What Matters?

As you may know, I recently decided to sell both my Pentax Q10 and my Ricoh GRII on eBay.

There is nothing wrong with these cameras, they are both good digital cameras which happen to be a couple years old.

The Pentax is unique as it is super small and does everything a normal size DSLR can do.

The Ricoh is a legendary street camera and is much sought after with the perfect focal length for the task.

I enjoyed using both of these and I found some of the quirks to be interesting and annoying in equal measure.

I love my Olympus EM5 MKII and one of the particular things I like about it is the speed of the camera.  That and the sharpness and the capability of the camera.  It also has traditional dials on the body which mean it’s easy to use without having to rely on touchscreens and menus.

I could get some of that with the Ricoh and the Pentax but both were very light cameras and a little slow.  The weight was an issue as it was hard to hold them both steady at low shutter speeds.

Not a criticism just the way it is.

My tactile Olympus OM10

Now let’s move to my Olympus OM 10 35mm camera.  I recently picked it up to do some shooting with it after leaving it mid-roll in a drawer for a couple of months.

This is slow (its film), it’s a bit hefty and of course, I can’t see what my photos look like until they are processed.

And yet… I love this camera.  When the mood strikes to shoot with film and the inspiration strikes – it’s a magic combination.

I don’t know what it is but there is something about going out with a film camera and really looking for a photograph.  One single photograph.  An image I want to commit to film.  An image that I am not sure will work (or has worked) until it’s processed.

And yet it is this restriction that is exciting.   It’s also this restriction that makes me work harder and look harder.  I hunt for the shot and only take it when I think it would be worth capturing it – after all, if it’s not worth it, then it’s simply too not worth spending money to have the shot developed.

It’s also very tactile.  The build and the mechanisms in the OM10 are much more hands-on and I love having to use the film release thumb advance, hearing the film move on in the body, ready for the next shot.

Manual focus is also something that gets me more involved.  I cannot wait for the camera to pick a focus point (or select one on screen), I have to compose the shot then use the lens focus ring to achieve what I am after.

There’s also something about your awareness that there is a limit to the number of shots I have and what I can shoot based on the capabilities of the camera, the situation and the film I had chosen (it was so long ago that I loaded the camera that I forgot it was loaded with Lomography Lady Grey 400).

At least I remembered it had a black and white film loaded in its belly!

It’s not all flawless though as I finished the film today and had trouble rewinding it in the body.  In fact, I exposed the film to the light opening the back a couple times as I couldn’t tell if the film had fully rewound (I was in a darkish place so I hope the film has not been compromised).

Even this has an air of excitement about it.  I will be very disappointed if the film is ruined but if there have been a few light leaks etc then that may make for some interesting compositions.  With film, I am willing to take these chances.

It’s this level of excitement an interest that Ted Forbes Art of Photography Holga challenge is trying to recreate.

I have managed to take some interesting photos in the challenge but nothing is quite the same as having to wait for your photos to be developed.  Having the restriction of film type and manual control.

Even when putting in restrictions in digital photography, it still doesn’t really take you back to film days – when photography and photographer really were a combination of artist and craft.

I’m not knocking modern photography as there are lots of fascinating and talented photographers doing amazing things with digital cameras.

There’s just something more visceral about the experience of hands of photography.  Finding a camera you are completely at ease using.  Maybe this is what Leica was trying to reignite with the launch of the Leica M10-D.

I enjoyed the Pentax and the Ricoh but they didn’t give me the same level of enjoyment or experimentation as the OM10 or my EM5 MKII.

I am sure the people who purchase them will enjoy them though.

For me, I am not sure what is next.  I want to continue to experiment and try new things, and I am confident I will.

I simply wonder whether this is with my current set up or with the addition of anything else.

I have the EOS M3 which I have been trying to take to work with me but have not had any days where it was worth carrying the camera due to not seeing any physical breaks in my day to stop and capture what’s around me…  Maybe I should just go with the flow and use my phone (more on that below).

I’d love a Leica T but simply cannot afford the lenses.  It’s probably the only Leica I can afford and I’d love to see how it affected my photography.  Maybe this would give me the same experience I am after – maybe it won’t… who knows.

One thing I do know is that you cannot gauge what makes a good photograph nor what will capture peoples attention.

An unexpected Instagram hit

Whilst waiting for the train in the pouring rain this week, I took a very quick snap (I didn’t even stop walking) with my Pixel 2 of Colchester railway platform.    I liked the leading lines in the image and shared it more as a capture of that moment than whether I thought it was a good photograph.

I have been completely surprised, pleased and perplexed that it is constantly receiving likes on Instagram.  I am sure there are far better photographs adjacent to it on my profile but this single image has captured peoples imaginations.  It appears I have tapped into something in this instant and that’s both exciting and annoying in equal measure.

Let’s be honest though, this all simply means that once again, it’s not the expensive equipment nor any particular planning etc but it’s all about the moment, the intuition and the image you capture.

That’s what matters.

Interested in my kit? Find out more here



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