Lately as I’ve scrolled through my “friends” posts on Flickr, Facebook, and Google+ I’ve done just that – scrolled through. Very few have made me stop and look. Most have left a different impression. An impression of the processing over the content. As Jay Maisel would say: “I don’t want to see the fine hand of the photographer”.
As I take my first steps exploring my photography through film, and I see the results of a well exposed B&W, I am reminded of the Stieglitz and the early masters. Their photographs had a quality that, although they used many developing and darkroom techniques to coax the best prints from their exposures, never exposed to the fine hand of the photographer over the fine mind of the photographer.
In this image, which I entitled “The Tower”, the representation of the clouds and sky that has been brought out simply by allowing my roll of Ilford Delta 100 to express the magic baked into the science of its emulsion. The final result is not something, I fear, that I would have ever pre-visualized. I am afraid that I have been too steeped in the 21st century digital mania to have done a digital color to B&W conversion with this subtlety.
Here is my second image of Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall in Los Angeles taken on film with a Hasselblad 500 C/M and 80mm Planar lens.
An implication of shooting medium format is that, due to the prohibitive cost of an entry-level medium format digital camera or digital back, I now need to work with film. At first I was intimidated. Although I have blossomed as a photographer using digital, I can also see how it makes us lazy. It has made me lazy in evaluating composition and lazy in evaluating exposure. I shoot, look at the back of the camera, adjust, and shoot again. If I get close, I move on remembering the digital mantra, “I can fix it in post”.
I built my plan to use a digital camera for proofing the exposure and composition before committing an image to film. After reading and re-reading Ansel Adam’s The Negative, I carefully metered the scene both using spot metering and evaluative metering. I was interested in see the difference between what I might set thinking through the Zone system and the evaluative metering the camera would suggest. I also bracketed one stop lighter for fear of losing detail in the shadows, as Mr. Adams so carefully warns.
While my outing at Morro Bay provided a nice warm up, today’s trip to the Disney center was just the canvas I needed to continue my search for simple. These are proof images off my Oly OM-D w/40 mm lens (which roughly matches the point-of-view of the Hasselblad 80mm lens). In the field, some of these were shot in B&W (Ilford Delta 100) and others in color (Kodak Ektar 100). I’m very interested to see how they come out. Oh, and by the way, there is almost NO processing of these images except to find the right square crop. I was much more particular about what I shot and how I exposed.