Don’t leave your camera at home. Your camera should be an extension of your eyes, like a pair of glasses. Without it you should feel like you are missing a part of yourself. I know it is a pain to luge a DSLR with you every where you go, but why not a point and shoot, a film camera or at the least your cell phone. You never know when the opportunity to capture an exciting image will occur. I do my best to always have at the least my Canon G10 or a 35mm film camera with me. As an example of why, the photo above was taken at the Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Fest. A few miles from my home, I went with the girls and grabbed my Canon on the way out the door. The sky was unique and resulted in a few photos that I love. So…
Don’t forget your camera!
A few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to shoot with a wonderful vintage camera, a Hasselblad 500C. I have learned a few lessons with this camera.
Take your time.
There is no rush when using a medium format camera. The 500c doesn’t have an onboard meter, so I used a vintage light meter to check the exposure. Then you focus and then pop up a little magnifying glass to get the focus just right. This while looking down, the image is reversed so you have to really be aware of the direction the lens in pointed. This process takes time, then you do it again to make sure the photo will come out. Remember a tripod is your friend.
6×6 is a challenge.
The challenge of composing a photo in the square format is a lot different than trying to do the same with 35mm film. If you want to have good photos don’t assume that the same type of composition will work.
Shooting film will make you think more!
Only 12 photos on a roll of 120 film. You have to really think about the photo you are planning to take prior to pressing the shutter. There is chance to view the moment after, no delete button. Only the hope that you got the photo you intended. This will make you a better photographer and when you do shoot digitally you will get more “keepers”.
Embrace and learn from your mistakes.
Arrogantly I thought that I would be able to spool and develop medium format film, just like I had 35mm. Boy was I wrong. This was my first attempt at developing 120 film. When I spooled the it on the reel I ended up having it lay on top of itself and not get developed properly. I know I need to get more practice getting the film spooled properly. I will have the chance when I start taking my Yashica twin lens out. It would probably help if I used the more modern plastic reels and tank versus the stainless steel ones I currently have. I did get a chance to embrace my mistake with the shot above. It ended up looking kind of cool with the damage to the negative.
I loved shooting with the Hasselbad, it makes a distinctive sound when the shutter is pressed. I’m glad I had the chance to learn and improve on my skills. In the future expect to see more medium format film photos posted by me.
Last year I decided to enter a competition. Not surprising-I’m competitive. What was surprising is that I entered a nature photography competition. I have never been one to stand and wait for nature to come to me, or really been a big fan of taking landscape or nature photography. The reason I entered the contest was to push my comfort zone. I know where my strong points in photography are, but how could I strengthen my weak points? Could I take excellent pictures of nature? This pushed me to go outside of my typical photography style and learn new techniques. I learned to use a super telephoto lens correctly, how to wait for an animal to “pose” for the portrait and how to compose nature and wildlife shots. After months of waiting and photographing different aspects of an conservation area, as assigned by the contest, I finally came up with this photo. I, of course, had to stalk this green heron for an hour before he or she “posed” for me. Proudly this photo of the Green Heron won second place in the competition. I am glad I went outside of my usual photography comfort zone, and became a better photographer because of it.
Its official I am obsessed!
Obviously I am obsessed with photography. That is a simple one, but I am coming to realize I am obsessed with a a women. I love looking at pictures of her, but really I love looking at the photos she took. Her name is Vivian Maier, and I am not a bit ashamed that I am obsessed with her. If you know the Vivian Maier story keep reading, if not go here and read this first. The story is incredible, yes, but that is only a small part of why I am writing this. Vivian Maier’s photography is incredible. This past weekend I had a chance to check out the Vivian Maier’s Chicago exhibit at the Chicago History Museum, most of the prints I had seen at one point or another, impressive, what I expected. What I wasn’t expecting was around the perimeter of the room. There lies the reason I am obsessed with Vivian. The exhibit has photos from complete rolls of film. 12 shots (a complete roll of 120 format film) taken at different locations and points in time of Chicago’s history. I am amazed at how many flawless shots she was capturing in a row. If you have ever seen the contact sheets of most street photographers you know that it typically takes a photographer a few attempts before nailing what Henry Cartier-Bresson calls the decisive moment. Besides the single moments that have made Ms. Maier famous, the mastery she proves in 12 shots has left me speechless. I wish I was able to capture or express the emotions I felt checking out what is one of the greatest photographers in Chicago’s history, but alas I can’t do so with words. I will try my best to capture those emotions with photos as I continue my journey in photography.
Thank you Vivian Maier for being an inspiration to me!
My wife doesn’t thank you for me wanting a camera similar to what you used.
Most photographers get into photography because they are passionate about it. What drives this passion? Fun. It is important for me to have fun when out shooting. This past summer my daughter and I attended the Waukegan Air Show and had lots of fun taking photos of the airplanes. I was able to use the high speed motor drive of my Canon 7D to really take some exciting aviation photos. This being one of my favorites. This photo is all about having fun and capturing exciting moments. I can’t wait until the show next year.
You have probably read all about why film is better than digital or digital is better. What ever side of the fence you fall on this post is not about that. This is why I still shoot film.
Film makes me a better photographer. It has limitations; number of shots on a role, set ASA number, frames per second, and more. I add limitations to that as well; I use set lens focal lengths and manual focus cameras. How do these limitations make me better? Well I’m glad you asked. Having a limited number of shots forces me to be a more deliberate shooter. I need to make sure that the subject is one I truly feel strongly about. This goes hand in hand with a set number of frames per second. I cannot rely on my camera’s speed to capture a moment, I need to anticipate what will be happening. Having a set ASA number pushes me to have a steady hand, at times I need to be able to use a slower shutter speed than I am typically comfortable with. In order to have the shot be sharp I need to be able to hold the camera still. Limiting the focal length forces me to look at the world differently. I know I cannot zoom in with my feet staying still, I have to move to compose my shots. The last thing on the list is manual focus. Having to focus the lens by hand allows me to recognize focus points faster, sometimes an autofocus lens just cannot pick focus correctly and I know this will not slow me down.
Those are the practical reasons why I still shoot film. On to the non-practical. When I was young my father taught me how to shoot with a Canon AE-1. I learned everything I know about photography from him and Canon. I still know the layout of that AE-1 like the back of my hand. Shooting with film also holds a special nostalgia for me. There is something special about the wait. Not knowing if your photos will be great, or that you captured the precise moment in time is magical. I also enjoy the feel of vintage cameras. The old metal and leatherette is something that you need to experience if you haven’t had the chance to.
I don’t shoot solely on film and appreciate the speed and ease of processing digital. I just hope we never lose the opportunity to use film for photography even if it is solely for the nostalgia.
How can I capture the emotion I felt while touring Seville Cathedral with a photograph? That was the thinking behind this photo. The cathedral itself is extremely impressive, both in size and significance. I wanted to capture both the size and the religious significance, a daunting task but I feel that this photo taken hand held from behind Christopher Columbus’ tomb recognizes both. The silhouette is one of four stone pallbearers holding up the tomb.
I have to say that the Seville Cathedral, from a photographer’s point of view, is overwhelming. There are interesting photos everywhere you look.
I will be taking the next couple weeks off from posting to enjoy my Christmas break. More photos and my thinking behind them in 2012.
Occasionally you are out shooting an image just hits you. On this day I headed to a road I take to work everyday. To the right of this road a small lake had dried out and between the clouds in the sky and the dried lake, it would be an impressive scene. After shooting photos of the lake, I began to walk back to my car. At one point I turned over my shoulder and noticed how dramatic a completely empty road (in itself an odd thing in Chicagoland) looked. Making sure there was no traffic, I shot out to the middle of the street and captured this. Not something you would expect to see near Chicago, this image reminds me of how interesting the day to day we travel is.
Behind the Shot will be the place where I share the story behind the capture of the photo. Don’t expect a lot of technical details, there are plenty of blogs where you can find that info. I wanted to share a little of the thoughts and emotions that make capturing photos special to me.
The first photo is one of my favorites from a trip to Spain this past spring. Every Sunday in Madrid there is a huge outdoor market. It seems that all of Madrid hits the streets for El Rastro after attending church in the morning. Walking around with my family and daughter I hear the sound of a Spanish guitar being played by a street performer. As my wife and daughters move on to look at one of the many booths, I find myself drawn to the guitar player. As I walk closer I see this gentleman, who is playing beautiful classical guitar music. I am on his left side and his body is facing away, I pull the camera to my eye and focus on capturing the expression on his face. As I go to snap the photo he turns and opens his body towards the camera. I snap the photo above. Only after I bring the camera down do I notice that his right hand is actually a hook! In amazement I hung around for a few more moments listening to El Gancho play.
I have a limited number of framed and signed gallery quality prints available to purchase. Contact me if you would like to own one.