Musings

Below are musings from email's or blog posts Ive commented on to friends or peers, which Ive gathered together.

I would recommend taking a look at Bruce Perry's portfolio and words, his art is stunning and very inspiring.
'Many of my images were created during the early hours of the morning or at the moment before the last rays were overcome by darkness.
I love being somewhere wild and remote during these times to see something exceptional happen between the light and the land.'
http://www.brucepercy.com

The Magic of Film -
Bjorn Vaugh's travel blog and portfolio is also very interesting. He's documented his travels using a legendary Leica M8 digital rangefinder. Björn is very fortunate to work as a translator for the Hasselblad Victor magazine and Lecia, which he translates from German in to English.

He writes 'A great part of effective rangefinder photography with wide angle to normal fixed focal lengths is about entering a scene and becoming part of it. Somehow you have to participate. It's almost as though you were forced to become the photograph before you can take it. So the act of taking pictures with a rangefinder camera feels, to me, more intimate or involved than anything else I've tried in the digital past. I imagine I'll write about this in more detail in a blurb soon to come.'
http://www.bjorntoday.com/

I do understand the logic behind digital, the work flow is so much easier, hardly any dust/scratches to remove etc etc and no doubt it would be hard to process film while 'on the road'. It would depend on the length of the trips I suppose. I would probably opt for digital if travelling extensively, or shoot both for planned photographic trips.

For me, Ive wrestled with the whole digital versus film for a long while, and I still do to some extent. My 5D just sits here while I 'play' with very old film cameras. Ive compared shots which Ive taken with the 5D versus, for example, my Bronica ETRS medium format, and although sometimes I cant see the difference other than the 5D produces a 12.7 MP image and the Bronica produces a 40MP image when scanned, which is useful for fine art publishers who want to print mural size prints. However, I think part of the appeal is for the exact opposite reasons digital is great. What I mean is, with digital you can see what you've just shot and make alterations on the fly if you wish. This is handy, but I like the magic, the not knowing what Ive just shot and how it will come out.

There's the in between time of having shot a roll of film and it being processed, where it feels like all the 'moments' Ive captured are suspended in time, on hold, waiting to be developed and brought to life. There's endless ways of developing each roll of film which will have an impact on the final images. I feel excited with the knowledge that in this relatively small canister/roll, are images which when brought to life, will excite and inspire me, hopefully.

I love processing a roll of film, 135 or 120 and when Ive done the last rinse and open up the canister I see a roll of images just before I hang it to dry. It's magic because I clicked the shutter and now I have 'images/art' in a tangible form in front of me after mixing 'potions' together.

I also like the 'look and feel' of film. It could be the way the light (and shadows) react with each individual film which I find so compelling, whereas with digital its kind of predictable. I like how film is not always 'perfect'. I like grain, I think it adds to a shot. I love the tonal range of some films. I also think technically, digital falls down with blown highlights, it just cant handle them like film can. I love all the different emulsions on the market. Each film has its own characteristics, tones, colour etc, whereas with digital, the CMOS sensor is fixed and takes images as it does. Sure you can play in Photoshop, but the individual inherent characteristics are not there, unlike film. The combinations of film and developing chemicals offers an endless range of results, all of which Im enjoying exploring.

Ive seen some very amazing photographs taken digitally, and I sometimes think to myself – 'that would have looked even better using X film or Y film'. It's true digital is very sharp, especially with auto-focus, auto-this and auto-that, but that's part of the magic of analogue photography – I feel more part of the shot when I shoot film. It slows me down, makes me think more about the composition. With digital I always feel like I'm cheating. That's part of the reason I like film, when I see a shot I really like, I feel excited that 'I did that'. From loading the film, shooting the shot and then developing it, it's mine, I did it all - with the kind collaboration of nature or the subject. In some ways it's a lot more satisfying.

I love the philosophy and spirit of Leica, it's class. I'm looking at getting a Leica Minilux rangefinder. I want a camera small enough to fit in my pocket with a reasonably fast lens. I probably get too hung up on the equipment, always striving for 'better gear', whereas in truth, any camera will do – its the photographer that takes the shot, not the camera. That said, as with any passion, its nice to play with toys and test and try all that's out there.

I do plan on travelling to Europe this year, all being well, I'm still deciding what kit to take. One of my publishes has asked for some 'Spanish style/themed' imagery. Id love to take my Bronica and maybe the 5D, but I think it will probably be the Leica and the 5D and maybe a Holga...I'll have to see.

I do think that different camera's offer different ways of shooting and have their own characteristics. For example, the Holga produces different 'looking' images to my Canon 5D. In the same way that my 35mm Chinon with it's 1:1.9 lens (not even that fast compared to some) allows me to take shots I wouldn't have with my Bronica or 5D due to their size, because the Chinon and the 1:1,9 lens it's faster and smaller. The Leica will, I hope, allow me to take 'opportunistic/candid' shots as it will be in my pocket - I couldn't do that with my 5D.

Id also like to try large format. I like how film slows me down, makes me think more about the composition. I could take more time when shooting the 5D, but I 'feel' different when shoot film and with particular equipment.
I just dug out my old Olympus MJU rangefinder and was impressed and inspired to be more creative with the fill in flash (which is actually quite good for portraits, doesn't blow out the highlights). All-in-all, I enjoy using the different emulsions available with the endless combinations of processing which I dont get with digital.
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