Best image came out of a simplest camera

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by tkamiya, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    This is quite annoying and refreshing at the same time....

    A while back, I went to a landscape shoot with a friend of mine. I took my Nikon F100 with a zoom lens and shot 6 rolls. As you know, Nikon F100 is one of the later incarnation of Nikon 35mm line and it's quite an advanced camera. Everything is automated with an ability for me to override as I see fit. Along with it, medium zoom gave me all the focal range that I wanted. Along with it, I took a Kodak Tourist, a fixed lens medium format folder (6x9) from 1950s. EVERYTHING is manual on this camera. No auto-anything! I didn't even finish a roll, so there were exactly 6 exposures made. I just finished processing all the rolls.

    The best images came out of the Tourist.

    As I look back, I took my time in framing, metering, and basically contemplating more with my tourist where as I was snap happy with F100. It's quite annoying that technology (that I paid for!) actually became a hindrance with me using F100 and quite refreshing that simple camera from more than half a decade ago can still hold its own when I used it properly.

    Anyone have a similar experience you'd like to share?
     
  2. David Nardi

    David Nardi Member

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    This is why I took up 4x5 and 8x10 photography. Seems the bigger the format I go and the more limitations I have, the stronger the resulting images. Everything becomes more deliberate and considered. It's true what they say, "Limitation breeds creativity".
     
  3. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    35mm cameras with all those bells and whistles make you lazy -- you can shoot half a dozen and pick the best later. an 8-shot roll makes you stop and think.

    our photo editor at the newspaper really hates that new photos with no film training will take their pro digi cameras, spray off a couple dozen or hundred random pictures in high-res raw and then come back and try to crop something good out of that mess.

    "Give them a speed graphic and half a dozen film holders to shoot an entire assignment" I tell him, and some days he wishes he could, except many of these kids have never shot film. ever.
     
  4. dorff

    dorff Member

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    While I generally agree that the cost and limitations of larger film sizes make the process more deliberate, there is no excuse for not applying the same good habits and diligence when shooting smaller formats with more automatic or "electronic imaging" cameras. I have equally pleasing results on 35 mm and MF, to the effect that I print equal quantities from both. It is a mindset, nothing more.
     
  5. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Funny, they say the same thing about digital vs 35mm. Personally, I find the 24 or 36 exposure 35mm roll to be the best for my work. 12 shots on 6x6 is too little often, especially when you consider how much more annoying it is to reload. But that's just me.
     
  6. mannbro

    mannbro Member

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    I agree. It's not in the equipment, it's in the Photographer.

    Just because some equipment makes it faster, easier or cheaper to pay and spray, doesn't mean you are forced to. You can use an approach that is just as slow and thought-through with fully automatic 35mm cameras or even digital as you do with even large format.

    I don't shoot more on the rare occations when I shoot digital than when I shoot with my very simple fully manual Soviet cameras such as my Lomo Smena or my Moskva 5.

    That being said, there are occations when a faster flow, and even some amount of pay and spray bursts can be useful, such as sports when timing is important etc, and there are occations when equipment that slows you down can help you restrain yourself, such as when excitement kicks in and adrenalin rushes, but mostly, the process before the trigger is pressed is not in the equipment but in the mind of the photographer.
     
  7. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The revelation is a bit like a near miss with a car, isnt it? Shocking and surprising. It gives pause to reflect.

    You do not need a highly automated, bells and whistles, wings-n-things camera for beautiful photography.
    It can all be done with a pinhole camera. Or a Kodak Tourist. Or a Speed Graphic. Add to the list.
    That automation is taking away from you what you should be doing, what you should be thinking about (which you did with the Tourist).

    You're not alone. My best images now don't come from an EOS1N now, but a Pentax 67 and a pinhole camera, both of which I meter manually.
    Importantly, it's how much you know about creating the image you want — visualising it and working toward it. It's not all the camera's fault. :smile:
    These advanced cameras (so, what are people buying $8,000 digitals for!?) are overkill for anything other than high speed sports, aerial, surveillance or studio/modelling work where speed, automation, reliability and refinement are requisites. I don't see how they are suitable for landscape work compared to bigger, better formats that require a more conscious, worked approach toward creating the image e.g. medium format, large format, ultra-large format...
     
  8. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Remember how big those other formats are out there. For example, 6x7 is a full 400% bigger than 35mm, 6x6 not far behind it.
    Yes, I know how good the bigger format (manually metered) prints look alongside the 35mm bespoke Ilfochromes out of a high end SLR.

    Yes, 120 film loading is a rip-roaring fumblefest, fraught with swear words way too naughty to print here (I'm no prude, sweets, and I can let anything and everything within earshot "have it"!). Yep, 10 to 12 images at most, maybe even a blank from tripping the shutter when you shouldn't have. And if you know what you're doing, those 10-12 pics be the best images you ever created. :smile:
     
  9. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Certainly. My exposures got better when I stopped relying on a meter. I still use one from time to time, but most of my shots have guessed exposure now. Always seems to be better than when I just shot in aperture priority mode.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Of course it's the photographer. Camera is just a box with a hole on it. (oh, ya, film, too....) But in reality, some people, like myself, need to be forced to THINK. Equipment can certainly help. I/we are so used to having so much of the "stuff" done automatically for us.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi tkamiya

    i couldn't agree more with what you said.
    it might be good photo kharma ...

    i love using box cameras for similar reasons
     
  12. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    Having switched back from fully auto-everything d'''''l to manually metered and focussed film cameras, I'm shooting a lot less and keeping a lot more.
    I think the harder you have to work at something and involve yourself in it, the better job you'll do.
     
  13. Griz

    Griz Member

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    I had the same experience shooting a covered bridge landscape using my ME Super and a Isolette II. Much better prints from the 6x6...

    Griz :smile:
     
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  15. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Agree with everyone else here, except that I do tend to be very deliberate with 35mm and even with the unmentionable medium. It takes me a long time to get through 36 frames! One thing that's nice for me about those 6x9 folders is that I don't have to wait so long and get through 8 sooner. I have several old cameras and pinhole cameras that I use as 1-shots.... place a piece of film over the gate, take it out, make one picture, then home to develop. Not only does that focus the mind, but it's a lot of fun!
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    People usually drive slower on their day off also.

    Could it be that when using older simpler equipment you are in a more relaxed frame of mind that if and when you are shooting for a living and working?

    The fact probably is that when people are working with their cameras, they probably don't use older simpler gear.

    Just asking?
     
  17. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    That would be a half century, right? :tongue:

    Medium format has a great balance between portability/ease of movement and the slower, contemplative pace you get with larger cameras. I find that my large format work is just too static for my tastes, and my 35mm work looks like it was shot by Bill the Cat. ACK!!
     
  18. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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  19. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I think the deeper truth is that many modern cameras have features that make 'getting the shot' more convenient and accessible - if you know what to do with the tools. The added functionality and capability adds nothing if you can't use it to its full potential.

    A trained eye can make just as important a photograph in a split second, as somebody working deliberately with an 8x10 sheet film camera.

    The most important picture I ever took was of my grandmother, with a simple Pentax KX and a 35mm lens, hand held in dim lighting. Incidentally, with respect to this conversation, she passed away today, and it made me realize just how important that picture is to me and all those that love her. Who cares what tools I used... The best camera and the best tool is the one you have with you and the one you know well and can react instinctively with. The rest simply is not important.
     

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  20. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Tom, that's an amazing image in and of itself. Thank you for sharing it, and sorry to hear of her passing.
     
  21. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Thomas, I'm so sorry to hear that and I'm glad you also have a photo of her that you love.




    I have my spray and pray moments with d--l, but have also been known to be slow and deliberate with even it. It just can be tough to get the brain to engage sometimes.
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    Beautiful work Thomas.

    I am sorry to hear of her passing.

    John
     
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Sorry to learn of your Grandmothers demise Thomas. The picture is a wonderful shot which I'm sure you will always treasure.
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    My condolences Thomas.

    My rule of thumb is that if I have to work hard to remember how to use a function on a camera, that function is an afterthought, and is just as likely to impede good photographs as it is to enable them.

    This is at least partially due to the fact that I have too many cameras.

    It also means that some camera designs are way more successful then others. As an example, I refer to something like a self timer. I use my self timers regularly (in lieu of a cable release). By far and away the best design is on my Olympus OM 20. In contrast, on my various Canon EOS bodies, it is always a head scratching moment to try to find the setting, much less figure it out.

    And don't get me started on "menus"!
     
  25. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    I also thought about the digital/film difference.
    In theory one can be as careful and deliberate in composition and choice of subjects with film as with digital.
    In practice, a devil in the back of most minds forces the photographer to be more sloppy with digital.
    That happens to me, partly due to the worse finding system of the digital, and partly due to the abovementioned devil.

    Something happens in the background of the mind when one uses film (vs. digital) or large format (vs. small format). More thinking, more selection, and probably even more attention, all of that more or less unconsciously I think.
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I'm a lot worse when I have a digital body in my hands. It's not unusual for me to come back with several hundred exposures. With 35mm, couple of rolls aren't all that unusual. I tend to spend up to what I brought with me if I find the subject interesting. I have some where I compose carefully and shoot. Then I tend to take several permutations which tend to waste a lot of frames. Some are experimental so there are some value in that.

    When I had 8 frame limit on my Kodak, that was it, so I examined each scene carefully. Did I miss anything? I guess it's depends on a point of view. It would be impossible to take some of the shots I took with my other gear but I did make some interesting composition (if I may say so myself) because of the limitation I had.

    Thinking back and considering many of my "photo trips", what's kind of interesting to me is, my "keeper per trip" rate doesn't seem to change all that much despite number of the shots I take....

    What troubles me about this equipment thing is, I tend to take stuff to cover all the 'what-if' situations. That means I'm carrying from ultra wide to tele and a flash. (they are often zooms) It makes me think, is it really necessary? Maybe one ultra wide and one normal? I haven't narrowed this down, yet.