Victory is mine!
I knew, from the time that Pedro asked me to photograph the wedding that I wanted to do it in a particular style. At the time that he asked, I didn’t own an M9. However, when I purchased it, I knew that it would be my tool of choice, or believed that it would be.
This post is about the practical application in using that camera and how I think that it did. There were a number of challenges that I had to overcome, so to speak. I will say that Nikon engineers a heck of a camera that makes photography a lot easier, but it can also help you to forget a lot of things, or make you slow on the update. The Nikon line of cameras do exposure very well, using Matrix metering, as well as white balancing.
Auto White Balance
Tim and I arrived in Dothan, Alabama sometime in the afternoon. I called Pedro to let him know that we had arrived. He told me that they were meeting for the tuxedo fitting at around 5:00 PM. When we met, I entered the store, noticed that the lighting was a mix of tungsten and fluorescent. Great! I took a few test shots and to my surprise, the Leica performed well. Must have been all of the light colored walls. I continued to shoot on auto white balance.
After we left the fitting, off we went to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. As I entered the room, a large room with white walls and fluorescent light, I took another test shot. This time, the shot came out a ghastly yellow. I simply pulled out my ExpoDisc, took a shot, used that setting and everything came out absolutely wonderfully. Any time that I switched lighting, I simply used the ExpoDisc and thought nothing else of it. As you can see in the image of Pedro and Ana Kay, the whites look white, the skin tones natural, and the reds vivid, but not burned out. Very good color rendering when the WB is set correctly.
As I mentioned, Nikon cameras, in my opinion are very good at getting the exposure correct. Matrix metering is amazing. With the M9, back to center-weighted metering we go and if you are not careful, you can get yourself into trouble; however, knowing how meters work is a good thing. I experienced no issues in this area with the M9. This was mitigated by taking a few test shots before the important shots came along and setting the camera on manual. It was the middle of the day, so the light was not changing in intensity very much at all. One of the tougher shots of the day was capturing her sisters and friends in the doorway of this blindingly white church. I’ve actually cropped this photo to show more of them, but I took this from such a distance the the white church was a huge influence and told the meter to use something like 1/1000 second @ f/9.5, when the actual exposure turned out to be 1/125 @ f/9.5, some 3 stops off.
Here was the place where I did, in my opinion, decently, but can still use a lot of practice. Supposedly, focusing with a rangefinder can be quick, provided that you know, without hesitation, which way to turn the lens. I don’t, yet. The wedding showed me that I need more practice in this area. I nailed a number of shots, but I also missed a few that I would liked to have gotten because I turned the lens barrel the wrong way and *poof*, the moment was gone, lost forever. It was a learning experience. I’m glad that Tim was there as backup, with the D90 (More on this in another post … why not the D300?) and he was able to get some really good shots.
I was fairly show at focusing with objects that were moving towards me. I knew this, so I ‘assigned’ Tim the job of catching the various parties as they were moving up the isle to be seated. He did an excellent job and that was were the auto focus paid off. This is not to take anything away from the camera; this was a shortcoming of the photographer, one which I will remedy by using the M9 more and more and more.
I decided to take the duties of shooting very close in, basically looking over the bridesmaids and groomsmen’s shoulders. The M9, in discrete mode is very, very quiet, delivering a barely audible *snick* when you press the shutter button. In this mode, the wind/recocking of the shutter doesn’t happen until you release the button, allowing you to move the camera to your side, so as not to disturb anything. Here, there were times when I was discretely (as possible) shooting almost over the preacher’s shoulder (her uncle) and no one could hear the camera.
Overall, I was very pleased with the results that I could produce with the camera. Should I decide to shoot another wedding, which is unlikely, I would certainly use the M9 and be better at it. I still need lots of practice on the focusing, but that will come with time and effort.
Here are some more photos from the wedding …
Although this post was about my experience with the Leica as a wedding photography tool, the photos that follow are not shot exclusively with the M9. They are about 60/40 with the Nikon D90/Leica M9.