The Leaf

Burkhard Riegels

September 7, 2023

Three elements make this picture so special: a giant rhubarb leaf (Gunnera manicata), that is considered a weed in southern Ireland; the wind; and the wide bay of the Ring of Kerry in the south-west of Ireland.
“While travelling along the west coast of Ireland, we discovered the giant rhubarb (gunnera manicata) that grows there. This fascinating plant, with leaves measuring up to two metres in diameter, actually grows into small forests there. After discovering that these giants, which, contrary to what we imagined, are not a protected species but rather considered a weed, we came up with the delightful idea of taking a photo series with it, on a lonely beach. The strong wind, cruising clouds and wide bay of the Ring of Kerry created a unique stage, where the enormous leaf allowed us to be spontaneously inspired.

The ocean wind didn’t make it easy to direct this sail, which was both large and not very light. Even so, it was this unpredictability that caused the dynamics that distinguish the series of images. Nothing was foreseeable; everything had to happen quickly. And in the end, we both landed with the leaf in the water. I wasn't only able to save my dear wife, but also managed to keep the Leica out of the waves.

This was an existential issue because that Leica also has a very special story: while we were travelling in the far west of Europe, my M9-P suddenly blocked completely. Something like that always has to happen in the most remote places. With a call to Wetzlar, I wanted to find out if there was a repair service anywhere in Ireland. Instead of telling me, they simply asked me for my address there. They would send me a replacement camera and then repair the defective one once we were back. As I said, we were somewhere at Land’s End, and our host’s address consisted only of the name of the bay. So, I was all the more stunned when a package from Weltzlar actually arrived for us the next day! It contained the M9 with which I was then able to take these pictures. Following its repair, my good old M9-P was with me for almost all further portraits. Without any further drop-outs.”
Text and image: © Burkhard Riegels
EQUIPMENT: Leica M9 with Zeiss Biogon T* 28 f/2.8

Burkhard Riegels+-

© Rike Riegels-Winsauer
© Rike Riegels-Winsauer

Burkhard Riegels, who learned his profession as a craft photographer in the purely analogue era, began early on to devote himself to pictures of people, portraits and documentation. For over forty years, he worked in his own studio, and on projects while he was travelling – was always amazed by the diversity of the characters portrayed. In his most recent books, Wälderstimmen and the Libreria Acqua Alta – a portrait/photo book about the legendary bookseller Luigi Frizzo in Venice – that amazement becomes tangible. Together with his wife, Riegels has been running the ART TEMPTI Gallery in Karlsruhe for fifteen years.   More