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 place.

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...

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.

35mm: Compacts

Covert, or "spy" cameras.

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 example.

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: 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 wildlife photos.

Misc: Various antiques and strange cameras

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