Leica M2, 35mm Summilux, Adox Silvermax
5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Leica M2 & 35mm Summilux on Adox Silvermax – By Florian Schmidt

August 6, 2020

Can a playground provide a motif for a series of b&w pictures? There’s only one way to find out – so I stepped through the gate. It was one of those sunny early winter mornings where the light is intense but not extremely harsh yet. Shadows are pronounced but there is still hope to get back more than just the deepest blacks along with the brightest whites. Adox Silvermax at 100 seems like a good choice. Its contrast range is advertised as 14 stops, so let’s put it to test.

But wait, what’s the challenge we are facing here? To me, it is one of creativity and that usually means I roll better with fewer gear options. That being said, I am glad to have picked a 35mm lens for my M2, as this is what my eye is most trained with.

Soccer goal on a playground


It turns out, the playground is not only one for kids but also one for photographers. The Swiss approach to designing such sites certainly makes the endeavour a more interesting one with plenty of opportunities to focus on patterns, geometry and symmetry. The rigour of the arrangement does not exactly come across as playful and as I continue to shoot I can’t wrap my head around whether that’s a contradiction or not. Certainly it’s a question kids won’t bother with. But maybe it’s a contrast for photographers to play with. That’s at the heart of this series.

A hammock on a playground

Urban summer

A swing on a playground

Nobody swinging

A swing on a playground

Shapes on a playground

A stroll, an unexpectedly interesting place and there go a few decent shots. What will be the next ‘playground’? That place with an atmosphere to dive into and an opportunity to shoot a small series to convey it? Let’s face it, those are rare and a single shot caught somewhere on the way is rather the norm for me. Being out, being in the mood, being lucky, it all helps but maybe there is also a certain resistance in us film shooters we have to overcome initially. A series of shots is not just a financial stake, it is also our creativity going out on a limb claiming that there is ‘more to the scene’ and that proof will be given on the light box later. Nobody likes disappointments but I am convinced that this risk in the analog process is matched with a great opportunity to learn to focus on what truly matters for the photograph and particularly for a series.

A rooftop

Swiss playground

Some technical remarks: The film was developed in the recommended Adox Silvermax developer and the scene contrast seems to be captured very well. Of course, the tonal range is concentrated at the extremes. Was it 14 stops? Hard to tell for me but the film is definitely one I come back to often, especially when paired with a fast lens. The lens used here is a Summilux 35mm but that likely did not make any difference under the given conditions, only the penultimate shot was taken somewhat wide open.

If you like my work, follow me on instagram but don’t miss a peak at my website f8low.com for a presentation beyond 1080 pixels.

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  • Reply
    Kevin Ortner
    August 6, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Well done with your personal challenge! Very pleasing pictures and the film choice is perfect.

    Having a 3 year old, I see my share of playgrounds and I take her with the notion of play being physical. But for her and the other kids, it is more about creation and imagination. You’ve shown here that the playground is much more than just a playground. Thanks!

    • Reply
      August 7, 2020 at 9:36 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Kevin!

  • Reply
    David Hamilton jr.
    August 7, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Beautiful photos, very nice tones and compositions. I especially like the Urban Summer one.

    The 35mm Summilux asph seems to give a very smooth sense of depth, not as uncannily 3D as the 35mm Zeiss ZM f/1.4 is, also stopped down, but more naturally, which renders better with that scene, maintaining the balance between the two halves.

    Speaking of summiluxes, I love using the 35mm summilux “pre-asph” close to wide open for its Mandlerian glow (incidentally, also on an M2!) but it’s very capricious in bright light and I don’t think it would have handled this scene very well, not to mention the brilliant, modern rendering of the asph.

    The Adox silvermmax was also a very good choice. Again, hats off 🙂

    • Reply
      August 7, 2020 at 9:39 pm

      Thanks David! Handling of intense (stray) light is certainly a strength of the more modern designs and occasionally it makes a real difference in practice. Keep shooting your M2!

  • Reply
    August 7, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    This is quite stunning work! The swing is sublime!

    The set, to me, evokes, but certainly does not copy, some of the mid-C20 work from people like André Kertész and Moholy-Nagy. It is one of the freshest and most innovative work that I have seen for quite a while!

    • Reply
      August 8, 2020 at 7:10 am

      Thanks a lot for your comment, that’s a very charming compliment and great motivation to keep shooting!

  • Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    August 9, 2020 at 1:40 am

    ‘Nobody Swinging’ is a photo that just grabs you. AlistairH described it perfectly. It’s got an artistic feeling.
    Well done. I’m trying to get my head around a 14 stop range.

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