Tag Archives: Wayne Pinney

Ode to a Barnack Leica

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The following is prose, so it really isn’t an ode. But if it could be, it would be …an ode to a Barnack Leica.

To paraphrase something I read in the Forward to the Oxford Book of English Prose: Science moves forward, but stays in constant flux. What is established as true in fact today will be proved wrong tomorrow. (The great brains of Science disagree whether we, or anything at all, really exist……throw that one into the next photo technology dispute you encounter.) What remains constant is the condition of man.

Read any great classical work by Victor Hugo and you will see the truth of it: the same behavior, thoughts, emotions, responses and interpersonal problems that plague the characters in a Hugo story apply to us as we go through our lives even today. As I enter middle, middle age, I sense the bigger payoff, for me, as I head into the last chapters of my life, will reside in Hugo…..and paying attention to the constants of being human.

I do not know, but I suspect that this attitude is, at least in part, responsible for my recent interest in using Barnack Leicas and LTM lenses. The pull is strong; I believe it has more to do with me than the cameras. The cameras have always been there, but I have only recently evolved to the point where I appreciate what they represent. I wish this had happened sooner in my life. I’ve wasted a lot of time and effort being distracted by things that, in the final analysis, matter very little for what is true in life, let alone what’s true in my photography.

It says something that, only hours after receiving my Barnack Leica (that’s it below), I already had loaded it and had taken a number of photos.

Given the fact that optics are always advancing, its an 80 year old camera that will age with me.


This was sent to me by Wayne Pinney of Indiana, who describes himself as a “perennial novice.” He’s written here before. I love how and what Mr. Pinney writes: spare, well-written, to the point, no artifice, and best of all, thoughtful and literate. In other words, everything I’m usually not. If most of what’s been written by me on this blog is a Sony A7, Wayne’s writing would be a simple, elegant Leica M2.

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“Exactly What It Was Like”


By Wayne Pinney for Leicaphilia.

I am the perennial novice. I own leica M film cameras, as well as a IIIg and IIIc. Hand developing film has opened a great new world. This photo of my daughter’s peagle (beagle,  pekingese mix) was taken recently with my Ricoh GR Digital I- the original 8.1 MP camera. I have been using it a lot lately for the reasons much like the ones articulated here. The Ricoh is so convenient, and at high ISO does an exceptional job of duplicating film grain in B&W mode.

As I look at the photo, I find that I love it…..more than many other photographs I have taken of cherished moments and people. Tonight, a thought occurred to me regarding the magic of such photos: Is it possible that their magic is related to the fact that the camera, when used on the spur of the moment, and without benefit of preparation,  captures something exactly as the chaos of the moment dictates how the brain receives and stores it……something that, because of its fleeting blurriness defies spoken description?……taps deeply into that nebulous thing that makes photography so unique?  You know, that thing Barthes struggles with. As I look at the photo, I keep thinking: “Yeah! That is exactly what it was like.”

Wayne Pinney is a self-described “perennial novice” who lives in SE Indiana.

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