Spring flowers – Leica M9 – A lesson

My wife and I made the half-hour trip to a nearby park to stretch our legs a bit and enjoy some nice spring weather. It was nice getting away from our neighborhood (which isn’t so nice) to a pleasant place to walk around. Oglebay Park is situated in Wheeling, West Virginia and covers quite a few acres. Since they usually have some nice plantings of spring flowers, I also wanted to stretch my camera muscles. They were a little stiff from the blah winter. We visited the park on two different days, about a week apart.

We arrived the first day a little past mid-day. I know, not the ideal photo time, but it was mostly cloudy and I thought I could take advantage of the soft light when the clouds covered the sun. Besides, this being our first trip there this year, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So it was more of a reconnaissance mission. It was a weekday so the park wasn’t too busy but, being just after Easter, there were a few families milling about.

Though I had brought my Leica and Fujifilm gear I was more interested with what I could shoot with my M9. I knew that the Fujifilm X-T3 would be capable of any photo I had in my head but I really wanted to see how I would shoot flowers with the Leica. I couldn’t shoot too close due to the rangefinders limitations and I couldn’t shoot with too much telephoto compression as the longest lens I have is a 90mm Elmarit.

I shot a few photos that first day, mostly variations on the same theme. These are my favorites from that day. Both taken with the Elmarit-M 90.

Leica M9, Elmarit-M 90mm
Leica M9, Elmarit-M 90mm

Okay. At least the colors are pleasant even though the photos are kind of straightforward. The Elmarit 90 performed well and I was amazed at how easily I was able to focus with the rangefinder among all of the repeating patterns. I know I can focus the rangefinder pretty quick normally but sometimes repeating patterns of similar items can trip you up – you think you have one flower in focus but it ends up being the one in front of it, resulting in a blurry pic. I had to chimp a few times at first but gradually grew more confident as the day progressed.

On the second trip we arrived a bit later in the afternoon. It was mostly sunny but with the sun lower in the horizon I knew the light would be good. Even more tulips had bloomed (some past) since our last visit and the warm sunlight really enhanced the color display. This time I tried for total color emphasis and saturation and, wow, did the photos turn out saturated. One can argue a bit too saturated. I really didn’t enhance these colors too much in post processing. In fact I even tried to tame the reds a bit.

Leica M9, Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH
Leica M9, Elmarit-M 90mm
Leica M9, Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH

The colors certainly grabbed my attention but it was time to move on. After walking around and simply enjoying the beautiful day we stopped by the parks lake on the way out. They added some swan pedal boats this year (or maybe some time last year) to replace their older pedal boats. I thought I would take a photo as the bright white boats just seemed to glow in the sunlight. I took a few photos but I went against my usual shooting rules. I had left the camera set with negative exposure compensation while shooting the flowers and forgot to reset the meter. Plus I didn’t take into account the bright white boats when metering the scene. Maybe I was just crazy from actually being out and about on a nice day. Regardless, the images ended up well under-exposed. I popped the exposure up in Lightroom, and they don’t look to bad at first, but the even blue sky looks pretty bad on close inspection. My bad. I should have known better.

Leica M9, Elmarit 28mm ASPH

The tree photo I took after the boats photo looks a little better, but it too was needlessly under-exposed.

My lesson for the day:

-Know your camera settings

-Reset the camera before putting it back in the bag

-STOP and THINK about metering

These aren’t breaking news photos where I didn’t have time to think. I should have slowed down.

Leica M9, Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH
Leica M9, Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH

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