READER QUICK SHOT: Leica M9 & 35 Summicron by Bernd Bornhauser

READER QUICK SHOT: Leica M9 & 35 Summicron

by Bernd Bornhauser

Hi Steve, hi Brandon,

First of all: Thank you guys for keeping this site always interesting! I have been a (silent) reader of your site since 2011 and it is still a joy to revisit every day.

With the introduction of QUICK SHOT I thought I might also contribute something to this page.

Location: Hofkirche Church, Dresden, Germany in April 2014.
(My only) Gear: Leica M9, Summicron 35mm @ f2.0, handheld.

Dresden Hofkirche



  1. I’m puzzled by the skepticism, what would he have to gain by faking the picture and submitting it to Steve Huff Photos? This criticism is exactly why the vast majority of visitors to this site will never submit a photo for review. Who would want to put up with this?

  2. Steve, having serious doubts about the statements Bernd makes that he didn’t fake this, I looked at the raw file he provided. There are many ‘mistakes’ most obvious in the kids’ reflection: the outline of the sweater is ‘interrupted’, the same strain of hair is visible 3 times, obviously a triple copy-paste. Same with the chandelier reflection on the right side next to the kid….

    • Patrick,

      I provided a wikipedia reference to the reflecting shiny marble floor in that cathedral – you simply doubt it.
      I provided explanations for the rays and other things (which I think I am able to explain) – you doubt it again.
      I even provided my RAW files from my camera – you also doubt it. (what the … ?)

      With a lot of energy you’re publicly questioning other peoples work, openly accusing them of faking stuff, without even taking the facts/reality into consideration.

      If there is one point where I think that that any further discussion makes no sense, then this point is here now πŸ™‚ The RAW has been uploaded, references given. I do not have any further arguments to provide to convince you, nor will I be trying to do that.

      Suggestion: Grab your camera, take some great pictures with the same level of energy and have them displayed here. After receiving so much positive feedback this won’t be the last picture I submit to Steve and Brandon.


    • Patrick G. are you just trolling because you’ve got nothing better to do? Obviously what Bernd did is real and beautiful, if you can’t stomach it, too bad, but don’t call him a liar. Be classy about suspicions and keep them for yourself.
      The triple reflection coincide perfectly with the junction between the tiles, bone up on optical geometry before accusing anyone of fraud.
      And don’t worry, maybe someday you’ll take good pictures too.

    • I have looked at the DNGs. There are enough camera and lens aberrations in there to convince me they’re real when i look at full res. The lens is wide angle on a full frame. The DNG has metadata in. Whilst it’s not impossible to fake a bayer DNG it’s pretty difficult. Yes, i’ve looked at the source pre-debayered image, the original sensor data in there- not just the lightroom images.

      I’m happy to retract what i say because i do know of scenes in real life that i see with my eyes that i think look too comp’d. The trouble when you spend all the time staring at pixels is that everything starts to look like a keyed edge.

      I’m fully behind Bernd, these are real images near as dammit out of the camera.

      Blame nature and who ever polishes the floors there


  3. Bernd, I like your picture — BUT: Not so cool is that you insist that you only enhanced color. Which isn’t true. To any expert it’s clear that you photoshoped this image. I looked at the raw file you provided. The rays, (obviously), but also the kid, especially visible in the kids’ reflection: the outline of the sweater is ‘interrupted’, the same strain of hair is visible 3 times, obviously a triple copy-paste. Same with the chandelier reflection on the right side next to the kid….

    You know, I have nothing against all this, except when a photographer isn’t honest about when asked the question.

    • Just saw what you mean with ‘interrupted outline of the kid’ -> Maybe the tiles are not layed out perfectly even, causing reflections to be bent/reflected off differently, and hence seen as interrupted or even reflected multiple times? Look at the wall lines or the golden frame on the bottom of the picture. The left line of the golden frame is not straight at all and also shows the same part of the frame two times.

      • oh Bernd… come on, pls don’t bs me. And what about the the triple copy-paste hair strand in the reflection…. ??

        • I think you own Bernd a pretty big apology. The only anomaly is the hair in the reflection but other then then that everything checks out. The sun is almost directly behind the center window hence the rays breaking off at an angle. If you look at the floor and all the reflections it would take a semi-professional level ability to add all the reflections at varying levels across the whole floor. If you look at Bernds other photos on 500px he obviously is not into that kind of level of photo manipulation. Are we to believe that he chose for this one photo to pour hours of photoshop work in just so he could post it on the internet? On top of all that he’s given multiple pieces of evidence and his word? Who are you to doubt that?

  4. it”simply” comes to this: look for beautiful light and and wait untill something interesting happends….!
    major problem is that you have to recognise good light ANDhave thepatience and some luck for something to happen in this case you are certain that the light is wonderful and at least someone will get up and leave the church passing the isleresulting in a great sho,mainly because of the light !!

  5. The end result looks great, I thought. But then, some thinking kicked. Is this really a masterpiece of photography or rather of PP skills? The answer is obvious. But still, the end result looks interesting.

  6. really nice…. but, hate to say, it’s a photoshop comp. Side rays aren’t possible, especially not on those angles. The whole inside would need to be more hazy for the light rays to be so defined, the shadow of the girl on the floor would be different coming from that light source… but I stop now. Even if it is put together, it is a powerful picture, visually and metaphorically.

      • sorry Bernd. I looked at the RAW file, lots of it is fake about it. For example, the reflection is wrong, it’s too far back and too elongated, and if you look closely, you can see that the hair strand of the kid is repeated 3 times in the reflection. Obviously a triple copy-paste. Or: outline of the reflection of the red sweater (at the back) is interrupted, obviously a sloppy copy-paste here… I could go on and on, but please don’t make comments like that the reflection is so ‘clear’ because Dresden got destroyed in WW2 and churches have ‘new’ shiny floors… what a poor way to justify your Photoshop work you refuse to admit.

    • Shame so many people are fixated with Photoshop. Whether it is or it isn’t and it definitely isn’t, its a stunning shot, so, well done Bernd and thanks for sharing.

  7. Nice shot but it’s not real is it? I’m a vfx supervisor and it just doesn’t look real. Not enough atmosphere in the church for those rays, lighting balance is off for such a strong direct light, and it would be unusual to have those rays from the sun with those angles (not impossible just very unlikely). Reflections too clean, too much and just a general ‘this isn’t right’. The biggest issue is lack of bounced light from the floor on the surroundings, including people.

    It’s fine, but i think when something is comp’d then it should be said as such. It can be appreciated just as much.

    • Paul,

      This is something I would normally never ever do, however, below find two links to the OOC-DNGs (Leica’s preferred RAW-format) of that picture. In this case the DNGs actually show how “UNaltered” the published JPEG-version is. In fact, I merely adjusted the color temperature/tint a bit, as they were slightly off (quite typical for my M9…). The rest is OOC.

      I have actually also found the picture that I shot in the moment when I entered the church and discovered the light rays (and actually made my jaw drop):

      (I wonder if that light-ray-geometry now let’s you go nuts?)

      As I am (photographically speaking) – a ‘nobody’ compared to the great masters, I don’t take it personal, that this picture is questioned, especially by VFX professionals.

      As a matter of fact, just before I went to bed last night, I finished reading an article by Thorsten Overgaard on Dr. Paul Wolff, showing a very similar picture that has been shot on film at Frankfurt Railway Station in 1926 with his Ur-Leica.

      Visible light rays in large buildings are quite common. In fact, just google for “church light rays” and you’ll see by yourself. Don’t know what is causing this, I suppose a mix between dust and mist, as well as very strong direct light and no other major light sources in the room that reduce the contrast.

      As for the reflections on the marble floor: Hofkirche Dresden (and most of Dresden) was almost completely destroyed at the end of WW2 in a one-night bomb raid. Most historical buidlings have been rebuilt after German-German re-unification in 1990, hence resulting in architecture that is historically accurate, but almost too shiny and new in terms of looks.

      And just to be very clear on these points as well: NO, I have not staged neither sun light nor playing kid with red sweater. That would have definetly ruined my travel budget! πŸ™‚


      • Nice answer, without looking at the raw I believe it’s real, we can see the illumination of the little girl’s hair in the reflection, would take a details freak to do that on photoshop…
        BTW, that 1926 picture is clearly photoshop, the rays are not parallels!! arf

        Beautiful picture Bernd.

      • I also go around accusing nature of being too unrealistic too, especially some skies.

        I apologise whole heartedly, i still think it looks off, but that’s natures fault now πŸ™‚ I don’t see how those light beams can be there with that degree of density yet no obvious haze in the church around the other light sources. And that floor, that looks like a CG render πŸ™‚

        I’d have sent that shot back if it’s seen it pass my desk!

        But it shows that sometimes life is stranger than fiction…

        I appreciate the reply, great scene to find in front of you…


        • “I’d have sent that shot back if it’s seen it pass my desk!” – that’s even more depressingly worrying than the earlier carping from you and your fellow critics. It’s a photograph for heck’s sake, and a brilliant one. Even if it had been staged and/or manipulated so what?

          Photography is an art and the image is what counts, the artifice to get there should be appreciated rather than demeaned (not that he needed much); who says photographs should be ‘real’, natural, exactly of the moment etc. Strewth, Ansel Adams should have been kicked into touch decades ago then…

          BTW – fantastic picture Bernd, pity you had to go to such lengths to justify yourself.

    • After reading your comments I started to also look at the picture with a grain of doubt. I’m not against photoshop, but I’d like also to know if this is an on camera picture or not.

  8. @Jerry: was the current version of the cron (ASPH). As far as I remember it was shot at base iso.

    @All: Thanks so much for your comments! :))

    @wisc: go ahead! Post one!

  9. Wow, wonderful snapshot there Bernd, wunderbar ! … BTW: taken with the current Cron 35 Asph or an older version ?!? (1,2,3, 4..) … and which ISO setting ?? .. Thanx!

    Greets, Jerry

  10. You have added the rays but infortunately they are placed incorrectly. I can’t see how the beams from the side windows would behave as such.

  11. Wow the masters of light shooting with M9 + 35mm continues! First little bow by the window and now this amazing shot of little boy in church.

  12. Great capture. One of the best i’ve seen anywhere. The M9 is a lovely camera/CCD sensor and you show how much life it has left. Spectacular.

  13. Lightbeams look unnatural, sunbeams should be parallel. It looks as if the light source is positioned directly above the windows, is there an explanation for that? I know that parallel lines do not always appear parallel in a picture (depends on perspective), but still, something seems to be wrong here!?

    • Maybe my comment on Paul’s comment helps?

      As a matter of fact, light rays do not have to appear in parallel, especially if shot with a wide(-ish) angle lens.

      Please google for “light rays church”. Many examples where light rays do not appear parallel at all.


      • I don’t see the comment, I’ll have a look later. Anyway, parallel lines follow the rule of perspective: the lines should meet at the source of the light and that is in this case close to the church and not the sun. If you wanted to place a different source of light in the picture (ufo? holy spirit?), you succeded, otherwise you didn’t. Nervertheless congrats to a picture that many people like very much, obviously πŸ™‚

          • Thanks for your replies and the raw files, I appreciate your effort. If you say (and prove with the raw files), that you did not photoshop anything, I believe you, but I still don’t understand, how that is possible. The visibility of the rays is plausible (frankincense) but the angles look so weird. The windows seem to be 1-2 meters apart, the ligth on the floor should be also 1-2 meters apart, but it isn’t. Or at least it loooks like it isn’t. Maybe perspective plays a dirty trick here πŸ˜‰
            That picture could serve as an example for an optical illusion, if you ask me.

          • Daniel — blow up the reflection of the kid, look at the hair, or the back of the sweater and you will find your answer…

          • It’s a wide angle lens and he was close the the central ray, the other ones will look further appart than they truly were, don’t see anything wrong with it.

      • I don’t see any comments on my comment. I’m really not trying to take anything away from your work though. Yes those rays are possible assuming the sun is exactly where they converge.

        I’m presuming you’re commenting to say it is real? Sometimes life just looks unreal to me, but i still feel it’s off, is it heavily manipulated and masses of local contrast changes? The reflections on that floor – i’ve never seen a floor like that, especially one where people walk over it. And the blown out floor suggests a level of light bounce i can’t see either.

  14. Beautiful image! However, multiple reasons to surmise that it is a composite. Aside from the technical reasons, are we really supposed to believe that not a single head would be turned toward the running child?

  15. Talk about framing a shot! I have been a silent reader as well but this photo has inspired me to break my silence to say “What a beautiful picture.

  16. This a totally off the rocks! The Grace implied by the light, the grandeur of the architecture, the mischievous child and the reflection, the technical excellence of the lens exquisitely applied. Oscar night for this one!

  17. Holy cow, I was about to post one, I might just wait for the dust to settle after what you’ve just delivered…

    Great shot!

    • I am puzzled that your first thought is to minimize, even “dis” the camera and lens. It is clear from the image that this is a happy confluence of superb equipment and a talented photographer.
      The camera’s “specs” are clearly adequate for this image. Indeed the “specs” remain the same as when the M9 was first released. And the camera and lens remain capable of creating the same stunning images that they could create then.
      Do you really think that the latest whiz bang whatever from the XYZ camera company could do better? If you think that you truly know little about photography.
      This is a gorgeous picture by a talented person. It was created on a Leica. ‘Nuff said.

  18. Yeah, I’m very impressed, too! I’ve seen a lot of light beams in churches before, but with the child and the reflections… superb!

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