Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pushing Through Addendum

When I wrote the last two Pushing Through articles, I used a couple of photos from one of my favorite cameras; my 1939 Voigtländer Bessa 6x9. I love using that camera and am always wonderfully surprised when I see the results. There is a lot of fuss made about lenses these days. How many elements in how many groups, what kind of coating, rotating or fixed front element, etc. Here's what I have to say about that. Photography is art (unless you are doing scientific or some other kind of strictly documentary photography). The artist needs to use the tools that will give him or her the results that are pleasing to them. If you like tack sharp perfection of contrast and color, then you should stick with modern lenses, preferably high-end ones. I have gone that route and even got caught up in 'pixel peeping' to make sure that my images were just as sharp as they possibly could be with the equipment I had. Then I rediscovered film via the Holga. This 'opened my eyes' to a world of color and shapes and blur and haze that I sort of knew existed, but never thought much about. That little plastic meniscus lens opened doors into creative spaces in my brain that I didn't know were there. Then I started buying old cameras and old film to see where that would lead and it took me deeper into those places. These days, I don't mind taking a shot or two with my DSLR or even on my phone (if required), but when I want to really be creative, I get out an old camera. Maybe it has a really nice lens (for its day), maybe it doesn't. In the case of these photos taken with my Bessa, the lens is a decent 'triplet' type without any coatings. The focus is done by estimation of the distance to the subject and exposure is measured either with a hand-held meter or by 'sunny sixteen'. These are not the sharpest, most contrasty, color accurate photos I could make, but I love the way this camera 'interprets' the light. It fits well with my artistic vision.

These were taken on Kodak Ektar 100 film. I don't shoot this film very often, but it does a very nice job rendering color in a vivid but accurate way. Compare these to the shots done with the same camera on expired Tri-X. Leave a comment if you have an opinion about which are better. Lake Morena Oak

Lake Morena Ruins