Rangefinder framing – Leica M9

As someone who tends to focus on composition, shooting with a rangefinder camera can be a little frustrating at times. The framelines in the viewfinder aren’t very accurate when it comes to what’s going to end up in the image. One can estimate and sort of get an idea with practice, but gauging the accuracy also changes depending on focus distance. At closer distances the framing is slightly tighter (and probably most accurate) than the framelines and at distance, slightly wider. In most instances, especially in urban photography, this is a very minor point as I allow room for slight cropping, if needed. In nature photography, where my subject is usually closer to me, I sometimes practice a sort of “composition bracketing”, where I take multiple photos with slight camera movement to ensure I’m getting in the photo what I want. That practice usually works for me but sometimes I end up with neither photo being perfect.

Case in point. I shot these leaves when I was out on my snowy walk. The color just popped against the white snow background and really caught my eye. I was around a meter or so away from the leaves when I shot the leaves with my Summicron 50mm. I ended up with two images that looked good, with accurate focus, but they each were a little off from what I wanted. One image cut of the end of the branch on the left and the other cut off on a leaf at the right that I wanted to include.

Now I am someone who does fairly minimal Lightroom/Photoshop processing and I rarely combine images. But as I was looking at the images in Lightroom it occurred to me that I could join them as a panorama. Duh! So with a couple simple steps and some cropping I ended up with this image:

Leica M9, Summicron 50mm (v3)

With that, I realized I don’t always have to get everything exact (though I try) when shooting nature with my Leica. At least as far as static scenes are concerned – which is not a problem as I rarely, okay never, shoot action scenes. Moving on – with that image in the bag, I scanned over a few others I shot that day and I really liked an image of a snow covered tree. I had the same scenario as the leaves where neither image had exactly what I wanted in the final image. The top of the tree was cut off in one image and the bottom of the trunk was cutoff in the other. Time for another pano!!

Here is the final result:

Leica M9, Summicron 50mm (v3)

So I’ll probably will continue my “composition bracketing” when I’m out with the Leica. The stitching process in Lightroom is pretty painless and I end up with the shot I thought I had.

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