Shooting Manual with 35mm Film

Marlborough Sounds, NZ

My father-in-law, Ross Pattern, has recently lent me his old 35mm Film Camera, a Cosina CT1G. The camera is currently matched with a Pentax 50mm 1.7 lens. The camera is in almost pristine condition, apart from a crack along the prism housing, which has been expertly glued together. The mechanics and light meter all work fine. To be honest, there are few reasons why it should not work as it is fully manual. There is really very little to go wrong with the beast, and the only electrical part is the light meter. There is a good reason my father-in-law purchased a fully manual camera, the Cosina was to accompany him on a trip to Antartica, where it was used for slide photography (and produced some wonderful images).

Bookshop, Blenheim

The Experience

Firstly, let me talk about the cost of using film. The roll of Fujifilm (200ISO) cost me $12, and the processing $17. I am happy with 6 of the 36 images I captured. This hit rate will improve, as I have learned some of the cameras limitations. However, using film is expensive. My current thinking is that I will stick to shooting landscapes, letterboxes, and family when using this camera. Alternatively, I may need to learn how to develop my own film.

Both the focus and the settings are manual, and remember, you lose the option of changing the ISO when using film! Capturing the ‘decisive moment’ eluded me, and most of the time a practised with my ever-patient family. On the street, I mainly focused on Still Life images.

I’m getting a ‘thing’ for letterboxes!

The Look

This is why film is fantastic. It looks great, even the bad shots have some character.

What Next

I have been inundated with questions on whether Pagespics is to turn it’s back on digital and go fully analogue. Let me put this dog to rest and say that I remain committed to digital, but that the two formats can co-exist in harmony. Digital is likely to remain a favourite for Street, Documentary and Commercial work as it is so much cheaper. Film will remain a quiet sideline passion.

Me! (Photo credit: Taeko Page)

The Cosina CT1G. The Specs…

This bit bores most people, so feel free to google something else. However, it you do want to know about this camera then…

  • Fully manual (apart from a light meter)
  • Fastest Shutter speed 1/1000 sec
  • Made in Japan (1980’s)
  • K Mount (you can attach any Pentax lens)
  • Plastic build, though quite robust
  • Dirt cheap – I’ve seen them going for as little as $20.

That all Folks!

But before I go, a little of what else has been going on. My website is still being revamped – but just like the UK, parts of it are opening up. Just like NZ, this site is Covid free so go wild and explore. I will be making business cards up this week in a further attempt to drum up some more professional work. Over at the Street Photographers Community (SPC), I have published an interview with the very talented Angelo Gifford, who is a master of shape and light. The interview can be viewed here. If you love Street Photography, we would love you to join our community @ www.mewe.com/join/street_photographers. Last week I reported that I had been in a slump – all I can say is that I am working on it! Don’t forget. you can support pagespics through the ‘buy me a coffee’ app, which I have linked to at the end of this page.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

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If you enjoy following this blog, feel free to buy me a coffee! Support is appreciated.

escaping the slump

“When you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Dr Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

The Black Dog

Argh, I have been in a slump, in the dumps, feeling down and sorry for myself. There should be no reason for it as I am in a great (and safe) country, still have a job and a small property to live with most of the mortgage paid off. However, I just have not been able to push that shutter release button down. My creative juices ran out. This week a decided to shake myself down, and get up on the saddle again.

Starting Easy

It could be argued that Blenheim, in New Zealand, is not the greatest place for Street Photography. There really are not that many streets, plus I was spoiled living in India. Somehow I’m finding it hard to get started on the street when I am back home and away from my travels. I’m going to have to get over this, as traveling looks like it may never be the same again. This week I started gently and went for a wander. I didn’t try for ‘street photography’, aiming instead for some minimalist shots. It felt good to be creative again.

All the images the images in this post were taken late afternoon/ early evening. I will get out and explore the morning light soon (note to self – make this a goal). While street photography may be a struggle, I am in the ideal place to capture some fantastic landscapes, which is certainly a genre that I would benefit from working on. It also looks like there is a very active camera club round the corner, which will hopefully further inspire me.

That’s all from me today. I will continue to climb my way out of this slump and am sure I will emerge stronger. Am I on my own? I would love to hear your stories. In the meantime, I have updated my personal portfolio which can be viewed here.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

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If you enjoy following this blog, feel free to buy me a coffee! Support is appreciated.

#Blacklivesmatter

Like many people, I have been moved by recent images of Black people being murdered by White people in America, and I am not so ignorant as to think that racism is just an American problem. Pagespics supports the #blacklivesmatter campaign. I have used my White Privilege to roam the world with my camera freely, and am rarely questioned about what I am doing. It is questionable as to whether a Black person would have the same degree of freedom in many parts of the world, and perhaps this is why there are apparently so few Black Street Photographers. Alternatively, it may be that Black Street/ Documentary photographers are poorly represented (they are). This is my attempt at amplifying the issue of racism. Ironically, we are looking at a very well known street photo that was taken by a white guy.

Photo by Garry Winogrand

Uncomfortable photo to look at? Winogrand took this photo in New York’s Central Park zoo. It was no random snapshot. To capture this photo Winogrand reportedly shoved his fellow photographer, Tod Papageorge out of the way.

The photo was taken in 1967, the same year interracial marriages were legalised in the US. Winogrand is not known for explaining his photos, nor the social context behind them. When we look at the image, the viewer is led to believe the pair in the photo are a couple (they were not). Whilst such relationships were becoming more common in the 1960’s, mixed-race couples would have often been subjected to significant white backlash1. One reason for this backlash is discussed by Ella-Marie West, who addresses the issue of multi-cultural relationships in the 50’s and 60’s, ‘The idea of sex between black men and white women repulsed whites, while casual and often exploitative sex between white men and black women was ignored or accepted because it was normalized during slavery when the white master did what he pleased with his property‘ (2017). Black author, Hilton Als points to the further significants of the monkey within the frame.

we see a white woman and a black man, apparently a couple, holding the product of their most unholy of unions: monkeys. In projecting what we will into this image—about miscegenation, our horror of difference, the forbidden nature of black men with white women—we see the beast that lies in us all.

(The Animals and Their Keepers, 2013)

Winogrand (right) clearly looks pleased (photo: George Papageorge)

2020

How is it Winogrand instantly recognised the importance of this shot? In America there are still skewed views on interracial relationships2 and in the UK, we only need to look at how the press have dealt with the marriage of Harry and Megan Meghan to see that racism is alive and kicking3. Further to this, in the UK, black footballers are routinely subjected to Nazi salutes and monkey sounds coming from the stadium. The New York Times discusses the ‘toxically racist ape characterization‘, citing research that shows the link still has a grip within the American imagination (2018). It would appear that society has not moved far since 1967.

Black Street Photographers.

There appear to be very few Black Street photographers. When I searched for examples, the results came up with Black and White Photography, which is often the preferred medium for many Street Photographers. In the Street Photographers Community (SPC), there are no black members, and few people of colour. Magnum Photography, which is arguably the most famous collective of artists appear to have very few non-white members. Further to this, the current chairperson of Magnum, Martin Parr has been accused of racism following his role in editing a book in which a Black lady was juxtaposed alongside a gorilla in a cage.

Taken from ‘London’ by Gian Butturini

When we cast the net wider, the argument for under-representation of Black photographers becomes stronger. The following information is taken from ‘The Impact of The White Male Gaze’, by Savannah Dodd & Andrew Jackson. I am quoting the paragraph verbatim, and recommend reading the whole article.

World Press Photo reports that of 5,202 professional photographers from more than 100 countries over a four-year period, over 80% are male: ‘more than one half participating photographers are Caucasian/White’ and ‘only 1% of participating photographers classify themselves as Black.’ That’s means only 52 Black photographers participated in World Press Photo between 2015 and 2018. If the percentage of female participation holds true across racial lines, which is unlikely due to the double marginalisation of women of colour, then that means that no more than 10 Black women participated over a four-year period.

The photo industry obviously has a long way to go. In the meantime you may wish to look at the work of two Black photographers who are members of Magnum; Ernest Cole and Eli Reed.

https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/ernest-cole/

https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/eli-reed/

Conclusion

To be honest I felt hopelessly out of depth writing this article, and I hope there will not be accusations of racism in what I have written. If there are, then it was not intended. I have tried to support what I have written and recommend reading some of the articles referenced. Lastly, if you have a problem with the blacklivesmatter campaign, then please unfollow me. You are not welcome here. Peace all.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

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If you enjoy following this blog, feel free to buy me a coffee! Support is appreciated.

References

*1 https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-253626914/family-stories-black-white-marriage-during-the-1960s

*2 https://artsci.wustl.edu/before-loving

*3 https://www.vox.com/first-person/2020/1/17/21070351/meghan-markle-prince-harry-leaving-royal-family-uk-racism

Dodd S., Jackson A (2020) The Impact of The White Male Gaze, https://www.fomu.be/trigger/articles/the-impact-of-the-white-male-gaze

Hilton A. (2013) http://www.columbia.edu/cu/najp/publications/articles/Als.pdf

Staples B. (2018) The Racist Trope That Won’t Die, The New York Times

West E. (2017) https://artsci.wustl.edu/before-loving

Site Update, more gear, and another poem

As Covid 19 restrictions start to lift, we are hopefully getting back to some Street Photography! While my Sony is off being repaired I am going to be shooting with my trusty Olympus Em5ii AND a new camera…. sort of. I have been loaned a manual Cosina CT1G, which means I am going to be playing with film again. The camera is matched with a 50mm 1:7 Pentax prime lens, a favourite focal length of mine. Apparently this lens works best around f4, so we will see how it goes!

This week I have been dipping into the Annie Leibovitz ‘Teaches Photography’ course. I’m going to look at two salient issues discussed during this Masterclass. The first is the importance of photographing family and friends. Family tend to have more patience than strangers. They also get used to you and forget that you are there, providing the opportunity for a candid frame. As usual, I like to edit my family pics in black and white, just so they differ from my other work. Some of the most iconic photo projects have come from studies of family and friends, and here I am thinking of Sally Man’s ‘Immediate Family’ and Nan Golding’s, ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’. Both great books that should hold a place on any photographers shelf.

Candid Family Shot – Taken during quarantine.
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Fleeing India, Luminar 4 and shooting flowers (and potatoes).

This post is being writing from New Zealand whilst under ‘supervised lockdown’. This comes from the NZ Government’s superbly planned emergency exit from India. Supervised lockdown is turning out to be a life of luxury in a very nice hotel in Christchurch. The meals are so good I am considering taking up food photography. Freedom is limited for the next two weeks, putting street and travel photography well out of reach, so brace yourself for photos of an empty carpark!

On fleeing India, I did manage to take a few snaps of the airport, deserted streets, and Covid 19 signs. I also managed to bust the focus joystick on my Sony A7iii. This trip is going to be expensive.

An Empty Airport
Mumbai Street Signs…
Only One Plane Leaving Mumbai…

Luminar 4

If you look carefully at the photo of the Covid 19 sign, you may see something is not quite right. The photo is a ‘cheat’ as I changed the sky. I have also done this in the photo below. Changing the sky is a difficult task in Photoshop, and something I am unlikely to try. But this task is a breeze when using Luminar 4. Doing this feels like cheating, and is not something I intend to make part of my everyday workflow. For the two photos included in this post (the second image is posted below), the skies used are not even my photos. I guess for travel photography I may start collecting fantastic images of skies for use with Luminar 4, we will see. However, I can’t see this practice as something that can be undertaken for Street Photography. At the moment the juries out on how I feel about replacing skies. But it is a fun tool to play with whilst under lockdown!

Bus ride to Mumbai. Sky replaced in Luminar 4! You will probably see this sky in many other photos that are posted online.. I think the software loses something around the electricity pylon.

Nothing But Flowers (and Potatoes)

Well to round of this extremely exciting blog post I will fill you in with my current project. Flowers. Not normally a flowers guy, but I’m walking round a garden everyday and that is what I see, so that is what I will shoot. There are people, but there is an odd atmosphere around the place and I have not yet become courageous enough to ask the people guarding the facility for a snapshot!

One competition that has caught my eye is the Potato Photographer of the Year Award. This is judged by non-other than Magnum’s Martin Parr. The competition raises money for the Trussell Trust Charity and costs a fiver to enter, so a bit of a bargain. There is also a chance to win a camera, which would be useful since I bust mine on the journey to NZ!

A Flower on PagesPics?! Don’t get used to it. Here I am playing with some Lightroom Presets, curtesy of Trey Ratcliff.

Well that may well be the first and last photo of a flower you will see on this blog, but who knows, everything is changing at the moment! Next week I may have a photo of a potato to share. While you are here, please take the opportunity to support this blog through ‘buy me a coffee‘, a platform that helps support artists and bloggers. Details at the end of this post.

That is all for now folks, now I’m off to find a potato.

Keep Clicking, Chris

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If you enjoy following this blog, the feel free to buy me a coffee! Support is appreciated.

Quarantine, Eric Kim and more…

“If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” — Jim Richardson

The Cao Dai

The above images are of the Cao Dai, in Vietman. The photos were taken in 2013, a time when my interest in Street and Travel Photography was just starting to bloom. The location definitely falls under the category of ‘interesting’. The women all wear white, which is always going to provide a repetitive theme to any photograph. In addition, the worshipers are set in beautiful symmetric geometric patterns. If you are thinking of a location for travel photography, the Cao Dai can be found in Tay Ninh, which is 4-5 hours outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Travel and Quarantine.

Thinking about travel, and re-visiting old photos is about all we can do at the moment. I am currently one of the 1.3 billion people in India under lockdown. Fortunately, people are allowed to walk around their compounds, and allowed out to shop for essential items. My photography is focused on recording everyday life at home, and it is challengeing to make anything look particularly interesting (anyone want to see a photo of the 3rd cup of tea I have made today?).

Photos from my recent travels to the kitchen. Future travel plans include the bedrooms and lounge…

Eric Kim

I love Eric Kim, and have downloaded all his free stuff and subscribe to his blog. However, I disagree with his latest advice re Covid-19. I have paraphrased his email below.

We are currently going through a very epic time in human history. The question: SHOULD I be out shooting photos right now? Some thoughts:

First of all, if you don’t want to go out and photos, don’t. Only go out and shoot photos if you want … of course, legal laws permitting. Right now is history in the making!

Right now is a decisive moment in human history. It can be your unique chance to make some truly epic photos.  Your duty as a photographer — not just a snap-shooter of random stuff. No — you are a documentarian, a historian. Someone who is creating something epic for future generations of humans. Your photography is legitimate, important, and great.

Sorry Eric…

…but this may be an epic time in human history, but it is also a tragic time when people are getting sick and losing loved ones. The health advice is clear – staying inside is going to save lives. We can make the world a better place by sitting on our sofa and watching TV. Yes, the photos coming out of areas that under quarantine are awesome, but these images should be taken by people who are meant, or need to be there. Remember we are photographers, not doctors or paramedics and our photos are not going to save the world.

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Taeko Page, taking in our view that is for the next three weeks!

On a Positive Note

If you are stuck at home, then there are heaps of free courses for you to work through. Here are some of the offers that are out there for online leaning.

If you know of any other courses worth looking at, please share them in the comment box. That’s all for today folks.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

If you enjoy following this blog, then please feel free to head over and buy me a coffee! Blogs take time and money, and your continued support is appreciated.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Raw Chicken is never a good idea.
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Photography and Covid-19

Wow – what a click-bait title, obviously designed to create panic purchases of memory cards and lens cleaning wipes. Like it or not, the Corona Virus is now having an impact on many people, and it may be time to think about keeping yourself safe when out taking photos. Obviously, I am not writing as a medical expert, so don’t take anything too seriously!

I’m avoiding this for a while!

My home in Bangalore is now affected and primary schools have been closed. India is obviously not immune and new cases are popping up daily. Looking further afield, Sony has reported that it is struggling to make new sensors. Fujifilm are having issues manufacturing parts for its new camera line up, and Canon are unable to fulfil orders for some of their latest lenses. Finally, numerous photography conventions have been cancelled. It looks like 2020 could be a year not to purchase new gear.

On a personal note

I was due a trip to Bangkok for a convention this month. This has now been cancelled. My plan was to photograph the iconic Central Train Station, which would have been a progression from the Bruce Gilden style of photography I usually practice along Soi Cowboy and the like (getting over that phase now…). At home, the advice has been to avoid crowds, so I will not be heading to the downtown markets for the foreseeable future.

Budha @ Nana Plaza/ Bangkok

Covid-19 is no reason to quash our passion for photography, so without final ado, here are 5 ways we can survive the Corona Virus.

5 Alternative Photography Ideas

  • Work on a home studio.

If you already have a flash for your camera, then it does not cost much to build a home studio. A simple backdrop, light stand, softbox and umbrella will cost less than $100. Stay at home and work on getting photos of your family. The photo below was created using one speedlight and a softbox. When I finish with my studio it all packs away and fits under the bed.

Taeko Page – One of my first home studio family portraits.
  • Head out of town, not into town.

This is my current plan. Heading out of town means less crowds and more space. In Bangalore there are 100’s of locations within an hour drive. My market project is now on hold. The image below is of a Holy Bull Walker. The bull was born in a temple, it will be dressed and decorated, then used to collect offerings.

Rural life has less people and may be a safer location for photography
  • Product and Macro Photography

This has never been on high on my list of priorities. One exception is the classic photo of a piece of fruit splashing into water. I may go for a strawberry splashing into milk if I get quarantined for long enough. This option is for when boredom seriously sets in. I also need to create a new selfie for my social media sites.

  • Enter competitions.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and not going out is going to save lots of money. This money could be spent on competition entries. Is this an opportunity to focus on winning an award or photography grant? F Stop magazine features a comprehensive list of available challenges for various photographic genres.

  • Work on a blog site

I cannot help but notice my own blog site is starting to look dated. In the next few weeks I may get time to delete older, and out of date posts. There are photos in my project collections which need to be re-sized. I still need to move my site from wordpress.com to wordrpess.org (which I tried with Bluehost, who were a huge pain in the bum). Blogging is a rewarding experience, and something I believe all photographers should try. Most sites will have a free, or very cheap option to get you started.

Bonus Idea – Read Books!

Stuck for reading? Here are three books that may get your photographic juices flowing…

  • Photography Masterclass. Creative Techniques of 100 Great Photographers, Paul Lowe, Thames & Hudson
  • Fifty Paths to Creative Photography, Michael Freeman, Octopus Publishing Group
  • Larry Fink, On Composition and Improvisation, Larry Fink, aperture

Are you affected by the Covid-19, and if so, how are you keeping sane? Feel free to drop me a note below.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

If you enjoy following this blog, then please feel free to head over and buy me a coffee! Blogs take time and money, and your continued support is appreciated.

5 Pieces of Street Photography Advice You Should Ignore.

Street Photographers are not known for their reserve. We are happy to give advice on gear, framing and technique. But I believe the best photographers are those who also seek advice and look to learn from others. But not all advice is equal, and some ideas are outdated, narrow minded, or just plan wrong. In this article I am going to go question some of the advice that has almost become folklore in Street Photography, and pose the question, is it time to move on?

Colour or Black and White?
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Angalamman Festival

A Festival of Pain

The Angalamman Festival is held Kaveripattinam, a smalll town in Tamil Nadu. On the day after Maha Shivratri, the festival sees tens of thousands of people from the town converge to worship the deity Angalamman. Obviously, this was not a festival to be missed, and I knew from the start it would be a special event to photograph. Shiva had one night to sleep, and things were going to get wild when he awoke.

Extreme body piercings are one way to offer pain sacrifices.
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