Getting back to basics

I finally went and did it.

For years now, I’ve been searching for a retro-style camera, one with the classic layout of lens-based aperture and dedicated shutter speed dial on the top, something like the Olympus film cameras I photographically grew up with.

“For landscape photography, I want a high resolution full frame sensor which chucks out the kind of quality which shows the detail in a grain of sand in a 40 inch print.”

I adore my Canon 5Dii, it’s a beast, one I’ve been using for more than five years now, and despite knowing my way around it with my eyes shut, it still feels like a novelty every time I use it. Some people say your camera isn’t important but I disagree – you have to have respect for your camera or a part of the magical equation of photography is missing.

As a landscape camera it’s impeccable, and whilst I wouldn’t say no to improved ISO performance, I see myself using it for years to come.

Landscape photography is a genre with its own rules and conventions and corresponding ways of using the camera. For me, it demands consideration, time, and a clinical, precise approach which is different to, say, portraiture or street photography. That’s not to say that emotion or narration aren’t equally as important as in any other genre, but the difference is in the need to be clinical with elements such as composition and focus, whilst controlling exposure with filtration.

For this, I want a bigger, heavier, robust modern DSLR sat on a sturdy tripod, and I want time, space and solitude. Quality is of the essence; I want the very best quality lenses and filters I can get; I want a high resolution full frame sensor which chucks out the kind of quality which shows the detail in a grain of sand in a 40 inch print.

This is my art and I love it with every fibre of my being.

“It feels like stripping out everything extraneous and getting back to the pure essence of photography”

Yet there’s another side to photography which I’ve felt disconnected with for a little while; one which swaps precision and quality for spontaneity, flexibility and mobility.

For me, a big, swanky modern DSLR just doesn’t seem right for this, and for years now, I’ve found myself yearning to go back to a more traditional type of camera for non-landscape work, one which – at least on the surface – cuts out the bells and whistles and swaps plastic interchangeable switches for dedicated, old-fashioned chrome rotary dials.

In doing so, it feels like stripping out everything extraneous and getting back to the pure essence of photography.

Up until recently, my only tool for walkaround photography has been a Canon SX210. It’s a decent camera in its own right and I took my first serious landscape photograph with it, but it’s missing a viewfinder and hardly fits the traditional bill, whilst depth of field is seriously limited due to sensor size.

So I’ve been searching for something small and traditional for a few years now without too much luck. Nikon bought out the DF, which came bloody close, but didn’t quite fit the bill. I even considered going back to film cameras but it wasn’t really what I wanted.

Then, last January, I was at a party when a friend brought out his Fujifilm X100S. It was love at first sight, I was inseparable with it for the rest of the night.

I have, of course, heard about the mirrorless revolution, but I have to admit to getting stuck in my ways sometimes, so whilst following what Canon and Nikon were chucking out, I turned my nose up at the likes of Fuji and Sony.

“Photography is a beautiful and unique mix of art and science, of thought and emotion.”

But I was clearly wrong to do so, and just over a year since that party last January, I’ve finally gone and treated myself. What a camera, it fits the bill exactly.

I’ll perhaps talk about the camera itself another time, but the headline has been what it’s done for my photography. For the first time in a long time, I’ve fallen in love with photography all over again, like I’m discovering it for the first time. It’s been a revelation to my photography.

When I first got into photography, I discovered the joy of simply walking around photographing whatever caught my eye. It’s a unique and engaging activity which you can get utterly lost in. You start to see more detail in the things around you; expressions on peoples’ faces, interactions between friends, light and shadow in buildings.

My new Fuji has brought this joy back to me. I’m back to never leaving home without a camera; I’m stopping in the street and photographing things I’ve walked past for ten years without noticing. I’ve even taken a few portraits! Whilst opening my eyes to street and walkaround photography, it’s also reignited my passion for landscape photography.

Photography is a beautiful and unique mix of art and science, of thought and emotion. As such, it provides an immensely powerful tool for emotional expression. I’m very excited to have found the
perfect tool to bring this back to life for me.

I’ve created a new Instagram account for my non-landscape photography, so take a look, and if you’re also a street/walkaround photographer, give me a follow so I can check out your work too.

 

 

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