First and foremost, Happy International Women’s Day to all great ladies out there. May God bless all of you always! Today’s story is the continuation of my experiment with M9-P and my effort to combine flash into my outdoor photography. Ideally, this would be simple if I have a dedicated helper. But, due to limited resources, I just have to make do with whatever I have.
On this beautiful Saturday morning, me and local talent from Miri, Angelyna had a photoshoot at Coco Cabana, because I love how that place is. It is usually crowded with people over the weekend. To avoid this, we did out photoshoot in the morning before everyone comes out.
On my way there, I can see a lot of health-conscious Mirians, young and old, and their family jog in the morning with their family and friends at Marina’s pavement. Some did it solo, with Airpods accompanying them. Others, with a band of cyclists. For me, I usually exercise in the evening to keep my for any upcoming photography jobs, especially weddings, because you have to be physically fit and active to catch all of the decisive moments.
Gears: M9-P & Noctilux
About the gears, I am using my M9-P and a Noctilux lens. My camera is a 9 year’s old rangefinder, serviced at Leica Store Malaysia and the CCD sensor that its own signature look out of the camera, something like the Kodak film. That’s no surprise, because the maker of the sensor is Kodak. On a side note, its first successor, M-240 has a different rendering that does not appeal to me, hence the reason why I skipped it until M10 came, where Leica finally got it right. M10’s image is much closer to M9’s rendering than M-240, although a bit too “clean”. However, if the job is not so demanding, like dimly-lit places or event, I will just stick to my M9. Another reason is because M9-P is my first Leica camera, so the emotional attachment is there, just like any other artists with their favourite paintbrush, microphone, plectrums etc.
I was frequently asked this question: what is the best Leica camera to start with? I would say, M9 – first, it is full-frame and secondly, it is relatively cheaper compared to the older bodies, although you can find its advertisement popping up in Mudah ever once in a while. Also, the next question is, the technology is already 10 years old, so is it still relevant? My answer is yes, and I have been photographing weddings using it. I love the colour that it produces. Also, if you do it right, it is not prone to be soaked by water. I did headhunter run and SMEP Fit For The Future Run coverage using it, under pouring rain. As long as you do not purposely expose it right under rain water but only receive splashes, you should be alright. Make sure to dry it right afterwards, and put it either inside dry box (best method) or container of uncooked rice (cheapest method).
King Of The Night
Also, I am using Noctilux for obvious reason – I love the bokeh that it produces. I tried f/1.4, but it is not pleasing enough for me. Also, Noctilux’s low-light performance is second to none in the world of rangefinders, considering the maximum effective ISO that I can use with M9-P is only 800, so I have to rely on high aperture to get the same light input. With f/0.95, it is a staggeringly high number, that my beginner-self “fought” to acquire 3 years ago. I did get few comments from other fellow photographers that what I am doing is not correct because the norm is you should not blur out the background too much. I did tried to follow their advice, but as time goes by, I realised I keep on reverting back to it, and after that, I just do it. Why should I stop doing what I love most? Also, that will be my signature style. Bokeh. After such a long time operating it, the relatively long focus throw no longer bothers you as your left fingers and your left eye, in a beautiful synchronisation, automatically adjust the rangefinder to find the right focus as the target moves on. Once the target it set and found, the trigger is pressed, producing the beautiful M9-shutter tune. It is like a Termignoni exhaust to a Ducati afficionado.
On the other hand, when I am doing day-time street photography, I prefer to use Summilux 50 or APO-50 because it is much lighter that 700g King of the Night. 50mm has always been my favourite focal length, and it has shaped how I created my images, be it wedding or events, or even photoshoot like this.
First thing when I do is to get the white balance right, which will minimise my time when I am doing post processing later. The good news about Leica is you will get the best skin tone rendering, natural looking if you get the white balance correct. I am using a simple white balance card and then set it manually. After that, we just proceed with the photoshoot. You can see the sample images below.
Overall, I am quite happy with this photoshoot but I admit that there is so much to be learnt about this particular field. Being so used to event photography, where you just “react”, this one requires me to think and plan ahead for the shoot. To make an image is the easiest part compared to planning a successful photoshoot. This sort of challenges makes life became so much interesting and I am looking forward to work with more talents in the future. I hope you guys enjoy this post.
Inspirational note here – Make sure your dream is big and do not be afraid or shy to make it happen. A thousand miles is just an accummulation of 63,360,000 inches. So make your steps counts.
Have a good weekend! 🙂
All images © Claudius Weson Photography (2019).
Claudius Weson is a wedding/event “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh language) based in Miri.