The last post of 2014 that is.
The Final Solution!
Let me back track to the closing months of 2013. For the latter stages of that year my motivation for BW and photography in general wained substantially to the point I came very close to giving it all up. I really don’t know why, it just happened! I think several things were going on in my mind. Go back a little further to three years ago when I had 30 odd cameras. All shapes, sizes and formats. Loads! They were everywhere. I couldn’t leave the house without having a mental argument over which camera to take with me. Everywhere one has to accompany me. It may sound stupid but I used to agonise over the choice of the day’s camera. 35mm? 645? 6×6? half-frame? rangefinder? SLR? Folder? Manual? AF? I was totally preoccupied and distracted with camera selection instead of making pictures. In the end I just lost interest. I started shedding cameras. Two years ago I had twenty odd. Last year, at the close of 2013 I had ten. I felt better. The purge continued until about four or so months ago I saw clearly the Final Solution.
I realised that although I enjoyed collecting and playing with cameras, the collecting part was a by-product of boredom, stress, depression and frustration. The sheer numbers of cameras diluted my focus with too many options. I needed to simplify and clarify.
The purge continued until only two film cameras remained and one digital remained.
You may ask why did it take so long to rid yourself of so many cameras? Just shove them all on the bay of e and in one fell swoop problem solved. Not that simple. Which camera did I want to keep? Which format should I choose? How can I sell all those cameras and lenses that I adore and love. How could I sell my beloved Carl Zeiss lenses? The best lenses in the world! It was hard and I had to be brutal and ruthless. Some very hard decisions had to be made.
Chris – they are only cameras! Yeah, I know. But it’s not that simple. You see, my interests are obsessive and compulsive. My brain is wired that way. It is a necessity as much as breathing. Obsession, compulsion, OCD, driven!
Hard decisions made, the Final Solution has reached its conclusion, I have only two film cameras and one digital. I am determined for it to stay that way. These cameras are…
Rolleiflex 2.8C with an 80mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Planar lens. Made in Germany in 1953.
Leica M2 with a 5cm f/2.8 Elmar. Made in Germany in 1958
Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro with Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8 to f/4 lens.
I do use a Yashica Mat 124G as a back up for the Rolleiflex. Made in Japan in the early 1980’s it is an awesome camera, the film advance sounds like a coffee grinder though. LOL.
I started using the Rolleiflex again in the closing months of 2014 and realised what a brilliant camera it is and how I love the 6×6 format. I changed my film stock from Kodak Tri-X to Ilford HP5+ and my film developer from Rodinal to Adox FX-39. The reason for this change was due to reviewing my photos of the Lake District and preferring the quality and tone of the exposures made on HP5+ The change from Rodinal, where I used stand development to FX-39 was one of those by-chance events. I have always struggled with uneven development with Rodinal, to lesser or greater degrees. I acquired FX-39 after Ag-Photographic started to stock it and fancied a try. It is an excellent developer. Sharp, fine grain, full speed – what more do you need. I still prefer the tone of Rodinal, but find the irregularity of uneven development frustrating.
The Great Leap Forward.
So there you have it, down from thirty cameras to three in three years. I feel much more focused and enthused, my vision and mental clarity simplified. My main format is 6×6 on the Rolleiflex, it is a beautiful format, I love it. I find composing in 6×6 harder than 35mm but much more artistically pleasing. The stage is now set for the Great Leap Forward – I have to now make some decent exposures. That is my goal for 2015.