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Parallax Newsletter November 2012

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The Name Game

Just a decade ago the rangefinder business was, frankly, on life support. In an effort to build the Leica name – the brand of camera I’ve always admired and used – and make people aware that these magnificent cameras were not just quaint relics from the past but viable, contemporary photographic tools, I decided to operate a dedicated Leica boutique within Camtec Photo. With lots of effort and much support from loyal customers, Leica Boutique grew to become Canada’s leading Leica dealership. The launch of the digital M8 signaled the resurgence in Leica’sfortunes and, with the arrival of the M9, rangefinders were clearly back in the saddle.

 

Flush with success, Leica aggressively opened factory controlled retail operations under the banner of Leica Boutique (a name I had registered many years previously, but one they now wanted exclusively for themselves) andLeica Store. But Leica’s boutiques are a world apart from our boutique, presenting and promoting the brand as exclusive, luxury merchandise. Our philosophy and approach from day one has been more democratic and relaxed. We believe that Leicas belong in the hands of every interested photographer. We are happy to demonstrate what a great tool it is, explain its strengths (and even its weaknesses), and help you decide if it will best suit your photographic needs.

 

While relinquishing the name Leica Boutique and its URL, rangefinder photography and Leica in particular, remain my passion. A new website being developed for Camtec Photo reflects this fascination with a dedicated rangefinder portal where Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Fuji, Artisan & Artist and Match Technical will reside, as will our special M Vision programs, Gallery, Parallax newsletter and news bulletins. We will present information in a clear, helpful manner and consolidate operations under the Camtec Photo banner.

 

Behind the website and in our stores you will continue to find the most knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and capable team in the country!

When it Comes to the Monochrom, Colour Me Impressed

New Zealand All Blacks, Chicago White Sox, and Fifty Shades of Grey… if the world were only black and white, then the Leica Monochrom would be my go-to camera. The October 20th Leica Akademie Monochrom Workshop provided a great opportunity to put this unique M to the test. Without further ado, let’s see what the DNG files revealed.

 

Much has been made about proper exposure. For those of us brought up using slide film, the Monochrom could not be more straightforward. Its classic, centre-weighted meter is entirely predictable. Expose for the highlights and your files will retain loads of information. But do keep in mind that what comes out of the camera is not a finished photograph. The image looks flat to avoid clipping highlights and losing detail in the shadows. But these files prove more flexible than a contortionist on muscle relaxant. As long as there is some detail in the highlights, changes to the curve can seemingly be applied with little or no degradation. I was very pleased with the film-like, granular appearance of noise in the underexposed areas, and the remarkable detail and minute gradations in tonal range that contribute to the non-digital appearance of both the original file and the post-processed photograph, an observation that holds even when we venture into high ISO territory.

 

So what is there not to like? A skeptic at heart, I was prepared for a camera that would only appeal to the most resolute, black-and-white purist. After all, convert an M9 file and the results are first-rate. But the Monochrom has a unique look, a richness of tone and a sharpness that, to my eye, is just about perfect.

 

I left the workshop on an achromatic high, walked back to my car, turned up the stereo – yes, my music is not monaural – pulled onto the expressway and was struck by more than a tinge of irony as the low sun made an appearance through the rain clouds, illuminating a double rainbow over St. Henri southwest of downtown Montreal.

Deniz Merdano: In the Tradition of Ara Güler and Alex Webb

The Montreal photographic community is familiar with the black-and-white work and teachings of Turkish-CanadianDeniz Merdano. I am very happy to shine light on his latest accomplishment, +90, where Deniz shares a keen eye and deep understanding of cultural nuances in his native Turkey. The title comes from the country code, but underscores the time passed since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk instituted his great reforms.

 

There is a photo in the essay of a man looking outward to the sea while his dog looks back at the land. This is the duality that Deniz masterfully captures. In a collection of images that neither exalts nor exploits, he focuses on a slice of coastal Turkey traveling the road to modernization and prosperity in a country where the past is omnipresent.

 

9.5 in. x 12 in. in landscape format, the softcover book is available in our Publications section on our website, or at the boutique for $27.50. If you are interested in excellent reportage photography, Deniz’ extraordinary essay deserves your attention.

+90 +90 +90 +90 +90 +90 +90 +90

An Appropriate Tool for Reportage

Newsweek is stopping publication of the print version of the magazine in 2013. While waiting rooms in dentist’s offices will feel the pinch, most of us have recognized the future is not in traditional media.

A freelance film editor and an exceptional photographer in his own right, Hubert Hayaud has developed an app that will layout and display complete stories on an iPad. His project, MANAUS The Great Move first appeared in GEO France. But the magazine was only able to publish nine pictures. Hubert and photographer Jacques Denis felt compelled to get the complete story out. In three different trips they had compiled many great images and sound bites that provided valuable insight into a difficult, complex story of rapid and often violent urbanization. Rather than a Web-based documentary, Hubert settled on the iPad as a means of disseminating information. Working withÉcorce Atelier Créatif, he developed a template that is graphically appealing and easy to navigate. This template is being made available to other photographers and independent documentary makers.

Why an app instead of a Web broadcast 

“To realize a good webdoc, it is often necessary to spend a lot of energy and money for the navigation experience itself, which in a way, needs to be unique. For this application, we tried to stay closer to the way you would read a magazine. The big advantage is that the programming side would not be so expensive. The main idea was to let the photographer put all the efforts in the content, the story and the subject itself to avoid distraction.”

 There is an added benefit to using the App instead of going over the Web. While the $2.99 price represents outstanding value to the consumer, selling through iTunes provides a revenue stream to the photographer. That’s a healthy development for photography and independent reporting.

Manaus Manaus Manaus Manaus Manaus Manaus Manaus Manaus

Photos that Challenge

You cannot feel ambivalence toward a Jordan Weitzman photograph. Here’s a photographer with a special eye and a wealth of enthusiasm whose images surprise the viewer by revealing seemingly commonplace and mundane moments in a manner that provokes a visceral response. In a growing body of work you will see influences from many giants of our métier. From Eisenstaedt to Riboud to McCurry, Jordan pays homage to them in photographs that are unexpected and unforgettable. If incongruous matches like Nan Goldin and his teacher and mentor David Alan Harvey appear from one image to the next, well, that exemplifies the remarkable range of themes and approaches unabashedly embraced by this Montreal-based photographer.

 

A fan of both film and his digital M8, Jordan exploits the rangefinder’s unique capacity to see outside the frame lines. Apply this same ability to the open-minded person behind the camera and what results is a photograph that, to this viewer, is compositionally compelling and contextually insightful. While most of us feel overwhelmed by a visual and intellectual landscape without constraints, Jordan has the capacity to sustain an unwavering focus while not subscribing to any agenda.

 

The first definition for the word ‘amateur’ in the Oxford Dictionary is “One who loves, is fond of, or has a taste for anything.” Seems like an appropriate description of this eclectic, emerging artist.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Could there be heretics running amok in the high-resolution world of Luminous Landscape? Spotted in a recent posting that must have pushed some denizens of the website into a catatonic state: “However photography is not entirely about resolution and tonal scale.”

Pure Lunacy

It began as an enticing rumour prior to Photokina. Hasselblad was poised to announce groundbreaking news that would change the face of photography. I began to get excited by the possibility of a digital X-Pan. After all, the original was a great idea, a beautifully designed dual-format camera for creating panoramic images. It was capable of exposing 35mm film in either conventional 24 mm x 36 mm size, or as a strip of 24 mm x 65 mm.

 

Having traveled to Cologne to attend Photokina, I eagerly took my seat at the press conference. After the orchestrated buildup, blinded by the lights and dazzled by the glitter, they rolled out a Sony Nex-7 chassis in a custom shell that would make RuPaul appear reserved by comparison.

 

Behold the Hasselblad Lunar, uninspired, bloated and bedecked in jewels, the 2012 photographic equivalent of past-his-prime Elvis squeezed into sequined bell-bottoms. Boasting a unique custom grip that proved as ergonomic as the bill on a toucan, it is a garish affirmation of brass and crass commercial excess and the ill-conceived idea that a critical mass of oligarchs, sheiks, fat cats and Rodeo Drive wannabes is a market waiting to be tapped.

 

What in the name of Victor Hasselbad were they thinking? Don’t they know that Leica has the vanity camera market by the ruby red choker? What right do they have to muscle in on the hallowed ground of immoderation claimed by the $25,000 Édition Hermès Leica M9-P or the Édition Hermès – Série Limitée Jean-Louis Dumas, at a mere 50 large? At least with Leica special editions, you are getting a truly fine product.

 

In 1969, modified 500EL cameras made it to the lunar surface. Forty-three years later, we have been assured that the Lunar is just one small step in Hasselblad’s plans. The one giant leap is coming with a wave of new products tagged with the same DNA. Good grief!

Where Has The Time Gone?

It seems like yesterday we were soaking up the summer sunshine at the M Vision Kamouraska atelier. Now we’re scraping the windshields and preparing for the run-up to Christmas.

 

To all clients and friends of Camtec Photo, our sincere thanks for your kind support. Best wishes to you and your families for the Holiday Season and 2013!

 

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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