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Parallax, March 2014

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Dear Leica enthusiasts and classic photographers, 

Thank you for allowing us to share some news and random thoughts with you.

“Now is the winter of our discontent..."

“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun..."

 

Our winter has been indeed a winter of discontent and cold-weather misery! But fear not, the equinox is coming, the equinox is coming! It’s been one helluva winter and I’ll be the first to admit that it will be nice to look back on it instead of anticipating the next snowstorm. If you’ve been living in a bubble, permit me to recount. It started way back in November and, by Christmas, even committed skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers, people I know who would never entertain the thought of escaping to a southern destination for a break, were dropping the F word, Florida, in casual conversation. Severe weather, extreme windchill, power outages and burst pipes were all too common. A new term, the polar vortex, entered the lexicon of discouraged denizens of the Midwest and Northeast. 

 

For those or us who stuck it out, this winter also proved to be the most glorious photographic season, one which too many people interested in photography, failed to take advantage of. Around Montreal, we are blessed with a wealth of subjects that take on a special beauty when covered in ice and snow. Whether walking along a frozen river, strolling through the downtown, taking in a pickup hockey game on a neighbourhood rink, birdwatching, snowshoeing or skiing, photographic opportunities abound, but only if you have your camera with you! Simple preparation is necessary, but the concern of weather affecting modern camera gear is grossly overstated. Safely presume that your camera has better weather sealing than you do. The most important precaution to take is to protect your hands from frostbite, a matter accomplished with an inexpensive pair of glove liners that give you the dexterity to operate all controls before quickly getting your hands back into warm gloves or mittens. 

 

By all means, if you’ve spent this winter hiding from the cold, get that camera ready for a good springtime workout. In a few short months, freezing temperatures will be back. This time, be prepared!

 

 

Viewing Good Photography Books, Still Has Magnum Benefits!

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” —Ansel Adams

 

Type the name of even the most obscure photographer into your computer’s search engine; within a couple of seconds you can be viewing samples of his or her work. Whether you have the latest and greatest in high-definition screens, or are making do with a smartphone, no electronic device can offer anything that compares to the experience of being captivated by photos beautifully presented on the printed page. 

 

Recently, a friend loaned to me “Impossible Reminiscences,” a coffee-table book of the colour photographs of René Burri. One of the all-time greats and one of my all-time favourites, I had mistakenly believed that his oeuvre was exclusively black and white. Viewing and reading this book dedicated to his colour images provided new insights, all the while reinforcing the strength of his unique vision that recognizes the human presence, while flirting with line and light. 

 

Pick up any photography book of substance, and through its text, captions and selected images, you will gain greater appreciation of the photographer’s train of thought. Whether consciously or unconsciously, you will draw inspiration from impressive photographs, and acquire a better understanding into what makes a photograph or photo essay both stirring and memorable.

 

Turn the pages and be aware of the importance of a tightly edited and curated book. I would not pretend to imagine that every great Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph was taken as a standalone shot. More likely, it resulted from a process that began with the recognition of possibility, continued with the taking of several photos that captured the potential, and ended with the careful selection of the particular frame as the best representation of the sense and substance of what the photographer wanted to put forward. In the very best photography books, there is also the vital contribution of the photo editor, who can view and work with images without bias and sentimentality.

 

 

You Can’t Rrroll Up the Rrrim and Win This

Leica and LFI  are holding a contest for owners of the X Vario, X1 and X2 and calling it the Me and My Leica X Photo Contest. If the contest name does not inspire, the prizes certainly will. The two, first-place winners receive two invitations to the opening of the Leitz Park in Wetzlar at the end of May 2014. All travel costs and accommodations are covered. The two, second-place winners receive Leica X accessories valued at approximately C$750, and winners three to ten receive a half-year subscription to LFI.  

 

Both the Leica X Vario and Leica X2 have been pegged as quintessential travel cameras. Their compact dimensions and ease of use put them at the top of that class, but they are so much more. Rugged and discreet, they are ideal for street photography. With their razor-sharp optics  that infuse photos with a classic Leica look, they are remarkably capable cameras when it comes to capturing landscapes and architectural subjects. 

 

We can write about the considerable strengths of the Leica X family, but to determine whether these cameras are for you, why not borrow either the X2 or Vario for a day or two? I have one demo of each available. Find out if these APS-C Leicas deserve a coveted place in your camera bag.  

 

 

Mark Tomalty: Revealing the Heart and Soul of Our City

Street scenes, architecture, the human condition, snippets of life as lived by our fair and quirky citizens: few photographers have captured Montreal with such affection, beauty, humour and imagination. Mark’s keen eye, technical prowess, raw talent and hard work, consistently produce images that are as powerful as they are a joy to look at. 

 

I am very happy and proud to invite you to view a small selection of his photographs, expertly printed and now being displayed in our 26, rue Notre Dame Est boutique.

 

 

Witness to the End of an Era

When the Jeffrey Mine finally seized production in 2013, it marked the end of a way of life that stretched back to 1876 with the discovery of asbestos deposits around Thetford Mines, QC. Jean-François Gratton turned his camera’s eye to record the passing of two eras in this region whose history is closely linked to resource extraction. The large-scale photographs juxtapose older photos of Thetford Mine’s Quartier Saint-Maurice demolished in the 1970s to accommodate mine expansion, with the waste piles and tailings that replaced homes and businesses and will dominate that landscape for many years to come. 

 

Part of the Art Souterrain festival featuring the work of many local artists, these photographs will be on display from March 1 through March 16 at Gare Centrale, 895, rue de La Gauchetière Ouest.

 

 

Pucker Up

Peter Turnley, a photographer whose name has grown to be synonymous with hard news and magazine photography—he has more Newsweek covers than any other living photographer—has self-published a remarkably tender and affectionate visual ode to romance in his beloved Paris. 

 

“French Kiss” is a collection of uplifting images from the past thirty years. Without attempting to psychoanalyze what prompted him to do this, I would like to think that after all the awards bestowed on him for covering the ugly part of human nature over too many years, he had a thirst to show that life can be beautiful. Exquisitely photographed, attractively laid out, and printed and produced to the highest standard, “French Kiss” will bring a smile to even the most jaded individual.

 

Needless to say, most images are photographed with his trusty Leica film rangefinder, although more recent photographs were captured with the Monochrom. Books can be purchased directly from his website, or at our boutique where I also have a couple of signed copies available.

 

 

***

Always looking forward to your comments.

 

Photographically yours,

 

Jean Bardaji and Daniel Wiener

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Rangefinder photography: capture life as you see it!

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