Monthly Archives: March 2012

Birth of the cool.

The title was inspired by a Miles Davis album of the same name.

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.


Why I love film (Honey).

I have been trying to photographically capture the essence of Honey, since she entered our lives in December.  The closest I’ve come with my M9 (digital camera) is with this shot, taken 3 months ago.

The image below represents my latest attempt.


…it may be because this time I was using a more than 50 yr old camera with no back LCD screen, no meter, no battery, not even an on/off switch…

…it may be because I then fumbled with the film in a changing bag, trying to blindly load it into a spool…

… it may be because it was then lovingly bathed in a series of mystery chemicals and finally in distilled water, before being hung in my basement-turned-sauna as the hot water ran in the sink, generating steam to get rid of dust in the air…

…it may be because I then delicately handled each strip and spent minutes scanning each frame into my computer…

…it may be because all of these things make me better appreciate the act of image creation


…I believe this image has come close to capturing Honey’s soul.

If you don’t see it, that’s OK.  I can’t explain it.

But if you do see it, then you know:

that’s why I love film.


(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M2, Kodak Tri-X 400, and Leica 75mm Summilux @ f/1.4.


There were several similar moments before this, and several afterward, but this is the one that made me click the shutter.

Note the light and the composition… they need to be right for an image to even stand a chance.

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.

Brush and boy.

Portraiture is where the Leica 75mm Summilux simply excels.

I actually refrained from sharpening his eyes, because they’re almost too sharp (as rendered by this lens) at f/1.4…

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 75mm Summilux @ f/1.4.

Q&A: Jonathan asks about my post-processing.


Hi Peter

Really love your photos. I wonder if you would be willing to share some of your post production tips? I am sure most of the photos qualities come from your gear, but i wonder if I could produce something similar in my PP. (i.e. the dark rich colors and deep blacks)

Many thanks,



Hi Jonathan,

I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to write to me.

I’ve often been asked about my processing, and it’s always a difficult question to answer.  Partly because I process each photo individually, depending on the subject matter, lighting, and mood.  Partly because I’ve worked hard at developing my style and it’s very personal to me.

I wrote a few comments about it recently.  You can view them here (please see the comments section) and here.

I wish I could be of more help.  Maybe if you ever visit Toronto, we can go on a Shooting Session (or post-processing session) together…

Regards, and thank you once again,


Thank you Chris’ Coffee Service!

[Full disclosure:  I haven’t been paid a cent for this endorsement, I’m just a very satisfied customer.]

This is a special thank you post to Chris’ Coffee Service.

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 75mm Summilux @ f/1.4.

That’s my 10 year old Isomac Millennium espresso machine in the above photo (taken yesterday), which was purchased brand new in 2002 from Chris’ Coffee Service.  It just arrived back home, following being masterfully repaired by Tim in Chris’ service department (thanks Tim!).

As most of the viewers of this site know, I live in Toronto, Canada.  However, when I was looking for my first espresso machine many years ago, I kept reading about Chris and his company in the various coffee fora.  It seemed that they had an unblemished reputation for service that had people raving.  So, even though they were located far from home and across the border in the USA, I didn’t hesitate to place my order with them.

Let me tell you that in all of the years I’ve owned this machine, the support provided by Chris’ Coffee Service has been astounding — from the people that answer the phones, to the service department, to Chris himself.  Tim — in particular — in the service department has talked me through basic repairs and maintenance over the phone, which has saved me a great deal of time and money.

The good folks at Chris’ Coffee Service provide all of this service for free, because they understand that a happy customer is a repeat customer.  Ironically, I’ve been prepared on more than one occasion (given the amount of wear-and-tear on my Isomac following daily use for a decade) to purchase a new machine, but every time I’ve dealt with Chris and Tim, they’ve never tried to sell me a new one.  In fact, they’ve repeatedly convinced me to just get my trusty Isomac repaired. 

Can you believe that?

In an age of disposable everything, it’s nice to know that some things — like my Isomac and the service at Chris’ Coffee Service — endure.

Thanks Chris, and a special thank you to Tim… you are the best at what you do!



For the elusive something.

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↑Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Noctilux @ f/1.

The scene.

Scoping out the territory (you can’t pose this stuff).

The evening light of an early, balmy Spring was so gentle here… extracting rich colours and tones.

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.


The pretty red Mini caught my eye.

Catching him in mid-step was intentional… the farewell wave the moment the shutter clicked was a lucky bonus.

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.

Why I photograph wide open (Life as a dream).


↑Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Summilux @ f/1.4.


“Wide open shooting for me

is a sort of visual short-hand

to communicate life as a dream.”


For anyone familiar with my photographic work, it’s evident that I have a preference for shooting at wide open apertures.

There are plenty of reasons why I do this, but the main one is this:  the visual imprint of wide open shooting is one where some things are readily perceived, while others are only hinted at… which is an accurate representation of how we perceive the world.  And every single (fleeting) moment of life.



(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Summilux pre-Asph @ f/1.4.

In praise of blurry images.

Sometimes I choose to post a blurry image.

Admittedly, most of the time it has been generated as a result of user (me!) error.  Occasionally, I’ve planned it.  Regardless of how it’s arrived at, there is something about it that has caught my eye.  Invariably, somebody will condemn it by pointing out the obvious: “it’s blurry”.  End of story.

Or is it?

Sometimes, the out-of-focus-ness is adding more than it’s taking away.

Sometimes, the emotive intent of an image is made sharper precisely because it is blurry.

You’ll find some samples below.  They’re all blurry — and they all have left an indelible impression on my mind.

[And you?… do you have a favourite blurry image?  I’d love to see it…]


(please click on the images below to view)

↑Nikon D3S and Nikkor-NOCT 58mm @ f/1.2.

↑Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/1.4.

↑Nikon D3S and Nikkor-NOCT 58mm @ f/1.2.

↑Leica M9 and Konica Hexanon 60mm @ f/1.2.

↑Leica M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.

Updated: Konica Hexanon 60mm f/1.2.

I’ve updated my Konica Hexanon 60mm f/1.2 write-up to optimize viewing of (most of) the sample images.


D – A portrait.

D is great guy, but a relatively reluctant (read: shy) model.

He did well here.

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leia M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.

Spring is here! (Jump for Joy)

Spring officially arrives today — its earliest arrival since 1896 — but unofficially it arrived in Toronto over a week ago, as we’ve been under the spell of unseasonably high temperatures.

Better yet for photographers, the light is back again…

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/1.4.

Little boy blue (before and after).

I’m posting an extra entry today, in response to a request from one of my viewers, Mark, who commented on the original Little Boy Blue image (please see the Comments section of that post, which also contains a detailed response from me).

Mark was wondering what the before-and-after images looked like (i.e., before-and-after post-processing was applied).

So Mark, this one’s for you.

Below, you will find the “before” image as it came out of the camera.  This is a DNG file loaded directly from my memory card and converted to JPG in Apple’s Aperture, without any intermediate steps on my part:

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↑Little Boy Blue (before post-processing)


Note how “flat” the file appears, and how I intentionally underexposed the image at the time it was shot (one of my techniques when working with digital cameras).

Now, here is the “after” shot, following my customized post-processing.  This could have been processed an innumerable amount of ways, but I chose to do it this way:

(please click on the image to view)

↑Little Boy Blue (after post-processing)


I hope this helps, Mark.  If you ever make it to Toronto from Edmonton, I would be happy to take you on a Practical Photography Teaching session!



Sheep against white wall.


(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.

Little boy blue.

(please click on the image to view)

↑Leica M9 and Leica 35mm Summilux FLE @ f/1.4.