Category:

Street & People

Milan (Italy). Let’s be honest: if you landed on this page because you are looking for information about the new Leica SL, most probably you already had the opportunity to read many reviews – much more detailed and specific than mine here below. However, what I can do is providing the readers with the feelings and the opinion of a “free user” like me, someone that finds him/herself in front of the question: “Leica SL, buying it or no?”. As specified many times, my blog’s readers won’t see any link to amazon, b&h or any other website; I’m not paid by anyone, I purchase equipments with my money and I say freely what I think.

That said – I thought it was an important disclaimer – let’s proceed. I tested the new Leica SL camera with its Leica Vario Elmarit SL 24-90 mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens in a professional photographic studio, therefore probably in the best possible conditions. The event was organised by Leica Italia and it was very well prepared (I wrote a specific post about it). My test starts with the conclusion, which is asking myself to simple questions: “Did I like playing with the new Leica SL for more or less one hour?” The answer is “yes, I did; very much!”. Then, the second simple but straight question: “Would I buy it?” . This time the answer is “No, I don’t think so”. In fact, my conclusion is that the Leica SL is a great camera for some specific situations. Sport photography for sure, thanks to probably the most advanced autofocus ever developed, incredibly fast and precise, and which gives the possibility of focusing on the top-left side of the image (something of unique and well appreciated by Formula One photographers). But also fashion photographers I’m guessing will love it (both studio and shows). Same for naturalistic photographers (bird watching and safari). But I personally do not see the new Leica SL camera very usable in wedding photography, unless you are ready to carry on a very heavy equipment. And of course there’s no need to mention street photography, for which the Leica M system is unique.

Therefore, my feeling is that the Leica SL will compete for sure with cameras like Nikon D4s and the Canon 1-Ds Mark 3 (more or less same price, but being – the Leica SL – a bit lighter and definitely smaller). However, my biggest concern is about the lenses. In fact, the current Leica lens kit specifically for SL is limited to the 24-90 Vario Elmarit f/2.8-4.0 (which is, by the way, pretty big and heavy), with a 90-280 (a bit bigger) and a 50 f/1.4 that will be officially released in the first quarter of 2016. Users of the Leica SL can count on newly designed adapters (produced by Leica itself or by Novoflex) but in my personal opinion it does not make too much sense buying a camera designed for specific lens and being forced to use different glasses with adaptors.

This is to explain why I won’t buy the Leica SL (although of course I’m not saying it’s not a wonderful camera). The way I shoot photos and my passion for wide angle prime lenses keep me a bit cold about this camera. But of course if I were a professional sport or fashion photographer, I think I would seriously consider this new model of Leica (maybe not now, but for sure in the next months). As said, the new Leica SL has great performances (again, I would recommend to give a look to more specifically technical reviews): the autofocus is incredibly fast and precise, the processor is very powerful and the camera can shoot at 11 fps (DNG) and continuously in Jpeg (using the last generation of SD cards). In manual focus, the peaking is precise and immediate – I love the focus peaking of the Leica Q, but this one is even better. Not to mention the performance at high ISO: the Leica SL can be easily pushed above 3200 ISO without any grain, something that makes it usable even with very low light condition, with a jpeg that – when printed on A3 paper size – gives amazing results. The white balance – adjustable with a dedicated button – makes easier to set the parameter and get a wonderful jpeg, immediately usable. All these features are comprehensibly appreciated by photojournalists and by all those photographers that need to send the final result of their work in few seconds – there is an integrated wi-fi module.

So, here again with the conclusion, with which I opened the post: I would not buy this great, wonderful, fast, amazing camera… And just to confirm my feelings, during the test I could try the Leica M: oh yes, I would much more preferably buy that!

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Life Along the Railway in Hanoi

Hanoi (Vietnam). Walking and photographing around Hanoi can be incredibly surprising: for example, I was not expecting to see the national railway surrounded by houses with people living and spending their days on the binaries… I found this scene incredibly attracting and exciting, I spent several minutes suspended between incredulity and the passion for that original situation. This is one of the most representative photograph I captured that afternoon.

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A Nice Walk on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). This happens only once per year: it’s an unique event, and Istanbul lovers shouldn’t miss it. Of course I’m talking about the Vodafone Istanbul Marathon!

No, do not misunderstand me: I’m not proposing to run the 42+ km of a full marathon, neither to take the shorter 15 km run. What I’m talking about is to experience the fantastic opportunity of walking along the Bosphorus Bridge, which is normally jammed by cars and trucks, but one time per year is fully dedicated to runners, walkers and families.

Indeed, what for me is a very nice scene to be seen, is how much families and people truly love their bridge, which in this occasion is not simply an “infrastructure”, but becomes something more like a “legendary part of the city” (although it’s not so historical as monuments in Sultanahmet). During the marathon day, after runners’ start, people gather on the bridge to walk, discuss, protest, have breakfast (traditions matter!), play backgammon (tavla), sell simit with ayran and – of course – to take unique photos. In other words, the bridge – which normally connects the two sides of Istanbul, Europe and Asia – in this special day keeps its function of connecting “people” from different political parties, social extraction, cities of Turkey, football teams (yes, normally they fight like cats and dogs, but on the bridge they become friends) and so on. A sort of “occupy the bridge” day: isn’t it fantastic?

This here is one of the many photos I took last year during the 2014 Vodafone Istanbul Marathon (I created a specific tag): just click on the link to see the others; but if it happens you are in Istanbul the marathon day (this year it will be on the 15th of November) do not miss this great opportunity of experiencing something of unique.

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Please, Do Not Pee In The Fountain

Milan (Italy). It’s very hot here in Milan in these days: the temperature is easily rising above 35 degrees Celsius (almost 100° Fahrenheit!) and walking around the city is tough.

For this reason, fountains are very appreciated by people: it’s common to see tourists (and not only) trying to find a bit of refrigeration putting their feet into the fresh water.

However, I was very disappointed when I saw this person peeing in the fountain of Piazza Castello! 🙂

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Milan from the Window of Tram n. 1

Milan (Italy). This photograph demonstrates – if necessary – that in every moment of the day there is an opportunity to capture an image (and how useful and handy is the Ricoh GR camera, which perfectly fits in my raincoat pocket and is ready to use in every moment).

Yesterday I was on my way home back from the office and I jumped on the tram n.1. It is definitely a very old but characteristic coach, which dates back around 1920 – 1930 but is now fully operating after a complete and renovation work. When I was sit on one of its wooden benches, I was thinking about how watching a city from the window of a tram is an amazing experience. If in Lisbon, the famous tram n. 28 crossing the Alfama district is one of the most popular touristic attractions, why it cannot be the same here in Milan? Not to mention how nice and interesting can be photographing life from and inside trams! I’m developing a specific project about it…

Here, the tram is crossing Largo Cairoli, moving from Foro Bonaparte to Via Cusani; through the window I can see the Expo Gate and the Sforza Castle in Piazza Castello.

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Interior Design

Erzincan (Turkey). Many days ago I found myself in the middle of nowhere a bit far from Erzincan, along the Euphrates river, for business. Driving off-road along a narrow and tortuous track, my attention was captured by an abandoned house, which had probably been transformed by local people in something else. I asked the driver to leave me there, while the rest of the team was proceeding for some kilometers before coming back and pick me up. I was a bit shocked by graffitis of guns, and probably I had been crazy because nobody knew about my presence there and I could had been easily kidnapped. The area was not safe at all, and I knew it, but – still – I wanted to stay there and capturing this photograph.

I titled it “Interior Design” since I was mostly concentrated on the wall’s graffitis and writings.

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The Mercato Metropolitano in Milan

Milan (Italy). The Mercato Metropolitano is a new – and I think pretty successful – experiment in the vibrant landscape of Milano. It was opened some months ago, just before the summer season, but I think it will be closed soon because it’s largely open air – so do not wait too much if you have not been there yet.

I went to the Mercato Metropolitano some weeks ago and I liked it. It’s the the place to go if you want to eat some nice street food, with many regional cookeries in a very informal environment – as a “metropolitan market” can be. To be honest, I was expecting something more similar to the Mercato Centrale (Florence) or the Mercado do Ribeira (Lisbon), where the daily market in the evening is transformed into a large restaurant. But the concept – in terms of food quality and offer – is quite close to them.

The Mercato Metropolitano is close to Porta Genova: there is one metro line (the Green one) and several trams to / from there. It’s also a nice place to take some photos (as of course I did, with my Leica Q).

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Cena Con Me

Milan (Italy). Imagine… thousands of people attending a dinner without knowing anything – really anything, including the location – since few hours before the scheduled time. Only few rules, being the most important one on the dress code.

White!

Yes, this is the spirit of Cena Con Me, an event I already photographed a couple of years ago, but that every time is a surprise. The organizers create the event on Facebook and collects the requests. Then, it communicates the location (in Milan) 5 hours before the time. Since that moment, people start collecting all the items prepared in the past weeks and gather to the selected place.

It happens therefore that a pacific place suddenly becomes a mess: a “white wave” made of people, tables, chairs, plates, glasses, balloons, candle holders, flowers, accessorizes… everything is rigorously white.

Beyond the color, there are few more basic rules: respecting the location leaving the place as it was before the event – therefore carrying away any sort of garbage; and closing the event at midnight.

Under the tag “Cena Con Me 2017” I’m posting some photos of the event. The location is Piazzale Giulio Cesare, the heart of City Life, a very interesting new development, with the amazing skyscrapers of Zaha Hadid and Arata Isozaki in the background.


Milano. Immagina… migliaia di persone che partecipano a una cena senza sapere niente – ma veramente niente, compresa la location – fino a poche ore prima dell’orario programmato. Solo poche regole, tra cui la più importante riguarda l’abbigliamento.

Bianco!

Si, questo è lo spirito di Cena Con Me, un evento che ho già fotografato in passato un paio di anni fa, ma che ogni volta è una sorpresa. Gli organizzatori creano l’evento su Facebook e raccolgono le richieste di partecipazione. Successivamente, comunicano il luogo di svolgimento (a Milano) 5 ore prima l’orario programmato. Da quel momento, la gente inizia a prendere tutte le cose preparate nelle settimane precedenti e a ritrovarsi presso il luogo stabilito.

Succede quindi che una piazza tranquilla diventi improvvisamente un caos: una “onda bianca” fatta di persone, tavoli, sedie, piatti, bicchieri, palloncini, candelabri, fiori, accessori… tutto è rigorosamente bianco.

Oltre al colore, ci sono poche regole di base: rispettare la location lasciando il posto come lo si è trovato prima dell’evento – quindi portando via ogni tipo di rifiuto; e chiudere l’evento a mezzanotte.

Con il tag “Cena Con Me 2017” posto alcune foto dell’evento. La location scelta quest’anno era Piazzale Giulio Cesare, nel cuore di City Life, un nuovo sviluppo urbano molto interessante, con sullo sfondo i bellissimi grattacieli disegnati da Zaha Hadid e da Arata Isozaki.

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