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Friday, 30 September 2011


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Ohhhhh - don't tell me that. I had just rationalized NOT purchasing one.

I was confused somewhat by Peter Turnley's comment about the "...spatial relationship with the 35mm lens, the frame perspective and plane of the camera with the exterior world I was observing." Does he mean that even with a shorter focal length selected to give the same angle of view and field coverage from a given distance on a reduced sensor size camera? That there is still something special about the 35mm on a 24X36 frame size?

Yes, I know the DOF will be more for the smaller sensor/shorter FL combo. However, most of the walking around street photography I've seen has plenty of DOF already so a little more would not hurt the picture.

I'd have to hit the lotto before I could buy the M-9P and the 35mm 1.4. Looking at Peter's portfolio makes me mourn a bit for my M-4 and early Canadian-built 35mm 1.4, God Bless its flarey soul...

We asked my grandfather, who had traveled extensively, what is favorite place was and without a seconds hesitation he said Portugal. Gotta go someday.

Nice stuff, very much fun to look at. Pushes me more and more to the rangefinder world. Don't think ican jump to the digital Leicas though. Might be time for an M with a 35mm......

Lovely city, Lisbon, and Portugal in general. I find the portuguese very polite, agreable people, unpretentious in a nice way, with visible roots in their own country, the food suits my taste, the general quiet noise level, especially if you can go to places with less tourists.
The coastal landscape is incredibly beautiful (but the water is COLD!). A summery and relaxed atmosphere with a touch of melancholy sometimes, may be it works for me.
I think of Portugal and I think of eating sardines while sipping Campari and orange juice in a small bar by the beach at sunset.
And the wine...

...and yes, there's something very special (to me at least) about good fast 35mm lenses on full frame cameras.

I hate to say this, and would like to be diplomatic, but that portfolio is just....old. It's like the 1950's never left. There is so much interesting street photography these days, from the folks at in-public, to features on BBC about the Street Photography Now project, to the HCSP group on Flickr, to the london International Street Festival, to the street photography festival in Derby, and nothing at any of these places smells musty. This does. I blame the Leica.

Very intimate photography, like being there!

I hope that picture is not Turnley's -- it's a banal cliche.

Great set from Peter, as usual.
For those who like the combination of a photogenic city and excellent coffee, Lisbon is hard to beat. Porto, a few hours North, also has unique architecture and a less touristy feel, for those who like photogenic cities and port wine.

No doubt, Leica is a noble brand. It is highly respected and very popular in Europe.

I sat in all of those bars and walked all of those streets. The last time was almost exactly 4 years ago.


Those are glorious street images, Peter. Certainly some of your best. The M9-P must have really put the spirit in your eye, indeed!

Those are some excellent b&w conversions, too. Quite film-like.

I had a similar experience in Lisbon with my (then) new Nikon D300 and an old 28mm 2.0 ... everything felt perfect ... I think that is what the old city is doing to you on good days ... No need to go over the roof and get a new Leica anyway ...

Great street photography. I live in Lisbon and I love to see this city photographed by a talented photographer who isn't biased to see the city's most common touristic places as boring or clichéd photo-opportunnities. It's incredible how this locations that I see so often look so fresh and original on the photos.

I think I didn't see photos of Alfama district on the album. In my opinion Alfama is one of the best places to feel Lisbon's soul. The tight and labyrinthic streets may be scary for some but I've been there just myself sometimes and never felt menaced.

This made me want to grab the Fuji X100 (the closest thing to a Leica that I have) and go out shooting.

PS: Not far from Lisbon is one of the most beautiful locations in the world: Sintra. I will not start to write about Sintra otherwise this comment would be too big, just go there when you have the opportunity and be delighted.

Excellent pictures! Not only in terms of composition, moment but also in a technical sense. I am really impressed with the dynamic range of that sensor. Great highlight and shaddow retention. Was all of that really shot on "Aperture Priority"? With a lot of compensation going on? Or just shot and adjusted a bit in some RAw converter?

Lisbon seconded. An absolutely terrific city and one my favourite cities, with London, Barcelona and Istanbul. (Hm, three out of four are on the Mediterranean.)

I'm sorry to have to disagree with someone as eminent as Kenneth Tanaka but I think these images are well below the standard Peter Turnley has achieved in the past, and many of his Lisbon images are cliche-ridden.

This is not so much a criticism of Mr Turnley as a statement of belief that "street" is the hardest in all of photography - an almost impossibly difficult field in which to consistently produce meaningful work.


Max, you killed the image in my head when you mentioned eating sardines.

If you are keen to see some superb Black and white street photography from Portugal may I recommend Rui Palha http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruipalha/ .

He is a full frame no crop addict.

Yes, definitely one of the most beautiful and charming cities in the world. Food is excellent too.

Lovely, thanks.

I like the subject and nature of most of the shots (much nerve and experience shows through), but the tonality doesn't look quite right: what I would call 'heavy' where it doesn't need to be, overall, like overdeveloped wet prints. If they where neg's I would give some of the pictures a bit more 'snap', by printing some of them harder (sacrificing the highlights) and some of them with less development. I'm not convinced with the film look comparison, although it reminds me a little of the first Agfa APX 400 that I developed.
Thanks for linking them, though, I do like much of Peter Turnley's work.

MIkal W. Grass, the sardines you get in Portugal bear no resemblance to the canned ones you're probably thinking of. Beachside Portuguese sardines are large (about 8 inches), fresh (not canned) and are typically grilled over charcoal. They're usually served with lemon juice or vinegar. Great beachside eating!

So I was the second person to recommend Rui!

Maybe I should recommend a particular set http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruipalha/sets/72157594486397033/show/ and you can see he is in a different class to Mr Turner.

I was in Porto last year. It was beautiful and friendly on my 12 hour walk around the city. And Sintra is a place one shall not pass up. Unfortunately Lisbon was a blur on the way to the airport. Bon dia.

I don't find these particularly cliché at all. Some are unremarkable, but a handful, such as the bride and groom with the black garter, are pretty good.

Try to keep in mind that the guy probably shot these in an afternoon or two while teaching a seminar -- his Paris photos were assembled over several years of living there.

Having seen these I would even consider taking a seminar with the guy.

I also strongly recommend viewing Rui Palha's work via the links that others have posted here.

In addition to the powerful content of his work, he's also interesting as a rare street photographer who doesn't attempt to make his digital B&W images look "retro", as if they were Tri-X shot by HCB in 1956. Every shot looks modern -- even hypermodern. His images look like they were shot by a talented 25-year-old, but from the looks of it, he's older than Peter Turnley.

I have to agree with Andy and David. I'd call it a Lisbon 'contact sheet,' rather than a 'portfolio,' because I didn't see that many keepers.

Well, I love sardines, and I think it was in Playa Grande, outisde Sintra, beautiful place.

OT: sardines can be eaten in many ways. The best probably is when the big ones are grilled. But they can be fried and then marinated. Or deboned, spread, lightly breaded and then fried.

Then there's a brodetto of small sardines, either over grits or by itself.

And possibly my favourite - fried baby sardines, no longer than your pinkie. Now that's a healthy and tasty meal. Traditionally accompanied by potato salad with red onions & olive oil.

For a long time, sardines were the staple of poor people's diet.

Uh, I made myself hungry.

Ouch! Some of the comments seem a bit harsh, but honest; better that than vacuous platitudes. I’ve been to Lisbon only once, but my lasting memories include the beautiful mosaic walkways. I saw little of those in Peter Turnley’s portfolio; it would be like a portfolio of Paris without the Seine or Eiffel Tower.

What impressed me most were a lot of steep streets :)

I was expecting more in terms of the portfolio and tonality. '50s and '60s deja vu.

Painters and photographers alike often comment on how wonderful and unique the light is in Lisbon. I agree. Especially in the older neighborhoods, certain deep shadows will acquire a glow from sunlight reflected off whitewashed or tiled buildings creating 'magic' tones that are hard to describe and even harder to reproduce photographically. I have tried and failed, but enjoyed doing it anyway.

One thing that strikes me about visiting photographers is that they completely miss out on the architecture. Lisbon has seen a huge amount of development in the last three decades and Portugal has a very vibrant architecture movement with two recent Pritzker recipients (http://www.pritzkerprize.com/) among other awards.

The narrow cobbled street and the old man in the tavern are certainly obligatory pictures, but I wish the better photographers would hit some of the larger avenues and really look around.

I can understand that if you visit Lisbon for the first time, you will be drawn to the old quarters of the city, with its moorish ambiance and strong contrasty lighting. Given these premises, it is very difficult to get away from a few cliches in your photos. I think that Mr. Turner's portfolio has a few cliches indeed, some stuff has been done many times before.

I am not sure if his photographic trip in Lisbon, and this portfolio, was dictated fully by the workshop demands. Perhaps with a bit more time, Mr. Turner would have created something more "fresh"? After all, it happens to everybody when we visit a new place, we tend to firts make the photos that "have been done before", as we are struck by the novelty of the place; it is when we return and visit again that we can come up with different views and a fresher approach.

But some of his photos are truly remarkable, such as number 12 (the bride). Well done overall, I think.

P.S. Lisbon is my hometown, so I totally concur with all the praise!

The images are not outstanding.They are very ordinary. Using new equipment always has a learning curve. A digital Leica-M is NOT a film Leica-M! The shutter sounds and feels lousy. The tonal scale is really poor. My old Minolta P/S has way better B/W. The flare in one pix not exactly setting up a fire sale on that lens..Teaching and shooting is a no-no!
Been there with far worse results..
The tonality is really not the look of 50's and 60's. I think these 'aspherics' are uber-contrast and sharpness.
I still use film in a Leica-M. Yup!

"I hate to say this, and would like to be diplomatic, but that portfolio is just....old. It's like the 1950's never left. There is so much interesting street photography these days, from the folks at in-public, to features on BBC about the Street Photography Now project etc."

I do not see that much difference except (mopst) of the BBC pictures are in....color!

The spacial relationship (of the subject in it's environment) is well recorded in these shots. The 35mm lens on FF Leica certainly is a classic combination, and anyone who has used this kit will agree.

As many people have pointed out, there is maybe too many photos where the subject is possibly too small in the image, but they certainly show Lisbon in an interesting way.

I can see me adding Lisbon to my list on cities to visit.

dear Mike,
with Rui Palha's photo I guess you have some very good material for your 'random of excellence' series. The photographer's eye there is really remarkable. Unfortunately, Peter Turnley has been simply captured by some 'surface effect' I know very well Lisbon is able to let you fall in, specially when you are very happy about your 'new' camera in your hands. Not at all 'bad' pictures. Just not enough good in catching the spirit of the Lisbon (and all Portugal) special atmosphere.
But, for this, you surely need a lot of patience. Or, if time not available, a huge amount of inspiration.


great info and explanation about lisbon

The pictures are beautiful.

Rui Palha is a strong photographer, but I can't help noticing that many of his images would be even stronger with some judicious cropping. The compulsion to use only full frame seems arbitrary to me, deliberately ignoring one of your basic tools. It's not a better image because you suppose full frame has a discipline and purity. I could just as easily point out that it makes you a slave to your equipment's format. The audience doesn't care, they only knows if the image works or doesn't work.

I also find that Palha places contemporary architecture and mosaics as the primary visual focus in many of his photographs. To me that marks it as architectural rather than street photography, and even as him being guilty of photographing other people's artwork, something I think street photographers should be careful to avoid. You don't see that in Turnley's set, which is intensely human rather than abstract.

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