Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

I took these a few years ago while on a photography trip in the Richtersveld, a breathtakingly beautiful and barren landscape in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, right on the border between SA and Namibia. The focus of the shots was very much on texture and shape, and playing with near and distant elements.

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Both these shots were taken on a trusty old Nikon F100 (I still love that camera so) and a 28mm prime lens, using Fuji Velvia slide film.  The film was cross-processed using the C41 colour negative development process, which basically ends up giving you very contrasty results, with quite aggressive grain and unexpected colour casts.

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Ever since I first discovered cross-processing during my photographic studies, it has always been one of my favourite processing techniques. I love the fact that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to end up with – different types of slide film give widely varying results, and even the age of the film can lead to a different outcome.

While it is possible to simulate cross-processing quite successfully in digital photography during post-processing, it simply does not come close to the magic of getting your roll of cross-processed film back from the lab, and discovering the results for the first time.

Hmmm….. I need to get out and shoot some film again – digital is great, but you get withdrawal symptoms if you’ve been away from film too long!

Love your camera on Camera Day

Me and my camera; my camera and me.

The photographer and his camera – where does one start and the other end? How much of what you see in an image is down to the brilliance of the photographer, and how much can be attributed to the technical abilities of his photographic tools?

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I am, generally speaking, a supporter of the school of thinking that a great artist will produce great art irrespective of his tools. I have seen photos taken on mobile phone cameras that are significant artistic achievements, and there are movements in photography who go to great lengths to show how great art can be produced by technically “bad” equipment. The Lomographic Society International, for example, owns galleries, etc, showcasing photographs taken with very low-tech LOMO cameras. LOMO, a former Russian state-owned camera manufacturer, produced 35mm compact cameras that have become iconic for producing unique, sometimes blurry images, at times with light leakage, and various other “faults”.

On the other hand, particularly in technical fields of photography, the camera plays a critical role in enabling the photographer – think about fields like macro photography, for example. In some ways the camera also dictates the photographers’ approach to the subject. For instance, the time and effort required to set up a large format view camera to photograph a landscape, will almost by default result in a different stylistic approach to the subject compared to, say, a photo snapped with a mobile phone.

Given my current context (photographing science, technology and industry) my “weapon of choice” is my Nikon D3 DSLR, with a range of lenses for different applications, and I have to admit I love this bulky machine – its reassuring weight, ever willing, ever ready for anything I may throw at it.

That is not to say I am not eagerly eyeing the D4 and even the D800, not to mention the wonderful, iconic Leica M9. And don’t even get me started on some of the glorious medium format cameras out there, just waiting for me to take them in my arms!

On the other end of the technology scale, I’ve recently started playing around with pinhole photography again – in a sense this still remains to me the most magical, wonderfully rewarding field of photography. But more on that in a future post.

Whether you photograph with a mobile phone or a Hasselblad, today is Camera Day – the day to show some special appreciation for your camera, and to take it out and capture the world around you. Wherever you may be – have fun.