Thursday, 11 October 2007

Technique: how to hold your Leica (or things that Garry Winogrand didn't know?)

Here is my first go at explaining technique. Where to start from? Oh well, how to hold your Leica, of course! Lets see it in images:

How does it feel? Nice, eh? As can be seen on the picture on the left, this technique is easy. You grip robustly your small 35mm camera with both hands, surrounding it gently. The right hand goes around the right side of the camera, and the left around the left side of the camera. Don't forget to make the lens point forwards! Feels nice, eh? Well, now you have to place your right index finger on top of the shutter (without pressing, that might waste your film, mate!) and place your eye on the viewfinder. Depending on the camera the viewfinder might be located in different places. Look at the back of your camera to figure out where it is. Usually it is a round or rectangular hole and you can see through. In case of using a SLR, search on google, as you might have to take the lens cap off before seeing anything. You might have noticed that we have been talking about the right hand till now. But we have two hands and cameras are complicated. The left hand is usually used for focusing the lens. The lens is that element with glass that protuberates out of the front of your camera. Light gets in and sucked into film by the use of magical chemicals that we will cover some other day.

Do you feel comfortable? Does it feel nice, eh? That Leica is almost under your thumb now. Now, you have to do what Garry Winogrand never managed to do. Hold the camera at level. Yes, nice. Looking through the viewfinder things should look straight. Also your bearlike grasp will make things sharp. You might get all kinds of funny blur and shake if you do otherwise. Lets see an example. In case you hold the camera as in the example on the right, the result might look instead like this:

Flawed. I've taken the liberty of correcting this image. If Winogrand had not been in a hurry to go to buy more doughnuts he would have shot it as in the example on the left handside. Then the image would have looked as seen next. I must say that I took off the man on the right handside for ease of rotation and cropping. It also makes it just flawless:

Picture: World's Fair, New York, 1964, by Garry Winogrand.
First image comes from the instruction manual of the Leica 3F.


Steven Wilkinson said...


Kramer said...

Thanks for getting us all straight on that.

...Pun not intended, but I'll take it. It's sad that Winogrand isn't around to benefit from your wisdom, but really: surely his camera came with an instruction manual?

Anthony Brockway said...

Who said Finns don't understand irony?

Philip said...

hei, bur Herr Karanka benefits a) from long permanence in latin countries b) from a residence in Wales: no finn whatsoever could survive in such places without developping a tough skin



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Flick said...

I think that Garry's picture untouched has a sense of flow where straightened it looks a bit boring,
just my opinion.