"Oh... They looked so much better through the little hole."
--My daughter Alison, after getting back her first roll of film.
|Greece, Summer 2005||Greece, Spring 2005||New York City, 2004 (coming soon)|
|Bangkok, 2003||Greece, 2000||Colorado, 1995|
|Chicago to Mackinac 2008||Alison's Birthday, 2005||Bonine Retirement 2004|
|Columbo Golf 2004||Chicago to Mackinac 2005||Corinthian Beercan 2004|
|Maryland Christmas 2003||Chicago to Mackinac 2003||Miami 2003|
|Vegas Bachelorette Party 2002||New Orleans LISA 2000||Smokie Mountains 1998|
When you show your carefully-made and carefully-selected images to people, you might think they would ask "Do you find it hard to find a composition that works when you shoot architecture" or maybe "How do you decide if an image has a universal enough theme to show it to the world?". You might even hope for "Do you think there is any chance of formalizing the photographic aesthetic?"
Prepare to be dissapointed.
Instead, they will reduce everything you've learned to "What kind of camera do you use?" Michael Simon, a retired professor of photgraphy at Beloit College got so sick of the priority placed on equipment that he tells of attending conferences with a pinhole camera around his neck. Where can you take the conversation from there? In my experience, your best bet is to concede defeat and tell them. Don't dwell on it though. The more you talk about your camera, lenses, bags, etc, the more important people with think that it is.
That said, here is as much as I will say on the topic:
Between 1986 (when I got my first 35mm camera) and 2000 I used the Minolta Maxxum system. I started with a Maxxum 7000, and then bought a 700si in 1994, so it looks like I get about 8 years out of a 35mm body before I upgrade. I used these lenses:
In early 2001, after months of comparing systems, I decided to switch to Nikon. I bought an F5 and over the next year, these lenses:
My opinons on making the switch in a nutshell:
I finally converted to digital in 2004. It was just a matter of time before the cameras got good enough at the right price. In case anybody is still sitting on the fence, some pros and cons:
For Black and White, I shoot Tri-X (rated at 400). Everyone raves about T-Max sharpness, but for some reason I can't seem to get any intermediate shades of gray out of it.
For prints, I recently switched from Kodak Royal Gold 400 to Fuji Super Press-G 800. Once upon a time, I was really uptight about using 100ASA film for the sharpness, but until I can afford fast zooms, I have to use faster film.
The Galleries section above are from transparencies shot on Fuji Velvia , but I carry some Provia or Sensia for lower-light situations. With Velvia (ASA 50), you either 1) carry a tripod, 2) sacrifice some depth of field or 3) shoot extra pictures, hope for good ones, lose a few here and there. I opt for solutions 2 and 3.
Since 2000, I've been developing all my E-6 film at Lab One Inc. in downown Chicago. They are a professional service bureau, and it absolutely shows. I've also had 35mm slides scanned to Kodak Photo-CD., and had Lamda digital prints made there, all with excellent results. Needless to say, I do all my critical work there.
35mm color film developing remains a pain in the ass. Right now, I'm recommending MotoPhoto franchises which have Fuji digital printing systems. Pro labs are usually overkill, and very expensive for snapshots. The automatic machines at local Walgreens or Wolf stores will develop negatives reasonably well, but they don't pay the machine operators enough to assure that your prints will be any good. Theoretically, if you're unhappy with your prints, they will reprint them, but not usually with the same 1-hour service. As a result, most people don't bother, and they know that. Still, even mediocre prints are a lot cheaper than paying close to $20.00 a roll for developing and a proof sheet at someplace like Lab One.
I've had some success in writing DO NOT COMPENSATE on the envelope when dropping them off to keep the operator from "fixing" all of my exposures.
If I'm looking to print quickie 5x7 or 8x10 enlargements from negatives, I've acutally had pretty good luck at Kodak Create-A-Print-II machines at a local Wolf Camera and Video. These machines generate real chemically-developed prints (as opposed to the Kodak Creation Station systems which are all digital and show it.)
There is a wealth of other photgraphers' experience online at photo.net, but here are my core recommendations:
Tired of color? Mortals like you and I will never quite achieve what André Kertész did in Hungary and Paris in the 1930s. Kertész made most of his photographs in black and white, and shot almost exclusively with a 35mm camera. I've written some introductory information, a bibliography and some book reviews that might get you interested in his work.
If you want to learn about making pictures, you really want to start at www.photo.net, an online community of photographers started by Phil Greenspun.