Daily Inspiration #290 by Tristan Still

Hi Steve!

How’s things? Greetings from sunny Sydney!

It’s been a pleasure reading your site on and off, taking in various reviews of the latest and greatest in camera technology – I’m always curious to see what’s out there and you always seem to have a review appear just at the right time! It’s always nice to read some more ‘real world’ experiences, rather than just the same old technical comparisons that make up most reviews (though they have great value too). I thought I’d attach a few shots to send in for your Daily Inspiration section – I hope you like them.

The first is of my friend Jackson. I’ve taken quite a few photos of him over the past few years, and it’s been great fun. He loves having his photo taken and I’m always up for taking people’s portraits so it works out well! When I asked him if I could put up some of the photos I shot of him on the web, his response was ‘Make me famous!’. This particular shot was of him at Halloween – he was presenting his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle collection as well as his Halloween decorations – notably these three pumpkins. He’d also amassed a number of various North American ‘candies’ for Halloween – where he got them from I have no idea as he lives (as I do) in Australia!

The second image is a friend and fellow photographer Sam Stephenson. His work is amazing – you should check it out at http://www.sam-stephenson.com . He mostly shoots black and white film and manages to get amazingly intimate portraits of his friends as well as random moments of interest on the street. This photo was captured in a small town called Brewarrina, located in far north western New South Wales in Australia. We were staying at the Brewarrina Hotel whilst we were shooting an experimental film for a friend and film director Siouxzi Mernagh. Some people have told me that the sparse nature of the hotel room makes it look more like a hospital, carrying some interesting connotations, but I like it’s starkness.

The final shot is a kind of impromptu portrait of my friends at a Halloween party. I saw them standing in the kitchen and asked if I could shoot a photo of them. The window light was really nice and I just wanted to get a shot of the two of them anyway. They were both somewhat inebriated (as it was already some way into the party at this stage) and quickly forgot about me as they started to dance with each other, and at some point Kat started to put the toy gun she was holding into Tim’s mouth. I snapped away as this intimate dance continued, and got quite a few nice shots – this being one of the most interesting ones.

In case you might be interested, the colour images were shot on a Leica M9, with a 35mm Summicron lens. The black and white shot was done on a Leica MP with the same lens. I have to say, that when I first held the M9 it felt like a bit of a plastic toy compared to the MP, which feels so solid and much more metallic – over time I’ve gotten used it to, but I’d love it if the M9 was like the MP in that way. Can’t really complain about the quality of the images it produces though – the detail is fantastic, and I feel it suits the style of portraits I like to shoot very well.

Anyway, hope you like the images and thanks for taking the time to look at the photos, even if they don’t make it to your site. If you would like to see any more, please check out my website at http://www.tristanstill.com or my new blog at http://www.tristanstill.com/blog

Thanks again,



  1. Thanks Tristan. Great pictures. Just spent some time exploring your blog and also your friend Sam’s – a definite Ed Templeton, Larry Clark sort of flavour there. Interesting.

    All three photos you’ve posted here tell a story. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very good use of existing light (assuming the first one didn’t have a little help), but I’m not sold on the stuck-in-the-middle style of composing an image.

    And doesn’t film look great!

  3. Nice shots Tristan! I also have an MP and an M9, and felt exactly the same way you do about the difference in build. I first had an M6TTL, then traded it for the MP, then just very recently got the M9. They supposedly weigh about the same, but the MP is leagues different in the way it feels, like a swiss watch or a small bank vault. Pure joy to hold and use. I’ve thought about writing a comparison of the two and submitting it to this site – I’m sure it would launch yet another film vs. digital debate with the usual ridiculous infighting that completely misses the point. That being said, my favourite shot of yours here, from a composition, feel, etc. point of view is the black and white one. Great stuff….what film were you using, and how was it processed?

    • Hey Jon. Thanks for the kind words about the shots – glad you like them. Was nice to hear too that somebody felt the same about the differences in hand between the M9 and MP. In answer to your question, I shot the black and white photo on Kodak Tri-X film (I bulk load it – saves a fortune and I always have film handy). I can’t remember the details, but I’m sure I would have pushed the film to 800 ISO and it would have been developed in D76 or equivalent. Scanned using a Howtek D4000 drum scanner with Silverfast, scanned pretty flat, then I would have done the darkroom equivalent dodge and burn using Curves in Photoshop. Thanks again!

  4. the more I shoot with an M the more I realise that where the M shines the most is of taking pictures of people that are in close proximity to yourself in distance. It has been referred to before on this site as “The human distance” i.e. the distance that exists between people when they interact in normal social moments (on a bus, in a restaurant, passing by on the street etc). This is a great set of photos that illustrate that very well. It makes me feel I am there, taking the photograph, interacting with the subjects. Pure M magic.

  5. Nice shots. Intimate and interesting, not just the subjects of the portrait but their surroundings too. Well composed, lit and captured!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.