Cameras or Pictures?

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

In the past few days I've been getting a lot of visits to this blog. In fact the highest daily totals I've ever received. Most are looking at the posts on the Sony NEX-7, as the result of much appreciated links from other sites. I am somewhat surprised by the volume, particularly as I thought the NEX-7 has been thoroughly well reviewed elsewhere. However it seems there is a lot of interest in this camera, and my somewhat fortunate, in the right place at the right time order, and subsequent user experience with the camera, seems to be attracting lots of interest.

However at the same time, I have been spending the majority of my days working with medium-format film scans. 

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

My intention with them is to give them a second lease of life. These were all taken by myself and Ann many years ago, and they have been with various libraries in their original state. i.e. as transparencies and not scanned. Since the majority of libraries now work exclusively digitally, these slides have been returned, allowing us to find new markets for them. I am currently engaged in scanning, editing and uploading what I consider to be the best and the most commercial.

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Much as I'm fascinated by the NEX-7 and its possibilities, it is however this scanning that is currently exciting me, and I seem to want to get back to it at every available opportunity. It is bringing back a wealth of memories. Standing in the lavender fields of Provence, with that heady scent in our nostrils, hauling ourselves and our cameras up mountain tracks in the Alps, Pyrenees and Scottish highlands, and watching the sun emerge from the clouds over a silver sea.

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

And this of course, is what photography is all about. I think there is no doubt that I like cameras, but I like using them much more. This blog gives me an opportunity to give some purpose and a public platform to all the constant testing that I've always done. Its important to me to know how a camera / lens is going to perform for real, when I need it, and I've always done a lot of comparison work. For the most part that can be quite dull, but writing this blog has made the process more interesting, and while its certainly not an end in itself, it has become a somewhat more pleasureable task than it was before.

But the real joy of photography for me is being out in the landscape, experiencing everything the climate can throw at me, from snow and temperatures in minus numbers, to gales and energy sapping heat. Hours and hours of looking hopefully up at grey cumulonimbus clouds, praying for a break and a burst of sunlight in just the right place.

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

I've done most things in pursuing a living as a photographer. Weddings, Portraits and Social Photography, I've photographed events, live performances, worked for a model agency, photographed comedians, jugglers, dancers and strippers. I've even done product and still life photography, and travel assigments for magazines, tourist boards and holiday companies. No sports or news photography, but I've had a varied set of experiences. But whenever I've been "trapped" indoors and had a list of appointments for people waiting to be photographed, or had to be concerned about how to light a piece of jewellery, if I've glanced out of a window and seen the sun shining, then I've had a pang of regret that I'm not outdoors with my camera. I've wondered what pictures I'm missing, what light I'm not capturing, and what sunlit landscapes I'm not recording.

I once turned up late to photograph an engagement party because I was waiting for the sun to light a particularly dramatic railway viaduct. Not very "professional" I know, but I was so caught up with what I was doing, I forgot where I was supposed to be!!

Its not that I dislike photographing people, or events, I do very much. I enjoyed most of the weddings I photographed, and have had many enjoyable portrait sessions. However I rarely, if ever, look at those pictures. Its the mountains, the coast and the rivers that I look at.

And that is why I'm enjoying this scanning process so much. Its giving me a chance to relive some of my favourite photographic moments. Pieces like this, and the images I post to go along with them, achieve far less hits than the camera tests and "camera porn", and it does seem a shame that many forums, blogs and photographic websites are obsessed with the gear rather the images it creates. When I look at the images I'm working on currently, its then that I realise why I do this, and why I feel myself fortunate to earn my living in the way that I do. With regard to these images, I have no nostalgic affection for film, I could just as easily have taken these images with digital cameras, its the sense of time and place they give me that is important. 

One of the advantages of doing this, is that I can spend dull days (and the last 2 days here have been very dreary outdoors) with my head somewhere else. I'm currently working on a lot of images from the north of Scotland, and I can almost feel the peat under my feet and that permanent threat of rain in the air. When any of us look at our photographs, we experience memories and sensations that other viewers can't experience, and to me that is one of the joys of what we do. Looking at an image of a dramatic and beautiful place isn't the same as being there, but its not a bad substitute.

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film

Pentax 645 Colour transparency film