Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/12/02

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Subject: [Leica] Nice Leica job
From: Alex Brattell <>
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999 13:13:27 +0000

Hi Lug

Just thought I'd relate a really nice job I had last Sunday, where my M6's
were indispensable.

Got commissioned to photograph a symphony orchestra rehearsing.
Haven't had much use out of my Leicas recently - few 'personal' photographs
and lots of work for which 5x4/6x7/slr really were better. Despite things
going well, I was getting in a bit of a mood that I wasn't doing 'my kind of
photography', so I was looking forward to snapping a few fiddle players.

I've done a lot of music work, but am more used to people playing turntables
& computers, or 'world music' bands than I am with the sit-down penguin
brigade. The orchestra was the Philharmonia, conducted by Geoffrey Simon,
soloists Robert Thompson (bassoon), Gary Karr (double bass) rehearsing at
the Henry Wood Hall for a concert of John Downey (USA) music at the
Barbican. The composer was present with entourage.

Lighting was reasonable to start with, soon just tungsten overheads ie crap.
I was using colour neg as asked (but not preferred - just couldn't quite
sell the idea of mono on this one). Started to use a little flash (I've been
experimenting with a Metz 28C-2 and it's proving to be more useful than I
expected) but was then told it wasn't allowed. Not enough light to filter
for the tungsten, have to sort that out later.

So the film got faster and the apertures got wider. 2 M6's, rapidwinders,
15, 24, 35, 50, 90. It was totally baffling trying to make visual sense of
99 musicians, conductor, soloists and composer, when everyone in the room
knew what was going to happen next except me! I'd run over to the wind
section, weaving through a jungle of valuable instruments and music stands
(visualise domino-effect catastrophe at this point). Just as I get there
they all stop and pick up their newspapers and novels whilst some other
sound at the other side of the hall took over. On the other hand, to walk
around all day taking photographs in an ocean of sound was delicious!

The orchestra is highly unionised - I was amazed at the speed at which they
set up - started work, took breaks and finished on time to the minute,
utterly different to the chaos I'm more used to!

So many aspects of the Leicas made them a real pleasure for this job -
seeing at the moment of exposure and outside the framelines, the handling,
quiet shutter (only just quiet enough at times), fast quiet winding, not too
brash or flash. I was very pleased by the contact sheets (and I don't often
say that!). The combination of lenses and the worsening light conditions
produced a really good range of images that were technically very consistent
with some lovely atmospheres (blurs, bokeh, extra sharp bits etc).

Today, whilst delivering some different stuff to a newspaper at Canary Wharf
there was a welcome desk set up for a Leica Geosystems event. Momentary
temptation to gatecrash, then decide not to as my sinuses feel like they
have wire wool in them.
But I did ask the people at the desk what it was about - surveying equipment
it seemed. I asked if they would consider a GPS unit for the Leica camera so
I could know where I was, and received a polite apology that Leica's systems
were not that well integrated. But maybe it will get them thinking, before
Cosinas beats them to it.