Jan 15, 2011

Der Schornsteinfeger und die Prinzessin - Heidelberg, Germany, February 1977 (The Minolta Years)


I must admit, that at first I didn't know what this peculiar man was all about!
I thought that he was just dressing some kind of Fashingskostüm, as the calendar was reading February...

I had never before seen a Schornsteinfeger (chimney sweeper).
The man, which I met in the Bergheimer Strasse in Heidelberg, Germany, was kind enough to make a little interruption in his work, and allowed me to take some pictures.

I still regard his portrait (the first image) as one of the best photographs that I took in those times.

I guess, that he must habe brought me luck... I am a fortunate man!

Some seconds for eternity!

Likewise I came upon this beautiful Faschingsprinzessin, which I also met in the Bergheimer Strasse.

I chose several negatives to give you an idea of the evolution of this happy encounter.

Besides, I think that it is funny to reminisce about the cars and the shop signs that decorated our streets then.

Do you still recognize the legendary VW Käfer, the Fiat 127, the Ford Cortina?

Time heals!

Yes, time can improve some ordinary images, turning them into some sort of documents.

This photograph of Feuermänner in Bismarckplatz, Heidelberg, might be rather banal at first look, but then I have noticed that Baden-Württemberg was then celebrating its 25th anniversary, and all of a sudden the picture had a new meaning (Baden-Württemberg is the third largest state in Germany).

Time heals and makes feel old...

Just like the image before, this one is part of the roll that includes the little princess.

For no particular reason, but being nice, I close with a bucolic view.

I am not able to recognize the village on the background, but I am sure that it is the surroundings of Heidelberg: Dossenheim, Schriesheim, Ladenburg?

Somebody out there to refresh my memories?


Technical data:
Cameras - Minolta SRT 303b (chimney sweep) + Minolta SRT 101
Film - Ilford HP5
Developers - Ilford Perceptol 1+1 (chimney sweep) + Tetenal Emofin
Location - Heidelberg, Germany
Date - February 1977
Scanner - Epson 4990 Photo


Jan 11, 2011

Leica M2 + Leica R5 - Feira de Santa Iria, Faro, October 2010


Following my two other posts introducing the Leica R5, I wish to get back on this topic again.

I wanted to find out if the R5 could fit in my working method, how it could combine simultaneously with other gear, namely with Leica-M equipment. Switching from reflex to rangefinder and back, could maybe produce some discomfort, I feared.
I was concerned that I could lose my focus and concentration.

Working on a visual story, I think that one must be careful enough not to allow for “gaps” to happen, the pictures ought to provide some emotional continuity, a certain smoothness, the viewer should feel interest without strain.

Like a river flowing naturally to the sea…

I have used some brands of equipment that tend to give different shooting sensations. If you change from one piece to the next (inside that same brand, I mean), you clearly notice the variation: some focusing helicoids are stiffer, some aperture rings are looser, the color balance changes a bit, the list could go on and on...
I have seen all of that in rather famous names!

One of the attributes that I cherish the most about Leica, is consistency.
Lenses (cameras or whatever you name), may be built decades apart, but you instantly feel “at home”.
The common handling senses, the same color characteristics, the unequalled high-quality finish…
That famous undefinable “Leica Feeling”?
Yes, that is how legends are born…

Nonsense! – I read a lot of knowledgeable opinion in many Photographic Forums and the like.
Foolish hype! - The experts keep shouting and screaming, crammed with indignation.
It’s only that they (the Leicaists!) can justify the high prices they pay! – I read on, and on…

I very often ask myself if all these defenders of my poor sanity have ever touched a Leica…

Oh, don’t understand me wrong! I know that photographs are made by photographers, not by brands or cameras, not by soulless machines…

But I also know that Leicas do have soul!, and that they can help a hell of a lot to accomplish your goals!

I should know: I have been having a lot of that stuff stuck up my nose…

Looking for a verdict, I put some gear in the bag (wide-angle + normal + an old M2 from 1959, and the R5 + tele), and went out in the fairground, shooting away.

How did it feel? Well, I guess that I can say that it felt... "at home"...

Please, take a look and make up your mind. Do you feel any "gaps"? (They are nobody's fault but mine!...).

You are the judge this time!

Technical data:

Cameras - Leica M2 + Leica R5
Lenses - Elmarit-M 28mm + Summicron-M 50mm + Elmarit 135mm
Film - Agfa APX 100
Developer - Rodinal, diluted 1+50
Location - Feira de Santa Iria, Faro, Portugal
Date - October 2010

Scanner - Epson Perfection 4990 Photo


Jan 9, 2011

Leica R5 - First Impressions - Photo Gear (9)


Leica R5 + Elmarit 135mm + 16462 focusing mount + 14167 adapter
(image complements my post about the Elmarit + Visoflex)

The Leicaflex SL always was one of my dream cameras!

My heart throbs a little faster anytime I see that "thick as a brick" camera, which most apparent attributes seem to be simplicity and robustness.
Its rather classical and understated design appeals very much to my taste, so much that, up to this day, I find the Leicaflex SL2 to be the most wonderful of all 35mm SLRs!

Then again, I refrained from acquiring Leica reflex cameras, simply because I preferred Leica rangefinder cameras!
These M-cameras alone, represented a barely justifiable investment for my usually empty taxi driver wallet...

Restricted funds schrank my insanity!

Second version of the R5, after Leitz became Leica
(Wonderful depth of field lever. First R5 version had Leitz red logo on the left, R5 on the right. Some other small modifications)

I have a "Leica Preisliste - gültig ab 1. Oktober 1990", in front of me.
The price of the Leica R5 was quoted with 3.598 DM (something on the order of 1.800 Euros. For the body alone, versteht sich...).

Maybe the only benefit of the digital "revolution" that I can discern for us, film photographers, is that (used) film equipment is much more affordable these days!

Considering that Leitz ceased production of the Leicaflex SL2 in 1976, I decided to try a somewhat newer R model: the almost pristine camera that you can admire on these images is from 1991, a "young blood", so to speak...

Exquisite cameras are indubitably like delicious Port: they get better with age and usage!

Notice film type window, thumb's rest (second version only, not sure if I like it), eyepiece blank, eyepiece adjustment wheel (+- 2 dioptres)

I have to concede that, purist as I am, I would have maybe preferred an all-mechanical camera, like the Leicaflex or the Leica R6. Electronic gear just seems to frighten me!

Bearing in mind that all my Leica Ms, as well as most of my gear, are all "old-fashioned" mechanical cameras, the majority of them without an exposure meter built-in!, I concluded that some sort of comfort could do me no harm... Actually, there are circumstances when automatic exposure is a blessing!

Asking Mr. Nunes's opinion, which I very much respect and trust - his words are sacred to me!, I was astonished that he promptly replied "the R5", when I asked him which was his Leica R of choice.
Mr. Nunes is the very competent repairperson of Leica Portugal, also specializing in Hasselblad and other mouth-watering names of the photo industry.

I trust him my valuable cameras for many years now!

Intuitive to use controls and levers. Program selector with locking button above shutter speed dial

My main concern was the exposure accuracy of the built-in light meter: the dual exposure system - integral and selective metering option, was intriguing me. Could I trust it, so used as I am to hand-held metering?

Suffice it to say that I find it to be outstanding! Selective metering on the Leica R5 is absolutely superb!!

As a matter of fact, the whole camera surpasses all my expectations, and is a joy to use! Everything works butterweich, typical Leica!
The apparatus is very well-balanced, instantly giving you that confident and trustful feeling of having high-grade stuff in your hands.

The finder is possibly the best one that I saw on any SLR, giving a crisp, easy to focus image.
Thanks to it, I could see that the lamp in our living-room has some cobwebs on it. I couldn't detect them with the Canon EOS-1n!
At first I thought that the focusing screen was scratched...

Please, bear in mind that I am using this camera "the hard way", that is without lenses with automatic aperture.
In fact, the only lenses I used so far, are lenses made for the Visoflex: 135mm/2.8 Elmarit (1979), 200mm/4 Telyt (1961), 280mm/4.8 Telyt (1978), all of them with Leitz 14167 adapter ring, and the 400mm/6.8 Telyt (1973), also a non-automatic lens.
None of these lenses is "high-speed"...
None of them can be called "modern"...

I am eager to get my hands on a Summicron-R 50mm, or similar, to fully test the potential of this excellent, intuitive camera!

Not easy to find, but here I go:
- maybe a little too small, even for my small hands...(I believe that it must balance very well with a Motor Drive R... But there I go again, making easy things complicated again!).
- For the original price, the leatherette could be a little softer and provide a more exquisite feeling...

That's all?

C'mon, give me a break! Let me have my fun and enjoy!

P.S.: Some days ago, I posted several photographs made with the combo displayed above. Some months ago, I also posted about the Elmarit 135mm used with goggles on a Leica M, and with Leitz focusing mount 16462 on the Visoflex.
Should you be curious, please take a look on these former posts.

Good night, sleep tight!