Friday, August 22, 2014

Best Backstage Tour

So one big thing I did on my day with the new Leica M was go take a backstage tour of the Loew's Jersey Theatre off Journal Square in Jersey City. If you know me you know this in one of my favorite places in all of New York City. I first visited it to see a concert in 2004 and for the last 4 or 5 years I've been going there regularly to see movies, which it shows once a month in the not-summer months (as the building gets awful hot in the summer, and maybe for other reasons, too).

We started off in the theater's grand lobby.

This is the guy who introduces each film. The Jersey Loews is an entirely volunteer run, volunteer maintained, volunteer fixed-up operation. 

Those first few shots I took with my Leica 28mm f/2.8 lens, but from here on out I was using my Zeiss 35mm f/2.0.

From the lobby we headed into the theater.

Our tour guide and a photo of the theater before or during when they began fixing it up. The theater had been abandoned and slated for demolition in the 80s when the volunteers rescued it. The main auditorium had previously been split into three smaller theaters and they restored it to being one big theater.

We got to ride the rising orchestra pit up to the stage where we learned all about all the stage stuff. 

The stage floor is the only part of the whole building that's wood. In case of fire the asbestos curtain drops, lead weights on the skylight melt and let it swing open, and the stage burns up and falls into the trap room below.

This tour-member is probably looking at how the ceiling goes up 80 something feet above us.

Learning about the giant speakers they use for the shows.

Lowering the movie screen (it's full of holes and see-through so the sound of the speakers can go through it)

We went over and had a look at the lighting panel.

And ropes.

A choice of telephones.

A look at the theater's organ. When they show movies they always have an organist playing before the show. I've been trying to tell you for years that seeing movies at Jersey Loews is the best and this is a big part of it.

After the stage we went downstairs to see the changing rooms. This is when the tour started to get real and I was like "Aw man, I didn't know we were going to get to see this" over and over again.

We went into the sub-basement where they're using an old rehearsal space (as big as the stage!) to store things that they're working on. Like painting chair parts.

I did not ask about the sub-basement murders. JUST KIDDING! There were no sub-basement murders or murders of any kind. It's just paint on the walls! (or I am 98% sure it's just paint on the walls)

Then back through the theater,

And up to the loge, where volunteers have been fixing up seats and making it nice for 4 years now.

The promenade.

And a corner of the Men's Room.

Up even higher! Can you believe it?!

Went around the balcony,

And up into the projection room where we learned ALL about the projectors and film reels and soundsystem.

Around the corner from the projection room: windows.

And a view out onto the roof of the theater and a behind-the-scenes view of the statue on top of it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Best Weekend Try Out

So back in 2009 I bought a never-used used Leica M8 so I could learn how to use a camera and take higher quality photos with the hopes of eventually taking better photos. My time with that camera has been great, 5 years later I feel I'm on my way to meeting those original goals. But since getting my M8 Leica has twice updated their digital M cameras, first with the M9 and most recently with the camera they simply call the "M" (or M 240, as that's it's production code or technical name or something like that). Just before I took off for Utah I received an email from Leica about borrowing an M for a day, and this weekend I did.

What does the M 240 have that the M8 doesn't? The main thing would be a new, full frame sensor with a higher megapixel count (due to being both 33% larger and denser) and higher ISO sensitivity. It also features a much much quieter shutter, live view through the viewscreen, a larger and longer-lasting battery, and a movie mode. And while I have a chrome M8, they leant me a black paint M, the glossy feel of the body was one of the most memorable things about shooting with the camera. Oh and also the neck strap feels more rubbery. That's like the first thing I noticed. 

Also cool was they included a Leica 50mm f/2 (or "Summicron") lens with the camera, a great little lens I've been thinking about acquiring for my M8 off and on for a while, so it was a bit of a bonus test for me to have a chance to mount that lens on my M8 that weekend and see how it looked (although all the pictures I'm posting here were taken on the loaner M).

So anyway, I picked up the camera around noon from the Soho Leica store and strolled up to the village and through Washington Square Park to see what there might be to see.

And then I met up with Patricia and headed over to New Jersey, we went there to take a backstage tour of the Journal Square Loews--that tour deserves a post of its own, so that's what it'll get.

This photo I actually completely underexposed, it was practically just black and the lights of the PATH train, but with Lightroom I was able to resurrect it to visibility...colors were totally bad, but it doesn't look awful in black and white. 

Getting to Jersey I switched lenses and put tried out my Leica 28mm f/2.8 on the M for a bit.

Just 2 tour photos for now.

Then we ran back to Manhattan for a second

Before running over to Queens

I had bought 72 tickets to see the Mets play the Cubs, followed by a Boyz II Men concert at the stadium. And the great thing is I didn't just buy 72 tickets, I was able to sell them all, too.

To good people like Jenny, Kate and Ian.

Jeff. (I was taking all these pictures with my 28mm f/2.8 lens, I could never have gotten any of these shots with my less-sensitive M8. Being able to shoot at higher ISOs with the M240 was a real treat).


Trish and Marni.

Laura and Allison.

Myself, of course.

Loren, Adrienne and Jason.


Kelsey and Lisa...okay, something about the rest of the baseball pictures: A few years ago I bought a Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 lens that is so terribly difficult to focus wide open, but since you have the option of focusing the M through the view screen, I brought it to the game and mounted it when it got dark and got a few decent shots with it.

Continuing: Stephanie.

Katharine and friends.


Broek (screaming at Boyz II Men because she had spirit)

And Julie.

The next morning I got up early (meaning around 8) and Pearl came over to take the Leicas on one more walk before I had to return my loaner.

The meet-up might have been my idea but it looks like I was a lot less enthused about the call time.

I got this t-shirt at the end of my junior year of high school. It was a real big hit in 94. Now people don't even call each other "baseheads" anymore, but I remember strangers getting a kick out of when I wore it to the Taste of Chicago.

I put the 28mm back on the M so I could spend some more time shooting with the 50 f/2 on my M8.

One of the reasons I asked Pearl to join me is she can shoot a rangefinder (as they don't focus through the lens it's a little tricky to get the hang of at first) so now I've got all these pictures of myself and what I look like when I'm out just clicking at things.

The problem with New York at 9am on a Sunday is it's not hustling and bustling yet, so we wound up at a nearly empty Chelsea Market for a bit.

Traded cameras, put the 50 back on the 240, sent Pearl home. I mean, she wasn't in trouble. She had to go. I should have written "Pearl chose to go home."

I made my way from the Canal street stop to the Leica store to return the camera.

Passed the 11am Cronut line. Someone was just asking me if people still line up for Cronuts. So now I can answer "Yes, they do." Which is bad news, I guess? But the good news is that these days there are still Cronuts at 11am.

The Leica store is just a few doors up the street from the Billionaire Boys Club store. There was a Cronut-size line of people who had camped out overnight waiting for the release of some sneaker (I imagine). I don't remember taking this picture, but I'm glad I did.

Good Humour was on hand handing out free ice cream to the people in line.

This guy was reading "Who Was Jesus?"

And so those are some of the pictures I took with the M! I had a great time using it. Would I get one myself? Theoretically, yes. Down the road, though. When I've got more money and they cost less money. But a funny thing was I had read how the M240 uses a different type of sensor than the M and M9 and that it has a different look than those cameras because of it and that sounded like the sort of picky thing only camera-obsessives notice but looking at these files (and some of the ones I took with the M8 that weekend) I really can tell a difference in some cases. It makes me want to take an M9 for a walk, too. 

Oh and guess what? Anyone can borrow a new M for a day these days. It's a promotion they're doing. I just got an email about it, that's how I knew to do it. You should do it, too.