With a previous career in farming, tree care and conservation, Jake Eastham now focuses his appreciation and understanding of the traditions and beauty of the British countryside through his work as a photographer. We caught up with him to see how he’s getting on with the Leica M10.
As soon as I collected my silver chrome M10 from the Leica store in Mayfair, I realised that pretty much everything you read about them is true – they are a real joy to both look at and work with. I immediately stepped out the door and set out on the streets of the greatest capital city in the world.
Let me make this quite clear from the outset, I am emphatically NOT a street photographer. I have the greatest respect for those that are, but within seconds of lifting the rangefinder to my eye, I realised why this is the chosen camera for life on the streets.
Having never used a rangefinder before, I found that I needed to stand in one spot for longer than I would do normally whilst I was adjusting to the new demands of manual focusing and composition. There is something wonderfully non-intimidating nor intrusive about a Leica M, and not a single person on the streets of Piccadilly and St James’s took any notice of me. And those that did, did so out of curiosity and not animosity.
I have photographed London’s stunning architecture for various clients using Japanese cameras (there, I’ve said it - don’t judge me too harshly) and have always felt a little uncomfortable in the midst of hundreds of Londoners going about their business. During a recent architectural commission in Mount Street, Carol Vorderman took one look at my lens and ran away from me thinking I was paparazzi.
What a truly liberating experience it was shooting on my Leica M10, to not be taken any notice of and, of course, to not be lugging around a large lump of plastic!
The joy of holding a Leica M and focusing with the 35mm lens has to be experienced to be appreciated. All the emotions I had read so much about over the years - I lived through them within instants of starting my journey.
Fast forward a couple of months: I’m on the west coast of Scotland, near Poolewe, surrounded by lochs, spectacular scenery and hills that echo the roar of rutting stags.
AA Gill described this very area: “There is a keening melancholy in the emptiness. It’s not an untouched, pristine wilderness. The Highlands are bereft.”
It’s very hard to capture those words in a picture, with any camera. Thinking back at myself heaving my rucksack full of Japans finest up some very steep and testing terrain in the past, I had to chuckle to myself. Now all I had was the M10 across my shoulder and a couple of lenses in my jacket pocket.
From here I moved southwest to the Ardnamurchan peninsula, and then inland towards Glasgow. With very little time on my hands and contending with what Scotland has a lot of - grey clouds and rain - I shot what I could on my journey home.
Having a 35mm and 90mm lens is the perfect combination for any adventure. I don’t often shoot with 35mm, but when you're in the middle of the Scottish highlands there is no better way to capture the landscape.
The 90mm, on the other hand, produced some really interesting tighter shots that give the images a real sense of scale.
The M10 has been a true pleasure to work with. I love its build and ergonomics. the way the focus ring glides and the aperture ring clicks. And the endearing noise the shutter makes. Everything comes together perfectly.
I’ll be sad when the M10 goes back home to the Leica Store Mayfair, but it has left me wanting to experience more of Germany's finest, and one day my rucksack will be full of Leicas, no doubt.
Find out more about the Leica M10 here.
See more of Jake’s work here.
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