Saturday, December 14, 2019
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Leica M10 Monochrom to bring a larger sensor to the party?

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The current Leica Monochrom, based on the 2012 M240, is now long in the tooth. Now, a higher-resolution model based on the M10 is a forthcoming addition to the Leica teaparty. (Image Mike Evans, Leica Monochrom M246 and 50mm Apo-Summicron-M.

It’s no great secret that an M10-version of the Monochrom is scheduled for release sometime in 2020. Even without the many rumours, it would be a logical progression in the usual Leica schedule — M10, M10-P, Monochrom.

Leica M8 in Japan: A very different culture, a groundbreaking digital camera

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Meiji Jingu shrine, Votive Cards, Leica M8 28mm Voigtlaender 1.9

Following a a couple of business trips to Japan, I just knew I had to take my family there so they could experience a truly different culture. We have all heard how difficult it is to break into Japan as a business person and I had much the same experience myself. But as a tourist, the situation is very different. I will expand on that later. First, though, I should talk about the camera used on the trip.

New England, Australia: Over the hills and far away

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The first weekend in November was a special family anniversary which we decided to celebrate in Port Macquarie on the east coast of New South Wales. “Port”, as it is known locally, is a delightful town on the Hastings River, some 450km north of Sydney.

Leica Owners’ Area updated and ready for business

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Keeping track of your possessions: You can now register all your cameras and lens on the revamped Leica Owners' Area website

Leica’s very useful owners’ area, which has been AWOL for several months, is now again up and running. You can add all those cameras and lenses you’ve added to your collection since the site went down for reconstruction.

Moscow Anecdotes: GUM, glum and dinner with Mikhail Gorbachev

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Mikhail and Raisa Gorbechev at dinner in your editor's former Little College Street offices.

Back in the winter of 1978 I joined a special British Airways guided tour to Moscow. In those days visiting Russian was not the carefree enterprise it is today. It needed copious amounts of planning and a steady nerve.

The Sigma fp will arrive in the UK early in December at £1,999

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Look how the L-Mount fits the camera with hardly any space to spare. It's quite a remarkable achievement whichever way you look at it.

The new L-Mount camera from Sigma, the fp, will arrive in UK dealers in early December and will cost £1,999, a little more than we had expected. However, the kit, with the 45mm f/2.8 lens, is good value at £2,399. This lens was clearly designed with the fp in mind; weighing only 200g it makes for a very light full-frame rig.

Paul Smith Leica CL Special Edition: The colourful alternative

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Would you prefer to own a plain black or silver SL or go all colourful with the new Paul Smith edition? At least there’s a choice and, if ocean blue is your thing, this could be for you. Since it’s one of my favourite hues I need to take a balanced view of this particular special.

News: Using an aperture ring can take some getting used to

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The paragon of photographic virture: Leica's Q2 with physical aperture ring, distance scale (plus a separate distance scale for macro) and a dial to select shutter speed. Whoever could have invented this? (Image Leica Camera AG)

I suddenly felt very old. Maybe you too will feel a bit out of touch when you read this sentence: “Choosing the aperture via the lens can take some getting used to, but it’s a wonderful way to interact with your camera.”

Olive Oyl, auto blogging and a new SL arrival from Leica

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Olive Oyl and Bluto getting up the nose of Popeye the Sailorman at Malta's quaint and unpretentious Popeye filmset (Leica Q2)

Last week, you will be interested to know, Macfilos was on autopilot. The entire editorial staff was away in Malta for a pre-Christmas bash. More on that later when the snaps have been developed. As a teaser, though, I can say that we wished we had discovered Malta sooner. One can even drive on the left of the road as the gods ordained.

The camera in the sky: From London to Yosemite National Park

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Lining up to land in Minneapolis

Last July I retired at the age of 71. My work involved aviation and therefore I spent a lot of time in “the big tin can at the top of the world”. I’ve also been passionate about photography since the mid-sixties. I first started using Leica cameras in 1969 and have therefore taken cameras on most flights.

Chicago Landing                                                                                                                                                       Leica T with 18-56mm Lens
Chicago Landing Leica T with 18-56mm Lens

“Chicago Approach” was taken from a United Airlines Airbus A320 on a flight from Seattle to Chicago. As we decended into Chicago, the weather deteriorated and it was extremely bumpy, which made me think that once we got through the cloud there could be a dramatic sky. So I got the camera out. Sure enough, I was delighted with the captured image. A large print also shows another aircraft on a parallel approach to us which, for me, makes the photograph.

Heathrow Approach                                                                                                                                             Leica T with 18-56mm Lens
Heathrow Approach Leica T with 18-56mm Lens

Heathrow approach

“Heathrow Approach” was the complete opposite, with perfect flying conditions. I had been working with Air India in Mumbai (I still think of it as Bombay) and had helped them get a Boeing 787 back in the air. When I checked in for the “silly o’clock” flight back to Heathrow, they gave me seat 1A. As we approached Heathrow the following morning, we went into the usual holding pattern and I snapped a couple of images

The Cessna
The Cessna

I have captured many other images from commercial airliners but some of my favourites are those taken from a friend’s immaculate 1955 Cessna 180.

Weather worries

Mike and I had attended an aviation conference in Minneapolis and he had decided to fly the Cessna there from his base in Reno, Nevada. Having been tied up in a hotel conference room for five days, we decided to take the Cessna for a spin one evening.

We had intended to land in some small town about 45 minutes from Minneapolis, have dinner and then return. However when we got there the weather had closed in and we were worried that the fog would be too thick for a take-off after dinner. So, reluctantly, we headed straight back. The sunset on our return flight certainly made the effort most worthwhile.

Early Morning Take off from Stead Airport, Reno – Heading to Yosemite National Park
Early Morning Take off from Stead Airport, Reno – Heading to Yosemite National Park

In February a couple of years ago, I had been involved in teaching a “Damage Assessment & Structural Composite Repair Course” (sounds fun, doesn’t it?) which involved me spending a weekend in Reno, Nevada.

Yosemite

I love Yosemite National Park in California and the local guys knew that’s where I would be heading to spend the weekend. They realised I’d been there many times and so, for something different, they suggested I should photograph it from the air. Of course I jumped at the chance and, early on Saturday morning, we loaded the faithful Cessna.

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

The initial flight plan took us over Lake Tahoe and I grabbed this shot of Emerald Bay using a Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8, set at 62mm, with 400 ISO. If I remember correctly, I also used a polariser and three-stop graduated filter.

Half Dome – Yosemite National Park
Half Dome – Yosemite National Park

The first place I recognised as we approached Yosemite was the “back” of Half Dome, not normally seen unless one goes up to Glazier Point. I used a 10.5mm fisheye lens since I wanted to exaggerate the curvature of the earth and produce something a little different.

The more traditional view of Half Dome, as would be seen from the Valley Floor
The more traditional view of Half Dome, as would be seen from the Valley Floor

We circled Half Dome a few times, but not for too long as we didn’t want to disturb the peace and tranquility on the Valley Floor. Being Yosemite, this image had to be black & white, as are all the prints I’ve produced from this wonderful area.

Fisheye

The Valley Floor
The Valley Floor

Mentioning the Valley Floor, before we left and headed back to Reno I took another fisheye image, this time of the valley, with El Capitan in the foreground and just visible at the right centre of the image is Half Dome.

Yosemite is a landscape photographer’s paradise and I’ve been lucky to have visited it many times and during most seasons of the year. The summer colours are spectacular, but the number of tourists can make photography difficult; my favourite time is winter but the heavy snows do restrict access to some of the higher passes. In fact it was only on our fifth, or even sixth visit that Tioga Pass was actually open. We’re off there again at the end of November and, as it coincides with Thanksgiving, are hoping the park will be relatively visitor-free.

I hope you have enjoyed my brief insight into aerial photography and it may have inspired you to keep a camera ready next time you’re in “the big tin can at the top of the world”. You don’t need anything special, but I would advise you to get the camera lens as close to the window as possible (without actually touching it) in order to avoid any unpleasant reflections.