Last week, I wrote about digital pinhole photography. I did not write about my experiences using film-based cameras, in particular some medium-format vintage cameras. Neither did I focus on some lessons I learned. Remember, I have not been out to make images in two years now, but hope to break the jinx this coming week.
Where do I begin?
I’d like to divide this post into a few sections and in no specific order.
Some lessons I learned in recent times
With My Fujifilm XT-4
Let me start with my visit to Connaught Place in Delhi, using my Fujifilm XT-4. I used a 35 mm prime lens on the camera. This is what I call a “move your butt” lens because it forces the photographer to move. The Fujifilm XT-4 is a remarkable camera, but I must get used to the menu and the capabilities of the camera.
Some lessons I learned are:
· When you change your camera, invest the time to understand the system. It is obvious, right?
· Using a prime lens, as opposed to a zoom lens, has a massive impact on how you approach your photography and see an image. Now, I had:
o A fixed frame, instead of the wide-angle, normal and zoom views. In some ways, this is refreshing. But in other ways, this can be intimidating.
o You must move yourself to get the composition you want
o When doing street photography, it means you must get up and close to people. You can’t hide behind the massive zoom lens.
o The camera is so light, that you feel free.
With My Olympus OM-2n
Next, I will talk about the time I went out with my Olympus OM-2n. The lessons I learned here included the same lesson I learned with the Fujifilm XT-4. Yet, there are others.
1. I shot in manual focus only. Most of us depend on autofocus systems. Autofocus systems are fantastic, especially when you are doing street photography. When I am doing landscape work, I almost always place my camera on a tripod and shoot in manual mode. But here I was, on the street, shooting in manual mode after many years.
o This changes everything because now, I returned to my first discipline of anticipating action, focusing, and then pressing the shutter.
o In addition, I limited myself to one roll of film, which further meant I looked around with great care. I was seeing again.
With My Voigtlaender
Last, I will talk about the time I took my vintage Voigtländer out. What were the lessons I learned?
2. Composing the image was difficult because these old cameras have tiny viewfinders. My eyes strained as I peered through the viewfinder.
3. In addition, I used manual focus without the split prism that I have in my Olympus.
4. Third, I was back in my early days in photography when I had to calculate the exposure in my head.
5. These cameras flip open. The design is not ergonomic. It is a challenge to hold the camera steady, compose, focus and shoot.
6. I forgot that these use medium-format film, which may get exposed if I load the film in daylight.
7. And last: as opposed to a roll of 35-mm film in which I have 36 images, a medium-format film allows you to shoot up to 12 images per roll.
Last. The Old Masters
Here’s the last lesson I learned, when I was out shooting with the Olympus and the Voigtländer, I remembered the words of an American photographer. He said that people like Andre Kertesz, Ansel Adams, Minor White, etc., used very basic cameras. Yet they produced images we call consider timeless and classic.
We must keep learning, and we must keep moving.
- I have embedded my Amazon Affiliate Links into the Fujifilm section.
- I have my eyes on a Voigtlaender lens for my Fulifilm X-T4!