The British industry and architecture photographer and filmmaker Richard Seymour was one of the first to try out the new Leica S (Typ 007) at a photo shoot – the company he was assigned to portray was Leica Camera AG. Since its opening in honor of the centenary of the original Leica, the Leitz-Park in Wetzlar has become a magnet for photographers and photo enthusiasts – but architecture buffs are equally delighted to pay the modern structure a visit.
Q: You photographed the Leica Camera AG headquarters in Wetzlar with a Leica S. From your perspective as a photographer, what is the particular appeal of the Leitz-Park architecture?
A: I think it’s a visually striking campus in so many ways – the curves of the main buildings lend themselves to close cropped architectural details and the dramatic globe in the central traffic island is great as a juxtaposition to the buildings. Most importantly for my style of shooting, the limited palette of colours inside the public areas and the manufacturing facilities really lends itself to my visual approach. Basically the entire site is only white, black or red.
Q: As an architecture photographer, you have to take time to ‘arrange’ the different elements in a picture. What do you consider particularly important in your compositions?
A: Depth between the elements: I love to use the reflections from glass and, most critically, symmetry is an incredibly important element in my work. The most critical issue for architectural and urban landscape photography is hard light to emphasise the form and textures of the structure and so shooting around dawn is always best.
Q: Which lenses did you use for the photo shoot? Did you work with the tilt/shift lens?
A: Most were shot on one of three lenses: the 35 mm, the 70 mm and a personal favourite – the incredible 120 mm. I have used the tilt/shift lens in the past – it’s excellent. However, for speed of shooting on this occasion I chose not to use it, but rather to correct perspective in post-production, which is incredibly easy to do nowadays in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Q: What is your preferred focal length for photographing architecture?
A: Not a particularly exciting answer but it’s a 35 mm medium wide – superb when I shoot my straight on shots where I take a perfectly symmetrical picture.
Q: In addition to the architecture, you photographed production. What other challenges are there for photography in architecture and industry?
A: With architectural exteriors it’s the quality of light, for industrial interiors it’s again careful lighting or the best use of the lighting you find – and for me taking the time to order the elements in the shot in a pleasing way. I try hard not to disrupt the workflow in a busy manufacturing environment – especially when I shoot for the automotive sector, where disruption to the manufacturing process can cause real problems.
Q: Did you also make use of higher ISO?
A: I tried shooting at ISO 800 with the Leica S 007 and was very pleasantly surprised: the noise levels were low and, when apparent, more closely resembled film grain. Really nice.
Q: Until now you worked with the S (Typ 006). In what ways have the ergonomics and the handling been improved with the 007?
A: I love the no nonsense black-and-white top screen – a great improvement in ease of use and reviewing one’s settings. The sensor is much faster for capture: I always set my Leica S to take an automatic bracket of three frames and the speed of operation of this function was dramatically improved. The GPS module is now hidden under a discrete glass surface rather than sitting proud of the body, which is a nice touch.
Q: In addition to being a photographer, you are a filmmaker. Did you try out the 007’s video function while at Leitz-Park?
A: I did – I shot a sequence of the Leica M having a bespoke leather surface applied. The camera has excellent, easy-to-use functionality and settings, great focus peaking guides, etc. I haven’t had time to review the 4K footage, but I am very excited by the prospect of using this camera on future film productions.
Q: During this photo shoot, how did the camera do on the whole?
A: You won’t be surprised to hear me say I loved it – a marked step up from what was already the best medium format camera on the market.
Thank you for your time, Richard!
– Leica Internet Team
View more of Richard’s work on his website and Twitter.