The purity and authenticity between black and white
Leica M10 Monochrom
談起黑白照片，大概會想起上年離世的傳奇攝影大師Peter Lindbergh，在九十年代流行極簡主義的時期，他的黑白人像攝影為時裝及攝影界帶來全新的美學觀，在他鏡頭下的超模都流露著自然樸實的美。黑白照片是表現純粹與真實的最佳方式，去掉事物的顏色，讓我們對相片的構圖、物件的線條、人物的表情與動態，以及光與影的變化等方面更為敏感，使相片能夠還原場景裡獨有的氛圍。Leica最新推出的M10 Monochrom便具備了這種魅力，它是首款擁有超大感光度範圍的相機，在任何ISO設置下拍攝的影像都十分細膩銳利，讓黑白照片更立體和層次分明。
P：PAN TANG @MIDWAY
O：可以分享使用Leica M10 Monochrom的感覺嗎？和平時使用的相機有甚麼分別？
P：M10 Monochrom的功能和以往的相機都差不多，我比較喜歡它拍攝出來的效果，沒有了low-pass filter，影像的畫面更自然銳利，而且光暗的寛容度很高，很光或很暗的東西都能在畫面中呈現出來，很接近菲林相的感覺。另外，它灰色漸變的效果很流暢，不會一下子很黑或很白，中間有不同程度的灰色，加上Leica的鏡頭，令相片更有層次和質感。以往在相片發佈之前都需要作後期的修改，但由於M10 Monochrom的影像處理器造得很好，尤其是對比度很出色，所以大部分照片都不需要作出額外的調整，很多時候只是調較相片的水平線便可以了。
Who would first come to your mind when talking about black-and-white photography? Could that be the legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh who just passed away last year? During the 90s when minimalism was prevailing, his black-and-white human portraits have brought a revolutionary impact on the aesthetics of the fashion and photography industries. Through his lens, the supermodels all appeared unpretentiously beautiful. Black-and-white images are perhaps the best way to convey purity and authenticity — the absence of color makes us more sensitive towards the composition and contour of the image, the facial expression and posture of the person in the photo, as well as the change in lighting and shadow. It is, therefore, fair to say that black-and-white images reproduce the actual moment to its authenticity. Leica’s latest product M10 Monochrom has a newly developed high-resolution sensor that can produce exceptionally delicate images in all ISO settings. Images made by this camera are not only vivid but also portray fine details that capture the best of every moment.
Pan, a co-founder of the multi-media platform MIDWAY, recently brought his M10 Monochrom to visit a Seto ware workshop in Nagoya. Through the lens of this black-and-white camera, the interior of the workshop and the daily routine of the artisans became so intriguing and captivating. The texture given by grayscale photography seems to be communicating a powerful emotion to the viewers.
P：PAN TANG @MIDWAY
O: What do you think about the M10 Monochrom camera? How is it different when compared to other cameras?
P: Leica M10 is very easy to operate. It doesn’t come with many redundant buttons. So you know how to use it as soon as you pick it up. I didn’t spend much time getting to understand its functionality. The camera is designed for making good photography so it’s absolutely intuitive to use. Its biggest selling point is the top-notch quality of black-and-white images that it produces, even when shooting something colorful, I can still concentrate on the composition and the contrast. The end products are more pure and authentic.
O: Are there any functions or modes that you like in particular?
P: The functions of M10 Monochrom are similar to other cameras, but I really like the images it produces. With the low-pass filter removed from the camera, the images appear a lot more vivid. It also offers a wide range of contrast, so that the image can capture the extremely bright and dark parts. The images it makes resemble that of a film camera. The transition of grayscale is very smooth and subtle. There are multiple shades of gray in between, you won’t see it changes from black to white abruptly. The Leica lens simply gives more layers and a nice texture to the photography. I used to spend time on post-editing when taking photos with other cameras, but not with M10 Monochrom. The camera processes the images in a sophisticated way with nice contrast. Most of the time, all I need to do is to adjust the horizon.
O: Do you like black-and-white photography?
P: We used to shoot with film cameras. Back in the days, we tended to use black-and-white film as there is more room for adjustment and alteration when we develop the film ourselves. However, we don’t do black-and-white photography so often after shifting to digital cameras. To be honest, there are many images that can be better captured with black-and-white photography. Using the Seto ware workshop as an example, the space itself, the process of pottery making, and the half-finished pottery, they are all better depicted without color. Black-and-white images just highlight the dedication of the artisans.
O: Which is your favorite image taken on this trip?
P: My favorite is the one capturing ceramic bowls being dried up at the corner of the workshop. This is perhaps what you can see in any ordinary ceramic workshop, but I was impressed by the vibe even when I was taking the photo. The sunlight coming from the front gave a nice gradient of shadow on the shelf. The gradual change of light as seen in black-and-white photography can recreate the actual moment. This is definitely the charm of grayscale recording.
O: What is the relationship between traveling and photography to you?
P: I always carry a camera with me when traveling so that I can record the ordinary days or some momentary memory of my journey. I don’t want to miss out on any ordinary moments of my trip. I hope photography can be the means to help me remember all these insignificant bits I have experienced on the road.
O: What makes a good camera for a traveler?
P: I usually take snapshots when traveling, so I don’t really need any advanced functions. On the contrary, I would go for a camera that is handy and easy to use. Cameras that look too fancy or big in size are also not a good option as they might catch the attention of thieves or make people around too aware of you taking a photo. Therefore, I think a simple and low-profile design is also essential.
O: Why do you like Leica cameras? Which is the one that you use the most often?
P: We like their minimal designs. Leica cameras are very user-friendly, they also have a simple outline and style, without any useless buttons. This is why we chose Leica. Photos made by Leica cameras are very distinctive; perhaps it is because of the contrast setting and their lens, it is very easy to tell if an image was made using a Leica camera. We are using Leica CL that was launched last year. The first time we used it was during our trip to Paris, and we were so surprised by the outcome. This camera fully demonstrates the quality and unique texture iconic to Leica. Its small size and video mode made it a very nice choice for a trip.
O: What does photography mean to you?
P: It is difficult to explain what photography is, but I would say it is a form of art, like painting and music. It is a means to express emotion. Photos help to record the happenings in my journey, but I also want to convey my thoughts through photography and have it communicated to others.
O: Are there any memorable moments you have when shooting?
P: Memorable moments are usually unexpected moments. For example, when we were still using film cameras, I once left a roll of film aside and forgot to develop it. One year later, Rita took this roll of film and mistook it as an unused film. When she finally developed the film, the images made from two different trips overlapped with one another and gave a double-exposure effect. She was, of course, mad at me, but I found this experience totally memorable and immensely interesting.