Leica M9

August 3rd, 2019 …Circumnavigating Photos and Then Some

Ya know one of the best things about getting old, ya can say crazy things and most will accept it from you. If you try it when you’re younger, well they have places for you where others say things like that and ya fit in. so Suzanne and I went to get sushi and talk photography. You know me, I’ mall in for being seen in public with her. Got Ding the Leica M9 on my neck and Suzanne on my arm. Dat’s right G, I be da man. So we walk and finally get to the sushi shop on Walnut near 7th. We go in and like 5 people come to her and say high in Japanese. Then they say hi to me in Philly English. I didn’t expect a group and she never mentioned this to me. So they all sit and I seat Suzanna and slide her and her chair to the table. A few of the ladies there looked with a kind longing approval. I mean obviously I’m the only gentleman in the group and unfortunately, probably all around. They all start talking Japanese and Suzanne puts her hands to her ears and says, Don. Now the language switches to English and I kind have that down some. maybe not perfect but good enough. I didn’t know why I was here and would have appreciated Suzanne letting me in on things  but I just went with the flow.

So Suzannz tells everyone to start asking questions. If it was anyone else, I would have been offended but Suzanne, I’d fight my way back from hell for her. So a guy ask me, “How do you maintain the visual quality and continuity in your photos thru all the years? The great thing about questions and answers especially is, not to have canned answers. I like to open me poor brain and my warriors heart sand construct an answer that fits me.

It’s not the easiest thing to do. You need to have the knowledge and the means of presentation to make it work. I like to get an answer started with a thought train and then quickly open the valve from the heart and then answer. In the old daze, we called it winging it but now I am much more sophisticated and more a proper adult so I like things to work for the questionnaire. So I started talking and first things first, I said. Plan your work and work your plan and don’t be afraid to improvise along the way. There are different starting points to a photo but mostly, all will go thru this cycle.

Example: An idea for a photo forms in your brain and or mind. You can kinda visualize it but no clarity. Then go out to make photos and breathe in the light and the scenes and people. Take them to your heart and mind. Keep reflecting on the image planted in your idea. Don’t be afraid to let someone or something distract you. Go for it but try to come back to your initial idea. Of course your camera is your partner and friend and you have no issues because you are on the same train together. In time hopefully you will see something that stirs up the thoughts, ideas, emotions of the idea and now you just frame and wait for the trigger. Then, CLICK.

Keep working but you will feel a kinda excitement because you know your satisfying the inner thoughts and idea of your photography. At this point it’s time to see what you captured. When you get into Lightroom, the image should spark excitement, questions and answers and generally you want to work on it. Start processing the photo and keep an open mind but recall the initial idea and emotions. You do not have to stick with that but you absolutely need to know where you started so you can venture into the unknown. Now you hopefully can look at the photo and have a mental map of where you started and now where you are.

This is circumnavigating a photo. We go around the world of the photo and then of course photography and always remember and apply, the heart as the compass. So the guy asked me, “do you do this all the time?” I answered, how else would I do this, I don’t know another way I can live with and there ain’t a better way to die.

They all but one had Leica’s. The one not Leica was a Fuji XT-30. So the questions turned to gear and settings and all the stuff that feeds the emptiness of creativity. We are drinking Saki @ 105f and sushi and maki, just a great meal. S Suzanne ask me, when do my private workshops start again? Yes, when they said. Hmmm me thinks, that M10p is looking real nice… nah not me at all. Anyway, they as a group want to do sessions. I really ain’t feeling it and the Suzanne says, “I will let you know when Don will start”. Wwe all get up and Suzanne and I leave and start walking uptown to Center City. The as she has our arms linked, says… I forgot here.. she hands me a white envelope and I look in it and there’s $500.00 cash. What’s this and she says, the first session. I told her I didn’t want the money and she said they would all be deeply offended and feel they are not worthy. They may all commit hari kari.  Ya know, I adore this woman but sometimes she’s full of craap and this is one of those times.

So I will start a series of sessions and Suzanne will be my trusty assistant. The sushi and saki were great, The company of her 5 friends was enlightening. Suzanne has my heart and is my angel of love and mercy and acceptance of an old warrior.

ya know, the $500.00 was a welcome gift I never thought about. Be blessed all and remember this….. wait.. dang it… I forgot

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 …..

July 5th, 2019 … Hot Town, Summer in the City … Whole Darn World is Gritty … Always Was

I was with my squad on the beach at Chu Lai. We had a few days off and we definitely knew how to spend that time.  Many of the guys were swimming or surfing or doing things with the hooch girls. I was laying back on the beach with my camera and making some snaps. My Leica was black Laq and was so hot from the sun. I watched the guys letting it all go and thought, where’s so and so? I was very aware of the missing troops always. I made photos of them and if they weren’s around, I noticed. I could feel a loss inside that I didn’t fully understand. Spud walked over to me and stood there looking at me. He is bare ass naked and s, smiling. He reaches down and hands me a sally joint that he’s been smoking. A sally joint is a joint, pot and it’s soaked in liquid opium and then dried. Don’t take long to dry over there. Kids today that make blunts from cigar wrapper, sheeeesh amateur stuff. Of course, I never smoked anything or even drank the whiskey that Sgt Biggie was offering me.

Biggie came over and told me, Jingles, you’re on tower 1.1 tonight with Spud. Well, I liked Spud cause he was like on his 5th tour and a bad MFer’. I told Spud we were in 1’1 together and he smiled. I asked him if he planned on staying high for the night. He smiles, said, I been here 5 years and been high every day. I learned something real fast. Smoke a joint and do guard duty is the right way. They all knew what my friends back in the world knew about me. I was the most paranoid dude you ever could meet. See, if I was at a party and many people there, we all smoked or other things, I would always be at the window and look out and say….there’s still no cops around. We are ok, and all would laff at me cause I was paranoid like crazy. Well, my friends in Nam knew the same thing about me. They all knew that if they gave me a joint if there was a dink 500 miles away, I’d see him.

So Spud and I are now in the tower. Well, tower 1.1 is the main control tower and all activities from other locations, I have the m60 locked and loaded and aiming in the right direction. Spud has an M79 and we both have 45ACP as a sidearm. It’s getting really dark and quiet. It’s a scary time on guard duty. Spud is crashed out on the sandbags in the tower. I have 7 more hours to go and Spud is wasted and I’m like awake as ever. As the night progresses, I reach into Spud’s pocket and find the bottle of obesitol. Obesitol is a 4 oz bottle of this red liquid that the dinks sell to us and it’s really liquid speed. One bottle and a joint and I’m set for the night. So I pulled the shift myself as Spud slept in whatever kind of peace he was in.

Anyway, that’s not what this story is about, oh no… not even. See, in Nam..the temperature could hit 125f thereabouts. I remember thinking that if I made it home I would never complain about the heat in Philly. I was convinced that I could withstand any weather that came my way. Even the raid would never both me in Philly. In Chu Lai when the monsoons came, the rain was of something that came from hell. It felt like all the rain in the world was falling on me.

I was itchy and wanted to get to the street and make photos with Ding the Leica M9. There’s always a transition time switching cameras. Cameras will push their personalities upon you and we need to explore those personalities in detail. I was walking on Market Street around 16th. It’s like 90f already and the humidity is terrible. I’m sweating and it’s running down my face to my eyes. I walk slower than normal cause I got older than normal. Ding is on a neck strap ready to go and I turn left and see this woman inside a bldg. She’s standing there and all these reflections are happening around her. I’m kinda interested and yet no photo but then she raises her arm and hand to her head…..CLICK!  (photo 1)

So I decided to reflect after seeing the reflections. I thought how when I was 20 and in Nam that I would never complain about the heat back home. I felt that back then, I was of a stronger character and could withstand almost anything. I thought I was becoming a strong man and would carve out a future I would be proud of. 50 years ago, 50 years. Now I have a rear vision that I didn’t have back then. I guess I forgot myself from birth to 21. I feel like I was born in Nam and my fellow troops were my siblings. When one of my friends died, I tried to get a Dog Tag from him. I have 17 now at home. They sleep in my darkroom but the names, faces, smiles, laffs all live inside me. I made one vow back then and maybe it’s the only thing I ever did right. I remember everyone I knew who went home in a body bag and swore I would never forget them and I never did.

I wanted to write about the oppressive heat and how it affected my photos. Instead, I wrote about the driving force that lives in me that will carry me to my death and reunite me with my friends. Maybe that is about the oppressive heat, dunno. I’m too damn old to let it bother me.

Be blessed everyone    ……….shooter out……….

 

June 27th, 2019 … Stop Running Away … From Being You

I remember back in 1975 I wanted a blad like crazy. Once I had the camera I was all proud and happy. I’d go to openings with my un-named blad on my shoulder, knowing I was someone. One day my friend Paul told me I wear the Blad like jewelry and don’t make photos with it. The truth was he was right. I had it at last but really didn’t use it. I was a street shooter and not a Blad dude. I felt that the camera would give me a signature or tone and it didn’t. I was really heartbroken.

Ya know, we can run like crazy from our gear, our PC’s, our thoughts and ideas but the important part is, you can’t run from yourself. It’s easy to think we can, just by ignoring the signals that come to us and yes, from us but the truth is, ya ain’t going nowhere. I remember the night I got my stage name. I was playing a gig at Cliff’s and we were heating it up. The audience was 90% black, don’t matter to me but I was the only white guy on stage. We cutting blues and everyone is really digging us. A woman halfway back in the seats stands up and says… that’s the Snowman, I know him he’s the Snowman. Gotta tell ya, I was on cloud 9. I mean people dancing and having a good time and I was driving them with my ax. I was the Snowman and would be forevermore. But, I was feeling things I wanted to say with my Strat that I didn’t know how to do it. Even tho the crowd was excited and loved us playing, I thought, there are 550 people out there loving all this, why can’t I love myself?

I had an opening at a MainStream Gallery in New Jersey. I had 50 prints of various sizes on the wall. As the evening progressed, may people cam to see the show. I was flattered that prints sold and was happy. It wasn’t about acceptance cause in photography, I am. We have like 60 people and the gallery director announces that I will be having a chat and question and answer in 10 min. Thanks for telling me. Her name is Diana and she’s an elderly lady with the elegance of a queen. Stunning and I am a working guy with a camera. She pulled me aside and in very clear words… Don, I adore you and I breathe your photos as well as but them. You must do this chat and do it well. I looked her in the eyes and I said, Diana, I got this, relax. I really was not uptight at all. I have my TONE intact and I can do this because I was placed on the earth to be a photographer. (if ya don’t pump yourself up, who will?)  There were many questions and even some discussions about gear. The press core was there and they threw a  question or 2 at me. I could look past the people and I saw Diana standing by herself in the white silk blouse. She had her hands clenched against her breast and I just looked at her and realized, she sees me clearer than I see myself. I answered many questions and explained many things the way I saw and felt them. I was not nervous not even 1 iota. For the first time in my life, I felt at one with myself. Ding had introduced me to Diana years before and now that his time had passed, I realized that Diana was my unspoken mentor and supporter.

Even today, when I visit Diana, she will take my face in her hands and kiss my eyes and tell me, the gift of humanity dwells inside you. Maybe she’s right, I mean I can’t understand all that I am or could be, no one can, right. It takes a gentle soul and a kindred spirit to recognize one another.

The key issue is to attempt at all cost to recognize oneself. It’s nice and even stimulating to be accepted into a community or group of other photographers. It’s flattering to know you are respected. There are keys to unlock those doors of acceptance. Such as Leica, many will acknowledge you because you have a Leica. Maybe it’s a Fuji or Nikon or Ricoh group. Maybe you are accepted because you shoot film and work in an analog manner. The list goes on and on. Let me tell you something. You can run away from many things in life, even death but you can never ever run away from yourself.

Time to man/woman up and face the facts, you are who you are and need to accept and love that person. If not, one day you’ll be playing a strat on stage and feel empty even as the crowd stands and calls your name.

 

June 26th, 2019 … The Tones da Thang

I started playing guitar at 13. Seems my dad played and he also was an amateur photographer. He died when I was 6 so, not many memories but enough for me to find him at the end of my tour. Anyway, I am aware that I followed in his footsteps without really seeing those footsteps. After a short time, I fell in love with the guitar and played all my life. When I got home from Nam, I started to get serious with it because I could hide inside it and keep my thoughts and emotions hidden from my family. I started to get pretty good at blues and loved playing but unfortunately, I didn’t have a voice for singing. That took a toll on me that to this day has affected me. As time passed, I was in many bands and really loved the interaction. We recorded and did gigs and concerts and it was a dream come true. Inside there was a block of ice in me that I couldn’t chip away. On the outside, I appeared happy and content and loved what was happening. Inside, another story had developed.

Tone Is Da Thang

See, your tone is your signature. It’s what makes your soul sing and dance. No 2 people have the same tone. I could hear anyone that had their tone so clearly and loved listening to them. The issue was I never found my tone. Oh, I could hear it inside but whenever I tried to get it out, failure. I bought more effects than I would ever need. I had the sounds that many liked but I did not love it because I knew I didn’t have the tone. I had no signature tone. There was an emptiness in my soul that never was satisfied. Decades passed and still, I was just like everyone else without tone. Empty with all the gear to make it happen but no stamina to pursue it.

My body started developing  Essential tremors and that put an end to my guitar playing. Of course, I’d have a heck of a vibrato but I can’t grip the neck without some pains. My fav guitars hang on the wall and I look at them all the time. That part of my life has passed and it saddens me but I continue to have great memories.

So, what’s this to do with photography? Maybe there’s something like the tone in photos. I don’t mean color tone, but TONE. It’s borrowed from guitar playing. This is not a new question for me but one that seeks an answer for decades. Ding told me long, long ago that he felt I had much raw potential. He was upset to learn that I could not afford to go to any college. So Ding rethought his approach to me and told me, “The most important things you need to learn are, to recognize your successes and recognize your failures”. This, of course, means to, define success and define failure and have a concrete understanding of both.

So the way I define these two polar opposites is by the tone of the photo.  This became a very difficult way to work because I have stripped away the innocence of photography. I had assigned a meaning to the photos that maybe I didn’t fully understand. I felt that when a collector or gallery whatever, bought some photos, they were a success. I guess there were but I quickly realized, I didn’t give a hoot for the financial profits.

Eureka, Ding was right. I have finally started on the path of self-discovery thru my photography.  The tone of the photos was clear as the light on the moon. The key issue with that is, I maybe never made a bad photo and maybe made many good photos but the ones that sing for me are the ones that have the tone I can’t ever hear or find on my guitars. I just see it. So, it becomes more a question of what brings joy to one’s life. Sure, it’s great to make those photos that are just outstanding to one’s self. Perhaps what needs to be learned and practiced is to love what you are doing and not to make things simple or decrease the value of intent but to find the joy with a camera and if you get that great shot, fine if not, at least love what you are doing.

It’s important to strive for personal satisfaction but to only reach for that means if a photo doesn’t make the cut, then you start to live with resentment. You have no right to make photography a passion of resentment. It’s totally unacceptable and can’t be allowed to control any part of you. If resentment and failure plague you and your work, it’s you, not photography that has the issues.

Maybe I’m getting too personal here but truthfully, I don’t know how to be any other way.

Have a blessed day and good light to one and all….♥♥

June 24th, 2019 … Finding Your Way Thru The Mist of Your Creativity… Pt1

Did ya’s ever kinda sorta, maybe feel like your out of place? You don’t have to say anything. We can keep it a secret. Myself, I been feeling like that for as long as I can remember and I’m sure it goes back further than that. There’s not much ado to make yourself feel more at ease so, just accept it and get on with things. That’s what I try to do. Ya know, this will apply to your photos also. I know it seems hard to believe, but ye olde shooter knows something about this. What ya can’t do is surrender. There’s an energy that we can tap into that gives us stamina during the down times and we need to feed on that.

To be honest, I never ever felt lost, or even a lack of energy to work. That’s not the point. The point is I know many who have been in this situation or are even in it now. The best advice I could give is to, close the box with your photos or just don’t look at any photos you made. Just don’t keep any images available for viewing. Of course, if your really a shooter, those photos are in your head anyway. Just don’t think of them. It’s not like you can have a fresh start but you can have a start that’s not jaded with your photos.

We are creatures of habit. We get very comfy doing things that work over and over. I have talked about trigger mechanisms many times and If you think about this, your photos are trigger mechanisms. Yeah sure. See, you have these photos you really like and they become platforms for your creative mind. The photos of the past will drive the photos yet to be borne from you.

This is not like breaking a barrier. It’s more like being comfy on this side of the fence and wondering what’s on the other side. Don’t get me wrong. I am not an optimist. Many have told me thru the years that the grass is greener on the other side. Oh yeah, ya know why… cause there more BS there to fertilize. I’m talking about finding your way thru the mist of images you already have and trying to find the ones out there you haven’t discovered yet. Maybe this doesn’t seem important to you. Dunno but sure is to me and many I know.

I’ll do a series of articles and am open to offer my opinion on the comments page. Each post will address a certain are of creativity and the Dreaded BLOCK. Be blessed all and have a sweet photographic experience that lasts your lifetime.

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……