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06-22-2009, 04:14 PM   #1
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Film photography Zen?

Hello,

I have been reading not long time ago on "The Online Photographer" the proposition of shooting during one year with one 35mm camera, one 50mm lens and one film. While this program might be a little bit drastic and create some form of withdrawal, there is some appeal to it as it is suppose to improve your understanding of key tones, composition,......

To date I have been trying out several films in both b&W and color, without really coming to any kind of strong consensus with myself regarding film choice which sometime feels a little big like chasing your tail but most of the time just create anticipation of what a new film would look like.
Hell last week-end I even took out my digital rig for a spin after several weeks of inaction (I enjoyed the spot metering, the immediate feed-back both on LCD and on computer and hated the dynamic range even on well exposed shots)

So I am thinking of going in the "program" maybe for three months. Trouble is I am not even sure of what the "program" would be.

One ISO for one B&W and one color film - i.e. TriX 400 and Portra VC 400 or FP5 125 and Ektar 100
-or-
Only B&W two ISO - i.e. TMax 100 and TMax 400
-or-
TriX 400 period.

"Only" 3 lenses - i.e. all 3 Limited
-or-
Only the 43mm Ltd or the 50mm F1.7

"Only" the LX (not that the film body changes a lot of things apart from my own comfort), tripod as needed, incident and spot meter.

Does any of you has done this kind of exercise before? Any suggestion?


Cheers,

Luc

06-22-2009, 04:35 PM   #2
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This is how I shoot 99% of the time. I have a 80-205 for my OM-1. It sees the light of day maybe twice per year. I shoot with a K1000 and a 6x7 and prime lenses. There's freedom in cutting the fat. Take away options and you start getting different, and better results.
06-22-2009, 05:40 PM   #3
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For a while there I was shooting almost all ASA160, 35mm SLR, Kodak Retina, 120 folding cameras... and there was something soothing about the experience, I mean I got to know exposure without metering pretty well. And except for the occasional 35mm lens, everything was more or less 50mm equivalent.

Another variation is to shoot with just one lens - and one film - for a day, a week, a month. This also clarifies vision and sharpens the eye. This is another thing I do fairly often.

Actually, I dislike carrying around >1 lens, most of the time. And that 1 isn't even a zoom usually.

So I'd recommend: don't complicate things. Keep to 1 film, or at least 1 film speed through out. Pick a norma-lish (the 43 is great for this sort of thing, my favorite) lens and stick with it. Perhaps allow yourself 1 step wider or longer (but not both!), and again, if you change lenses, either switch right back after the special situation, or keep the new one on the rest of the day. Actually you might end up doing this naturally, as I find myself liking the normal length more and more, and switching back to it pretty fast from even a 35mm lens. (That is, when I'm not forcing myself to only use a 35)

Perhaps there is something to one lens for 3 months or a year... but I find most of the benefit comes from a disciplined daily simplification.

Last edited by Nesster; 06-22-2009 at 05:49 PM.
06-22-2009, 06:45 PM   #4
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Let me know how it works out for you, because nothing has been working to inspire ME.

I thought this would change after Obama was elected, but I'm still the same old lazy, uninspired amateur that I was before that.

06-22-2009, 06:47 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
For a while there I was shooting almost all ASA160,
Another variation is to shoot with just one lens - and one film - for a day, a week, a month. This also clarifies vision and sharpens the eye. This is another thing I do fairly often.
Perhaps there is something to one lens for 3 months or a year... but I find most of the benefit comes from a disciplined daily simplification.
Well this is pretty much also what I am doing quite frequently.
One 24 exposure roll, one lens, one day.
To the point that I sometime wonder why I have so many camera bags

But I think that I will extend that to several weeks with the same film.

Cheers,

Luc
06-22-2009, 06:59 PM   #6
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I have used my DTL 1000 Mamiya for 30 yr now. All mechanical...the battery onlt moves the meter needle. It has spotmeter and uses one common "76" type 1.5v...which is good for 3 yr. All I had was primes..but a decent selection. It's screwmount...like a Spotmatic -but a bit bigger. Due to the simple analog quality of a center needle and the DOF awareness of stopdown metering...It kept me in tune with the real stuff. I added a DSX 1000...almost the same but meters without having to stop down....and now I also have some zooms and uograded from manual to auto bellows. Pretty ideal for Macro and lowlight....not real good for "people" shots. For landscape/seascape,I still like the Soligor 35 2.0 I've used since 1980.
I've done rolls on seascapes just carrying the 35 and a 100 2.8. I've done "stage" shots..music...indoors or out with the same two fat Sigma's,a 135 1.8 and a 300 4.0,and must say that in the dark when theres a crowd..the simpleness of the old screw mount and that spotmeter can't be beat.

Now I have a few other bodies,including a 90's era ZX-5....find I'm not that into autofocus and sold all but one AF. I lean on my favorite SP Tamrons,the 60-300,the 35-80 2.8 Macro (a VERY sharp zoom + great macro) and the Pentax 100 macro,but I do still like primes sometimes,and have the K mount for the fat sigma's as well as the M 42 mount.

I've bought and sold quite a bit of gear the last 2 years and the one body I sort of wish I kept was a Cosina C-1. It's kind of like a MX with a 1/2000 top speed and an odd rubberized upper so you don't fuss about scuffs or brassing. Simple 3 LED viewfinder and all manual. If it had spot meter I'd have kept it for sure.

The full zen probably comes when you do B+W and do your own develop + print.
The developer and toner gives some extra alchemy as does the paper used. You can catch light in it's pure analog state..yet manipulate it too. Kodachrome 25 had it's own special zen....it made me work more on the details.

Optically.....digital shooters are often using the modern ulra zooms that go 18-200 and such. These can't match a zoom with a narrower range...and especially can't touch a good prime. Some DSLR folk adapt to M42...get some SMC Takumars,a Zeiss Jena,a Meyer Optik,a EBC Fujinon and catch some zen there.

A lot of it...is to slow down. Digi encourages one to just fire away and hope to get the right shot...like a soldier with an AK 47 in "spray and pray" mode. With one shot from a well used sniper rifle...another soldier cuts that guy down and moves on. The best shots I ever did...I KNEW were the full magic...and I just got them and walked away.
06-22-2009, 09:05 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Redwood Quote
The best shots I ever did...I KNEW were the full magic...and I just got them and walked away.
Yes! That's what it's all about.
06-23-2009, 07:33 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lbenac Quote
Hello,

I have been reading not long time ago on "The Online Photographer" the proposition of shooting during one year with one 35mm camera, one 50mm lens and one film. While this program might be a little bit drastic and create some form of withdrawal, there is some appeal to it as it is suppose to improve your understanding of key tones, composition,......

To date I have been trying out several films in both b&W and color, without really coming to any kind of strong consensus with myself regarding film choice which sometime feels a little big like chasing your tail but most of the time just create anticipation of what a new film would look like.
Hell last week-end I even took out my digital rig for a spin after several weeks of inaction (I enjoyed the spot metering, the immediate feed-back both on LCD and on computer and hated the dynamic range even on well exposed shots)

So I am thinking of going in the "program" maybe for three months. Trouble is I am not even sure of what the "program" would be.

One ISO for one B&W and one color film - i.e. TriX 400 and Portra VC 400 or FP5 125 and Ektar 100
-or-
Only B&W two ISO - i.e. TMax 100 and TMax 400
-or-
TriX 400 period.

"Only" 3 lenses - i.e. all 3 Limited
-or-
Only the 43mm Ltd or the 50mm F1.7

"Only" the LX (not that the film body changes a lot of things apart from my own comfort), tripod as needed, incident and spot meter.

Does any of you has done this kind of exercise before? Any suggestion?


Cheers,

Luc
I'm sort of doing this- shooting almost exclusively with my K1000, a M 50 1.7, and at least two rolls a week of I'm not sure which B&W film yet (I've tried several, I'll know soon which one I like best). The setup is quite compact and goes with me everywhere. Once I get back from Australia (business trip for three weeks) I plan on spending some time learning how to develop my own negatives as well.

I've been doing this for like three weeks now and haven't touched my K20 much since. I miss the instant feedback a lot, but I actually enjoy the process more because the viewfinder feels like I'm looking through a window instead of a tunnel, if you know what I mean; and having a great fast 50 lens with that field of view is just a pleasure (75mm equivalent is too long for me).

Keep us updated on what film you choose!

06-23-2009, 09:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ILoveVerdi Quote
I'm sort of doing this- shooting almost exclusively with my K1000, a M 50 1.7, and at least two rolls a week of I'm not sure which B&W film yet (I've tried several, I'll know soon which one I like best). The setup is quite compact and goes with me everywhere. Once I get back from Australia (business trip for three weeks) I plan on spending some time learning how to develop my own negatives as well.

I've been doing this for like three weeks now and haven't touched my K20 much since. I miss the instant feedback a lot, but I actually enjoy the process more because the viewfinder feels like I'm looking through a window instead of a tunnel, if you know what I mean; and having a great fast 50 lens with that field of view is just a pleasure (75mm equivalent is too long for me).

Keep us updated on what film you choose!
Try Tri-x in Rodinal. If you don't mind grain.
06-23-2009, 10:17 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jake67 Quote
Try Tri-x in Rodinal. If you don't mind grain.
Thanks, I'll take the suggestion! I've heard great things about it.
06-23-2009, 10:33 AM   #11
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I read that TOP challenge and I'm planning to take it up myself albeit by simply rolling a couple dozen catridges of Plus-X and dedicating my K1000 to the effort. I used my K1000 and an M50/2 exclusively for the better part of 10 years, not by design but rather due to my modest means at the time. It was a great experience but mostly I like the technical consistency of my photographs from that time.

I hope I can return to my best form of achieving a high hit rate with my shots. There was a time when I'd shoot a 12-exposure roll of Kodacolor and get maybe 7 or 8 shots I liked. Now I can shoot 100 shots with my K200D and I get 7 or 8 shots I like.
06-24-2009, 08:47 AM   #12
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I started a "program" of my own of sorts about a month ago in an effort to improve my skill set. I am only shooting B&W film out of all manual screwmount bodies (except for a point and shoot digital for ebay listings and I feel guilty using it now). I am not limiting myself to one lens or one type of film though since I have the free freezer full of old expired black and white.

Plan was to stick to this for a year, shooting at least a few pictures a day. In a way forcing myself to learn more about exposure, using existing lighting, composition, etc... The "art", not the technology. I can see what I want to produce in the picture, but can't always get it with my current skills. I am hoping that at after a year I will maybe get myself from the level bumbling rookie with occasional lucky shots to a serious amateur that can look at something and produce what is in my mind onto the film.
06-24-2009, 09:39 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jake67 Quote
This is how I shoot 99% of the time. I have a 80-205 for my OM-1. It sees the light of day maybe twice per year. I shoot with a K1000 and a 6x7 and prime lenses. There's freedom in cutting the fat. Take away options and you start getting different, and better results.
That's intersting and something I really need to do. I started photography as a hobby a year and a half ago. I spent a lot of time building up an "inventory" of camera bodies and lenses. I love to shoot and am still learning; however, I spend too much time deciding which camera and lenses to use when I do shoot. And, I have to re-learn how to use a particular camera. It's not bad switching from my K1000 to my KX, or from my ME to the ME Super, but it gets stupid going from any of those to my Ricohs or to my Pentax autofocus cameras, or even a few of my Pentaxc program cameras. I need to thin the herd and keep a few, learn them well and just enjoy photography. Guess I can't decide what functions I like best and which of them fit my style.
06-26-2009, 04:19 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by scimitar12 Quote
I need to thin the herd and keep a few, learn them well and just enjoy photography....
Maybe -- though there's also nothing wrong with enjoying collecting. If you've got more than you need, but don't know what fits your style best, you might just want to pick a camera and use it exclusively for a while. Or two. Myself, I enjoy having a variety around just to play with now and then, or loan to friends, or keep on a display shelf for the heck of it. There are some I never use, but there's no obligation for that.
06-26-2009, 06:15 PM   #15
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It can't be done. Well maybe if you use a 35mm lens instead...

Chris
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