Super Dynamite Update

The great thing about kids is that you can convince them to do about anything when it comes to getting photographs. A piece of glass to press your face up against, a puddle to jump in or maybe even a screen door to get behind. Super Dynamite was in town and I took the opportunity to make a few pictures. Very few actually. This entire edit was ONE frame, the one you see here. Oh well, win some, lose some. One is enough for me.

“Press your face up against that screen.”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“DO IT!”


These last two images are with the M9 at 640 ISO. This camera is VERY sharp. I hear a lot of talk in regard to high ISO with digital cameras and the ability to shoot at speeds upwards of 25,000. I guess that is great. Personally, I’ve never had a need or desire to do that. As you know by now, I’m an oddball. With digital I RARELY shoot over 640. Digital sees in the dark, WAY beyond film, so if I can’t shoot it at 640 ISO and 1.4, I’m probably not going to shoot it. In most cases with digital I don’t go over 320 ISO, including all those weddings I did over the years. I’d go to 320 ISO and pop in a little strobe. The M9 is razor sharp at these speeds, probably higher if you feel the need.

Leica Workshop Palm Springs

Yes, it is official, I’m co-teaching a Leica workshop in Palm Springs. Justin Stailey, @justinstailey, is doing most of the heavy lifting. I’m in the back of the room trying to sound smart by repeating things Justin already said. Believe it or not, after all these years of using this equipment, I THINK this is my first official participation in a Leica workshop. I have to say, it’s really damn fun. And, Leica does a nice job of packaging for students. Folders with the entire class offering, in perfect black on black Leica style.

Not to mention the hats, the bags and the notepad, again branded with that Leica style. If you think this stuff isn’t important, think again. The key here is the thought behind this. What are you, as a student, gonna want when you leave? The hat and bag are great, shows your brand appreciation, but more importantly you have the entire classwork program in your folder for future reference. My guess, you could sell these on Ebay and people would pony up for them. Don’t do this by the way.

In addition to Mr. Stailey, both Ebi and Mary Joe from Leica are also here teaching, training and offering their knowledge of forty-five plus years of Leica experience. Let me repeat that….45 years. These Leica folks are a different breed because Leica is a different brand. Leicas are more than cameras, which is something that drives some people crazy, but yet brings millions more into the Leica fold. As you know, I fell into the Leica fold in or around 1989, so I can’t speak objectively about this.

Time flies here as the tech specs are replaced by the shooting specs, which are then replaced by actual shooting. I’m here to show a little work, provide the reasoning behind why I use this particular flavor of camera and to provide whatever other advice they can pull from me. Oh, I also got a Leica hat…did I mention that? I’m not saying Leica is a cult, but I cried when I got the hat.

As you can see, there is a line of M9’s bodies behind me, which are calling my name. Students are able to borrow these babies, and lenses, testing the water for what will next land in their shoulder bags.
If you get a chance to take one of these workshops, go for it.

What I Look Like to First Graders

“If you were in a circus, you would be a clown,” the boy said to me.

I knew from this comment on, my experience would be a memorable one. Luck had it I was invited to visit a local kindergarten through twelve school. My primary visit was in the arts department, which is where I met the crowd of first graders.

“What are you going to do in art class?” I asked one little girl. “I don’t know” she said. “Well, what do you want to do?” I asked. “I want to paint the ceiling” she said. “Well, I’m not sure we can do that, but it does sound like a grand idea,” I replied. The teacher, because she is such a good teacher, said, “Well, what if we paint pieces of paper the size of the ceiling tiles, and then we can tack them up.” Lots of screaming, cheers, rushing about. “What if we all paint a piece of the same picture so that when we put them all together we get one HUGE painting,” I asked. Lots of screaming, cheers and rushing about.
“Let’s draw the photographer,” the teacher said. Lots of screaming, cheers and rushing about.

Well, we didn’t end up with anything the size of the ceiling, but what we did end up with is what you see here. I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a while. The kids were so refreshing, so animated, so interested it made me realize what a great future we all have.
The hair…they nailed it. The stubble was a surprise cause I’d shaved that morning. The Leica proved to be VERY popular.

Leica M9 + Super Dynamite

Leica M9 + Super Dynamite from Smogranch on Vimeo.

Okay folks, I finally had a chance to use the Leica M9 in a way that I feel really explores the potential of this camera. I thought I would get to connect with this camera on my Hong Kong trip but I never really connected with anything at the level I’m looking for. But, I was recently able to spend a few days with my nephew, Super Dynamite, and was able to really use the M9 like I would if I was working on a project. I have to say, it works. As you know, I’m very familiar with these cameras, so for me, I never skipped a beat. The only suggestion I have is to make the exposure compensation more accessible. Meter is good, quickness is good, it’s quiet. I also exported large files this time. Everything I’d done with this camera, up until this shoot, was small files for the web. This time, seventeen inch Tiff files. They look fantastic. The fallout, same as my M6, and the texture of areas outside critical focus,to me, look really good. In fact, I think they look like images that have been prepped to look like film, that small texture added in. So, take a listen and see what you think. By the way, when these images export to a Quicktime file when I do these voice overs…they really lose something. So, I’ve added two in here so you get an idea of how good these files look.

David Alan Harvey Working Rio

The infamous David Alan Harvey working Rio. A nice short film, shot by his son I believe. Was able to hang out with David a few weeks ago, briefly, which was fun as always. For me, he has always been a guy immediately recognizable by his imagery. You see it and you say, “Harvey shot that.” The Geographic has a few folks like this. I also like the fact that while David has done a multitude of stories over the years, he is best known for his work relating to the Spanish culture and Latin America. If you haven’t seen the books of his work, you should look for them and buy them as quickly as possible. They are well worth the read, and can teach you a lot about how to make real images of real people, on the fly. I’ve been around David many times in the past, and I have say, each time he has a camera in his hand, which might seem trivial, but it tells me a lot about someone and their approach, not to mention their passion level.

Photo Rio from on Vimeo.