Last Photos From an Old Friend

Looking toward the Capitol Building – Washington, DC

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.

Looking toward the Old Post Office – Washington, DC

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.

1954 Leica IIIf 35mm film camera – Poolesville, Maryland

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

Stephansdom at Night

Stephansdom at night – Vienna, Austria

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

Black Hole of Calcutta

The basement where I worked – Gaithersburg, Maryland

People like to trash federal government workers all the time as being underworked and overpaid, undeserving of even the smallest things… like basic office supplies, clean and healthy working conditions, safe drinking water, a living wage, and many other aspects that we all take for granted in an office-based work environment. But they have no idea just how difficult some of those federal government agencies are to work in, like my former employer.

This is the basement hallway in the 60-year old building where my cubicle was located for the last six years of my career before I retired. If the image looks dark, that’s because it was; budget cuts at the time were so extreme that only two lights illuminated the entire length, from one end of the long building to the other. Many of the offices on this hallway – most of which were crammed to four times (or more) of their designed capacity with cubicles – had similar levels of illumination in them; i.e., almost nothing. Of course there were no windows.

Sound levels were so loud that they were just below the OSHA levels for required ear protection. The plumbing broke at least once or twice per year, flooding most of the hallway and offices with raw sewage, which required the replacement of everything that it touched. The drinking fountains were unusable for months at a time; sometimes because high levels of lead were discovered in them, sometimes because they were saturated with other contaminants.

We didn’t have a break room, and had no place where we could wash dishes or utensils if we brought our own lunch. Trash – even food waste – was only collected twice per week, which got rank and attracted vermin. The janitorial service was laughable.

I could go on and on. I only continued working in such bad conditions because I was so close to retirement.


Photo info:
Basement hallway where I worked
Gaithersburg, Maryland
April 2013
Apple iPhone 4S