Jack of all Trades, Master of None: Leica M-3 series ten: A return to black and white film

Rusted house jacks, Hopewell Junction, NY. Photographed with a Leica M-3: 50mm Summicron; Tri-X


10. “Jack and Dianne” by John Cougar Mellancamp: It’s a catchy little ditty from the American Foolalbum, and I always end up singing it for days after I hear it.

9. “Happy Jack” by The Who: It’s a song with a moral from the band’s early days, when they had a more pop-oriented sound.

8. “Jack of All Parades” by Elvis Costello: This track from the underrated King of America album is as well-written as most of Costello’s other work.

7. “Jack the Idiot Dunce” by The Kinks: The fun, catchy song would now be considered insensitive, because slow-witted Jack is made fun of as a “Simpleton” and other derogatory terms.

6. “Jack and Jill” by Raydio: It’s a pleasant soul song by the Ray Parker Jr.’s band before he went on to gain fame singing the theme of “Ghostbusters.”

5. “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles: Here’s the second straight Ray to be ranked with a Jack song. This is a delightful song with great female backing vocals complementing the distinct voice of Ray Charles.

4. “Sister Jack” by Spoon: I seldom comprehend the meaning of Spoon’s lyrics, and this one is even more difficult to figure out than others. Still, it’s a great tune from the Gimme Fiction album.

3. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones: I never could distinguish all the lyrics to this classic, but it has great rhythm and a great chorus.

2. “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” by Bob Dylan: The jack of hearts is involved in the murder of Big Jim in this very long song from Blood on the Tracks, considered by many to be Dylan’s best album ever. Big Jim was either shot as “a cold revolver clicked” or he was “killed by a pen knife in the back,” but the Jack of Hearts got off scott free with a lot of jack.

1. Captain Jack by Billy Joel: Jack here is a drug dealer, who helps a troubled youth deal with living in a one-horse town, masturbating, and finding his father in the swimming pool. It is the highlight from Billy Joel’s early album Piano Man.

Old School Leica:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is just something soothing about holding a piece of camera equipment that is as finely crafted as a Swiss watch but solid enough to pound a nail through an oak plank.

I have spent the last twenty-two years developing programs and purchasing digital camera equipment at four newspapers and feel I have an insider’s appreciation for both the quality and economic value of today’s digital visual products…but.

…There is nothing like an “Old School Leica” film camera to give you an appreciation for high-end optics and the refinement of an M-3 body with Leitz Summicron 50mm/f2 lens. The pair was manufactured a year after I was born in 1956 and with a minor dent and some scratches; it’s a working machine much like the owner.

No winder; no auto-focus; no light meter; and a rewind knob that you actually have to turn; just add black and white film.