One Mobile Device to Rule Them All

Leica-35mmLeica just announced a partnership with Chinese mobile device company Huawei. The speculation is that Leica will provide high quality optics for Huawei cell phones. Again Leica has shown that it is a different company than the slow-moving, traditional camera manufacturer of my youth. Although high quality optics on a mobile device is not a new concept, Nokia has already manufactured a cell phone with a Zeiss lens,  this partnership is intriguing.

With the quality of electronics improving at breakneck speed, is the “one-device” concept the future of photography?

I can hear the moans of my brethren now. But what if the conventional wisdom was turned on its head? What if your beloved Leica was also your mobile device?

This concept is close to becoming a reality. Both Nikon and Samsung have produced 16MP point and shoots with the Android operating system builtin. The idea is appealing. Why not put an M mount on your iPhone 10? Just think about it,  your trusty Summicron-M 35/F2 would always be by your side, ready for that “decisive moment.” When traveling you could take a professional quality photo, make a 4k movie, surf the web and make a phone call all with the same device.  My back feels better already.

One thing is certain, the vast majority of people are using cellular phones to make still images and movies. Why not make them with good glass? Sorry gotta go, my Monochrom is ringing.

Leica adds Adobe Lightroom


Leica is now offering Adobe® Lightroom 6 with the purchase of their cameras. If this is the stand alone application, it is a $149 value. For anyone who does not already own Lightroom or Photoshop, this is a welcome bonus. However, if you bought your new Leica before 5/11/15, the offer does not apply.

Bravo Leica for including LR 6 with their new cameras. The problem is that Adobe has a virtual monopoly when it comes to high powered image editing/processing software. The fact that all future Leica users will be Adobe users raises a serious question. Will the mega-corps like Google, Apple and Adobe dominate our future?

Why is this a potentially troubling scenario? When Google purchased Nik Software, the staff began to shrink. Many excellent people worked for Nik, including my friend Dan Hughes. Dan worked to educate Nik users on how to use the Nik product. He ran webinars, and appeared at trade shows, and photo events. Dan was the last real photo person at Nik, he now teaches at RIT. Who works at Google/Nik now? Who knows? I don’t even think Nik has any kind of representation outside of the web.

Companies with no connection to the people involved in the art/business of photography create no customer loyalty. Adobe still has a strong presence in the photo community, and I hope they keep it that way.

By the way if you are looking for an excellent b&w image editing app for a Mac, I recommend Macphun Tonality Pro. A great product backed by photo people. Available through Digital Silver Imaging.

Your Leica a Future Relic?

"Future Relic" by artist Daniel Arsham

“Future Relic” by artist Daniel Arsham

Several hundred years from now, your Leica M Mononchrom may be unearthed in an archeological dig. That is the premise of artist Daniel Arsham and his project “Future Relics.”

Arsham casts modern day technology like, cell phones and Leica cameras in a variety of materials. He then degrades the cast objects to represent what they will look like coming out of a future archeological dig.

“Future Relics” are interesting objects, and Arsham has expanded his expression with  a supporting video. The video is very stylized, and is more of a performance piece. If you love what Arsham is making, these pieces are for sale through his web site.

The Decisive Moment Back in Print

2Q==Henri Cartier-Bresson’s inspirational book, The Decisive Moment (Images à la Sauvette), has been reissued. The once rare book, now printed by Steidl, is a  “meticulously facsimile” of the original. 

For those not familiar with this book, it is Cartier-Bresson’s greatest hits. Its images are a delight, and I can remember joyfully reviewing an original volume over and over in my college library. I think I can thank The Decisive Moment for lowering my grade in Western Civ. My only regret is that I did not seek out the original when I still had a chance of finding one.

Copies can be purchased from the usual suspects.

5 Reasons You Should be Printing Your Photos

©Andrea Zocchi

©Andrea Zocchi

I am frequently astonished by all the homes, offices, and institutions, that have no original artwork on the walls. Even more astonishing, is the number of photographers I know that, “don’t print.”

So who cares? I want to believe that anyone who shoots with a Leica M Monochrom would care. I also believe that a photographer that is actively working to improve their craft, would also be using all methods available to make a better image. So here are my 5 reasons you should be printing your photos.

1. The best way to evaluate a photograph is through a print. I think we have all had the experience of viewing one of our digital images on screen, and thinking we did a pretty good job. However once printed, the flaws in the image begin to reveal themselves. Without the knowledge of an image’s shortcomings, how can a photographer correct them? Because of its resolution, and ability to present a unified image, the print is the best way to judge image quality.

2. Printing forces you to edit. Editing allows the photographer to get at the core of the artistic intention behind a body of work. Good photographers make good images. Great photographers make great bodies of work.

“The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance.”
Ansel Adams

3.  The print has value. I doubt you will see an auctioneer at Christies holding a DVD and boldly announcing, “What will you bid for a digital scan of this Alfred Stieglitz portrait of Georgia O’Keefe?”

4. The print is archival. A good black & white silver gelatin print can take a beating and last over 200 years or maybe more, we are still counting. 

5. Giving that special someone a digital file, via email, is a piss-poor token of appreciation. I am willing to bet that all my readers have at least a few images that are worthy of display. Get them in a frame and on a wall!

If you have a hard drive full of images and no prints you have work to do. By the way, if you own a Leica M Monochrom, our sponsor Digital Silver Imaging will make you a real silver gelatin print for FREE! Click on the banner at the bottom of the page for details.

Being There: Garry Winogrand at the Met

© The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

© The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Garry Winogrand was a sheer force of nature for whom a Leica was an essential body part. He singularly exemplified Sarah Greenough’s observation in The Mystery of the Visible:  “The Leica was hailed as a machine that seamlessly merged hand, eye and mind.” For a glimpse of Winogrand’s voraciously curious mind visit the touring retrospective on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where one hundred and seventy-five of his luminous silver gelatin prints form a visual roller coaster ride.

Winogrand was less interested in answers or reflection, he urgently froze moments, relishing the ambiguos, mocking any attempt on the viewers part to edit, codify or contain the expanse of our human experience. He shot ferociously and framed off-kilter. He held form above content, inciting an active debate and tension between these two dynamics by pushing our focus to the photo’s edge, emphasizing shape and shadow to insure we experience looking in while remaining outside.

Winogrand developed 26,000 rolls of film over 34 years and died with 250,000 negatives unseen by his eyes. Several posthumous selections are included in the show. Also on display are glimpses of his intensely-lived life in the form of an angry letter from his second wife admonishing him for his denial of unpaid bills and taxes while ignoring her desire to start a family. Photos by equally acclaimed photographer and close friend, Tod Papageorge, catch personal and professional moments, including the unlikely moment of Winogrand taking the now iconic image of the couple holding chimps in the Central Park Zoo. The experience of seeing this small sample of Winogrand’s zealous photographic pursuit leaves the viewer in the same state as a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone; disoriented, exhilarated and eager to do it again.

The Garry WInogrand exhibition is on display until 9/21/14 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Post by J. Sybylla Smith

New San Francisco Leica Store Opens 8/15/14

unnamedLeica is opening a new Leica Store at 463 Bush Street in San Francisco. As part of the Grand Opening, the San Francisco location will be featuring several hands-on events on Friday 8/15 through Sunday 8/17.  If you live in San Fran or the Bay area this would be a great chance to pick up some valuable insights from Leica Akademie instructors Tom Smith and Tom Brichta and Leica S-System Specialist Ben Ross. For more information follow the link below.

Leica Store San Francisco

Should we be Disturbed by Photography?

Image of #Dysturb Poster (Image from #Dysturb website)

Image of #Dysturb Poster (Image from #Dysturb website)

Frustrated by the tepid approach corporate media has employed covering world events, a group of Paris-based photo journalists have taken to the streets. Founded by photographer Pierre Terdjman, the group called Dysturb pastes large photo posters in public spaces. In an article on TIME Magazine’s blog Lightbox, Terdjman states:

“The goal is to raise awareness about what’s actually going on in the world. We’re not looking to make a name or to degrade a city’s public spaces. It’s really about telling the story of what’s happening in CAR, in Egypt, in Ukraine.” 

Dysturb raises some interesting questions about the role photography plays in our view of world events. So far Paris officials have not hindered Dysturb’s activities and the organization has plans to expand their poster-plastering to other cities in the US and Europe.  Dysturb’s mission is stated on their minimal website.

“Who are we?
We are photojournalists who have taken onto the walls of your city to highlight stories undercovered by mainstream media.
We believe in photography to express the words, distinguish the emotions and elevate the voice of people.
We have chosen to print stories, to foster discussions and reactions.
We wish to open eyes and inform about the world we live in.
We are #Dysturb.”

Are the photojournalist of Dysturb on the right track? I’d like to hear your opinion.
Read more: In Paris, Photojournalism Hits the Streets – LightBox 

Silver M Monochrom

New Silver M Monochrom available end of May 2014

New Silver M Monochrom available end of May 2014

Leica has released a silver version on the M Monochrom. The specs are the same as the black version. This new M Monochrom will appeal to the nostalgic emotions many of us have for the days when film reigned. The addition of a silver body will also make the camera easier to find in a dark room. Now if only Sony would make a silver remote control for my television.

“Traces of a Lost Ceremony” Adam Marelli

Marelli 2391
Lovers of the art of black & white photography in the NYC area should see Adam Marelli’s exhibit at the Leica Store Soho.

The paradox of balancing the past with the future is the invisible force that lies at the heart of Japanese craftsman.

Adam Marelli’s beautiful silver gelatin black and white prints explore and document a part of Japanese culture that is both ancient and relevant to our modern western lives.

May 8 – June 26, 2014

Leica Soho Store
460 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012

Opening Reception: Thursday May 8, 2014 (6-8 PM)