Loving life with a 90mm

For all the other gear I have that’s probably more suited to woodland and landscape photography I love to get out into the woods with my Leica M10-P and a couple of lenses. It feels a much more cathartic experience shooting with a Leica M over the Nikon Z6 I have.

It’s a slower process, manually focussing – peering through the EVF that’s atop the body almost feels like days of old looking down, being careful with the rudimentary metering options the M10-P has over the Nikon system.

However, I’ve always felt like a longer focal length that the 50mm Summicron I normally use, would allow me a little more composition options. It’s taken me a while to finally come to the decision, but I’ve finally topped out my Leica M10-P gear with a 90mm focal length lens. 

I’ve been intrigued to try a longer lens for a while now. I feel that in woodland and forest areas, it’s a good focal length for picking out details or getting closer to the subject and being able to isolate them from unwanted skies in the background.

A mate of mine lent me his Voigtlander 75mm 1.8 a little while ago but it didn’t quite work as I wanted it to on the M10-P.  What it did do was show me 75mm wasn’t different enough for me to the 50mm I have.  I’ve had it in mind since then that a 90mm focal length would be an ideal fit for me.

Enter the 90mm
Having searched around for a while, I came across a Minolta Rokkor 90mm f4. A lens from the past that first saw its introduction on the Minolta CL, a Leica lens mount film camera made by Minolta. 

A bit of research showed me it was a good fit for the M, so I bit the bullet and bought it. In fairness it was a really well priced option, so I wasn’t spending a huge amount on a lens that a) may not be the quality I wanted or b) not work that well on the digital Leica M10-P

Initial Impressions
Having owned it for a little while now I’ve used it quite extensively. Now in the interests of clarity, I shoot mainly on a tripod with a Typ020 Electronic Viewfinder on top of the M10 which gives me focus peaking for focussing. This does help to really nail the focus on the Leica M and although some people think it’s sacrilege, I quite like the process. 

First impressions are positive, I’m very happy with the lens.  The focal length is almost perfect for what I want. Wide open at f4 is good enough to isolate and blur the background slightly if required and the small size of the lens makes it easy for carrying around when not in use.

Now I’m not expecting perfection from a lens that cost c.<£300 but I have been quite surprised at how good the 90mm Rokkor is. It may not be quite tack sharp or have the micro contrast the Summicron 50mm I have, that’s used quite a bit in woodland, but as you can see it’s good enough for my needs.

I actually feel that I now have the right mix of lenses I want for my Leica M10-P. A 28mm, 35mm, 50mm & 90mm offer a really rounded out mix and are easy enough to carry around due to their diminutive size. Maybe in time I’ll swap the 28mm out for something a little wider, but I’m really pleased with the collection I have managed to pull together.

Here’s a few woodland images shot on the Leica M10-P & Minolta Rokkor 90mm f4.

Gentle Colour

A couple of weeks back, we had a little bit of mist in my part of the world along with some pretty cold conditions.

I wandered a small woodland area for a couple of hours or so along with a common I’d been eyeing up, which proved to be rather beautiful with the sun and haze just adding in a little atmosphere to go with the cold, icy ground.

Here’s a few photos from the morning, which inspite of me wanting to convert into monochrome, seemed to look better in colour with a gentle edit.

All photos shot on Leica M10-P & Summicron 35mm ASPH v2.

Starting to Feel The Black and White Pull

I’ve been shooting and editing to black and white almost exclusively since before Christmas and since the beginning of the New Year I’ve been shooting with a monochrome view through the live view of my camera.

I convert those images to a black and white preset when importing the files in to Lightroom, in order that I don’t get distracted by the colour RAW image at any point of taking a photograph.

It starting to feel like I’m starting to get somewhere slowly with how I want my woodland images to look and feel and this has come about from trial and error, either through the viewfinder or once imported into LR.

It’s a strange thing, but when I’m out with the camera now, I’m looking for those tones and trying to envisage how I will process the image, before pressing the shutter button.

I definitely prefer the darker, moodier look of black and white and that’s how I want to portray what I’m seeing when I’m out and about.

I’m trying to shoot more under exposed to be able to work with the shadows and highlights as I want, to give me the look I’m after.

So far, so good. For the first time in a while I’ve started to feel as if I’m shooting and editing how I want my photographs to look… and that can’t be a bad thing can it?!

Frosty Morning Start

I’m trying to get a bit more exercise than I did last year, and when I’m not out in some kind of woodland have started to have a wander around our local lake. It has quite a few nice different areas and gives a reasonable workout when wandering around it.

This is an area I’ve not been in before, but with the hard frost we had the previous night, the colours and the white frost caught me eye as I wandered past it, and thought I’d wander through this area.

As ever, I have a camera with me, this time the Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm f2 on it which I use rarely these days, so these are a few odd photos captured with it.

A Year of Black and White

Given it’s the end of the year, I always like to try and set objectives for the year ahead.

Quite often they don’t work out well – in truth, most objectives I try and set myself quite often come to little, but I like to try and keep myself thinking.

A year in black and white

For 2022, the aim is to shoot exclusively black and white.

Let’s forget about colour, let’s forget about fancy editing – let’s get those creative juices flowing through simple black & white and the glorious tones that monochrome gives you.

I enjoy the colours of the woodland, but quite often find it difficult to keep it consistent. It’s a constant dilemma I have – shooting in colour or black and white.

Maybe that’s to do with my colour blindness, maybe it’s the lack of subtlety in my editing. Whatever it is, I do find it is frustrating at times.

Shooting and editing in black and white should also provide a more consistent approach to my work as well.

Of course shooting in RAW means a colour RAW file, but I can set my camera bodies to show a black and white preview, with Lightroom I can set a black and white import and with careful simple editing maybe it’s just possible to alleviate some of those creative worries that colour gives me.

Keeping it simple

Once again, my feelings turn to gear. It’s a constant internal churn I have with myself, I have a couple of different cameras that I turn to and despite the enjoyment of using different makes and models I crave simplicity.

I’m happiest when I have a camera body and a single lens with me. Even the introduction of a second lens often causes me to consider which focal length would be better for any specific composition when I’m out.

I’d like to remove such feelings, so the plan is to use my M10-P as my main body and the 35mm Summicron for as much work as I can.

My Precious!

I love the ‘cron 35mm, the image quality and field of view suit me, it really is the reason why I bought a Leica body for that lens.

Looking at my LR catalogue I shoot at around 35mm focal length for approximately 90% of all of the images I take. Even when I use a zoom lens I tend to see a composition at that kind of focal length.

As I’ve written about previously, the Leica M bodies are a bit of a compromise for a lot of what I do, but it’s a camera I love to use – it makes me want to take photographs and when I use other systems I feel like I’m simply pressing the shutter button rather than making a concerted effort into finding out how to make the image.

So, the objectives remain pretty similar to those I made around the same time last year – only this time the resolve feels more solid.

Only time will tell I guess!

Mad Few Days

Well, it’s been a mad few days hasn’t it – and that goes for the whole world, not just for us here in the UK.

I’m not going to say it doesn’t scare the shit out of me and my loved ones, especially when you take a look at the supermarkets and see the lack of supplies to hand available.

However, it’s not going to stop me – I will be careful with my ‘social distancing’ but it’s given me a great idea to finally get off my backside and start a little project.

Quite closeby, certainly in walking distance we have a wood and so to get out of the house whilst trying to avoid people as best I can, I’m going to dust off my trusty tripod and head over there maybe a couple of days a week to document it.

Now, for sure I am no landscape kind of guy, I really have no real clue when it comes to that sort of photography, but it will force me to learn a bit and think outside the box.

I’m going to shoot it all in black and white which should be interesting, but as I see better in black and white it makes sense. I’m going to stick primarily to a prime lens and I’m goi g to try and shoot it all at different times of the day.

So let’s see how we go with this little challenge

Stay safe out there people and be nice to each other, I’m sure we’ll get through this – we just need to have some patience and compassion with each other.