Posts from the ‘Black n’ White’ Category
There’s a preset in Silver Efex I use quite a bit of the time. I’d say that the majority of my shots posted here make use of that preset to a greater or lesser extent. I wonder what that says about me.
From a technical film development perspective, I tried Xtol diluted 1+2 on this roll, and, at least in the scans, it accentuated the grain in an ugly way (to my eye). I had to use negative clarity on this image to get the clouds to even look sort of ‘ok.’ Not gonna do that any more.
I rented a camera to experiment with, and it arrives tomorrow. We shall see what I learn about myself this week. Nexty week, there’s a trip planned to London and Dublin. That will be interesting, too!
Howth, Ireland, October 2013.
Last post I briefly mentioned a new camera; this image is NOT from that camera. I’ll talk about that beastie in a future post, but first I wanted to elaborate a little on this idea of ‘fun.’
- I do not need to make my living from photography. That means the decisions I make about equipment and such are outside the incessant internet debates about equipment, digital, ‘best,’ ‘worst,’ etc. The worst thing that could happen to me if I make a mistake in any fashion is that I lose a little time or cash. No biggie. I don’t lose a client, for instance.
- If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d become like Lloyd Chambers or Michael Reichmann, someone who cashed out doing something else and gets to play all the time with toys they love.
- That does not mean I don’t care about becoming a better photographer. On the contrary, when I’m not working, I spend the majority of free time thinking about, reading about, getting better as a photographer.
- Taking photos gives me great joy.
- Taking photos brings the memory of the dad into my mind; not every time I snap the shutter, but often. That alone makes the adventure joyful. I grew up in a home where there was a medium format camera in the fridge along with rolls of un-shot film. My dad was also a painter, and he and his sister would sit on the phone talking about their passion, which was making art. And cooking.
- I love the challenge of trying to capture ‘something.’ Some ‘thing’ that makes an image more than a snapshot. That thing is often difficult to describe (whoa, wait a minute, impossible to describe) accurately, but I Keep trying to get there.
- But, all that said, photography is just really, really, really fun to me. I do it because it brings me joy. I fool around with cameras because they bring me joy. I shoot mainly film because it’s just a tidly-bit more fun than digital.
There ya go. Lots coming. Today a rented a camera for a few days next week to ‘try ‘er out.’ We’ll what happens then, eh?
This was one of the first frames taken with a new 35mm film camera I recently bought from the ‘bay. I just thought I’d share it before I go into a great deal of depth about the camera and how I landed with that decision.
I just liked the light on the birch tree.
I am grateful for where I’ve been and where I’m going.
I am grateful for my beautiful wife, the best person I have ever met.
I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for my home, a place of peace and tranquility.
I am grateful for photography, as it allows me to express myself without the need to satisfy anyone but me.
I am grateful for all my friends in the photographic community, especially my friends in the photo-blogging world, whose work inspires me every day.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
So, given what I wrote in the last detailed post (see what I did there? I used ‘detailed’ instead of ‘wordy’) I wanted to examine my options. On a business trip, I recently found myself browsing the stalls at B&H photo in NYC. I saw the open spot on the shelf for the Nikon DF, tantalizingly empty as I wait for it to be filled on Nov. 26. But, more important to this ongoing discussion, I was able to look at and handle many cameras I had been considering as I began to revitalize my kit.
Just to review, nine months ago this was my kit:
Fuji X-Pro 1 (with various lenses)
Canon FTb (with various lenses) and sometimes a Nikon F100 (with almost no lenses).
Voightlander Bessa R2a (with one lens)
Mamiya 645 (with various lenses)
At that point, I started examining my options, looking for ways to lessen the overall number of cameras I had and maximize the number of options I had to use Zeiss lenses (which I loved). Note that I *could* use Zeiss lenses on my X-Pro 1 (one of the things I really liked about it), but couldn’t on the Canon system. I used the Bessa for the street, the Canon for lots of other things, and the Mamiya almost not at all.
Then, last spring the FTb dropped and the brass body dented beyond a simple repair, and I began this process of figuring out what my long-term strategy was. I was committed to rangefinders (and, in fact, upgraded in that area to the Ikon and am selling off my Bessa).
My fascination with the F100 grew, as I loved the way it handled, and over the summer I played around with Nikon AF lenses (my first real journey into that sea, and the image above was shot with the F100 and the 14-24 zoom). I came away with some conclusions from that experiment, and I’ll get to them soon in a future post.
So, I’m in the middle of this process, and I’m standing in B&H, and I decide to sample what’s in front of me.
I looked at all the following cameras in search of this operational feeling of flow, of disappearance of the camera I described a couple of posts ago. I touched and worked with the Panasonic GX7, the SONY NEX 7, the The Olympus OMD-E5, and the Olympus Pen with viewfinder.
The Worst of this Bunch: OMD-E5
Man, I actively dislike the way this camera feels in my hands. On the day I decided to go with the X-Pro 1, I had first picked up this camera, and I had an aversion to it. Liked the X-pro, disliked the E-M5. Still the same way. Too small, too cumbersome. Maybe the files are beautiful, I don’t know. Maybe the highlights roll off smooth like ‘buttah,’ maybe they do. But this camera is not for me. I wanted to handle the E-M1, but it was off someplace else on the floor.
Middle Ground: NEX-7, GX-7
These two cameras were both surprisingly nice to handle. Partly, I believe, because they were not ‘pretending’ to be an SLR, but were just trying to be who they were. I liked the viewfinders in both cameras very much. I was surprised by this. Additionally, the focused like lightning. Well, not as fast as Nikkor SLR lenses or anything, but much, much faster than the Fuji lenses.
Handling these two cameras made me a little jealous. Now, they WERE small, mind you, and I’m not sure that something that small would be good for me long-term, but they had a pleasurable feeling upon first handling them, which is important to me. That’s the way my F100 felt upon first grasp, and that’s the way the X-Pro 1 felt first time, and those instincts have never let me down before and I’ve learned to trust them. These two cameras were impressive, and of the two, I actually was leaning towards the NEX-7, which totally shocked me. The Panny was no slouch, though.
The winnah: Olympus Pen
The feel of this camera was in the same league as the GX-7 and the NEX 7, but what it delivered hands-down was the viewfinder. Oh my gosh, this was luscious and large and glorious to look through. If I was shopping for a m4/3 camera today, I’d get this in a heartbeat. Focus was fast, it has the same engine/sensor as the E-M5, but it’s all about the viewfinder, baby. I loved this viewfinder the way I love the viewfinder on my Zeiss Ikon. It makes such a difference.
I didn’t expect the PEN to win this discussion, and yet the experience of handling this image-maker really sold me.
But I’m not really interested in this camera as my next digital purchase. If I hadn’t committed to Fuji and the image quality there combined with the adaptors and possible lenses, I’d consider the PEN. It’s that good.
Next time I’ll tell you what is going to be my next digital purchase.
The river walk i Shanghai. Yes, I did post a color picture of this when I was there, but I also had my Ikon loaded and ready as I strolled. Hand-held and all that. Nothing like a rangefinder.
So, why did I compare cameras to MS Word yesterday? On the surface, that might seem an odd comparison. But, as I have journeyed through the cameras I have played with, they fall generally speaking into two categories.
The first is the simple straight-forward approach: shutter speed, ISO, aperture, done. This is the classic film camera, where the film did some of the work for you. What I mean by that is that the film decided the color balance & intensity, the film determined the ‘white balance,’ the film determined the light sensitivity, etc. Now, I don’t mean to say that the user doesn’t have the ability to alter or manipulate those qualities, but rather there are assumptions. (Interestingly, one of my favorite photo books of all time, Cape Light, was shot on TUNGSTEN-balance film and, when printed, the colors were filtered and altered in the darkroom to ‘fix’ the balance. Astonishing to me).
Regardless, there are a minimum of things to fiddle with, you set the controls, and you then concentrate on the images.
Those are the kinds of cameras I love, because, to me, the camera needs to get the hell out of the way!
Modern cameras, because they wanted/decided that one of the digital sensor’s best qualities is its flexibility, and a sensor can give the photographer multiple astounding options. However, options come with the need of twiddling, and (of course) post-processing. These cameras are wonderful in their depth, and I am astounded at their engineering. But, for me, I only use a fraction of those ‘twiddles,’ admittedly growing in my twiddling with every shoot I undertake, but I am glad they are there.
Here’s my history with Microsoft Word.
I was an early user of the original Mac. As you may or may not know, Word and Excel were first released for floppy-drive using Macs, and utilized the Mac mouse and window interface. In those days, I got to know both programs very well, to what might be described as an expert level, and, in fact, made my living for a while training people to use both programs in business when Microsoft moved the two programs to Windows.
Back in those days, the balance of features and complexity were pretty good. It had a nice set of features for ‘power users,’ but wasn’t so deep that a determined individual couldn’t get up to speed with a little effort.
But then, in the late 90′s, MS decided that they wanted to have Word act as a page-layout program in addition to Word processing functions. They wanted Word to be a bit (or a lot) of everything, and the software grew bloated.
Now, it is impossible these days to really deeply know all the features of MS Word. It is used for everything, word processing, page layout, publishing, etc., and it’s NOT that MS Word is bad at any one of those functions, mind you, I’m still a big fan of the software, and I still know more about its deep functionality than most people, but it is too monolithic for most people to use deeply and well.
I see an analogue here to why people focus on mega-pixels as the be-all-and-end-all of cameras. It’s an easy way to grasp a very, very complex issue as to which camera system you should use and why.
Back in the day, you compared, really, two things: first, ease-of-use; second, lens system depth and quality. End of story.
Technologically, the complexity of modern cameras obscures many issues, and it is part of why it has taken me so long to dig through all this information.
One last thought: I am not a pro, and as Mike Peters’ has talked with me about at length, his needs are very, very different than an ‘art photographer,’ as I am. He worries about things like # of shots per battery charge and so forth. Limitations I never have to deal with.
More to come…
I’m beginning to come to come conclusions about what I look for in a camera. Not only what I LOOK for, but how I use cameras to get my images. I’ve debated this quite a bit over the years, as I’ve played around with lots of different cameras and lenses since I took photography up again in 2007 in a serious way.
Of course, having owned and shot Canon gear in the film days, I defaulted to using and buying Canon gear when I took things up again, and captured many, many images I love with my 10D, 5D, and Ftb from 2007 until 2012. No complaints about the gear or the lenses, except a minor one, which was the FD lenses from the Ftb couldn’t be used on my EOS gear, which was not a show-stopper but unfortunate.
Enter The Disruptor: the F100
I have a tendency with many things I use (software, power tools, darkrooms) to learn only as much as I have to in order to get things done. I’m like that with Lightroom, Photoshop, Evernote, Excel, etc. And with cameras. It’s all about trying to achieve a goal (write the document, edit the image, fix the moulding, etc.) It’s not that I can’t become an expert, it’s that I grow tired of the pursuit of that deep, deep understanding of the tool and my attention reverts back to the object of my desire, which in this case, is the image. The tool must be useable enough but somehow disappear. Enter the Nikon F100.
It wasn’t like I had never owned an auto-focus, auto-advance film camera before (well, yes it was. This was the first I had ever owned). So there’s that. It was more than that. I fit me and my shooting style like a glove. The only issue with it (and still is an issue, btw) was that focusing using that bloody dot, while possible, drives me a little crazy. I’m not LOOKING in the lower left-hand corner when I focus and compose an image, I’m looking at the frame!!! This was a BIG issue that kept the F100 sitting on the shelf for, let’s see, three years. I’d pull it out shoot a roll, put it away, look at it longingly, take it out, etc.
But whenever I did shoot with it, I came away liking it better than any other SLR is had in house. And thus, the seed was planted.
I like cameras with heft, so it’s not so much an issue of weight (although that is part of it). In December 2012, I picked up an OMD and a X-Pro 1. I really didn’t like the OMD (too small) but loved the X-Pro 1. Now, I know people who swear by the OMD’s picture quality and so forth, but, heck, I still shoot film, don’tcha know, and so something the equivalent of 10mp isn’t gonna stop me, and I honestly don’t get the whole obsession with 36 mp in the D800.
Anyway, my point is this: for me, it’s all about how a camera feels in my hand and how that propels me in my picture taking adventure. The F100 had that in spades (except for the focusing. It was something subtle and almost indefine-able, and as much as I wanted the EOS3 to have it (and I bought the EOS3 to emulate the F100 on the Canon side) it just didn’t.
So, where did that leave me?
Uncertain and waffling until my Ftb died. Then the door of possibility opened. My emotional tie to Canon equipment ended that day.
I decided to move everything to Nikon on the SLR side. I loves my rangefinders, but they do have their technical limitations, and certain kinds of photography just aren’t really possible with them.
I have sold off my FD lenses, one by one. The last few are on eBay now.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about what I am in the process of buying, and why. Oh, and I’ll also explain the title of this post.
This image, to me, is a great example of making something more interesting by leaving parts out. Yes, this image is cropped to 4×5, but the top line of the image is exactly as I saw it when I tripped the shutter. Saw the two people standing there noticed they were looking in different, opposite directions, and decided to leave off their faces. Makes the viewer try and fill in the blanks, which (to me) makes it more interesting.
Also there’s the contrast between the shapes and textures of their legs.
Before I went to Shanghai I bought a brick of Neopan 400 because it’ll be gone soon and I just thought I’d shoot some. It has a nice quality.
Also, I recently bought into the ‘Cloud’ and upgraded to Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5.2. Nice packages.
Off to NYC tomorrow for a day-trip, so I don’t know whether I’ll post or not.