alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘Leica’ category

Leica M Monochrom – the good news, bad news sandwich!

clouds-over-prinsted

Clouds over Prinsted

Shortly after I acquired my Leica M Monochrom, I became aware of an issue relating to the CCD sensor; not only to this camera but also the M9 and the ME. The problem was one of corrosion on the sensor which could manifest itself at any time. Leica was quick to respond to this news when it broke a few years ago and guaranteed that for the lifetime of the camera a faulty sensor would be replaced. In fact they went further and said that even if a sensor was replaced the guarantee would apply to the new sensor as well.

This is old news really, but aware of the issue I have always been on the lookout for the problem. The good news being that I had comfort in knowing that if ever I discovered any sign of corrosion, the camera could and would be repaired at no cost. But I would of course have to suffer the inconvenience of being without the camera for several weeks as the work can only be undertaken by Leica in Germany.

When processing the above image of ‘Clouds over Prinsted’ I was cleaning the picture for sensor spots and noticed a number of marks which were not typical of dust on the sensor. In fact they were more like ‘flying saucers’ – a dark spot with a light and dark halo. (See the screen grab below of the offending article – just above the tree line).

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-12-18-07

The mark on the sensor which is almost certainly the sign of the corrosion issue.

Fearing the worst I did some research which only confirmed that the dreaded ‘corrosion on the sensor’ issue had finally reared its ugly head. Yes, I could clone out the marks, but assuming the  corrosion might spread the camera would have to be repaired. Bad News!

I rang the Leica Store in Mayfair in London and they said that whilst the camera could be collected by courier, if I took the camera in personally, they would provide me with a loan M Monochrom for the duration of the repair at no cost. They informed me the turn round time would be approximately six weeks. Having access to a replacement camera was Great News! I would have it for my planned trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales which comes up shortly and by the time I travel to Scotland the repair should have been carried out and my Monochrom would be back in my hands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leica M Monochrom with 50mm Summilux and 28mm Elmarit lenses

So yesterday I caught the train up to London, swapped cameras at The Leica Store in Mayfair and took the opportunity to visit Tate Modern, specifically to see The Radical Eye exhibition. A superb collection of photographs owned by Sir Elton John. I will write about this exhibition in a future post. All I would say is that if you can get to London do go – it continues until 21st May 2017.

An eye for detail – just one reason why I love the Leica Monochrom

I have now been using a Leica M Monochrom for eighteen months or so and there are many reasons why I have grown to love this camera. It was a fairly steep learning curve switching to a camera which has no colour sensor – each pixel only records luminance resulting in a black and white file with any number of shades of grey in between.

The fact it is rangefinder with its split frame manual focusing mechanism was an added hurdle for me to get over. Initially it was difficult enough to focus a still subject let alone a moving one, as is the case here. Even more challenging when using the 50mm Summilux f1.4 nearly wide open. The depth of field is so narrow I would be the first to say that a little bit of lady luck is required to get the main subject of the picture in sharp focus. When it happens though, you can jump for joy because the level of detail captured is quite extraordinary.

I very much doubt this image would win any prizes and I have used it simply to illustrate a particular point; and that is quite simply the level of detail or resolution captured by this camera.

For reference the final image (at the bottom of this post) is a fairly mild square crop of the original RAW file which has been processed in Lightroom 5. There are some adjustments but principally the addition of contrast, clarity and a tone for effect, but no sharpening. I repeat no sharpening.

The original image is shown below with just the processing applied and no crop.

 

Un-cropped image

 

Next is a much more detailed crop. You can now see the exceptional level of detail captured by the Leica Monochrom.

 

A tight crop

 

If you are yet to be impressed, below is an even tighter crop. The number of eyelashes can almost be counted and if you look closely veins are visible in the eye itself. If nothing else this image confirms my good fortune when I focused on the eye.

 

An even tighter crop

 

And by way of a reminder the final image which is how I imagined the picture might look when I pressed the shutter. I knew I wanted the eye to be at the centre of the viewers attention, but the photograph also needed to include part of the leather harness to add context and another element of interest. The harness also confirms you are looking at the horse’s head in profile and not straight on.

 

The finished photograph

 

As I said at the outset there are many reasons why I love this camera. It can be a frustrating and quirky tool at times, but get to know its ways, and I defy any photographer not to be impressed by the quality of file it can deliver when coupled with an equally exceptional fast Leica lens. It has a purity and a simplicity to its operation which places the photographer in complete control. You need to consider every step, every setting but the rewards are more than worthwhile.

I would strongly urge you to click on each image to view a larger version. This post is all about ‘detail’ and it’s only by looking at a bigger version that you will truly appreciate the output of the Leica Monochrom. 

Low tide at East Head

East Head - Low tide-2

 

A few weeks ago I had the day off work and was watching the weather forecast and the tide times with more than a degree of interest. I knew that the tide was going to be very low in the afternoon and the forecast was indicating that early morning cloud and rain would clear around lunchtime as well.

A trip down to East Head in West Wittering was planned, and being out of season and a normal work day, I did not expect to see many other people. A low tide, improving weather and no people should be good recipe for a few photographs of this wonderful Sussex coastline.

This is a location which is never stays the same, the tide and light constantly changing, revealing endless photographic opportunities to be enjoyed and captured.

 

East Head - Low tide

 

East Head - Low tide-5

 

East Head - Low tide-3

 

East Head - Low tide-6

 

East Head - Low tide-4

 

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version which will open in a new window.

Here are some links to more entries which feature this particular location.

Gathering storm at East Head

‘To flip or not to flip?’ that is the question

Looking through the archives – Dune fence

 

 

 

 

Snowdonia – A new gallery page

It’s hard to believe that three months have passed since I visited Snowdonia. I had a great time and after a lot of processing, curating and ten blog entries later, I have now put together a gallery page of what I consider to be my favourite images. The ones that take me straight back to a particular location. I can remember the time of day, the weather conditions and what I was trying to achieve when I took the shot. The gallery is here.

 

 

Pressing the shutter doesn’t work every time, far from it in fact, and my ‘keeper rate’ is probably no better than 1 in 50, but I am very happy with that. Sometimes the light wouldn’t be right, or the image would be badly composed or out of focus. Inevitably there would be many occasions when I didn’t select the correct camera settings, or quite simply I was trying to take a photograph when a good image never existed in the first place. But that’s the joy of photography.

I believe that each time you press the shutter you should learn something from the experience. That way I learn more from the ones I didn’t get right, as opposed to the ones that eventually find their way to the printer or onto this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have included some new images in this entry but the gallery itself is made up of 39 photographs, so do click here to visit the Snowdonia Gallery page.

I do hope to have the opportunity to return to Snowdonia later this year. It’s an inspiring and beautiful place for any visitor, let alone a photographer. The changing light and dramatic scenery are very special indeed.

Last but not least I would like to extend a big thank you to fellow WordPress blogger Andy Beal FRPS for organising and hosting an excellent and instructive workshop. To David Mills ARPS for his extensive knowledge of the area, and finally to the other participants for their company and good humour. Together we had a lot of fun and a week of photograph to remember.


If you want to visit any of the previous blog entries I have added all the links below, together with a thumbnail image to whet your appetite.

Llyn Gwynant

Snowdonia – It’s all about the light

Tryfan

Tryfan – a majestic mountain in Snowdonia

Sunlit fern

Creative use of depth of field in Snowdonia

Burning mist

The appeal of ‘light on dark’ in Snowdonia

Early morning in Snowdonia – with or without a tripod?

Old road

The old A5 – Nant Ffrancon valley in Snowdonia

Mist and missing Capel Curig – Happy New Year!

Dinorwic slate quarry – a harsh and inhospitable place.

Cwmorthin slate quarry in Snowdonia – the lower section

Cwmorthin slate quarry in Snowdonia – the upper section

 

 

Trees in the mist – an opportunity taken

It’s not very often that I am out and about with my camera when it’s misty. This may be because we don’t seem to experience these conditions very often. Alternatively it could just be that I am too lazy to get up early enough to take some shots, and before the rising sun has had a chance to mess things up!

 

 

A few days ago we had a lot of rain and after a cold, dry and still night I was hoping that we might get some mist the following morning. We did, and for once I was mentally prepared. My wife and I, together with our dog, went out for a walk and I had my camera. One camera, my Monochrom; just my 50mm Summilux prime lens to keep it simple, and these are the images I was able to make. I hope you like them.

 

 

 

 

 

To view a larger version, just click on an image and it will open in a new window.