5 frames with...

Five Frames and a Movie during the Morning Rush with a Leica M240 and First Generation Summilux 35mm f/1.4 – By Steven Bleistein

Tokyo is notorious for its morning commute rush with most Tokyoites enduring packed trains for an hour or more—which is precisely why I try to avoid peak hours as much as possible. Fortunately in my work, I am master of my own schedule so most of the time I can avoid the rush. Sometimes however I just have to be somewhere and so I join the throngs of salaried Tokyo office workers and carefree students.

The morning rush does have its advantages though. It makes an excellent subject for street photography, and taking my camera with me on such occasions makes the rush all the more bearable.

If nothing else, Tokyo is orderly. People line up dutifully, and there is rarely anyone pushing their way through the crowds. Station attendants warn people away from the tracks as trains approach, and the trains are for the most part on time down to the minute. Some lines have trains arriving once every five minutes. If a train is even a few minutes late, there is any announcement apologizing for inconveniencing passengers.

People often doze on the trains if they manage to get a seat. As the train accelerates out of a station or slows to stop at the next one it is not unusual for the head of a dozing commuter sitting next to me to end up on my shoulder then on the shoulder of the passenger on his or her other side alternating along the route. Amazingly though, sometimes commuters appear almost to be sleepwalking as they flow with the crowds through the station, only to become alert once they have reached their destination.

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Children however have to stay alert at all times so as not to be knocked down in the zombie-like horde.

My Leica M240 has a video function, which I almost never use. However, on this particular morning the scene seemed to call for a moving image. So set my camera on a café tabletop, pushed the movie function button and left it there for a good five minutes, sipping my coffee as I pondered the view. Like a meandering river, the masses of office workers flow from the platform gates of Shinagawa Station towards their exit into the concrete jungle that is Tokyo.

The movie and the photos were all taken with a first generation Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 shot at f/4.

I am a street photographer who lives in Japan. If you would like to see more of my work, have a look at my website bleisteinphoto.com, or my Instagram @sbleistein

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12 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    September 4, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Steven, I really enjoyed your viewpoint about the Tokyo commute experience. It set the tone perfectly for the images. I have NEVER shot video with my M240. It’s cool to see a sample. Thank you! L.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Steven Bleistein
      September 4, 2019 at 9:13 pm

      Most Leica M users probably have little interest in the movie feature of the M240, which is probably why it was dropped from the M10.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    David Hill
    September 4, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Yikes 🙂 A photograph may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes video is worth a milliion. My Boston train commute can be tedious. Tokyo is a whole ‘nother dimension.
    Thanks, Steven

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Steve Karsten
    September 4, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing Steven! What a mass of humanity. Amazed to see the throngs of people navigating their daily lives.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    September 5, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Hi Steven, it looks like you modded the M240 viewing components. Can you describe how and why?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Steven Bleistein
      September 5, 2019 at 2:56 am

      There is no mod. The Summilux 35mm of that era has optics that reduce the finder magnification. They were made for the Leica M3 whose widest frame is 50mm. I bought the lens for my M3, but it works just fine on the M240 and chooses the 50mm frame.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Louis A. Sousa
        September 7, 2019 at 6:17 am

        Got it.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    George Appletree
    September 5, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Hi, are those files coming out that way, despite crop. So densely contrasted, I mean

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Steven Bleistein
      September 5, 2019 at 8:34 pm

      The original photo files are raw format. I edited them using Lightroom.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Ted Ostrowski
    September 6, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Cool. The video reminds me of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis for some reason.

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