Category Archives: Streetshooter

Edmund Bacon, The Passing Of Time

Edmund Bacon   May 2, 1910 – October 14, 2005

To the best of my memory, it’s 1999. I wanted to do a series of American Artists with my 8×10 Deardorff named Margaret. My ex-wife Deb was instrumental in making this work. Anyway, I made photos of Artists I could gain access to. One day, I got a call from the AIA—American Institute of Architecture. The woman told me that a ranking member wanted to meet me and discuss some ideas. So, we set a time and I went to the AIA to meet this member. I go into the space and there’s about 40 people standing around sipping champagne and nibbling on wee little wrapped hot dogs.

A tall elderly man approaches me and says, come get a snack. I said I’ll pass but would like to have a discussion with you. I know he was Ed even if he didn’t know that I knew. Ed invited me to his home and we set a time and date, a week later.

That was the start of the Passing of Time with Ed. He showed me the upstairs of his home. It was a workspace of sorts. There were so many interesting things all around. He had the original books of the layout of the city.  Then, then he called me over to a table. There was a 3-dimensional layout of something. Ed said this is my idea for the LibertyBell and a Visitor Center at the Historic Park. Ed said that another High-End Archetec won the construction contract. Don, the design has nothing to do with the people and the visitors. It is completely a commercial space. In time, you’ll see, McDonald’s will be there. I laughed but he said, during the Passing of Time, we either remember or forget our roots. The new home for the Sacred Liberty Bell will be a shallow open grave.

Ed wanted to go for a walk in the Historic Park. He told me his friend Louise Nevelson had a sculpture that he wanted a good photo of. So we trekked over and stood in front of the statue. I had my 2 M-6’s  Ed said, we don’t have digital yet so we need to make the photos and inspect them by hand. haha  He placed his hand on my shoulder and said. If we look at the sculpture and a thing then that’s what we will see and pass on to others. The sculpture is not something that is in our world and time but lives amongst us in the Passing of Time.  I spent a long time making photos of the sculpture and never really satisfied Ed. He always had another idea for it. One of our last times together, he said… see the point of the sculpture? We need it to be in color and right here,(he sticks a pin on the left point) and says, the photo wants a red person right there. I said it may take a long time to find that. Don, you have a mission now.

It’s March 6th, 2024 and I am out making some photos. I am at the Historic Park walking about and then, I feel some energy tugging at me. I looked across the street and felt, I needed to be over there. The next thing I knew, I was at the Nevelson statue.  It has been more years than I can remember since Ed and I stood in this exact spot in time and space. together. I have Penelope the Olympus OM-5 in hand.  I’m looking at the statue and feeling kinda melancholy and watching as time passes us all and the statue just smiles. I start to turn around and all of a sudden. a man walks to the statue and he’s wearing RED.  Penelope is a shakin’ and a vibrating in my hand. I put her to eye and then, a lifetime of time passing just flows in my vision. Click!

Early Life Influences PT2

I fail at keeping a chronological order of things. I will do my best to lay things out as I remember them but not exactly in the time frame of happening.

We are in the boonies and I’m about 6 weeks in country.  More missions than time in country. It’s like 123F and I am almost dry. A guy comes over to me and says, ya got leeches on your neck. Let me check your body. So we took my top off and sure enough, 7 more leaches. I didn’t feel them and never knew they were on me. Spud took a knife that was like a katana and started getting the critters off me. I asked Spud if I would be ok. He said, Jingles, unfortunately, you will live. Then we smoked a joint and drank some Bourbon. This is in the middle of the shit and he was like, we are at a beach. I asked him how long he was in country and he said, over 5 years. WHY THE FUCK are you here for 5 years.

Spud told me he was here a year and got a Star a few Purple Hearts and other Medals and recognitions. When the tour was up he was anxious to go home to Idaho. When he got home, his family seemed distant. He talked with his mom and she was not comfortable with him anymore. Apparently, they were very Christian and couldn’t accept his service. He signed up for another tour and went home to Nam. He told me, he never saw his mom or family again. Spud was on his 5th tour and told me he was never leaving because he was now home.

He grabbed my arm hard and shook me… “don’t you ever accept a medal for this shit. Don’t you ever let your family know what you did or witnessed here, you promise me, you shithead?” I do, I promise. When my tour was up and I went home, it was as if Spud programmed my life.. I got home for Christmas 1970. I was in the kitchen with Mom and we talked a little. Then she turned to me with a look I never saw before. She said to me, “You are not my son. I don’t recognize you. Who are you”?

We were in Chu Lai Village on security observation duty. Gravy for us,. People all around, pretty young girls, were ok. We are sitting around in a semi-circle and talking about how life will be when this is done. Willie is saying he was gonna start a Black Congregation of Baptist.  Wow, I thought that was about the most important thing I ever heard in my life. Then Steve says, I am an atheist and don’t believe in GOD. It’s all an illusion and I am not into it. Just at that moment, I pulled my 45ACP and fired a shot right past his head. He yells Oh my GOD, are you crazy, You could have hit me. I’m not crazy but you are a hypocrite and if you ever degrade GOD again, I won’t miss.

Willie was a cool dude. He liked me because he said I was color-blind.  To this day I never see race at all, just the heart and blood. Red Blood, we all have that in common. If anyone ever tells you differently, it’s a lie. A little while after we had this talk, Willie got his leg blown off and bled to death right in front of us. I like to believe that Willie went to the congregation of THE LORD and had peace at last.

Herman Kosmin gave me the M-4 and 35mm Cron as I was leaving to go to Nam. I told him, I can’t afford this Herman. He put his hand on my shoulder and said. “Listen, if you don’t make it back, our debt is over. If you do and I want you to, then you can pay me for the Leica and lens then. Ok, do we have a deal?
Yes, I was like really touched. He then said, You are in the book of Jove. I shot a lot of film with that camera. Many shots are in the Library of Congress, safely stored. When I got home, I took the camera and the lens to Kosmin’s Camera Exchange to give Herman the camera back. He was excited to see me and I was like really happy. Herman was one of my photography mentors and fathers. He took the camera and immediately I felt my insides just ache and get lonely. “Don, this is your camera. It always was and better always be.” Maybe now I can get a good night’s sleep and not worry about you.

I wanted to be a real photographer when I got home. So, I signed in to Antonelli School of Photography. I was accepted because i had the GI Bill and they were paying for it. After a week in school, I was totally bored. It seemed to me that it was a professional wedding school. I was right. Then, some students came to me and asked me questions. I knew the answers to all questions naturally. IO even helped some get the cameras working. We used 4×5 Graphics, 4×5 Graphic View Cameras, and some Mamiya 21/4. I never used a view camera before but when I got one on a tripod, I understood immediately how light worked in the camera. One day about 6 months in, a teacher called me into his office. We sat and he told me how much everyone respected me and how I helped many. Then, he said…”Don, the students are coming to you with questions and not coming to the teacher”. You are giving the right answers but you are taking the students from us. So, Unfortunately, your time here is terminated. I will contact the VA and let them know that you reached a time to move on. Once again, I failed myself.


Early Life Influences

I hold the freedom to just put photos in the post that are not directly related to the story, or are they?

There are things and people in my life that I remember so well. It’s not that I remember, it’s that I can never forget.

I grew up in Logan in Philadelphia. I was a teen and there was a girl around the corner. Her name was Harriet. She was older and from a wealthy family. I wasn’t. She had pitch-black hair and pearly white skin. I had never seen anyone that beautiful in my entire life. She was graceful and floated in the air like angels do. I would see her and just be mesmerized. I would have given my life just to share one breath with her.

When I was in High School, my friend and I were hanging out with some kids in another neighborhood. One day, we were all sitting on the porch, playing guitars and stuff. A tall girl with brown hair walked up on the porch. Her name was Karen. She started playing guitar and singing and I just kept falling under her spell that she wasn’t even aware of. Time passed and I just breathed Karen. She liked me also but in a different way.

Then, shortly after, I got my draft notice. I had 10 daze before I was to leave. Karen wrote and sang a song that to this day, I remember every word and nuance of her voice. So, I went to Ft Bragg and Ft McClellan to be a grunt. To cut to the chase, I was sent to VietNam as a grunt. My first firefight was my death and my re-birth. I lost my religion but my spirituality blossomed with a passion. When we were kinda safe and re-grouping, I had a serious thought and feeling. I felt I abandoned GOD and broke the most serious Commandment. That in itself, altered my existence but … the thought of Karen learning about my experiences in Nam and what I did as a soldier, haunted me to a point that I couldn’t live with myself. Even now, decades later, inside my heart and soul, I am not worthy to even breathe her. She is on Facebook and occasionally I post a comment on her stuff.


There was a girl named Helena. She was lovely and stunning. We dated for a week and then I told her I had to go to Nam. She kissed me and said …: “Good luck, stay safe and I never want to hear from you again or what happened to you “.

I had my Black M-4 and a 35mm Cron with me but didn’t use it for over a month when I got in country.  I felt that making photos was a thing for me and might detract from my duty and loyalty to my fellow grunts. Then one day, I just started making photos. I wanted to document my life there. I was doing color because I was using color. Then the guy in the lab told me, “Do B&W because color gets screened and censored if there is blood in the photo. B&W is ok cause you can’t see red.

I was shooting pics like crazy. Even on our missions, I made many photos. One day, we were out and the shit hit the fan. It was a nightmare and I did my job but also made many photos of the scene. After an hour or so, we regrouped again and got the guys loaded on a chopper for the medivac. Even bodies, I made photos of. A tall husky man with 3 cameras on his neck and shoulder came to me and asked, Are you Larry Burrows? Then he smiled. He said, I watched you and you must have great shots. I knew he was a pro and I was impressed. He went with us on many missions. One day, we were looking at my photos and smoking dinky dau and he said… Don, what are you gonna do with your photos? I smiled and said, I’m gonna make a book and it will be a real true look at being a grunt. He said, you have it all in your shots, a great job but… may I mention … how will the mothers, etc feel about seeing their sons mangled, blown up, bodies dismemberd feel? how will Dad feel seeing his beloved son lying there dead? Your photos will affect people for the rest of your life, but not this way. Jock was right. I never thought about the aftermath of my work. I never considered the effect my photos would have on the survivors of my experiences. Jock told me that he could get me a spot in the Library of Congress to house my photos. I agreed knowing that my photography would be safe sleeping and only a distant memory for me when I got home, if I even did. I was 20 years old then and Jock was 48. He was a pro from Australia. He taught me Humanity and Humility and how to do Tequila with Lime.

Jock gave me a Nikon F with a 200m 4.0. He told me to use it so I keep my distance but I never used the camera. My duty and job was to be close, then closer. When I got orders to go home to the world, I gave the camera back to Jock with the same unused roll of Tri-X in it. Jock and I wrote back and forth a few times a year for a while. I found out that Jockngained 60lbs after getting home. He died in 1991 from a Heart Attack,

I’m going to keep this series going because I need to.

Portrait of me by Richard Chaitt,1973

Surviving The Carnage To Creativity, Pt 1

It’s been some time since I wrote anything anywhere. It’s not that I don’t have the thoughts, energy, or ideas. It’s that I am tired of the battles. I am not tired of fighting the battles, just the battles. I am a warrior and will never surrender.  So, I had a conversation with my selves. We decided the best way to survive is to get cameras.

See, the attack upon my humanity I can get past someway. The attack on my creative essence is not so easy. After you survive, the residue is carnage. The carnage is what you have to work with to try and get whole again. It demands attention and perseverance to make it.

I address these issues with my cameras.  Even my camera cabinet has the presence of carnage. I sold many cameras in the last 2 years. They were Covid sell-offs. I acquired what I really felt a kinship with but alas, our relationship was not strong enough to last. I am kinda the same with wives, that’s why I have 3 exes.  It’s not easy to acquire cameras and even more difficult to unload them.

Anyway, I know I’m rambling but I need to clean out the dust in my poor brain. As photographers, we are editors and curators of our lives. With our photos, we shoot and then edit the ones we care about and then curate them to a place of recognition. Maybe not for others but for ourselves and that’s what matters.

So for me, editing is an ongoing process that works in most areas of life. Cameras for example. Have you ever shopped for a camera? Well, editing them lets you decide what you want to keep and what not to keep.  Curating is kinda like keeping them on a shelf or working with them.

Editing photos is an entirely different process. It has the way and means to cripple your creative energy and more. There should be ONE pure intent to process editing your work. That is, to satisfy the love and energy of your work for you. No other agenda need to apply.  That of course is an impossible task. There are so many internal as well as external pollutants that penetrate our eye, heart, and mind.

I will do my best to reborn the blog. Some have asked for a while and some don’t give a hoot. So I do it for the ones that asked and the ones that never knew about this and for me.

Be Blessed and don’t take any wooden nickles. No, I have no clue what that means but I’m sure it means something.

Covid-19 … A Lesson From My Cameras … Fuji X100V

This is all slim pickins because my time on the street to work is extremely limited. So I get to analyze my motives, processes and intent because, what else I have to do anyway?

O_k, about the Fuji X100V.  I have it about 2 months and 2 things keep popping up that make me want to get rid of it.  The first is that it does not have IBIS. For me now that’s a critical feature. My essential tremors have progressed to Parkinson’s Disease. Most cameras I can’t handhold below 1/250 sec. Yeah I know, sucks. The Leica M9 is certainly a heavier camera and in a way, it steadies for me. At any rate, when the time comes that I can’t use the M9 on the street, it will be time to buy the farm.

The Fuji X-Pro2 is similar to the M9 because it’s also a heavier camera. I adore that camera  and still have to use it around 1/125 sec.

I had the Olympus Pen-F and sold it 3 times and still think about it. It has IBIS and probably the best of any camera until….The Ricoh GRIII. This camera is a life line for me because of the iBIS. It is sooo efficient and I can handhold @ 1/15th sec. Sharp images, handheld at 1/15 sec… awesome. It works beautifully and flawlessly.

This is the first issue I have with cameras. I won’t sell any because they make me aware of my  shortcomings and that I need to work on them. Now I’m gonna tellya alls about a time past that things were different. There were alchemist that worked in the dark. The dark workers produced photos on some kinda paper and when you touched those photos, it was a delightful magical experience.

The real beauty back then that has manifested to current times, is THE CAMERA.  There was no IBIS in the film cameras. I look back at some of my archive and many images have a slight blur. Mostly unnoticeable but it’s there. I I used 1/125sec @ f/11 as my base exposure with Tri-X.  I had no tremor issues the that I was aware of and yet if I study the negatives, the tremor is there. If I had a Ricoh GRIII back then, no problems.

Back to the present, Covid-19 day 5-14-20. Because of the issues with camera shake, I have used soft releases on most cameras. The idea is, your finger will softly press the release and stop shake at the moment of exposure. When the Fuji V100V arrived I did 2 things right away. First as always is to install a Screen Protector. The next thing is the soft release. I have many of these and most are the convex style. It lets my finger have a point of contact that is natural feeling.  Here’s why you need to name your cameras and have conversations with them.

I had an experience 3 years ago. I got a Fuji X-Pro2. I put on a soft release and went for a walk, It was raining and it was a nice feeling to feel safe in the rain and make photos with a camera. I arrived home in a few hours and noticed the soft release was gone. No sweat, I have many. I went again with a soft release on the X-Pro2 and sure enough, it was gone when I got home.

So I decided that Walker the Fuji X-Pro2 and I need a chat. I looked Walker in the 23mm eye and said, wassup wit da soft release thing?  Walker said, “I doin need no stupid soft release on my body”‘ I gotta tellya, I thought that was kinda a nervy thing to say to me.  He continued by saying …”Shooter, your a nice kid, but who likes kids” We are partners thru a life in photography and that means we need to work together to bring the images alive.

Ya know, Walker the Fuji X-100V had a good point. I never used a soft release on him again.

I was sitting at my desk working in Light Room and I can hear a mumbling. I look around and methinks, I hear a mumbling a callin’. I looked in the camera cabinet.  It seems that Walker the Fuji X-Pro2 was talking to Walt the Fuji X100V. They are having a deep chat and Walt was explaining that he will be sold off shortly. He wanted to stay with Walker and the other cameras.  Walt was nervous to talk with me directly. Well, Andre the Leica M9 stepped up and said him and i need to talk. So I said I will sip a scotch and listen. Well, 3 shots later and I was all good to go.

Andre’ said, shooter for almost 2 months, you been having problems with the new kid on the block,  Walt the Fuji X100V. I said, yes sir, I can’t get the release right. Almost ever time I press the release  it fires many shots like continuous mode. I’ve had enough and i decided to sell the camera.

Andre’ said.  shooter sometimes your a smart guy and your good looking and many woman like to look  at ya. Some men also, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The thing is and we in the camera cabinet all agree, sometimes your not the sharpest pencil in the box. This is one of those times.


Covid-19 … Week 9 of Lock Down … Fuji X100V

I ordered a Silver X100V and then I was told that it would be delivered late March and this was mid February.  Well, I was feeling like I don’t even want the darn thing anymore. Then the guy in the camera store tells me he has a black one in stock and I immediately asked to get it. He agreed and the next day it was delivered. The camera was delivered March 20th. I’m glad he shipped it because I could never get out of the house anyway. We started Lock down March 11th. Anyway, I haven’t really had the time with the camera on the street. Oh, before I forget. The Fuji X100V is named Walt after my life long friend that passed a few years ago.  For some reason I was compelled to christian the camera with his name. I been making some shots with Walt the Fuji X100V and just kinda feeling him out. I gotta tellya,, I was less than enthused with this camera.  I had every version of the X100 and my fav was the X100T.  The X100F never hooked me even tho I made many good photos with it. So maybe I came to Walt the Fuji X100V with a poisoned mind. It’s a covid moment to have time to do things, except’n gittin away from da wifey. I know O joke around a lot but gettin away from da wifey is no joke.

I looked at Walt the Fuji X100V and figured it was time to get into him.  Something clicked that was familiar. It was the bonding between the camera and I. I can never actually identify what clicks but i know something did. It felt like anything I wanted to with the camera I knew how to do. So I am starting to find my groove with Walt the Fuji X100V.

Fuji X100V  OOC


Let it be known that I am a true Ricoh Lover and have been since long before Digital. Let it also be known that I have used Fuji cameras for decades. So I am not really doing a comparision because there’s 2 shots. The thing is, that the Fuji enlightened me in ways I didn’t wanna be. I had every intention to use the Fuji X100V for a few months and then get back to the Leica and Ricoh.

All this is going on while I am in Lock Down from Covid-19.  It’s terrible to go thru the stripping of energy and right of passage. It cuts the line of inspiration to my eye, heart and mind completely from my soul.

I believe there is a source of images that we draw the energy from. If one is an awake shooter, that shooter is aware of the personal pool of image energy. Maybe this seems mystical or like magic and ya know…it is. I come from a long line of Don’s. Long ago, there lived a Don soaked in the magic of life. He rode a horse with a lance and attacked the Great Windmill Dragons. He is my Don Ancestor and guardian of the magic lance. Today know as the Magic Camera.

When I was a young man, a famous Don summoned me to his presence. I walked into his chamber,  cigar smoke abound. He sat on a throne kinda chair and 4 men sat on his perimeter. He said to me, “Don Shooter, you have a responsibility to the life you live”. He continued by saying, ” Don Shooter, During the course of human history, many Dons have graced the planet. You are a Don and must continue the path of wonder and magic that you travel and love. ” Well, I looked at the 4 men around him and they looked at me and all shrugged.

The man in the throne said…”you are the Don Shooter and you must continue working even thru the Covid-1`9 fiasco. ” The he told me to leave and I asked what this was all about. He said, I dunno, some guy gave me a script to follow but Brando got the role.

So I left Don Vito Knows Nothing and now I’m here with you all.

I’ll hopefully be here another day also….

Be blessed all, stay safe and sane and remember……..hmmm forgot



Covid-19 … Homework … The Vibe of Life … Truth of My Reality


I’m not paranoid in any way, well except for what my shrink tells me I am. I just don’t fathom what the leaders of the country are doing or thinking.  See, we been in lock down about 44 daze and it’s grueling at times.  I miss walking about with a camera. I miss the smell of the streets, the feel of others around me dodging others as they walk to their destination, the vibe of life. I guess that the VIBE of life is essential to making photos and it’s what I long for the most.

About 2 weeks in isolation, I started to go thru my Light Room catalogs. I felt then that it was a good time to re-discover some photos and I was pleasantly excited. I noticed that the photos I selected back then are the same ones I wold select now.  The thing is, as I toured my photos, I started to have a longing again. It became over whelming and made me very uneasy.

Roland Barthes  in his writing of Camera Lucida,  talks about the studium and the punctum. I believe i am allowed to have my own take-away.  Basically I agree with Barthes about this but i feel different and here’s how I think about it.

As a photographer, I am concerned with 2 essential elements in a photographic experience. I see the Studium as the scene in the image. I see the photographer and what he/she adds to the image as the Punctum. Of course, the strength of each set of elements makes or breaks the photo. Of course this is a very basic approach but I want to keep it light so it gets digested easier.

Well, back to the history of my efforts. As I’m looking at photos of sessions past, one thing keeps resonating in my mind. I see the scene as a place of visual energy. I see the punctum as the element in the photo that makes the magic of seeing work within the scene. . The scene is more of a constant in the process and the punctum is more of a pronounced variable. It’s the punchline to the shot.

I am going thru many photos. The ones that have a star don’t interest me too much as they were born already. I was looking for future stars.  In Light Room, I use a single star to mark a shot that is born. after a few days of this I was emotionally fatigued. I mean, I just was saddened by what I was seeing. No, not the actual images, I love all my work and it brings me great pleasure.

I missed not the punch to the photos but the scene. The scenes kept calling to me, were putting pressure on me to walk again, observe again, hold my camera in my hand again, find the next shot again. The photo that have stars don’t do that because they are not virgin images. I saw the places that I awakened to many times, I could smell life again. I longed for the experience of living again and again and again….

The only way to defeat the Covid-19 is to be in isolation. I agree and accept that as a viable solution. It causes much anguish in my life. I can’t go and shoot. I have poisoned my mind by looking at past experiences. They filter in my mind and heart and stir things that can’t happen just yet.

Tanya and I are doing our part in the world. We are together n this experience and it damn sure ain’t easy. I keep seeing and feeling the photos I want to make.

Then, then it seems many do not agree about isolation. They want to open cities and states. Why, MONEY, that’s why. They want the freedom to do as they please at the cost that is yet undefined. So I question their motives and never question the stance Tanya and I take.

What bugs me is, all this time in isolation, I think 44 days already and others are going around in public most without a mask. I feel kinda betrayed because I know that what they do is wrong.

In the Old Testament, Charlton Heston went to the mt to have a chat with GOD. While he was there, the Jews were making false GODS and worshiping them. When him and GOD finished the chat, GOD told Charlton to go to his people cause the need him.

When he got down the mt to his people, he saw them running around without mask, they were not doing social distancing. He was sooo angry, he threw the 10 COMMANDMENTS at all the TV’s and PC’s.

He stated to the crowd, what are you doing? We need to follow instructions. GOD says President Trump is right about social distancing and mask.

Well, that’s how I feel. I can’t go out at all and because I mat infect someone or they infect me. It’s a duty to mankind and I do it as prescribed. I can’t look at mt catalogs because I am at a loss for the reality of my life.

Hope ya ain’t pissed or bored……

July 17th, 2019 … The Mind of a Streetshooter … Some Tips For Working

When I was doing my workshops, there were certain things that were asked and these things carried on for many years. There are things to know and there are things to just Breathe. It’s great to adopt a system to work and breathe in but it’s crucial to understand the mechanics of the language of the street.

First off, do not let anyone rattle your cage. There are many methods to work but they should just be a part of what you do.  watch out for the purist. I do believe here in Philly, they have given up the quest to take over people minds and have them do things right according to their standards.

I remember decades ago I dreamt of auto ISO before it was employed in cameras. I didn’t think about Auto ISA but I knew that shooting a film rated at 400 like Tri’ was limiting in very low light. I thought about if a film could change ASA, then it would simplify changing film. In a way, I did just that but in my darkroom. I got Tri-X to be at ASA 640 as my base ASA.  I used it for 250-800. The results were ok but not ideal. My Leica’s didn’t have a meter in them back then. I didn’t use a light meter unless it was a money shoot or something. Decades passes and cameras had M Mode and well… jump forward some, Auto ISO was installed. Of course, I fell in love with this technology. Many told me I was not true Manual because I let the camera set the ISO.

The argument is, to be true Manual mode, you set the ISO, the Aperture and the Shutter Speed.  This is the Triad of Exposure. So, on the street, we need to be more reactive and pay attention to the subject matter and or scene more than the camera. Wouldn’t be easy to do that when you lock yourself into using a single ISO. Any change in light value requires a change in one of the three parts of the triad. So why go out and spend time walking around, seeking your next photo and being plagued by the traditional Manual Exposure Thought train. There’s the shot, set f5.6. 125/sec and the now the ISO, no… not 250, hmm maybe 400.. sets 400, looks up and the world has changed. It’s ok, even tho NG would have paid $5000.00 for that shot, no matter.

There’s a reason for tradition and a reason to break tradition. Ok, looks around. I’m going to tell you about a feature that is extremely effective. Takes a deep breath. Ok, this is a feature that most people haven’t discovered. Yes, it’s a secret and I will tell you about it now. It’s called the Exposure Value or EV. Don’t let this rattle your cage. EV is a feature on all my cameras and I never use it. For real, all it does on some cameras is change accidentally and upset me. I know many shooters that use this all the time.

The argument for M Mode continues but I gave up the battle to defend using Auto ISA.  The jury is in for me. I have my way of working and that’s that. There’s another feature that gets a lot of chatter. That is Focus.

This is a more touchy subject than M Mode. Basically, we have,  Auto Focus and Manual Focus. My way to work kinda varies with the camera I use. Let’s face it, we all want the fastest AF we can get. What can be faster working than AF? Nothing right? I beg to differ. I will explain about the M Leica and not trying to sell anything, just explaining how it works for me. The M has Auto Focus but by a different concept. What happens is this. I go out and then focus the camera with the rangefinder. Whoa, I see something different and I Automatically Focus on the new subject. So, that’s Auto Focus in a New Concept.

It’s called humor and I know youse get it. At this point, I urge you to use The DOF Master. It’s been a lifesaver for me since it was released many years ago.

Hyperfocal Distance VS Zone Focus. 

The thing is, to understand your photos and how and why you make them. Then to understand your camera and to be friends with it. What focus distances do you really need to have in the photo? Hyperfocal Distance is the most widely accepted way to work on the street. I’ll give an example in a wee bit. You’ll see it down there. The other way is Zone Focus. They are different and we need to understand the difference.

On my M9 with a 35mm lens, @ f8 the Hyperfocal Distance is 16.9′ That means from about 8 1/2′ to Infinity is in acceptable focus. When you change f/stops, the HD changes also. If you use f5.6 then the HD is 23.8′. That gives you about 12′ to Infinity. The key to this is, Infinity is always on the far end of the Hyper Focal Distance. What changes is not Infinity but the near distance? So, you set the f/stop accordingly to the near distance you desire. You need to remember that when you change f/stop the shutter speed or ISO needs to be changed also… Nah…, anyone that knows me, of course, uses Auto ISO so change f/stops, keep your shutter speed and your camera will work with you to change ISO to meet the exposure you use.  I used 1/125 f/11 on my cameras for a very long time and many times I still do.

Well me starting thinking, I’m not always wanting infinity in focus. I mean if I’m like 8′ to infinity, man that’s a long way. That means I can have someone about 8′ from me in focus and then Giovanni in focus in Italy. Oh yeah, that’s theoretically Infinity. Maybe I don’t want that much in focus. Hmmm, must be another way. Lemme think, I mean it’s on my tung I just need a min to find it… YES. By Jove I got it mate.

Maybe, just maybe, Zone Focus can solve the dilemma. If we think about compression in a different light, we can grasp Zone Focus. Years ago the kit for high-end fashion shooters was a Nikon F,2,3 and the 200mm f4.  Moving in kinda close made a very compressed photo. It was more than DOF it was the way the lens compressed the image. I remember thinking back then, I like the way the subject and foreground and background were compressed. this is like 1981 and forward. I thought I wanted that compression but in the background and foreground. I mean, the foreground and background were soft or out of focus. The subject and a set amount of front and back were in focus. Not Hyper Focus because that moves out to infinity. I wanted infinity soft. So one day I had a revelation about zone focus.


The most important element for a camera is to be fast in operations. Next probably is how easy and how fast we can change our way of thinking and how the camera supports that. As far as focusing, the element that will change most is the foreground distance. With Hyperfocal Distance the foreground changes distance and the Infinity is a constant. So, you set the f/stop so that your subject falls in the range you desire.  Now you need to be aware of the close end of Depth of Field to make sure you have acceptable focus.

Here’s where Zone Focus is similar to Hyperfocal Distance. It’s about feeling the distances you are working with

What I do a lot is, Leica M, 35mm lens, at f/5.6 the HD is 28.8′. Everything from about 12′ to Infinity is in acceptable focus.  I set the lens to 10′ and then my zone of acceptable focus is 7.06′ – 17.2′. If I want a fatter zone, I would use f/f8.0 The range now is 6.29′ – 24.4′. That’s a very handsome range. If I went to f/11 I would use HD and that is 12′.

The important thing to remember is that the sharpest point is always where the lens is actually focused. So, the foreground distance and the background distance have a falloff. It’s not like the acceptable distance is sharp and then in front of that completely out of focus. It is a gradual falloff.  The smart shooter realizes that and uses that to create contrast or a focus juxtaposition.

This can all be performed on any camera that has manual focus and or manual exposure. It’s just not as easy or intuitive as a Leiva M. If you understand the process then maybe you can find a way to implement in your work. I know most of you know this stuff but my dear woman advisor Suzanne, wants me to spread the knowledge around.

Have a blessed week and I’ll be back soon with more stuff.   ….. shooter out …..

June 21st, 2019 … Ding McNulty … Saves Me Again … Leica M9

Ding said, slow down Don. It was a very hard suggestion for me. I was holding and viewing early photos from the FSA and I suppose I was excited. See, I always felt the photos, not just saw them. I could smell the sweat from the people, the sand, the dirty clothes. It all made me breathe photography more. Ding always told me to just slow down. flash forward to 2012.

Roger calls me and tells me he bought a few M9’s. I kinda remember he was in Germany at the time. I told him not to send it to me because I have a bad memory from the M8 and just wanna use my cameras. I was using Fuji and Olympus mostly. Roger was starting to have sensor issues and lost interest in the cameras. So, in 2016, he sent them to Leica and had the sensors changed, and the body cleaned and adjusted. He sent me one M9 packed in the box with the repairs done and told me, “Someday you’ll want this camera”.

I kinda chuckled because the M9 was a dinosaur when it was borne. I had Pen Cameras, Panny, all kinds. I was heavy into M43 and even was an Admin. I never thought about that silly M9. Time passed and Leica made the Mono, the M240 and other goodies. Still, I was not tempted to bring out the M9. I started using the M240 and it’s a fine camera. I spent over 18 months battling with the weight. Finally, I sent the M240 back to Roger. I made handsome photos with that camera and it’s a gem for a Leica, just too heavy for me. I’m lucky to have the Fuji X-Pro2, Olympus Pen-F, Ricoh GRIII, etc.

I fell to illness, Ulcerative Colitis. I spent very little time on the streets, or did I?  I was homebound.  I went thru some of my archives and it appeared that recently, meaning the last few years, I was going a little faster and deeper than I normally do or like to do. I’m 69 now and if I can’t see my work now, I never will. I am always happy with what I”m doin…..then I hear a sound in my tired brain.

I’m feeling a knock, knock in me poor head. I yell into my head and say…. what do you want and who the heck are you? The, then out of the darkness in my head, i hear a voice I longed to hear for all my life. The voice says, slow down Don, just slow down. Yeah, yeah, like you, just a voice know anything. Then, I start thinking and I do recognize the voice. It’s the voice of reason and the voice of pure understanding creativity. I can hear, use the force Luke… wait, wait, the wrong channel… this is Photography Issues from Philly, not Star Wars.

The voice was Ding McNulty. In my mind and heart, Ding is always with me anyway. It’s one of the reasons I go to a shrink. SLOW DOWN DON… JUST SLOW DOWN. Ya know, I need to slow down and smell the flowers. So I went to Roger’s house and into the Camera Vault. I saw my M9 on the shelf and took it home. I wasn’t really holding any expectations for success but I needed to give it a go. I put the battery in the charger and I remember about 3 hours to charge. I clean the camera the way Ernie from Leica NJ showed me. Then after some time, I put the battery in the camera, I put a card in and I use a slooooowwww 30mbps card. The camera gets turned on and I half expect this thing to be a paperweight. M9 boots up, I format the card….the battery reads under 50% which I expect is due to age. No matter. I go thru the menu and do my settings. Now, when I hold one of my cameras, my adrenaline gets to work. I am in a kinda hyper tuned mode. For some reason, the M9 is making me breathe and be aware of each breath. So, I say to M9, let’s try each other out. M9 tells me, look, shooter, I been waiting on the stupid shelf over 3 years for you to wake up.

Yeah, so what…..? There is someone inside my body that is telling me to just get you to slow down.. Yeah, right. You’re just a camera, what ya think I am huh, huh…I ain’t no damn fool. M9 says, you talking to me, you talking to me. No silly Don, Dinero is not in me, Ding is.

Well, maybe youse don’t buy too much of this. Maybe, just maybe I have a life that includes dreams and fantasy but…. I have a Leica M9 that Ding McNulty will visit from time to time. Like it or not, I am willingly being forced to sloooow down

Have a blessed weekend and maybe, just slow down a little……