This is my “pics or it didn’t happen” post. I’ve made claims about owning a bunch of Leica gear, and this one is the proof. I’ve sold all the rest of my Leica gear off, except for this lens and camera body – which we consider a family heirloom from Cindy’s father. It’s a 1954 Leica IIIf RDST (Red Dial, Self-Timer) 35mm rangefinder camera, matched with a 1955 Leitz Wetzlar Summicron 50/2.0 Collapsible LTM (Leica Thread Mount) lens, vented lens hood, and lens cap – and the two photos below are from the last roll of film that I put through it several years ago.
Why not continue shooting with it? For one thing, it’s 67-years old. Yes, people shoot film with old cameras all the time, but finding a good technician capable of repairing an old Leica LTM camera is getting tough. Believe me, I know. This specific camera has spent a total of over 3-years in the hands of vintage camera repair techs since it was gifted to me back in 1997, for a wide variety of issues over that period of time. The camera works perfectly now, and is in mint condition, so we’d like it to stay that way by making it a shelf queen.
The two monochrome photos shared here were taken on a summer day back in 2018, from a balcony on the old Newseum building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. They aren’t the greatest photos because I used the wrong ISO setting for the film I had loaded and grossly over-exposed them. Unlike all of the other film images that I post here, other than adjusting the exposure and contrast, I haven’t cleaned these up in post-production, so you can see what the raw images look like straight out of the camera. However, this lens and camera combination is capable of taking some beautiful photographs, as you can see from this collection of photos on Flickr here.
One of the neat things about a very old Leica camera like this one is that you can still buy brand new lenses for it from third-party lens manufacturers – lenses with current designs and lens coatings – something that can’t be said for the majority of other cameras on the used market.
Photo info: Shots from Pennsylvania Avenue The old Newseum building Washington, DC June 2018 Ilford Pan F+ 50 1955 Leitz Wetzlar Summicron 50/2.0 Collapsible LTM Lens 1954 Leica IIIf RDST 35mm film camera
If you like dark places, really dark places – scratch that – I mean really freaking dark and downright spooky places, then this post is for you. This is the famous Paw Paw Tunnel on the C&O Canal tow path in Paw Paw, West Virginia. And yes – it’s about as dark as they come. The tunnel is a 3,118-feet-long (950 m) engineering marvel of more than six million bricks, which took some 14 years to build (1836-1850) and cost nearly 18 times more than initially estimated. To this day, it’s still considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the 1800s.
And the tunnel is dark. Think pitch black. Other than the sunlight filtering in through the thick foliage at either end of the passage, there is no light whatsoever, because the tunnel has no artificial illumination in it, period. The top photo is actually a timed exposure at a high ISO, which is part of the reason why it looks grainy. In reality, when viewing the same scene with human eyes, there was just a dim dot in the distance, and absolutely nothing else. The only way one can see anything while traversing the length of the tunnel is to use flashlights or headlamps, which is highly recommended.
The photo of the hole in the side of the tunnel is interesting, because it illustrates just how many layers of brick were used in the construction of the tunnel. We used both of our flashlights to illuminate it enough for the camera to take a photo.
Photo info: Paw Paw Tunnel Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Tow Path Paw Paw, West Virginia September 2015 Zeiss Sonnar 24-70/1.8-2.8 ASPH zoom lens Sony RX100 IV digicam
When I accompanied Cindy on a business trip to Vienna, Austria, in 2000, I never dreamed that I would have severe jet lag – to the point that I was wandering around the Innere Stadt in the dead of night, taking lengthy timed exposures with a tripod of Stephansdom without another soul anywhere around me. It was like I had the entire city to myself. Very eerie.
Another reason for being outside at zero dark thirty… cigarette smoke. The building where we were staying absolutely reeked of stale cigarette smoke. I don’t know if that’s still the case today, but back then it seemed like nearly everyone was smoking and the stench permeated through everything – your clothes, the bedding, the furniture, everything. It’s torture for someone like myself that can’t be around tobacco smoke. The only place to get away from it was outside.
Photo info: Stephansdom at night Innere Stadt Vienna (Wein), Austria March 2000 Ilford Delta Pro 100 Voigtländer Color Skopar 21/4.0 lens Leica M3 35mm camera