Ok so I’m in conversation with a friend and he mentions something about Leica lenses and trending prices of one versus the other, and then this just comes out of me like a projectile vom moment. It’s so good I’m blogging it. Slightly modified for context and clarity, sort of.
35 cron has always been THE lens to have with Leica cameras. It’s like a right of passage lens. It has nothing to do with the quality of optics or what people do with the lens, but it has this mythical status of achievement.
First you go from digital to film, and get into the film scene, and then you get a few fixed lens rangefinders and claw your way up through that lineage from cheap clean Konica’s to Yashica’s, Agfa’s, Olympus’s etc, and finally find that sweet Canonet, and lust for a QL17 GIII, and realize that it’s actually usable, and really produces some hot-shit pictures on your favorite film. Some people will go on to medium format beaters, and modular systems, Lomo, specialty, low financial impact cameras and into that camera obscurity rabbit hole.
Somewhere along the way you make the connection between that Canon/Nikon rebel and this new film thing your into, and start thinking about cameras that have lenses, and rangefinders and the Russian Fed/Voigtlander Bessa/Konica Hexar/bashed up Zeiss Ikon inevitably steps in and makes you a rangefinder photographer. Then its one, two, or a few used Screw mount Canon/Fed/Voigtlander lenses, and you’re always striving for that mountain peak of a Leica lens, and in the middle of all that comes a choice Zeiss ZM lens, something that puts you a little closer to that mountain peak.
One paycheck, after a christmas bonus or something, you can fill in the gap between your savings and that figure that sits in the back of your head, the one that you can deal with as a credit card debt, and that’s the day you can start getting serious about all those watched items in your My eBay, or forum classifieds, looking for that perfect Leica Camera deal. Whatever it is, maybe an M4, M2, M3 or even an M6. Your new bling Leica with your choice Zeiss, Voigtlander or Konica lens.
But in the end all you really want is that fucking 35 ‘cron.
I also live and shoot in Seattle and have done for 12 years. Seattle is possibly one of the most photographer friendly cities outside of NYC. It is also one of the best places I’ve worked for the most incredible light which lasts for 5 months of the year, and is peaking July to October.
Seattleites are pretty reserved and have become used to photographers, when I first started here there was about 3 or 4 regular downtown street photographers and two more who were both mail delivery people. By about 2010 there was about 15 regulars and now I don’t know.
My behavior on the street is that I walk to my spots with my gear on full view, and I’ll typically scan the scene for a few minutes and then as things appear I will shoot. I’ve recently been doing a lot more video work which involves a tripod and two lenses. I’ve had 2 people this summer stop and ask what I’m doing.
I basically go into a scene with an intent and respectful command, and I will just start working like there was nobody there at all. I’m an exceptionally shy person who has to bring up my reserves of confidence to actually do this at all, and it is even harder when someone stops to ask, but I can do that now and I do it very well. I made my introductions with beat cops, and explained what Im doing by making a half page flyer and handing it out after an introduction, along with my ID. Now they know that I’m there doing my thing, and if I ever get grief from anyone they already have a little background on me upfront.
Very very rarely will someone get huffy about having their picture taken (and usually people get upset if they think they have been singled out) and if so Ill stop, if Im wearing sunglasses, Ill take them off make eye contact and offer to shake their hand and explain that Im an artist and invite them to see what I’m doing. I’ll offer them a business card, a nice high quality card that says, yes I’m serious about this work.
I believe that if I’m going to ‘use’ people as my characters models whatever, then they have a right to know what I’m doing and invite them to be involved with viewing the work. I offer them cards most take them and I very very rarely hear from anyone afterwards, however, I do make a big deal about them going to the sites and looking at the work, to educate them on my ‘vision’ and what I’m trying to achieve.
Basically if you treat everyone that you are shooting, like they are gods, and that you wouldnt, or couldnt, be there, to do what you do, if it wasn’t for them, and you tell them that, then they will have a radically different attitude towards you next time. And it gets passed on to their friends also.
I always give my name first, if there’s a particularly warm vibe at the end of a conversation then you ask their name and offer to shake hands, and the next time they see you, you will get a nice smile or an amazing photograph.
At the end of the day nobody wants to feel as though they are being abused or exploited, and ultimately we as street photographers are exploiting them because they are there. But our job is to be emissaries and educators for our art.
As a bag maker myself, choosing a bag for myself from the seemingly endless variety out there in 2016, including looking back over previous years seasons, is an arduous task to say the least. It basically means research and meta research.
The Arc’Teryx Arro 22 bag is not perfect for my needs, but it does fulfill a few of the criteria I required such as a stiff back panel and robust design with robust materials that are tried true and tested.
My need for this pack are as a 2nd version every day pack for essentials, then for work and then for groceries.
I am a documentary filmmaker & I carry a basic two camera interview setup at all times:
I carry two mirrorless cameras with lenses, a Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder and two fistfuls of accessories to make that all go, that lot fits into a Domke F-5Xb which nestles in the bottom of the pack and under that I have cut a 1 inch thick piece of high impact foam to compliment the foam already in the pack’s base -take this into consideration as I talk about what else I put in this bag. Additionally I have an 11″ MacBook Air in an STM sleeve case, two external drives a thimbleful of accessories power and cables. Sometimes Ill even take non folding Sennheiser HD25 headphones.
I also carry a Sirui tabletop tripod and occasionally a full-sized micro tripod (Sirui T025X). All of this fits into my Cilogear 20L Worksack (which truthfully, is probably more like a 16-17L).
With all that in there, I would say the Arro is about 50-60% full. If I need to get groceries on the way home, I can grab the trifecta of veggies, a pound of flesh a small tub of yogurt, butter and a handful of treats from the bulk section, & that will all fit into the main compartment. The “bubble” as I like to call it, is an added bonus on this pack. I believe that 22L is the main compartment size, and the bubble is probably another 6-10L (my dimensional reasoning escapes me here). At the bottom it holds a fist size ziploc with daily essentials. After that a 1L Platypus ‘bag’ of water, lightweight jacket & cap.
What I wasn’t expecting with the Arro 22 is how high the pack rides when on a bike. Even full, it sits higher then I would expect given the strap engineering and location on the back panel. I suspect it’s because it is a narrow long pack. The bottom ridge, I tend to nestle on the top of my jeans belt. This isn’t a major problem for 10 mile round trip rides in Seattle but if I were going on a camping bike trip, I might have to look at other bags I have.
Like I said, it’s a long narrow pack, which makes it good in busy urban environments, and for getting through crowds. The bottom of the bag is wider, so it does hold more than you would think it should.
I’ve already been in a prolonged heavy rainstorm and it kept its contents dry.
The straps are thick, which is not the current thinking on packs today, however, they are very comfortable with load or not. The strap adjusters help to keep the straps present when not in use, so picking up the bag via the top handle and swinging it over your head to put on your back is the easiest I’ve experienced on any pack including my own *flawless* pack designs.. The bag just belongs on your back.
The high density back panel is very sturdy and very comfortable. There is a small hardly discernible curve on the lumbar which makes the pack extremely comfortable (I have scoliosis & it’s still extremely comfortable). There is a removable PVC panel which I have tried with and without, the added weight is a non issue but the benefits of having added rigidity is priceless. The additional hip-panels also contribute to this comfort.
I will say, that in hot weather, you will sweat heavily into the back panel, and I could foresee this as being a problem in hot weather, and the material will soak up sweat like a sponge. I may modify my pack by adding two 2″ disks of foam at the lumbar area to a stand-off position.
As far as Hydration Packs go, well that is kinda weird on this bag. There is a long narrow elastic mesh pocket in the inside of the back panel, but there is no hook to hang it from, so you have to rely on the hydration pack’s own integrity to stay put. I was already using a Hydrapak 2L, which, incidentally is similar to what Arc’Teryx show on their website; a pack with a bridge lock top closure that simply rests on the top of the mesh pocket ~we will see how well that elastic top stands up to use after a year of wrestling..
The side pockets are ‘meh’ really not enough for a water bottle, but fine for whatever you can fit into them. Some is elastic & and loop for a carabiner, and the other has superman grade velcro which holds tight whatever you put into it (we will see how well that is in a year of heavy (ab)use.
I’m surprised I actually had so much to say about this bag, but so far and envisioning 5 years from now, I suspect I will still love this bag. Arc’Teryx are the Apple of backpacks, with astounding functional design backed up by gorgeous aesthetics.
I purchased mine at Berg’s who had the lowest price available at the time and really lovely customer service.
I love and respect all of the people I photograph on the streets. I see you, and I see you in the fragmented moments when you are off guard, unaware, and existing in the space between consciousness and biology.
To my heroes, my street loves; my respect, always.
Imagine yourself as a cinematographer, tasked with the job of making iconic scenes with your camera.
The producer is watching you closely, because you are the one who realizes the dream. You are under pressure to make the world wow to your brilliance.
You have to be conscious in the moment, conscious behind the camera, aware and awake to make opportunities for yourself and exploit them further.
Take your time, instead of making one image make 5 or 7. Move around, look at the place you are in, think dimensionally.
Watch the elements as they move, snap the moments as they occur, add your own control factors, manage the scene without interfering in it.
Know your lens, and know what the image will look like you’ve taken it.
Be conscious in the viewfinder, even if it isn’t at your eye.
Shoot to complement the thoughts in your mind, not the other way around.