Monday, July 30, 2018

Letting go of my Leica M3

After nearly 40 years of service, I'm shipping out my Leica M3, a great film camera that's now old and broken, to a camera repair service, where it will be either used for parts or repaired and sold to a new owner.

I scraped together the money and bought the camera, used, from Ken Hansen in 1978 for $325, along with a 50mm Summicron lens. After a year, I switched to a 35mm lens (with the goggles), which I bought from Ken-Mar Camera in Great Neck. I bought a Leica because Garry Winogrand had one, and as I watched him work with it, the camera's advantages for street photography became obvious. It was smaller than an SLR, had a quiet shutter release, and used lenses with focusing tabs, which made it possible to focus "by feel" before bringing the camera up to your eye, which saved valuable fractions of a second when precise timing was essential.

I used the 35mm lens on the M3 from 1980-2000. Then I switched to a 28mm Kobalux Leica-mount lens, a cheap but good-quality Leica knock-off, and used that until earlier this year, when the shutter jammed. I covered my camera's silver body with black gaffer to make it less noticeable. I took hundreds of thousands of photos with it over the years. In the last 10 years I'd use the camera only occasionally, preferring digital. Three years ago, when I bought my Leica M Typ 240 digital rangefinder, the M3 went into semi-retirement.

It was time. I put it on eBay last Thursday, and sold it within 24 hours.

So, today I'm going to pack up the camera and bring it to the UPS store to ship to Canton, Mass, where its new owner awaits. I usually don't get emotional over a piece of equipment, but this might be an exception. This camera was my third eye and the tool I used for my personal work for most of my adult life.

They say Leicas are expensive cameras—which they are—but they're built to last and tend to retain their value. In fact, amortizing the purchase price over 40 years, I'd say that at $8.12 per year, it was my best photographic bargain ever. The icing on the cake? I sold it for $400—a $75 profit!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part VI: The last batch...or is it?

Well, I've scanned, spotted and otherwise prepped the final three rolls that I shot in 1976 at the Master Workshop with Garry Winogrand, two weeks that helped me define myself as a photographer. It's been an amazing journey, revisiting photos, some of which I remembered (since I still have the work prints floating around) others of which were new revelations.

So, here's the last batch.  One thing I noticed? I kept getting closer, apparently more comfortable working the crowds.

But wait--there's more! Sneak peak at the bottom of the pix :-)

But wait...there's more!

Coming soon: 

Winogrand in New York, 1976: Photographs by Mason Resnick
20 never-before-seen photographs of Garry Winogrand at work on the streets of Lower Manhattan.

As we walked out of the building, [Winogrand] wrapped the Leica's leather strap around his hand, checked the light, quickly adjusted the shutter speed and f/stop. He looked ready to pounce. We stepped outside and he was on." 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part V: More good stuff


A gorgeous young lady looking and smiling right at me—a shy 19-year-old learning to interact with the world through the medium of photography. I was seduced, not just by her, but the crazy approach to photography that I was absorbing like a sponge during that two week August workshop at 80 Nassau Street in Manhattan. The lighting was perfect: Hazy skies, 1/250 at f/8 on Tri-X.

And the icing on the cake, in the background, my teacher, Garry Winogrand (you can see him behind the woman on the left) is watching me approvingly. Actually, he came up to me after I took this shot and said "you're getting it!"

This is the photo, which I've posted elsewhere, that encouraged me to keep going and pursue street photography, no matter what else was happening.

Here are a few more photos I've rediscovered in recent days...three more rolls to go!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop part IV: The Day I Discovered "The Zone"

I didn't know what it was called until years later, in graduate school, when I was using "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards was my workbook. I learned about how creative people get in the "Zone".

It was a familiar concept to me: I first felt I was in the "zone" during the Master Workshop with Garry Winogrand. I was unaware of the passage of time, but was hyper-aware of what was going on around me. After several days of following Winogrand around the streets of New York, something in my mind clicked. Here are some highlights from that day...

Also see:
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part 1
My first Winogrand Workshop Roll...I think
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part II: New Discoveries
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part III: More hidden treasures revealed
Coffee and Workprints: My Street Photography Workshop With Garry Winogrand

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop part III: More hidden treasures revealed

I'm about halfway through the process of scanning and digitizing the negatives I shot 42 years ago during a Master Workshop with Garry Winogrand. I'm finding more gold...and photos that have greater historical significance. The way we dressed, the cars we cell phones! New York was very different back then. And polyester shirts, leisure suits, wide ties, and plaid ruled!

Also see: 
My first Winogrand Workshop Roll...I Think
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part I
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part II

Monday, July 9, 2018

Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop part II: New Discoveries

I'm approximately halfway through the two dozen rolls I shot in 1976 during a 2-week Master Workshop in New York City with Garry Winogrand at the Germain School of Photography. The Germain School, for those who may be unfamiliar, was primarily a trade school for photographers. However, during the summers of 1976 and 77 (maybe others as well?) Herb Goro, my photography teacher from Queens College, ran an exceptional summer program that was a mix of specialty classes with commercial value (Art & Architecture Photography, taught by Peter Moore, and Animal Photography, taught by Walter Chandoah, were two other courses I took that summer) and Master Workshops with well-known photographers from the fine-art world.

In 1976, I had a choice: take a Master Workshop taught by Lisette Modell, or one taught by Garry Winogrand. I chose the latter and never looked back. I've been spending the last several weeks (as my schedule allows) scanning and going through the original negatives I shot during those two weeks...approximately 700 photos in all. I'm finding images I'd forgotten about or never looked at in the first place. I took these pictures when I was 19, and looking at them with 40+ years' experience is another fascinating side trip in what Garry called "an adventure in seeing."

Here are some of my latest (re)discoveries...

Coming soon: Never-before seen photos of Garry Winogrand in action on the streets of New York!

Also see: 
My first Winogrand Workshop Roll...I Think
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part I

Friday, July 6, 2018

My first Winogrand Workshop roll...I think

I'd call this the "before" shots. A roll unceremoniously labeled MW-4 (Master Workshop, roll 4; my numbering system was apparently unrelated to sequence in which the photos were shot), I believe this was the first roll I shot during the Master Workshop that I took with Garry Winogrand in 1976 in New York City. Most of the photos appear to have been photographed at some kind of event in City Hall Park.

Looking at these images reminds me of how quickly my approach to photography changed under Winogrand's tutelage. Things that I noticed:

• I was using a 50mm lens. This would soon change; Winogrand suggested I switch to a wide-angle lens, which is apparent in other photos.
• The subject matter is simpler. While I tried to pack the image with many people, I was still figuring out the concept of filling the frame in interesting ways. Perhaps it is a function of the lens I was using but it seems individuals are more isolated in these photos.
• I tried the "Winogrand Tilt" (see the last shot) but it clearly didn't work here. I had much to learn.
• I was starting to capture the humor that I had been seeing without my camera. Look very closely at the two boys facing away from the camera.


Also see:
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part I
Revisiting the Winogrand Workshop, Part II: New Discoveries