An Extended Daily Inspiration by Reinhard Lampano

First of all, the obligatory intro… my name is Reinhard Lampano. I currently serve in the United States Air Force. My job is NOT photography related however, since recently rediscovering photography and discovering RF photography for the first time (and not doin’ to shabby at it), I would like to pursue it as a means to draw income someday.

Gotta give Steve “props” for inspiring me through his site as his reviews have rekindled my passion for photography. My wife and I were stationed in Germany prior to our current assignment. Only had point and shoots to rely on and while some photos turned out okay it would have been nice to have the equipment that I currently own back then. Since I don’t know how to build a flux capacitor nor do I know any doctors named Brown, I’ll carry on.

In the last week of July 2010, my family and I visited my in-laws who live in Pennsylvania. We took a day trip to NYC (Lower Manhattan) on a hop-on/hop-off double decker bus tour. The photos that follow are from that day.

We arrived very early as this first photo would indicate.

“sleeping florist” – 35mm 1.4

Around lunchtime our bus “broke down” near Battery Park. These two ladies were having a convo en Espanol (speaking Spanish). This hipshot is the result of 4 times trial and error as on the 5th attempt I finally correctly gauged the distance. NYC is the perfect environment to practice shooting from the hip.

“5th time’s a charm” – 50mm 2.0

You know the old Frank Sinatra song that purports this town “never sleeps”? That’s garbage! Here are some photos of New Yorkers snoozin’ it up! You’d think we were in Europe somewhere by the look of these frames. Where taking a nap midday is not considered poor-work ethic just an everyday occurrence. Studies have actually shown that a midday nap increases productivity in the workplace.

“pier 5” – 50mm 2.0

“south street meditation” – 50mm 2.0

For those who care, and I assume a few of you do, these photos were all captured with an M8, a 35mm 1.4 Nokton and a 50mm 2.0 Planar. Sold all of those and I now shoot with an M9, 50mm 1.4 Summilux pre-APSH, and 35mm 1.2 Nokton. Found a sweet deal on an M9 on ebay… $5.8K with spare battery and grip… crazy! So after applying the Leica fanboy rationalization filter to the transaction, I effectively paid $5,400 for an M9 body.

All the Leica brand gear that I’ve owned have all been used equipment so I urge you to take the time to shop around. You’re bound to find a good deal on used gear. Just make sure you ask all the right questions, e.g. number of shutter actuations, pictures emailed to you (if none are posted), etc.

Also, !!!SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!!!, I have made a couple of books on Blurb.com. One is of the pics from my NYC trip and the other is of the street photography from other venues in case you guys are interested in picking one up.

Thank you in advance and I hope that your NYC “field trip” goes well, Steve. Looking forward to perusing the collective pool of photos that it will undoubtedly produce.

God bless.

RCL

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26 Comments

  1. OK, first of all the rangefinder crop remark by Kevin makes no sense at all. As long as the image has good composition that statement has no relativity. Need proof? Look at HCB image of the little boy holding the wine bottles !! Oh, his one foot is cut off, and yet its perfectly composed. Its not what you crop its what you leave in the frame and if what you leave in the frame has dynamic symmetry it will work. HCB has proven this 100 times over. And if you have to crop, the image wasn’t shot correctly. I see no issues with the framing on these.

  2. Yes, my bottom has dropped out and missing, but hey who cares, not me. Wonderful shots and thanks for sharing these. I too have started shooting from the hit not caring too much on frame but on the subject. I suppose I’ll always be the shy type. cheers

    • I think that making photos from the hip is just another tool in the photographer’s tool box, not to replace composing using your viewfinder. I try to practice it often so as not to get rusty at it. from time to time i also try to shoot to the left or right of me at a 90 degree angle so as not to make it obvious that i’m making a photo.

      1. guesstimate
      2. prefocus
      3. wait for it
      4. actuate that bad boy!

      cheers!

  3. Hi, some very nice and interesting shots here and in your blurb books, your photographs show the confidence of a seasoned street photographer

    • I am still learning… more ambition than experience at the moment but I appreciate your kind words!

  4. Reinhard you have really good work here, love the second and the last the most, but I will kill to see your performance in the streets in 35mm with the m9 and those two amazing lenses that you already purchased. Do you have a flickr or a webpage where you share your work ?

  5. Dear Reinhard, nice job on the daily inspiration. Nice shots. Glad you got the m9 and i know you have a mint pre-asph 50mm summilux.
    A;so, I will be joining Steve for his NYC photo shoot and am so looking forward to meeting him. it is a small Leica world and you are a true gentleman. I know from experience. lol. Best Regards, Louis

  6. Certainly good shots, and captured well!

    I wonder, having looked at rf shots for quite a while now here, it appears the “subject”, the object in focus, is usually dead centre. Is that part and parcel of the rf experience (focus quickly, – in the centre focusing spot – , squeeze, get the shot)?

    I recall R Boyer emphasizing the irrelevance of seeing objects going in and out of focus on an slr, while focusing. Well, one advantage could be that you can actually focus “out of centre” quickly, and get a usually more exciting image, imho.

    • There’s really nothing about a rangefinder that would cause you to put the object in focus in the center of the frame, at least compared to old film SLRs. The focusing patch is in the middle of the frame, but there’s no reason you can’t focus then compose your shot with the main subject off-center. That’s exactly what I did in this shot of an old guy playing pétanque:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomas-paris/4928288373/

      I can’t really speak to how quickly one can shoot with a modern rangefinder (the camera in the shot above is not as nice to focus as a modern Leica or Voigtländer, and the shot was hand metered). But with my Olympus DSLR, I often use the center AF point then re-frame, becuase that way I’m sure that the AF system got the focus point I want.

      Actually, I just noticed that the first and last shots in this post don’t actually have the in-focus object centered: the first is off to the right, the last is L-shaped along the right and bottom. In any case, I think they’re all very well composed.

      • Thanks Thomas, it’s an interesting issue. I brought this up not because I think it’s impossible with an rf to have the in-focus point of interest off-centre. I just observe that in a lot of rf pictures, the point of interest is dead-centre, particularly in the “grab shots” of street photography.

        As we all know, in a real slr viewfinder you can actually see what is in and what is out focus, wherever that is in the frame. The AF point is just a tool (actually sometimes a hindrance, as it requires the technique you describe, unless you shift the AF point, which takes more time), and not relevant to my point. On my “real”dslr I use only mf lenses. It’s relatively easy to quickly focus off-centre with that.

          • Thanks Reinhard, good shots! Of course in the hip shot, you used zone pre-focusing and not the rf. Unless you’ve got a set of eyes at hip level as well… 🙂

          • no eyes at the hip, just a guess as to where the lens is pointing and about how far the subject will be when you capture the frame.

            takes some trial/error to “zero in” the mounted lens. in NYC used my M8 w/50mm at prefocused at 2.5 meters or 35mm at 3.5 meters. these two rough estimated settings framed well for my hip shots.

            getting used to how those settings work on the M9 sans the crop factor.

            some hand eye coordination also helps.

    • In these shots all the subjects are off-center, either slightly or completely.

      However, it is true that you do have to recompose after you focus on a RF. For me this has become an engrained habit, since I don’t like having my subject dead center.

      This is one aspect in which the Leicas are better than the Contax G1, which I also own. The Contax G’s autofocus requires that you grab focus then recompose, but I’m never sure if the camera is holding focus if I do so. As a result, I wind up centering my subjects a lot just to be sure. This is forcing me to contemplate selling the G1. It’s too bad, because otherwise the G1 is the perfect camera. Its lenses are as good, if not better than Leica’s.

      • @David: Right! The autofocus on the E-P2 confronts me with the same question (and I too usually hate having the point of interest right in the centre), though focuswise it usually turns out as intended. Then of course, halfway pressing the release button also locks the AE… Turns out right usually as well within the E-P2’s metering system and sensor’s limitations.

        The D700 with Zeiss glass has manual focusing, and a great metering system. Not a bad compromise…

  7. Nice pictures accept they seem to bring to my attention the typical issue with rangefinders, inaccurate crops… It seems the bottom is missing from all four of these, the left hand side from shot of the two women on the bench, and the right hand side from the multiple lounger shot… I think you need to stand two steps back if possible 😉
    Best regards.

    • I diagree with Kevin, the framing is good – each shot has its own distinct drama. . . I personally like the shots…

    • The 50mm framelines on the M8 are notoriously inaccurate. This is common knowledge. Also the shot of the 2 women on the bench was from the hip. Thanks for the critique!

    • Nothing wrong with the bottoms. Left/right side framing could be a little more accurate but that’s a typical RF “problem”. You always get more than the framelines indicate. Nothing wrong with fixing that in post.

      I believe I need to clarify my comment/position towards cropping. Yes, there is a “no-crop” mantra in RF photography but at least in my opinion it’s often misunderstood.
      As I said already the nature of RF photography is to get a little more than framelines indicate. Of course this is not always a problem – landscapes come to mind. Street photography on the other hand is often not so forgiving. A little nip and tuck can make a big difference here. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

      Having said that, to me a ‘No-No’ is when little cropping turns into zooming in on a section of a photo and by doing so, creating in fact a different photo. In such a case the photographer should have stepped in closer in the first place.

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