I started out with film photography in the 1970s. In those days I was mostly a Nikon shooter. Black and white… Tri-X developed at home. I enjoyed working in the darkroom but, technically, I really wasn’t very good at it—all those trays and splashing chemicals to contend with. Enlargers. Paper. It was messy and expensive. When digital came along in the early 2000’s, I jumped and never looked back.
As cameras became more sophisticated over the years I took advantage of the improvements. Built-in light meters to start, and then algorithmic flash-balanced auto-exposure and multi-point auto-focus and face tracking. Just click. The camera did all the work.
Every once in a while, though, I used an old classic manual-focus lens on my fancy automated digital cameras and it reminded me of how much fun it used to be to have to work at getting a good photo.
In that spirit I tried a digital rangefinder, the Leica M9. It took me back to the old days. Exposure and focus had to be considered for each shot. There was a mindfulness to it. It felt more like a creative process. But by being digital and full-frame it was like having the best of both worlds. It was just what I needed to get out of my photographic rut. Over time I invested in more Leica gear and aside from using the surprising good iPhone cameras in a pinch, I’m mostly a Leica shooter now, hooked on the optics, build quality and overall experience.
For travel and landscape I now often use the Leica SL or SL2, mostly with the 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit zoom, an incredible workhorse. It’s a versatile and portable setup that allows for almost medium format quality on the go. Sometimes I bring the longer 90-280 and I’m experimenting with the even longer Sigma 150-600 Sports lens. But those are big and heavy lenses to tote. You can also use classic M-mount lenses on the SL’s with an adaptor—and I frequently do that.
For everyday and street photography I use a Leica Q Monochrome or M10-P. On the latter I prefer the 40mm or 50mm focal length and I like to use very fast lenses wide open. For street photography that presents a challenge. I do miss some shots because I don’t nail focus but I’ve found that if I work hard at anticipating subject distances it can work to produce some unique images.
I take photos to please myself. I don’t aim for technical perfection—just a nice composition of a thing in the world. I process in Lightroom: dodging, burning, cropping, spotting, color and tones, but (almost) no content manipulation.
Photography isn’t a business for me and although I admire those that have made it a profession, that’s not my goal. Apart from family and friends I haven’t shown off my work very much and I thought this site is would be a good way to get it out there. So here it is.
That’s my manifesto. I’m always open to feedback: positive, constructive—or not. I’m jjdaley on the gmail. Also I’m starting to use Glass, so you can chime in there as well. Cheers.