Tuesday, June 14, 2011

William Palank: Ethiopia

Photo © William Palank-All Rights Reserved
Just yesterday, I had an email conversation with Eric Beecroft on the merits of the Leica M9, and whether I viewed it as a reliable tool, despite its idiosyncrasies, for my travel photojournalism work, and if it could ever replace my Canon system. My view was that it would not replace the Canons, but it would supplement them. I used a tool analogy, and compared the Canon and Leica to pliers and pincers.

This conversation fit perfectly with the work of William Palank, and with his interesting interview on the Leica blog. As a bit of background, William Palank decided to change from a career of dentistry to that of a photographer, and started to document traditional cultures such as those of Ethiopia India and Burma.
"When using prime lenses on a digital rangefinder camera, you can’t cheat by shooting from across the street and zooming in."
Palank is complimentary of the Leica M-sytem because it allows him to get nearer to his subjects, and permits him to blend better in exotic locations. His Ethiopia images were made with a Leica M9 and a Summilux 50mm lens. More of his Ethiopia images are here.

I recommend reading the interview pretty attentively.  Palank's post-production appears to be fairly minimal. He tells us that he prefers to get the the exposure and lighting right before he clicks his shutter. In our age of Photoshop and Lightroom, this is unusual.

I have yet to test the M9 in my travels, but I am certain it will allow me to get even nearer to my subjects...and record more intimate portraits. I'm not too bashful in approaching my subjects, but the M9 will help in keeping a lower profile. Once again, the M9 will not supplant the Canon 5D2 and the Canon 7D, but will supplement them. I will share my experience and results.

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