Daily Inspiration #229 by Manuel Plantin

Hi Steve,

You are one of the main reasons I went broke, giving up almost all my dslr gear to switch to Leica 🙂 I’m a french journalist and teacher; photo has become my main hobby (I only write for my newspaper) for the last two years.

I started with a pentax k10 with the basic 18-55 zoom and two primes of the limited series (DA 31mm and FA50mm). The zoom has mainly gathered dust on my shelf since the “prime thing” grew up on me. And really taught me the few I know about photography. In love with my pentax primes I longed for an M and Leica glass. I finally made the (right) choice last year after getting some unexpected money in a rather sad way.

I know own a M9 and a M6. I shoot mostly at night, with a 35mm Nokton and a 50mm Sonnar. I don’t use a tripod because I’m not a fan of the “unreal” look one can get with long exposures. I value mood over sharpness.

These photos were taken with both the M6 and M9 a got almost no post processing as I really suck at it. (I boosted the contrast bit, in The White Swan nocturne, the one taken with the M6 and TriX 400 pushed at 1600).

Hope you enjoy them.

Manuel Plantin aka Yodamanu


  1. Love the 3rd one !
    Bravo cher compatriote ! 😉
    Well done !

    How about the switch from DSLR to Leica rangefinder ? No too hard ?


    • Merci, merci!

      About switching from DSLR to rangefinders, coming from dslr+primes I only had to handle the new focusing system. And I must say it’s a real blast. There’s nothing quite as fun in photography, imho. Sure, at first you miss some pics, but when you start nailing them right, it’s a pure joy. Not shooting news and sports I don’t need a dslr any more and I don’t see myself going back. (When I’m old and my eyes fail me, may be.)

  2. nice stuff. not exactly sure why, but out of your entire photostream ‘height mismatch’ is the one that really struck me. subtle, yet poignant composition and tone. congratulations on going broke. goodluck

    • The n°1 and 3 are almost untouched, B&W conversion in Lightroom, may be a bit of conrast and that’s it. (I think the N°3 is even better in color but I was working on a b&w serie, so I sticked to the plan.)

      The n°2 was taken with a M6 (Tri-X 400 pushed @1600) then scanned. I pushed the contrast quite a bit, I just checked today as I wasn’t sure anymore. But the “creamy” rendering of the reflections (I’m not sure it means sthg, I struggle a lot in english) is all on the Nokton Classic – a great prime for b&w.

  3. Beautiful Daily Inspiration. Tres Bien!

    I agree about not using a tripod. You can’t capture a decisive moment with a huge heavy tripod pinning your camera to the ground. It’s much better to have it to your eye every time 🙂

  4. WOW! The three best pictures ever published on this fantastic site! Please show us more + some background info!

    • That’s very kind of you. (Spare my blushes, please! that’s what one would say right? :-)) I don’t have a site yet, just a flickr to show my work. I don’t know if I should post the link here, but with my nickname it is not hard to find me (http://www.flickr.com/photos/yodamanu/). And for the background: I’m a 36 year old french regular photogeek, and a journalist who enjoys shooting after too much writing 🙂 I find my self having late walks because I’m a nightbird and I’ve always enjoyed urban night atmospheres, though I’m definitely not a clubber – I just can’t dance 😉 To find my way and may be one day my own style, I try to shoot portraits of my friends, who are like fed-up of me pointing my camera at them, architecture pics and nocturnes.

  5. I also think your quest for mood over sharpness is a success in the above images. My favorite images are the third and second images. I have mixed feelings about the first image. I love the feelings invoked in the top part of the image, but for these feelings I think the sharpness of the reflection is a distraction. Which is very unusual for me since I am normally a sharpness freak.

    Well done!

  6. totally in love with these captures, so beautiful! the mood is surreal and i love how you used film 🙂

  7. Beautiful. That 2nd shot is what black & white is all about. Really sets a mood….

    Tres bien.

    • Yep, the D700 did a (in theory) a better job in high isos but the M9 is no slouch either. As there is no mirror, it vibrates a lot less and you can shoot at 1/8 s. if you’re not a sharpness freak. Plus, the “noise shape” of the Leicas is really suited for b&w. And there are a lot of choices for fast lenses (I really love my Nokton 35 1,5 and my used f1 Noctilux). All in all, lots of possibilities for nightbirds 🙂

  8. Que notre Alsace est belle, avec ses frais vallons, l’été mûrit chez elle blé, vignes et houblon, you hé, blé, vignes et houblon.

    Bref, j’aime la troisième photos.

    Vielen Dank, Steve, for promoting French-speaking photographers.


    • C’est vrai qu’il y a matière à photo comme on dit (et j’ai la chance d’habiter à deux pas de la Petite France). 🙂

  9. “I value mood over sharpness”

    Well said.
    I love the second one, I’m just wondering, what is this lonely duck doing in the middle of the night? You don’t usually see these creatures at this time of the day. Maybe in France they do. But I like it, white over darkness and dark shadow over brightness, side by side, heading toward the bright city under dark sky and its reflection in the dark river…lots of mood. Little too much darkness at the right side to my tastes, crop a little maybe.

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