Photo find

The cuts and bruises are healing and I am back in the gym doing some light workouts. Strictly under professional supervision of course. The back and ribs are not yet sufficiently strong to carry my 20lb backpack of gear so I have done some gentle walks with my Leica.

Over the last 12 months I have spent a lot of time listening to podcasts and more recently watching photography videos on YouTube. It was on the latter that I discovered the excellent John Kasko. He has a relaxed, gentle style. His videos are laudably short to match my attention span. He recently posted a video about (Honestly) this is the best 50mm lens I’ve ever owned. Well of course that is some claim but it wasn’t a promotional video and I liked what I saw. I did some further research and concluded this was worth trying. Now John shoots with a Leica M11, one up from my M10R so I knew it came in an M mount. Tin Cheung had one in stock so I am now the proud owner of an f2 Voigtlander 50mm APO Lanthar. Why do I need another 50mm lens. Well I don’t need the lens but I definitely want it and it hasn’t come off the M10R since I acquired it.

The Voigtlander isn’t the fastest 50mm at f2. My Noctilux is f0.95. My TTArtisan is f1.4 and I have an f2 Summicron so this is sheer greed. Except it isn’t. The Summicron and I have never bonded. I don’t like the aperture ring and the lens hood slides in and out in an annoying fashion. It is a bit small for my hands. The TT is a decent lens for the money – under £300. Made in China and a decent piece of kit. But you get what you pay for. The Noctilux is a fabulous lens but big, heavy and partially blocks the viewfinder. And it costs the same as a decent car. The images are astonishingly good in the hands of an accomplished photographer. The Voigtlander ….. well the ergonomics are perfect. The aperture ring has a most pleasing click to it. The focus throw is short. The colour rendition is sublime. And it is sharp. Very, very sharp. It is a solid lens without being heavy and it balances beautifully on the camera body. And it costs a fraction of the Summicron. Under US$1,000 unless you want a lens hood ($100 extra). But the coatings reduce flare to a minimum. I bought the hood to protect against accidental knocks not because it needs it. I can only thank John Kasko for making his video. This is a top class lens.

Here is a shot I took with it which has done very well on Flickr with over 6,000 views in the Explore section.

Fishing off the promenade
Fishing off the promenade

This shot led me to connect with another HK photographer. We discovered we live about 200m apart and we are going to meet up. He mentioned to me a Leica service specialist in Central . So tomorrow I am going to take my late dad’s old Elmar 50mm f2.8 (yes, another 50mm lens) to be cleaned and serviced. This lens is 60+ years old and I shall be interested to see how it performs when cleaned up. Lenses are deeply personal. You may like the look and I may not. Old lenses are less technically perfect but sometimes have character that is missing on a modern lens. Perhaps I will find that with the Elmar.

I am hopeful that in the next few days I shall be sufficiently fit to go out for a hike. But in the meantime the Voigtlander is providing all the entertainment I need.

The Incline and Fall

Caged. Animal. Snarling.

We needed the rain. I needed to go out. I find enforced and prolonged stays at home crush my natural soul. Prolonged? Two or was it three days. Pack ready. Breakfast and out.

Carefully I clamber up the first mud bank. I grip the rope. I also wonder why there is an old plastic telephone handset and cable tied alongside. Teal. What purpose does it serve this bizarre landline? Up and round to the foot of the stone steps. Across the catchwater channel some birds have been flitting about recently. Perhaps the rain has trapped some migrants.

I step across. The stone platform is large and wet leaves glisten. I test the footing gingerly. I grip. My small circuit of the fringe begins. Camera ready. I look up. Disappointment. I am almost ready to cross back to the main path. Almost at the bottom of the incline.

Why am I lying here? Where are my glasses and what is the red liquid dribbling onto my trousers. Is that my arm? Is the camera intact and working? At least there is no pain. Perhaps some wet wipes will clean me up. I see the deep grit-covered channel running down my arm. Oh yes, that is blood. I find the disinfectant wipes and start to clean the arm but the blood overwhelms them. Drenched carmine. Still no pain.

I am back across the catchwater. My glasses are fine. The morning exercise group of ladies views me with concern and I am surrounded. Tissues, wet wipes and water appear. Did I know my nose is cut open? No, no surely not. That explains the blood on my glasses. My knees are grazed but really the arm is the worst. The ladies fuss around and swamp me with kindness. Dab dab dab.

Soon I am deemed fit to stumble home. A short walk made long.

I decline the idea of a trip to A&E and after cleaning up again I simply determine to rest. Suddenly the adrenaline fades and the pain surges through my defences. It will pass and indeed my body is so exhausted I later stumble down a hole into deep sleep. By morning my arm is swollen and hot. I concede and head to the hospital. The recovery begins.

I find triumph in defeat. Nothing broken. The scans proclaimed my bones are brittle but they survived intact. Quietly my physio and personal trainer asks how often I have fallen in the last year. Badly? I ask. Just falls…. Well maybe twice badly and a few times more without visible damage. She looks disparagingly at me as if this is not good. She forgets. I am old. I have a bus pass. The hospital gave me healthcare vouchers to help me pay my bill because of course old means poor. What do you expect? I will not give up my exploits. Do not cage me. I will snarl and fight until I am free again.

Day four. The arm is healing. The pain is still there in my back and chest but I managed a walk on the flat today. I am almost ready to venture out to the trails again. Age inappropriate. The words ring in my ears. I will prove you wrong.

Muscicapa griseisticta
Grey-streaked Flycatcher