I used my Leica M (Typ 240) and Summicron-M 50mm f/2 lens throughout a landscape photography trip to Northern California that included driving the isolated backroads in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Petaluma and Healdsburg, and hiking the mountains and exploring the coast of Point Reyes. The story, and some of my pictures, are featured on the Leica website. Each day of this trip started right before the sun rose, when the thick layers of morning fog were most prominent. The mediterranean climate of Napa Valley, along with its terroir, allow for high-end grape production. For photographers, it also creates an opportunity to capture stunning landscape photographs in temperate weather. The foggy mornings create moody, dark canvases that change to vibrant, sun-splashed landscapes in the afternoon.
I shot in both situations, as well as in the late afternoon, and decided to convert my images to black-and-white to further accentuate the amazing sharpness and optical performance of the Summicron-M 50mm lens. I shot most of these images between f/5.6 and f/11, and the reproduction of fine details is excellent, as is the contrast.
Napa Valley’s changing skies added a bit of a challenge to picture-taking. There were times when the fog and mist would suddenly make way for blue skies and bright sunlight. On several occasions, I had to drive to the opposite side of the valley to get the best light and perspective. One of my favorite spots to photograph was Point Reyes, which is roughly 90 minutes west of Napa Valley.