Bouncing Back…….The East Cape Revisited.

By August 25, 2013Blog, Photo Essay

It’s been a while, quite a while…….

The last couple of months has served as a reminder of the fragility of those things we often take for granted, what should have been a period of fun and adventure took a somewhat unexpected turn of unwelcome events. Without going in to too much detail we were unable to make our planned overseas trip due to some unforeseen medical issues which are thankfully now resolved; I’m pleased to say Mrs Howe is making a speedy recovery, evidenced by her ability to assign chores to your’s truly…….. The trip is currently being rescheduled for later in the year and will be both well deserved and needed by that time.

One obvious side effect of those events has been to keep me from my cameras and consequently from this website, whilst that has in some ways been frustrating it has given me time to focus on where I go from here and to some degree it was responsible for leading me back to the East Cape.

Remarkably, those days spent out in the remote East Cape are the first occasion “ever” that I have been out alone with the camera for more than just a few hours, previously and like the majority of people I’ve had to make do with snatching moments here and there along with making the most of family excursions and holidays, the harsh reality is that I have spent very little time taking photographs and I need to reverse that, for a while at least.

So, as a prequel to future photographic adventures stirring in my mind and in an effort to reacquaint myself with the camera I decided that another visit to the East Cape would be a sensible place to start. If you’re interested you can see images from my previous road trip HERE.

As usual I packed too much gear but in fairness I was able to find the time to use most of it and even though I only managed a couple of full days shooting I was reasonably satisfied with the results under the circumstances!!

It’s fair to say there were a couple of things I really wanted to get out of this trip and by and large I managed that.

  • Familiarise myself with the camera, it’s very much like riding a bike, you never forget but you may wobble a bit at first and a big part of photography is confidence!! 
  • Use a few of the lenses I’ve acquired this year that I just have not used enough for one reason or another. 21mm Voigtlander Ultron f/1.8 Asph – 50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.5 Asph, 90mm Leica Summicron f/2
  • Last time I made this journey I captured many of my favourite images with the current 35mm Summicron f/2 Asph however I resisted the urge to take that and instead went for the 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph)  v.1 
  • Something I’ve been aware of for a while is that I’ve neglected what I would describe as “localised beauty” in search of that grand, expansive, mega image…….warning, if you do this you will be frustrated!! There was a need to get back seeing things for what they are and spotting that beauty that exists around us. Hopefully this would also produce a more balance narrative and give a true insight in to the region for those that have not visited it.
  • I really wanted more contact with the local indigenous population, the Maori. If I could achieve this it would really make my trip worthwhile.

For ease of reference I’ve decided to post the images by lens. POLITE NOTICE……..there are a lot of images in this post!!!!

21mm Voigtlander Ultron f/1.8 Asph

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a big advocate of Voigtlander glass, it really does represent some of the best value offerings in what can be a very expensive rangefinder niche…….some will tell you that if you can afford the Leica M body you can and should buy the Leica glass, this is nonsense. The Leica glass is superior but in truth if your budget is Voigtlander you’re not going to be disappointed.

My wide option for this trip would usually have been the remarkable 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 which I reviewed HERE. However I was keen to use the 21mm Voigtlander Ultron f/1.8 Asph because despite having fooled around with it I had not really put it to good use.

Image 1 – Leica M MonochromMM-Image-1 Image 2  – Leica M9 M9-Image-2The Leaning Tree – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-3The Leaning Tree has been selected by the Editors as a Leica Fotografie International (LFI) Master Shot.

Image 4 – Leica M9 M9-Image-4Returning – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-5 Returning has been selected by the Editors as a Leica Fotografie International (LFI) Master Shot.

I’ve been here before with this image and image 11 below, I’m not one for returning to past scenes but there is something about this tree!! My previous images were taken with the M9 and 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f/4.5, as the sky was more dramatic this time I felt it would be interesting to see the same shot from the Leica M Monochrom and 21mm Voigtlander Ultron f/1.8 Asph.

Image 6 – Leica M9 M9-Image-6

Look carefully, yes those are bullet holes in the signs, there is more than a hint of the “Wild West” about this region. There are more signs than people……..I read with interest several homemade sigs such as “No Hunting, do not shoot stock” clearly rustling is an issue out here. My particular favourite from this trip was “No Trespassing, No Junk Mail, No Bullshit” it’s always good to know where you stand…..

Image 7 – Leica M MonochromMM-Image-7Image 8 – Leica M9 M9-Image-8Image 9 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-9Image 10 – Leica M9 B&W Conversion M9-Image-10Image 11 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-11Image 12 – Leica M9 M9-Image-12Image 13 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-13Waipiro Bay, Tokamaru Bay, Tolaga Bay all exhibit architectural evidence of more prosperous times but now appear to be clinging to a fragile existence.

Image 14 – Leica M9 B&W Conversion M9-Image-14Image 15 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-15

Notes and first impressions of the 21mm Voigtlander Ultron f/1.8 Asph:

  • All of the images above were shot with an ND8 filter.
  • Lens coded as Leica 21mm f/2.8 11134 (Incidentally this is the code I would recommend for the 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5)

As I expected the lens is excellent and if your specific requirements mean you need that extra speed offered by this lens then it’s certainly the way to go, in all honestly on this occasion I could have taken all these images comfortably with the much lighter and smaller 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5. The one advantage the 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 has over this lens is size and weight, regardless of what’s in my bag I can always add the 15mm, with the 21mm it’s going to be at the expense of something else. The lens does exhibit vignetting if uncoded – this is corrected easily is PP, code the lens as indicated above and you will significantly reduce the vignetting along with the potential colour shift. 

The lens exhibits all the sharpness you’d expect with no visible distortion.

35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1

The decision to take this particular lens was one of the more difficult ones. I’ve shot the current aspherical version more frequently and it’s such a great 35mm lens, the temptation to take that was very strong, but in the interests of increasing my understanding of the v.1 lens and because it’s smaller and lighter curiosity won out over familiarity. I drifted away from the 35mm focal length for a while in favour of the 50mm as my go to lenses, in truth both have a big part to play in the way I shoot. Could I could manage with these focal lengths alone? Yes I could, so why do I have so many other lenses????

Image 16 – Leica M9 M9-Image-16Image 17 – Leica M9 B&W Conversion M9-Image-17Image 18 – Leica M9 M9-Image-18Image 19 – Leica M9 B&W Conversion M9-Image-19Image 20 – Leica M9 M9-Image-20Image 21 – Leica M9 M9-Image-21Image 22 – Leica M9 M9-Image-22Image 23 – Leica M9 M9-Image-23

Thoughts on the 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1 

Simply put I love this lens……the way it renders, the smooth transition between in and out of focus areas, it’s sharpness wide open and it’s divine character. Whilst the latest aspherical version of this lens is also superb I could not say it’s better than the v.1, just wonderful in a slightly different way. Some lenses you know you will never part with, these are certainly in that category. I somehow managed to neglect to shoot this lens on the M Monochrom which in part was mostly likely due to it being on the M6 the majority of the time, it’s a little disappointing because I’d have been very interested in the results of that combination.

50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.5 Asph

I’ve had so many emails and messages from people asking my opinion of this lens that I had little choice but to take it with me, embarrassingly it’s remained virtually unused since it arrived shortly after it was released by Voigtlander.

Image 24 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-24Image 25 – Leica M9 M9-Image-25Image 26 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-26Image 27 – Leica M9 B&W Conversion M9-Image-27Image 30 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-30

Never, ever miss an opportunity to grab a gear shot if one presents itself!! The more observant amongst you will have noticed that’s my Leica M6 in the image, which means there are film images from this trip. I’m really looking forward to seeing those once developed and hopefully there will be something good enough to post…..

Image 31 – Leica M9 M9-Image-31Image 32 – Leica M9 M9-Image-32Image 33 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-33Image 35 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-35Image 36 – Leica M9 M9-Image-36The Pacific Coast Highway is a must if you want to sample New Zealand in it’s rawest glory. Tourism New Zealand continue to advertise this county as “100% Pure” it is not, it is however 100% beautiful and intriguing, it should be at or near the top of anyones list of places to see in the world.

Image 37 – Leica M9 B&W Conversion M9-Image-37Monochrom Sunset – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-38 Monochrom Sunset has been selected by the Editors as a Leica Fotografie International (LFI) Master Shot.

Thoughts on the 50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.5 Asph 

Could this be the best value for money 50mm lens available in M mount, I seriously think it could be! There is a great review of the lens on Steve Huff – HERE  anything I said would only be reiterating those observations. Comparisons between lenses are difficult and to varying extents subjective, we all see things a little differently, what we all see the same is the price and at US$899 in black and US$1049 in Chrome it represents unbeatable value for money vs. performance. I buy my Voigtlander lenses from CameraQuest – HERE 

90mm Leica Summicron f/2 III (1984)

Easily the most challenging lens out of those I selected, for me at least. I’ve comparatively little experience with the 90mm focal length when compared to the more mainstream focal lengths, I’ve seen excellent images produced with this glass on the M Monochrom and it’s always fun trying to get to know the unfamiliar. 

Image 39 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-39

M9-Image-40Whilst I like to get as close as possible to my subject whenever possible this was one definite advantage of having the 90mm with me. Why couldn’t I get closer here? Well, don’t be fooled by the appearance of this house, it does not mean it isn’t occupied. There is a lot of this in the East Cape, certainly it came as a surprise to me, there’s almost a third world feel to some parts of this country. 

Image 41 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-41Image 43 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-43Image 44 – Leica M9 M9-Image-44Yep, this is the mail box of choice in some of the settlements I passed through, I could have photographed any number of microwave mailboxes, recycling at it’s best. I should add that in my time here the most impressive “Kiwi” mailbox I have seen was actually a tumble dryer, on a post………

Image 45 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-45Image 46 – Leica M9 M9-Image-46Image 47 – Leica M9 M9-Image-47Image 51 – Leica M Monochrom MM-Image-51

Thoughts on the 90mm Summicron f/2 III (1984)

I would need to shoot this lens more extensively and with more varied subject matter to form any firm opinion on it’s suitability to my personal needs but I’m definitely keen to do that. What did I establish, well I certainly I found it difficult to nail focus at times even with the 1.4x finder!! 

Final Thoughts

It was great to get out with the camera, to free my mind and open my eyes once again. I achieved most of what I’d hoped although I failed miserably in my efforts to engage with the local population however few in numbers they are, that said I hope I’ve given a taste and feel for the landscape of the East Cape. I appreciate there were a lot of images in the post, thanks for persevering with them, as ever I’m always delighted to hear what you think to any aspect of it.

Cheers, Jason. 

Good to be back……:)

Processing – LR4 & Silver Efex Pro 2


  • so enjoyable, they remind me of a journey around the Cape in 2006, all my images disappeared!

    • janrzm says:

      Thank you Richard. I’ve had an experience similar to the one you describe, it’s very painful to loose images and memories.

      Cheers, Jason.

  • Bruce Esplin says:


    Truly inspiring – I never tire of looking at your work – really beautiful images


  • Just magic … Great inspiration !

  • Andrew Gemmell says:

    Jason great to see you back into it. I had been wondering! More importantly I happy to hear your wife is on a road to recovery.

    Really great photos and that’s what its all about…getting a bit of a release and time to frame the world. East Cape looks like a great place.

    I head off o/s Saturday week and like you at the time have been considering what to take? Answer: MM; 50mm Summilux ASPH; 21mm Ultron 1.8 (leaving 15mm behind) and 8.5cm Nikkor. Thats it for me! No back up camera or colour options on this trip!


    • janrzm says:

      Thank you Andrew.

      It’s the ultimate release when it goes well 🙂

      Exciting, where are you headed? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the 21/1.8, simple is best, I know it even though I don’t often practice it.

      Cheers, Jason.

      • andygemmell says:

        Jason, changed tack at last minute. Went for 24mm Elmar over 21 Ultron! This and 21mm Elmar are considered some of the best in the Leica wide family and smaller for travel. Better suited I think to what I want to do so 3.8 speed all good.

        • janrzm says:

          Haha, still second guessing right up to the last minute, that will be me also. Sensible I think, the 21 Ultron is a little hefty. Enjoy!!

  • Rafael says:


    Amazing photographs. Hope all is well with the Mrs.


  • Andrew says:

    Dubai (stop over), Rome, Venice, 8 days driving to Stuttgart through Lake Como, Alps and Bavarian region of Germany. Then Paris for a week, London 4 days, New York a week and home…..

    • janrzm says:

      Ah, I think I recall that now, everything related to photography seems like an eternity ago….

      That’s going to be fun, quite similar to our trip really, all the places you’re going to are amazing, I’ve been to them all before I had an affinity for photography….frustrating. Haha, enjoy!!!

  • garrick says:

    great to see your work again – an awesome part of the world and some awesome images of it.

  • Glad to see you back and to hear the misses is on the mend. The output you are getting from the MM is stunning!

    • janrzm says:

      Hey John

      Thank you, me too…. I can’t help but feel there is more to come from the MM, I’ve used it very little in real terms.

      Cheers, Jason

  • Welcome back Jason. I have been checking your blog from time to time and was wondering where you have been.
    Inspiring set of photos, especially the dilapidated buildings and the Rasta vehicles.
    Good to hear that the health scare is over and hopefully you can re-assign the chores soonest.

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Steven

      Yes it’s been a difficult period for all. I’m looking forward to getting out there more and taking photographs, as for the chores, I’ll be lucky to re-assign them….haha

      Cheers, Jason.

  • Perfectible says:

    Dear Jason,

    Just wonderfull !!! Your pictures are so neat and perfect… I love them !!! Hoping everything goes very well for You !!!

    Best wishes.


    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Hugues

      They are more the product of a troubled mind, haha. I appreciate your thoughts.

      Best wishes, Jason.

  • AYe says:

    It looks amazing!!

  • Hilmar says:


    Your photos are always very inspiring but I do also love to read what you have to say. I’m still hoping you’ll have the time to share some thoughts on the way you post-process your Monochrom photos. They are special. BTW, are you considering buying the Leica M240?

    All the best for you and your wife,

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Hilmar,

      Thanks for those kind words. There is much that I would like to photograph and write about, I’m certainly looking at ways I can achieve that by devoting my meaningful time to my photography. The processing of B&W files is certainly something I’d like to open a debate on as I get many emails and messages about it. Thus far I have not given the M240 serious consideration, I am in the camp that prefer the files from the CCD sensor of the M9. It must be said though, were I to get the opportunity to use the M240 and work with the files my opinion could change. Currently I am very happy with the M9/MM combination, supplemented by my film M’s of course.

      Thanks again, Jason.

  • Hilmar says:

    Thank you for your answer, Jason. I’m excited to read more about the processing of the B&W files. And yes, I also love my M9 CCD files.

  • Umberto says:

    Dear Jason, it is really a pleasure looping through all of yours wonderful images.
    All the best to you and your family and web come back!

  • […] gloomy shot, derelict properties aren’t uncommon in the south, however, unlike the East Cape (HERE) they tend to be […]

  • Brad says:

    Very nice! I have owned many CV lenses and they have all been good to me. I am considering adding the 90 APO ASPH to my bag. I love my Nikkor 85/2 on an F and I think the 90 will be just as useful. My main bodies are the M6 0.85 and M3. BTW, what bag is shown in that gear shot? Looks comfy!

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Brad,

      Thanks, the CV’s have been good to me also. I’m sure the 90mm APO is fantastic, my pre-asph is great.

      The bag is the Think Tank Retrospective 5, it is comfortable, holds two M bodies and two lenses comfortably although I find it’s just too small for me……..I refer the bag’s from Wotancraft and hope to be reviewing their entire new range shortly.

      All the best, Jason.

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