April 1st was the date of the 24 hour project this year. For those of you that don’t know what it is, it is an Instagram initiative where photographers from all around the world post one photo per hour for 24 hours in their given city. It is the third time I’ve done the project, however, this year was slightly different for me.
First of all, I did the project with the help of Leica Korea. I have only my film Leica lately and only had my phone to shoot. I don’t have to explain how film doesn’t work in this situation. They kindly decided to lend me a Leica Q for the night as long as I promised not to lose or vomit on it.
To be fair, the Q is about the perfect camera for such a project. It is fast, easy to use, has WiFi, and has a decent battery. Plus, looks cool around one’s neck 😉
The project starts at 00:00. That really makes it harder than it ought to be because instead of staying up for 24 hours it is more like staying up for 36. This year, I decided to start the night with some friends in the Hongdae district of Seoul.
The night is usually the easiest part. You can drink away the pain of what is to come. We drank quite a bit taking turns going out and shooting. Sadly, Hongdae wasn’t as busy as it usually is. The Q, it turns out, is really good in the dark though.
Around 5AM things start to get messy. These girls were passed out at a coffee shop after being at a club. I kinda wanted to pass out by this time. I probably would have if I hadn’t had to guard the $4000 dollar camera I was lent.
When the sun came up, I decided to leave the group and go out on my own. I was starting to get a second wind. I went to Leica in Gangnam to drop something off (ahem….more on this in a later post) and then headed to Namdaemun Market to shoot a bit more.
I think the fact that I was using a camera like the Q helped my mood during the day. It helped me want stay awake. I haven’t used a camera in a long time that felt as capable at EVERYTHING as the Q did to me.
After arriving in Namdaemun I walked around a bit. I couldn’t look into the viewfinder as it was making me dizzy. Not because of the viewfinder – which is in fact by a long way the best electronic viewfinder I’ve ever seen in a camera – but because of being so tired.
Being as tired as I was I decided to start using the touch screen on the camera to frame and shoot. I turned it on a mode where I could just touch what I wanted to shoot and walked around like a tourist jabbing at people’s faces. In fact, it worked great. Much faster than I had imagined.
I was also really happy to be shooting with a 28mm lens again. A lot of you who have followed me probably know my affinity for a 28mm lens. It has been a long time since I have been able to afford a 28mm lens for a Leica. This lens is great and almost too sharp for me.
In between the the 30 minute or so shooting sessions I would retreat to my friend’s camera shop in Namdaemun. I’d relax a little and help out around the shop. After coming back the first time there were eight girls from a university photo club in the tiny shop buying film cameras. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the mood for this.
I remembered it was my turn to buy the coffee and booked it.
The third time I came back he had a surprise! A Leica M2 that was recently CLA’d. I had been looking for one for a while since I had fallen in love with the 35mm Canon LTM 1.8 that I was shooting on my M3. Those of you will who shoot Leicas will probably know how a 35mm lens on an M3 doesn’t really work. So, needless to say the Q wasn’t the only “new” camera I had going home with me that day.
This is Ryan. We have been friends for years. He decided to stop by the shop and keep me awake for a while. Gave me a chance to try the macro mode on the Q. Felt strange to focus so closely with a Leica. I know it isn’t an M, but it sorta feels like one in your hand so it was a bit strange. No stranger than watching it auto focus while jabbing at the LCD though I suppose.
I realized the more tired I was getting the more sad my subjects started to look. I think it really is true that every photo a photographer takes is in some way a self portrait. At least it felt true to me on this day.
I left the shop for good at around 5. I was beat. This pro-government rally was happening outside the subway station I needed to get to. Wasn’t in the mood for this either.
Ironically I didn’t post a lot of these photos to my Instagram that day. I was too tired to think. I just posted the first one that popped up in my phone that looked okay.
I took the subway back to the train station.
Felt like a super long ride.
This guy smoking in the bathroom at the train station didn’t improve my mood much. He put his cigarette out on the ground just after this. Probably one of the only times I’ve ever seen something like this in Korea.
My train back was a three hour one. I walked around a bit during to take some photos for the remaining hours. The Leica Q shot the entire two days on two batteries. I don’t shoot much, but I still think that is pretty impressive.
I got off the train just after 10. As you can see from my Koudelka homage the train was completely empty by this point. And yeah, no Apple watch for me. I always wear this old one my aunt gave me years ago.
Reminds me of my family.
I got home just after 11 and this was my last photo. Ironically the Q battery indicator started blinking red at this moment.
Some last thoughts:
I have to say I loved the Leica Q during this 24 hours. It is a great camera and I completely understand now what I have heard from a lot of people about it. When Leica first said they would lend me one I scoffed a bit thinking it would feel like a fat dlux and be nothing like an M. It isn’t much like an M, but I really do think it is a good as one. As with a lot of people I thought I would hate it at first and after using it for a day I was completely smitten. It feels like almost the perfect digital camera for street photography. I’m not even sure what I would add or subtract to make it better. If I want to shoot an M, I have a “real” M in my bag.
One of the film variety.
As for the project, well, much like every year I was so tired I can barely remember much of it. That being said, I do feel happy to have done it.
Ask me in 11 months..
A bloody brilliant blog post this one!
I like the idea of posting one each hour through 24 hours, but I also understand it’s a bit exhausting in many ways. Not too sure I could do it, and absolutely not keeping the quality up like you always seem to manage.
Great job done!!
I love my 35mm Canon LTM 1.8 lens too. It’s probably my favorite lens, along with my 50mm Canon LTM 1.8. Nice post!
Great article Josh, funny though we had switched experiences. I was awake at night, but the streets were empty. Couldn’t find a human soul in two hours. At daytime, sitting down was evil and I got tired instantly, but people everywhere. Shenzhen truly is weird 😉
Great shots in this marathon, Josh.
Best of them all, the old guy in the bathroom.
And, you just proved it again: the Josh signature is totally camera-independent…
Though that Q seems to have inspired you quite heavily. Another dangerous object lurking in the GAS eecesses of my lizard brain…