36 responses to “Return of “The Leica File””

  1. Jon says:

    thanks for bringing “The Leica File” back! Also thoroughly enjoy watching and re-watching “Organizing a Project”

  2. Martin Wolf says:

    Dan, you make me happy. I am one of the seven people in world who truly missed The Leica File. Really excited that it is back. I think the image + Soundcloud idea is good. Keep it going and thank you for your time. 🙂

  3. Mike says:

    “Tomorrow or fifty years from now” : that goes for the rest of us Daniel, but some people think they will live forever and so put things off until tomorrow. The only thing guaranteed is today.
    Everything you say about the Leica is true and I love it too. The digital version is a brick. Looking forward to more Leica files,


    • Smogranch says:

      It would be difficult for me to justify a $7000 camera that has a short lifespan when I can buy a $1000 camera that will last for the rest of my life. Not to mention….going back to a post from a few weeks ago…how do I store those digital images?

  4. Bravo! Jolly good show!

  5. Matt says:

    Thanks for bringing this back. I’m #3 of 7 I suppose.

  6. Eric says:

    Looking forward to hearing more of these and especially excited about the development of your own process based on re-finding your type of photo.

  7. Jeff Chevrier says:

    Glad to see another Leica file, Dan! I am one of the 11 people who you say like these! 😉 Can we see a print from your darkroom next in another Leica file?

  8. Mark says:

    Great to see it back! Does that mean I am #4 of the 7?

  9. David says:

    Dan, glad this is back. I always look forward to your commentary. I don’t agree with an earlier post re storing digital files, but what the heck, it’s good to know people who say what they think! storing negative sleeves and digital files is just different, that’s all. binders on the shelf vs aluminium box on the desk (with a back up off site and 0s and 1s in the cloud) isn’t no different. a red circle around an image on a contact sheet vs 5 stars attached to something similar in lightroom. … . but, I will say this, I probably enjoyed the process of printing more in the wet darkroom more than digitally, but at least I still print and I am a better printer now with the digital tools.

    again, glad the leica files are back.

    • Smogranch says:

      What I meant by the earlier post was that we have to store both things. However, I have 40 TB of data, and I still have NO IDEA how I’m going to store this moving forward. I’ve asked at least a dozen people since I wrote that post and every single one, all digital photographers, said “I’m in the same boat, let me know if you find anything out.” This isn’t simply a metal box on the shelf. I’ve got an entire cabinet filled with drives and an entire bottom half of a work closet filled with portable media. What next? I have no idea. I also have two cabinets full of negs, and these are growing too, but I know that these things will be around in five, ten, fifty years unless I love to flood, fire, riot, mudslide, tsunami or zombie invasion.

  10. Jason Timmis says:

    …where you gonna store all the files from your new scanner? (Yes,,, I know…it’s all perpetrated by THE MAN…you can’t escape)

    …Oh and I think we could be up to a solid 9 people now…a book in the making when you are old & gray.

    Happy shooting my friend..and may the light be with you!

  11. lionelB says:

    I suppose in truth we have Ansel Adams to blame for the idea of HDR, long before the digital algorithms were invented. The absences and the excesses in this image are what make it. There is enough information to set our minds ticking. It doesn’t give us ALL the information, nor should it. Mental muscles wither and become useless if they have nothing to do. Long live the sketch.

    • Smogranch says:

      Man, what Ansel did in the darkroom and what I see with people doing HDR, even myself on the phone, is so far apart I can’t make that connection. Adams first started with the VISION to know what he wanted to make. I’ve seen his negatives, and his work prints, and to see the first work print and the final print next to one another was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen in photography, and I have never really been an Adam’s fan. He also started with an insanely good exposure. He knew what that exposure meant in the darkroom, and without it there was no final image. These HDR geeks don’t seem to know about vision, exposure, and most of the time don’t even bother with a print.

    • lionelB says:

      There is no denying that Adams was the master of technique but the concept that tonal zones are like the stomachs of a group of hungry children which ought by rights to be filled equitably is a conservative strait-jacket. Shadows don’t have to be open and haloes don’t have to be suppressed. His insistence on a ‘system’ is just too tidy to my way of thinking. Perfection is a very dubious idea but if we say instead “the best it can be”, then the best will often be messy, not neatly ordered.

    • Smogranch says:

      They tried to force the zone system on me in school. Then they saw my prints and promptly gave up. I could never do it either.

    • Steve says:

      I agree with you Lionel, but I that wasn’t ever Adams’ intent. He says as much in the introduction to The Negative. The point of making as detailed an exposure as you can is to let you print whatever interpretation you like down the track. Exposure is the score, the print the performance and all that.

      Then again, I recall Annie Leibowitz talking about her exposures for some magazine, “My assistants will say ‘You’re crushing the blacks!’ And I’ll say ‘Good! That’ll stop them printing them up!'”

    • Smogranch says:

      For me was the ability to see the final image. There were entire mountain ranges burned to black, that if you don’t see the negs or work prints you would never know where there. It was clear to me, and to the guy who printed for him, that he saw this final in the field. Again, I don’t shoot that way, but it stuck with me in regard to really trying to see while in the field. I’m not there yet. Not even close. But, it’s only been twenty years. I was taught the zone system then made dark, contrasty, grainy prints that they told me were “wrong.”

  12. Mike says:

    With regard to the ongoing digital storage conversation: the good thing about storing your work as digital files is that you can copy them again and again and store them in various locations – even in the ‘cloud’. That takes care of the fire, flood, zombie etc. – but how are you going to ensure that they are around for the future? The files don’t actually exist without a machine to read them: have any old floppy discs, 8-track stereo, audio cassettes? Got a machine that still reads them? Do you have a Nikon scanner? Will the software still work on the latest Macs?
    Having a virtual photograph that relies on software to be visible just makes me nervous.


    • Smogranch says:


      Short answer, yes and no. Yes to all kinds of stupid ass storage media. Got it, done it. Cloud has never worked for me due to quantity of information. Nikon scanner software was just dug up by an archeologist who can’t seem to place it….am buying Epson, one reason is still supported. For now….

  13. Mike says:

    Daniel, it would help if the industry got its act together and decided on one, common, file format e.g. DNG, instead of having a new RAW format for every new camera. What is that all about?


    • Smogranch says:

      Won’t happen anytime soon. They don’t care about your archive, only about their file type. It’s been this way since I first picked up a digi cam in 1998.

  14. Yann says:

    Hurray! The leica files are back. They remind me that there are other film M users spending time in darkrooms somewhere in 2014. Long live Smogranch and Tri-X!


  15. Ryan says:

    Hey Dan,

    Just throwing it out there, but there is a pretty rad little scanner that has had a bit of a resurgence among some fellow film shooters I know. The Pakon 135, they sell them used from AAA Imaging, its in Huntington Beach. It scans an uncut roll in about 6mins and has a really nice look to it, and you aren’t messing with trays and all that with an Epson (the lazy factor is a big part of it for me I think).

    Anyways, you might be interested! I love mine.

  16. Dominic says:

    Thanks for bringing this back Daniel. Looking forward to the next one.

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