Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Slight of (A Very Steady) Hand

My friend James Mitchell was in town a couple of weeks ago and we went to Jimmie's Place for lunch. While we waited for our heaping plates of gourmet diner fare I shot a few frames with my trusty Bessa L camera and its 15mm ultra-wide angle Voigtlander Heliar lens. It's not easy catching James with his eyes closed but I nearly always succeed!

Anyway, the rig focusses b'guess & b'gosh. You estimate the distance and set it on the scale around the lens. With an ultra-wide you have a lot of depth of field so I usually just leave it focussed at one meter all the time. Everything from about half that distance to the horizon will look sharp enough.

James had his Korean War era 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor mounted on his Leica, and I decided to see just how accurately I could judge distance. I unscrewed the lens from his Leica and screwed it ito my Bessa body. That model Bessa has no built in rangefinder, nor does it have a built in view finder, so it was doubley b'guess and b'gosh, both for distance and framing. I framed a bit too much to the left, and focussed a few inches behind my usual target, the eyes, but they were closed anyway. The top of the ear is sharp, as is the logo on the T-shirt. If I'd been shooting a news story the picture is sharp enough, and a bit of cropping would center the subject. When I saw the prints I was happy. Shot on Kodacolor Gold 200 with an exposure of 1/125 of a second at f1.4.

What is he doing in the top picture? I guess that's an out of focus creamer in his left hand as he steadies the coffee cup with his right.


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