Working as a pro for the last 50 years I never had the extra cash for a Leica. Any time I had ‘extra’ cash it went towards my work gear, lighting or Nikon film cameras and then Canon Digital gear. I rarely ever saw a Leica out in the wild. But they were always there hovering and intriguing in the back of my mind. Could they really be THAT special? Of course then in recent years they became de rigueur for the hipster or media star. Prices were always up there but they only get higher.
A year or so before Covid raged across our planet a fellow photographer decided to sell his old M4-p. I made an impulse decision and bought it along with the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 he had. He gave me a good deal. I was excited to finally own and hold a Leica. He’d had it CLA’d and thought it was a bit rough looking but it seemed so solid, so real. Somehow not being digital made it more a gift to myself than a work item. I bought a couple rolls of TMX-100 and Tri-X 400. A week or so after that I drove down to the small town of Eutaw in what’s known as the Black Belt in Alabama. Eutaw was once one of the richest cities in the USA. Money from cotton and labor from slavery enriched the plantation owners. Today Eutaw is a struggling town. I shot a few frames of TMX-100 with the Leica but then put it aside and got busy with my freelance work and forgot about it.
Early this spring I decided to pull it out and shoot a roll of Tri-X. I hung it on my shoulder when I was out and about and shot with it over a few weeks with the idea of just photographing people as I came across them. I had a plan to make this a “5 Frames” but instead I’ll just share a selection from each roll. The camera is a delight to use and I’m sure everyone here has either experienced it or read enough about how it handles. I hope you’ll forgive this newbee’s enthusiasm. But I get the Leica thing now. It’s so balanced, so solid and the shutter click so lovely. I plan to go ahead and put new vulcanite on the body. It’s flaking off in large chunks pretty fast.
Here’s a selection of the Eutaw Alabama shoot on TMX-100 All images scanned on my old Nikon CoolScan 5000 and Vuescan software.
And here’s a selection of the faces all shot on Tri-X at 400 asa.
All photos edited in Lightroom Classic.
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