New York via Leica

It would not be unreasonable to suggest that New York has been photographed more times with more Leicas than any other city in the world, with the possible exception of Paris. So when I decided to venture into the city back in the late spring with a Leica in my bag, it was not exactly an original plan. Adding my work to the enormous pile of photos taken in the streets of New York seems superfluous and self-indulgent, but I’m doing it anyway. Why? Because I can.

My chosen implement for this unnecessary little expedition was one of my Leica IIIcs wearing its matching Summitar, both dating from 1949, topped with a modern Voigtländer brightline viewfinder and loaded with Ilford HP5+. In the short time I’ve had the Leicas I’ve become quite fond of them as working tools. They fit me well, and I find them very intuitive cameras; the supposed inconveniences of bottom loading and knob wind are really not issues at all once you have a little practice.

It was a bright and sunny day, one of the first fairly warm ones after a long, cold winter. I was aiming to capture the emergence of New Yorkers from their winter dens, crawling out into the intense light, blinking and squinting as if they’d never seen the sun quite that high in the sky before and wondering what it meant. Adaptive creatures that they are, it didn’t take them long to adjust.

As usual, click any image to begin a slideshow.


Yeah, I know, it’s been pretty quiet around here lately. Thankfully, it’s for a good reason: it’s been unseasonably warm, which means I’ve been taking every opportunity to get out and take photos before winter sets in and I have to start allotting several hours a day for curling up in the fetal position, rocking gently back and forth, and establishing a first-name-basis relationship with the new crop of operators at the suicide hotline (I’m exaggerating, of course – I’m not really flexible enough to curl into the fetal position any more).

Anyway, following on the blockbuster success of my recent series ‘Fading’, I’ve got another set of photos on a similar theme. This time around our subject is a grand old mansion, built in the early 20th Century, which along with the extensive associated grounds was given over to the state on the death of its owners. The state turned the grounds into a park, and some well-meaning but enthusiastic and perhaps slightly intoxicated visitors burned the house to the ground decades ago. All that’s left are the foundation and the stone walls of the first floor, which are now overgrown and showing their age, moreso with every winter.

So, a few weeks ago, with the fall foliage near its peak color, I headed out with a couple of cameras and appropriately-sized yellow filters. The latter inclusion was particularly fortuitous, as most of the trees around the old house were maples that had turned a rather vibrant shade of yellow, meaning that the filters lightened the foliage a lot, creating quite a nice effect, I think. I had along my new Super Ikonta C and my Certo Super Dollina II, a finicky camera on its best days, but with an excellent lens. Both were loaded with Ilford FP4+, which ended up being a bit slow with the low autumn light combined with the added filter factor. Still, I was pretty happy with the results, and I was able to put together a small but cohesive set of presentation-worthy photos. Enjoy.

Click any photo to start a full-size slideshow.