I’m usually not one to talk photo equipment. For the most part, this subject bores me. I really don’t care what brand of camera you use. It’s your imagination and your mind’s eye that creates the image, not the equipment. Cameras are nothing more than tools, the images created with them can be art, or at least very cool! That’s the part that turns me on. So often I’m asked about equipment, so on this rare, weak moment I’m going to blah, blah, blah you with some equipment talk. If equipment talk bores you too, at least scroll down and look at the pretty pictures!
Here are a few of the photographic styles I create and a brief background on them. This is in no way an endorsement of any brand what so ever.
It’s simply amazing how many times someone has approached one of us wanting to know what kind of camera we use, because they want to buy that camera since it made such amazing photos. This makes as much sense as if I had the same kind of paint brushes as Leonardo da Vinci had, I could paint the Mona Lisa, right? It’s good for a laugh anyway!
These first three images are Polaroid Transfers. I created them using a 4×5 camera in the field with a Polaroid back and type 59 Polaroid film. After I make the exposure, I remove the sheet film without processing it. I then bring them back to the darkroom (for subdued light, not total darkness). Then, with a brayer, roll them onto neutral pH watercolour paper instead of using the Polaroid material.
I must admit I am a reforming equipment whore. These technical tools appeal to the geek in me. They are indeed fun to play with, from analog to digital. They all have their place in regards to what kind of image you want to create. When I first preconceive an image in my mind, I’m also figuring out how to best accomplish what my mind sees. Do I load a roll of expired film into a pin hole camera, or use a high resolution digital?…
Most of the equipment I lust for is old and out dated, kinda like me, I guess… Or, like in the case of these three black and white panoramic images, created with a modified Kodak “Fun Saver Panoramic 35” disposable camera reloaded with Kodak Tri-X film.
I started shooting with these disposable cameras back in 1992 after I figured out how easy they were to reload and the image quality was pretty amazing for a two element plastic lens. A few years back, I purchased 60 of these gems on eBay for just $1.69 each, as opposed to $10.95 at the grocery store check out line, back when they were current (1992-1999).
A life time ago when we were fully engaged in the commercial world of photography, we owned an extensive collection of Hasselblad cameras (7 bodies & 11 lenses). I reluctantly sold them all updating my commercial camera case to digital. More recently, I have been buying back a simplified Hasselblad system with just my two favourite lenses (CF 60mm f=3.5 & CF 100mm f=3.5).
These three square images were created using a Hasselblad camera. Prior to the digital revolution I used these cameras commercially. I would buy Fuji Velvia and Provia colour transparency film by the case. I also shot a small amount of black and white film. Today, I mostly shoot black and white film with a little bit of colour negative film thrown in.
While we were in the process of selling our house (bank building) in Eureka, Nevada we sold a lot of our “stuff”, including lots of photographic equipment. We sold all of our antique/collectible cameras, dozens of miscellaneous analog cameras, including my entire 4×5 system. Gone too are several of our digitals and all digital point & shoots. As my mind switches from commercial work to art work, I have come to the conclusion that too much equipment gets in the way of the creation of truly great images.
Another film camera I am fond of is the Holga. I started to shoot with the Holga many years ago, mostly in fits and starts. With so many plastic camera photographers out there using the Holga and doing such an amazing job at it, I tended to not share my Holga images so much. Not anymore…
Over the last few years I have been shooting the Holga much more than previous, out pacing the Hasselblad in film consumption. There’s just something about designing within the square that is so rewarding when it’s done right!
We have been on the road for nine months now. During this time I have been creating more images than ever, in both analog and digital. The freedom the road offers has changed many of my outlooks on image creation, as well as life. Change is good!…
Switching gears from commercial to art, has its ups and downs. The up side is the experience and technical knowledge you bring with you. Next, is the business sense needed to navigate the art world (although very different). Then, using known/favourite tools, to make image creation more spontaneous and fun. It keeps coming back to less is more. I’m finding a hike with one camera and one lens to be far more productive than carrying a pack full of equipment. Not to mention I prefer hiking with a lighter pack! We’ve repeated hikes the next day just so I can take a different camera combination for a completely different image outcome.
For the most part, but definitely not the rule, I’ve tend to think of digital as a commercial tool and analog as art. Recently, however I’m seeing this idea burr into oblivion…
I have a love/hate relationship with digital equipment. I love the technical aspects that allow so many options for image manipulation and enhancement. Plus, with larger image files, amazing resolution to go along with that. The hate part comes from the tech giants merry-go-round of upgrades with an ever constantly climbing price tag to go along with it.
Someone wants larger files for their next job. Do I rent, do I buy? That quickly becomes a moot point as simply switching from a 21 Mp camera to a 50 Mp camera presses the need for some new lenses, since this high a resolution camera sorely pointed out some of my lenses faults. Then a new computer was needed as the old processor became bogged down with files of that size. This upgrade pushed me into the latest operating system, which required lots of software updates at much time and expense. Don’t forget the storage/back-up! The camera was the cheapest part of the equation. The Hi-Tech Merry-Go-Round, has gotcha by the…
Smith Creek, Nevada
As you might have figured out from the geometry of my digital images I like to use Tilt-Shift lenses. This most likely came from years of in-studio 4×5/8×10 camera use. Also, I just don’t like seeing buildings and landscapes falling over backwards when you shoot upwards with a wide angle lens.
In my digital case, I admit I have too much equipment. I would really like just two lenses, But a few commercial jobs come up now and then, so I need to be ready to do the job. I currently have two Canon 5D sr’s 50 Mp digital camera bodies, two wide angle tile-shift lenses (17mm f=4.0 ts-e & 24mm f=3.5 ts-e), two short telephotos (85mm f=1.4 & 200mm f=2.8) and a macro lens (100mm f=2.8). I sold all of the Canon “L” series zoom lenses as these didn’t perform well as the file size increased, these include the 16-35, 24-105 and 70-200). Prime lenses are the only way to go if image resolution/quality are at the forefront of your intent.
Before the iPhone came along, we were often asked, “What kind of camera should I buy?” That’s a loaded question and one with a broad range of responses based on user needs. I like to tell people to go to a real camera store, with real and knowledgeable folks behind the counter, have them put a bunch of different brand cameras in your hands and figure out which one works for you. I know that doesn’t work on amazon. But, there are some really great camera shops out there and you should get out of your pyjamas and put some clothes on and go support them. Take some black tape with you and put it over the name. Don’t get fixated on a brand, that just gets in the way. Once you get to touch several different cameras, which one feels good? Do the buttons make sense to you? Do the ergonomics help you use the device? Or, do you need to spend too much time trying to figure out the buttons?
Living in our Sprinter van over the last nine months has taught us much about the gift of simplicity. This too carries over into image creation.
If you have questions about my processes, please send me an e-mail.