Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/01/16

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Shooting children with M6 -- HELP
From: Johnny Deadman <>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 11:34:44 -0500

on 16/1/01 10:17 am, Guy Bennett at wrote:

>> I just couldn't focus fast enough and missed so many
>> great shots.[snip]
>> So how do I improve my situation.  Should I try a
>> Konica body with auto metering for outside and film
>> advance.[snip]
>> I still have a Contax G2 setup and an Aria with fixed
>> focal length lens.

You don't say what lens you were using but if you are shooting at f/4 or
smaller apertures, a wide angle like a 24 or even 28 will get a LOT more in
focus. Wider than that the key is

(a) to be very selective about focus... pick one kid's eyes and stick with
that for a while... let the others shimmy in and out of focus as they may...

(b) set the lens to minimum focus and move YOURSELF (this is a huge help)

(c) shoot a LOT. With kids moving fast in dim light close to camera I shoot
rolls and rolls and am happy if one frame out of 36 really works, because
most likely all the frames are variations on one picture.


If you really want to shake things up, try using something like a T90 or a
canon EOS with the motordrive switched on. I do this using my Canon 55
f/1.2, which has very shallow focus as you can imagine. As soon as I see an
eyelash or a highlight in an eye in focus, and the eyeline is nice, I start
shooting, maybe 2-6 frames until I lose it (usual the yammer of the camera
makes the kids look at you, which is nice the moment it happens). This is a
really different approach to Leica shooting but for kids it may work better
for you. Especially as the Canon lenses focus closer (my 55/1.2 focuses to
just under .6m, my 35/2 right down to 0.3m, my 24/2.8mm down practically the
front of the glass). You will shoot a MASSIVE amount of film this way and it
is hardly stealthy but it does help you capitalise on those moments where
you know your focus is precise.


Bounce a powerful flash like a Viv 283 off the ceiling. Point the head right
up and tape a white index card to the back of the head so that just 1-2
inches protrudes above the flash lens. This will give you a nice highlight
in the eyes and fill any shadows, but you will also get a really nice soft
room light. You can shoot flash pictures that no-one knows are flash this
way... the secret is adjusting the height of the card poking above the flash
head ... usually it's less than you would ever think, like an inch. Plus you
can get whatever depth of field you want within reason. However you will
need all the power the flash can give to fill the room with light at f/11 or
f/16. If you find the recycle time at these settings too slow or the pain of
buying batteries constantly too great, invest in a quantum battery pack
which will give you near instant recycling and is good for at least 20 rolls
at a time.



- -- 
John Brownlow