Taming Dragons in Broad Daylight

The hunt for interesting photography has taken me into some wonderful moments in the last year, and as I take stock of my travel for accounting purposes I am bemused by how many good photos never see the light of day. Maybe it is because I ran out of time to scan the negatives before I had to return to school or perhaps I was too enthralled with another image to notice the other one. All of today’s images were captured using the Mamiya 645 afd I purchased last March. The idea behind the purchase was to force myself to learn to take photographs that required better composition and timing. Film backs with only 10-12 pictures mean that you cannot just shoot rapid fire in the hope that you got one. The opening image was taken in Old Montreal; I like the movement, the innocence of playing in a fountain and the girls oblivion to a man with a camera.

The Parisian Cafe was supposed to be a focus for the trip to Paris, and I was going to print a series of images for sale in editions of 20 on bamboo and sugar cane papers. I did make a few prints – and they were gorgeous – but I never really found the time to show them to anyone. I suppose there is no harm in that, as I can always sell the prints when I actually find the time to do my first exhibition.

I am not much of an architectual/landscape photographer, but these sulphur mines in Japan caught my eye from high above in my cable car. My fellow travelers thought I was crazy to snap four shots of what they all considered to be a stinky dump. I appreciated the vibrant yellow and strange shapes though, and am so glad I took the risk of looking like a fool.

Weathered signs pull me in. This one was outside of the monastery I stayed at in Japan. I never did get to try doing the reflexology walk on stones that the sign advertises, which is a shame. Finally, I end the series with another Montreal image for my fire hyrdrant series. When I head to Chicago this week, I am hoping to find some Art-Deco inspired hydrants, but everything might already be ultra-modern.

I ended up selling the Mamiya last month on Ebay to finance the purchase of the Hasselblad body and film magazines. I did hum and haw over keeping it, as it did produce some spectacular photos, worked well on the road and had two wicked lenses. I do not want to become one of those gear-hoarders who has multiple copies of things that never get used. I feel bad enough that the Canon EOS 3 seldom gets used, but 3 different format cameras (digital, 35mm, medium format) and only 4 lenses for a semi-professional seems Zen enough for me. Oh, and I did find a lens shade for the Hasselblad lenses so that I can finally use those for my commercial  work.

I knew I would take a bit of a loss on the sale, but since I was upgrading and I had learned so much about medium format from the camera I felt it was like a very inexpensive rental fee. Now I have the 501CM to learn from; without a light meter or any auto-focus there will be another steep learning curve, but that is part of the adventure. At least I bought film backs that can take 24 photos before reloading to make up for the manual focusing, manual film advancement, manual loading and manual exposure readings. I feel like a bit of a lunatic for trying this next step so soon, but somehow the Hasselblad calls to me as a pivotal epiphany – either I will realize I totally suck at photography or will slowly tame the traditional monster of photography.


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