A Glimpse of Montenegro Armin Walcher and his Leica SL

Armin Walcher is a young photographer based in Austria. What got him interested in photography in the first place was his time as an athlete. Armin specializes in extreme sport, documentary, lifestyle, adventure and commercial photography. Walcher’s projects have already taken him to many impressive places in this world and he’s always up for new adventures, creative projects and travel. One of his trips, in Montenegro, shows an superb overview of the place in relation to the dynamism of nature and sports, along with his use of the Leica SL.

Great footage. The video shows beautiful landscapes and slow motion movements of both nature and subject. It also shows you as the photographer, showing how you use the Leica SL to create these images.

Thanks a lot for the kind words. Beautiful landscapes, all kind of weather situations, and lots of fun during our road trip, that´s what Montenegro was all about. Each one of us was already tired at the end of the year. Markus Pekoll,  a friend of mine and Downhill MTB World Cup rider, had just finished the World Cup circuit and I had lots of shootings before. But still we decided to go to have a good time discovering a new country.

Can you please describe the pre-production process and creative approach you had for this?

I mean we had a little bit of planning going on before we started the trip. But it was hard for us to plan it properly, because we did not know people in Montenegro to help us out with information. Markus Pekoll was on the World Cup circuit until we started our journey, and I was shooting non stop before on different locations. So we were quite limited when it came to planning. So we said: let´s go there and we will discover the country on our own and find our way. It was quite challenging but all worth it. Whenever I go to a new location, I don´t like to get too much information in advance, I prefer to experience new locations on my own and make up my mind.

 

The Leica SL has a fantastic automatic focus while shooting photos, how versatile do you find this piece of equipment? How do you compare it with other camera bodies?

I switched my camera equipment right after the release of the Leica SL. I saved money and invested in the right piece of equipment. I enjoy shooting with the Leica SL so much, because working with the SL feels different. You can feel the quality when you are holding the camera in your hands. The autofocus works perfectly for me. You need to get used to it, but after using it for a couple of times you just press the shutter. I can use it for all kinds of weather and shooting situations, it’s just the right tool for my work. The files are amazing and I only need to use two or three switches in the post production process and I am done. The two zoom lenses are everything I need (right now, there are more lenses coming out ;-)) I can do everything with those two lenses and the quality is stunning. Compared to other camera bodies? For me it´s not always about numbers, for me it´s more about a feeling when using the camera, enjoying to shoot, and the motivation that this kind of camera gives me. 

Why did you choose Montenegro?

Hmm, that’s a question I get really often. The simple answer is, I found out that I don’t know a lot about that country. It’s not that big and easy to access from Austria. So I convinced Markus to go there and explore. We wanted to see what the country has to offer. The chances were 50/50 from our start, but we were amazed when we arrived there.

Talk about the aerial views of the mountains and landscapes, how were these achieved?

For those images we used a drone. The drone a really cool thing to also check out locations in advance before starting to hike and getting disappointed after reaching the spot.

Please share some of the technical aspects of the project including lenses, lighting, post processing, etc.

I need to say I am not the super tech guy, the only thing I want is performance, easy handling and quality. I always take a camera and start shooting, I experience it my own way not through a manual. I used one Leica SL body and the two zoom (Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 1:2,8–4/24–90 mm ASPH and Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 1 : 2,8–4/90–280 mm) lenses. The whole project was shot with available light. Being fast and using that possibilities that you had at that moment was key. Conditions were changing super fast during our stay. One day it was sunny and warm, the other day was all about staying on top of a mountain with snow and pouring rain in the valley. For post process I alway use Capture One.

The music enhances the overall aesthetic of the video and storytelling aspect. Is this an original composition, or stock music? Very well selected!

The BTS video was filmed and edited by Christian Czadilek a talented filmmaker from Austria. He selected and edited everything. Thanks a lot, he will be happy about those kind words. He is creative and super fast with finding usable stock music to clear all rights of usage.

You also shot some images with the Leica Monochrom the M-D and the Q, how did you feel the performance with these bodies? Considering different capabilities like shutter speed, available light, etc?

These bodies are different and that’s what I like about it. Each body is different. I have never used film or an analogue camera, but to me it feels great using the M bodies for that kind of experience. The usage is slower, I take less photos and focus on the important things. I enjoy each body for a different kind of usage. The size is perfect when I go more into documentary photography and don’t want to attract too much attention. People don’t immediately notice you, that’s what I like about the system. Great ISO performance, especially with the Leica Monochrom, that’s crazy. For me it comes as close to film as it gets, it is equal for me. For the Q no words are needed, I always have it with me. I carry it around the whole time, I think that says everything.

What experiences or tips would you share with upcoming photographers who may be considering new equipment for their creative endeavors? 

For me it is all about knowing what you want. I need to be convinced about the brand philosophy and what the company stands for. For me, Leica has everything I need, the whole package, most of all quality and philosophy. I enjoy each piece of equipment and that motivates me. I don’t have rich parents, which people might suspect, but I worked hard for it, really hard and saved money and invested in the right thing for me. That’s what I love. I never count pixels, as I said I am not the tech guy and in our world marketing is everything. But for me quality is everything, I need to be convinced and I believe that every person needs to find his or her own path.

Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers or are there any other projects you may want to share?

Always stay motivated, focus on the bright side of life and enjoy shooting. Photography is one of the most beautiful things in life. Don´t always take it too seriously, enjoy what you do and juste venture out. Experience the world through a viewfinder and you’ll see that you experience things in life better than by just walking down the street without looking. There is one story I want to share with you, it´s called Night Change, which I shot last year with the Leica Monochrom

More stories and projects coming up soon. So stay tuned for more and enjoy photography.

Thanks Armin!

To know more about Armin Walcher, please visit his official website.

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