Category Archives: Streetshooter

January 9th, 2019 … Blinded With Clear Vision … or … Wake Up the Past to Find the Present

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… you miss the point and you miss and abuse the flavor of life. I will not entertain you with an argument, let me just say, you will never connect your heart to your photos. You probably don’t connect anyone with your heart and for that I feel terrible for your friends and family but my friend…not for you. You have the gift of life and take it for granted.

Sorry friends. You caught me off guard as I was in a discussion about the heart of life and the heart of photography. See, there’s many ways to make photos and many uses and or purposes for those photos.

Flashback….we are at base camp near LZ Liz. I’m sitting around with a couple troops and we are talking about the value we feel for life. Some guys are saying, they would fight to the death and die for America. I feel that way also and continue field cleaning my 45ACP. Spud a soldier from Idaho and on his 5th tour says to me, Jingles, you would die for your friends here and die for your country. I bravely and boldly say, damn right

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spud knocks me on the head and looks in my eyes. The other troops are looking and trying to figure out what’s happening. Spud says so all the others can hear, Jingles, it’s easy to die here. It’s a worthy cause to die for your friends and your country. You need to find a reason to live for them and America and not die for them. You need to always fight for life, not death. If you survive, you must fight for life every day until you die. You must never surrender to death and when you die, make sure all the world knows it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I thought about the dichotomy of life and death. Spuds words resonate in my heart and mind to this very second and I often wonder if he was recognized as a ZEN Master. I asked Spud why he was here so long and he said because here, I am able to feel my life and in the world, I feel I am not worthy and will abuse it.

The thing about photography is, that it is a representation of our life and existence. There is a path to self discovery and for me it has always been with a camera.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On this path to Self Discovery, we must realize that it is a lonely path and ends in our death.  This does not mean that we can’t share time with others but you’ll catch hell trying to get someone to die with you. That Landmark is strictly a lonely one. OK, so we can’t cheat death or life but what we can do and should do and simply put, must do is: Live our life in a manner that brings focus to our hearts and souls and honors those before us.  As photographers, we should make a worthy battle to maintain our integrity and honor our work as if it is our life’s worth..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We need to honor our history. It is said that we should see things as if seeing for the first time. Such a simple virgin excuse. By doing so, we erase our history and neglect any value that the work had or has for us. I rather acknowledge;edge my history and maybe make a new photo of the subject but keep the history alive. You simply can not erase the history of your work. So, then, love it and see things differently and make a new photo of whatever you are doing.

Proof that I am not too crazy. We all do exactly as I said every time we make photos of our friends and family etc. If you make photos of a loved one, do you erase the history or embrace it?

I will write more shortly…. go in peace alls………

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

November 30th, 2018 … Watching You Watching Me … Passing Time With Harry Bertoia

I was heading out to Harry Bertoia’s place in Barto Pa, and was anxious to talk with him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Bertoia   Harry had a mind that was limitless in thoughts. He was expecting me and had a cup of coffee ready when I arrived. Harry was sitting and looking at some of his sculptures. I sat in the chair next to him and by the way, the chairs were sculptures by Harry. Harry looked at me and asked, “What do you see”? I know that no matter my answer, it would either be wrong or in adequate. I told Harry that I can only explain what I’m seeing that connects my heart. (If this is wrong, I don’t wanna be right) I said I see the light, textures, shapes and the physical things associated to each piece.

Harry smiled and said, what do you think the pieces are thinking as they look at us? My eyes kinda perked up and I was caught off guard. It’s 1976, my son Paul was born 5 months prior to this event. I hadn’t done any drugs in a long time, no pot, no alcohol either. Clean and sober except for photography. So I felt kinda trippy when Harry asked me that question. I never thought about my works watching me as I watch them. It’a absurd I tellya, totally absurd. That’s not the lesson he was teaching me.

Harry was teaching me about perception and how it applies to others seeing me. Harry said that my work is stronger than any mirror image. Look at your self in a mirror and you may adjust yourself as you see fit. When you look at your work, realize that it is looking at you and can’t be adjusted. You just need to accept the fact that it is you and another way of seeing yourself and being seen.

Minor White had a similar concept about viewing work. He felt that it was a 3 way process. The photographer, The work and the viewer. All 3 are as one and not one part shall be excused from the others. I agree with these Master of course. I also like to add that there are other elements involved and even as the work is created. The idea of money or paid work, regardless of the original intent, will most certainly effect the outcome.

The intent of the photo is now maybe divided upon the shooter and the shooter’s client. The photo that’s looking back at us maybe is in the hands of a client and those eyes are watching us intently. Who or whom is our work satisfying now? I think Harry had a getter grasp on this than Minor. Harry made and sold a lot of work. His Sounds Of Sculpture is an amazing recording. I got to play some of those sculptures in his studio. Harry gave me a small mushroom sculpture and I still have it. In fact I was looking at it a short time ago and it told me to write this blog post, so I did,

 

 

p

December 6th, 2017 … The Excellence of Being

Of course this is a loaded topic but nonetheless, I want to get into it some. There are times that when I am working, something comes over me and I am totally aware of my being.  Some may call the the ZEN. Perhaps it is. I read a series of books that has effectly altered my thinking and feelings about being. This was in the early 1970’s. The author was Carlos Castaneda.  Many say he made everything up but who cares. The world is made up and all we do is choose the parts we want to believe and love.  Anyway, it’s basically about Carlos and his relationship with a Native American mentor named Don Juan.

I think Don Juan had a more focused outlook on life than even the Zen Masters. Different for sure but extremely focused.

 

Some things Don Juan taught Carlos and me by reading, was that…Death is always on your Left Shoulder. He also taught that if you are doing something, it must be worth your death. If you are in the middle of anything and death comes to you, you must not have wasted life but embraced it and your death. Death must be worth you life and you are able to feel as a warrrior not only thru life but thru death.

 

What does this have to do with photography? Well, I believe that photography is a cause for going on. So, that being the case, what attitude should I have when working? What frame of heart and mind shall process what my eyes present to them? What is the switch that I can hit that makes things lighter and less important? I have never been able to answer these questions and more. I found that it is better to live the answers than to try to verbally define them.

The independant state  of being is attached to the breathing of photography.

I had a friend for a long time. His name is jack. Jack was a successful commercial photographer. He made a lot of money and was in demand in DC, Phila and NYC. We met at Oscar’s Pub years ago and chatted and each expressed our views on photos and stuff. Jack said I was too serious and asked how much money I made with my camera. I felt kinda second class and told him I had to leave.

It moved me about the thought of equating satisfaction and success with money. I really felt  kinda out of place. Life went on and cameras and photos came and went. One day I was at Logan Square and sitting on a bench. All the sudden, Jack came to me and sat next to me.  I said, Jack, it’s been a long time man. He said, yup,12 years and 2 wives.

I asked Jack what he was making photos of and he quickly stated that he gave photography up cause the money well dried out.  I asked him if he did personal wotrk and he said, never. Then Jack asked me if I still was making photos. I looked at him and said, Jack….if you need to ask that question, you don’t know me at all.

I shook Jack’s hand and got up and walked away. I never saw him again and yet I never wanted to either. The excellence of being is not absorbed from others but born inside of each of us. We all have the ability to produce a life with photos that teases our death. We can’t escape it but we can live the moment of excellence of being so that when the time comes, we depart with a peace that is undescribable to those that do not heed the warnings or the flavor of life.

I don’t expect many to agree with me or even like this post. That’s not the issue. The thing is, now you have an understanding of where I’m at.

So, tell us where your at?

November 17th, 207 … The Memory of Being

Leica M240 35mm Zeiss

………what about being in the moment? Is it really a moment? Is it just ONE moment and then it’s over? Maybe it’s a series of moments and then it’s not a moment at all. Perhaps as photographers, we really should not live in the moment but just have the memory of it. Maybe what’s really important is not the moment at all but the memory of it. Surely the memory will outlive the event of the moment. No matter if it’s The Decisive Moment or just a regular non specific moment.

The important thing is not the moment but being in the moment. Maybe that’s not right either and I personally believe that the memory of being is all that matters in any situation. The memory of being is all that remains after a breath passes.

Photographers are possessed with being in the moment and capturing an image that reflects the memory of the experience of that moment. I am not convinced that I succeed in that mission. I fail because I make photos that are more of a personal outlook to me then the actual living breathing moment.

Years ago I embarked on a body of work about American Artist. I used an 8×10 Deardorff named Margaret after my exes mother’s name. I made countless photos of many famous people. It was a humbling experience to say the least. As I moved along the journey, I started to realize that death was my partner on this project. Most of the artist were much older than me.  As I released the shutter, I felt that being there was a special emotional moment that I wanted to cherish forever. That set the framework for all the photos. I wanted a descriptive living document of all the ones I photographed.

I wanted the families and friends and collectors of these people to have THE image of that particular artist. I’m not saying I ever succeeded in anything but creating a false representation of a reality, that suggest to me or the viewer that I was there and this is what I saw.

So the memory of being introduces an element at the moment of release that I can’t get past. That element is, being aware of being in the moment, or being aware of making the memory of the moment. Perhaps the 2 live side by side and only some people even care about it.

I write these things as observations that have captured me along the way. You may or may not find worth in it but I will continue just as I will continue making photos.

Be blessed all………end transmission…………..

November 14th, 2017 … … 40 Minutes in NYC … and In Nam … With Roger

First Meeting

It’s Sunday afternoon around around 3:00pm, or 1500 if you like. The phone rings and Roger says, I need … and he gives me a list of cameras to bring to him in NYC. OK, I forgot, youse don’t know Roger. I’m 13yo in Junior High School and as I walk past the store on Old York Rd, I see 2 kids tormenting a another kid. I don’t know the kids getting his butt kicked but I do know the 2 assailants. So I walk over and say to the 2 kids, what’s up? Mind your business Springer. Quickly I said, (now just cause ya know kids don’t mean they won’t jump ya and kick ass)….So I said, it is my business, he’s my cousin. They looked at me, ok….  They stop and tell the kid, your lucky. They leave and I’m now with this kid that’s a real nerd. He’s tall and over weight and just the kind of kid bullies like to mess with. The kid says, thanks Don. Hmmm, I don’t know him but he knows my name. So I ask him his name and he replies, Roger ….? He hugs me and thanks me.

We walk towards my house and it turns out he lives around the corner from me. We become friends. Y E A RS P A S S………. The war in Viet Nam is brewing and I don’t know what the hell it even is. I get my draft notice. Mom cries. Aunt Ann wants to send me to a safe house in Canada. I tell Roger I was /drafted. He says, yeah, I know.’m going with ya. I say WHAT! Roger says, where’s Vietnam? Who’s fighting there? I answer in my most intellectual manner, dunno?

So…I say, Roger, what did you do? I told dad I wanted to ge with you. I get this chill up and down my back. How did you do this and why? Roger says, dad made a few calls and we are going to be together the whole time. Why, I ask. Look stupid, you don’t know what Vietnam is. Ya don’t know about anything. I’m going to make sure your ok and come home. I felt some kinda way about this and remember, Roger got his ass kicked more than a few times. How’s this guy gonna protect me? See, I never knew Roger’s family was very very wealthy. That’s how his dad got this done. I learned that this was the reason Roger got in fights all the time.

 

Vietnam Payback

115F and must wear  the helmet. We are going thru Chu Lai Village and we never know if it’s hot or not. So we assume it’s hot. Coming out thru the North Side, all 15 of us are feeling kinda safe and most light up a sally. Sally is a Joint that you soak in Liquid Opium and then dry it and smoke it. It’s called a Sally Joint. Oh yeah, I smoked that baby but never inhaled. we get to a clearing and kinda going slow. No small arms fire but all the sudden, out of nowhere…. that whistle sound and then…the sounds of Hell coming up to catch you. The Mortars are coming down quickly. The thing about mortars is that they are mathematical in use. So the tube can be adjusted to get very accurate as to target acquisition. Scary shit man, no joke.

Anyway, we are running to tray to break the rhythm and pattern of the rounds raining on us…….Then….the earth shook, my ears went numb for don’t know how long but, I had this ringing sound in my ears and head and a very loud numbing sound of silence. I’m dizzy and can’t hear and my eyes ayr covered in dirt and I fall to the ground. I try to look around between the rounds falling and I see someones leg in front of me and I just knew this is where I shall be for eternity. I lay still and close my eyes and pray that The LORD ends this Hell fast.

Well, in less then a minute, I feel someone grabbing my legs and pulling me. I can’t move or see who and all[ the sudden, I thought I was captured. I pissed my pants at some point but don’t remember when. Then this person tries to roll me over and I can’t do nothing. I expected to see a VC with an AK47 pointing at me and then as I look up, Roger is pouring water on my face and rinsing my eyes and putting water in my ears and mouth. He bends down and checks my body for blood and holes. I’m still in some kind of shock. Roger is talking to me but I can’t understand a word. He picks me up and carries me to the chopper and puts me on and the n he gets on. We get extracted and there’s no fire after us. I now can start to hear the blades of the chopper. There’s a medic and he spends a minute checking me and looks at me and gives me a thumbs up. Roger is sitting next to the door gunner and in a way I didn’t understand, protecting me with his M16.

 

When the phone rang and I hears Roger’s voice, I knew he needed something. See, him and Mary are traveling all over the world. He’s a International Copyright Attorney.

So I get this list of things he needs as he’s in NYC for 3 days. I go to his home and go into the walk in safe and get the cameras. It’s about 2 hours from Philly to NYC and no traffic and I get there on time. Mary gives me a hug and the Rog says, thanks again, your my hero as always.

When we were 13yo, I stopped a few bullies and then, in Nam, this nerdy overweight kid I helped way back then…. comes to my rescue, carries me out of harms way, gets me to the chopper and saves my eyes, my hearing and my life, and I’m his hero!

What goes around, comes around….better believe that!

November 5th, 2017 … A junkies Lament

Years ago I would walk most of Kensington Ave but I can’t now so I drive to a spot and then walk some. I parked at Lehigh Ave and started walking up towards Somerset St. I get under the Rail Bridge and I see across the street a familiar face. Mom the Ricoh GRII was at the ready and we made a photo. I put her in my pocket. I walk over to the guy on the sidewalk and say, Hey Harry, what’s up? He looks up and has a slow nod on from the dope but responds, yo ma’ whatz up? I ask Harry how it’s been and he says, 17 already. What? 17 years out here, nothing any better.

See a few years ago I worked the avenue making photos of the junkies and  hookers etc. I spent maybe 2 years there and got to know a lot of people.

Harry told me his wife and daughter both od’d years ago. His daughter was 14 and she been tricking since she was 12.  Harry asked me how I was doing and how the PTSD was creeping up on me. I smiled. Harry was in the Marines and served a few tours in Afghanistan. He was a grunt and I suppose that’s how he ended up on the streets. He said he didn’t need the VA for help cause he gets all the help he needs from the next fix.

He told me he was hungry and could I spare some cash. I handed him $20.00 and he said no. That kind of money I shoot, just a few bucks for a coffee and a hot dog. I asked hi if here had any plans and he said, someday I’ll get a hot load and then I can sleep. I ain’t got no family anymore and friends just wanna rip me off.

Don, this is my home under the bridge. Your free to pass by or stop and chat anytime. So I sttod up and said my fafrewella. He looked at me and said…

“Semper Fi”. Ya know, that’s about the highest honor a Marine can bestow upon another Marine. For him to do that for me, Damn man… Fucking Hard Ass Soldier..

 

Lighter days a comin’….. be blessed

September 4th, 2017 … One Shot per Shoot … Rekindled

Ya’all know I’m a normal guy. Seriously, my shrink tells me that, well not 3 or 4 times a week but maybe like once a month sometimes maybe. See, I got this issue with always taxing myself. Not like the IRS taxing but the kind that makes my brain hurted and then go on vacation …. but I’m used to this and it’s not normal or anything to think about. It’s just my way of keeping the inspiration going. Go on, laff… have a good chuckle. Yeah, yeah, old shooter is going off again. Youin’s be right. Ok, see we can all go out and shoot many photos in the course of an outing. I call these outings, shoots. Comes from my daze when I did some of this for money.

The thing is, without discipline, we don’t tax ourselves and maybe we even stifle ourselves. Not good and what’s worse, is that it happens and we don’t know it is or did happen. Here’s an observation. There’s a principle in photography called, The Inverse Square Law. This states that Less is More and More is Less. so if we apply this to making photos, we could see it as, making a lot of photos on a shoot,  probably gives less satisfaction or…. the shot that makes you breathe. Well, my brain couldn’t think this way, here’s why. If that’s the case that more is less, then less is more… wait, wait. So, I see it as, if I shoot less, maybe I get more satisfaction and possibly the shot that makes me breathe.

I started to think about this cause I wanted a conclusion I could not only live with, but to apply and  teach. Obviously going out and burning many exposures in hopes of a good frame is not a brilliant but very popular method of operation. Same token says, I could just shoot less and try for that shot that makes me breathe, ya know the shot that is more than anything you anticipated.

Hmmm I thought. If this Mr Inverse guy made this Square Law and we have to live by it, maybe there’s something I need to uncover. See, here it is. If your out there burning many exposures and hoping to catch the magic frame, there’s a good chance your INTENT is confused. On the other hand, if your out there looking for just one shot per shoot, well…seems to reason your INTENT is more focused. What happens with the later method is….you develop a sense of timing, framing, selection, and being in the here and now without confusing yourself. You get to feel, think, see, breathe your frame. I’m not saying to go out and just make one exposure. I have done that for years with my 8 X10 Deardorff. I am saying that by slowing down and being alert and tuned into everything, you get a ZEN sense of the moment. Instead of going out and machine gunning with you camera  hoping to catch something, you go and just try to catch just one. If you know you got it, go back and process it and start over next cycle. Do not succumb to the fascination of making many exposures.

Remember, all the gear and stuff you acquire and use is for one single purpose….to make a photo that when you view it….makes you feel that you made a part of the portrait of you and your life. So, maybe just focus on a single frame for each shoot. This will allow your eye, heart and mind to work together with your camera and help you on your journey.

Be blessed my friends and even in this time of mass fear thru the world, stay focused on yourself and your loved ones.

seeya soon………shooter out…………………………………………..

 

August 13th, 2017 … Memory or The Decisive Moment … Cont’d

Ya know, I gotta tellya’s…. it’s summer time here in Philly and my brain is on vacation. So maybe I am writing about memory for a reason. The thing that I get from photography is the realization that I love the process and I need the catalyst that photos present. Pete and Andrey wrote some very profound comments on my last post and I urge toy to read them. You don’t have to comment but you should read them. I am basically a streetshooter. I used to do other things but for the last 30+ years, mostly street. For me, street = life. So as a life shooter, what is it I am after? I kinda think that it filters down to a residue of intent.

When I’m out shooting, I am not thinking about memories,. Sometimes but not a priority. So, I make photos with the purpose of getting them into Light Room and then making the photo represent my vision. Of course I rely on memory but truthfully, I am totally aware that there is a new reality being borne. This is my intent, well part of it. So I make photos to serve something different than memories. Any memory cast forward from the photo is really from the photo and not so much the scene or subject where I was when I released the shutter. This is very important to grasp.

The memory of the photo or making the photo is secondary to the actual photo. The experience is not as important as the end result. Don’t get me wrong. I adore, no…I breathe photography. It’s not something I do as a pastime or hobby or as an art form. I do it because I have no choice. A heroine junkie has an easier time detoxing from junk then I ever could from making photos. I don’t define photography, it defines me.  Ok, enuff of that.

The Clarity of Intent

Shhhhh, don’t spread this around. I hear tell and I know for a fact that some people are very serious about this photography thing. Seems crazy right? Well, let’s explore this serious side of this photo making thing. There comes a point in time that is marked as a moment of recognition of the self. This moment for the photographer is an awareness of intent. This is the continuing culmination of the gathering of info, thoughts and feelings. This is our supply feed for our work.

Lets assume that we are out working and something kinda captures out attention. At that moment, our supply feed and the exterior catylist join together and present us with the birth or death of the photo.

We are then faced with the option to make the photo or not.  Many things will happen quickly to come to the conclusion of the unborn photo. This is not yet intent but rather the decision to develop intent or not. Things happen and you may or may not make a photo.

You need to be alert and sensitive to this moment. All that you are is present and needs to be at the ready. What if you decide to make the photo? Well, try this for size. If you are aware that all of you is in the moment and you have accepted the responsibility to yourself and the unborn photo, then the intent of all is showing the way.

The moment and the decisive moment are working together but not the same. Being in the moment or the here and now leads to the release of the shutter. The release of the shutter is the decisive moment.

At that exact moment in your life is the realization that you either satisfied your intent or not. If you feel that you got it, then the rest is a very tuned, aware process of giving birth to the photo. If not, then the decision to move on is necessary. Just remember that not every photo is whats considered a keeper. The thing is, even if the photo is not a keeper, does not mean it fails at intent. Lets say that you were doing a street scene. Here’s the thing about The Moment and Memory. In the moment making a street photo, that satisfies your intent, provides a photo that is more about the making and satisfying yourself. This is the dividing factor of the Moment and INTENT.

 

I need another post to get the point across.

I will post in a day or so…………..be blessed my friends……………………………………shooter out…………………………………..

August 7th, 2017 … Memory or The Decisive Moment

Sorry about being absent for a while and I know youse all need my stuff in your head. Well, here’s something. I been reflecting on my self for a while and the past few weeks really getting critical. See, I have this nice mirror in my office and I sit and look into it for a spell and reflect.

No, not that self indulgent kind of reflecting. The important kind. The kind that says, dude, ya need to lose a few pounds. So I started to think about the importance photographs have for us as shooters and the motives and intent for making them and the end result of the photos life.  Probably the most important purpose for a photo is the making of a memory. This in itself is an oxymoron to the intent of photography. If a photo is a 2 dimensional image, then it should be viewed as it’s own reality. The reality of the photograph. This concept was initialized and taught by Stieglitz.  He was the one conscious of the phenomenon of photography and the one whom discovered the true nature of a photograph. The idea was that when a photo is viewed it should stand on it’s own merit and not need the crutch of the reality it was captured from. This has been passed down from generation to generation of shooters.

The idea of titling a photo supports the crutch of reality and serves to destroy or shatter the illusion of the image. We see a photo of a person and it’s titled, “Grandma, New York 1936.” The title supports the memory but what about the innate existence of photography? If we practice that a photo needs only itself to be recognized as itself, what then about Grandma? What about this memory thing? Does this mean that photos really are not what they appear to be? Does it mean the the concrete illusion of a photo being on it’s own in our reality is not a truth at all?

Stieglitz said that photos were the truth of the moment. Bresson coined the phrase, “The Decisive Moment”.  I lived my life adopting these truths and practicing them and teaching them. So why now at 67yo do I question the basis of a life in photography and stumble uon the very essence of my belief system? Perhaps I am not. Perhaps it’s an awakening of a dormant concept that is now coming to life and trying to create a new path.

I tend to believe that this memory thing is inherit in all of us. Photographs are not an island of tranquility at all. They rock the very foundation of their own existence. Street photography as important and loving as it is, is also the antithesis of memory. When I work the streets, I am not thinking about memories. I am thinking and feeling …. what?    Damn, ain’t the the $64,000.00  question.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have learned and taught that the photograph exist due to the shooter making it. End result, Fine Art, whatever ya  wanna call it. No not a pretentious intent and result. We look at our work and try to feel and see the reason for making it. It’s not a lost soul, it’s just photography. The real idea is that we had another reason for clicking the shutter than the memory of the moment.

The division between intent is where the problem lies (correct spelling), if there is a problem. If we make a photo and memory is a secondary intent, then post it on Flickr or any place at all and get responses, that serves to justify the  intent and process to get the photo there. While you are looking at the photo, the phone rings and you are told that Grandma has passed away. Well, let me tell ya something, you will be looking for photos of her quickly. It’s the memory of her and the experience you shared making the photo that you long for.

I will continue this in a few days. I’m interested in reading your thoughts if you care to share.

shooter out………………………………………………………………….

 

July 1st, 2017 … An Old Friend Comes Home … Leica X-E

….. Roger and I are standing at the counter at B&H. I think it’s like 2012 of 2013. The salesman is working with another customer when he sees Roger and says I’ll be right there. Sure enough in 15 seconds, he’s shaking Roger’s hand.  He doesn’t acknowledge me and that’s fine.  Roger looks at me and does that silly thing with his eye. I’m supposed to know what it means but after decades, I still don’t. He tells the guy I’m his partner and all the sudden the salesman wants to  give me his firstborn son.

Roger gives the salesman an order number. The guy goes to the back of the store an in 5 minutes returns with a look of curiouosity on his face. He says, “there seems to be a mixup with the order, they didn’t specify which camera and lens you wanted”. Roger looks in the box,  picking up the Monochrome, the M24o. There around 7 lenses in the box. Roger says to the guy, yes a mistake has been made. Where is the Canon 5D and 24-70 and the 35 1.4? The salesman says, “can we get the Leica that you want first”? Roger immediately says, this box is part of my order.  It all goes with me.

I think the salesman is like 27 yo but he needs to wear a diaper. I think he dropped a load.

He says Yes sir, be right back. On his return Roger says he wants to see the Leica X-E. Well the salesman runs and comes back with a new X-E. he opens the box and loads a batter in it. He hands it to Roger who in turn hands it to me. I start checking it out. They finalize the bill and for some things ordered a few weeks ago. I figure it’s around $80,000.00. A man walks over to Roger and thanks him, shakes his hand and says’ “We want you to have the X-E as a gift to a loyal customer”. Of course Roger is very gracious and thanks all concerned.


We carry the two boxes out to Roger’s Jag and put them in and we head back to Philly. We get to the first rest stop and of course I need to go. So, we pull in and Roger waits in the car as I go in. After a few minutes I come back to the car and get in. Roger starts the car and hands me a box. He says, I want you to have the X-E. I tell him thanks but no thanks. That cmera goes against everything I have going on. I like to set my camera on M mode, auto iso and then choose f/stop and shutter speed. This way I can control my exposure and the camera works with me selecting the ISO.

The Leica X2 and X-E do not do this. They will not allow auto ISO in M mode. I tell him forget it. Then as we are driving along, he’s telling me that I am too comfy in the way I work and with the cameras I work with. He tells me that I don’t think anymore but just respond to the scene kinda like a very open minded auto mode. Inside, I am getting pissed. Not because of what he’s telling me but because it’s all true. He reminds me that in my film daze, I would have a fixed ISO, sorta of maybe but I ain’t sayin’ nuttin about that stuff. I smile and admit he’s right but I don’t want to fix something that’s not broken. He tells me keep the X-E and just enjoy it. I used his X2 many times before so I know the work involved in un-taking-for -granted and adapting-what-I-know-but-don’t-use -properly.

So I used the X-E for almost a year along side other cameras but it doesn’t like to share experiences and knowledge with any other camera. Leica’s are greedy with time and love. They do not like to be with a ny other camera out working. So after a while I stop using the X-E. All my other cameras are ok with each other. So, why rattle cages when it’s not necessary. Roger is in India and Pakistan working on a case and I take some things out to his home and put the X-E on the shelf. Life goes on. Time passes and here we are. Weekend before last Roger and Mary come to Philly from Hong Kong for a visit. He wants me to come out to his home on the main line and check things out. I do the inventory for his acquisitions. This at times is a task but I do it because he’s my friend. So we are in the vault and looking at some nice Leica’s. He picked up a 250FF I think it’s called. Nice stuff. Then I see on shelf where I placed it years ago, the Leica X-E. I smiled.

Roger said once again….”take the X-E and use it. Don’t return it, it belongs to you and it will help you discover your inner self again.I shrug my shoulders because I know the camera pretty well and I know it will do what it wants and not what I want. There is a compromise with it but I need to just let go and open my mind and heart. I tell Roger, ya know something, I will take it and use it. I need to be on a screen camera again. Even the GRII is very fast and intuitive but the X-E makes me slow down and live and feel the moment.

The Leica X-E will not give you Auto ISO  in M Mode. The screen is the pits. It takes a while to turn on and it goes to sleep in a minute. It focuses ok and manual focus is very good. The lens is a Leica Lens and any Leica shooter will be happy. It’s an outstanding lens. You can make an exposure and it’s slow to write to the card.

So why use this age old camera? Ok, first off, it is ELEGANT. Even tho it’s not fast it’s very Elegant. What it does it does well and what it doesn’t do, I don’t need with this camera. There is a cerebral connection that this camera offers and supports and all I need to do is stop having pre-conceptions about what I want it to do. So, I am back to the raw elegant basics and I have a companion with me that is an old friend. I will not take any other camera out with the  X-E. If I did it would be Mom the Ricoh GRII because she’s a screen camera also. You all have a fine weekend and HAPPY JULY 4th to one and all. I’ll be working with Dad the Leica X-E for a while.