alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘Leica M Monochrom’

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

Exhibition – my parameters

Although The Image Circle exhibition does not take place until November, preparing a portfolio of images ready for curation at a later date has to begin now. In fact it started some weeks ago when I decided my theme would concentrate on the landscape and environment of Chichester Harbour. Now, whenever I am out walking in the area, my camera is with me. I am very fortunate, as this is an almost daily occurrence, otherwise our dog complains!

Whilst I have never exhibited my work before, I felt it was important to establish some parameters at an early stage, in order to focus my intentions and concentrate the mind. Over the last week or two these guidelines have become well established and are as follows –

  • All photographs will be taken in the clearly defined area of Chichester Harbour.
  • All the images will be taken using just one camera with one prime lens – the Leica M Monochrom and 50mm f1.4 Summilux lens.
  • I envisage the vast majority will be hand held, as this is my preferred way of working, although I will not rule out using a tripod in certain situations.
  • I doubt that I will be using filters, although shooting wide open in bright conditions, it is obligatory to use a 3 stop neutral density filter to manage the light reaching the sensor and exposing correctly.
  • All the images made will be cropped to square format and be in black white. (I have no choice, it’s a black and white only camera!). I have already established a workflow for processing as I need to present a coherent set of printed images.
  • I have yet to make a final decision but they will almost certainly be toned in Lightroom.
  • The photographs will be printed on Canson Platine Fibre Rag. A 310 GSM archival paper. Without question it’s my favourite paper for this type of work.
  • The size of print, mounting and framing considerations are still in the melting pot but I will write about this in a later post, once my thoughts have come together.

So what are my intentions? Chichester Harbour is a beautiful and intriguing place, with a great deal of variety for image making. By walking the many footpaths that cover the area, a more intimate knowledge of the landscape becomes possible. I see the same locations at different times of the day; the weather and the light is constantly changing and in the months ahead Winter will turn to Spring, followed by Summer and Autumn, all of which will give me plenty of opportunity to capture the area as I see it. It will be my personal view of Chichester Harbour; an intimate portrait of a place I know well but will get to know even better as I explore locations which are less familiar.

The images which form part of this post were all taken very recently in and around one specific location – a small pond on the western side of Fishbourne Creek. One or more may or may not be included in the exhibition, but these and the many others I have made in recent weeks will start to make up a body of work from which a final selection can be made. Curation is a topic in its own right and I will doubtless be writing about this in the future.

 

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To see the work of my fellow exhibitors, do visit and follow our website – 

www.theimagecircle.com

Keeping it simple at Langstone Harbour

langstone-skycape

In recent days I have tried to simplify my approach to image taking. Let me explain. I have been out and about walking and exploring the footpaths that surround Chichester Harbour. I have taken with me the following: A Leica Monochrom and just one lens; a Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4. A spare battery just in case. A three stop ND filter should I want to shoot wide open in bright light, a shoulder strap for comfort and finally a microfibre cloth for cleaning the viewfinder – oh, and a 16GB SD card! This limited amount of equipment has been quite liberating and if anything stirs the creative juices as I look for images which work with one prime lens and in black and white of course. There have been times when a wider or longer lens would have been useful but I rather like a more minimalist approach.

In many ways the picture which accompanies this post of Chichester Harbour from Langstone is also very simple. It’s all about the clouds in the sky, a skyscape no less. An uncluttered horizon with a band of sea low in the frame, confirms a waterside location. There is no main point of interest but there is plenty to enjoy in the sky, with the various forms of cloud constantly changing with the light and moving in the breeze. I have kept processing to a minimum as well. A minor crop to place the horizon. An adjustment for levels, whilst adding a little contrast to bring out some detail. Lastly the removal of some dust spots on the sensor.  Job done.

A favourite image and a favourite camera – is that possible?

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I was asked recently if I had a favourite image which I had made? In all honesty I don’t think I do, although there are a number which I could name in a top ten. I do though remember reading that someone else when asked the same question replied – ‘The next one I am going to take.’ I rather like this response as it suggests a desire to constantly improve, believing that your next photograph will be better than the last and all those in your back catalogue. It also infers that the last image taken must be a favourite for at least it’s tangible and not a figment of the imagination – or is it? I’ll come back to this question later, as it’s relevant to the photograph in this post.

As far as a ‘favourite camera’ is concerned, well that’s easy for me to answer. It’s my Leica M Monochrom which I have been using for the last couple of years. It’s built like a tank, feels so good in the hand and the simplicity of its controls put me in complete control. It doesn’t have a multitude of programmable buttons, nor pages and pages of menus, which only serve to confuse, and nor does it come with a manual which might take the best part of a week to read, let alone understand. More importantly though the Monochrom together with the exceptional Leica lenses produces the images I am seeking to achieve with post processing and careful printing. The next incarnation of the Leica M Rangefinder must be just round the corner but I think its unlikely I will want to upgrade. The Monochrom has many idiosyncrasies, but I love it and the cost of upgrading is quite likely to be prohibitive anyway.

Given my feelings towards the Leica Monochrom, I am not that interested in the latest camera technology although to digress for a moment I was intrigued to learn about a new camera being developed by a company called Light. The camera is called the L16 and has the appearance of a large mobile phone, but instead of one lens and sensor there are 16. On pressing the shutter the camera software combines all the exposures from each of the sensors to produce one image. According to their website this can be up to 52 megapixels in size, with low noise and covering a focal range equivalent of 28mm to 150mm. The depth of field and other adjustments can be manipulated in post processing. Is this the future of camera technology, I don’t know, but nothing stays the same, so it will be interesting to see what happens when it actually hits the streets.

Back to the question I posed at the end of the first paragraph and indeed to the photograph in this post. It was taken a few days ago at St Botolph’s Church in Hardham, West Sussex. I had visited the church previously and noticed how the light was falling on the altar. I had taken some shots that day, only to find that my composition was not quite right, nor had I used the correct exposure settings. There were too many blown highlights. I decided to return, knowing in my mind the image I wanted to make. I knew which lens would give me the composition I wanted (28mm) and the likely exposure settings required to produce a malleable and workable file for post processing. I knew the time of day when the light would be in the right position, so I arrived at the church in plenty of time to get ready. The sun wasn’t as bright as it had been a day or two earlier but this proved to be a good thing. As it turned out I only had a couple of minutes to take the shot before the sun moved round and no longer illuminated the scene as I wanted it.

A favourite image or not, I like this photograph, as it will always remind me that it can be worth revisiting a location to take a particular shot that you have already pictured in your own mind.

Here are two more entries about St Botolph’s Church at Hardham.

Churches Project no.4 – St Botolph’s, Hardham, West Sussex

Thwarted by the flower arrangers at Hardham Church

 

 

Barn roof – just when I thought I had finished.

The Barn

Barn Roof

Earlier this week I made a point of going out to take some more images for my Churches Project. I was moderately pleased with my afternoon’s work, had packed away all my gear and was making my way back to the car. I had parked in front of an open barn and as I walked from the church towards my car I noticed the afternoon light glinting on the rear of the barn and in particular the long corrugated roof which nearly reached the ground. The rivets all pointed towards a small group of ivy clad trees with countryside beyond, all of which I rather liked.

I couldn’t resist reaching for my camera just one last time. Whether I have a camera with me or not, my eyes are constantly observing what is around me, looking for the light, interesting shapes and compositions. Even when on first impression the subject itself may not be that appealing, (in this case the corrugated roof of an old farm building), the direction of the light and other elements which make up the picture may be enough to warrant getting my camera out of it’s bag. So I took one last shot before heading home and I am glad I did.