Ok, massive overstatement but it does underline my feeling about Orlando. With three kids we go there often, and love the parks, people and the international feel with all the visitors. It is a wonderful place to go for a visit however it is very limited in terms of photography options.
I have seen articles written (such as this one HERE) which attempt to give people ideas on possible subject matter in visually boring places. While you can always capture an image or two of interesting subject matter, I would argue that the 'hit' rate is so low in some places that you are better off not trying. Everyone likes to quote Robert Capa "if your pictures are not good enough, you are not close enough'. I would argue that if your pictures are not interesting enough, you may not be in an interesting place...
Most would agree that a train trip across India, a hike in the alps or a simple walk down a New Your City street all provide ample opportunities to capture interesting things. A trip into London and I can burn ten rolls of film and have few that I do not consider 'hits'. It is a target rich environment....sort of like shooting fish in a barrel. It is easy to capture something interesting.
Many will argue that you can focus on details, try macro photography and you can always photograph people which can be interesting anywhere. All of this is true however when every shot I take is of a detail or of a portrait the muse in me packs up and goes home.
The pictures I am showing here are some nice shots but they are pictures of other people's works of art. They are copies in which I brought precious little. I do not mind taking these pictures but I do not fool myself into thinking that this is legitimate photography. Taking a picture of a flower and applying a filter or ten to it does not really make it art.
So I will continue to struggle with this and maybe get another couple of images worth saving before going home. But if I do not, I will still enjoy the trip as we have encountered good people, great food and a good deal of fun.
I am not an art connoisseur and I do not spend my days attending gallery openings and the like. I am a practical person, working within a budget who happens to love photography. Within the works I have studied there are four photographers that I truly love including (in no particular order) Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Josef Sudek and Paul Strand. Sadly I have never been to see an exhibit of these masters.
A few months ago while sitting on a bench waiting for my train, I spotted a billboard advertising an exhibition of Paul Strands work at the V&A here in London. The following weekend I took the family into London to be able to see a master on show. As I walked through the quiet halls surrounded by photos that I have only ever seen in books I was dumbfounded and for a time all I could do was sit and take it all in. I then began thinking about what I was seeing and why I liked it so much.
When you open a book on Paul Strand you feel a distance which you never really notice until you see his work on exhibition. The book has been printed, sometimes after the photographer's death without his/her input and the product feels distanced from reality. In an exhibit we are seeing the photos as they were designed to be seen. I am not suggesting that Paul Strand would have displayed them in the exact order or way but he took these pictures to be seen, hanging on a wall, properly printed, lighted and framed. To see his images in this way is transformational. I do not mean that these images have transformed me, but rather I have changed how I look at them.
The exhbit in the V&A was spectacular and include images from his pictorial days, his transformation into modernism and his work with film including a showing of Manhatta and Redes. Each print was carefully presented and they included some of his old cameras and pages from his wife's diary. Every aspect of his work was included even though they come from a variety of collections. Being able to see them all in this one place was astonishing. Even images that the V&A purchased and have not shown in 40 years were brought out!
If you have a chance to catch this traveling exhibit or any other photographer's work in person, I highly recommend the time. This visit has left me with an extreme curiosity to see other exhibits. While I will still cherrish my photography books, seeing the images properly printed and hung up is...transformational.
So I have just updated a short article on the Olympus Stylus 35mm film point and shoot camera. If you have not seen it please have a look HERE. In the article I explain why it is one of my favorite cameras and shared some of the images I have taken with it. Since you cannot set the ISO manually (it reads it directly from the DX information on the cartridge) you have to trick it into shooting the ISO you want.
The first roll I simply used a non-DX coded cartridge which the camera then defaults to ISO 100. It was FP4 which has a native ISO of 125, easy enough to alter the development time slightly. The end result was fantastic!
The challenge is not how to marry this camera, with its DX Coding limitation in order to shoot my HP5+ (with a native ISO of 400) to shoot it at ISO 3200! After all, it would be a sad day in photography world if I could not shoot my favorite film through my favorite cameras!
Why would you shoot ISO 400 film at 3200? The wonderful thing about HP5+ is that it is a very tolerant film which lets you push and pull it much farther than others. I first pushed it to ISO 800 and could not tell a change in grain appearance. I then pushed it to ISO 1600 and everything was fine. But then I took a leap of faith and pushed it to 3200 and I fell in love! The contrast, pleasant grain and complete darks and lights make it an amazing film! As an added bonus an ISO of 3200 lets me shoot in some very dark corners!
So I had two options to shoot HP5+ at ISO 3200, the first is to buy some ISO 3200 film, shoot it and then reload the cartridge with HP5+ film. This was the path I was going to take until I ran across an article written for Japan Camera Hunter! Here a guest writer explains how to alter the DX coding on HP5+ to shoot it at 3200! So 45 seconds with an "Xacto" knife and I had the right DX coding.
So tomorrow I will walk out of my house with my point and shoot fully loaded with HP5+ and set to shoot at an ISO 3200!
Below is a shot I took on HP5+ at ISO 3200. You can see that the grain is still very pleasant, the darks are all there and even the white window sill has detail. Nothing is blown out or hidden. I like HP5+ at ISO 400, at ISO 200 it is fine as well. But it really comes into its own at this very high ISO.
This post has nothing to do with photography except that it is a rather annoying 'filler' that has been creeping into my favorite YouTube channels of late. The treacherous little bastard is a reoccurring statement "without further ado" which seems to be THE phrase to use these days.
The annoyance stems from the fact that this phrase is used to transition from one scene to another. It is not needed and does not add anything to the show. A key aspect to videos, and presentations for that matter, is the transition from one idea to another. In the past few months this phrase has been appearing in various different YouTube channels as a transition from the introduction to the actual content.
To avoid this being a completely wasted post, here are some of my favorite YouTube channels. Have a look at the first one, as he posted a side by side film agitation test that is probably of more value than this post of complaints!
The Art of Photography
Eduardo Pavez Goye
When I first began in photography I used to seek out the perfect picture of a mountain, or a monument or some image that would hold emotional claim to the viewer. This is a tall order and usually misses the mark completely. In order for a photography to convey emotion it must tall a story which holds meaning to the viewer. And this is the simple truth of photography.
When I look back at the tens of thousands of images I have taken it is the pictures of friends and family that stand out. Those images that singularly or collectively tell the story of a family. The end of a fight, a birthday party or an important school event. All captured for me to enjoy years later and remember the day, the moment.
To those who are getting into photography I tell them to practice with family and friends. This ensures that even if the picture is not perfect, it will hold important emotional value in the years to come. Is there any higher purpose to photography that this?
There are certain images that speak to us. They were taken by a friend, family or a master photographer, perhaps it is something we saw on Instagram but regardless of the source, we have all seen photos that inspire us. Sometimes, when I see an amazing image, I want to recreate it in my own way.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then I am sure those I mimic will not hold it against me. To be sure, I always do things to make the photo my own but I cannot deny being inspired by other's works.
A few weeks ago I was reading the "Photography at MoMA 1920-1960" and I ran across an image from Raoul Hausmann that I really liked. I noted the page and took some notes in my Photo Book and decided to give it a try. You can see that the photo is a simple one but very well done.
Above is my simple attempt at doing something similar. While not completely there yet, I am liking the image and love the concept.
While visiting my mother in Houston, she handed me the family photo album which is much need of some attention. Most of the key pictures have been removed and put in proper frames but many great memories are bouncing around in there. I brought it back to the UK with me in order to clean it up a bit.
Above is a picture I am trying to rescue. This is a picture of my mother as a little girl. She remembers a family friend, who always had a camera with him, seeing off her family on a train. He told her to climb into the train and go to the window so he could take her picture. A few weeks later he gave her a print which is little bigger than the original negative.
I used my OMD camera to take a macro shot of the image. I put it through Photoshop to remove some of the signs of age. And here is the result. One image of probably 50 that need some attention.
When I say I like all aspects of photography I really do mean it. Photography books, documentaries, museum exhibits, cameras, lenses, printers, darkrooms and the actual act of taking pictures is joyful for me. Sitting for hours working on these photos is something I am looking forward to a great deal.
To recover such an amazing image of my mother, so young and happy, is icing on top of the cake. The joy I get from looking at these images, the memories I will slowly create while working on them will be enjoyed for years to come.
Below is an image I worked on last year of my father (second from left) and his friends gathered on a balcony in Buenos Aires. They are celebrating the graduation of a friend (the one with a cigarette in his mouth) drinking an Argentine tea known as 'mate" and cutting a cake. Not sure who the photographer was, but I will always be grateful of such an amazing picture.
Film photography has a handicap and that is the electronics of the light meter. Typically film cameras were made of much better quality than was necessary and will last a few lifetimes if properly kept. Light meters built into old film cameras do not always have the same shelf life. This leaves us film lovers with one of four options.
Option 1: Buy an external light meter. This is expensive but a single light meter will be able to be used with any film camera making it a one time investment. Using them is not as straightforward as one would hope so read the instructions well.
Option 2: Buy an App that turns our cell phone into a light meter. I use this method and find it really works well. I have not missed a shot due to exposure using this App. The problem is that it requires you to pull out your cell phone to take each reading, something the external light meter would require as well. You are dependent on another devise to get the first one to work.
Option 3: Stick with cameras that have an internal light meter that works or can be repaired. There are plenty out there but it will largely restrict you from TLR, some rangefinders and large format cameras.
Option 4: Learn, trust and use the Sunny 16 rule. Everyone knows this rule but few people trust film enough to really give it a go. All you need is to set your shutter speed to equal the reciprocal of your ISO. So if your ISO is 100 you set your shutter speed to 1/100th of a second. Then you are left with a single variable to decide on, aperture. In a sunny day it should be f/16, partly cloudy f/11, no blue in the sky f/8, very dark clouds, f/5.6 and so forth.
This last option is also one of my goals for 2017...I want to learn how to expose without a light meter. I found the following video on YouTube where it is explained very well. Travis also explains that the main reason people do not use the sunny 16 rule is out of fear of the results and a lack of trust in film.
A stop over or under is simple to fix with film. Two stops and you need to work a little more at it but still very salvageable especially in the darkroom. So human error is corrected through the latitude of film.
As a recap, if you like film cameras you may as well start learning how to calculate exposure without a light meter. The rule is simple, the fear of ruining a few shots could easily be overcome by trying out on some everyday shots and finally the only way to realize how forgiving film can be is to give it all a go.
This week my goal will be to shoot an entire roll using the sunny 16 rule. Lets see how I get on...