“I go out to take a walk, I see something, I take a picture. I take photographs. I have avoided profound explanations of what I do.”Saul Leiter
Today I did indeed go for a walk. Nothing unusual in that. I did see something(s) too and took photographs. Whilst walking I was pondering the quote from Saul Leiter (above) and, without wishing to be pretentious, I was thinking, not for the first time recently, how well these words chime with my own thoughts. I’m not however comparing my work to Leiter’s, I’m simply acknowledging my debt to him and his influence on my own photography.
Out for exercise
Camera ever present
Today I decided to walk to the top of Elland and have a stoat around a more residential area, where some of the larger and more expensive properties are to be found. The walk started along familiar lines from my front door but, having done the hard bit and slogged up the long, steep hill to the Memorial Park I suddenly decided I’d rather wander around the grittier centre of town.
A quick change of direction and I was cutting back and down through the park towards the town centre. Sub-consciously at first but with a growing realisation that what had prompted the about turn was that what I wanted to do was photograph shop windows! Saul Leiter was inside my sub-conscious it seemed. The ad-hoc reflected-self-portraits of last week are slowly evolving into a more considered project it seems. I had two cameras with me, both ideally suited to the purpose too.
At the start of the walk I was switching back and forth between the two cameras. The Canon VT, loaded with Ilford Delta 100, was fitted with the lovely Canon 50mm f1.4 lens and a deep yellow filter. Jon’s Leica IIIf meanwhile was loaded with Ilford HP5+ (rated at ISO 250) and sported the 35mm Jupiter 12 lens and an orange filter. However, as I reached the edges of the centre I popped the Leica back in my shoulder bag and used just the Canon.
This last month or so I’ve really got into the swing of using rangefinder cameras after decades of avoiding them in favour of SLR cameras. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times; I’m not getting any younger and the fact I can drop these rangefinders in a pocket really appeals. My back appreciates this new-found interest in the format too.
I’ve used three different Leicas, three Zorki 4/4K cameras, a Fed4 and of course the Canon VT de luxe. Of these the Barnack Leicas have definitely wormed their way into my photographic heart and it is only a matter of time before I give way and buy my own. The Canon VT however has been a revelation. Manufactured in the year I was born I found an immediate affinity with this camera and it’s barely been out of my hand since I got it.
As I reached the further edges of the centre and turned for home I found myself outside the craft pub run by our local brewery. It would’ve been rude not to pop in and say “hello”. Suitably refreshed I swapped the Canon for the Leica noting there were ten frames left on the short roll of HP5+. The final leg of my walk was along very familiar ground and I finished the roll of HP5+ with a couple of images of the local bakers window.
I had some Perceptol stock made up specifically for the HP5+ which I metered at 250 deliberately as I find pulling the film in this way and developing with stock Perceptol gives some lovely negatives. I decided to also treat the Delta 100 to a bath in Perceptol too for simplicity.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m new to rangefinder cameras but it seems that I’ve taken to them like the proverbial duck to water. Their small size and the ease with which I can carry not just one but two has been a revelation. Today I was using black & white film and the twin bodies enabled me to have both my preferred 35mm focal length covered but also the 50mm which I’m slowly falling back in to using. I started all those years ago with 50/55mm prime lenses but slowly over the years gravitated towards 28/35mm as my preferred focal length. I have a Zorki 4 sat on my desk loaded with colour film too and could quite easily add that to my shoulder bag without really noticing the added weight/bulk.
Anyway. I trust you’ve enjoyed your afternoon wander through town with me. Catch you again soon!
5 thoughts on “A Sunday Stroll with Saul”
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Dave. Got me all excited to use a sweet little 35mm rangefinder. Would you consider doing a head to head of your beautiful rangefinders to help me choose which to buy?
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I will give that some thought John and at the very least will send you my thoughts although I’d hopefully make a full blog post out of the subject!
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Nice article and wander around town.
I’m loving all those snippets you are sharing about Saul Leiter at the moment. You’re inspiring me to check out his work more. And you’re inspiring me to dust off my developing kit! I’ve not done much progress in making a dent in my stash over winter.
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Thank you Allysse. I’ve a few photographers I’m reading about at present. Gotta keep my old grey cells busy!