Now that winter weather looms, I'm putting that Leica optical viewfinder away. Its chief benefit is to provide a clear view when composing a shot in very bright sunshine, when the screen on the back of the camera goes rather dark and indistinct. But bright sunshine of the kind that justifies the viewfinder will be in short supply for the next few months. So it can go back in its box until spring comes.
The camera will lose that eye-catching profile it had acquired, and the extra 'Leica' logo that might impress anyone close enough to see. But I don't care. Logowise I can make do with the red dot on the camera itself, although half the red paint has worn off, the camera having so much use over the years. Again, I don't care.
In any case, there are advantages in having a comparatively anonymous device in one's hand - one without sticky-out parts to catch in clothing - that can be quickly shoved into a pocket if need be.
As for a camera bag, it will be possible to use the proper LowePro bag again, which fits the camera-sans-viewfinder like a glove, and can itself be popped into any other bag I may be carrying. Or a big pocket. I might want to do this, to keep my photo equipment out of sight.
Ease of concealment is a valuable attribute if you engage in Street Photography. That little LowePro bag acts like a holster - I can whip the camera out, grab the shot, and put it away again with nobody the wiser. Thus is especially handy where menacing or defensive people, or officialdom, might lurk. Not that I go out of my way to secure provocative shots of controversial or emotional subjects. But I see pictures worth taking everywhere, and sometimes the act of taking a picture can excite unwanted curiosity. I don't want inquisitive busybodies or jobsworths asking me what I'm doing. Better to be discreet and inconspicuous, sneaky even, and avoid any argee-bargee. So a small, unnoticeable camera in my hand, with a small, unnoticeable place to stow it, is a Jolly Good Thing.
A case in point. I was in Dorchester this morning. An early-morning Dorchester, at a time when shops were opening for the day, market stalls were being set up, and workmen were doing interesting stuff in the streets. And it was raining, the same persistent misty rain I've enjoyed since arriving in Dorset four days ago. In most people's minds Rainy Weather means No Photography. To them it's pointless and daft to take pictures when the results will obviously be rubbish. So just taking a couple of shots outside in the rain can seem, to many, a strange or even suspect thing to do. What motive can possibly lie behind it? So they may be inclined to stare, and Wonder Why. Only if one is dressed in hi-vis clothing, with a hard hat, and using a big camera with an impressive lens on a tripod - clearly in the course of a paid professional job - would the 'reason' for taking any picture in bad weather be credibly explained.
The only other hope is to play the silly tourist - a distinctly amateur lady who knows so little about photography that she doesn't understand that her pictures are doomed to be dull and disappointing, given the poor weather and lack of good light. Even then, the camera needs to match the image. Shooting with the latest expensive shiny model won't do at all. Nor will a camera with a fancy accessory attached (like that viewfinder). That's where the paint-worn little Leica scores. It looks old and plain and out-of-date (just like myself) and reassuringly unimportant. So no need to give it more than a passing glance, and the same for its owner, poor dear. But that's fine. I get my shots and walk on.
What they don't know is that I have software skills. Those pictures will look a lot better once I've tweaked them back at the caravan. I won't add a sunny blue sky that was never there, but the exposure will be corrected, and unwanted things around the edges cropped away.
It's still raining. I was hoping for sunny mornings on the Purbeck heathlands, and a look at the Jurassic cliff scenery, so dramatic, so iconic. The best I can do now is get some very moody pictures of ruined Tyneham, the Purbeck village taken over by the Army in the Second World War, and never returned. Rather like Imber on Salisbury Plain. Tyneham is not far off, and normally accessible on weekends. It's out of bounds at other times, because of firing on the ranges. So I intend to go there on Sunday and get some shots. And if it's possible to walk down to Worbarrow Bay, also normally out of bounds, I will do that too. Maybe I'll have it all to myself if the weather is especially foul. But I don't mind if a few other mad photographers in wellies join me in capturing all the sombreness and decrepitude on offer, and perhaps the very soul of the place if the light is right.
And there's the Agglestone and Puckstone, out near Studland. A short while back I did a post on The Cheesewring, a weathered stack of granite slabs on Bodmin Moor. These two Purbeck rocks are of sandstone. They look impressive in illustrations. I've never visited them. It will only take a squelchy mile or two of heath walking. I shouldn't get too wet, and with luck I can come away with definitive shots of these huge rocks - definitive for bad weather, that is.
What ever happened to the warm weather and fine sunsets of September? Sigh.