I Like A Leica #4: Forty-Second Street

Welcome to I Like A Leica. In my fourth post, I’m offering up some images from New York’s once notorious 42nd Street. These are from a roll of pushed Ilford HP5 that I shot at the end of the summer of 2015, and all of them were done with my vintage 90mm f2.8 Elmarit. I bought the Elmarit (this is the older “silver” version, not the modern black Elmarit) quite aware of its flare issue but wanted to see how far I could push it; I was actually pretty pleased with the results (although, if anything, I underestimated just how bad the flaring can be, and this was with the native lens hood).

On a rangefinder at night, the 90mm offers a unique perspective of the city streets. It’s short enough not to flatten the scene completely but long enough to provide some breathing room between the photographer and the subject. Case in point is this first image of a hot dog vendor.

Nightly Halal Stand Beside Grand Central (Image by Chad Gayle)

Hot dog vendor outside of Grand Central Station (Ilford HP5 @ 800 ISO, Leica 90mm Elmarit). FLICKR

Thanks to the bare bulbs hanging from the hot dog stand, the vendor’s face is perfectly lit. This was taken just outside the doors to Grand Central Station, across from Pershing Square.

Nightly Halal Stand Beside Grand Central, Rear View (Image by Chad Gayle)

Sidewalk vendor outside of Grand Central Station (Ilford HP5 @ 800 ISO, Leica 90mm Elmarit). FLICKR

Here is the same stand from another vantage point, slightly closer to the taxi stand at Vanderbilt Avenue. The trash bag and the water bottles and poor timing on my part (if I had waited two seconds, the sidewalk traffic would have cleared) muddy the composition of this one considerably. Quite a contrast between the two images, even though they are so similar.

Forty-Second Street Grub (Image by Chad Gayle)

Tourists buying food on the street (Ilford HP5 @ 800 ISO, Leica 90mm Elmarit). FLICKR

From Grand Central, I walked across 42nd to Time Square, where I got this extremely flared but interesting shot of a couple buying pretzels from another hot dog stand.

Silver Busker Under Marquee Lights (Image by Chad Gayle)

Busker on 42nd Street (Ilford HP5 @ 800 ISO, Leica 90mm Elmarit). FLICKR

Buskers were on every other street corner that night, but the one that caught my eye was one I’d seen several times before, a dancer who dresses in clothes painted silver. He’s staked out a claim under a beautifully lit marquee, the lights of which made the silver on his cheeks sparkle. I snapped at least a half-dozen shots of him doing his routine before I moved on.

Tourists, Oblivious (Image by Chad Gayle)

Tourists outside a souvenir shop (Ilford HP5 @ 800 ISO, Leica 90mm Elmarit). FLICKR

The souvenir shops along 42nd Street are always in heavy competition with each other, but these tourists just weren’t buying. I remember watching these two for several minutes; the guy never looked up once from his phone, even while his girlfriend was talking to him.

Well, that does it for now. Stay tuned for more I Like A Leica in May.