Looks kind of like my Olympus 35 RC
Looks kind of like my Olympus 35 RC
I have been looking at these photos from my street photography collection for a while now but only ever viewed them on my computer screen. Last week I decided to upload a bunch of photos to mpix.com and make some prints.
Presented here is a small sample of the 4x6s I got in the mail today (photo taken with my iPhone).
Even though these prints are small, there is definitely something special about holding a real photograph.
If you are interested in taking a closer look, you can see some of these photos on davedunneonline.com
My wife’s grandmother died a couple of years ago and at the time we spent a few days going through boxes and boxes of old photos including photos from Yosemite vacations in the 1930′s (shown here) and the shipyards of Oakland where she worked during world war II.
As we shifted through decades upon decades of memories, it got me thinking about all of the photographs been taken today all around the world. In this digital age a lot of the photographs only exist as photographs as long as the power is on. When the power is turned off, those photos don’t exist as photographs anymore. There are just bits of data on a disk indistinguishable from brown bread recipes written in Notepad and Excel spreadsheet shopping lists.
So what will happen when you pass on and the power is switched off forever?
Well, One of the first things that will happen is that your credit cards will be cancelled. What this means for your photographs is that eventually your hosting provider won’t be paid and they will start to shut down your blog and website accounts. Also, eventually your domain names will go unrenewed and will start to point to landing pages at Go Daddy or whoever your domain registrar is.
In addition to this, because you have stopped paying, your Flickr account will lose its “pro” status leaving only the last 200 uploads on view.
At home, your computer will eventually be turned off. Since it is probably already obsolete, it may be moved to garage, thrown in the trash or recycling or possibly donated to charity.
Those spare hard drives or boxes of DVDs you diligently backed up to probably won’t mean anything to anyone else so they may be tossed or recycled. It is probably unlikely anyone is going to go through them all to find anything of value beyond your financial data and tax documents.
So basically, it is very possible your photos will be lost forever.
So what can you do?
Personally, I don’t care if my “art” photographs are lost or forgotten. But what I don’t want lost are my “memories”. By that I mean my vacation snapshots with my wife. The photos of New Years Eve with my friends. The photographs that document who I was, who I knew and what I did.
So a few years ago I started to make prints. After every vacation or event, I’d pick 30 or so photos to make 4×6 inch prints on mpix.com. I then put them into small photo albums picked up at Target. Yes, it’s all very old school but there is something special about holding a print. Some people say a photograph doesn’t exist until you can hold it in your hand and I am inclined to agree. Even now I enjoy going back through the albums and looking at photos from a trip to Spain in 2003 or my honeymoon in Maui.
So what is going to happen to your digital photos when you die?
One of the nice things about a Leica rangefinder is that the shutter is quiet. This can help when taking photographs on the street since it can minimize the disruption to the scene.
I do not have a Leica camera but I do have a Voigtländer Bessa R4A rangefinder. However, the Bessa does not share the same stealthiness as the Leica and the shutter is actually quite loud compared to the Leica.
To demonstrate, here is a short mp3 of the Bessa shutter sound. Since I don’t have a Leica, I can’t show a direct comparison but the first sound in the clip is the Bessa R4A and it is followed immediately by a Canon 40D so you can hear how it compares to a DSLR. Both cameras were set at 1/125 sec. This isn’t exactly a scientific test (I used my iPhone voice memo app to record the sounds) but you can get the overall idea that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the Voigtländer and the Canon.
To hear a Leica shutter, you can find some videos on You Tube.
This morning I headed up to San Francisco to take some photographs of the Golden Gate bridge. As you can see from these iPhone snapshots, I was using my Mamiya 645 1000s which I had loaded with Kodak Ektar 100.
The first place I visited was the Marin Headlands for the classic tourist shot with San Francisco in the background.
I then tried to head higher up into the Headlands but the road was closed for construction. I did take a few photos at the visitor center before heading back over the bridge to Fort Point.
If you have never been to Fort Point, it is highly recommended. It is great for taking the bridge from a viewpoint that’s a little different from most tourist shots.
The fort itself is also quite interesting inside with exhibitions on the history of the fort and life back when it was in use. And you can climb up to the roof where you can stand right under the bridge.
It will be a while before I get my Mamiya shots developed but when I do I will post some here (if they are any good)
Today I decided to take some shots of my Olympus 35 RC, a compact fixed lens rangefinder from the 1970s.
To take these shots, I was using a very basic “Strobist” set up with a Canon Speedlite 430 EX flash mounted on a stand firing through an umbrella camera left. I also used some white foam core on the right to reflect back some fill. The flash was fired remotely using an Elinchrom EL Skyport Universal radio trigger.
The camera I used was my trusty Canon 40D with a 24 to 70mm L f/2.8 lens. I metered using a Sekonic L-308s Flashmate meter.
I am still learning flash photography so came upon a few problems. One of those can be seen in this following shot.
Reflected in the lens is the clear outline of the umbrella. I would have preferred for this to not be so obvious. I tried playing with angles and also with the set up you see below but I wasn’t happy with the results. In this set up I am firing the flash through the diffuser part of a Photoflex multi-disk but the reflection was still too noticeable. Still a lot for me to learn for sure.
For all of the shots I set the camera on manual mode with the shutter speed set at 1/60. There was daylight coming in from an open door camera right and also through a window behind the subject so I wanted to use some of the ambient light.
Most of the shots were shot using an aperture of either f/8 or f/11 except the photograph above which was shot at f/5.6. I found with apertures less than that the depth of field wasn’t as pleasing to me. The flash was used in manual mode and the power was set from 1/2 to 1/8 depending on what aperture I was using or the distance of the flash from the subject.
The photograph above shows most of the gear I used today. At the top is an Interfit light stand and Wescott shoot through umbrella. On the next row is a Manfrotto 498RC2 ball head. Next to that is my Canon Speedlite 430 EX flash with a hot shoe to PC adapter connected to the Elinchrom El-Skyport receiver below. Next to the flash is the Canon 40D with the 24 to 70mm L f/2.8 lens and next to that is the flash meter, a Sekonic L-308s.
Below the 40D, is the matching Elinchom trasmitter and some no-name light stand adapter. At the bottom is a Manfrotto 190XPROB Pro Aluminum Tripod.
As I said I am still learning this type of photography so there is a long way to go before I will be truly happy with my images. But it is always a good idea to shoot as often as possible and learn from the experience each time.
Below are the rest of the “keepers” from today.
One of my favorite 35mm cameras is my Olympus XA. Introduced in 1979, this camera is part of a series of cameras (along with the XA1, XA2, XA3 and XA4) but it is the only one of the series to use a rangefinder focus.
The Lens is a Zuiko 35mm f:2.8 lens and is completely covered by the clamshell when closed which makes this camera easy to slip into a pocket. Also, when the clamshell is closed, the camera is powered off which means the batteries last for a very long time.
With the clamshell open, you gain access to the focus lever which sits below the lens. Focusing is easy and fast since the lever has a very short throw and the rangefinder patch is still quite bright in my camera. Above the focus lever is the film speed setting with a range from 25ASA to 800ASA.
The camera uses aperture priority with the apertures being set by a lever beside the lens. Shutter speeds are rated from 1 second to 1/500 and the current shutter speed is shown using a needle that is visible in the viewfinder. (Note: I have seen other websites that quote 10 seconds as the max shutter speed but I have not tested this on my camera – the viewfinder scale only goes to 1 second).
The shutter is extremely sensitive requiring barely a touch to trigger. This means hand held slow shutter speeds are quite possible. Also, the shutter is practically silent lending itself well to being discrete in situations that warrant it.
These days you can pick up an XA for around $40 to $60 on eBay. If that is too expensive the zone focus XA2 is worth checking out. A lot of times the XA2 cameras go for less than $30.
To find out more about the XA and other cameras in the XA family, visit the best XA resource on the web, http://www.diaxa.com/
To see more of my XA shots, check out my Flickr stream with the tag Olympus XA.