Just found out that the Leica M7 has been discontinued. This is a camera that I had a lot of fun shooting until relatively recently, when I found that my street photography style [and eyesight!) was changing and more suited to a digital workflow. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I do actually miss that little camera…
For anyone who likes film street photography, the M7 is a very quick and accurate camera to use. The only real issue with the camera (apart from price, but hey it’s a Leica what do you expect?) is the somewhat shaky electronics. For me, as much as the Leica MP gets more of the plaudits, the M7 is actually better to use in practice.
Here are a couple of images that I took with the M7:
So, after many months of shooting primarily digital, 16 rolls of black and white film (35mm and medium format) have come back from the processor. Time for a bit of film love, and a lot of scanning! You never know, the dark room (which is stored behind me as I type this) might even come out!
In the last few weeks, I have been shooting film again (hence the lack of daily posts). I have been really enjoying it, the experience is lovely – you just take the shot and move on, forget about it. I would like to process the films myself. I have all the kit to do it myself, but I don’t the inclination time. So, I will rely on my local photography centre.
So, in the spirit of things, I am going to spend the next month just using one camera (Leica M7), one lens (35mm) and one film type (Cinestill 800T rated at ISO 500).
What I will do is shoot it, bag it up and wait until the end of the month to get it processed in one hit. I’ll post up anything decent!
Most of my photography is done using a 50mm lens in Salisbury. So, to make it more of a challenge, I am just going to shoot with a wide-angle 35mm. It is not a length that I use much, so that’ll be interesting for me.
Finally, my usual style is reasonably (I hope!) well composed, clean and simple images. For the next month, I am going to get messier and try out a different tack. I’m going to try and be more Jun Abe rather than Bresson. We’ll see how that goes, it’s going to be painful for me. However, it’s a good thing to get out of your comfort zone. Don’t expect any Alex Webb quality shots, I’m not that good at complexity in imagery!
Changing your sensor
Recently, I have been shooting a lot of digital and it has been fun. I do like the ‘clean’ look of a monochrome digital image. I have been slimming my photography kit down, getting rid of cameras that I don’t use often enough to justify keeping them. I don’t like the idea of having cameras sitting in a box collecting dust. If I am not using them, then hopefully someone else will. The only exception to this is my large format. I don’t use it enough, but this a camera for life for me.
I had been thinking about a digital rangefinder, as I like this style of shooting. I had one before (a Leica M9-P), but I sold it after a year. It would get noisy very quickly as you moved off the base ISO. Mainly though, I just didn’t like the feel of it. I didn’t really care about the crappy LCD screen on the back, but it just didn’t feel as solid or tough as the film cameras. Also, even though relative to other manufacturers’ Leica’s hold their value, they still suffer massively from digital rot. Any digital bought now is just a door-stop in waiting. My 1958 Leica M3 (out on loan to a friend) is still going strong.
The other thing that I have ‘realised’ more recently with film, is that if you want to change the ‘sensor’ you just load a different type of film. Hence, this new project. Whilst the film market has shrunk since I first started photography when I was a teenager, there are still a lot of films about (and slowly increasing again with the recent release of Bellamy Hunt’s Japan Camera Hunter film (Street pan JCH400), Film Ferrania’s P30 monochrome cinema still film, Cinestill medium format, and the upcoming re-release of Kodak Ektachrome (like others, I hope for the return of Kodachrome (unlikely, I know)).
There are some pretty interesting films out there like Rollei Redbird, Adox Colour Implosion, Infrared, bulk cinema films, as well as as a whole bunch of more common films that I have not tied (e.g. Kodak Ektar (on order)). So, I figured I might as well expand my photographic horizons and give them a go!
Yes, there haven’t been many posts recently – blame me film for that! I have been exclusively shooting film (Ilford HP5+ and Fuji Acros 100) for the last week. It’s been great, but not good for the blog. Good news is that a lot of film is going in to be processed tomorrow. Bad news is that it will be about a week before I get it back.
I am (slowly) putting together an ibook of the night photography that I have done in Salisbury over the last couple of years. I will post a link to it up when it is done. I am just debating in my tiny mind about adding a multi-media time lapse or video element to it. If people have any thoughts, feel free to comment.
In the meantime, here is an image that I took after I left the Anti-Trump protest in Downing Street that evening.
The problem with having a lot of film processed is that you need to then scan it. Fortunately, a light box makes the whole process a little quicker!
I went out and shot with the film camera today. I shot quite a lot of frames of Cinestill. It’s a film I am very much in the process of working out how to get the best out of it. My first roll wasn’t great to be honest, so I have downrated the film from ISO 800 to 500 in the hope that I get some better results this time. I am dropping the film off for processing tomorrow, so we shall see.
The reason I took a lot of shots is not that I had some amazing subjects to shoot, more that I am used to shooting digitally (i.e. lots of frames) rather than ‘filmically’ (i.e.considered and careful)!
Recently, I have been trying out a black and white film called Adox Silvermax. It’s an ISO 100 film, although I have heard some people say that it is better rated at ISO 400. I have just left it at its box speed. The film has a higher silver content than most black and white films. This means that there is more tonal range within the images.
I haven’t been able to print the film traditionally in the darkroom (the enlarger and what not is in my attic in (very) long-term storage). But, I have obviously scanned it. It scans very well, better than Kodak Tri-X to me as the film is inherently less contrasty and holds more details in the shadows. I am using a Epson V850 scanner at the moment with the standard Epson software. I have a Plustek 8200AI scanner with the dedicated Silverfast HDR suite as well, which produces much better ‘RAW’ scans as it has a great multiple exposure mode). But, I have loaned this out to a friend so that they can scan some of their film work (it’s much more portable than a flatbed!).
Whilst it’s a slow film, it’s quality is very good. I have been really impressed with the amount of information that the 35mm negatives contain. You can zoom in on the images and pick out a lot of detail.
The images here are from a recent trip to London during photo week, where I originally went with the aim of seeing Zhang Kechun‘s excellent large format work done along the Yangtze called ‘The Yellow River’. After visiting the exhibition, I just wandered around making photographs, eating and drinking a lot of coffee. I am hoping to go to London in October to see the exhibition of William Eggleston’s work, which no doubt will involve some street photography afterwards – probably in colour!
It’s a film that I really enjoyed using, so much so that I have ordered more of it. It doesn’t have the speed and flexibility of Tri-X or HP5+ but in good light conditions, it produces lovely toned and detailed images. Definitely, one for where the extra quality is needed over speed.
I took this shot whilst the visiting Maori group were rehearsing with the cathedral singers for the ceremony opening the arts week here earlier this summer. I like the ‘Wicker man’ feel that this shot has to me! Now where is Sergeant Howie? 😉