Leica Virgin – Adventure in Nevada

I recently had the chance to visit Nevada for a weekend. It was a work trip. We took a car over there and broke some world records. Maybe you heard about it?

I’d not been to Nevada before and by extension, I’d never visited Las Vegas before. First time in Vegas. First trip since I bought my Leica. Hmmmm.

If I wasn’t already in love with the M after the first shoot-around in Copenhagen, I definitely am now.

On the job…..

This was a work trip, so results count. I had to feel confident that I’d get all the shots I needed, which is why my camera bag was chock full of Nikon gear. I had my D810, my nifty 50, a 24-70 and 70-200, both 2.8’s. That setup generally gives me all the range I need and the Nikon is quick and versatile in all situations.

If I’m shooting a car on our test track, or on a circuit, I can almost always find a spot where I can shoot the car side-on. In that situation, the high-speed shooting and continuous AF on the Nikon are neccessary and it’d be very hard to replicate those results with the Leica (especially given my inexperience).

This wasn’t that type of situation, though. The car was running on a public road at speeds above 450 km/h. For safety reasons, people were confined to an area at the end of the road and shooting side-on while the car was at speed was impossible. It was essentially a still environment, something that was perfect for the Leica.

As it turned out, I took maybe five shots with the Nikon over the course of 4 days. None of them were used in the story I put on the Koenigsegg website. All the photos you see at the Koenigsegg website were taken with the Leica, as well as all the shots you see below.

These are some of my favourite shots from the desert, where we were making our record attempt. There’s a little bit of Lightroom tweaking going on here, but not as much as you’d think.

I was particularly pleased with the next two shots. The trickiest part of shooting with a rangefinder is getting a handle on the manual focus system. To get such a great look at Niklas’ eyes in these two shots had me feeling very satisfied.

The light in Nevada was amazing. The area we were based in – a town with the unfortunate name, Pahrump – was surrounded on all sides by mountains. The sunrises and sunsets were pretty spectacular.

Great light gives you great potential. Mix it with a beautiful car and that potential rises even higher. I was pretty happy with these.

——

Landscapes

We landed in Las Vegas late on Thursday night. The drive to Pahrump happened the next morning and I couldn’t help but stop on the side of the road to take in some of the amazing scenery in the hills outside of Vegas.

I watch a lot of landscape photographers on YouTube and none of them shoot with this type of camera. There might be a reason for that. There might not. These images aren’t as sharp as I’d like them to be but I’m still pretty happy with them.

I plan on getting a LEE filter system for my Nikon. I might have to get an adapter for the M lens, too.

——

Las Vegas

You can’t go to Vegas with a camera and not head into the night to capture some of that neon goodness, right?

The Leica is poor in low light situations and even though you can dial up the ISO, you still end up with a lot of noise. I kept my auto-ISO at a maximum of 400 to try and combat the noise and I think it turned out OK.

The outdoor shots, first. The copious amount of outdoor lighting and the neon signs gave off enough light to make things work and even when shooting people at street level, there was enough ambient light to get something that worked.

I was very self-conscious taking shots of people. These were both taken ‘from the hip’, hence the poor framing. But I really felt compelled to capture them.

Las Vegas is an assault on the senses. It’s all glitz and glamour on the one hand, but there’s plenty of seediness on the other. As you walk, there are lots of people handing you cards to get you into strip clubs. Those people present as being pretty vulnerable, like this older gent in the first photo. I saw plenty of elderly latino women and men handing out cards, too. I can’t imagine any of them wanted to be there.

The indoor environment is even more theatrical than outdoors. It’s all set up to trick the senses, make you forget how long you’ve been there. Time doesn’t matter if you’re the house.

——

Shooting with the camera in Nevada was a photographic dream come true. It justifies every bit of financial pain I’m feeling this month and I can’t wait to get out and use this beautiful little camera again.

You may also like

11 Comments

  1. You have a great eye for photography and are very good at capturing the essence of a scene. I have a book of B&W photos by O. Winston Link for the Norfolk & Western railroad and the people working for and living near the railroad. The photos were so lifelike that I felt I could step into any one of the photos as if it were a portal to a different place and time. I get that feeling looking at your photos, and it’s a very rare photo that gives me that feeling. Great work.

    1. Glad you liked them, Ted. It was such a pleasure taking them and seeing the final product. Exploring black and white something I definitely want to do soon.

  2. Those shots would not have looked out of place from one of CAR magazine’s epic trips in the 90s, which I think is a big compliment.

    Speaking of the nineties, I remember being handed those same cards in Vegas when walking along the street as a teenager. With my parents..

  3. Hey Swade,

    One of your photographs was in my morning paper, great work!

    It was side-view photo with the nice cloud formation. A very strong shot, and I’m sure one that will inspire young girls and boys everywhere to save-up their lunch money so that they can afford a Koenigsegg of their very own one day. Or at least a 1/32 replica!

    1. Made my day to hear that, Bernard!

      If only I got a royalty for every time that photo’s been used in the last few weeks πŸ˜€

      But still, it’s nice to see it’s getting around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *