Daily Inspiration #125 by Allan Kassin

The daily inspiration is back after a week off (due to my schedule last week) – Today I bring you some images from a new Leica M9 owner, Allan Kassin. Ill let him tell you his story…


this is my first post…. here goes.

Colombia in a nutshell is full of life, nature and culture. Our greatest asset other than our human talent is our geography which gives us great mountains, plains, deserts and oceans. Ive been shooting with a Leica M9 since April and it offers me tremendous advantages when shooting on location in small towns and little villages throughout my country. Switching from D700 was not hard, even considering the price of the M9 when confronted with carrying a huge camera, in addition to zoom lenses a prime lens and a tripod. Not only is my back feeling incredible, I cant overstate how stealthy you can be shooting with the M9. I find that i attract much less attention shooting with my rangefinder which is useful in any travel situation. I tend to get better shots if my subjects are not intimidated by a bulky camera and a huge 24/70 2.8 lens

I hope you enjoy these shots taken in a tiny village in Colombia called San Basilio de Palenque. San Basilio is a bastion of freedom, founded in the first few years of the 1600s by runaway slaves brought to Colombia from Africa. They retain a very strong cultural heritage based on their intellectual African roots, preserving strong semblances of their language, medicine and music. As Colombians we are approaching our bicentennial, 200 years marked by many distinguishing factors, most notably a sad history of violence and war. San Basilio celebrated its own bicentennial, 200 years ago, yet they still survive and manage to thrive despite harsh economic realities. Modernity has not always been kind to San Basilio yet they stand proud as a true testament of resiliency and adaptation.

Please enjoy…





  1. Thanks Allan for sharing, the story always lies in the eyes. I also find shooting portraits with my small and discreet CL perfect, people feel way less ‘threatened’ 🙂

  2. I only like Leica because the picture that Steve take with his camera make me wanto to take pictures like his pictures. I did not like the pictures he took with the Canon or Olympus, but it look like Leica seriously inspire him and boost his IQ. The trus is if you pay extra money for a fast lens use it !! i don;t see something great were you need a Leica in this pictures. may be is me i can;t recognise one lens from the other one.

    I also love the way he use NIk software to do the conversions.

    At the end the best camera is the one that move you out to take pictures. My self a swigth cameras every day from D700, D300 , F100, F4 , FM2, G11, gf1 or s90 basically i like to play with my cameras just like toys, i love to develop film at home ( B&W) not big deal.

    I will love to found how we can achive the Leica Look with a D700, What lens to use etc etc??


    Ps I’m sorry for my bad English !

    • No worries Gregorio, your English is fine. May I suggest you try the f2.0/35 Distagon in ZF.2 mode? It’s not expensive, and will get you everything you want (auto exposure) except autofocus. It will give you a red lighting up of the autofocus frame in the D700 viewfinder.

      The image quality will surprise you.

  3. Hi, I would like to say a few words here.

    First of all, congratulations on three great images Allan K.
    But what I also want to talk about are some of the comments from the following people;

    Gregorio Donikian, Elain and Michael. Now this is not a ‘fanboy’ based opinion, as Steve Huff will tell you there are very few cameras, lenses or film that I either do not have, haven’t at some point had or do not presently own so this is completely unbiased. My camera acquisition sickness syndrome is not something I’m particularly proud of but hey, with someone in my line of work it could be worse..sex, drugs rock n roll but to name a few cliches. So here goes;

    a) @ Michael, the Nikon 35 f/2 is garbage! The transitions are crude to put it mildly and that nasty, pasty interpretation of the image it renders is unsightly, therefore it should not in any way shape or form be mentioned in the same sentence with the worst of Leica glass. So just stop with the “it’s just as good” comparisons already. Yes, the 24-70 is an exceptional piece of glass but if lugging around an additional appendage sticking out from the middle of your forehead is your thing…then great! Mine is at home gathering dust.

    b) @Gregorio “This is just too much money for easy shot”! To use a common Hip-Hop vernacular.. Homey please! It amazes me how so many people still can’t quite understand this very simple point. I have the GF1, nice camera..boring as ba*ls! and the IQ is the equivalent of someone mailing in their work…it does nothing for an image. But more to the point, AK’s images are nothing to do with the glass at all. Even before I looked at his response to the question of what lens did he use, I knew just by looking at them. I figured he didn’t crop so it was a 50 due to the proximity of where he was standing in relation to the subject and also I knew it wasn’t a Summilux because the signature is different, so it was most likely the 50 Summicron. Again I have all of these lenses so it didn’t take Einsteins theory to figure it out.

    But again it is not the glass that makes these images exclusive to RF (and in this case…the Leica) photography. When you use a Leica, you prepare for the frame differently, you are more patient and therefore more likely to capture the decisive moment, you are more engaged with the camera and the subject because you are having to work in a completely organic style, you are less trigger happy so you don’t get complacent with rapid fire bul**it images and lastly, your subject matter responds differently to a camera such as a Leica for numerous reasons… it looks like an old camera, even the M9, it is quiet, it frames differently due to you being able to see the space outside of the lines, your attitude is different, you are much more bold and more willing to move within the photograph because everything has to come together to form a connection. Focus, exposure and moment. you don’t have the luxury of just firing off frames ..the list goes on.

    So all of these nonsense comments like “This is just too much money for EASY shots” just sound embittered and quite honestly juvenile. Do I understand the Leica philosophy? Hell no! To tell you the truth I find it annoying that despite my access to pretty much any camera I want, cameras that ” are more reliable” “Do a better job” “better WB” “Better/more reliable focus” blah….blah….blah, I still will not leave for a trip without an M9 or an MP because yes, there are times when it is limiting. But the images it allows you, forces you to take and subsequently rewards you with, do not and cannot come from any other system.

    Say you don’t like the images, or even that you yourself can take better images than the one’s displayed here by AK. But stop the silly comments about “oh, I could’ve taken this with some micro 4/3 bul**t” which for the most point is precisely what they are by comparison.

    On my site http://www.seal.com/gallery you will see a bunch of images from my current tour made with numerous different cameras ranging from the Sony NEX-5, Canon 1D4, Leica X1, Samsung NX10, Samsung ELX-1, M9 and my iphone 4. you can see there that there is a certain relationship between the photographer, camera and subject that only exists with the ones where the Leica’s were used. It is not about expense or gestalt, it’s about the experience, the connection…….it’s about the moment.


    • Well, “true” up to a point.

      @6: first, let me say I feel honoured by your considered response (assuming by “Michael” you mean me, Michiel).

      What I was trying to say is I have Zeiss glass on my D700, and I think (apart from the quite horrendous blue fringing wide open on the 1.4/85), they’re absolutely mesmerizing lenses.

      I do have a Nikkor 2.0/35 Ai-s, and have had for some 20 years, which I use on the FM2; only b&w now. Good lens in its time, surpassed certinly by other glass now. OK for b&w.

      If you (re)read my post carefully, you might end up understanding what I was trying to say (f.i.: I traded in my 24-70 mainly because I wanted my photography to be guided by primes, not zooms, however excellent the 24-70 may be, and it is).

      What I was also trying to say (and actually said; please reread) is you can make a good picture with any camera. Of course, different cameras produce different images, of the same subject.

      What I’d like to add is I abhor this random “dslr’s are big ugly things that you can’t really capture a good image with; Leica is the only camera” syndrome/mantra. I’m sure you get my drift.

      And lo and behold, there’s actually a daily inspiration shot with an (obsolete of course 🙂 ) dslr…, and a big one as well, with a big and no doubt ugly zoom… Good images though. Wonder how he managed that 🙂

  4. This is just to much money for easy shots i’m sure you can take the same picture swith a gf1 !


      • Also, I never grasped (and therefore escaped) the notion that the D700 must always be used in conjunction with the 24-70 zoom (which, I might add as I’ve owned one, is a superb lens).

        I traded in the 24-70 for 2.0/35, 1.4/50 and 1.4/85 Zeiss glass, and they give amazing results with the D700. On a par with the M9, but different of course. And a bit heavier. Not much 🙂

        Great pics though, which of course you could have taken with any camera. And then of course they would have looked different as well.

        • I would love that 24-70 zoom lens if I had the D700. Makes for a nice dog action lens. I love the 50 f/1.8 I have though. Never tried a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4. I wonder how it compares to the NIkon version. I heard the 35 lens is nice too. Is it?

          • @Elaine,

            The 35mm is the star of the bunch, imho. Very sharp, contrasty but not overly so, and the tonal gradation (as in the other two) is absolutely lovely.

  5. Allan the second shot is one I could gaze at for hours. You have captured a world-worn wisdom with real dignity. Bravo.

  6. Thanks Steve, these photos made my day!
    Allen’s photographs capture the soul, in a calm and inviting atmosphere, something rare these days. I’ve spent hours looking at his images and each one is special. Great work!
    Take care,

  7. Ah these are great man, really nice! I especially like the first one, very good portrait and the light is great with that green background!

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