Hello Seattle! Day one of the workshop, SUCCESS!

Hello Seattle! Day one of the Workshop, SUCCESS!


Wow Wow Wow! What a long, but AWESOME day! Today was day one of the Seattle workshop and it started this morning at 9am sharp. We had about 24 guests today and it is now 11:45 PM and I am just now getting to bed. I am a pretty tired but trying to write this update before I fall asleep (though it is not being posted until Sunday)

It all starts again Sunday at 9am and it should be an even better day than today!

My plane landed in Seattle on Friday and after I arrived I went to dinner with Ashwin Roa (who is hosting this workshop at his home) and local Seattle pro, Roger Paperno. We chatted for a couple hours and then took a drive and a walk where I snapped a few photos with my M9-P and 50 Summuilux ASPH. Man, did I tell you guys how much I love this combo?

Before I write any more, I want to thank Ashwin BIG TIME as he has been an amazing help when putting this all together. I could not have done it without him, so THANK YOU ASHWIN!

As Saturday morning rolled in we all gathered for a 9AM start. Β We had donuts and coffee from the world famous TOP POT donut shop. They were delicious! I usually do not eat donuts..well, it’s a rare occasion when I buy them, but these were sooooo tasty.

After everyone introduced themselves we enjoyed a presentation and slide show from Ashwin as well as famous Rock Photographer Charles Peterson, who gave us a slideshow of his amazing concert work of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and even a nice little segment of his personal images of his wife and son, all shot with an M9.

After the presentations we all headed out for some shooting throughout some hot spots of Seattle. Pike Place was the main spot where we shot today and it was great fun. LOTS of characters and street performers in Seattle and man, was it BUSY! It was great to have 20+ photographers all shooting Leica M cameras. We took the the streets with one goal in mind…to shoot some great photos so we could show them later in the day to everyone via a projector. Fun!

After we shot we headed over to lunch and then back to Ashwin’s house to edit and work on photos. After sharing the best three from everyone in the group we went back out to shoot more and have dinner. Was a great day and I am looking forward to day 2!

and one of me from Ashwin…

In the next couple of days I will have photos posted from everyone who attended this meet up. There are some GREAT shots and today will be a great day with the prize giveaway, guest speaker Roger Paperno, more street shooting and of course more fun πŸ™‚

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  1. Wow for the first time I can saw I definitely see the Leica glow. LOL at the guy being mobbed by Leica shooters

  2. What’s with all the hating on snapshots? So what if some of them are snapshots – little moments that seemed worth grabbing at the time, or pictures of This One Guy At The Workshop, or a memento of the donuts. A lot of travelogue storytelling photography is like this – the pictures aren’t meant to be Fine Art in and of themselves. The pictures work with the text to tell the story of the weekend.

    Others are just funny, like the one at the top – I like the “three stooges” feel to it, plus for some reason I get a kick out of the fact that they’re sorted from most-hair to least-hair.

    Other shots have some really interesting use of balance and rhythm and line going on – especially the kite on the beach, the dancing/laughing girl, and the first picture of the hula-hoop performer. If you don’t see what’s to like about those, that’s fine too.

    Digital + handheld + accurate focus is a wonderful blend, it means that you have the luxury of taking pictures for many reasons, some of them opportunistic and whimsical, others based on serious study of the scene, and everything in between.

  3. Thanks to all again! David…you alway make me chuckle. You need to cheer up and smile dude! Go shoot your Leica instead of your M9.2! πŸ™‚

    This workshop was not a MASTER CLASS in perfection nor was it an HCB workshop (which many feel are simply snapshots). The images you see here ARE snapshots but I have to say that snapshots taken with a Leica are beautiful πŸ™‚ Anyone who says differently this when looking at a full size M8 or M9 file shot with a Leica lens is simply lying or in denial, lol.

    98% of what you see on the net, in forums or photo sites are indeed snapshots!

    Does anyone think that photos from a workshop should all be masterful works of art that should be framed? Really? These things are to get people out there shooting…to gain confidence in shooting…to have a good time, to learn new things and techniques…to overcome fears and to get better and better! I can say that this weekend was amazing and not only did all of the 20 attendees enjoy it but Ashwin, Roger and myself also had a great time.

    Post #2 is coming with more work from the others, which frankly is much better than my photos from the weekend! ENJOY!!!!

  4. It was a great pleasure to host the gang here. Great talks from Charles Peterson, Tim Isaac, and of course Steve, and the attendees were all awesome. A really great group of humble folks hoping to improve photographically. I will allow you all to render opinions on the quality of images posted as surely Steve will post more as the week passes. What I can say is that seeing these images and meeting the people behind the lenses/cameras was a truly humbling experience. The are many special images that were taken, and many of the challenges put forth by Steve were carefully constructed to inspire us to challenge ourselves.

    Thanks again to all of the attendees, lecturers, and Steve, for a great week-end. I am zapped, and thankfully took today off to recover after dropping Steve off at the airport.

    As for the Nocti’s, there were 3 noct f/0.95’s at the workshop, and I suspect that a few more may be had by the attendees once it’s all said and done…;)


  5. Wonderful images Steve. I really like the beach images and the first image of the older gentleman with the beard and guitar.

    I really wish I could have been there, though my travel and work schedules did not permit. Perhaps your next gathering. Though I may be the only person to bring an “R” set up.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    • Thanks Paul..any camera is welcome, so anytime. May have a San Francisco and California workshop soon, as well as something INSANELY cool and special for a more intimate group…something that would be an EXPERIENCE to always remember…will see if it can be worked out πŸ™‚

  6. Could someone explain the difference between really great shots and snapshots to me, because most shots in this article do remind me of snapshots. How do you recognize those ‘great shots’?

    • .
      Well, there you have it – at the risk of people biting my head off..

      They are, as you suggest, “snapshots”. What distinguishes many of them from snapshots taken with other cameras is that several have very shallow depth-of-field because they were shot at very wide apertures; f1.4 and f0.95, for example (..if you download the pics to your desktop you can look at the pictures’ EXIF files). So they’re sharp, shallow-d-o-f- snapshots. Exactly.

      Although some SLRs will take ‘prime’ (non-zoom) wide aperture lenses, and could give similar results, these pictures happen to have been shot with Leica-brand cameras and Leica-brand lenses ..Leica priding themselves on producing very sharp, wide-aperture, shallow-d-o-f- lenses. (But, of course, Canon, Olympus and others have made f1.4 and f1.2 lenses for 35mm cameras, which can give similar results.)

      Many(?) people feel that only Leica lenses – and, in particular, Leica’s 50mm f1.4 and f0.95 lenses – can give results as sharp and with such “dreamy” out-of-focus backgrounds and foregrounds as these pics.

      But the content of many of the pics is, as you say, just “snapshots”.

      Many(?) people seem to think that one sharply-focused zone with the rest of the shot out-of-focus automatically makes the shot super-worthy in some way ..or brings it close to “masterpiece” status. My own thoughts are that (some) people get bedazzled by ‘sharp+out-of-focus’ shots like these – which are just the happy marriage of large sensor + wide aperture + accurate manual focus – and they think that all such shots are somehow magnificent, wonderful, outstanding, incredible, fantastic, brilliant, etc. They’re certainly effective in concentrating your attention on the one sharp region which Steve has chosen ..the parrot and parrot-man, or the musician’s face.. that’s Steve choice, and Steve’s skill.

      What these shots really show is that Steve (or whoever’s pics they are ..probably Steve’s) has great skill in focusing accurately. And that’s it! The “look” of the pics is down to the sensor+lens combination (..and so similar results can be had with any other large sensor camera, such as a rather bulkier Canon 5DMkII, or any camera with an even bigger sensor..) and the “look” is also down to Steve’s choice of when to squeeze the button.

      But there’s nothing magic about a Leica ..to me, anyway. Sorry if I’ve upset anyone with such blasphemy. It’s really a rather basic camera. Talent produces great pictures, along with appropriate lenses (for wide aperture, and appropriate focal length for what you want to shoot).

      Yup; snapshots can be shot with Leicas, just as they can be shot with any other camera. An M9 and suitable lens can offer shallow depth-of-field, but shallow-d-o-f- doesn’t necessarily mean stunning pics – although wide apertures can mean that a shot may be taken when other lenses couldn’t grab it in dim light without camera shake. But high ISO can offer similar opportunities, and many cameras do offer higher ISO than the rather basic M9.

      So, snapshots they are ..but the low-light ones are pretty enjoyable, nevertheless, I think.

      • Thanks for your extensive reply!
        I can concur with everthing you say.
        Still I wonder whats so special about e.g. The B&W photos shown here. To me they don’t look so special that you will absolutely need a Leica to shoot them. What am I missing?

        • Hi,
          I understand the frustration some non-leicaphiles have on Leica owners. Leicas do not shoot photos, it is the the brain and the hands behind them. That said when you have an equipment that is dependable and behaves predictably and also produces some of the sharpest images, frame after frame.. that is a Leica. I own an Panasonic LC1 (poor Leica cousin) and though I do not use it often enough (I use my GH1 these days) I can always spot the difference and would choose the LC1 over any other camera for portraits any day. The color reproduction is unbeatable.


        • “What am I missing?”
          The fact that photography is not about the gear that you’re using. Many people seem to believe that shooting a Leica goes in hand with taking “great” pictures – whatever that means is up to each person individually.
          I can only speak for myself here. I use a Leica because I like its simplicity, the way the sensor captures images and the quality of the lenses I can use with it. The Leica does not make me a “great” photographer, and it certainly doesn’t take “great” pictures.
          True, Leicas are the camera of choice of many famous photographers past and present. But not so much because pictures taken with Leica equipment are “better”, but simply because these photographers made a conscious choice about their equipment.
          I won’t say that it doesn’t matter what equipment you use. It does matter in the way that you need to be comfortable with your equipment. But in the end, it’s not the equipment that envisions, frames and presses the shutter button. It’s you.

      • .
        Ooops: I didn’t answer the question!

        A great shot – in my book – is one which you could enlarge, put on the wall, and look at it day after day ..say, one of Willy Ronis’ pictures of barges on the Seine in Paris ..for instance, scroll halfway down this page.

        A ‘great’ shot usually makes me say “what are the people thinking?” (if there are people in the picture). It’s one which has references back and forth within the shot of the same shapes, the same contours, similar textures, or contrasts of shape, contour, subject, lighting, and so forth. Have a look at some of Mike Abrahams’ pictures.

        If there are people in the shot I’d look at their attitudes ..who’s leaning in which direction, who’s looking at whom, who’s leaning forwards and who’s leaning backwards ..I’d look for different directions within the picture: what’s pulling which way, and what’s balancing it? ..If they’re gazing out of the side of the shot I might not want to look at it for long, as my attention may follow theirs out of the picture, and I might find that unsatisfying. But if they’re looking at something within the shot, or at others within the picture, that might hold my attention, and my eyes may wander round and round within the image, the picture holding my attention for many minutes, and that’d be the kind of thing I’d want to explore with my eyes over and over again.

        I love pictures by Jacques-Henri Lartigue ..I find them just beautiful in their simplicity, in the photographer’s involvement in what he’s shooting, and his enjoyment in what’s happening, and his early pictures – taken when he was a boy – are shot at lower-than-child-height (he had a camera with a waist-level viewfinder) and that gives those pics a child-like feeling ..one of “innocence” and wonder.

        He did take snapshots ..but he had a wonderful eye for excluding extraneous clutter, and eye for the odd and impish, so those “snapshots” are a joy to look at ..for me, anyway!

        Cameras’ pictures can capture moods, not just objects, people, things. And a great picture may be one which encapsulates a mood of, say, love, joy, grief, desolation, intimacy, intention, even disdain. And those kinds of pictures are generally – for me – great pictures. Just look through that page of Lartigue’s pictures again.

        His pictures weren’t superb simply because he used a Leica – he used a variety of different cameras – but because he had a mischievous delight in snapping moments of joy and sensuality, and – through a lifetime of snapping pictures – he knew the absolute right moment to squeeze the button ..just as Steve does.

        Did I answer that OK..?

        (..Ooh: I didn’t answer your question “The B&W photos shown here. To me they don’t look so special that you will absolutely need a Leica to shoot them. What am I missing?” ..but I’m going for a cup of tea now. Essentially, you don’t absolutely need a Leica to shoot them. You’re not missing anything at all. It’s simply that a wide-aperture lens blurs away the background. And a wide aperture, combined with the large sensor size of a Leica M9 (..the same size as a frame of 35mm film..) helps to blur the background. You can’t do that with a ‘compact’ camera except at its longest zoom setting, and in that case the lens’ aperture probably won’t be large enough to gather sufficient light – indoors, anyway – without giving blotchy (‘noisy’) results, or a shaken picture. But I’ve gotta have that cup of tea now!

        I may reply again later. Cheers, David..)

      • I think the “it’s photographer not the camera” mantra has reached full saturation. It’s like saying “don’t let the bed bugs bite!” to someone who has bedbugs.

        Anyone who trys to explain why another photographers photo is nothing but a weekend vacation photo probably takes photos of cats with 300 mm zoom lens.

        I understand the original posters question as being valid and to be honest I think the workshop was a learning experience rather then a commentary on their individual work. If you want the answer to your question pick up any Magnum photography book and you’ll see where a snapshot transforms into something more. Most of all it’s about what it means to you that’s important.

  7. it was a nice surprise bumping into you all up at Kerry Park. The was certainly a lot of nice Leica gear being used and hopefully you all got some great images. It was pretty much a perfect view there on Saturday and I was taken aback when the hoard of Leicaphiles turned up! After seeing those M9-P’s and Noctiluxes I went back to my hotel with serous Leica list again. πŸ™‚

    • Graham, it was truly a pleasure to meet you and get to chat a bit. We had a great 2 days, and hopefully, you can grab a Leica and add it to your kit one of these days. I am hoping that I get to see the magical images that you must have captured on Saturday evening at Kerry Park!

  8. Nice to see that the group has fun.
    As far as the pictures are concerned, way too many shots fully open, producing some “neither street nor candid portrait” type of photographs. I like my Summiluxes too, but subject isolation at all cost is not yielding interesting shots for the beholder. They may be interesting as memories for the group’s participants, though. Just my 2 cents.

    • All personal preference. You may like stopped down shots but I am of the belief that Leica glass is MADE to be shot wide open. Besides, these are not all wide open. The last ones at ISO 2500 and 0.95 are due to lack of light but the daytime ones range from 1.4 to f 2.8. πŸ™‚ I like wide open and my fast glass!

      • For daylight street shooting I prefer seing the context/surroundings a subject is acting in. E.g. the musiscian/hula ring dancer is not really an interesting subject, but the fact that several guys carrying Leica gear costing north of 10k each surround the poor fellow to take the shot of the day is. Stopped down, the “tension” in the faces of the Leica hunters would be visible and would have told the better story.

  9. @John, I attended and it was great! I was one of three people shooting with a M6. Everyone else was digital – some M8’s and mostly M9’s.

    The downside to shooting film is that one cannot share their photos that same day for review by the group.


  10. The busker with the harmonica and hula hoop is Emery Carl – I love that guy! I bought an album of his 9 years ago…glad he’s still out there doing his crazy thing. Great guy.

  11. Nice to read about this meet-up; is the presentation interesting enough to put online? Please do if so.
    Looking foward to the review of day 2!

  12. Was everyone shooting with M9’s or was there some M8, M film and X1 action going on as well?

    Glad you guys enjoyed yourselves, looks like it was a lot of fun.

  13. Awesome, that’s a killer combo indeed. I hope to make one of these days to one those workshop, this might just be the event that makes jump all over Leica gear. Thanks for sharing.

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