Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Leica File: The Chinese Flutist

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Despite the imminent threat of the Rapture yesterday, I trotted along to one of my favorite New York City haunts, and happily found it teeming with Chinatown residents who were enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. This time I took my Elmarit 28mm and the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm for the M9, as well as my digital recorder....and I was rewarded.

There were three competing Chinese traditional sing-along bands, and I spent time with two of them. Despite their rather severe expressions, the elderly Chinese who populate Columbus park to listen to the music during the week-ends are extremely cordial, and laugh easily when a "gweilo" such as I takes interest in their culture. I had a number of conversations with Chinese men who, despite a halting English, were happy to see me taking photographs. As always, the card-playing, mah jongg and chess brigades were in force...some tables reserved for women players, who seemed to take the games more seriously than the men.

You may notice that the above photograph (click to enlarge) of the Chinese flutist is at an angle...this is because it's originally a vertical. I seldom shoot verticals, but I wanted to get that particular angle. And, yes, I toned a little bit.

Another thing...well, actually two things. The first is that I tried out the E-Clypse MAG 1.25x 34 from match Technical Services. It magnifies the Leica viewfinder image by 25%, and has a silicon rubber eyecup. The manufacturer claims that it increases the focusing accuracy by 25%, by magnifying the focusing patch. Let me say first that it's extremely well made, and fits the M9's viewfinder thread perfectly. It does magnify the focusing patch (I can't tell if it's 25% or not) but it's not the holy grail either...so while it makes focusing a tad easier, it'll still have to be gotten used to.

As for the second thing: Asim Rafiqui, a friend and damn good photojournalist (and Leica user) reminded me of the principle of zone focusing to resolve my difficulties. It had been stored in a dusty cobwebbed part of my brain, as I had never used it (the principle, not my brain). So I tested it once or twice while walking on Broadway...it works, but still needs refining.

I am on the right path. And since the Rapture has not happened, I have the time to practice. Phew.