I thought some readers might be interested in how I take the photos I post here, so here’s a quick rundown of my process.
Firstly there’s the equipment I use, generally I like to carry as little as I can so there’s no big back pack, no tripod or anything bulky. I’m normally walking with my camera in hand so I can quickly see how something looks through the viewfinder. If it’s interesting then I’ll stop and give it some thought to find the best angles, exposure and so on.
In general I carry a single camera with a single lens, and maybe a light meter. I don’t use a very extensive range of lenses, typically I use a 50mm or a wider 25mm for most of my photography. On special occasions I roll out my 15mm ultra-wide just for fun!
I do confess to having a range of different cameras to choose from though. For digital I use a Sony A7 with manual focus Carl Zeiss lenses. This is probably the only camera I’d actually need, but I also like old film cameras, and as they can be quite cheap to buy and often offer amazing image quality it’s hard not to build up a collection!
At the moment I have a Canon 7 rangefinder which is a bit knackered and could use some love, but is a lovely camera to hold and seriously capable with its 50mm F1.4 lens or the Voigtlander 15mm ultra-wide.
Moving into medium format film, I have a Fuji 690GSW, which has to be the bargain camera of the century. These are very easy to come by and probably take the best quality image you can get on roll film, if you can get past its novelty appearance of a normal camera apparently scaled up for giants. Mine is the wide angle version which makes it a serious landscape camera!
I also use a Rolleiflex, which I find more challenging because you have to focus by eye (is it sharp? Is it?) and the image in the viewfinder is left-right reversed. But it is a truly fantastic piece of engineering, and the lens is very good. It also generates some attention from by-standers!
I’m quite a slow shooter so my process involves a lot of walking around and deciding on what I’m trying to capture and how. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, taking such a considered approach yields a pretty high hit rate of pictures I end up keeping. Overall I usually expect to keep one in three of the pictures I shoot. This proves especially useful when I’m shooting film as each image has a cost associated with it.
On the downside I’m not great at capturing split second moments which happen unexpectedly. This has lead to me frantically spinning dials and taking a poorly executed picture so many times that I usually let it go by now and leave it to the street photographers who are much better at this than me! In the end I think you need to find a method that you enjoy and embrace its benefits, while working around its shortcomings.
I do use light meters, although recently I’ve been practising judging the light level by eye which is not so impossible as it sounds! But in difficult conditions I’ll use a meter to back me up. I use one of two meters, a small Sekonic incident meter which is really small and easy to carry around, and a much bigger Pentax spotmeter. The Spotmeter is a lovely piece of equipment because you can meter really accurately with it, although I do get approached surprisingly regularly by people who think I’m shooting a cine-8 video camera.
So that’s about it, please let me know if you have any questions about how I shoot, or just if you want to ramble about kit with another camera obsessive!