The Leica Monochrom at Daytona Bike Week by Roger Goun

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The Leica Monochrom at Daytona Bike Week by Roger Goun

NOTE: I attended Bike Week as part of Craig Litten’s Street Photography Workshop. I really enjoyed shooting with Craig and I recommend his workshops to anybody who wants to learn more about street photography!

Bike Week is an incredible, mind-blowing experience. It’s wall-to-wall people, noise, drinking, events, and of course, motorcycles. In photographic terms it’s a very target-rich environment. The Monochrom is a nearly perfect camera for Bike Week. It’s unobtrusive, it has a beautiful optical viewfinder that lets me see what’s going on beyond the edges of the frame, it stays out of my way, and it can shoot in the dark. Most of these images were shot with a Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 (Type 3). The wider ones were with a Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/1.7, and the cabbage wrestling was shot with a scary-sharp Leica 135 mm f/4 Tele-Elmar that I happened to find used at a camera store in Maine the week before. The day shots are at base ISO. The photos at night were shot in “available darkness”, mostly at ISO 5000.

Coming from a Leica M8.2, I’m still getting used to the Monochrom. I tend to overexpose in tricky light. I’m amazed, though, by how many daytime shots come out of the camera with a histogram that stretches perfectly from end to end without spilling over either edge.

I’m a wheelchair user, so the perspective in my shots is generally different from most people are used to. Whether that’s an advantage or disadvantage I don’t know. My mobility is somewhat limited, so when I find a good a scene I tend to work it more than other shooters might before moving on. I do think that’s good for my photography. Best of all, no one considers me a threat, and no one has ever gotten angry with me for taking a photo, so I tend to be fairly aggressive about getting in people’s faces. People are usually quite nice – sometimes too nice. One girl in Daytona Beach tried to take the Monochrom off my neck so her friend could take our picture together. I quickly handed her my cell phone instead and tried to control my sudden panic.

Hope you like the photos.

Roger Goun

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Coleslaw wrestling

Iron Horse

on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

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25 thoughts on “The Leica Monochrom at Daytona Bike Week by Roger Goun

  1. Really nice shoots. The one with guy looking into the camera with, googles on his forehead is great ! The “evvironmental portrait” look gives one a real feel for the people in the piece. Thanks

  2. Great shots Roger, capturing the mood really nicely, people just kickin’ back and chilling out.
    The shot of the one guy leaning on a rail looking at the camera while all the life is going on around him is a fantastic capture of a moment in time, and a perfect example of how shortened Depth of Field SHOULD be used, rather then the overused super shallow “Bokeh look”

    Well Done!

    I can understand the lower POV, as with the Hasslblad shooter above – It’s giving you a better center line to the subjects – the exact opposite of all those celebrity head shots in the glossy mags, where the photog’s are up on stands at the red carpet, so the head an feet are quite a different distance from the lens, so heads look huge and feet shrunk.
    Your lower POV helps center the subject and equalise those two distances, so you get less spherical distortion in the images.

  3. Great picture, great story, thanks for sharing. The last time I handed the M9 to a friend of my wife to take a pic she handed it back to me with the comment: “But why don`t you buy yourself a decent camera?” Next time it will be the call phone ;).

  4. Great pictures.
    Funny about your story with the girl trying to take your MM^^

    That happens to me from time to time. If I am around a tourist place, some tourists may ask me to take their pictures with their camera. After that they politely ask me:
    – Oh, may I take your picture with yours too ?
    – Mmmm nooo thank you… (I may sound like a dumbass to them but you know my reasons haha)

  5. Nice work Roger.. Really like the first image.. I am on the fence with the Monochrome.. While I love the files.. The blown out highlights of digtial are still troubling to me..

    Gregory

    1. Blown highlights are the Achilles heel of the Monochrom, no question. It’s something you have to constantly be on guard against when you’re shooting with it. The good news is you can expose for the highlights and largely let the shadows take care of themselves. It’s astonishing the amount of shadow detail you can pull out of a properly-exposed Monochrom image, especially at low ISO.

  6. These are all wonderful pictures. I was wondering if you are using a yellow filter on your Summicron. I have started using one on my Monochrom and have found the .dng files right out of the camera have improved contrast.

    Love your work!

    1. Good eye. The second and third pictures above were taken with a yellow filter. You’re right that it improves contrast straight out of the camera, and it reduces the tendency of Caucasian skin tones to start out a murky middle gray. The filter is rated to cost one stop in light absorption, but in practice depending on the colors in the scene it may actually take less than that.

      — Roger

  7. When M then MM, yeps proven again. That MM is a stroke of genius. And well most bikers are generally freindly guys if you don’t rub them against the grain, but hey, who likes that anyway.

    BTW, I was once presented with a Hassy H3D in order to take such a “me and my girlfreind” shot from an other photographer. Yeps a Hassy can be a iPhone to.

    Greets, Ed.

  8. I hate it when great Leica Monochrom photos are posted because I want this camera but can not afford it! Great job and at least someone has the $$$ to enjoy this camera. LOL

  9. I often prefer the photographic POV/perspective that being a wheelchair user is giving you. I usually shoot “hasselblad style” with my Sony NEX, holding the camera at waist level and looking down with the LCD flipped up. It’s hard to explain why, but I often find the results more appealing than when shot at “head” height (5 or 6 feet off the ground) – and your shots show off what I mean. It’s more “straight ahead view” than “looking down at the scene” – that’s the best I can explain the difference. Very nicely done. Keep shooting!

  10. hahaha, I don’t know you but can only imagine your face when the girl tried to take your Monochrom off my neck! Thanks for sharing your experience. Lovely images.

  11. Awesome job Roger! You’ve really shown what the Monochrom can do and especially with your mobility limitations you have captured some amazing images! Its definitely a different perspective but one that I really like. The man holding the dog with a cap on and the biker leaning against the railing caught my attention. Excellent work Roger!

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