Dubai - the first rolls with the Leica

In all the years I've been travelling, this was my first proper trip to Dubai. I've visited the UAE several times, but I always end up working in Abu Dhabi, so I was intrigued to see what it's bigger brother was like. I was only in Abu Dhabi last December, and it was the first time I took my Hasselblad on a trip with me. This time it was another first, shooting with my new Leica M6 for the first time. Of course I loaded a film as soon as I got it, but I only took about 4 photos before heading off on this trip, so I was really looking forward to seeing how they came out.

I was only in Abu Dhabi for one day (not even 12 hours to be exact) before heading to Dubai for another couple of days. I did get some free time in the late afternoon, so I tried to make the most of it. Unfortunately, the weather really wasn't on my side. NOT something you often say in the Middle East! However, on my first day in Dubai, in the afternoon I headed for the downtown area and pointed towards the unmissable Burj Khalifa. I'm a sucker for a tall building with great views, and they don't get any taller than this! As I didn't know what time I'd finish work, I couldn't pre-book a ticket, and they were sold out for the day. They were even sold out for the next day too, so top tip......pre-book! I happened to walk past another kiosk that looked to be selling tickets, but this was only for the very top floor. The 'normal' sold out tickets only go as high as 125, these go to 148......but......they come at a price. A huge price! I don't regret paying it, and you can look up the price for yourself, but be prepared! For me, I was there, the weather was really good, it was approaching sunset, I might not be back in Dubai for a while......why not?!

Needless to say, these VIP tickets get you straight to the top without queuing. Even drinks and refreshments are included in the price, served whilst at the top floor.......bargain! ;) It goes without saying that the views are breathtaking. However, there's something you can't quite but your finger on. As you're so high, looking down on what would normally be very tall buildings, it sometimes doesn't feel like you're looking down from a building itself. It's odd, but still impressive none-the-less. I watched the sun go down, and then had a quick queue-less journey back down to terra-firma. 

The next day, I was taken to the Old Souq region, in Diera. We had a wander around the various markets, which are always great for photography, as long as you can put up with the endless vendors trying to flog you something. 

It was a great trip, but Dubai really isn't my type of city. I can see why some people love it, the huge malls, endless designer shops, sun, beaches etc......but that's not for me. Especially when I just love wandering around aimlessly, discovering. It's not a city for that, or at least it didn't feel like it to me in the brief time I was there. Maybe next time I'll have a different view.

Leica M6  //  50mm Summicron  //  Portra 400



Ok let me start by saying, yes this was not a purchase made out of necessity. It was purely out of desire. But come on, when was the last time you bought something because you actually needed it? Not very often if you're like me!


I went for the M6 as my first Leica primarily because it has such a legendary history, and is reputed to be one of the best 35mm cameras ever made, or so I read a lot when researching it! I also wanted a film camera because it will never age. This particular camera was made in 1998. So after 20 years it's still going strong, and will likely go for another 20. I had vague plans of buying the M10, the latest digital camera. But the price wasn't the main reason I chose not to. It's because every digital camera, regardless of how great it is at the time, will age. Technology moves on, and there will always be the lust to get the next one.....and so on. That doesn't happen with film. After searching and searching, I found a reputable dealer specialising in Leica film cameras and lenses, took a brave pill, and ordered. Then began 24 hours of waiting......

Immediately after it was delivered, I was like a manic 6 year old unwrapping Christmas presents! This was actually my first time even handling a Leica. They are exquisitely made. I thought the Hasselblad was a thing of beauty and craftsmanship, but this is on another level. I can really see why these can last decades even with a lot of use. It's also a hefty lump too! Combined with even the 50mm summicron, which is by no means the fastest 50mm lens you can buy, the weight is comparable to a DSLR and large lens. 

When having the mandatory play just after it was delivered, I did have a slight initial panic when I thought the meter wasn't working. I fitted the brand new batteries supplied with the camera, and upon setting a shutter speed and half depressing the shutter release......nothing. I read the manual before receiving the camera, so I knew what I was expecting to see in the viewfinder, but no red LEDs. I checked the batteries again, checked the contacts. All seemed fine. After some frantic googling, I discovered that the meter only activates when the film is advanced. Phew! 

The film also loads in a very different way to most 35mm cameras, and what I'm used to with my Olympus. The whole base plate is removed, and the film is inserted into the bottom of the camera while feeding the roll into the middle of the take up spool. I must have not quite placed the film right the first few times, as when I advanced the film, the dial wasn't turning. It took a few attempts to learn exactly how to place the film in the right position for it to take up properly.


The controls couldn't be simpler, and that's one reason to love Leica cameras. Just a shutter speed dial on the body, and the usual controls on the lens. Nothing more. And you don't need any more. 

The meter will take some getting used to, as unlike my Olympus which is almost automatic (it's essentially an aperture priority camera in auto), this M6 simply tells you if the exposure is 'correct', under or over. 

It's also a little 'backwards' in that you set a shutter speed, and then adjust the exposure by turning the aperture ring on the lens. That's fine in a lot of situations, but I mostly shoot in aperture priority. So I may want to shoot at f/2, so in the Leica I will have to adjust the shutter speed accordingly. A little awkward as you have to use your right hand ideally.  I'm sure it'll take a couple of rolls at least to get used to this, or start shooting the 'Leica' way.

It didn't take long before I loaded the first roll itself. I only took a couple of shots around the house, getting used to focusing with a rangefinder. I can see it will take some getting used to. This is the first time I've never looked through the lens, so to speak. At least even with the EVFs on the Fuji, you still see what the lens is seeing, and with an EVF, that is a true 'what-you-see-is-what-you-get' image. Looking through a rangefinder is always the same. No matter what the aperture, or any other setting. That threw me a little at first too, because you can't preview the depth of field, or at least see roughly how an image will look with parts in focus and parts out of focus. With a rangefinder, everything is in focus. Even framing can be a challenge, as even though you have frame lines to guide you, you sometimes can't picture the final image, as you're always seeing much more than that. It's kind of hard to explain, and maybe these are just niggles that you settle into over time. But these were just my first initial observations. 

I'm looking forward to the challenge though, and this is definitely a camera I will use a lot. 

Here's a couple more shots of this beauty I took in our studio at work, literally moments after it was delivered. Boo-tiful!


This was another quick visit to Oslo. I was here last late last year, but only staying at the airport for a couple of days, so sadly I never made it to the city. This time I was staying in the city centre. The last time I was in Oslo itself was over 7 years ago……a LOT has changed since then. The best weather was on my first day, where I had a bit of time to walk around near the opera house and barcode project. All of this was new to me, and there’s still a lot of construction going on even now.

It took a bit of time to get used to walking on the icy streets, and feeling like I was walking like a penguin the whole time, but it was nice to re-visit places I remembered and explore new areas.

Although I was only there for a few days, here's a few recommendations...

Brus Bar Olso - A great little bar, with a wide variety of Norwegian beers, and from further afield too. 

Dognvill Burger - This has to be one of the best burger joints in Oslo. It's in a nice location too along the harbour. Definitely try the sweet potato fries!

Oculus Bar - Another great little bar, specialising in Cervisiam beer. These 'cuckoo' brwers from Oslo rent other brewery space and come up with their own beer, all of which I tasted, was amazing! 


Journal - January

This year I'll try to put a post together with all those images that don't really fit anywhere else. As I'll be taking my X-T2 everywhere with me for my 365 project, I'll be sure to have many other images from my travels here and there. 

January was a very quiet month for me. I was meant to travel to Bolivia at the start of the month, but this was cancelled only two days before I was meant to fly. Looked forward to that one, it might happen later this year. At the end of the month, my girlfriend and I spent the weekend in Birmingham for my birthday.