Having missed the grand reopening of Oxford's superbly refurbished Ashmolean Museum, I wanted to visit it to see what sixty million pounds of resources had produced. Rick Mather, the project architect, has created a wonderfully light and airy space with an eighty foot high, glass roofed, central atrium that floods the exhibition space with natural light. It gave me a superb opportunity to put my Leica M9 to work and see how it would cope with Museum conditions i.e. available light, quiet / silent shutter, minimal use of a tripod etc.
This was almost my first image with the M9. It was 'snatched' in the museum lobby while I was actually thinking about the 'geometry' of the new space. I used a Leica Summilux-M 24mm f/1.4 ASPH lens set wide open at f/1.4, hand-held at 1/350 sec; set at ISO 320 and shot RAW. The image is pretty much straight off the camera, having just been re-sized and cropped with a very slight wide angle geometry edge distortion correction in ACR. No contrast or sharpening was applied. Given it was a first outing with this combination, I think the pairing has produced a superbly smooth and sharp result.
Following directly on from that I lurked in one of the exhibition rooms to see if I could get anyone absent-mindedly looking at this bronze:
I just love that lady's expression. Not sure about his reaction! Anyway, on my way out I decided to re-shoot the statue in the lobby but this time from the other side. Surprising how the potential interpretation changes when you do that!
Later in the year I spent some time in Venice and while I guess everyone has one of these shots, I couldn't resist this one because it just smacked of story. Gallantry and Indifference, wouldn't you say?
Of course Venice has its many attractions but I found a little corner that had some quite wonderful displays of masks hanging in the street. The tones in this image just shout Leica!
festivals, steam trains and boats
You could say it was just a 'boy thing', but, back in the UK, I spent some time shooting Folk Festivals and the Towersey Festival that year yielded many wonderful images, among which is this one of three Morris Dancers hanging in the air, mid-leap! Shooting this kind of event with an M9 Rangefinder is definitely not for the faint hearted and focussing is a real challenge with moving subjects - you have to be quick!
Towards the end of the Summer I decided to visit the Rail Museum at York and I was handsomely rewarded by catching these two engines together - sort of first generation, second generation thing:
Finally that year I took a short break in Devon and would you guess it, I arrived on the beach just as one fisherman was haulin' his boats out - what luck!
All in all, it was a great year and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring what the Leica M9 Rangefinder could do under different shooting conditions on a wide range of subjects. It's not the easiest camera to live with and if your eyesight is suffering, focussing would be the greatest challenge, especially with longer focal length lenses, but, perseverance pays - in the end, right?