2014 arrives and I am stoked to continue this wonderful, crazy, sometimes psychotic thing called life. While this year I made a resolution to not make resolutions, there are still areas of introspection that I hope to expound on as time goes by. One thing that I will talk about right now is my journey with the Leica Monochrome.
The end of 2013 saw me sell off all of my Nikon and Zeiss gear to purchase a Leica Monochrome Rangefinder. A camera with a lousy display, somewhat neurotic electronics, slow write speeds, no auto focus, only center weighted metering, and a host of other 'Non 2014' camera features that would make one question why any sane person would make this choice. As part of this journey, and perhaps as a way of answering this 'why' question, I hope to post a single picture, each day, that represents my life with the Monochrome.
Along with these images I will throw in my thoughts about the camera, the lenses, photography in general, and life in the simplistic lane. Yep, I guess that gives you insight into the biggest reason for this decision, Simplicity. You see, with the Monochrome, you are on a singular mission. It is not the camera making decisions for you, it is you making decisions for the camera. What is the light like; what is the subject; how do I want to render this image that my eye sees;....
The list goes on and on. It is a thinking persons camera, a very methodical image making tool. It is not a point and shoot camera with a gazillion menu options that allow some SW engineer to define how your image is going to look. You are not going to get more than 2 frames per second, maybe 3, but that is only for the first several shots before the buffer gets completely backed up and the camera stops working. Nope, it is definitely not going to be any good for the run and gun lets capture 1000 images in a day photographer. If you don't understand light, and luminance, and if you can't 'see' what is going on around you then you will be completely frustrated by this little guy.
The battery is just ok. I have been able to work for days on end without any issue because I don't 'Chimp' anymore, other than some random peaks at the histogram. It is winter right now, and without a doubt, shooting in bright snow conditions with a camera that absolutely cannot deal with blown out highlights, requires your utmost attention to detail. I know, I know, old school chrome shooters did not have a histogram and managed to do ok. Yep, I cut my teeth shooting thousands of rolls of Kodachrome 64 so I get it. However, it is 2014, and therefore if I do have the use of a histogram, I will use it.
What I won't do is spend all of my time staring at the monitor on the back of my camera, zooming and panning to see if I got things in focus. I either did or I didn't and since I am not on some huge photo shoot where it needs to be right, I am content to simply do my best, and capture what I can. If I got it, I got it, and if I didn't then I didn't.
Now, this simplicity will either excite you or you will hate it. I am not here to argue the merits of either way. What I am here to say, is that after one month with this thing, I am in love with my photography again. Yes, in love AGAIN. By that I mean that I want to take pictures all the time, every day, every moment. The kit is small and lite and unobtrusive. I carry it with me everywhere in a simple non-descriptive Mountainsmith sling bag. It is not a camera bag, but with a little insert to give the body and lens some bump protection, it works perfectly.
I carry the bag and camera when I go out to the post office or out for drinks or out for dinner, or wherever I go. I want it with me all the time and I love that with this camera, I am capable of producing images that are of a quality that is meaningful to me. This is where the Nikon kit let me down. It wasn't that I could not produce outstanding images with the D800E and the Zeiss lenses, because I could. Hands down one of the nicest combinations of photographic kit I had ever owned. However, what was lacking is that more than not, I did not have the camera with me. I did not carry it everywhere. Nope, I know, it really was not that much heavier, but I guess the MM just hits the sweet spot for bulk and weight.
It is hefty enough to feel outstanding in your hands, but small enough and light enough that swinging a bag over your shoulder is nice. Heck, I think the bag, with some miscellaneous stuff in it, the camera/lens and whatever else I happen to be carrying is actually lighter than my GF's purse/satchel/bag... Ok, sorry, I digress. You get it, the kit is light enough to have with you all the time and that is what matters.
If you don't have the camera with you, then you cant capture that decisive moment. While I love taking the occasional snap with my 41 megapixel Nokia Lumia camera phone, that just does not cut it for me. It is not what I want for my moment to moment image making tool.
2014 is here, and I intend to continue following my passions to the fullest. I have always felt the most happy when I had a camera in hand. Making images is my life blood. I suck at the written word, but will strive to get better on that front.
Images, they are my stories, a window into my world, how I see, feel, think and love. Follow along and enjoy the journey.
Peace & Love