Archive for February, 2014

Thoughts On The Leica M After One Year’s Use

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 28, 2014 by johnbuckley100


One year ago this weekend, I was lucky enough to receive a Leica M (typ-240).  As a photographer who had rediscovered his love of the craft by using a Leica M7 (2002), and then happily taking the leap to digital with an M8 (2006) and an M9 (2009), it was immediately clear that with the M, Leica had come as close to perfecting the digital rangefinder experience as seems possible.  The Leica M has a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor, and from the first day, I found the image quality to be as good as the legendary M9’s, so long as one adjusted his post-processing technique to be careful not to oversaturate the colors.

There were immediate advantages in using the M over the M9, and especially the M8: its high ISO performance enabled one to shoot with much greater latitude at night, as as I noted after using it for a month.



One still had all of the advantages of using a rangefinder — speed of manual focusing, more intuitive, user-controlled operation, and of course, the Leica’s small size, but now, for the first time, you also had an option to set up the M as, in essence, a DSLR, and thus use long lenses. For the M offers Live View and with an adaptor — Leica’s own R-to-M lens adaptor was made available only last month, 10 months after the camera arrived, but we purchased a decent stand-in early — one could shoot Leica’s great R-mount telephoto lenses.  As I noted in August, after spending a considerable amount of time with the M out West — and thus for the first time, able to shoot telephoto lenses on a rangefinder — it made me think of the M as a truly multipurpose tool.

Oxbowcloud1 (1 of 1)


I could now incorporate it better into landscape photography, which we welcomed.  The versatility available to the user — being able to shoot at night…

Last Fair Shot (1 of 1)


while retaining the rangefinder’s advantage in being able to take intimate, spontaneous street photos without freaking out the subject…

Day two Teton Fair 10 (1 of 1)


made using the camera a complete joy.

I can’t say that using mine has been trouble free.  Mine has a persistent annoying flaw where, after taking a number of shots in succession, the LCD reveals the images whirling past like they’re on a carousel.  It’s really odd.  It takes a minute or so to calm down and have me be able to look at the last image I shot.  Yes, I could send this to Leica NJ or to the hospital in Solms, but it’s an annoyance, not a deal breaker.  Should a camera this expensive have any flaws? No.  But we live with it.

The new brightly lit frame lines in the viewfinder make the M’s intuitive focusing even better than the M9.  Some pictures, such as the one below of the mother with her children skating, can be captured only via luck, or the practice that comes with having used a Leica for a decade or more.  It’s my belief, however, that the rangefinder in the M is a better calibrated instrument than any previous Leica, because more pictures seem to catch exactly what I was hoping for.

Unbearable Lightness Of Parenting





When the Monochrom came out in 2012, many of us noted that the files it produced were more malleable than previous files we’d worked with, meaning that you could, in post-production, get effects and looks beyond what we’d been able to achieve previously.  I found the same thing to be true with the M.  I happen to like deeply saturated colors, and when I shot film, I often used Fuji Velvia.  Some found the look of the M’s files to be too vivid; I found that, whether it was in Lightroom or using Nik’s Color Efex Pro4, I could get the look, and feel, I was after.



The camera seemed to be able to take maximum advantage of Leica’s lenses.

untitled (1 of 1)-7


And it was especially clear that the combination of the M with the Noctilux was as special as the Noctilux’s marriage to the Monochrom.

By Any Other Name


Over the course of a single year, the camera has provided me with an inspiring opportunity to experiment with how I see the world — which is really all you want from a camera.  Right?  A tool that inspires you to try new things is a tool you can really learn to love.

Paper Fans


All I know is that after a single year of using the M, I believe my photography is getting better, that the tool I am using enables me to have my camera be, as Cartier-Bresson said his M was, an extension of my eye.  It is possible there are better cameras out there, and Leica may even be able to improve upon the M.  But after one year using it, I am still somewhat stunned at how much it enables me to fulfill ambitions I did not even know I had.

The Kiss


Winter Contained Within The Construct Of A Grid

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 26, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Leica Monochrom, 50mm Summilux Asph.

Winter Grid

The Unbearable Lightness Of Parenting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 23, 2014 by johnbuckley100

See how the little girl is ready to fly.  How the little boy still needs the strength his mother shows in holding him, as she hovers over both.  We don’t often think of a photograph we take as a metaphor for something more, but yeah, this one.  This one is worth clicking on. Leica M, 50mm Summilux Asph, ND filter.

Unbearable Lightness Of Parenting

Can’t Get Dean Wareham’s “Holding Pattern” Out Of My Head

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on February 23, 2014 by johnbuckley100

When Luna broke up nine years ago this week, we were melancholy and resigned, appreciative of the pleasure this favorite band had given us, on record, and in the 20 or so shows of theirs we’d seen over a 10-year period.  We remembered, with poignancy, that free show we saw in the courtyard between the two World Trade Center buildings that evening in late August 2001, walking away from the show to catch a taxi that would take us to our Shuttle flight back to Washington after a day of work in New York, listening to “Bonnie and Clyde” as we entered the cab, gazing back one last time to see our favorite band, maybe two weeks before the towers were destroyed.  We remembered all the hours we’d listened to Penthouse.  We were satisfied to have what we had, with low expectations about what was to come.  Would Wareham ever again produce music equal to what he’d done with Luna and Galaxie 500?

It took a few years, really until the release in 2010 of Dean & Britta’s 13 Most Beautiful, to listen to new music from Dean Wareham that not only was as good as, but in terms of its beauty and emotional effect actually surpassed what he’d done with Luna and Galaxie 500.  Then this past fall, he released the Emancipated Hearts mini album, and honestly, it had songs that were on a par with “Black Postcards” and “Weird and Woozy.”  The production by Justin Quaver was gorgeous, with a chamber pop delicacy on the best songs — cello and piano augmenting Wareham’s oddly affecting singing and, of course, his gorgeous guitar playing.

But now we have the first single from the eponymous Dean Wareham solo album, produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and due out on March 11, and let us just say that “Holding Pattern” is gorgeous, catchy, and has wormed its way into my head.  It shows little of the delicacy of, say, “The Deadliest Day Since The Invasion” on Emancipated Hearts.  Yet it’s a reminder why, for more than 10 years, Luna was the band we paid the most attention to.  Can’t wait for the solo album to be released.

Dog Day Afternoon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 22, 2014 by johnbuckley100

At last some nice weather.  Leica M-240, 50mm Summilux Asph, ND filter.

Dog Day Afternoon

Our Annual Public Service To Tulip Frenzy’s Readers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 9, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Yeah, winter sucks.  Just look at this for a few moments and feel better.  Leica M8, February 2009.

Break Your Heart

The First Great Album Of 2014 Is Here: Sleepy Sun’s “Maui Tears”

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by johnbuckley100

If T.S Elliott had been a fan of rock’n’roll he would have rethought this “April is the cruelest month” thing.  By April, the record releases are coming fast and furious.  January’s a different matter.

Which is why it is so fantastic that on January 28, Sleepy Sun released Maui Tears, which has gotten us through, oh, all sorts of things: snow days and cold, avalanches of work, that feeling when you are midway through writing your fourth novel where it seems you are still deep underwater, legs kicking, trying to get to the surface before your lungs explode, all the while worrying about the bends.  Oh, okay, back to Sleepy Sun’s great new album.

For those not hip to the band, just go check out “Galaxy Punk.”  It kicks with the force of White Denim’s “Drug,” a perfect pop song but also a showcase for the kind of virtuoso guitar playing that just saws its way through soft brain matter.

Maui Tears is constructed along the blueprint specs that Stephen McBean used in Black Mountain’s Wilderness Heart: there’s tuneful, exciting, straight-ahead rock’n’roll (“The Lane”) followed by acoustic balladry you might have found on early Led Zep, and then immersion into the headphone imperatives of metal-psyche.  “Outside” is, for our money, a better version of MBV than anything found on m b v.  “11:32” is a mere 4:10 worthy of punk-metal goodness, and on “Thielbar” you can catch a whiff of Black Rebel Motorcycle exhaust and it smells like… victory.

We really like this album not simply because there’s not a lot of other great new music to listen to — at least not until Temples’ rec comes out on Tuesday.  We really like this album because it is amazing.

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