Daily Inspiration #337 by Truls Bakken

Hi Steve,

First of all thanks for many great reviews! It was thanks to you I got my 35 summicron asph.

My name is Truls Bakken.

I’m a 26-year-old photographer from Bergen, Norway.

Work mainly with b&w portraits and street photography.


My homepage is currently down.

But if you want to see more of my work go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mansbestfriend/


About the pictures:

I was in Paris on a 4 day workshop with Bresson (www.bresson.no, this is the Norwegian Leica importer and distributor)

And I took a lot of pictures with my Leica M9-P. The three pictures I’ve sent to you is all taken with the new Noctilux. This lens is all about magic for me, if you want something no other lens can give, this is the one.

All the pictures are also taken at wide open aperture f: 0.95.



  1. Excellent pictures :-). I just love how you caught the lady on the bench, reading her book. Just to spot that one is a great achivement itself.

    Bjørn Armand

  2. Great set! Thank you for sharing!
    You have a great eye, and I’m sure your photos would still be wonderful coming from a disposable camera;)
    I do love that m9+noctilux combo though…

  3. Beautiful work. Simple as that. “The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE. ~Ernst Haas”
    Trolls cast aside, Mr. Bakken has done just that.

  4. i don’t see the magic. might be i’m tired today. first picture is ok. the other two pretty dull. black and white processing helps a bit, but there’s nothing really interesting in them. be more critical people, i can’t believe everyone is either a lover or a troll.

    • What is interesting (or not) is dependent on the observant. That being said, I hope you are not suggesting that people be critical for the sake of being critical. Plus, I believe there have been a series of comments already noting which of the photos is someone’s favorite. Conversely, the absence of commentary on a photo speaks loudly enough in terms of what someone likes or not.

      • I beg you to differ. Being critical is never bad. On the contrary, merely subjective judgements such as “nice”, “beautiful”, “lovely”, end up being just empty statements.
        My invitation to criticism hoped to generate more constructive and objective analyses of the posted images.
        Let me then give you an example which, I believe, is not just based on personal taste or preferences.
        The first image keeps the viewer’s attention entertained for quite a long time: your gaze moves from the boy’s eyes to his hands, to his hat, to the jars on the right, to the signs, to the reflections on the glass pane. The image gives the impression of being old, from another time, vintage, as you wish to call it. The slightly slanted perspective also helps accentuate the dynamic feeling.
        The second and third images lack these features. They have a rather dull and static composition: as is usual with rangefinder cameras, the subject is placed in a central position, which is further enhanced by the shallow DOF and lack of edge sharpness typical of the used objective/aperture. However, this classical composition is somehow interrupted by other elements: in the second image, the many vertical lines (trees), in the third image, the man walking by on the right side.
        In addition to that, the disturbing effects introduced by the OOF areas in the foreground (2nd photo) and the interrupted convergence of the road lines (3rd photo), plus the bad framing in the 3rd image (look at the man’s feet), make the final judgement rather poor.
        While I wrote this short critique in a few seconds, I think that it is far from personal. And please notice that I never used a subjective point of view: one can say a lot more that “I like”.

        • I’m all for critiques, but only if someone has something meaningful to say. You make some great points, and I believe your critique above is a great example of a “good” critique that I certainly would appreciate. But sometimes, people truly have nothing to say other than “I like” or sometimes “I don’t like.” Sometimes, people just want to show their appreciation that someone took the time to submit their photos to Steve.

    • Who said “magical” ?
      These photos are good enough to be published, no matter what gear was used.
      Now, we are all eagerly waiting to see some of your so great photos… Go ahead Egevara, enlighten us with your “magic”…

      • And in any case, the photographer himself used the word “magic” in his intro text… I’m sure Truls will not mind getting different types of comments on his photos. Lighten up people!

        • He was talking about the Noct, not his photos.
          So what’s the point ?
          Please post some of your work so we can give an objective POV…

          • AFAIK, objectives (including the mighty Noctilux f0.95) are for taking pictures. You evaluate them, compare them, praise them and finally, you buy them, because they help you take pictures. The posted images do not seem to justify the word “magic”.
            I do not want to post images, it is not my submission to Steve’s excellent website.
            If you are really interested in my photos (and I do not say that they are worse or better than what you see here), send me your email and I will let you know how to see them.
            Again, have a nice day! 🙂

  5. What I see here is a fine photographer with a great eye. The tools that an artist uses are the choice of that artist. Are we going to start kicking off because some renaissance artists used increadably expensive lapis lazuli?

  6. Images #1 and #3 really share the subject’s story with me. Great photos! Quality-wise the Noctilux is ridiculously clean and sharp, but does seem to affect bokeh differently in the center of the images compared to the sides and edges. Image #2 of the elderly woman is also a fantastic capture, but as other comments point out, the double exposure of the man in the middle of the photo is a mystery. If he was moving faster than the shutter speed why isn’t he simply blurred? Almost looks like two images were layered.

    Good eye Truls, I will be adding you as a Flickr contact too.

  7. really awesome pictures! doesn’t matter to me what lens you use, the result and composition are just great! thanks for sharing.

  8. Very nice work. Bergen is a beautiful city.

    IMHO we should stop jumping on people because they use Leicas and want to talk about it. I would never spend that much money for one and I don’t see the big deal about them but if someone has bought one, uses it, and wants to say thats its the greatest thing since Tri-X they should be allowed to do that without getting a lot of grief.

  9. Man o man o man that noct i really want one every time I look at a pic that stops me in my tracks it’s that dam lens but alas I cannot afford unless I sell my house and live on the street dam nice one now I’m depressed

    • Looking at images 2 & 3 I’d save yourself the grief and simply get a Lensbaby. In fact, I’ve seen nicer images FROM a Lensbaby!

      Only the first image to me screams true quality …. but doubt it could not equally have been taken by most 50mm f1.7 or f1.4 lenses – of any value. None of the images here are any test of WHY the Noctilux is worth it … if it is worth it at all …. probably why most sensible photographers don’t ‘sell their house’ to buy one.

      Years ago, every camera/lens manufacturer used to create one special lens (of some kind or another) in their range …. largely for publicity value. Almost without exception, when reviewed – most turned out to be useless, or at least hugely overpriced – for 99.99999% of normal photographic tasks.

      • That’s just, like, your opinion. I disagree and think they’re all very good photos. And while the Noct is ridiculously priced, it’s also of ridiculously high precision and construction, and optical excellence. And hardly useless for 99.9% of tasks, if by ‘tasks’ you mean wanting razor thin focusing plane, and shallow depth of field, and being able to shoot in low light without complaining that ‘this camera doesn’t go to ISO 50,0000’. It’s a speciality lens, for sure, but it has a look. And unlike a lens baby, which is just a special effects lens that manipulates sections of out of focus (clever party trick, but nothing photoshop couldn’t do either), the Noct is a real lens. And hey, no one’s telling you that you have to buy it, or a Leica for that matter. But stop slagging those that do.

      • Lens baby yup how about some Vaseline on a cheap lens just placed perfectly this effect is much more precise than the lens baby which is much more random in results but I like the 9800 or so in savings lol lens baby c’mon

  10. Hi guys,

    Thank you for so many comments!

    This was kind of overwhelming for me. There is so many of you who added me on flickr. I love it.

    First of all I have to say that I only borrowed the Noctilux from Leica. I normally use an 35 and 50 summicron. Even tho I get the point that you don’t need this expensive equipment to take good photos, there was most definitely some magic to the Noctilux. (when that is said, its to big and heavy for me to use in street photography)

    To “TerryB” in picture number 2 I took the photo through a fence in bright daylight with 80 iso. I have not photoshopped it at all, I’ve only converted it into B/W and added some contrast to the picture, and thats mainly because I don’t know how to use photoshop I’m afraid. It is hard for me to explain the ghost/double image of that man, but its probably because of the fence in the front.

    And to the rest, thanks again for all the comment. I really appreciate it!

    And, of course thanks to Steve who posted my pictures.

    Best regards Truls

    • Yeah, that dark streak running through that man in the background is a wire of the fence, and explains the ghosting.

      • Truls/Michiel,
        In the absence of any other explanation, the ghosting will have to be taken as the effect of the wire, although more difficult to make out, the man is not the only evidence of a double image, look closely around the heads of the two seated women. But with this image, there are still various anomalies to my eye which remain puzzling.

        I am not referring to artistic merit, I like the image, but there are some technical issues that when I view it there is an inconsistency with what I see and what I think I should be seeing.

        I referred to the out of focus background. Here if you look at the buildings from the right side of the image and move through the plane to the left, there is some image forming bokeh to start with, then in the centre this is completely devoid of any information at all, only for it to re-appear again at far left of image. Now the facade of the buildings is at an angle and is receding, so why does the bokeh suddenly have more information showing about the building?

        A further anomaly is the shadow/tree trunk in the bottom left corner. This appears to have two shadows, a feint and a deeper one, and somehow the geometric angle of the shadow doesn’t look “right”. Well, at least to my eye it doesn’t.

        The other thing that doesn’t look natural to me is the weakness of all the shadows cast by a strong sun. I would have expected them to be closer to black, and not as mild as they are, especially when contrast was added to the image. This is more of the effect I see when I use curves to bring out shadow detail, and I wonder if this has been used to bring out detail in the seated lady who would naturally be in some shade as she is facing away from the sun?

        Now I don’t want my observations to be taken as criticisms as I am genuinely interested to learn why this image looks the way it does. I’m simply being curious.

        • Terry, you have a point. Several points actually. I was wondering too. Truls could explain. Maybe he inadvertently sneezed on the front element of his Noctilux, and liked the result.


  11. Great photos Truls. The first one is my favorite. Nice capture of the boy’s expression. Like the second photo too. Nice dichotomy of being alone amongst many. Thanks for sharing!

  12. They’re great images (#2 looks a bit shopped to me). The equipment used does not have a lot to do with them (except that they were used to make them), but the OP is proud of that equipment. That’s ok.

  13. Truls, interesting images, but in image 2 can you explain the ghost/double image of the man wearing a white shirt or jumper, behind the seated lady? I can see the outline of a definite double image on the left.

    Also, to my eyes, there is something slightly ugly and unnatural about the out of focus distant background in the centre. Is this natural, as it would be a good reason, in my opinion, for not trying to use this lens in daylight.

    • I’m thinking maybe this was shot through double-paned glass windows? Maybe the double-image is a double reflection? It’s an interesting photo but hard to understand visually, for me anyway.

  14. I like the pictures, I really do. But, I also think to myself, “Oh, dear. Another set of pictures that apparently can only be done with $15,000 worth of Leica stuff. How many times have I heard that?”
    “If you want something no other lens can give, this is the one”. I can think of half a dozen lenses about which you can say exactly the same thing.

    • Is there anywhere in Truls post that said the three photos he shared could not have been taken with any other camera? Is it because Truls mentioned that the Noctilux is magic and has something in it that no other lens has? If you liked the photos, then why not enjoy them for what they are — good photos. Just enjoy the photos!

      • Exactly….just enjoy the pictures. The Noctilux isn’t the only wonderful lens in the world – but guess what, it’s in the topmost zone of a very select few in the world. That’s not just opinion, it’s optical fact. . Good luck trying to argue it.

  15. The second and third photos are great. I’ll have to stick with my 35mm and 50mm Summilux lenses. Not sure that I can justify the cost of a Noctilux. To Truls all I can say is “great work”! Especially the second shot.

    • Which “medium format look” are you talking about exactly? The ability to minimise DOF due to larger lens aperture/format …. or the ‘let’s stop it down to the max’ and get some of the sharpest ‘deepest’ in-focus images on the planet?

      First time I’ve ever heard the Noctilux directly compared to MF in over 50 years of photography!

      Leica fans must be smoking some heavy s**t nowadays ….

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