Adventures in Analogue Photography

mammoth-camera-george-lawrenceContinuing the “retro” theme the phrase “analogue” photography makes you think doesn’t it? In this digital world of megapixels it’s hard to remember that once upon a time “analogue” was all there was. When I refer to analogue I mean film, yes that stuff that everyone (i.e. the camera manufacturers) are trying to convince us is obsolete. I grew up in this era of photography and some of the worlds greatest images were captured on humble film. I can’t imagine what the photographers of the day would have made of all this digital malarkey! I mean what would have happened to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” if he was too busy checking the histogram!

We take pictures not for the sake of art but because they mean something to us

First off let me say that I’m just your average photographer… I typically take pictures of family events and occasionally try my hand at something more artistic. I know what a great image looks like but when I try to replicate an image it somehow never quite looks the same way. But isn’t that what photography is all about anyway, our personal interpretation of what we see, we take pictures not for the sake of art but because they mean something to us. I’m sure that most of us often view our images this way.

Now I’m not a luddite as I’ve owned a crappy digital Samsung NV3 compact for the last 7 years, which in all honesty probably caused me to miss many great photographs due to shutter lag no to mention the other faults of the design:

  • High red sensitivity.
  • Optical artefacts appearing in images dues to poor internal lens design.
  • Having the same fault as many modern compacts in that the flash is almost in line with the lens increasing the risk of red-eye despite using pre-flashes to close the subject’s pupil.

Anyway that’s my rant over about that particular camera.

Last Summer I decided to take up analogue photography again. Over the years I had owned and used numerous numerous cameras:

Carl Zeiss Ikon Folding Camera – I remember taking this on a school trip and something went wrong and the film got accidentally exposed to the light.

Minolta 16P – This was a “cheap” (at the time) 110 film camera, I took it on a walking trip while at school back in the late 1970’s.

1960_Minolta_16_Model_new

Pentax S1a – This 1960’s camera cost an absolute fortune back in the day! You could buy a terraced house for what they cost back then. I learnt the basics of photography with this camera. An interesting fact is that George Harrison of the Beatles owned one which sold at auction for £4750!

Pentax S1a - George Harrison

Bronica SQ-A & Mamiya C330 TLR sold to a second hand store in Vancouver in 1992 so I could have some cash to live!

Bronica SQ-A

Mamiya_C330_TLR_camera_with_80mm_F2_8_interchangable_lens

After I returned home I went on a splurge and bought myself both a Nikon F90 & F801 camera outfit from “Tecno” (remember them?). This was my main shooting outfit for several years until I decided to sell the lot before buying my first house.

F90Big

F801Big

After a while I was hankering after another camera and bought a used Canon EOS 600 (650 to those across the pond) with a 28-105mm USM Mk2 to replace the Nikon’s I sold previously. Now I know that some Nikon fans would be gasping in horror that I switched marques, however there was method in my madness, the EOS 600 was a simpler camera but had in my opinion better ergonomics having the selector wheel above the shutter for one-handed operation.

Canon EOS 600

In all that time I had never owned an Olympus Trip though. This iconic little camera spurred a generation of photographers in the 10 years of its production and the marketing hook “Who do you think you are… David Bailey!” still makes me chuckle.

Olympus Trip 35

A search on eBay showed a number of Trips out there and after several attempts managed to pick up one along with a Yashica 35ME compact in the same sale for a reasonable price. I set about replacing the light seals as my research pointed to the fact that these would most likely have perished due to age.

Once the seals had been replaced I needed to source some film to test the camera with. In the past I would have used Fuji Velvia slide film but as these were “untried” cameras I didn’t want to spend £5 upwards a roll just to find out they didn’t work. As luck would have it I stumbled across the “Tightfisted Photographers” Blog and learnt about Poundland’s Agfa Vista 200 plus films for a quid! You can’t argue with that!

So with 5 rolls I ended taking along the Olympus Trip and Yashica along with a Nikkormat FT2n SLR along with me on our holiday in Cornwall.

Due to lack of time and not willing to pay £10 for a lithium battery for my Canon EOS 600 it remained at home this time around.

While the Olympus & Yashica had zone focusing it did take a bit of getting used to as you can’t always be sure how far away something actually is unless you carry a tape measure around with you. In practice it does mean that there will be a few pictures that are out of focus because they are just outside of the focus range. I guess more practice is required here. Lewis Collard explains the zone focusing system used by the Olympus here. It also looks less inconspicuous compared to a conventional SLR allowing for some nice candid shots which is one of the reasons why the Olympus Trip is popular with street photographers.

One of the things I like about analogue photography is immediacy of response when firing the shutter. It makes you feel more “connected” somehow to the subject you are photographing there’s no perceivable “lag” and the uncertainty that the camera captured what you were expecting.

Picture1 Picture2
Picture3 Picture4
Picture5 Picture6
Picture7 Picture8

Cornwall proved to be a fantastic place for photo opportunities, from the sweeping, rugged coastlines to the picturesque villages and historical remnants it has it all, as long as the weather is on your side that is. Being on the coast means that the weather can change rapidly. One minute it can be pelting down with rain and the next clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds.

The films were processed at my local ASDA and scanned to CD. The (laughingly) high resolution scans weigh in at approximately 2Mb resolution from the Fuji Frontier SP3000. It’s a pity that they couldn’t scan at the resolution the Frontier is capable of.

David Bailey

David Bailey..? Who’s He?

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2 thoughts on “Adventures in Analogue Photography

  1. they look well good from the little old olympus trip 🙂 did yo not get a set of prints done too?

  2. I did get a set of small prints which look generally ok. They wouldn’t stand up to enlargement because the prints are not made from the actual negative but from the so called “high resolution” 2 megapixel scan that ASDA’s Fuji Frontier scanners are locked down to. Pit because the Fuji SP3000 can scan at 6 megapixels easily.

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