Jürgen Schadeberg Leica Hall of Fame

Leica has announced that Jürgen Schadeberg is the newest member of the Leica Hall of Fame. He is know mostly for his work in South Africa during the apartheid era. His most famous photo is of Nelson Mandela in his former prison cell in 1994. Here is the beginning of his biography from his web site:

Jurgen Schadeberg was born in Berlin in 1931 and, while still in his teens, worked as an apprentice photographer for a German Press Agency in Hamburg. In 1950 he emigrated to South Africa and became Chief Photographer, Picture Editor and Art Director on Drum Magazine.

It was during this time that Jurgen photographed pivotal moments in the lives of South Africans in the fifties. These photographs represent the life and struggle of South Africans during Apartheid and include important figures in South Africa’s history such as Nelson Mandela, Moroka, Walter Sisulu, Yusuf Dadoo, Huddleston and many others who have been documented at key moments such as during The Defiance Campaign of 1952, The Treason Trial of 1958, The Sophiatown Removals and the Sharpeville Funeral in 1960.

The life that this man has lived is difficult for most of us to relate to. He was not just a photographer he was a social activist that put his life on the line for others many times in his career. This award is for a man that the term “Photographer” just doesn’t do justice for. He stood up and made a difference.  

We live in an age when people are given the title “ A Great Photographer” because they have X number of Instagram followers. Jürgen Schadeberg is not just a great Leica Photographer, he is a great man. Congratulations for a well deserved lifetime award.  

Leica Q2 is coming


Spy photo of the Leica Q2.  

Come on, have a sense of humor.  

What has to be the worst kept secret in the Leica world these days is the pending introduction of the Leica Q2. Although there is not much that needs to be changed cameras are updated from time to time because that is how the companies make money. A friend of mine that has owned a camera store in Los Angeles for close to forty years told me that most of the sales of a new model are in the first 90 days of a camera’s release. It is in a companies interest to get some hype around the release of a new model.  

The Leica Q has been a very successful model for Leica. Salesmen and the manufacturer representative have both told me how the “Q” has been a big surprise for the company. When it was introduced many pundits were down on the camera because of the choice of a 28mm lens. Turns out that was a good decision on the part of the company. When purchasing the “Q” you are buying a high quality 28mm f 1.7 lens and getting the body as an added bonus. The camera appeals to both first time Leica users and to current users that would like to have an autofocus second body. 

The Leica Q2 looks to be the same as the current camera with the addition of a higher megapixel sensor and waterproofing. Talk is that the sensor fill be in the 45-50 MB range. The crop settings for the camera will be at 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm in addition to the native 28mm lens. 75mm is a nice addition but not a desperate need to the camera. My concern is that a lot bigger files will need a lot more hard drive space for storage. Those will be big files for the occasional 75mm crop factor. 

I have gone to the Leica Store twice with the intention of buying the Leica Q. Both times I changed my mind because of the fixed 28mm lens. I really like the concept of the camera and it has an exceptional build quality. It feels like a real Leica. But I’m a 50mm guy at heart and I don’t feel comfortable going out with just that focal length. I own the 28mm Summaron 5.6 lens and I enjoy shooting with it but it has a specific look that is not what I want for all of my images. 

I’m sure the Leica Q2 will be a success and I will recommend the camera, it’s just not for me.  

Leica Lens Repair - Over 6 Months


I usually have nothing but good things to say about my Leica experience but I must admit I’m disappointed with Leica this time. This is not the first time that I’ve sent a product to Leica for repair. Usually it takes a little longer than normal but I don’t mind because Leica is a small company and I’m paying a premium to get it done correctly. 

But this time has gotten to be too much. I sent my 35mm Summicron from the pre-digital days to be converted to 6-bit so that the lens info would be written in the data stored in the files. There is nothing wrong with the lens, I just wanted the lens mounted updated to 6-bit. I was quoted 3 months for estimate and repair at the Leica Store. It took almost 2 months just for the estimate. I am almost at 6 and 1/2 months so I called and they are going to try to get it back in about a week.  

Leica, if you can hear me, you must do a better job at repairs. Leica Rumors even recently posted that repairs is one of the areas that the company needs to improve. It makes it hard to do work with a tool when the manufacturer takes over 6 months to do a simple repair. This has been a long time without my favorite wide-angle lens. I am a Nikon Professional Services member and they do make repairs a priority for working professionals. Leica please bring back your program for professional photographers.



After 203 days my lens has been returned.  

Connecting Atomos Ninja V to DJI Ronin-S

The use of hybrid cameras for shooting video has been mainstream for a number of years. It seems like employers of still photographers are expecting them to shoot video as well as stills. Handheld gimbals are getting as common as camera bags in a photographers toolkit. One of the most popular is the DJI Ronin-S gimbal. 


The Ronin-S is great but is missing the ability to use a monitor such as the Atomos Ninja V monitor-recorder that is so popular these days. The Ninja V is great to work with and it makes it so much easier to shoot and edit videos.  

I have been aware of a company called SmallRig that makes cages and accessories for mostly Dslr’s and Mirrorless cameras. My understanding is that they make top quality products. I came across a YouTube video on how to attach a different brand monitor to the DJI gimbal so I ordered the parts for my setup.  

The three parts that are needed are as follows: Smallrig Mounting Plate for Ronin-S #2214, Smallrig DSLR Monitor Holder with Nato Clamp #2100, and Smallrig ENF Mount with Nato Rail #2113.  


The first step is to remove the accessory cover plate of the Ronin-S with the supplied hex tool. Attach the Mount Holder with the attached screws. Attach the Monitor Holder Mount to the Holder. Then attach the ENF Monitor Mount to the Ninja V. Slide this attachment onto the attached arm and adjust for the proper viewing angle. It takes longer to describe than to do the work.  


Now you just attach a HDMI cable to the port on the camera and the monitor and your in business. The setup is a little heavy after long use but the quality of the work that can be achieved is well worth the trouble. This level of filmmaking was only achievable by the big movie studios just a few years ago.  


The little gadgets are really the things that make life so much easier. The SmallRig accessories are made with an attention to detail that I really appreciate. I plan on looking forward to getting one of their camera cages for my LUMIX GH-5 and tricking it out with some of the attachments that are available.  


After the Golden Hour - Leica M10


Just because the Golden Hour is over doesn’t mean it’s ok to pack up your equipment and go grab a slice of pizza. Yes the hour before sunset can give you beautiful light, everybody knows that. But stick it out for a little longer, the glow in the sky combined with the last ambient light of the day can match up to give some wonderful light.  

This is also when those fast lenses that are so expensive start to pay off. That faster aperture allows faster shutter speeds and also captures more of the light spilling from various sources that cannot be planned on, they just happen. Also remember to watch your ISO so that you get just that right combination of image quality but not to much grain. The auto ISO setting can be vary helpful.  

These showers are always placed just between the beach and the parking areas so they are usually good areas to try at the end of the day. This particular beach has two sets of showers located a short distance from each other so I was walking back and forth and shooting based on the number of people and by the rapidly changing lighting conditions. I find people cleaning their hair and feet make the best images.  

There seems to be an ongoing discussion in all forums about using UV filters on lenses. Some say why degrade that expensive lens with a filter and others say protect that expensive lens with a filter. No matter what your preference on the issue is I recommend always using a protection filter at the beach. Salt water spray is very corrosive to camera lenses and bodies so I see no reason to take chances. Even if your not right at the waters edge that spray can go a long way if the wind is blowing. I remember a camera repairman showing me a camera that was not functional because of one grain of sand. It was hard to believe but it was literally one grain of sand.  

Remember, bad light can be good light.  

Ralph Gibson - Self-Exposure and The Black Trilogy

Ralph Gibson books

Ralph Gibson books

Ralph Gibson has written an autobiography, Self-Exposure, and I couldn’t be happier. I have been a fan of his work for over 35 years so when I found this title on Amazon a few months ago it went straight to pre-order. I received my copy on November 20, the day of release, and read it the same day. 

Ralph Gibson has been a photographer since the early sixties after a brief stint in the Navy. Early on he started on the road to be a Magnum member but wisely chose not to go the route of a journalist and started a career as a fine-art photographer. His first book “The Somnambulist “ was a great hit and he was on his way. Not only is he a great artist but he has been a successful and influential book publisher as well. 

Self-Exposure tells his life story in a candid way. He goes into detail about his early years and reveals a mixture of good times and a fare amount of sad episodes. Once out of the early years the book travels through his life touching on the living of an artists life. If a man is judged by his friends than Ralph must be a remarable person. Over half of the book is dedicated to talking about the people that have been in his life. Since Ralph has spent so much of his life running workshops and mentoring photographers it is only natural that there are many chapters about the technique of photography. 

Except for when he talks about the early years most of the chapters are quite brief. From a few pages to just a few paragraphs. Another thing that is unique about the book is there are a lot of photographs. That is to be expected from a photographers biography but they are scattered every few pages in the book. Not just a few in the middle. If you are new to the work of Ralph Gibson you will have a real sense of the man after reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.  

Images from Self-Exposure by Ralph Gibson



The Black Trilogy 

The second book that I’m reviewing here really is a companion to his biography. The Black Trilogy is a reissue of the early work of Ralph Gibson. It includes the work of three of his most influential books. They were, The Somnambulist, Deja-Vu, and Days at Sea. Ralph has shot with Leica’s since he started to get serious about his work and these images are prototypical Leica work. This is what you strive for your work to look like when a Leica camera is held in the hand. The images are not just beautiful to look at but a whole photography program could be built around the study of these images. The compositions are just so strong. The way that he moves close to his subjects and frames so precisely really shows a master at work. Just study how he selects his vantage point for an image. Just a little higher or lower, and the image would not be as strong. His use of framing devices is so clever and sophisticated. He also shoots often in the vertical format. Why don’t we take more verticals? He has said that 75% of the images in the first book came to him on just one weekend of shooting. That is amazing. But just as amazing is that he has also stated that it took him 3 more years to get the last 12 images for the book. 

One thing I do to judge the strength of images is to look through a book upside down. I learned this from many years of working with large format cameras where the image is projected on the ground glass upside down. You really see if the composition works this way. The images in The Black Trilogy pass the test with flying colors. His compositions are just so strong. The book is a master class in composition. Another aspect of his work is the way that he uses the film grain as an element of expression. The grain adds so much to the images. In today’s digital world with all of the sterile images that today’s cameras produce, his use of grain is almost shocking. The use of grain is also one of the signatures of his style. Another thing that makes his books so good is that he is so good at sequencing his images. He just takes this to another level. Not only are the images strong, but they work together to tell a story. Open his books anywhere and compare the image to the previous image, then compare it to the next, then the next. The flow is so seamless. He makes his images combine to make an even stronger experience than just looking at single images on the wall. The books themselves are works of art.  

Images from The Black Trilogy by Ralph Gibson


2 Views - Leica M10

Leica M10 with 50mm 1.4

Leica M10 with 50mm 1.4

Above you see 2 solutions to a problem. Interesting subjects with great lighting, expressions, and movement that make a great photo. Which photo did you take?

The bottom photo is what most everybody takes. It has everything that makes an interesting image. Contrasting hair colors. They both have their hair bundled up but with different styles. One has a solid color sweater, the other has a pattern. The both even have about the same amount of stray hair. The red hair matches her sweater. The background glow matches her hair. The other has white hair to contrast with the dark sweater. 

This photo is the one that most people take because of these reasons and because it is easier. To put it simply, your not going to get noticed taking the image and that is very important for most photographers. Being noticed taking a photo and the possibility of being confronted is to much for most people. It is an interesting image, but with just a little work it can be so much better. 

Compare the top image to the bottom image. It is so much better because of one aspect of the image. We can see their faces and can see that they are deeply interested in something. The fact that the redhead is motioning to what they are looking at. The way that they are leaning into what they are looking at. I love how the redhead is holding the glasses in her other hand is such a wonderful detail. That they are wearing similar glasses is another great detail. The fabric in the lower left of the image mirrors the pattern on the redheads sweater. The straight white lines on the black sweater contrast with the “V’s” on the other sweater. The image really comes together. 

The image with the faces was taken first and I went around to see what the back looked like and immediately took the second image. I knew right away this was a teachable moment for my blog. For the image from the front I used the live view function of my Leica M10. First that got me to eye level. I didn’t want to shoot down and get the tops of their heads. It was also important for me to get the expression on their faces, that is so important in images of people. If I had squatted down in front of the I would have drawn a lot of attention to myself and I know the ladies would have stopped what they were doing and looked at me. 

My first rule in street shooting is not to interrupt people’s lives. My photos are not so important that I can do whatever I want to get a photo. But at the same time, if you need to, be brave when taking your photos. Sometimes you’ve got to take a chance when shooting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I just don’t like photos of the backs of people’s heads. And I see a lot of those photos on Instagram. Look for the special moments and little details that make an image special. Good Luck.