Market Garden commemoration (again)

2011, Photography

Between my weekly post from my 365 project I wanted to publish another series of photographs from last Saturday’s 67th commemoration of operation Market Garden. Now, this isn’t exactly the first time I published photographs from this event. I did so in 2008 and 2009. It was however the first time I didn’t use one of my compact cameras, but a Leica M8 with a Leica 35mm Summilux and a Zeiss 50mm Sonnar. And unlike before this time the weather wasn’t as pretty, so the fast lens came in handy.

(Those little blobs to the left are not dust speckles, but parachutes. This is what you get when you shoot at f/1.4)
In 1994 when they commemorated this operation, both the organizers and many of the still living veterans from the UK and Canada actually thought the 50th was about the last time to commemorate this. But 17 years later and the event still takes place. It is interesting and wonderful to realize that current generations who only learned about World War II from their grand parents, history books, documentaries, and movies, still remember those days, the effort of young men bringing peace and freedom, the liberation, and the privileged and fortunate era after the war.

We met some great people that day. Some where great models and asking people from the re-enactment group to be photographed was no problem at all.

And apparently so, nostalgia is not only something we appreciate in photography nowadays. Most of the vehicles are from the 1940’s and and the clothes these guys wear are just as old too.

Getting out with a rangefinder camera, manual exposing and focusing made things even more nostalgic. And I couldn’t resist to add the bleach bypass effect to my photographs for more drama. Even though a lot of the exposures ended up deleted.

And I really liked the subjective story in the last photograph, although I wasn’t really sure I saw the shoe strings being tied in the truck through the rangefinder.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

With patience

2010, Photography


I don’t tend to be a gear head and prefer to deal with what I got instead of what I don’t have. But sometimes, oh sometimes. This photograph was taken last year with for me the perfect camera. I hope my friend receives her camera as soon as possible. It is magic (you can see a larger version here).

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

Keeping my thoughts wide open

2009, Photography

As promised, here is my second part of some photographs I took with the Leica M8 (see part one here). And should I mention something serious about this camera and the used lenses? Partially I think I should and partially I think I shouldn’t either. Why? Well first the serious part then. Even though it is a dream camera it still costs a lot of money. I mean really a lot of money. And yes, prices are dropping since the M9 was released. But the magic is still the lenses I think. And boy, these lenses come at serious prices.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
And then the less serious part. I didn’t test this camera, I tried it, and to be honest we kept it at auto. I just scratched the surface to get some feeling of using a rangefinder camera and trying very fast lenses. I could have tried the Epson R-D1 too, but Cam, the sweetheart, insisted that I should try the Leica. And I don’t regret it. I loved the experience. And I loved using these lenses that screamed to be used wide open.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
So what about these lenses? Leica lenses come at different flavors. Noctilux, Summilux, Summicron, Summarit, Elmarit, Elmar. The Noctilux lenses are the really fast ones. These lenses have a maximum apertures of f/1.0 or even f/0.95! You will find these only with 50mm focal lengths. And on the other side you will find the Elmar lenses. These are the slowest lenses, but by no mean bad lenses . Many users like to call their lenses Nocti’, ‘Lux or ‘Cron. I think they do so, because the owners have some sentimental relationship to their lenses. See it as a term of endearment (to quote Cam). And lets face it, Summilux or just ‘Lux sounds so much sexier than Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM. Interested? Then check Stephen Gandy’s CameraQuest for all the details and history of these lenses.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
Would I want one? Yes, I would like to have a rangefinder, be it Leica or Epson. In the end they are still simple to operate cameras. The finder is large and bright, unlike with most SLR’s. I found manual focusing very well implemented. The finder provides the frame lines for three focal lengths, but these aren’t really accurate. Those who use external optical viewfinders for their compact sensor cameras know what I mean.But if you prefer accurate framing and if you like to have a sense of the depth of field you might be better of with a SLR.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
So what is the part of all the attraction? I think to a large extension it is the unpredictability. Not the unpredictability of the system when it comes to the technical aspects, although some complained about that too. But more the end result part. When you shoot wide open it is quite difficult to really nail the focus and although you can have a feeling of the outcome and the depth of field by experience, you really know what you did until you see the end results. But that does bring excitement too. You can shoot an entire day and feel miserable after you see the results or you feel thrilled and stoked, because you’ve done everything right.
Leica M8 and 50mm Noctilux f/1.0 by Wouter Brandsma
The lenses are exceptional. The quality is very high and in particular the wide angle lenses are much smaller and better performers than the SLR counter parts. I just loved the feeling of the Summilux lens and using the smooth focus ring.
Leica M8 and 50mm Noctilux f/1.0 by Wouter Brandsma
But will I ever own one? Although it is my dream camera, likely not. The price, in particular the lenses, surpass my monthly income.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
I would however still love to use M-mount lenses. And Voigtländer or Zeiss might be fine too for me. Some say they are 90% of the quality of the Leica lenses, but so are also the prices. Would I use such lenses with a rangefinder? I just don’t know. The M8 might eventually still be too expensive, even after a couple of years and a M9.2 or M10 announcement. Currently do the micro4/3 cameras provide an option to use these lenses too in combination to LCD screen or electronic viewfinder framing and focusing. It is just that I don’t like the 2x crop factor. And to be fair and honest, the new Olympus E-P2 looks like an ugly duck with that external EVF.
But maybe the new Samsung NX10 will be able to use these lenses too. This camera will have a 1,5x APS-C sized sensor. And will more manufacturers join this new competition? Sony mentioned being interested and they are the intellectual owners of the Hexar heritage! And maybe more will follow too.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

A special moment

2009, Photography

Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
Yesterday I felt honored and privileged to photograph with my friend’s Leica M8 and two gorgeous lenses. Yes, the camera is something totally different then anything I have used for photography. Top finish and wonderful and bright rangefinder with bright frame lines. And I have to say that this is my dream camera. Do you read me John?
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
But the lenses made all the differences. Yesterday I used a nineties 35mm Summilux f/1.4 and a 1975 pre-production 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. Both lenses screamed to be used wide open which I of course did.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
Shooting wide open at dim light isn’t easy. I know that now all to well with my Canon 10D and legacy lenses. But it helps that the finder is so bright.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
Kevin is used to waiting and this isn’t the first time his legs are photographed.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
I tried to focus on the cigarette and admittedly almost succeeded.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
I think I like the fall and shooting wide open, which is even better with such a gorgeous Summilux.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
And when we went to the Ginkel Heath, one of the drop zones during the start of Operation Market Garden on September 17, 1944, the light became just perfect. The monument is to commemorate the young men who died there.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
All shown photographs in this post were taken with the Summilux. In my next post I will also show some photographs taken with the Noctilux.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma