Dear rangefinder enthusiasts and classic photographers,
Thank you for allowing us to share some news and random thoughts with you.
What’s After Photography?
It’s time to binge on the Mois de la Photo’s biennial extravaganza: 29 photographers from around the globe exhibiting at 16 venues across Montreal, exploring The Post-Photographic Condition.
The announced purpose of this ginormous undertaking is to examine the current state of photography, and understand how new tools and the deluge of data are flooding our senses and drowning us in a sea of images. The volume of imagery produced, the omnipresent smart phone, challenges to and appropriation of traditional authorship made all the more effortless by search engines, and the blurring of lines between creative inspiration and commentary, are among the issues bravely confronted with varying degrees of success.
Montrealer Roberto Pellegrinuzzi created a sculpture made up of 275,000 digital photos, all rather forgettable and, apparently, intentionally so. For a couple of old geezers trying to take decent pictures and appreciate photography as a purposeful art form, looking at haphazard snaps used as papier mâché to create a piece of ‘art’, served to reaffirm our long-held belief that every single photograph must stand on its own merit.
At Galerie Simon Blais, 5420 boulevard Saint-Laurent, three amigos, Michel Campeau, Bertrand Carrière and Serge Clément hold a collaborative exhibit that is a celebration of photography, the culture and camaraderie of Montreal photographers, and a statement of where photography is at. According to curator Zoë Tousignant, “Accumulations showcases recent developments in these photographers’ respective practices, but it also proposes a reflection on the past – of a friendship, a photographic community, and a period of photography’s history.” While the exhibition seeks to question our appreciation and comprehension of a photograph based on its context within a larger grouping, we’re not convinced that this presumption is, in fact, true. Nevertheless, Accumulations is worth a visit, if for no other reason than to appreciate how three friends, spanning three decades, see in a remarkably similar manner.
For something darker, more eloquent and much more considerate and sympathetic than the train of refugee photographs that besiege us daily, make time to see Liam Maloney’s show, Texting Syria, at Galerie B-312, 372 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest. This is an eloquent investigation of war refugees amid clear signs of the effects of war, but without the death and destruction. We’ve written about this powerful and insightful collection of images before, and it’s finally here in Montreal.
Zimbelism! (A Lesson on Life and Photography from a Humble Giant)
George Zimbel is a Montreal gem, not just in the world of photography, but in any field. His solo show entitled George S. Zimbel, A Humanist Photographer. Work from 1953,1954,1955, opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on September 8, and looks at the period when George established himself as one of the foremost humanistic photographers of the twentieth century.
As you all know, George’s photography is about everything that’s good in this life – candid moments that perfectly capture our aspirations, faith, optimism and hope – revealed to us with a light touch, humour and respect. Whether it’s JFK and Jackie waving from a limousine in Manhattan, kids playing on the street, the atmosphere and excitement of the Irish dancehall, a fleeting moment of discussion between two priests in Rome’s train station, or hijinks among freight yard workers, A Zimbel photograph is an affirmation of the human spirit shining through.
As a companion book to the exhibition, Momento, simply and beautifully presented and spanning 60 years of George’s photography, is a must-have for anyone interested in photography.
In gorgeous black and white with a limited number of signed copies available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Q is for Quintessential
The only quibble we have about the Q, is the difficulty in finding words beginning with that letter to describe the newest tour de force in Leica’s stable. Our questionable Scrabble ability aside, this diminutive Leica is an unqualified success, jumping over a rather short queue of other professional-grade compacts and landing firmly in the top quintile of all cameras.
Whether strolling on Quai d’Orsay or quadding in Quebec, you will find the Q to be a capable and flexible companion. Of course, it’s a camera of choice for travel and street photography, but the close-focusing Summilux 28mm/f1.7 ASPH is remarkably well corrected even for architecture, and sharp enough to resolve the finest nuances in texture and colour on a quahog, quiche or quesadilla. That, in combination with its 24 MP sensor, produce top quality files that parlay into exquisite prints. The Q has no quit and its ease of handling will open up new avenues of creativity.
Here’s one feature I absolutely love. It’s not the bright, exceptional electronic viewfinder, the 10 fps shooting speed or the optical stabilization; it’s the feel and oh-so-quiet sound of the shutter release. Understated, discrete and perfectly designed for capturing life’s moments, there’s no question about the Q’s pedigree!
Stop into the boutique to try one. Cameras are trickling-in on a weekly basis, waiting time has been cut substantially.
Forecasts, Speculations and Prophecies
With Photo Plus Expo in New York mere weeks away, the rumour mill has been working overtime. Much of the excitement is focused on the potential emerging presence of Leica in the autofocus, mirrorless camera segment.
For what it’s worth, here is my most fearless prediction: yes, to a full-frame mirrorless-system camera with autofocus and interchangeable lenses. Now for my reasons to believe that this will come to pass.
Sony’s groundbreaking A7 series has deservedly received positive attention and garnered impressive sales. Neither Nikon nor Canon are established with serious cameras and the Sony, for all its excellent features, still leaves space for a serious, professional-grade contender. With the M system, Leica has a bona fide collection of unequalled full-frame lenses, albeit with manual helicoids. The Q has been embraced by nearly everyone who tries it, with its first-rate electronic viewfinder and outstanding autofocus. It just makes sense to enter the autofocus, interchangeable-lens category now, while a sizable percentage of marketshare is there for the taking. Leica has proven it has the expertise and design prowess. Now is the time to put their cards on the table.
Here’s why M users will continue to love their Ms, and Q users will continue to love their Qs. The rangefinder represents a simple, unencumbered way of seeing. Mirrors and EVFs, for all their attributes, just don’t have that directness and connection with a subject. I see little overlap of style between M users and EVF users. As for the Q, it represents a perfect package that makes exemplary use of autofocus and one focal length. An interchangeable mirrorless will, of necessity, be somewhat larger and more cumbersome, but still will be lighter and more manageable than an unwieldy DSLR.
With the expertise that Leica has in designing and manufacturing the finest lenses from M to Q to R to S, I’m fairly confident that the first lens to be offered will be the nonpareil 50mm Summicron. No one will be happier if this is the case, as it has always been my personal favourite.
With three unique approaches to full-frame camera design, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to foresee photographers as winners.
M Vision 2015 - Autumn in Montreal
Late fall: chilly evenings, crisp days, and incredible, low-angled light! While a few leaves still cling to their branches, it’s the ideal time for our 2015 edition of the M Vision Atelier. Bring warm socks, comfortable shoes, a rain jacket, a healthy appetite, and your sense of wonder and discovery.
Camtec Photo and Leica Camera are proud and honoured to collaborate with internationally renowned photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier and the accomplished Hubert Hayaud, a true Leica practitioner who adheres to the tradition and style of classic Leica photography.
Danny Wilcox Frazier
If you see a photographic line from Robert Frank to Danny Wilcox Frazier, you are not alone. Frank himself selected Frazier’s essay, Driftless: Photographs from Iowa, for the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in 2007.
The foundation of Frazier’s work lies in an uncanny ability to acknowledge isolation and neglect while finding and celebrating perseverance and strength. The images he creates entice us with their strength and allure, confront and challenge us with their difficult subjects, and inspire us with faith and trust in the human spirit.
Danny Wilcox Frazier combines knowledge and academic achievement with a caring and keen eye focused on the human condition. He is an original member of the Facing Change, Documenting America project, the modern heir to the Farm Security Administration. His impressive images have appeared in National Geographic, GEO, Newsweek and Der Spiegel. Today, as a member of VII Photo, he also teaches university classes and workshops on occasion. We are most pleased to have him at the helm as one of our two instructors at this November's M Vision Atelier.
Hubert Hayaud is a film editor, freelance photographer and communicator based in Montreal. He works on long-term personal projects that explore our sense of belonging and how the concept of borders shapes the life of surrounding communities.
He uses his camera to ponder the beauty and rhythm of everyday life where people constantly interact with their environment. His images share an unpredictable, nearly serendipitous quality that heightens their authenticity and makes them a joy to view.
An accomplished visual artist, his photoessays have been published in GEO, Visao, Libération and LFI. He has also published the highly regarded iPad App, Manaus – Le grand déménagement, available in the App Store.
Leica’s technical rep extraordinaire and Akademie Manager, Tom Smith, will be present to offer his knowledge and expertise. Also, a complete Leica M system will be available for you to try and use over the three days.
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What is M-Vision?
I believe that it is 50% of what makes an M camera great. Its uniqueness lies in the rangefinder's elegant simplicity: look through the viewfinder and see an undisturbed image of life! Nothing is dramatized nor distorted. Unlike an SLR, there is no compression and no skewed wide-angle view. Your vision and your purpose are paramount.
Held annually, the M Vision Atelier features two renowned photographers who spend a weekend with a small group of participants exploring different approaches, styles and applications to help nurture our unique way of seeing. The emphasis is placed on getting out there, taking photographs and having fun. The atelier is a nonprofit endeavor. Fees cover only a portion of our actual cost.
Always looking forward to your comments.
Jean Bardaji and Daniel Wiener