Archive for the ‘nikon’ Category

I work as a professional photographer in Boulder, Colorado, shooting portraits, business headshots, and commercial projects for clients like the U.S. Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force, food and drink for Whitewave/Silk and American Homestead Meats, and event coverage for companies in the cable industry.

On a recent day off, I decided to take a stroll down to the Pearl Street Mall, the local outdoor shopping area in downtown Boulder, and figured I’d build my portraiture client list by photographing people on the mall, getting their email, and offering to send them a photograph. In the email, I asked them if I could add them to my email list where I offer tips to great phone photography (something they’re probably interested in) while promoting my services.

The truth is, while my business clients are regular users of photographs, many people sometimes think to do family portraits or couple portraits, but that’s where it ends, with a thought. They never actually order a portrait session.

OUT ON THE MALL FOR STREET PORTRAITS

On this day off from client work, I took out a Nikon DSLR that is 9 years old, a D90 which debuted in August 2008. Why I brought that instead of my D810 is that I wanted to shoot with a vintage 1970s-era lens, the Nikon 55mm f1.2 non-AI manual focus lens for the soft backgrounds it produces, since I would be working on a crowded outdoor mall, and the information at Nikonians.org about its lens compatibility with my digital bodies says:

NO!
Definitely do not use, for it may damage the camera body. Also, warranty will be void.

That didn’t sound promising. But I was determined. So, I mounted the lens on my backup body, a D7200, and it mounted but it was tight to attach and once attached, the aperture ring wouldn’t budge.  Hmmm.

That mount seemed ridiculously tight. It took a good strong twist to mount it. Definitely not a normal mount. I thought, I’ll do a test with it, and then another one with the old D90 that I had laying around, knowing that at f1.2, I wouldn’t be needing the latest sensor capability for low light performance–I’d be shooting at base ISO (200, in this case) since I was working outside wide open.

The test with the D90 looked as good as the D7200, though it was a 12mp image instead of a 24mp. Good enough for what I was working on. And if it damaged the body, oh well, not much lost since that’s not my go-to camera . (It looks like you can get a D90 these days for under $200.)

So, with that 55mm f1.2 Nikkor S-C extremely securely mounted, I hit the streets.

And then I approached people, folks who looked like they were in a good location to interrupt them. Sitting somewhere, or chatting in the shade. Here’s what I found and created, with the promise to send them each their portrait. psmfamilyBW-kennethwajda
This couple got two images, I liked them as a package. She replied: Thank you so much for the lovely portraits. What a great treat to meet you and let you make these portraits of Pieter and me. Yes, we have been in love since we met in the summer of 1965 in the Netherlands, where we grew up. I will certainly think of you when we need a beautiful family portrait when we are all together in Boulder for a happy family get together. I will also recommend you to our friends. Until we meet again. With warm wishes, Susanna.pearlolder
If I hadn’t made them, would they ever get made? It seems a shame that they might not, and I’m proud to have made them.pearlolder1
This guy was working on the mall. pearl6
These three were sitting in front of an ice cream shop, and looked like a photogenic trio.
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Visiting Boulder from Italy and very flattered to be photographed.
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She tagged me in this Instagram post.

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The ice cream on their faces were what drew me to them.pearl3
Someone was trying to get a photo of them with a phone, when I offered to shoot it for them.
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A couple out on the mall with their dog, who was too old to make it into the photo.
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A dapper man who engaged me in talk of photography.
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A couple of friends out for happy hour drinks.
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A grandpa and his grandson sharing a bit of time watching street performers.
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She wouldn’t hold still long enough to get the three of them in the same plane of focus, so this is the result.familypsm-1-kennethwajdaThey were heartily laughing, which is how I approached them: “I love your laugh.  Can I photograph you?”
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Another guy interested in talking about photography.michaelportrait-kennethwajda
She’s into photography and was talking about my camera, and her interest.
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A daughter and her father sharing a coffee break.

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Two friends cruising the mall, who I asked to photograph them together.
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The only one that I kept in color instead of black and white was a young woman at a local taco joint, while I was waiting for my burrito, who asked about my camera and mentioned that she likes photography. I asked her if I could take her portrait with the light coming through the broad windows of the shop.
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These were all made with a 9-year-old camera body, (a senior citizen of the camera world!), that no one into camera models would take seriously. I took care of that with a small piece of black gaffer tape over the model number. Problem solved!

The people who I photographed loved their portraits. I asked them to please tag me in any social media posts. And of course I included my contact card at the bottom or each of my emails. And now, I have their contact information for my growing list of contacts. These are new contacts to people who have now seen my work, who like my work, who may need anything from family photographs to business images–someone might be the CEO of a company.

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Portraiture is all about the connection to the subject in the image that we create, the emotion we draw out–not just the technical quality of the camera. I wrote this story because I think sometimes we feel we need the latest and greatest, and we really don’t.

It’s really not about the camera. We need something proficient for what we want to create. The D90 is from 2008 and the 55mm f1.2 is from 1972. Good gear matters, but it doesn’t have to be the latest in all cases.

It’s about creating art out of beautiful, wonderful subjects.  And these people certainly are.

Kenneth Wajda is a freelance commercial photographer and film producer in Boulder, Colorado. You can see more of his work at KennethWajda.com.

I realize I shoot film a lot, but I have multiple bodies with film loaded, and I tend to shoot conservatively, just a frame or two on a person or a subject.

I want to change that.  I just added motor drives to two of my Nikons, an F3, and an FM2, the cameras I used as a photojournalist throughout the 80’s and 90s.

I want to shoot more content.  And not hold back.  I think I do that–hold back.   I want to fire up the cameras and move film through them more quickly.

The motor drive will let me do that.  It’s license to burn!

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I have a buying guide for Film SLRs (and TLRs and Point and Shoots, sometimes, too.)

Check it out if you’re looking for a good Film Camera!   Happy Shooting!

I keep running into people who see my old Leica IIIf over my shoulder and marvel that they still make film.  And that it is readily available.  I assure them it is.

I have a standard response to their “I have a great old camera that I never use.”  I tell them to just put one roll of Tri-x in it, shoot a frame once a week or so.  And that after several months, the roll will be done and there will be 36 memories to relive captured on film.

You will have forgotten what you shot.  You will know there’s something good waiting for you after the roll’s developed, and the camera will not be wasting away.  You can always shoot more, but certainly, shooting just one roll a year is still a treat.

You’ll probably need a new battery for the camera.  Many of those with electronic shutters won’t work without them.  Run out, get some new cells, power it up, and load the film.  It’ll all come back.  The feel of those old metal-bodied durable beasts will remind you why you loved them so much.  The heft in your hand will say quality, unlike what you see in many of today’s cameras.  The viewfinder will be big and bright.

It’s a treat.  And the folks I’ve mentioned it to say, “I think I’ll do that.”  I hope they do.  Bring some new life to those wonderful cameras of days of old, er, not that long ago.

How about you?  Have a sweet old camera that isn’t getting used?  How about getting it out and loading it up, just one roll of film.  You’ll be creating a time capsule.

lcpac1If you know you’re never going to shoot it again, donate the camera to a local photography school or art center.  I have one called the Lyons Photography Art Center in Colorado where you can send them.  Address is PO BOX 69, Lyons, CO 80540.  I use them to teach kids to shoot black and white film, to slow down and carefully compose images.  I give them the camera loaded and ready to shoot.  No excuses for lack of equipment.

If you do end up shooting some film, post the links here and let’s have a look!

Somehow, whenever I see a Canon QL17 for $10 or a Minolta A-5 for $20 or a Minox 35SE for $25, even a Leica IIIf for $100, I have to pick them up. (Those are real prices I’ve paid.)   I have Leica M bodies, and great lenses–I don’t need these.  But I feel like I’m rescuing some old friends when I do.  They are so well made and have lasted this long, I want them to have a future.  A reason to be.  I only buy them if their speeds all sound close to accurate and their glass and viewfinder are clean, and the rangefinder working.  These are beautiful works of art, even their leather cases are nicer than what’s being made today.

Leica IIIfSo, I have a little collection and I try to take them out at times and run a roll of Tri-x or HP5 through them.  I imagine how excited they are to be back in someone’s hands, documenting someone’s life.  Again.  There was a time when they were used constantly, probably.  But now shooting film is less than fashionable.   Folks think these gems are too expensive to shoot.

I think it’s rather inexpensive compared to shooting digital and buying new cameras every two years, computers, software and hard drives, but don’t get me started.   Film is my love and I am glad to be one of the photographers specializing in it, even if we are a minority.

Because when that image appears after developing the film, there’s nothing like that memory captured there forever.  That piece of film was present at our Grandpa’s last birthday or our son’s first steps.  That piece of film is a time capsule that will last generations if carefully treated.   When the hard drives are either corrupted or long misplaced and forgotten, this piece of film will hold the image of that day, that moment.

And that’s a bit of magic.  In a $10-$100 film camera with $5 film, hand-developed.

Do you rescue old beauties?

Street plookerhotography.  Those two words have a lot of connotations, and often, it seems to be photos of people standing on the street, maybe checking their phones.  Those photographs don’t do a lot for me.  They are more like record shots, than documentaries of anything going on.  While taking place on the street, they tell a boring story.

And for me, for a street photo to have merit, it has to have a good story.  Even if it’s one that may not be easily deciphered, it has to have one.  Because content is king.  That is what makes a photograph move from the discard pile into the keep pile, for me.

Besides photography, I am a writer and filmmaker, and my film sense is very much small, art-house fare, not Hollywood explosive action flicks.  I like a good story about people, a story that I can relate to.  The simpler the better.  Just don’t be predictable or boring–two of the cardinal sins of storytelling.

Here’s my idea of a storytelling street photo.    Shot with a Rolleiflex.  A little girl sizing up the offerings around the next corner.

I shoot a lot of street photography on a digital Fuji X100, as well as film.  You can see more here: http://kennethwajda.com/kennethwajdastreetphotography.htm

Would love to know your thoughts on street photography.

The one thing that I really love about shooting film, that is really missing with digital photography for me, is the waiting.  The time between shooting and processing is a welcome delay.  Because I have a mind that easily forgets what I shot, and when the roll is finally processed, I have a surprise waiting for me.  Or 12 or 36 of them.

jump2 (2)I was just talking to a neighbor and he saw me with an old Olympus Pen half-frame camera I found in my car when I was cleaning it out.  It didn’t work, and I was trying to get it to–no luck.  He saw the camera and said he had an old Nikon F2 with some great lenses.  He said he hadn’t used it for years.  I said load a roll of film, and even if it takes a year to shoot, when it’s done and back from the lab (or hand-processed), there will be memories to see that he had completely forgotten about.  With digital, if I shoot your photograph, then show you on the screen, all the wonder and enjoyment is done.  Now I just have that tedious task of exporting it to a file and getting it to you.  But there’s no more wonder.  That’s why with digital I never show anyone what I just shot–it kills the ability to share it with them when it’s finished, and they’ve forgotten a little about it.

kids2 (2)The photos from a long-ago shot roll of film look familiar, but there’s the puzzle in your head, where you try to remember what they were, who they were with, etc.  There’s the delight in finding a really special image that you didn’t even realize was on there, and it’s one of your favorites.  Maybe of all time.  Just waiting there for you to discover.

These three photos I shot while walking to the post office a year ago.  I was carrying a Nikon F100 with a 50mm f2 lens.  Completely forgot about them, and probably thought they wouldn’t look like anything when I shot them.  Then the film was finished and I feel like I captured a little piece of a Norman Rockwell childhood.  Three of my favorite shots.  Kids playing a jumping game with a branch.  Who would’ve thought?  A delightful surprise, as delightful as their smiles.

It’s Christmas morning!

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