When it doesn’t quite go to plan……

In the last couple of weeks we got the chance to visit Queenstown in the South Island. My initial excitement around the photographic potential of this trip was again tempered by the realisation that, taking lots of photographs, whilst on a short birthday celebration break with friends, may not make me the most popular person in the South Island. With this in mind I initially decided against taking my gear however at the last moment after the tiniest bit of encouragement I had a change of heart.

I’d travel “light”, for me that is…..and I’d try to take images that would enable me to do a post based around vintage Leica glass on the M9.

In the Bag – 

  • Leica M9
  • 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1
  • 50mm Summicron f/2 (Rigid Type II)
  • 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 – Yes I know it’s not vintage!!! Here’s the thing, this lens is so small and versatile that it now comes with me whatever…..

As I suspected the opportunities were few and far between and it soon became apparent that on this occasion I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the intended theme of my post. Time, weather, light and to some degree my lens choice were all conspiring against me. Whilst the vintage Leica glass is superb it does lack contrast, leaving you struggling when the light is less than favorable.

Things just weren’t going to plan, all I could do was hope that at least one opportunity would present itself, if it did I’d be ready to squeeze every available image from it. Eventually, in failing but favorable light we approached the shores of Lake Wanaka, time was short but I gave it my best shot!!!

Lake Placid – Leica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1 35mm Summicron f/2 Lake-Placid

Lake Placid has been selected by the Editors as a Leica Fotografie International (LFI) Master Shot.

One of the real surprises that photography has given me is the ability of an image to tap in to the darkest corners of the mind and evoke a memory, in the instance of the next image it was the first verse of a poem I’d read in secondary school (more than a few years ago)….obviously I couldn’t recall the entire poem, that would just be weird!! 

Ripples – Leica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1

 35mm Summicron f/2 Ripples[

 Ripples has been selected by the Editors as a Leica Fotografie International (LFI) Master Shot.

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone; But there's half-a-hundred ripples Circling on and on and on, Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea. And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

The full version of the poem by  James W. Foley can be found here

I’ve championed the merits of the Voigtlander 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 previously, an extensive user report can be found here. It’s worth me mentioning that I always code this lens as a 21mm 11134, you can read why in the aforementioned user report. Simply put, the more I use this lens the more I wonder how I ever managed without it!! I believe continued evidence of it’s capabilities and justification for taking it everywhere can be seen in the image below.

Awakenings – Leica M9 – 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 Awakenings

Awakenings has been selected by the Editors as a Leica Fotografie International (LFI) Master Shot.

Now I’d never made the association between my images and poetry before but, spurred on by the induced memory recall I had experienced with the Ripples image I tried quite deliberately to relate this next image to a poem I was more familiar with……I know, I know, I’m treading dangerously close to having too much culture on this blog but I feel it’s going to be an isolated incident!! Anyone familiar with the works of Edgar Allen Poe will know where I’m going with this image…..

A Dream Within A Dream – Leica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1 35mm Summicron f/2 A-Dream-Within-A-Dream

A Dream Within A Dream has been selected by the Editors as a Leica Fotografie International (LFI) Master Shot.

Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, Thus much let me avow- You are not wrong, who deem That my days have been a dream; Yet if hope has flown away In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream.

The full version of the poem by  Edgar Allen Poe can be found here 

Isolation and Exhilaration  – Leica M9 – 50mm Summicron f/2 Rigid Type II  Solitude

So, there we have it, another amazing New Zealand destination that I have only scratched the surface of…….another place to add to the ever increasing list of places I have visited and to which I would love to return with the sole intention of photography. They say that the further south you travel in this country the better the scenery gets, its so very true.

Thanks for reading.




  • I really like Awakenings. It has some awesome tones and super composition (unfortunately there is some vignetting). But my favourite is Ripples, perfect in tonality (very film-like), composition and moment!

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Kaushal, the vignetting is not a characteristic of the lens, it’s my doing….old habits die hard!! Ripples is probably my favorite too, I only wish I had taken it with the M6 or M3!! Cheers, Jason.

  • Guy says:


    Some wonderful images here and an enjoyable read.


  • Andy J says:

    Great stuff Jason as I’ve already posted on your FB page 🙂 I just love a black n white landscape! I should try some landscape with my Leica…

  • Adam Malcolm says:

    These are some of the best landscapes I’ve seen in a long while! Oh I so wish I could afford a Leica…

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Adam, good to hear from you. Thank you very much, it’s great to hear feedback like that. Whilst I think there is definitely a little of the Leica magic in these files I wouldn’t totally despair, I’m thinking about cracking out the DSLR to see how successfully I can apply the things I’ve learn’t since owning the M9, we’ll see how that goes! Thanks again, Jason.

  • Gabor says:

    Very meditative, fantasy-like scenery. The poets fit perfectly, very well done!

    Bests, Gabor

  • Josh Perera says:

    Some very inspiring work here mate.
    I’ve caught myself thinking in b&w a lot lately, espescially on the w/e, unfortunately I had colour film loaded. I have however switched a couple of my digitalis to b&w since and hope to try shooting like that for a while, see how I go. I got some nice results just the other day playing with one of my Jupiter 8’s on my nex5n in b&w. Not quite Leica I know, but I can only dream of one of those for now… Maybe Oneday.
    Keep up the inspiring work mate.
    I look forward to seeing lots of Monochrom shots in the future. 🙂

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Josh, thanks, your comments are really appreciated. Ha, I’m always thinking about B&W……:-) I reckon the Jupiter 8 on the Nex5n would be a great combination. Take it easy, cheers Jason.

  • Hi Jason, First of all I would like to congratulate you about the quality of your site (very pro, sharp, clean and your posts are well prepared).
    Isolation and Exhilaration is my favorite shot. Just curious about post-treatment … as it is not always so simple to turn a M9 shot in a nice B/W composition …. Confidential ? Cheers. Xtof

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks very much for those generous comments. Not confidential but complicated to explain on an image by image basis as I treat each shot independently when processing. I am about to detail some techniques in response to an email I received asking for a bit of assistance, maybe I will turn that in to a post. Thanks again, Jason.

  • Gerry says:

    hi jason,

    Did you use tripod for your shots?



    • janrzm says:

      Hi Gerry, you gave me a laugh with this, I imagined the face of Mrs Howe as I turned up at the airport with my tripod…..:-) A few people have asked this question before, the answer is no, they were all handheld. Thanks for visiting my site, cheers, Jason.

  • Rodney says:

    Hi Jason

    I like this series of photos, they seem to have a moodiness (if there is such a word) about them. Its like the dark clouds above are always watching…….. hoving above, keeping an eye on the beauty below them. The black areas still have an amazing amount of detail in them without any ISO problems.
    Isolation and Exhilaration thats my Favourite, with contrast and depth of field working hand in hand well.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Rodney, hope your well.

      Well I was after mood so that’s good 🙂 It’s worth noting that these were shot on “old” glass and that is certainly responsible for giving them a certain character.

      Cheers, Jason.

  • […] All too often, the weather was not my friend……I have used my digital M’s in drizzle before but some of the worst storms in living memory were to occur on this trip. When I did see the sun, it was harsh, the kind of light that washes away all detail. A couple of times I did find myself in the right place at the right time but all too often the light wouldn’t oblige. I really can’t stress the importance of good light, it can make the ordinary, extraordinary, thinking back to the last year when I was last in the South Island, spending just an hour in Wanaka I managed to get some of my favourite images because the light was so special. See those – (HERE) […]

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