Some perspective needed - Leica Q2

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Leica 1 California Museum of Photography 

 

Over at the Leica Forum there is a lengthy thread about people waiting for the Leica Q2 which is on backorder. People have been saying bad things about Leica, Leica stores, camera stores, and Jews ( B and H Photo ). Most of it revolves around not enough cameras being available for the demand. I was told by a manager that backorders will not be completely filled until late fall. Not uncommon for a popular camera to be hard to get. I remember when the first commercial autofocus camera the Minolta Maxxum was introduced and it was impossible to get. Also when the Nikon F4 was introduced in 1988 I witnessed a movie producer and a housewife pay a camera store salesman to be put at the front of the list to get the first cameras from a camera store. In the mid 1980’s when the M6 was released my wait for a camera was 7 months after it was announced.

The desire to get the latest is not limited to the photography world but I am amazed at the anger from people who want to part with $5000 for a camera. Many of the posters had only recently registered for the forum ID just so they could complain on the forum. Some think the lack of cameras is a deliberate attempt by Leica to increase demand. Others say Leica should have had a warehouse full of cameras ready to ship upon release date. 

It was not that many years ago that I was told that Leica was only making 100 of a certain flagship camera a month. People don’t realize how small Leica is as a company. I have heard that there are only about 200 workers at the Wetzlar plant. Leica equipment is sold all over the world, not just at your local camera store. This craftsmanship that we love so much about our cameras is made possible by a very small but dedicated group of workers. And just because Leica doesn’t announce how many cameras are going to be shipped each week doesn’t mean that they don’t care about the desire of customers to buy their product. 

First let’s get some perspective. This is not a cure for cancer. It is a great camera, I have one, but waiting for YOUR camera to ship is not the end of the world. Leica, like Apple, is one of the few companies that I think really feel that what they do is meaningful to people’s lives. Leica invented 35mm photography and they take that responsibility serious. So sign out from the forum and go take photos, that is what cameras are for. 

Leica LFI Magazine - 3/2019

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The new issue of Leica Fotografie International is now available. The articles include an interview with the first Director of the Ernst Leitz Museum in Wetzlar, coverage of Photo London, New work at the  Leica galleries in Istanbul and Los Angeles, and an update to the LFI online gallery. The online gallery will soon feature individual photographers as well as its current mission of showcasing photography from around the world. On the new hardware there are articles on the Leica Q2, the Summicron 35 for the SL, and the limited edition M10-P “ASC 100” camera marking the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Cinematographers. 

As always the best part is the work of the featured Leica photographers from around the world. I have been a subscriber of the LFI Magazine since the mid 1980’s. It is fun to look back at how the camera world has changed but at the same time good work always is always appreciated.  

 

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LHSA - International Leica Society

I just received my free membership to the International Leica Society. This is an organization for photographers that are fans of all things Leica. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary. They were previously called The Leica Historical Society of America. They changed their name to better reflect the mission of being a worldwide organization rather than just being an American club. I have been a member a couple of times. 

Currently if you purchase a system camera or a “Q” series camera you get a free one year digital membership. I qualified with my recent purchase of the Q2 camera. They have a quarterly newsletter, a members buy and sell section, and lots of info on how to use Leica cameras and are a leading repository on the history of all things Leica. They have group shoots a number of times a year and an annual get together that is quite popular. Last years was in Wetzlar, Germany, the home of Leica. 

Even if your not buying a camera in the near future I would recommend joining. The newsletter is worth the yearly fee alone. If you have any interest in the history of 35mm photography this is a great place to learn. Remember, Leica invented 35mm photography and the M10 is a direct descendant of the original Leica 1 from 1925. 

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Garry Winogrand - All Things Are Photographable

There is a new biography out about one of the greats of street photography, Garry Winogrand. It is called “ All Things Are Photographable “ and is directed by Sasha Waters Freyer. It will have its television debut on PBS this April 19. I recently had the opportunity to view the program and it is a must see if you have any interest in street photography. 

Garry Winogrand ( 1928-1984 ) was one of the most influential street photographers the medium has ever seen. He worked mostly in black and white. He was at the height of his powers in the late 60’s thru the mid 70’s. Today he is mostly known for leaving behind 2500 rolls of undeveloped film and 6500 rolls that had yet to be proofed. He was a very prolific shooter. He was awarded three Guggenheim fellowships and a National Endowment of the Arts award. He published numerous books and was a popular speaker and taught at a number of university programs. 

I first heard of “ All Things Are Photographable “ because of a Kickstarter program the the director was using to fund the production of the film. I attended a talk by Sasha Waters Freyer at the Los Angeles Leica Store last fall. She gave an entertaining presentation so I wash anxiously awaiting the finished film. I must say that I give the film two thumbs up. It did a good job of covering his life, both personally and professionally. There are a number of interviews with people who new Winogrand personally and were able to give a pretty good idea what he was like. I was disappointed that two of his best friends who are still around were not interviewed. One I kind of understand. Lee Friedlander is notoriously media shy was missing. I so wish he could have been interviewed. The other is Jay Maisel. He has never been shy to give an opinion. He is featured in a long audio recording with Winogrand that is the centerpiece of the documentary. Another thing that I didn’t like was the interview with Winogrands first wife. This brought nothing to the program and I felt that she actually detracted from the story. No I don’t want to hear the story about the first time she saw Gary’s penis. I didn’t like her other stories either.  

The last third of the film does drag a little. This is about the last ten years or so of his life when his work was not quite up to par to his earlier work. After the early interviews with people talking about how great he was most didn’t seem to enthusiastic talking about the later years. I have been looking at his work for a long time and I feel it did drop off in quality. But that should not detract from the rest of his wonderful work.  

Sasha Waters Freyer has done a great job on “ All Things Are Photographable “ the story of Garry Winogrand. I highly recommend the film. I love every time we see Garry and his Leica M4.  

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Peak Design updates

I am a fan of Peak Design products but I have run into a couple of problems. I have had both products that I own fail at the strap connection point. Of all the bags that I have owned in the last 40+ years not once has a bag actually dropped off of my shoulder but it has happened with both Peak Design products.  

The first to fail was the Peak Design Field Pouch. The anchor points that act as quick release attachments to connect the bag to the strap would unravel and break. Quite disappointing considering how light the stuff that I carry in that bag weighs. Peak Design is making available updated connectors that they say are more robust and say that they should eliminate the problem. 

 

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The other problem is with the Everyday Sling 5L. The strap was actually sliding through the buckle that the strap was looped through. This one was very annoying. Every time I used the bag the strap would slide closer and closer to the end and threaten to slid all of the way through the buckle. The strap slid through 3 times and the bag fell. Twice I caught the bag with my foot. Once it fell all of the way to the ground and landed in soft sand. Each time the camera was in my hand with the strap wrapped around my wrist. No damage to the contents in the bags but I was none to happy. 

 

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I guess the moral of the story is leave nothing to chance with equipment and check everything as the day goes along. I’m not sure if I still recommend Peak Design bags. They are light and my equipment fits just right in them but I worry about failures. If any manufacturer wants their equipment tested, I’m available. I seem to find the weak points in products.  

Online Photography Training

I’m currently completing the “Seeing through Photographs” course by the Museum of Modern Art. The course is free and it is being presented by a company called Coursera. It is available online but I am using the Coursera app on my iPad. 

Now most everyone gets their photography education from photo forums and from YouTube. I have nothing against this method because there is a lot of quality information that is available and the basic nuts and bolts of photography are easily learned in this manner. When I was starting my photography education this was long before the internet so I went to school to learn my craft. I enjoyed getting my education this way and met some great people and had some teachers that were good role models. That is one thing that is missing in getting your information online, the community that evolves that spurs the mind for other ways of creative thinking and problem solving. Posting in a forum is just not the same as sitting in a coffee shop and exchanging ideas. The downside of a formal education these days is the tremendous cost involved with getting a higher education. I’m not sure that school is the right path to take for a photography career anymore. 

The aspect that is hard to replicate on your own is connecting photography’s past and present with why photographers do the work that they do. Knowing why you are photographing is just as important as f-stops and shutter speeds. This is why I think so much fine art work done these days is so boring, static, and why so much of it looks the same. In the rush to make loads of money and be Instagram famous people don’t take the time to learn how to think deeper about their art.  

This is were “Seeing Thru Photographs” comes into play. This is a good taste of what it is like to be in a MFA of Photography program that teaches an individual to think about how to create art. The program is broken up into 6 modules and has numerous required reading assignments. All the videos and required text are included in the program. There are also lots of extra videos and texts that are suggested for more information on the given subject. 

I say give it a try. If you’re a wanna be pro or just enjoy learning so that you can take better photos this course can help everyone. Photography is more that just cameras and lenses.  

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California Museum of Photography

I visited the California Museum of Photography in Riverside California this weekend to see two of its current exhibitions. On the main floor is a general overview on the state of Fine Art photography and on the lower level is an Andy Warhol photography exhibit.  

 

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The Warhol exhibit was a selection of Polaroids that had been taken for paid commissions. These Polaroids were the basis for some of his screen art that was so popular in the 1960-1980 period. This work has been popular and has been quite influential in the art world since he produced this work at his New York studio. It has been copied by numerous artists since.  

The aspect of his work that I hadn’t read much about was his commissioned work. An info card said that he charged $40,000 for a screened portrait. He would take piles of photos and then select the image to be worked on later after the client left. He averaged from 50-100 of this projects a year. Not bad work if you can get it.  

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Warhol used a SX-70 and Bigshot Polaroid camera’s. I enjoyed one of the quotes by Warhol printed above the images.  

All photography is Pop, and all photographers are crazy.... they feel guilty since they don’t have to do very much - just push a button. Andy Warhol

 

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Upstairs at the museum they have a collection of old cameras and vintage prints. Here is the Leica I that is in the collection.  

These are the current exhibits.  

 Andy Warhol

An Instant Sketch

California Museum of Photography

December 8, 2018 - May 26, 2019

 

In the Sunshine of Neglect

Defining Photographs And Radical Experiments in Inland Southern California, 1950 To The Present

California Museum of Photography

January 19 - April 28, 2019

 

Mirror Mirror

California Museum of Photography

February 9 - May 12, 2019