When it comes to street photography, there are heaps of places that come to mind. New York City, Chicago, Paris and many others have been the settings for legendary street photographers such Daniel Arnold, Vivian Meier and Henri Cartier-Bresson. After all, they are incredible cities …
Photographing with film is my absolute favorite method of capturing images. If it wasn’t for the cost and sometimes inconvenience, I’d photograph with film all the time. Alas, there are costs and inconveniences that result from photographing with film. It would seem that inconveniences have …
When the pandemic had resulted in so many aspects of life to be put on hold back in 2020, my photographic interests turned from people to architecture.
My partner, Meg, had given me a photo book of Detroit architecture and it really spoke to me.
Some of the initial aspects of architecture that made an impact on me were the facts that they impact everyone on a daily basis, and also the way that each building has unique features depending on the architect and their vision, collaboration(s) and intent.
My education, training and experience had been, and still is, centered on photojournalism and telling stories. When it wasn’t possible to document people like I was used to, though, I turned my storytelling to structures.
What I try to do most often, whenever it’s possible, is to document structures in a way where the photographs include people. This seems to be a perfect blend of what fulfills me. One photographer that has been doing this beautifully is Iwan Baan.
His work captures people and structures and they don’t seem posed and contrived, as so many architectural images do.
As I delved into architectural photography I began to see some trends and consistencies in the craft. And, this is where the subjective aspect of photography comes in.
Digital photography is, of course, the norm versus the exception these days. In regards to architectural photography, digital photography allows multiple exposures to be utilized to achieve a perfect image where the lighting is ideal.
Final pictures are clean, crisp and virtually perfect in the realm of technicalities.
What I’m finding, though, is that it’s becoming quite tiring and boring for me. What’s important here is that I’m saying, “…for me.” Photography is a personal journey and you should do what makes you happy.
For me, it’s become exhausting to chase whatever new camera comes out every day. It’s become tiring trying to capture the absolutely perfect image with perfect lighting.
Now, there are some photographers who capture architecture with film cameras, and they do it superbly. Rory Gardiner and Simone Bossi are the two photographers who come to mind. Their work is exceptional and they are prominent film photographers.
Walking against the wind and bucking the trends, what has brought me the most enjoyment with photography has been capturing architecture with 35mm film.
I’ll tell you why I feel it’s the perfect architectural tool.
First, I love using film cameras. At they’re most basic level they’re fun to use. I find myself thinking about photographs more intentionally when I use them. Each frame costs money, so the enhanced focus is inevitable.
Also, when I’m using film cameras, I’m not thinking about them becoming obsolete immediately, as is the case during the current times.
Photography is difficult enough, and expensive enough, to think about, without having to worry about those things. Photography should simply be enjoying the moment and capturing images that please you.
Second, and finally, the aesthetic of 35mm film is glorious. When photographing with film, it renders light in such a magnificent way. There are presets that can simulate almost any emulsion and film type out there, but to me it’s never the same as using film.
Medium format can produce some really pleasing results. The pictures have high resolution and are extremely clean. For me, though, that’s the thing: I want the grain. If I wanted clean images, I’d go right back to digital.
Thirty-five millimeter film yields images with such an extraordinary grain, it’s simply gorgeous.
For these reasons, I’ve been feeling like 35mm film is the perfect tool to make, not only pictures, but specifically architectural pictures.
As I said earlier, photography, and the tools we use to practice photography, is super subjective.
It’s important to do what fulfills you and makes you excited to make images the way you want to make images.
That’s the most important thing.
Notes: If you’re looking for information, inspiration and resources about architectural photography, I can’t recommend Architectural Photography Almanac enough.
Every year for the past eight years we’ve traveled to Colorado for Thanksgiving. Our families are small so that makes it simple to pack our things and meet up in one of the most beautiful sections of the U.S. I’ve ever seen. Call it the …
It is written in many tutorials that in order to photograph successfully, one must photograph during the Hour of Gold. Fear not, fellow photographers, for a beautiful photograph may be captured any time you’re out with your camera, even if that time isn’t the golden …
Choosing the right film camera can be incredibly overwhelming. There are seemingly endless options out there for you to use. But, worry not. If you’re looking for a simple camera that can be found for a reasonable price, the Canon AE-1 gets the job done, and done well.
Film photography has been experiencing a resurgence since its bleaker days. Cameras that used to cost very little have become more and more expensive.
When film had become unpopular with the rise of digital cameras, I grabbed some discount deals on a number of excellent film cameras—Leica M6, Mamiya 7 and a Canon F-1. Yes, there was a time when these cameras were more than half of the price they are now.
It didn’t take long for the word to spread that I was an avid film photographer. Before long, thankfully, family and friends would send me old film cameras. It was extremely humbling and I’m forever thankful.
One camera that was given to me by gracious friends—it previously belonged to their father—was a Canon AE-1. I’d heard that the camera was a solid workhorse, and it is. The only reason I didn’t purchase one earlier was because I’d already had a Canon F-1 in my stable, and an older Canon TX.
As usual, I won’t get into too many technical descriptions in this post; those can be found here.
What I will talk about is how usable and fun the Canon AE-1 is.
Old cameras can be fussy. So, it took a bit for this camera to be fun.
When I first pressed the shutter of the camera, an audible wheezing sound was emitted instead of the ka-thwack of a properly working shutter mirror.
Almost every one of my film cameras are sent off for a CLA (clean, lube, adjust) service. That way, I know I won’t be guessing if everything is working, and I’ll know when it’s been serviced. It’s just easier, and I’m sure I waste heaps less film by putting my rolls through faulty cameras.
A quick Google search lead me to camera repair technician extraordinaire, Joe Careta. He sent it back to me quickly after doing his magic to the camera. The camera looked, felt and sounded like it was new.
Freshly-serviced Canon AE-1 in hand, I couldn’t wait to hit the field with it. My lens of choice was the Canon 50mm FD f/1.4 S.S.C. This is a lens that produces stunning results, outside of what, and how, the photographer chooses to photograph.
In the Field with the Canon AE-1
Loaded with some Kodak Portra ISO 400 35mm film, I carried the camera with me until every one of the 36 exposures on the roll were exposed.
Let me tell you, this camera is fantastic and a pleasure to use.
The Canon AE-1 doesn’t hold you, or itself, back. It isn’t too heavy or too light; the shutter sound isn’t too quiet or too loud; and the viewfinder isn’t too dark or too bright—as if there is such a thing as a viewfinder that’s too bright.
And, one of the most important considerations, it’s priced extremely reasonably. A quick search on eBay resulted in me finding some nice examples of the camera for between $100-$200. Actually, for the price, this is probably one of the best values around.
The one aspect of this camera I didn’t test was the light meter. I’ve become accustomed to using my handheld light meter, so I didn’t test the camera’s built-in one. The needle was bobbing up and down, though, responsively with exposure suggestions.
There’s a lot to be said for a camera that is easy to use. One of my favorite photographic experiences is when a camera setup doesn’t get in the way of a photograph. The AE-1 allows the user to quickly control the shutter speed and aperture, which allows complete creative control to the user.
With the AE-1, as soon as I wanted to take a picture, I lifted the camera to my eye and snapped the shutter button. The shutter sound was pleasant and the size of the camera was perfect.
Since the Canon AE-1 is older, it has that vintage component to it that also enhances the photographic experience.
If you’re looking for your first film camera, or you’d like to have a general purpose camera that will work and won’t break the bank if something happens to it, or would simply like to have an enjoyable film-shooting experience, I can’t recommend the Canon AE-1 enough.
Portrait photography is one of my favorite genres within the craft. To meet someone and make a portrait of that person, or people, is special. While working for different newspapers, it was portraits that made up so many daily assignments. The goal was to photograph …
It was December 24, 2022. Our plan, by way of yearly tradition, was to travel north and visit family for the holidays. Nature’s plan, though, was to make the Michigan roads as undriveable as possible through a weather assault of wind, snow, cold and ice. …
These days it’s almost impossible to be interested in photography and equipment and not end up down the rabbit hole that is the camera forum. Talk of DxO scores, sharpness, aberration and, of course, megapixels, dominate the subject matter.
None of that matters.
My first internship after graduating with a degree in photojournalism was at the Monroe Evening News. At that time, it was a newspaper that cared deeply about capturing the best images to tell the story.
The camera gear I was issued was a Nikon D1, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens, and a flash.
It was perfect.
One day, upon noticing the camera I was using, someone asked,” How many megapixels is that?” I had no idea. I was so busy navigating the nuances that are required to visually document a story, day in and day out, that I never cared to look at the specs.
Immediately after receiving that question, I went back to the newspaper and looked up “How many megapixels does the Nikon D1 have?”
The answer? It has 2.74 megapixels.
So, fast forward to recently. My Canon 6D has been a faithful companion and tool for many years. Seriously, this is one incredible photographic tool. I’ve photographed numerous assignments and personal work using this camera and it has never let me down.
However, when working as a freelance photographer, it’s important to have an adequate backup camera. While looking for one, I knew I needed to buy a Canon (this is only because I have a lot of great Canon lenses. There are lots of fantastic camera brands out there).
Canon 1-series cameras are built like tanks so that’s the direction I headed. After doing a lot of research, I landed on the Canon 1DX. It’s full frame and weather sealed, which is really important. But, one of the most important specifications of this camera, to me at least, is that it’s shutter is rated for 400,000 cycles. This is incredible.
This number tells me that some serious research has been done on making this a tough camera. The next most important thing to me is autofocus. After using other Canon 1-series digital cameras, I was confident that the autofocus of the Canon 1DX would be just fine.
Recently, I was commissioned by downtown Traverse City to make some images of downtown Traverse City. I’m really looking forward to this since I’m usually walking the streets of downtown Traverse City anyway, as it’s one of my favorite areas for street photography.
Walking downtown with the Canon 1DX recently has proven to me that this camera is a more-than-capable camera. It’s autofocus locks on blazingly fast and the files have been wonderful.
Since, Michigan has all kinds of crazy weather, I’m confident this camera will hold up to whatever weather it encounters since it’s weather sealed.
So, I’ve brought up weather sealing a couple of times now. Why? Here’s why. One day while on assignment for the Traverse City Record-Eagle, I was supposed to make winter photos of downtown scenes. It wasn’t just winter weather that day though. It was rain, quickly turning to ice.
While walking downtown and making photos, there was a layer of ice on my camera and lens. It was so much ice that I said to myself, “If this camera still works after this day, I’ll commit myself to Canon cameras.” The camera worked flawlessly, so I stand by them to this day.
Just because the Canon 1-series cameras work great for me, obviously doesn’t mean that they’re right for you. The purpose of this post is to explain why this camera can be amazing and why it’s the right one for me.
When I’m looking for a camera that I know won’t impede my ability to get a photo, I’m reaching for this one.
And, it has 18 megapixels. But, that doesn’t matter.
As photographers, we obviously would like to photography when the light is optimum. The golden hour, the blue hour, sunsets, sunrises—these are all times of day when the light can turn gorgeous and can result in exquisite images. But, what do you do when the …