Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/03/06

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Subject: Cartier-Bresson's Contax
From: Thomas Knoles <>
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 15:11:49 -0500 (EST)

Beaumont Newhall's _Photography: Essays and Images_ (1980) includes an
article on Henri Cartier-Bresson by Newhall which originally appeared in
_Popular Photography_ in 1947.  I thought the following paragraph was 
particularly interesting:

"He has a Contax, a Leica, and a battery of lenses. His favorite rig at 
the moment is a hybrid: a Contax f1.5 lens mounted on a Leica body.  He 
prefers the 35mm camera to the miniature reflex type because the optical 
eye-level finder is a more direct way of approaching the subject than the 
mirror ground glass image.  His way of working demands that he be able to 
see the subject right up to the very instant of the exposure.  When he 
finds a subject which arouses in him the emotion to take a photograph, he 
seeks a view point, dancing about like a boxer on tiptoe.  When the 
proper combination of lighting, form, organization and emotion all work 
together, he makes the exposure.  Cartier [sic] likes to speak of his way 
of working in metaphors: this split second peak of emotional tension 
culminating in the release of the shutter is 'like a fencer making a 

Newhall's book _Focus_, which I had out of the public library a few months
ago, tells the story of HCB offering a fast new lens (Summarex?  Xenon?, I
don't remember now) to Newhall to try.  If I remember correctly, Newhall
put it on his Leica and made a portrait of HCB with it. 

Tom Knoles