David's Blog

Month: August, 2013

John Cahiaro- How Big Do You Need?

I found this video through Lens Culture, it’s a well made short documentary about a fascinating subject. As a fan of big photography I was really amazed by the images produced. I have for a while now been digitally stitching photographs together to create one very large image. John Cahiaro creates one photograph big enough to actually fit in with a camera that you have to actually drive around and walk inside off! Amazing.

Watch the video, go on his website and tell me what you think.

Death of Kodak, does it really matter?

Here is a bizarre Guardian article lamenting the death of kodak and with it (the writer proclaims) our creativity.

The article draws a straw man between film Vs instagram and sidesteps the far larger issue of film Vs digital. My first camera was a Canon T70 and I snapped on it for a happy ten years before the mechanism died and I down-dated to a Canon A1. In 2011 I got my first Digital Camera, a Canon EOS 600D. I still occasionally use my A1 and just the other week was snapping with some 110 film (results hopefully will be uploaded onto this blog soon). What this paragraph is trying to show is that I am an enthusiastic amateur who has been happily snapping with both formats.

The article constantly complains that Digital is not art, it’s concluding paragraph even states that if only

“The digital age had led to some explosion in creativity and cultural production. But of course the opposite has happened…Instagram has made the rest of us not artists but cogs. Volume may be up, but creativity is down – and at the risk of shocking the army of selfie shooters, I have to tell you that this is by design. Our supposed acts of creativity are just another node in corporate production…”

Ignoring that the author has neither defined what art is and that he would clearly prefer us not to just shoot on film but Kodak Film, a once giant corporate machine that we were nothing but cogs in, one has to ask why is digital all about Selfies? Digital is about point and shoots, it is about camera phones and computer cameras, it’s also about DSLRs and interchangeable lenses. It really covers the whole spectrum of photography. If you have a digital camera you might have the full ability to shoot with all your own preferences, you might choose to shoot with either Auto Focus or manual, you can even whack on an old lens with an adapter.

A few weeks ago I tried some star shots, they looked pretty bland and I was disappointed, time had been waisted sure but nothing else. Many many years ago when I couldn’t have been older than 12 I convinced my dad to let me (and him) stay up late and take pictures of the lunar eclipse with my T70 and a 500mm Prime. I shot the pictures and a few weeks later I took them to be developed. The images came out very under exposed, grainy and just out of focus. If I had the option to shoot on digital I could have instantly seen the picture and focused the camera more, I could have made the shutter speed longer and changed the ISO. I could have saved £5 (if this was now you would be looking at around £15). Of course an expert could have got fantastic pictures, he or she could have known exactly which film to get (my fujifilm 400 wasn’t enough) and he or she would have known how long to release the shutter for giving the optimum image. But I didn’t, and nor did my father, because we are not experts and have not had years of training and experience. Digital gives us the instant understanding of how to change, sure you could get the pictures back and right down what you did right/wrong and what settings you used but when would I get the chance to shoot my solar eclipse hu’?

Digital could be about Instagram and Selfies, but then wasn’t that what Polaroid’s and throw away cameras where all about? It is also about instantaneous imagery, cheap affordable pictures and the ability to learn from your mistakes. While some play around with filters others can be experimenting with lenses, composition or just colours. No one has ever said “Lets go out and take a great photograph today…naah I’ll just shoot my shoes and put a filter on it.” So come 15th April 2014 I will be ready for my Lunar Eclipse and I won’t even have to ask my dad whether I can stay up late…

Filming on the Cheap (My Ode to Pre-owned)

When I started this blog I promised myself I would not review lenses or technology.  While i’m as impressed as an F-stop as everyone, I find that most film  blogs talk far to much about the technology and not enough about what you can do with it.  An extra F-stop is all well and good but how is it going to drive forward a narrative? And then theres the money involved… Would I be any less of an enthusiastic amateur photographer if a shoot with a 50mm 1.2 (cost £1,169 on amazon) than a 50 1.8? (£80 on amazon). Of course my pictures my look sharper, but will the compensation be improved? No, I (personally) would feel like a fraud- and if I did bought the 1.2, a very poor one.

However, just because of this does not mean I’m not interested in lenses. I’m fascinated by them. For my 21st I was delighted to be given my first digital camera, the EOS 600D. Before this I was taking pictures on my Canon A1 (before that my Canon T70 which I got when I was ten and I was snapping on it until it broke close to my 19th birthday). When I first got my digital camera I instantly got myself a cheap second hand converter and started to attach my FD lenses on them and one of the first tests was this:

Not a great video sure, but you can pick up the 28mm FD 2.0 for like £15 rather than £369 on amazon for the EF model.

My wonderful girlfriend (who’s blog I re-blogged below)  edited together a rather surreal fireworks video I shot around two years ago. Yes the video has a lot of flashes and it can’t quite pick up all the data on screen but what amazed me was how crisp and noise-free the video is when it was shot with just the natural light of the fireworks and bonfire. The lens was the Helios 44-2 2.0 and cost mer £10 (with the m42 adapter added on).

I was very lucky to go to arts school right next to an old camera store that sold lenses dirt cheap. I would suggest all of you play around with adapters (spend a bit of money on branded one such as Fotodiox, cheap unbranded ones can get stuck on your camera- trust me here, I’m speaking from tearful experience) and find Yourself a Philips to shop in. You can have great fun with a budget and spend your money on more important things, the glass is only as good as the quality in front of it.