My Theatrical Adventure with the Leica M9 by Greg Shanta

My Theatrical Adventure with Leica M9

By Greg Shanta

I live in Moscow, Russia and I am an amateur photographer. After reading all those fantastic reportages by Steve from his coverage of Seal’s South American Tour and enjoying his great images from those events, I decided to challenge myself and try and shoot a concert with my Leica M9.

My brother’s wife is a choreographer and she had recently invited me to see their new dance drama performance based on an ancient Indian legend called ‘Dasa-avatara’ (no relation to the movie). It’s a great tale of God Vishnu descending on Earth in ten ‘incarnations’ at different times in history.

They put together a colorful show that was showing last Monday at one of Moscow’s most prestigious theatre halls, The International House of Music. It’s a huge modern round-shaped structure appearing to be made entirely of glass. The main hall inside has excellent acoustics and often hosts various great performers from all over the world.

Unfortunately, I don’t own the legendary Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 lens. So, I couldn’t duplicate Steve’s setup in my challenge shoot. Instead, I took three lenses with me: my favourite Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5, Zeiss Biogon 28mm f/2.8 and, just in case I would need an occasional close up shot, I also packed a Voigtlander APO Lanthar 90mm f/3.5 lens. In addition, I had in my bag a tiny Nikon SB-30 Flash with a spare battery.

Just prior to attending the concert I met with a friend of mine who wanted me to help her with a portfolio. I took some shots of her near the Theatre with my 50mm Sonnar at f/5.6. Here is one of those shots, just to open my presentation with a beautiful young face.

I just love the way my Sonnar draws portraits, so I couldn’t resist showing it to you. The girl’s name is Irina and she is a very nice and friendly person, as you can see.

After my little photo-shoot with Irina, which was just a part of our ongoing portfolio project, I went straight to the Theatre. My brother’s wife had secured for me a nice second raw seat right in the centre. So I was in a very good position for shooting and close enough to the stage.

As I had my Sonnar on camera already, I took some initial shots with it but somehow I wasn’t very happy with the perspective. So I decided to do some close ups and swapped the lens for the 90mm Lanthar. I liked it immediately! That particular performance, I reasoned, was ought to be shot with a short telephoto lens, due to the specifics of the setup on stage and my own position. So, I just left the 90mm on for the entire show.

My Lanthar, mind you, is not a very fast lens. The hall was quite dark and the lights on stage very dim. That was done on purpose, considering the nature of the drama. So, I just had to use my Flash (fortunately, as it turned) in order to keep ISO at 160, which was my initial intention. It wasn’t a native Leica flash and TTL was not an option, so I used it in Manual mode. The Nikon SB-30 has only three manual positions: 1/32, 1/8 and full power, plus a 1/2-stop compensation both ways. Not much to play with but it’s so tiny and its output is so strong for its size that I just love it and carry with me almost everywhere, just in case. It proved to be very handy at the Theatre that night.

Well, enough of my talking and let me show you some pictures.

As you can see, the pictures came out quite nice! Out of about 300 shots I had more than 50 definite keepers and about 10 to 15 frames that I was very satisfied with. Not bad!

Now, that you’ve seen the pictures, let me talk about my experience. There were a few things I wasn’t happy with and I want to get them out of the way before I move on to the ‘happy’ part.

First, I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t move around. I had to shoot the entire show from the same position from my seat. It was, as I said, very well situated, but you want to move around to shoot from different angles. I didn’t have that option. That event was very high-profile and I had Indian Ambassador sitting just a couple of seats from me and all kinds of important people around, too. So, alas, I was sort of chained to my seat.

Next problem was my Nikon Flash. It’s a marvelous little beast but the recharge time in full-power mode is slower than I am comfortable with. Besides, when the battery is not fresh the recharge time is getting really painfully slow. I missed many good shots due to this problem alone. Luckily, I had a spare battery, as I always do. Anyway, considering its tiny size, I think it performed beautifully. I shouldn’t be complaining, really.

That’s about it, folks. Another thing that could be classified as a negative experience, actually turned out to be one of the most positive ones. I am talking about manual focusing in difficult conditions. You see, the 90mm frame in a Leica is very small. It takes tremendous amount of concentration to nail focus consistently. Especially if you are shooting rapidly moving people in low light and you are 48 and slowly losing your once perfect eyesight.

Mind you, this was a dance performance. The dancers moved around all the time. It’s worse than shooting sports because sports activities are usually performed in good light and the main problem is to have a long enough lens to reach your subject. By the way, I have another exciting challenge up my sleeve, involving sports and a Leica M9. It may turn into a total disaster or a good article on Steve’s site. We’ll see.

So, shooting moving subjects manually with a slow 90mm lens in low light with a rangefinder camera is a major pain… Or, is it? Miraculously, it turned for me into a major gain, instead. Yes, it is difficult; yes, you get tired in the end; your face may stay deformed for hours afterwards; and yes, you will miss some shots. But the very fact that I had to concentrate so hard on my subject had allowed me to magically connect with the subject and become a part of the action. I totally forgot that I was sitting in a chair with a camera to my eye. I was on stage, dancing with all those beautiful people the whole time! My mind flew out of my body through my eye and then through the barrel of my lens right on to the stage. That feeling was unforgettable! I really enjoyed it. When I made those close ups of individual dancers it felt like an embrace (I seriously hope, my wife isn’t reading this!) And when I shot dancers in a group I felt like I was right in the midst of them, swirling away in an exuberant pirouette. And no, I wasn’t drinking that night… Amazing experience! All thanks to manual focusing and the resulting concentrated effort!

I am a lazy dude. I don’t usually enjoy hard work (sorry, Mom). But in this case I found it crucial to success. It had helped me to get into a state that was very important for the final outcome.

The only thing that is valid in photography is the feeling, both on the creator’s end and on the viewer’s end. I see the photographic phenomenon as a bridge between those two ends: a delivery system that brings human feelings across time. All great photographs ever made by anybody were born out of deep, intense feelings. There is some unexplainable magic to it and you can’t make it work if you are detached from your subject. You have to be there, right in the middle of the action. And that’s where Leica comes in very handy. There is something special about rangefinder photography. It’s hard to explain to the uninitiated but the evidence has been in abundance for decades.

I was so fired up at the Theatre that night that I felt like allowing myself a little experiment with dragging the shutter (inspired partly by Seal in a recent conversation here on this site). I made a few shots using that technique and eventually came up with a triptych that I happened to like a lot afterwards. I called it ‘The Fallen Angel’. The angelic theme is indistinctly evident in some other shots in this series; so to me the ‘Fallen Angel’ was a culmination of the theme. Besides, the ‘Avatara’ concept that was dominant in that performance was of God’s descending onto the Earth to bring justice and peace. I like juxtapositions in Art, so I had my renegade angel falling from the sky in order to screw things up. Don’t take it seriously, though. It was just a mischievous artistic expression.I want to conclude my article with that triptych.

If you would be interested to see more pictures from that night, please visit my Flickr page. I must warn you, though: it’s a big mess and in serious need of some housekeeping. I am in the process of setting up my own web site now , so in the near future I’ll have my portfolio displayed there.

Thank you all very much for your time!

Greg Shanta

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54 Comments

  1. Hey Greg! Nice to see you here. Maybe you’ll remember me ; once we talked about of buying your 35mm Nokton Pancake 🙂 Well as soon as I scan my Al Di Meola concert coverage (also in House of Music Hall) with 35mm Nokton 1.4 with M6 I am gonna post here I guess. Nice work. Keep it up man!

    Cheers,
    Serhat

    • Serhat, of course I remember you. You’re from Turkey and you work for some photo studio in Moscow (sorry, forgot the name of the studio). Nice to see you, too! Small world, huh?

      That CV 35mm Skopar is long gone. I shoot mostly Zeiss now. Yet, I have two CV lenses still, one of which I used to shoot this concert with.

      I’d love to see your Di Meola coverage. Didn’t even know he was here recently. I saw some adverts for Chick Corea but I didn’t go. Kind of tired of jazz a bit already and all into classical. My favourite performers don’t come here, though… Those of them who are still alive. Gustav Leonhard was in St. Pete for just one concert last summer and that’s about it.

      Give me a ring some time, mate. My number is +7 916 877 7771. You can also look me up on Facebook.

      Cheers,
      Greg

  2. Awesome writeup Greg! I really enjoyed the reading and the photos as well! Thanks for sharing!

    • And good work with the CV lens! Glad no one gave you the usual “why are you using CV’s on a M9” critique. 🙂

      • Yep, that CV APO Lanthar is an impressive lens. Considering its price (about $500) it’s outstanding!

        I prefer Zeiss on my M9 but I also have two CV lenses which I like very much: the above-mentioned Lanthar and the 15mm Heliar. Both are cheap and great. Of course, I wouldn’t mind having a Leica’s 90mm lens like APO Summicron or even Elmarit but they are too expensive for something you don’t use that often.

        Besides, my Lanthar is more versatile: it’s 39mm LTM mount, which means I can use it as a macro lens on my Visoflex and also attach to it a Russian-made 2x teleconverter and have an instant rangefinder-coupled 180mm lens on my M9. Cool! And here’s the kind of quality I can get from the combination:

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregshanta/5416598203/lightbox/

        I had to soften my wife’s skin in that image out of personal safety concerns but I left the eyes sharp, so you can see what kind of sharpness can be achieved with my 180mm.

        As for using non-Leica glass with my M9, I can sometimes go as far as using a sub-$100 Russian Jupiter-3 lens, which also quite great and renders a beautiful image. I once walked into a Leica store here in Russia with that lens on my M9 and the store clerk was very curious about it. He asked me if I liked the images from the combination. I then took a snapshot of him and showed him the result. He was very impressed. Surely, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s that shot:

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregshanta/4947244049/lightbox/

        Cheers,
        Greg

  3. Thanks for allowing me to comment in your site. I like the way you manage and create your web. However I like to let you know that I am interested in photography matter. And one of the camera that I like is Leica. However Leica now has the new model : LEICA D-LUX 5. This is a fantastic camera. Please come to my site to see further about this digital camera. Hope you like what I wrote in there. See you.

  4. Steve, thank you very much for publishing my article! I really enjoy reading your site and I am very honored by the opportunity to share my own experiences with everybody.

    On the technical side, strangely, my replies to Daniel and Stanis didn’t seem to go through. Those were my lengthy ones! If you are able to catch them somehow behind the scenes please post them on my behalf.

    Otherwise, Daniel, Stanis, thank you guys very much for you kind words and interesting input. I’ll try to reply in greater detail later on if my previous posts won’t turn up.

    I would also like to thank Seal for it was his tour’s pictures that inspired me to try my own concert shooting. Thank you, Seal!

    And thank you all for being so kind and finding the time to read my poorly composed article and look at my images. And I apologize for any irregularities with my English, as it is not my first language.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  5. Waaaaaay too much condescension in here.
    IMHO, these photos are just OK and would barely make the cut into commercially print paper.
    A friend of mine who by the way makes a living taking music/opera photos (and cannot afford a M9), makes way better captures on a “humble” d300.
    It’s the photographer. It’s always the photographer.
    Yet somehow I think I’ll be expelled from this blog. Sorry.

    • Hi Felipe! Thank you for your comments.

      What do you mean by “condescension”? That people like my pictures? They have a right to that as well as you have a right not to like them. I am an aspiring amateur photographer and I shoot for my own pleasure. My aim was not and probably will never be to submit any work to commercial papers. Not my cup of tea.

      I am sure your friend, being an experienced pro, makes way better pictures than I. I have no problem with that, either. I am happy for him and for myself that I am able to make something that I and some other people might like. And I take your assessment of my pictures seriously and will try to improve my vision and technique. Thank you for that.

      And yes! It is always the photographer! I agree 100% and I am not joking here or try to mock you out of bitterness of disapproval. I really do agree and I really mean it.

      Yet, the only thing I didn’t like about your post was the hint on “M9 vs. D300″. I take it, this hint wasn’t about the equipment but rather about ‘them rich boys with their M9s thinking they can do anything”.

      Well, I am not rich. I may be stupid but not rich for sure. I don’t care about “what camera” thing. I am happy to have my M9, as it is a marvelous tool for a photographer, advanced and newcomer alike. But I am much happier with taking pictures than with what equipment I use for it.

      Financially, my M9 is a very bad investment. I’ve spent close to $7000 on it (plus a couple of grand on the lenses) but haven’t made a single penny yet (Really, honestly!). And my camera is getting more and more beat up as I tend to use it a lot.

      So, it’s a bad investment and I am stupid, I know. I could have bought a small car or a huge TV with that money, or travel around the world. I know… But I don’t care. I like making pictures with it and that’s it. I don’t care about the money: this is the luxury that only the super-rich and super-not-rich can afford. I proudly count myself among the ranks of the latter category.

      Cheers,
      Greg

    • Oh boy. I don`t say Gregs pictures are better than others. They are simply good and wonderfull ones. Take for example the opening picture, the one with girl with umbrella. I wonder how your proff friend with his humble d300 or for that case d3, d4, d5, could better it. Perhaps he would catch her with one eye winking at you, while her fingers of outstretched hand signing that she`s discovered the presence of a super photographer sitting in the fifth row two seats from the center. But that remains to be yet seen. So, don`t be sorry, just take it easy and listen to the music.

      • Thanks, Stanis. I am glad you like what I do. I’ve seen your pictures and I like them, too. Unfortunately, you’re not sending me more…

        I think you went a bit too hard on Felipe. I’m sure he didn’t mean anything really bad. He just expressed his opinion and everyone is entitled to that. He doesn’t have to like my pictures. There is no obligation. And the way he compared me to his pro photographer friend, I think is more of an insult to his friend than to me. You don’t want to compare the work of a seasoned professional to that of some newbie like myself.

        I am actually very lucky and honored to have some people like my stuff. This is my first time article and I’ve been shooting only since 2008. I am so neophyte I should be glad anybody is paying attention to my work at all. But the thing is, I enjoy photography and it’s been my major passion for the last couple of years and I have a feeling, it will continue to be so for the rest of my eyesight (which I am losing way faster than I’d be comfortable with).

        Cheers,
        Greg

      • I’m being misunderstood here.
        My criticism is not over Shanta. He’s an amateur, a passionate one, and makes photos accordingly.
        But I’m concerned about 2 things: first, the excessive praising of this work, coming from supposedly knowledgeable people, is misleading at best. And second but more important, I think this whole “xx and my M9” (xx being Seal’s concerts, a trip to India, my firstborn child’s birth…) is not a good example to photo newcomers who might get into this otherwise interesting blog, because puts the focus into something that should always be a secondary character: the camera. Ken Rockwell, whose name I’m sure produces severe itching over Leicaman’s epidermis (because of many good reasons, I assume), is pretty lucid about one of his core messages: the gear is NOT the important thing. I’m sure many people might consider spending the ridiculous amount of money Leica charges because of the misleading influence of opinions expressed on this blog.
        With all due respect.

        • Felipe,

          How dare you! Calling me an amateur!… Just kidding. Of course I am an amateur and I certainly hope to remain one. Not from the standpoint of photographic quality and skills (which I hope will improve over time), but artistic freedom and independence.

          As I said earlier, my concern was not over your critique of my pictures (which is always welcome) but over your anti-Leica mood, which I suspected then and that is now confirmed by yourself. I mean, we live in a free world (I guess…) and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion but this is a site that is favourable to Leica stuff (am I right, Steve?). People who love Leica gear and other related technologies and photographic styles come here to share and discuss their passions.

          Sometimes people who don’t love Leica-related stuff also come here (I wonder why; some hidden craving perhaps?). They are most certainly very nice people but somehow they look terribly out of place when they display their disapproval of Leica at this particular site. I’ve seen it more than once. It’s like going to a Nikon-related site and start praising Canon all of a sudden. You won’t find many sympathizers…

          Of course it’s about photographer and not the camera! We know that already. There is no real threat hovering over our innocent newbie souls. But thank you for your obviously well-intended concern.

          Yet, we also are excited about our gear! Why not? What’s wrong with loving one’s great tools? This happens in any craft, not just photography. Our gear, Leica gear in particular, gives us satisfaction and helps to achieve some creative goals. So, we like it. And we get defensive when someone tells us it’s full of crap. That we don’t like. Fair deal.

          Among some complaints that I hear about Leica the most popular one is over price. Why on Earth this is such a big issue? Not the amount itself but the anger (or whatever else you may call it) over Leica’s pricing policy. I mean, come on, Leica is not the only one charging high prices for their products. Any other high-quality product costs a lot of money these days. And it has always been so in the past. What is so wrong with that?

          I smell the familiar aroma of communism in such complaints. And, being from Russia, I know very well where that aroma is leading. You don’t want to be there, believe me. If anyone is willing to pay then why not selling it to him or her at that price point? It’s a win-win situation: the customer is happy and the manufacturer is happy. Peace! Capitalism at its best!

          Besides, Leica M9 is one hell of a great camera, both technically, ergonomically and esthetically. Leicas have always been great cameras and optics and they still are! And they cost an arm and a leg! Alas! But…

          I want to end my biased monologue with a quote from no else but HCB himself:

          “Leica could be like a big passionate kiss, or then again like a shot from a gun, or the couch of a psychoanalyst. You can do anything with a Leica.”

          Well, I guess he was one of those gear maniacs, too…

          Cheers,
          Greg Shanta
          (an arrogant Russian SOB with a photographic passion to boot)

          • No offence at all !!
            And don’t get me wrong: I’m not anti-Leica. Absolutely not. Remember once a friend of mine lent me an M6 and I was excited just by holding it in my hands. Leicas are mechanical wonders and exquisite designs. Period.
            What I am (I guess) is anti “brand”. Putting the gear ahead of the eye (being the eye the most important photographic equipment) is, pun apart, an error.
            I use Nikon. Always have. Just because the first real camera my parents bought me 15 years ago was an FM10 (which actually is made by Yashica). Could have been a Pentax, a Canon. And then the F mount got me caught with the lenses. Now I have a D90. I survived de D700 urge, now the D7000 urge. And I make no better shots today than the ones I made in the old beloved days of my FM10 and a bag full of Provias.
            Enjoy your gear. Enjoy photography.

          • I hear you, Felipe. I’ve always appreciated fine, quality stuff that you take in your hands and say, “Ah, this feels good!”

            I am with you on the ‘brand’ thing. I don’t care about brands but I happen to like certain products behind some of those brands. I am against all kinds of fetishism but it just happens that often famous brands represent great things. Yet, many don’t I love Leica stuff but totally despise Coca-Cola, for instance.

            I agree with you that the human eye is the best photographic tool. Well, actually, when we say the eye we mean the brain, of course.

            I have also used Nikon before. My first camera was a Nikon F4 which I bought back in the early nineties. I loved it as a quality tool but actually never used it as it was supposed to be used. For me it was a fancy point-and-shoot. When I look at my photographs from those days I can’t pick even a single frame that I would like beyond just being sentimental mementoes. I think I started shooting ‘seriously’ (well, sort of) in 2008 when I got my first digital camera, a Nikon D40, which was then replaced by D300, D700, Epson R-D1 and finally the Leica M9, which I have now.

            D90 seems to be a fine camera, although I never had a chance to try it myself. My wife used to have a D80 and I think it was good. Now she caught the virus of my Leica infatuation and got herself an X1. She actually hated the size of her Nikon and the interchangeable lens idea. She’s happy now. Besides, the image IQ from X1 is noticeably better than that of D80’s, although its ergonomics are much worse. Not for my wife, though. She says she totally likes it. Fine by me. She’s also improved her photography artistically since then but I don’t think that has anything to do with equipment.

            Thank you for your encouraging words. I will continue to enjoy photography. I love it, no matter what camera I use (sometimes it’s just a mobile phone). I prefer good quality gear for obvious reasons but I don’t want to depend on that alone. And in gear I like simplicity. That’s one of the main reasons why I switched to rangefinders. I enjoy the process of image making and looking at the result. And sharing it with others, of course. All those things have nothing to do with gear.

            Cheers,
            Greg

        • Hombre. Life is too complicated for the simple statements. There`s room for many views. Like, yes the camera is most important element if you want to do circuit pattern scaling job in a chip making factory. Yes the photographer is most important when photographing normal stuff with whatever you have at hand. And yes, the subject is most important when you happen to document, whatever the framing or quality, the hitherto presumed extinct species or unknown place or extraordinary people. As to praising of ones work, amateur at that (count me in ), that`s the point. Encourage and support the enthusiasm and dedication of common people. It takes a long way to achieve a personal style. Beside being attentive, is a matter of time. Of course you can start with very best. Magnum, VII , Noor and others. The outcome for a beginner would be obvious. Either he would end with inferiority complex and quit or started emulating something he doesn`t understand yet. As to gear, well there are some metal shop boys that buy Harley or MV Agusta ( and believe they are expensive in country I live in, Danmark) not being race circuit champs. They spend savings many years work savings because they enjoy riding and the fine machinery. Crazy guys but who isn`t in one or other way.

          • Stanis, when I hear critical remarks on whatever I do, I actually get encouraged to do better. So, no harm there at all (in my case). But I do agree with you that people need to be cheered up.

            Dziękuję,
            Grisha

        • We are different and express ourselves differently. What you may call nice, I might call great and so on. I’m an amateur too, but I’m not in doubt that Greg’s pictures are good deal above average compared to many other amateaurs and even some professionals.

          And don’t forget some professional photographers take really lousy pictures. It just happened that photograpy became a way of living for them. It is the same with any other trade – there are excellent, good and poor performers and all levels in between.

      • Hi Elaine!

        Agreed. I loved mine, too! Then I traded it for the D700, which I also loved. And then Leica hired some Voodoo priests and got my soul. I actually say “Yes, Master!” each time I press that button.

        Cheers,
        Greg

  6. Hej Grisha. Wonderfull pictures. Another angle at concert photography as compared to Steves Seal tour. In a way they complement each other, showing to ways of reporting emotions. It`s evident you love the theme and you are completely tuned in. Touch decision how to get the results. Your approach is truly intelligent one. You did the best with what you had. Like your decision to settle on one lens and concentrate on the subject. I can immagine the effort to stay focused using small 90mm frame. Maybe it would help a lot to use 1,4 or 1,8 eyepiece magnifier. I don`t really know, never used one. I hope Leica will suprise you with one of those for a Christmas gift. And the flash issue. I hope there were many other guests snapping away so your flashing didn`t overly disturb the dancers. Well, the story as you say is about Vishnu, then your flashes might suggest that Indra was lurking around, doing his mischiefs. Opeing on Apo-Lanthar is a limitation but you wisely turned it into advantage. Even if you had 75/1,4, it would be next to impossible to get in focus moving dancers. It would be hit and miss affair. 3,4 or 4 gave you more leeway as I see it. Last thing is about your slow shutter picts. Yes, that`s what Leica is made for, too. No blackout, getting the feel of that 1/8 of sec while seeing it. Your b/w conversion are o.k. but I would love to see it in colors. Flying colors. That`s what indian dance is. And frozen cue de pied as you ambly documented. Bravo! Stanislaw

    • Stanis, it looks like my original reply to you is irretrievably lost. I’ll try to remember what I said. Well, first, I wanted to say that my theatrical adventure wasn’t meant to challenge Steve and his recent successful series of concert photography. It was, rather, aimed at myself. I wanted to figure out is I could do it, for my own sake. I shot some concerts before with my ex-camera (like ex-wife, he-he…) but that was a DSLR. Now I wanted to try it with the Leica and I can see it is totally doable even without super-fast lenses, provided you can use flash.

      Another thing I said to you was that I agree on the 75/1.4 idea that it’s just not feasible, as it’s impossible to focus in such situation. Besides, I don’t see the world in 75mm frame. 85mm is acceptable, 90mm is good, even 135mm is fine, but not 75mm. I don’t know why. I tried it before and didn’t like it. So, even if Leica will listen to your prayers and send me one for Christmas, I’d probably end up selling it and get myself that terrific Sonnar 85/2 instead. Blasphemy!

      Regarding your concern about the dancers being disturbed by my flash, they said it was all right with them. Besides, there were other photographers in the hall and photography was allowed to anyone.

      About one lens decision. I usually stick to one lens. I don’t even take more than one lens with me when I go out shooting unless it’s some special occasion like that night at the theatre. But even then I ended up using only one lens. I just can’t stand the hassle changing lenses in the middle of the shoot. I think, something gets lost on the artistic side.

      Well, that about wraps it up.

      Cheers,
      Greg

      • Greg. Hopefull wishing on 75/1,4 from Leica under x-mis tree. You could stay for a price of it in Udijpur Palace for a week or two. I meant those little cute eyepiece magnifiers. Immagine x-mas tree with all the candies dangling from branches and suddenly you discover, unwrapping sweets that this one actually fits you M9! It´s 1,4 you need. Turns 90 into lifesize lik on old M3. I know the one lens syndrom. Sometimes I`m tired of having pocketfull of small lenses and I decide on one. Which one? Universal, specialized? Then you see something and damnation! Should have 90 or 15 and so on. Changing lenses is hassle. No doubt about it. In my SLR days I had Nikon F and the first lens I bought was 105/2,5 single coated. What a beauty. Bokeh, soft sharpness. It`s grandpa was Sonnar 50/1,5 so you know What I am talking about. 90`s pleasure to use on M3. Lifesize means you can focuse with both eyes open and the frame is just floating in the air. Couldn`t be better. That`s why 35 Leica finder is so bloody expensive. Lifesize. Well, it`s sunday, sun`s out, I go to my highnoon catolic mess , then out there to perhaps shoot some lifesize immaginations. One love for the faith, one love for the love, one love for the sun, one love for the one lens. amen. Cheers

        • Now I get it, Stanis. Yes, I’d like to have that 1.4x magnifier. I just don’t want to pay full price for it. Maybe some day I’ll come across a used one. The Christmass tree chances are slim.

          I’d like to see your life-size imaginations.

          Cheers,
          Greg

  7. Really, really nice work amigo. I personally like crisp, vibrant and sharp photos. I think many people get carried away with the ‘bokeh’ effect, enough already. I mean, $10,000 for a lens! I use the Summicron 50mm and the bokeh effect and sharpness from this lens is more than enough for me. Again Greg, amazing work that’s nice to look at.

    Thanks.

    • Daniel, I’ll try to reply to your comment again, as my original reply was lost in space.

      Thank you very much for your encouraging words! Like I said last time, I don’t particularly care if the picture is sharp or not. It depends on your idea. Like, that night in the theatre I wanted to have sharp pictures because I was pursuing a certain look. At other times, I deliberately want my pictures to be blurred, like that ‘Angel’ triptych or like this picture I made the other day: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregshanta/5584288637/lightbox/

      As for smooth bokeh, when I need it that way I have one of the best lenses for it, namely the Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5. I haven’t seen anything better than that when it comes to smooth bokeh in the mere mortals price range. So, no need to spend $10,000 just for that feature.

      By the way, what I think I would really appreciate in a Noctilux is that it’s incredibly sharp in the centre wide open. I haven’t seen that kind of sharpness in any other super-fast lens except, maybe, the Summilux ASPH series. But they all are astronomically expensive for me at this point. Which doesn’t mean that in the future it will be the same. I hope, some day…

      Cheers,
      Greg

  8. Great images Greg, theyve me made look at the SB-30… (flash photography???) 😉 . I like the Tryptich better though, all that flowing movement and that beautiful texture!

    • Thanks, Michiel! Yep, that little SB-30 is very handy. But it wouldn’t TTL on your D700, though. It’s meant for those older film Nikons. If you want proper TTL go for SB-400. It’s almost as small and it can bounce, too! Great little flash for Nikon DSLRs. I used to have one before. Sold it with the rest of my Nikon gear after getting bewitched by Leica.

      Flash photography? What’s that? I call it available light photography. But don’t get me wrong: I love the other available light photography, too!

      Cheers,
      Greg

  9. Greg – Great photos. Given your fixed position at the performance, you achieved such amazing shots! Well done. I love your energy and
    appreciation for the arts – you are a true inspiration.

    • Thank you very much, Sas! I really appreciate your kind words. The main contributors to the beauty of those shots were the dancers. They did a terrific job and they are all very beautiful. So, all I had to do was just pressing a button at some suitable moments. And I really enjoyed it!

      Cheers,
      Greg

  10. What a wonderful article,with really inspiring photos…

    I hope the Stoloknya came out of the cupboard to celebrate…

    • Thank you, Colin, for your warm comment! And no, Stoli wasn’t in the picture (or in the cupboard). I am one of those rare non-drinking Russians. A dying breed, really…

      Cheers,
      Greg

  11. Thanks Greg ( and Steve)

    I have been wondering for a very long time about shooting Leica M9 with a flash on a moving subject. I like the sharpness and vibrancy of the photos. for me, in low light i’d still prefer using Flash as it creates more depth IMHO. Thanks for sharing….

    • Thank you, Tommy! I don’t like or dislike using flash with my M9. I carry it with me most of the time just in case I might need it. And when I see a certain situation that could benefit from it, then why not? After all, flash is also ‘available light’. It emits light and it sits in my pocket, so it’s available!

      Cheers,
      Greg

    • Thanks, AH! Please do visit back from time to time. I promise to tidy up my page and get rid of all the crap that shouldn’t be there.

      Cheers,
      Greg

  12. Wow. Great shoots. Amazing colors, sharpness and composition. How did you get to shoot with flash? Usually that is not allowed in the theater, ballet or at concerts.

    • AH, thank you very much for your comment! As to your question, photography was allowed that night and the dancers didn’t mind (I asked their permission, anyway). There were few other people with DSLRs shooting away, flash and no flash. Besides, the main choreographer of that event was a relative of mine, as I mentioned in my article. She’s a terrific dancer and a powerful actress, too. You can see her on the 7th picture from the top (excluding the title image). She is the one gesturing with her hands as if saying “Oh, please, no!”

      Cheers,
      Greg

      • I see.It must have been a great evening. You really managed not to over-power the flash, so that the pictures looks natural.

        Unfortunately, you make me want an M9 even though I’m not a Leica fan..ha..ha -anyway I’m sure I could never make such wonderful shots even if I had an M9 🙂

        • AH, when you go to Leica to collect your new M9, don’t forget to tell them I seduced you. They may send me a lens or something… Ha-ha.

          That little flash is very difficult to over-power. It’s GN is just 20. I was shooting full power the whole time. The distance was just right for that. That was pure luck. Ideally, you would want to bring a more powerful flash, so that you could play with its power settings to your liking.

          Cheers,
          Greg

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