Truck Stop: About cameras and some of the photographs.
Cameras, photos and other things.
This isn't finished yet... So watch this space.
I thought it may interest some people to know what the various photos
littering this page were taken with. Apart from some of the "superstar
shots" I took most of them.
Since this is my web page, I just realised that there's no reason I
shouldn't rant a bit more about photography...
Whilst I have never really wanted to be a professional photographer, I
do come from that background. My Grandfather owned Park Pictures (one of
the biggest picture and film agencies in the country) when I was young so
it's fair to say that I was never spoiled for choice about cameras and I
aquired a 'photo editors' approach to photography at an early age.
I am not a huge fan of modern photography; it seems to have become another
branch of computer science and hearing people discuss how many exposure or
focus zones their latest picture taking computer has is a bit tedious and
something of a waste of space. The physics of a camera says that the light
goes into the lense, and is projected onto the film for a certain amount
of time. The aesthetics of a lot of the best pictures says that different
zones of a photograph are exposed when printing for different times to
correct the fact that lighting on a non studio shot is never perfect
anyway. No amount of exposure zones are going to help someone with no
eye for lighting take a better picture nor will they make some hidden deity
flash a bit of underlighting onto a subject 300 yards away at just the right
moment, that's the job of a good Darkroom Technician. As a photographer
you should be mostly concerned with getting a good picture. I guess the one
benifit of modern photography is that people with
absolutely no photographic skills at all can still blame the cameras. I
am not sure it is possible to teach a lot of photography enthusiats that
a lot of the art is knowing when to release the shutter but if nothing
else, it makes film cheaper!
Artistic (as opposed to purely documentary) photography
is an art and not a science. Most photography students are still taught not
to crop photographs during printing (hence the odd habit of printing large
and medium format prints with the film borders on) in an attempt to teach
them the art of composition; in slide photography this is obviously pretty
important. I do crop a lot of my photos personally (and I avoid slides
like the plague!) but I
can appreciate the theory of not doing. For my style of photography I tend
to want a convenient camera that does what I want it to as soon as I turn
it on and does it fast. My favourite cameras are a battered old Fuji digital,
the Yashica T5 and the
Canon EOS 600 and I very rarely change lenses. As long as they can focus
well I am happy. Again, a lot of crap is talked about focus in an attempt to
sell more and more silly technology in a camera. Anything over 50 yards and
it really doesn't matter that much and most of the best photographs
ever taken will have been taken with guesstimate settings on the focus and
exposure dials). Recently I have started being a bit of a fraud - I take a
lot of photos on slow-frame digital video and select what I want later. It
has the advantage that I rarely miss much, it has the disadvantage of hours
of "waste" material. There is a school of thought that says that digital
documentary photography is bad, because there is a very valuable archive
loss that was always there with film - I don't delete anything on digital
nor on video, since I tend to agree with this philosophy.
I wrote a lot of this page quite a few years ago, and since then there
have been very quick advances in Digital Photohraphy. It's got to the
point now where I really can't afford to use real-film, I have a box of
about 50 rolls currently waiting to be developed, that will cost about
the same amount as a good useable digital camera! - Most of the time,
I just scan 35mm prints for this page anyway so it seems logical. At
the moment, I use a Fuji MX-2700 which I hate. I don't like its colour
balance much and it has a habit of destroying Smartmedia cards. Saying
that, it does take some pretty good photos at times.
A lot is written
about photography by people who seem to be complete perfectionists but
when it comes to it, you can have a shedload of Leicas sitting at home
and still never get as good a picture as a 10 year old with a Polaroid
who happened to press the button at the right time in roughly the right
35mm: Canon EOS 1000F[N]
This used to be my mainstay carry around camera and still is in any situation
where it's likely to get very very abused. It was pretty much the first Canon
non-professional EOS they did and has all sorts of strange features on it (I
lost the manual ages ago) including being able to change the self-timer tune
and being able to take soft focus pictures automatically (2 pictures on one
frame at half exposure, with the second focussed back). Although this thing
will take the other EOS lenses, it tends to have a 35-80 on it permanently,
it weighs practically nothing and has a big knife cut across the front glass
where someone tried to stop be taking a photo of them at a party... It has
a built in flash, seems to be able to take being dropped from a height and
to a degree seems to be water and beer proof.
Example picture: Pete drinking Tetleys, taken at night with flash.
35mm: Canon EOS 50E
The 50E was the top of the range of the non professional EOS cameras in 1998,
it has all sorts of strange features like 3 point eye controlled autofocus
and it's quite fast as well (though it pales into insignificance when
compared to the 600). The thing is far too complicated to use, and I have
probably lost the manual again so I will never work out half of what it can
do. I use this for general things, and the infrared remote is quite sweet
for anything that needs a longish exposure. I hate the metering modes on this
camera. I can never remember how to set most of them and always seem to get it
wrong... This can be frustrating as hell sometimes since the camera is
generally really good.
Example picture: Shimrit, in the garden. Daylight shot.
35mm: Canon EOS 600
An early Canon professional range camera. I personally think that even
though this was made in 1993 or so, there's not a lot to touch it. Maybe
when you get to the Nikon F4 you are there, but not a lot else. Do you
get the idea that I like the EOS 600? There aren't a huge amount of fiddly
functions, the ones that are there are easy to use without a thousand
page manual and it works, very well. It is fast... It has a maximum shutter
speed of 1/2000s (the 620 and even the 50E can do 1/4000) but on manual
focus it can take about 5 frames a second. With a fast lense it can
autofocus incredibly fast and
it can still give you about 3 frames a second. It eats film but it's fun!
No built in flash or gimmicky features on this one but it makes up for
eating film with its good battery usage (at least that's my excuse!).
35mm: Canon Lenses
For completeness, here's the lenses...
- Canon 35-80 4-5.6 - Light as hell but slow and battered.
- Canon 35-70 3.5-4.5 - Heavy but nice manual focus ring for the 600.
- Canon 28-80 3.5-5.6 USM - Not so bad, quiet as hell and quite fast.
- Canon 100-300 4.5-5.6 USM - Superb. Big, fast and good manual focus!
- Sigma 70-300 4-5.6 - Slow, heavy and noisy but the optics seem nice.
- Canon EF 2X convertor - I wouldn't normally mention it, and I never use it
but it's interesting to see which cameras are capable of using it.
35mm: Olympus OM10
A few years ago, this was most people's first camera. My first real 35mm
SLR was a Zenith followed by a Practica MTL5 and a Yashica but I bought
this one second hand a few years later and it's outlasted the rest. If I
am feeling pretentious I tell people it's my black and white camera - In
truth, you won't see many B&W photos on my page, and not one taken with
this since I only ever use B&W for surveillence photography or covert work.
It was my mainstay colour camera for years until I discovered autofocus
and I have never really gone back to the Olympus since.
Example picture: Leeds University tower, from the roof in daylight.
- Yashica T5: Lovely camera! Superb lense, waist level viewfinder. Crap
for covert work, which is what I got it for originally because of the
auto focus and the annoying flash but great as a compact.
Covert, or "spy" cameras.
- Minox B:
The definitive Cold-War spy camera.
- Minox 35EL: Minox's baby 35mm.
- Olympus XA1: Not strictly designed as a spy camera, but does the job well!
Digital: Olympus C-1000 L
Digital: Early Kodak
I can't remember the model number of this one. It was a horrible camera
though oddly, it took some rather good pictures. It only held about 5 or
6 shots at anything like a decent resolution and used pretty much a whole
lithium battery in less than 20 shots. In the end, I gave it away to someone
who was a little more tolerant than I am.
It took pictures in 493*373 and they were all quite small in size. It
seemed rather good, colourwise. Here's an
Digital: Fuji MX-2700
This is my mainstay digital camera, though I am not a big fan of it. It is
a 2.3 megapixel thing that attempts to write its pictures onto Smart Media.
On the plus side, its battery life is pretty good, and it likes being
dropped. It has no features to speak of (that I use anyway) and a pretty
poor lense. Because it has no zoom, I have at times, had to resort to some
rather odd means to get
pictures. Mind you, I quite like
those. The setup was a telescopic rifle site, tripod mounted with the camera
also tripod mounted behind it. I can't really blame the camera for not doing
too well at focussing through that setup.
Here are some examples from it:
DV: JVC DV1
DV: Canon MV1
This is the camera I am holding in the small picture at the top of this page.
The MV1 is an "SLR" type Digital Video camera, but mine has the Amphibico
Underwater Housing so it's used mostly as an underwater camera and
also pretty exclusively in its "stills" setting. It's
a wonderful camera, though showing its age a lot compared to the newer ones
alas. This example here for once
wasn't taken by me, but it's a lovely photo (in fact most of the time it
is my windows backdrop) taken unfiltered at about 60ft in Grand Cayman
by Amy. Because I like the underwater ones, here's
another, taken at about
90 feet and
another, that looks as though it was
taken at a more shallow depth.
This camera isn't just good for underwater, it's pretty good for pictures of
lightning storms and, without the
heavy casing, it's not even too bad at
Misc: Various antiques and strange cameras
Michael Lawrie's 'Lorry' homepage. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org