Off the Streets 4

Artistic blur.
Paya Lebar

Long post ahead!

I had the opportunity to work with the Leica M9 and the Summarit 35mm F2.5 for the past two days and I have a love-hate ok mostly love relationship with it!
For starters, I had never produced more ‘artistic images’ in such a short span of time and the images in this post will probably never end up as portfolio images. But I really want to share them as my learning experience and as a perfect example of expensive/ best camera, crappy images.

Before I start, I’ll like to thank Leica for loaning me a brand new M9. BRAND. NEW. The base plate still has its sticker on and I had to charge the battery overnight! The camera flew in the morning I collected it and the guy that briefed us on the camera went: ‘You know guys, this is a BRAND NEW camera. But no pressure man; just enjoy the shoot, you’ll get a 10% off your camera if you really like it.’
I honestly doubt I can even afford the box…

I’ll be travelling to Trenganu or somewhere in Malaysia, some 500km away from Bangkok this Friday for a photo workshop and besides the Mamiya 135, I had not excatly worked with a rangefinder before. Coming from a background where I almost always use auto focus with my 5D and the Mamiya 645; the moment I hit the streets with the M9, it was 1800-dial-a-Mathias

I can’t focus to save my life and it was an utter nightmare.

Waiting for the bus
Paya Lebar

Leaving the focus issue aside, I have another problem. Finding the correct exposure with the camera…
With the 5D and Mamiya, there were so many things that I took for granted. One of them is the meter inside the viewfinder where it tells me that I am say 2 stops underexposed or a stop over along with the aperture and shutter I am shooting with.
Heck, I know my 5D well enough that I normally shoot with aperture priority in a matrix evaluation I think and compensate the light when I need to.

With the M9, There are 3 things you see in the finder. 2 triangles and a circle…
When the triangle is on the left pointing to the right, it means I am underexposed vice versa; the circle means it is the correct exposure.  Sounds easy. But the finder does not give me my shutter nor aperture!
Which means, I have no clue how many stops am I under or over exposed by so I need to unglue my eye from the finder, look at and actually think about my settings…
I swear that triangle seem to be mocking me eveytime it appears.

haha jam jam you are underexposed again~
What’s the correct exposure? Don’t know? Make a guess. Can’t guess?
muahahaha you just missed a shot!
Fail jams fail; oh and your focusing is whacked xoxo Triangle

In the end, I just have to ignore the triangles and trust myself as I am almost always right.
Its like I know these stuff but when the DSLR takes over long enough, I got lazy and stopped thinking about it.
I forgot that the correct exposure for my room in the morning: ISO 800; F2.8; 1/80, at night: ISO 800; F2.8; 1/60.
I forgot that the correct exposure for my hall in the morning: ISO 800; F3.2; 1/125, at night: ISO 800; F2.8, 1/30.
I forgot to watch the tiny changes in light and change my settings accordingly.

With the M9, it kind of forces me to go back to the basics of photography. Watching the light and using zone focus.
In fact, I think this would make a great starter camera for anyone learning photography as you are forced to think about your reciprocal and really look and appreciate the light.

Just that the price is kind of… Well, not very starter-ish.

tick tock tick tock

What I absolutely love about the camera is that good lord, I finally know the meaning of being invisible. I was just ranting about how I am an obvious photographer with the Mamiya but the M9 is the direct opposite of it. The shutter sound is so silent that my Mamiya sounds like a rocket when I compare the two.
I can be standing and photographing right next to a man and he does not even notice. Its crazy; the size of the camera is so tiny and its full frame! I can see myself selling the Mamiya and getting this camera for my travels… 
I did not crop any of my image and how I miss the 35mm focal length. Although I am still getting used to the frame lines, I still know my composition with the 35mm! provided I nail the focus…

People just ignored me; continued to do their own thing and don’t even notice they are being photographed!
Then again, you can more or less tell who are photographers as they will be the one staring at the M9 wondering how a girl in fit flops can afford to carry one around.

Kodak is still alive!

Eggs; lots of them!

Yummy cakes.

Kua simi?

Mini photo essay coming up:

The last bit is a couple of skater boys I shot while walking around.
It was so easy for me to gain access because they quickly overlooked that I had a camera in hand and went on to do their own thing…

They started skating about a month ago and used the old bus interchange as their practice ground everyday after school. A starter skate board costs around 100SGD onwards.

In any case, I am more or less getting used to the M9 and shot around 800 images with it. I know I’ll get better with the next 800 frames; alas I have to return the camera before I head off to Hanoi next Tuesday 🙁
In the meantime, I’ll treasure every moment with it and I’ll update the blog again when I get back from Hanoi<3

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