2019: Roll 3

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

Already finished with my third roll of the year. That, if you haven’t been following me, is quick fast for me. Normally I shoot two rolls or so a month if I’ve nothing special to shoot.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

Why? Well, not super easy to answer that. I think the main reason is my excitement to be committed to shooting film again. This “commitment” came from a realization I had during my regular yearly photo purge.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

I should start by explaining the idea of the yearly purge. Every year, during the last week of December I sit down and delete all the photos I took during that year aside from 40. I use the number 40 because to me it is basically like a roll of film. I throw out the other negatives (aside from those on either side of one of the forty) and get rid of the backups of digital files.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

I should say this doesn’t really include stuff like iPhone photos or selfies with my wife. That being said, in the forty I choose I have generally become more nostalgic. I am more likely to choose one like the above of my wife playing a board game because of the way the photo makes ME feel.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

Getting back to my commitment to film. When I went through last years photos I felt something different about the film photos. They felt more real. It is hipster dumbness, maybe, but I really loved the idea that the actual film negative was there with me at the moment I took the photo.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.
Seoul, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

I also think that for me personally I have a great sense of discipline when I shoot film. I have a terrible habit of looking at my photos the first cafe I get to or break I have on the subway.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.
Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

I am well aware that this is a mental problem. Something I could easily fix with some discipline. I think I shoot differently when I shoot film. I look for different things and ignore others. I don’t take photos for the sake of taking them.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

Same old shit you’ve read on countless blogs or seen in countless YouTube videos I know. I apologize for that. It is just the truth though. It does really make me feel different.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.
Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

That isn’t even to mention to fact that I have grown to love the developing part. I once hated it. I was too impatient. Now, I really enjoy it. It is the only time I let me cats into my darkroom. They come and play while I drink a glass of wine and listen to an audiobook or podcast.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.
Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

What about the scanning? Well, scanning also has kind of become a bit of a routine for me. I have grown to enjoy it. I am in fact scanning these while I write this and inserting them while I do. By the time 6 finish I am ready to add the next group. It works for me.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

You may be asking why they are bouncing between Seoul and Iksan so much. Basically I bounce between Seoul and Iksan a lot. I don’t take so many photos so you might see a couple days gap in between some of these where the camera was around my neck but I didn’t actually shoot anything.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.
Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

Ah, to answer some questions:

What film do you use? I thought you used Tmax?

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

I also loved Tmax. It was like my first girlfriend in film. I never liked TriX at all. The grain was too much. The contrast was too much. The tones between black and white were too abrupt. Tmax was a lot better for me. The feeling was more nostalgic. More akin to my mind’s eye.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

Now I shoot HP5. There are some simple reasons for this.. but the most important one is price. HP5 costs about 15% less a roll here than Tmax. The second reason I shoot HP5 is somehow I feel like Ilford cares more about us (film photographers). I could be wrong, but I do feel that. HP5 at 3200 still has a nice look for me. It is somewhere between Tmax and Trix. Sometimes the tones can be a bit abrupt, but not so much as Trix. Ugh, I hate Trix.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

What developer do you use? 

This I am more strict about than with film, strangely. Tmax developer is the only developer in my book. I don’t know about others and care not to know, ha.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

Forgot the scan the above first time around. Not sure how that happened.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

It’s a big holiday here in Korea. I think we are exhausted. Good to have a day to do nothing but develop some film and write a blog post. I’m counting down the minutes until 2:00PM when I think it seems late enough to have a beer.

Vlog camera test.

What about this YouTube? 

Coming soon ๐Ÿ˜‰ I already made my first couple of videos and have them on my Instagram. Tomorrow I’m going to the nearby historic city of Jeonju with a videographer and her assistant. Also have my vlogging setup nearly complete. I received the 11-22mm lens from Canon for my M50 right before the holiday and it seems to make things a whole lot easier when filming myself. Smallish tripod also on the way.

Seoul, South Korea.

Anyway, that is about it for this roll. Catch you all on the flip side ๐Ÿ˜‰

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

2019: Roll Two

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul. January 2019.

It isn’t often I get through two rolls of film in a couple of weeks. Normally I shoot about two rolls a month.

Why am I shooting so much?

It’s complicated.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

I guess the first reason is travel. I shoot a lot when I am going somewhere. I shoot photos in the same time that people read books or listen to music. I take photos to not be bored.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

I end up with lots of boring photos like this. That said, I think the main reason I shot a lot in the last two weeks was the excitement for being back shooting film. I’d used the M10P for a while and hadn’t shot any film.

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, January 2019.

Lots of these photos too. They don’t always turn out well. Rarely do they in fact. That said, some of my favourite photos were taken through the window of a train or bus.

A long time ago in Canada I had my favourite lens stolen. Honestly, I change lenses a lot. People will say I have never stuck to anything. I used the 40mm Summicron exclusively for 4 years. I couldn’t afford anything else but I loves that lens. I recently got the chance to get another. I love this lens. Feels like coming home.

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, January 2019.

All the photos here are Ilford HP5 at 3200.

This is a boring roll, I apologize. They aren’t always interesting.

I do really love the next photo though:

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, January 2019. Ilford HP5 @ 3200.

This was early in the morning. The air quality has been terrible lately, so much so that it looks like fog. The field had just been plowed. One of my favourite photos in a long time. It was very much how I’d imagined it would be.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

I’ve been doing this a lot lately too. Cat photos are boring as well I guess. I love my cats though. I think I would be perfectly happy for a roll to consist only of photos of them. In this photo, Spoko is sitting in her favourite spot in our living room under a Nicholas Dominic Talvola print. He named her, so it is fitting that she loves this spot.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

Maybe the next roll will be more exciting. I have several trips planned in the next little while. Including one to Kyoto / Osaka. Looking forward to that.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

That trip will be with team Leica Korea, haha. More on that in the weeks to come ๐Ÿ˜‰

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.
Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

Other than that, I’m happy to say if you’re in Korea soon I’ll be opening an analogue photography class at the Leica Akadamie here. During the class I’ll cover all sorts of film related topics from the basics of loading film to developing and even perhaps some printing.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

I just realized half of this roll is photos of trees.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

No trees here. Sucks this photo. They were all looking at me a split second before. I was super bummed when I saw it.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

This was second last photo of the roll. It is boring but I quite like it. Iksan feels like this to me. It feels like Iksan.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

The last photo. It is usually of my wife or one of the cats. Wife wasn’t in the mood so Spoko stepped up.

That’s all for today.

Catch you next time ๐Ÿ˜‰

-Josh.

First Roll of 2019

Frame 1: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

This was the first frame I took this year. My cat sits on the air purifier while I sit at my desk. I guess she likes the fan. We should have called her Marilyn. The light from the window to her left was particularly strong. I’m happy I got a full frame from this considering it was first. My wife said “how can you make the cutest kitten in the world look so scary?..”

Frame 7: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

So my plan for this post was simply to go through most of the photos from my first roll of the year. I had a bit of a contemplation during the end of last year. One thing that continually came to me was how much I needed to shoot film. I don’t know what it is honestly. It isn’t some hipster nonsense “look” or anything of the sort. It just works for my brain. I was sitting down last night scanning these mediocre photos and I felt near-on giddy.


Frame 3: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

These photos aren’t in any particular order. I’ll probably share 20 or so. The way I shoot film is I shoot 4 to 5 frames of most scenes. Even mundane stuff like my lunch (the Soju bottle actually houses sesame oil ;)). I got in the habit of doing this because I shoot without a meter. I guess you can call it self bracketing.

Frame 5: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Would I benefit from a camera with a meter? Maybe. I never end up using them after the battery dies. I never agree with the meters either. Maybe I’m weird. I end up second guessing myself with a meter. I prefer to just trust that I’m right.

Frame 18: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.
Frame 19: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

My way of developing is quite strange too. I develop a roll based on my brain’s version of what it thinks the roll was shot like. For example, if I feel I slightly over exposed the more memorable photos in the roll I will develop the roll slightly less than I might normally do.

Frame 9: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

People hate watching me develop because I don’t use a thermometer, don’t clean my negatives, and only use a wall clock for timing things.

Frame 10: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

As I developed this roll a friend from Seoul was watching me. He was cringing the whole time constantly saying I’m crazy. I changed the developing time midway because I remembered something from the roll. He wanted to bet with me that they wouldn’t turn out.

Frame 24: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.
Frame 25: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

I don’t want this to come off as I’m some kind of mad genius. In fact, I’m quite lazy, hate maths, and lost my thermometer years ago. The fact of the matter is, black and white film is so forgiving that it is a joke to care so much. At least for me.

Frame 27: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

One thing I’d say is clean your negatives before you develop. I never do aside from a slight dip in my magic sauce (classified information and no dirty ideas it is safe for work ;)). This is basically the reason for the cloudy look of my negatives.

Frame 14: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Well, that is what has been hypothesized by those whom have watched me develop. Who knows. I just keep doing the same thing. I hate being introduced to new developers or fixers. I’m too lazy to learn something new.

Frame 15: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Ah, I guess then I should tell you what I do use. I use T-max developer and Ilford fixer. I love Tmax with Tmax film but these days it has just become too expensive. It is also okay with HP5 like this roll was.

Frame 21: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

I didn’t shoot much street on this roll. It was the first roll with a camera I wasn’t used to. Wish I would have shot more “normally” though considering every frame (exposure / focus wise) came out great.

Frame 22: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Forgot to mention some big news! Yesterday I started shooting the introduction for my YouTube channel. I know I’ve promised this many times. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever taken it seriously.

Frame 23: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

I even hired someone to take care of the filming outside. Yesterday was supposedly the “practice” session but there was lots of useable footage from the day.

And yes, I know you video guys are going to tell my the Olympus camera I have sucks for video. I’m sure it does. Basically it is what I have and it works. The footage looked fine to me. Maybe later I’ll get something “better.”

Frame 30: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

That’s about it for today.

What’s up next?

Well, I’m waiting on my 40mm Summicron to come back from service to shoot another roll of film. In the meantime, I’ve got two reviews coming up. One of the Leica C-Lux and another of the Google Pixel 3.

You can expect the Pixel review by the end of the week. Small spoiler, the camera is really, really good. Really good. Like, really. The Pixel has never been available in Korea so I’d never even held one until recently. I don’t know how I can go back to anything else.

Friends in Japan wanna be on call to send me one when needed ๐Ÿ˜‰ ?

Anyway, kitten picture to end the day.

Manbo. Google Pixel 3, Portrait Mode.

Peace kids.

-Jt

2018: Top 10 Photos (1-5)

Iksan, South Korea. May 2018.

5

This is a photo of my mom. My mom came to Korea for the first time in 2018. I cherished that time with her. We didn’t have a great relationship when I was young. She’s a bit like Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter. Tons of heart but extremely strict and can be borderline scary. She was a high school teacher and the type that you’d imagine still might have a belt lying around. That said, she has softened much in her old age. I took this after my wedding reception. She was hungover. My mom literally never drinks. Well, Junku bro and friends had her drinking at my reception and she was feeling the effects. She stayed like this for a whole day. She’s coming back this may. I can’t wait.

Iksan, South Korea. July 2018.

4

I shared this in my last post as well. I absolutely love this photo. When my wife cleans the floors she dances like a ballerina. It is one of the most beautiful and graceful things I’ve ever seen. She clears the floors of obstructions, plays a classical piano arrangement and floats through the rooms with a cloth and some water. I’d never been able to get a very good photo during the routine. She’s embarrassed by it. I haven’t a clue why.

Iksan, South Korea. February 2018.

3

This was also taken during the unusual snow storms that plagued Iksan for a couple of days in 2018. I was on my way to class when I saw this loan man just kind of standing there contemplating his plight. I took this without much care to be honest. I was cold and had no gloves so I wasn’t much in the mood to be taking photos. I’m glad I did. Prints of this now hang in many countries throughout the world. It was my most requested photo from this year. Generally I don’t agree with those numbers but in this case, I love this photo.

Iksan, South Korea. May 2018.

2

So the last two photos were taken one right after the other with the above having been taken second.

I took this photo of my wife on our wedding day. I didn’t take many photos during the day, perhaps 10. Every time I see this photo I am filled with happiness. She was talking to a friend or something but I couldn’t see anything but her.

Iksan, South Korea. May 2018.

1

This is my favourite photo of 2018. It isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken technically. It is a photo that I would describe as an amalgamation of compromises. I took the photo in our then unfinished living room. The lighting was a simple placeholder light that struggled to light the entire room. I had 400 speed Ilford film loaded in my camera and no flash. I’d shot the previous 15 photos on the roll at 400 because I’d dreamed of my wedding photos being “clean.” Realizing this wasn’t going to work I just said f%$k it and decided to shoot this at what I’d thought to be 3200 (no meter on my camera). I think continued to take 6 photos of her during the next 3-5 minutes (number 2 on this list being also taken during that time) at what I judged to be 3200. I developed the film as such and just threw out the rest of the negatives. I only wanted these photos. They are grainy, and show the lack of dynamic range in the film at 3200. I don’t care. I wanted to get those photos. Do I wish they were digital? Not at all. I can’t tell you how much happier it makes me to look through my book of negatives and see these photos. Those pieces of film were there with me at that moment. Cheesy? Maybe.

I could give a f%$k.

Hope you enjoyed this year’s top 10. I didn’t take many photos this year. Around 500 in total. That’s okay. I love the photos I did get. Nowadays I’m more than happy to get 2-3 photos a year I consider to be good.

Much love.

Josh

๋ฒˆ๋ฐ๊ธฐ (Silk Worm Pupae)

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๋ฒˆ๋ฐ๊ธฐ Double Exposure. Seoul / Iksan, South Korea. Voigtlander Bessa-R, 35mm Color Skopar. HP5 at 3200.

I’m out of film. So I decided to shoot this roll again.

Beondegi is a pupa. A silkworm pupa, in fact. It is a popular street or drinking food in Korea.

Beondegi is often sold in a cans. It’s served when people drink.

She likes it. She told me it is like the Korean Vienna Sausage.

Only healthier.

Seoul / Iksan, South Korea. June 2018.

________________

Feel free to leave questions or comments below. They are always welcome.

 

Lunar New Years

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.

I’ve lived in Korea for a long time. Nearly 10 years in fact all told. I’ve always been aware of the big holidays – of which there are two – Seolnal and Chuseok. Weirdly though, I’d never properly experienced one until this year.

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Iksan, February 2018.ย 

The week didn’t start off so good. The weather was about as bad as I’ve seen in Korea in Winter. Snowstorm after snowstorm. I’d even thought that maybe the holiday was going to be canceled.

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Iksan, February 2018.ย 

Not a good start to a holiday I’d been looking forward to for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I like the snow, I just don’t like it when it ruins my plans.

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

Luckily, by Wednesday night the weather had cleared up. Still really cold though. We were going to Byeonsanbando to a resort. The point was to relax.

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

So, basically these holidays as I now am aware contain mostly a lot of drinking. By a lot of drinking, I mean a lot of drinking. I didn’t even take out my camera the first night. I was scared to vomit on it.

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

The main day of Seolnal involves the children of the family dressing traditionally and bowing to the elders. I actually thought this was quite lovely to watch. I don’t remember showing my grandparents that kind of respect. Ye-ji and Ye-nah here are pictured with their grandfather before the bowing starts.

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

Here the girls just finished their bows. Since I was also partaking in the ceremony I didn’t take too many photos. I kind of wanted to experience it properly. Ye-ji, the younger sister seemed to have wanted a present instead of money. Ye-nah seems quite content with what she will one day realize is much better than some sweets or a toy.

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

Lucky for her, her “scary” foreign uncle pulled through with some presents ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Byeonsanbando, February 2018.ย 

Everyone was pretty tired from the festivities the night before so we left early. I’ll maybe take more photos next year, I’m not sure. This year I enjoyed it for what it was and didn’t want it to be about me taking photos.

I think these experiences are better experienced first without a camera. I’m not sure I should have even taken one this time. I mostly took photos because I wanted to get some for my Pen-F review. That said, the family will be happy to have some prints from the Leica I’m sure.

February, 2018.

South Korea.

 

 

Winter is Here

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Winter. Iksan, South Korea. January 2018. iPhone X.

Winter is here. I know I’m behind on blog posts. Feels like I can never catch up. I am in the middle of renovating my house here in Iksan.

Last week, the snows came. Winter had been nothing more than a cold autumn until now. I like the snow.

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Iksan, January 2018. Leica M3, 50mm Summilux. HP5.

Being a teacher, when the snow comes the first thing that happens is being forced to go play in the snow. While I said I like the snow I am not particularly fond of playing in it. Anything for the kids, I guess.

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Iksan, January 2018. Leica M3, 50mm Summilux. HP5.ย 

I like the snow to look at. I don’t think I could even live in a place that never gets any. While some find it harsh, I find it tranquil.

Sometimes I just like to watch. The normal things look different. The walk to work becomes a little more interesting.

The snow is gone now again. It’s a little sad. I’d prefer it to stay around a little longer.

This weekend is another busy one. I feel like I never have time anymore.

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Iksan, January 2018. Leica M3, 50mm Summilux. HP5.ย 

The next post is a review of the Olympus Pen-F for those interested. I’m going to be talking about how I’m using it for some work along with an old EM-1. Also working on an iPhone X review for photography. Hopefully all this will be out soon ๐Ÿ˜‰ Lots of things coming!

Hopefully there is enough time to do them all ๐Ÿ˜‰

Iksan, 2018.

A Camera and a Beer

Leica and a Beer. Iksan, 2017.

So it all started with a conversation. A simple conversation.

Myself and Nick were having a beer and talking about cameras. We did that a lot. He asked where my M3 was.

You see, I had sold it. I bought it because it was cheap and I was poor. I bought it because it was battered and that made it cheap. I bought it because I had met someone that inspired me to go back to my roots. I bought it to forget about gear for a while.

I bought it on a whim. It was one of those things I decided in five minutes after having seen it in a shop window. It was my friend’s shop. I fondled it for a while. It was both weirdly rough looking and brand new feeling at the same time. Strange.

I bought it and used it. The first roll I shot in a park near my house. I took photos as we walked. Had been a while since I’d shot film. Also been a while since I’d shot without a meter.

Was nice.

At the Park. Leica M3.

I went home and developed. Had been a long time since I’d done that as well.

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At the Park. Iksan. Leica M3.

It felt great.

A month later I was in Busan. I was supposed to be taking photos for a magazine. Still life photographs of fish. I left the Ricoh I had brought in my bag and just shot a roll.

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Busan. Leica M3.

Forgot about the project.

There is much to be said about a camera. About the life of a camera. Just “tools” technically but I do believe one can be more.

It is kind of like the way a car can feel like it has a soul. The longer you spend with a car, the more memories you make in it, the more it starts to feel like it is more than just an engine and seats.

This isn’t an argument for film. It has nothing to do with the medium. Film is just the fuel.

It won’t be long before our cars don’t need that either.

Flash forward back to Nick and I drinking and talking about cameras. He asked me why I’d sold the camera. I didn’t have a good reason. I bought another because I thought it would be newer and nicer since I could then afford it. Was weird though, I had always thought about that first one. The photos never were the same after that.

He saw the look on my face.

“Let’s go get it tomorrow.”

You see, I had told him that it was still at my friend’s shop. He bought it back from me but hadn’t been able to sell it. The camera looked like it had been dropped and then the previous owner had tried to sand down the dent. The camera was otherwise new. This wasn’t a sand job to show brass (equally horrible) but a butchering to get rid of a dent. Koreans don’t like this kind of thing very much.

Anyway, we went the next day and I got it back.

Four months ago now and not a day goes by I don’t fondle my M3 with a beer. It has since been painted, but I asked the damaged vulcanite be kept so I could still recognize it.

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Iksan, 2017. Leica M3.

We have been busy making memories, so haven’t had too much time to blog. Ironically Nick’s 50mm Summilux now resides on the front. A more fitting combination I cannot imagine. All goes to the story.

The story of a camera.

And a beer.

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Halloween, 2017. Leica M3.

Stay tuned for my next post about Halloween, 2017. Photos from – you guessed it – my M3 and Nick’s 50 ;).