I recently had to get my car checked out for a coolant issue so dropped it at a garage near the beach and went for a walk in the waning light to try out a couple of new (old) Zeiss Contax lenses.
As I dropped the car off there had been a lovely sunset which I just missed. All the same, with no desire to sit inside the garage waiting room in these contagious times and the beach 100 yards away, I went for a chilly but pleasant walk with the Fuji X-Pro3 and a pair of recent acquisitions: the Carl Zeiss Contax G-mount 45/2 and 90/2.8 lenses.
Carl Zeiss 45mm F2 Planar
The Zeiss 45/2 is widely lauded as an excellent, very sharp lens (one of the best 35mm film lenses?) and is one I’ve had my eye on for some time.
Adapting it onto a digital camera however, requires a focus ring on the adapter itself—the lenses were autofocused on the original Contax G bodies and have no manual focus ring—and the awkwardness of the focus ring being right back against the camera body is one thing that historically put me off buying the lens.
In the end though, I came across a deal on ebay for a full set—Zeiss 28/2.8, 45/2 and 90/2.8 lenses, with a pair of G2 bodies—at a good price and decided to take the plunge.
With the crop factor on Fuji X bodies, the 45/2 becomes more like a 68/2.8 which is a bit of a funny combo but I’ve always actually quite enjoyed the focal range around 75mm. The 28/2.8 ends up being closer in focal length on X bodies to 45mm at around a 42mm equivalent and I have so far used it more. The 90/2.8 meanwhile works out like a 135mm on the Fujis, making a tougher prospect hand-held especially in these darker winter months.
A wander along the beach
Anyway, I had the 45 on my X-Pro3 and shoved the 90 in a coat pocket, from which it promptly dropped to the tarmac with a sickening clang (metal lens).
Thankfully it landed on the lens hood, leaving a rather large dent and as far as I can tell no further damage to the lens itself. All the same, it got zipped more securely in the coat pocket and didn’t come back out that day.
Focusing on just the 45 Planar, I wandered down to the seafront and along the links a short way, taking the odd photo as I went. I treated it as more of a ‘street’ photography session rather than my usual focus on the sea: it was a rare walk here without the kids to keep an eye on and the low light had me in a street shooting mood: a nice change!
Dropping down first to the prom and then onto the beach itself to catch the last of the interesting light and high tide lapping close up, I looped back towards Spanish City and up the slipway from the beach. At the end of the prom here is a small ice cream hut run by Di Meo’s: an Italian restaurant just on the main road that makes its own ice cream too.
Only available from the hut by the beach however, is their special ‘Whitella’ ice cream: essentially a ’99 whippy ice cream cone, but where the ice cream is mixed with Nutella to give a play on Nutella and Whitley Bay.
It’s a really nice ice cream.
As you walk up the ramp, you can peer over the edge of the concrete prom where the hut is, and that’s where I took this photograph.
I’ve shot variations on this angle previously, all in the daytime (e.g. one I shared previously), but the winter dark and lack of people work pretty nicely. The dampness on the ground picks up a nice diffuse reflection of the lighting on and around the hut, while the cracks in the clouds behind give a nice moodiness to the image.
The bits of picnic bench sticking in from the left of the frame probably aren’t ideal compositionally but do at least give a little extra depth and context to the picture I think.
Not a portfolio image, but a nice little mood piece from a pleasant, chilly winter walk at the beach.