Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leica nature

I spent the week of Thanksgiving visiting my parents in Kansas. There's not much excitement in Kansas, but the rural nature of Independence gave me the chance to practice something I seldom get to practice in Houston -- nature photography.

Day 3: Still no bigfoot

The Leica M isn't particularly known for nature photography, probably because the longest lens that works with the rangefinder is 135mm. I had an Elmarit 135mm f2.8 with goggles on my M8. The 1.33x crop of the M8 APS-H sensor gives you the equivalent of a 179mm lens. That's still not a very long lens. It's similar to a 6x zoom on a point-and-shoot camera. The upside to the lens is that it's fast, so you can catch those early morning low-light shots. (Of course, the fact that the M8's highest usable ISO is only 640 kind of negates the gains of the fast lens, but what can you do?)

The goggles on the Elmarit are both a blessing and curse. On one hand, the lens pulls up the 90mm focus lines and the goggles magnify the focus area. Those are good things. The M8 doesn't even have 135mm focus lines, so those two factors make framing and focusing much easier. On the downside, the M8 mount protrudes slightly from the camera while film M mounts sit flush with the body. This moves the goggles away from the rangefinder windows, which creates just the slightest bit of backfocus. It's easy to compensate once you realize it's there, but it would be nice if these vintage goggled lenses worked better on the M8 and M9 -- especially the 50mm Summicron Dual-Range, which sadly, doesn't work at all on the digital Ms.

I spent three very cold mornings waiting on wildlife to show. It was a bit frustrating since the deer seemed to enjoy early morning grazing around 6 a.m., but it wasn't light enough to shoot anything until 7 a.m. I managed a few shots, though.


Jay at sunrise


Blue Jays at sunrise

reeeaaach for it

Then there was the not-so-wildlife that I caught with my 28mm Ultron ...


dog race

And then there was the highlight of Dixie Belle's trip -- the field mouse she proudly caught and refused to spit out.


Nothing like a dog running around with a mouse in its mouth to keep all the ladies screaming.
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