mm photography.

Had the exhibited images belonged to someone else, I wouldn't have forgotten that day anyway...

We made some pictures for the posterity...

I think it was the only time that I saw the 800mm Telyt! Nice "little" camera attached...

As you see, I didn't lie...

Yes, that was me...

And those were my photographs...

The next generation of Leica users?

That is the poster Leica made for the occasion...

I guess that I can proudly say:"NOT BAD FOR A CAB DRIVER...". Cheers !



  1. My friend, Matt Sutton, a photographer whose work I admire, introduced me to your blog and I have enjoyed browsing through all your amazing and beautiful images and stories. Now I long for a Leica! Thank you for sharing!


  2. Hello Esther,

    Thank you very much for your nice comment.

    I also liked to take a look at your photographs.

    To get a Leica is really not a bad thing...



  3. rui... tou sem palavras :)
    g-r-a-n-d-e-s fotos e que historia!
    isso sim é amor à fotografia, e isso transparece de que maneira nas fotos q tiras.
    optimas composicoes e tons literalmente de babar. É nestas alturas q sinto q o digital ainda está a milhas do q se consegue (quem sabe claro) no filme.
    Parabens :)
    Ab, Rui

  4. Olá Rui,
    Folgo em te ver por aqui.Obrigado pelos teus elogios. Sabes que às vezes ponho-me a imaginar o que haverá nos milhares de negativos que nunca "vi", ou seja, nunca ampliei ou scanizei...
    Se qq dia a situação continua assim, só vou mm poder pôr fotografias antigas. É que já nem para os filmes chega...
    E a tua Canon tem visto a luz do dia? Já tens alguns resultados que te agradem?
    A ver se qq dia nos conhecemos. Entretanto vai aparecendo aqui no blogue.
    Abraço, Rui

  5. Fotografias com alma! Voltarei com mais tempo para apreciar todos os promenores dum povo e país que recordo com saudade. Obrigada! Isabel

  6. Olá Isabel,

    Muito obrigado pelas suas simpáticas palavras.

    Infelizmente, penso que este belo país anda muito mal tratado por quem cá vive, e, em especial, por quem cá manda...

    Vi também o seu blogue e gostei muito.

    Também vivi muitos anos fora, mas andei pela Alemanha.

    Vá aparecendo por aqui, pois tenciono publicar coisas "novas" com frequência.
    Portugal terá, claro, lugar de destaque.



  7. Man sieht selten solch schöne Aufnahmen. Ich würde mich sehr sehr freuen, wenn man mal irgendwor die Möglichkeit bekommt, diese fantastischen Prints in Natura zu bewundern.

    Herzliche Grüsse
    Mischa Klein

  8. Dank Mischa,
    Ja, wenn du in die Gegend kommst, zeige ich sie gern! Melde dich einfach...
    Ich weiss, Montemor ist vielleicht nicht gerade um die Ecke...
    Viele Grüsse und nochmal vielen Dank für die nette Wörter,

  9. great photos, rui, and i am goin' to leica solms in 2 days, i am so excited, hope your pics are still there, i also hope they can repair my M6 for nobody else in the world seem to be able to fix it; currently at Koln, Germany and the staff in the camera store isnt the friendliest to say the least, dont knw why when i asked one of the price of their leicas, they all seem to look at me like i knw nothing, so i walked away, with my Nikon FM2 strapping around my neck, and 2 leicas tucked inside my camera bag, they prob think a nikon cameraman isnt the same as a leica cameraman? well.....ENGSHEN TAN