I have no idea if the guy staring into his cellphone was checking the weather. But a weather check for the Streets of Nuremberg would have shown a cold front passing through today, with heavy rains and a significant drop in temperature. Was definitely time for a warm jacket for everyone out and about.
I was playing around with my Elmarit F/2.8 90mm on the Leica M. Image specs 1/125 sec @ f/4 and ISO 3200. The high ISO is not a problem for the M, and the monochrome images directly out of camera are quite beautiful. The backdrop shows the historic Heilig-Geist-Spital with the River Pegnitz passing underneath.
From a distance – wasn’t there this song by Bette Middler? It’s the core theme of these days, with countries slowly returning to the “new normal” and people trying to find the right balance between staying safe and the necessity of somehow have to carry on with their daily lives.
This photograph of a mother and her child was also taken from a distance. I was standing on the balustrade above the “Liebesinsel” (Island of Love), a small island in the River Pegnitz in Nuremberg’s Old Town.
Public life has come to a total standstill on the Streets of Nuremberg. Bavarian state authorities have issued a 24/7 curfew for the next two weeks. We can leave our homes only to go to work (if we have a pass from our employer), to seek medical assistance or to buy groceries. Single persons (or people living in one household) can also go for a walk outside. Only grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and places selling take-out food are open. When things got bad in China and the government locked up 15 million people in Wuhan, we all said that would be impossible to do in our western democracies. Four weeks later we know better. Crazy world. Amazingly, the majority of the affected population is fully supportive of the measure. Including me.
Took the Leica on a stroll into town on Saturday. There were noticeably fewer people on the streets of Nuremberg. Could have been due to the week of school holidays. But maybe it was the fear of getting infected with the new coronavirus that leaves people confined to their houses.
Shooting street photography with a Leica produces what I call “the rangefinder effect”. While people in the streets have a tendency to find it disturbing having a big ass DSLR pointed at their faces, their reaction is definitely quite different when they see the casually wandering photographer working the manual focus and the aperture ring of an almost anachronistic looking small black camera.
Obviously, shooting with other retro looking cameras like the Olympus PEN-F or the Fuji X100F is also much less intimidating than using a big DSLR with a huge lens attached. But those cams use autofocus and thus the process is often reduced to a simple point and shoot. The point and shoot approach would also work on a rangefinder using zone focusing (the systematic pre-focusing of a lens at specific distance and aperture to achieve a sharp image), but to get the hang of using a rangefinder I mostly take the time to set up the shots individually. Which, as totally unusual these days, draws curiosity and often a (probably pitiful) smile, the rangefinder effect. Especially when you are close to your subjects, what you have to be when you shoot street photography using a 35mm lens.
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The sun is missing in the Streets of Nuremberg. On days like this I’m in need of some color. So is my street photography. I’m not really looking for the classical high contrast black & white images, but shoot in color, looking for those scenes where color makes the photograph better.
During last week’s stay in Udaipur I also took the opportunity to go for a 15 minute quick stroll through the old city center. Leaving the PEN-F in my bag in the office, I just took my iPhone 8plus along for the walk. Hoping to make some street portraits.