How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Circle of Confusion (Pt. 1)

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Circle of Confusion (Pt. 1)

Joe Crumley

My best friend Joe is an interesting character. He grew up on a farm in west Texas, served his country in Southeast Asia during a shooting war, studied at the University of Chicago with Aaron Suskind, taught photography at a University level, rode motorcycles from an early age, turned a job making screen-printed faces for oilfield gauges into a vocation as one of the USA’s premier sign craftsmen, and helped to found the Letterheads along the way.

He’s also a horrible, wicked enabler of my worst compulsions: my love of old things, my tendency to collect stuff, my technology fetish. A few years ago he gave me a rusting pile of parts that’s turned into a multi-year, $8000+ scooter restoration. 4 years ago he gave me his Hasselblad 500C with 2 film backs and a Distagon f/4 50mm lens, along with a few rolls of 120mm film. 3 years ago he gave me his 1957 Leica M3.

Leica M3, manufactured ca. 1957

The Leica M3 Joe gave to me. Above: Joe with his trusty M6.

It was an early model with the double-stroke film advance lever, in good mechanical and cosmetic condition, except for a tiny bit of vulcanite missing near the lens mount. Along with the camera came the only sub-par lens Leica ever made, a Hektor f/4.5 135mm, and some 35mm film. And, like the ’blad, the Leica sat unused on a bookshelf until this past May, frustrating me due to my

  1. ignorance & fear of screwing something up
  2. difficulty focusing the Hektor lens, even with the M3’s high viewfinder magnification
  3. lack of a light meter (& not knowing how to use one)

Beyond that, I hadn’t used a manual film camera since a 1-semester class in art school 30 years ago — the whole thing was pretty intimidating. I wanted to use the camera; I just didn’t know where to start. Then Joe took a trip to Roswell …

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About the Featured Photograph(s)

Note

M-mount lenses do not provide aperture information to the camera body, either electronically or mechanically. Therefore, f-stop settings are approximate, and are probably wildly inaccurate. For what it’s worth, I usually shoot with my lenses wide open.

  • Joe Crumley with his trusty Leica M6.
  • M9 Digital Camera
  • ISO:800
  • 50mm
  • 1/250s
  • ƒ/4
  • 35° 12.36402′ 0″ N 97° 25.52622′ 0″ W
  • March 24 2012
  • -21760/65536EV
  • The Leica M3 Joe gave to me. Above: Joe with his trusty M6.
  • M9 Digital Camera
  • ISO:800
  • 50mm
  • 1/90s
  • ƒ/5.7
  • 35° 12.36402′ 0″ N 97° 25.52622′ 0″ W
  • April 23 2012
  • -21760/65536EV

Author:

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.