For my 60th birthday, friends and family conspired to launch a kitty to finance either a new Leica or a trip abroad. I did not hesitate a second and invested all the money
I packed the X2 as my main camera and the little Ricoh GRD4 as a backup. I had forgotten from past experience that I had taken the Ricoh exclusively to hike in the mountains or go to the beach. But I ended up using the Ricoh almost all the time (despite the somewhat-off-the-mark colour signature in some cases) as it was much lighter and less obtrusive when it comes to shooting people than the X2. It also has great macro abilities.
But the real reason was for this favouring of the Ricoh was because of a persistent SD card problem with the X2. By the time I noticed the issue I was 100 miles from the nearest place to buy a replacement. And, of course, I had forgotten to bring another card with me. So settling for the Ricoh was in some way happenstance.
Arriving in Slovenia, we decided to make our base camp in Ljubljana, then move to the mountains (Triglav national park) and end up at the seaside with its 30 miles of coast.
What a nice capital Ljubljana turned out to be, quite compact with an amazing network of public transport and an extended pedestrian area in the city centre. I just wish we had the same at home.
Another bonus is that almost everyone speaks English. Ljubljana was awarded the prize of Greenest European Capital in 2016 or 2017. You find different coloured bins everywhere and apparently almost everything can be recycled — including, no doubt, malfunctioning SD cards. You also have drinking fountains all over the city centre. On our first day, we were struck by the number of street musicians that were close to real professionals. The repertoire went from jazz to world music.
We were also lucky because the Copenhagen show band was visiting on a tour of Europe. It’s an amazing brass band, with a repertoire ranging from high-end jazz standards to The Village People. They did a few gigs in the city centre but the best time to make pictures was at the end of the show as you could approach the musicians.
The centre of the city is strictly for pedestrian and cyclists and it was quite easy to get some good street scenes. The people usually don’t mind having their photographs taken and walking helps a lot to make images. There’s a park with an open-air library not far from the city centre and you can just sit on the grass or on one of the easy chairs, pick up a book or just relax on the grass. There’s a nice atmosphere to the city: It is quiet, the rhythm is slow and the sun just encourages you to slow down.
Another striking feature is the number of tags and graffiti in the alternative district. Hardly any tourists venture to this part of town although it is close to the Slovenian ethnography and national museums. Some of the artwork was is not particularly inspiring, but a few outstanding examples added a nice feeling to our visit to the city.
The Istrian Coast
After a week in the mountains (another article to come) we finished our three-week holiday by the seaside before heading back home. The Slovenian coast is not very big (some 30 miles long) but can boast a few Venetian towns with coloured houses and exhibiting a stark contrast between lights and shadows.
There are also salt marches which still produces salt, situated not far from the Croatian border. I only used the Ricoh by then and wanted to have a try at what is referred to as street (or rather, in this case, beach) photography here.
Although I like taking pictures of people I had never thought of shooting people that close. Some street photographers such as Jeff Chane Mouye and Olivier Duong were raving about the GRD4 as a street camera, so I thought as it was my only available camera at the time I would try to make good use of it, I shot most images either from the hip or from ground level.
After using the Ricoh exclusively for almost two weeks I found the 28mm-equivalent 6mm lens bitingly sharp and I like the colour signature of that tiny CCD sensor, although sometimes the colours can be slightly off the mark. The depth-of-field is huge of course (except in macro mode) and the image stabilisation is a real bonus when shooting in poor lighting conditions.
Quiz: Which photo is taken with which camera?
- Leica X2: Images 1 to 10 and 13 to 17
- Ricoh GRD4: Images 11, 12 and 19 to 24