Following on from my previous post here is a sample of street photography images taken around Wellington using the Voigtlander Bessa R3A and 40mm Nokton lens. The film used was Kodak Ektar 100. These were mainly shot during my lunchtime jaunts around Wellington while escaping the confines of the office!
Recently, for my personal photographic work, I’ve been getting into using film cameras (with the exception of projects where speed and accuracy are required) such as the 35mm rangefinder Voigtlander Bessa R3A and the medium format Mamiya 645. I really enjoy using these manual cameras when I have the time, as I find that it slows the whole process of photography down and it becomes more meditative as there is so much to think about as compared with the speed and immediate feedback of using digital cameras. Coupled with the costs involved with shooting film, I find I need to conceptualize and plan images ahead of time, and really think about the camera settings required to get the shot, and indeed, whether I even want to make a photo. It is a great way to learn how to visualise how to construct an image, rather than relying on the view screen of a digital camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love using digital for the ease, convenience, speed and accuracy, but I also find it can make me lazy photographer through having the immediate feedback on the view screen.
Plus I love using the Voigtlander (a Leica M would be great for convenience) as it is a very small, lightweight camera which I can carry with me all the time. The pics below were shot on a roll of Ilford HP5. Colour pics to come in the next post!
I’ve always wanted to try high-speed black and white film just to see how grainy the film would be in low-light conditions. These images were shot one night on Wellington’s Courtenay Place using a Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder. Shooting on the Voigtlander and using black and white, 3200 ISO film gave the images a gritty, documentary quality suitable for the late night hedonism and drunken, boisterous atmosphere that makes for a typical weekend on Courtenay Place. The rangefinder is a small, manual operated camera, ideally suited to candid, reportage style photography, where discretion is required. As you can see, some of the shots are rather grainy (bad exposure on my part) and getting a correct exposure in situations where there was little light and fast-moving action was definitely challenging if you didn’t want to miss the moment, especially when shutter speeds were down to 1/15 second.
It’s been a while see I lasted posted anything. I have been working honest. I’ve been very busy developing two large projects – one portraiture and the other documentary – which are taking a rather large amount of time making contacts and organising shoots. More on this soon so watch this space…….In the meantime, here are a few images collected with my trusty Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder. I carry this camera everywhere I go (it’s smaller and far lighter than the DSLR) just in case I come across something interesting……..
A few weeks ago a few hundred people gathered in Wellington to protest the New Zealand governments proposed asset sales. An economic policy most of Europe experimented with 20 years ago. I used two cameras at this event: one digital Canon 5D mk iii and the other a film camera – a Voigtlander Bessa R3A shooting Ilford HP5 ISO 400 (plus a yellow filter). I find the comparison between the two mediums interesting. The digital is accurate, producing clean, colourful, and crisp pictures, whereas the B&W film produces a rough quality with a graphic contrast. Admittedly with digital I’m always disappointed when the auto-focus misses the subject or when there’s slight motion blur to ruin the image. With the B&W film shots, many of the images are not sharp and have a gritty, fluid quality to them. The soft images seem to suit the medium, and I prefer them to the clean digital versions. What do you think?
I recently bought a Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder film camera. Seeing as a digital Leica was out of my price range, I opted for the next best thing. I was looking for a camera which I could carry with me where ever I go, particularly when I have no specific plans for images to shoot. The digital SLR is far too heavy to lug around on a whim. I wanted a camera which was fully manual (with the exception of aperture priority), where the focus could be set without having to lift the camera to eye level, and which would be fast and discreet. I was looking for a good street or documentary shooter.
Compared with the Canon 5D mkiii with the 17-40mm lens, the Voigtlander is an incredibly small camera and very easy for me to take with me anywhere. The camera is very solidly built, and the shutter and film advance arm make a very crisp and satisfying sound. I’ve only run one roll of film through this camera at the moment and I am still experimenting with technique, but I’ve already noticed how discreet this camera can be – easily working within 1.5 metres of people.
The tricky thing with this camera, especially with a mid-range lens, is the depth of field. At f8 and a distance of 1.5 metres, the DOF is approximately 1 metre as read from the lens barrel (if you believe the iPhone DOF app, then DOF is a little over half a metre!).
As you can see with the above shots, when the light drops at ISO100, the depth of field become very narrow, and focusing becomes crucial. Accurately judging distance is a new skill I need to master!
The thing I am enjoying most about shooting with film is that it slows the whole process of photography down. I find that I am really having to think and visualise the type of picture I am going to get from the scene I am viewing. Whereas with digital, it’s easy to see the mistakes you have made, and then correct them. Plus due to the expense of film, processing and scanning (I hope to invest in a scanner at some point), I am a lot more selective with what I shoot.
Here are some more shots from the Voigtlander at Wellington’s Mount Crawford Prison open day: