Artistic

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This piece was originally written for the website 35mmc. If you haven’t visited Hamish’s site yet, do it.

This is a camera that I would guess everyone is familiar with. It’s not a complicated piece of machinery and millions were made in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Made famous in the UK by various tv commercials, it is simple to use with range focusing, an internal battery powered by the selenium cell around the fixed lens, and a cunning way of preventing you taking pictures when there’s insufficient light. It raises (literally) a red flag and locks the shutter release. It’s not foolproof, however, as I have managed to prove once or twice.

The 5 images were taken during a recent trip to Manhattan. We were visiting a cousin in NJ and I wanted to go to B&H in New York. I considered what camera I should take, I had a Fuji X-E2s, a Nikon F90x with colour film loaded, and my Trip with JCH Street Pan 400 black and white. New York? Black and white. No question. I hadn’t tried this film before but I have a preference for contrasty black and white and had seen other results on Flickr and various Facebook groups. It was a sunny day so it was an easy choice. I’ll be shooting some Ferrania P30 soon and that has a similar feel from what I’ve seen so far.

The roll was developed in Blazinal, which I believe is the trade name used in Canada for Rodinal. Blazinal is, again, a developer that brings out lots of contrast without having to make any adjustments to the standard developing time, so gave me the look I wanted with minimal effort. A win-win. So presented below are 5 of the results of that trip, images of 2017 Manhattan given a classic feel by a 1970’s camera.

Manhattan 2017
Inside the Oculus – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
The Naked Cowboy – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
NYPD – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
The Runner – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
The 9/11 Memorial – JCH Street Pan 400

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There are some times when, to feel fully creative, one needs to just let go of the norms, open your mind to the great possibilities that are out there and break out into something new. I’ve been reading a lot of work by the Canadian photographer David Duchemin recently, both his blogs and some of his published work, such as the The Vision Driven Photographer. David encourages you to open your mind, to try to reach for the creativity that all of us have to some degree or other. While I don’t feel that I am, or ever could be, the world’s most creative photographer, I do believe that with the technology available to us, everyone’s creativity today can be enhanced to levels that would have been almost impossible only a few years ago.

Whether the audience who sees my work are appreciative or not is a different story. The difficulty with impressionist photography, or Photographic Jazz as I’m thinking of calling it – maybe I could copyright that term? – is that it is, by definition, outside what is considered ‘normal’ photography. It will not win any prizes in the local camera clubs, that’s pretty much a nailed-on certainty, but it is an expression of art, of creativity, and – possibly very luckily – I don’t depend on it to earn my living. But when an idea comes I get a knotted feeling of anticipation in my stomach, I need to plan, to make notes, to think about where I’m going and what I need to do, to visualise what the finished picture could look like.

Heart Lake
Multiple exposure – Wind on Heart Lake

Recently I bought a new Fuji X-E2s mirrorless camera. I love the quality of my DSLRs, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve no plans to trade them in just yet, but the light weight of the Fuji plus the quality of the images from the APS-C sensor frees me to carry this camera everywhere and to have complete confidence that the images are going to be first rate. One of the techniques that had been on my mind for some time is the photo montage, a series of pictures of the same object from slightly different viewpoints, blended together to make a new composite.

With the Fuji in my bag I was able to take it to work so I could take the necessary shots during my lunch hour. No huge weekend plans to be made, no disruption to family life, just a quick trip across the road at lunch, take the shots and then back to the office. So much easier than having to cart the DSLR around. That’s why I’m going to love mirrorless; not just because it’s light, not just because of the image quality but because it frees me to just take pictures, it opens up opportunities to encourage and build that creativity.

Toronto schoolbus
Composite – 700 University Avenue, Toronto

Marilyn Towers
The ‘Marilyn’ towers, Mississauga

Queens Park
Bowl of Light, Queen’s Park, Toronto

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