I never thought I would hear a group of ‘Hip hop’ dancers tell me that my Leica M9 was ‘wicked’ and ‘that’s proper old skool’, but I did and funny enough they were correct.
Changing to new equipment is always going to be something of a learning curve, but when you are becoming used to that equipment and are simply adapting to a new environment, the technology will, one hopes be all that you hope it to be.
In January this year I was fortunate enough to start using the Leica M9 along with a 24mm 1.4 lens (you may have read my article last month) and with this new camera, I began shooting the car events in Monaco and portraits in Italy. Events that although required a speedy capture, would allow me to prepare my shot at least.
Yesterday I shot at Big Dance, a bi-annual event that takes place throughout the United Kingdom over weekend of July 3rd and 4th. Having begun my photographic career in dance, I knew what it was like to use a fixed lens manual focus camera. I had used a Nikon FM2 for years then upgraded to the Hasselblad, before autofocus and digital cameras arrived. I remember clearly saying, “Thank heavens for the Nikon F90X” yes I remember that along with “the autofocus is slow but it is ok for some things”.
Then came the Leica M6. Back to the fixed lens and manual focus. I was determined to sacrifice the autofocus and learn how to use the rangefinder. My goodness, I am so pleased I did as the photographs from the Leica are simply divine and well worth the re adapting to the camera system. So when I acquired the M9 I was already set up along with some experience to be able to shoot in my newly transformed reportage style.
Shooting at car events I have begun to find my voice but really have not had time to sit down and think about this transformation. But this weekend it became clear as a tree sticking out from behind someone’s head, when I was shooting at both at Goodwood for the Festival of Speed (cars cars cars) and Big Dance in two shopping centres. Exciting both of my passions the M9 was a steady workhorse allowing me to really experiment and put the camera to its full use. Catching magic hour at Goodwood, a time where with a good lens you can really take advantage of ‘that’ light where children can’t help but want to be playing out in it and watching participants in dance workshops who, look like they have just discovered something that no one else knows about… the magic of movement. The M9 delivered triumphantly with his manual focus and fixed lens.
Both retail outlets luckily (for the skin tones, happy glands and art artistic shadows) had glass ceilings where the sun streamed in beautifully. I discovered the Leica M9 quite a little bit more this weekend. The central space where the dance companies and workshops took place, in both venues, were tight and narrow, there were people gathered around the sides and the dancers were not always going to be where one thought they were going to be, (oh the joys of community dance), but with a brave decision for my favourite 70mm to I had to work hard to keep a good balance between keeping my client happy of documenting the event and keeping my style a breast with the fast work that the 70mm needed to achieve.
But once again all I can say is it is worth it. The photos from the Leica completely surpassed anything I could imagine from this working space. My camera may look indeed ‘Old Skool’ but it certainly provides state of the art technology.
As always I thank Leica for making such brilliant equipment. Leica