M9 vs D800: Henri Cartier-Bresson

M9 vs D800: Henri Cartier-Bresson (“HCB”)

Featured: Henri Cartier-Bresson

The French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson captured some of the very best street photography photos ever taken with his Leica 35mm film camera.  He is amongst a handful of my all time favourite photographers and I am sure has had an influence on my photography style today.

I favour high contrast black and white photos for both digital photography and film photography.  I shoot both my Leica M9 rangefinder and Nikon D800 DSLR cameras in black and white JPEG + RAW file mode and usually only use the JPEG files.  Modern digital cameras tend to have an extended dynamic range capturing details in the shadows and highlights.  I enjoy the more traditional look of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s crisp whites and black blacks in his photos.  I love the scenes captured in his early street photography images and I hope one day I too can learn to compose and capture such images within a split second without having to think.

Moving from a Nikon DSLR to a Leica M9 has let me get one step closer to photography in it’s purest form.  By that I mean the camera has less buttons and gimmicky features and so lets you concentrate on taking a photograph rather than worrying about camera settings.  I now need to learn to see the world through some of my favourite lenses so I can visualise a picture before I put the camera to my eye using focal lengths such as 21mm (Zeiss ZM Biogon 21mm f2.8), 35mm (Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii) and HCB’s favourite 50mm focal length (Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 & Zeiss ZM Sonnar T 50mm f1.5 amongst others).  I can then chose that lens for the day and use a one camera one lens setup letting me focus 100% of the photograph I would like to compose and capture.

For my last Leica wedding in January, I used the 21mm ZM Biogon on the Leica M9 camera for almost the entire day.  I found it perfect for my documentary style wedding photography.  I was able to photograph the wedding with the unobtrusive Leica up close yet without being noticed, mingling amongst the wedding guests.  I enjoy shooting by available light as Cartier-Bresson did and but also use off camera lighting if I have too to simulate daylight in low light situations (such as winter wedddings in the UK!).

Practise makes perfect and as Cartier-Bresson once described in an interview, if you bring the camera to your eye and pull the trigger it needs to be a direct hit or nothing at all.

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photography

Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

2 thoughts on “M9 vs D800: Henri Cartier-Bresson”

  1. Hi Matt, you’re right; practice and persistence is everything…I believe Bresson once said “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”. I can’t wait to get my first 10,000 out of the way so I can start shooting some ‘good’ pics :))

    1. Thanks Dave. I should probably check the shutter count on my D800 and now Leica but I think I will be well over the 100K mark by now still I started out. I shot 450 just last night!

      I’m sure you will soon pass the 10k milestone 😉

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