After blowing out the exposure on a few faces while unsuccessfully using fill flash with my Titanium M6 during a trip to Amsterdam in 2003, I decided to take advantage of what Verena Frey and Hildegaard Frisch taught me about the M6TTL’s flash metering at Leica Akademie Solms’ last English-language session in 1998, which featured the then-new M6TTL. Better late than never.
Bill Price, who owned the now-closed Bob Davis Camera in La Jolla, convinced me to buy a new M7 instead of a used M6TTL. When his store held a Leica day event ten days later, I bought a new M7. Thanks to Southern California Leica reps Mary Jo and Eberhard Kuehne, my new M7 had the brighter MP finder, which Leica had just added to the M7. My new M7 and the SF-20 flash survived a bicycle accident just a few days later caused by a cell phone jabbertalky who ran a stop sign while talking on a cell phone.
Fast forward six years to Paris. The batteries ran out, and as I forgot to bring the empty film can containing extra batteries, only 1/60 and 1/125 of a second were available – not very useful when shooting Tri-X on a bright day. After walking back to the hotel and replacing the batteries, I looked for used M6TTLs online while having a chocolat chaud and a croissant at Cafe St. Regis. Tamarkin Camera had a used LHSA Black Paint M6TTL, and I called Stan on Skype from the hotel later to see if he still had it. He did, and graciously agreed to hold the camera body until I got back from Paris.
The camera was in mint condition and so was its black paint finish. When Stan called to see how I liked the camera, I told him, “It’s a good thing I really do, because I scratched the paint with the strap hooks while putting on the strap!” And so I had the best of both worlds: a fullymanual M6TTL, and an M7 with a bright finder that’s perfect for film noir photography.
Fast forward again to Paris – four years this time. Walking back to the Hotel Abbatial St. Germain, my home away from home, the sidewalk on the Pont de l’Archeveche overflowed with tourists taking selfies, photographing Notre Dame,and more than a few people talking or texting as they walked. Although I walked along the edge of the sidewalk to stay out of their way, a jabberwalky still walked into me, knocking me off balance.