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Parallax Newsletter, June 2013

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Dear rangefinder enthusiasts and classic photographers, 

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

Passionate About Photography

There are many types of athletes. For every sprinter, hurdler and high jumper there are more than a few bowlers, golfers and softball players. Whenever someone is declared a great Canadian athlete, I’m quick to seek clarification whether we are referring to hockey superstar Sidney “The Kid” Crosby or professional dart player Allan “Big Al” Hogg.

 

Every time a young, enthusiastic person comes into the store and makes it clear that he or she wishes to pursue photography as a career, I make the analogy with the wide world of sports and offer them my advice: pick a field that interests you and study that. If fashion is your forte, then pursue fashion photography. Mining, production or trade appeal to you? Then learn about industrial photography. Are news and documenting life stories your bailiwick? Then newspapers and photojournalism are where you should acquire your skills. 

 

Sometimes, the best way to become a professional photographer is to maintain your passion for photography, while studying the discipline your photography is closely aligned with. What nature photographer wouldn’t benefit from a keen understanding of biology, or landscape photographer from a knowledge of natural conservation? Photography not only lends itself to cross-pollination with other fields, but thrives on additional knowledge and insight. A case in point is Swedish medical photographer Lennart Nilsson. His not inconsiderable contributions to the fields of human embryology and macro photography have been recognized by both the medical and photographic worlds where he received an honourary doctorate in medicine from Karolinska Institute and the first Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, among many other accolades. 

 

Being passionate about our photographic ambitions and aspirations is a given, but it is imperative to recognize that in an effective photograph, the emotional content comes from the photograph, not the photographer. Not only reportage and high-octane, dramatic photographs like Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother evoke emotion and appreciation of the human experience. If the viewer experiences what you witnessed, then the picture is successful. Jeff Plomley’s photograph of a tyke being rewarded with ice cream, tugs at my heart. The warmth of feeling comes from the photograph, conveyed through the camera’s eye of an exceptional photographer who is able to recognize the potential of the moment, while being well versed in composition and the technical aspects of his craft.  

 

The images you take freed from constraints but fueled by a passion to record, unshackled from preconceived notions but based on knowledge and conviction, will be filled with more excitement, more visual clout and, ultimately, more meaning to you than any photo interpreting your emotional response to a given situation at a given time. The corollary is this: all the layers in Photoshop®, the curve controls in Capture One®, the highlight recovery in Lightroom® and the shadow recovery in Aperture®, will not turn a mediocre photo that merely reflects the photographer’s emotional response, into a memorable image.  

Migrant Mother

Leica Days, June 14th and 15th

Just a gentle reminder of a much anticipated upcoming event. We have planned two full days of complete, hands-on trials of Leica cameras – we’re doing our best to secure as many M type 240s and Monochroms as possible – on Friday, June 14th and Saturday, June 15th.  

 

We are also proud to host a soirée featuring work done with the Monochrom by master Leica photographer Serge Clément. Come and learn from one of our most acclaimed artists, and see how his unique vision is further empowered by this special black-and-white camera. Spaces are limited!

 

Click here for more information.

 

Kamouraska

Last summer’s M Vision VII was an unqualified success. While we look forward to repeating that experience in the future, a full program of summer 2013 activities (including an exhibition of photos from last year that includes our humble contribution), should make an excursion to this beautiful area of Quebec a very worthwhile activity.  

 

Among the many courses offered is a master class with Bertrand Carrière. To be held from August 2nd thru 4th, this class promises real photographic experimentation that will challenge and push the participants to conceptualize and put forward their special point of view that captures what Kamouraska means to them. 

 

For more than a quarter century, Bertrand Carrière has pursued photography as art. His work is strongly rooted in place and time, with a message that is never masked by abstraction. 

In The Big House

I was privileged when Geoffrey James came by the boutique to show his recent project done with the Monochrom. He was commissioned to record the final days and ultimate closure of the infamous Kingston Penitentiary. The Monochrom was the perfect tool to capture the stark reality and austere angles of the prison. Impressive enlargements up to thirty inches long had the look of large-format photography and Mr. James repeatedly complimented the combination of the Monochrom and his vintage Elmarit 28mm F2.8 (one of my favourite lenses that I happen to own and use) which proved exceptional for linear correction, resolution, and tonality. 

A Place to Relax, Browse and be Inspired.

At the front of the newly designed boutique, we’ve established a quiet area where you can curl up in our comfortable chairs and enjoy our library of fabulous photography books that are sure to inspire. While we don’t offer milk and cookies, we do serve up a mean espresso.

 

Leica Vario: Low Light Laggard

I was among the first to embrace the X1, unabashedly declaring my love for the quality of its files and their decidedly non-digital look. Then came the X2 , with its further improvements to image quality and camera mechanics. In the case of the Leica Vario, it is not the idea of the zoom lens on the X body that I found unnecessary, it is the fact that Leica, arguably the finest optical firm on the third rock from the sun, has saddled this camera with a lens that is, well...just too slow for the job. 

 

The first snaps I took proved exceptionally sharp with the Leica look that we crave, but I felt the Vario was incapable of doing what I’ve always done with Leicas: open up the aperture and shoot in low light! The 18-46 mm/3.5-6.4 (28-75mm equivalent) Elmar zoom made me feel as if I was held in a creative straightjacket.

Rangefinder Roundtable - A Flood of Memories

As expressed in the previous edition of Parallax, we really like Michel Huneault’s diptychs showing during and after photos of locations affected by 2011’s Richelieu River floods. While it is nice to get a tip of the hat from us, international recognition, especially when it comes from an esteemed source such as Britain’s The Guardian, is something to crow about! The weekend magazine supplement recently featured Michel’s Water Memories photo essay. 

 

Aside from appreciating the images, we also appreciate the perspective from afar, especially this comment based on Michel’s observations after documenting the cataclysmic Haitian earthquake: “The catastrophe in Haiti claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, caused unimaginable damage and suffering, and was a huge international event; during the floods of 2011, no one lost their life and damage was, comparatively minimal. Yet the local media whipped up a storm: in this relatively sleepy part of the world, les inondations, as they are known, are a big story.” 

 

Rangefinder Roundtable - To Be Young, Full of Life, and Living in Paris

In the early years of the 20th century, Emily Karr, Suzor-Coté, A.Y. Jackson and other Canadian artists studied, worked and involved themselves in the inspiring and inventive Impressionist and Post-impressionist movements. On the literary front, Morley Callaghan joined James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway in Montparnasse. The road to Paris is a well travelled one for creative Canucks.

 

Nearly a century later, Matthew Kudelka, one of very few who successfully combines photographic and literary talents, held an exhibition at Toronto’s Contact Festival, that documents early twenty-first century life in the City of Lights. Comprised of a collection of seemingly benign, anonymous encounters, the images prove surprisingly endearing, and always enduring.  

Rangefinder Roundtable - Thomas Laberge-Brière: Growing by Leaps and Bounds

Throughout the years, I’ve taken great pride with the track record of our former employees as they make their mark in the photographic world. They come to Camtec with Nikons and Canons to work part-time as they complete their studies at college and university, and leave as converts to the rangefinder ethos, with Leicas around their necks.  

I’m exceptionally proud of the progress of Thomas Brière-Laberge and invite you to visit his new website at http://www.tlbphotographe.com. His photographs challenge us with a style that casually reveals subjects in a very special light. Some of the images are taken in and around Old Montreal, an area I’ve lived and worked in for over 30 years. Thomas’ photographs enhance the pleasure of seeing the familiar as framed by this notable, up-and-coming talent. 

***

The warm weather is finally here. Make the summer of 2013 a memorable one. We look forward to seeing your impressive photographs!

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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