Nowadays, I think almost all of us is using DSLR. Film camera days had passed.
However, there are still people who love shooting with film.
Ian Cameron, one of the most experienced landscape film photographer, have shared his 37 years film experience with us today.
Here is Ian Cameron's story.How do you first get into photography and how long have you been doing landscape photography?
I started my photography aged 16 with a polaroid black and white film camera and loved the magic of seeing a photograph develop in front of my eyes and was hooked from that day forward.
My next camera a retired (from my father Zenith E was my first SLR weighed as much as a house brick and was fitted with a 50mm lens never-the-less this was my first foray into colour photography first with 35mm negative film and then with transparencies.
I initially recorded just about everything but progressively became more enthralled with landscape which I explored around the Kent hills, the North and South Downs on a bicycle. The equipment being loaded into saddle bags.
I am now 53 years old and have never stopped taking pictures so that’s the best part of 37 years, the last ten as a professional under the banner Transient Light.Do you start photography as a landscape photographer, or you later changed into one and what do you like most about landscape photography?
I moved into landscape photography solely because I liked the undisturbed solitude of being in the land at times when few people would be up to see the dawn of a new day and continue to this day to be entranced by the magical effect that fine light is able to transform a mundane landscape into a scene of transient splendour.What inspires you to take landscape photography and how do you find new location to photograph?
Light its quality, quantity, direction and hue is the sole driving force for my own style of landscape photography, that is not to say that it has to be extreme, merely appropriate to the scene I have chosen to capture.What is typically in your camera bag?
To this day I am almost exclusively a film user. Needless to say I am often asked why I insist on using such a dated and limited medium.
The admittedly flippant answer is simply I like it and it suits my needs, I am not interested in the age old debate as to whether film or digital is better, film has a different look to it and I prefer the difference, there is still little to beat a fine transparency viewed on a light box and whilst my clients are happy I will continue to use it.
My camera bag has a Pentax 67II medium format film camera in it and usually contains a 55-100 zoom, 90-180 zoom, 300mm APO lens and a 45mm lens. The entire equivalent range of these lenses in 35mm full frame terms equates as between 22mm and 150mm, not that much really and I dare say most digital photographers could accommodate these focal lengths in one zoom.
I also carry a range of Hitech ND Grads, a polariser, a separate Pentax spot meter, the camera meter is poor by modern standards, and the whole lot is supported by a Gitzo 3530LS and a RRS 55 ball head.
The camera is anything but water resistant and when it gets wet I have to pour the water out of it like a watering can, there isn’t a whole lot of electronics going on inside it.
Film is Fuji Velvia 50 and I usually carry around 10 rolls of 120 film stock which has just ten shots a roll to give images with a 6x7cm format.What equipment do you use now? And what do you start with?
I also have a beautiful jewel like Fuji XT-1 which is the antithesis of the big steam driven Pentax 67II, it is light, clever, digital and produces great jpegs direct from the camera, so good in fact that often I don’t bother to shoot RAW.
I still use the filters with it though and largely treat it as a miniature film camera with feedback on the results via the monitor. I operate it with a 14mm lens, an 18-55mm zoom and a 55-200mm zoom all packed into a tiny Think Tank Retrospective 5 shoulder style bag.What equipment are you looking to upgrade next?
I will look at a Fuji XT-2 when it comes out but I rarely upgrade my gear. The current Fuji XT-1 is truly and honestly the first digital camera I have enjoyed using and it is just possible a higher res Fuji XT-2 might finally take over from my old Pentax 67II. We shall see.Do you have any formal training in photography?
No formal training or letters just a lot of field based experience.Is there any challenges you face being a landscape photographer, and what are they?
I am getting a wee bit older these days and whilst my motivation for getting up early and staying out late is still as great as ever, climbing the Scottish hills in difficult conditions is getting noticeably harder, especially with a dodgy knee that has been worn out by excessive sporting endeavours in my junior past.
In the mid-seventies there was fellow named Alan Wicker who used to travel to exotic locations, whenever the BBC filmed him he would turn up looking immaculate in a suit and tie. One of the crew asked him how it was that he always looked so good in front of the cameras when all around him seemed to be dusty, grimy and chaotic, his answer struck a chord with me “any fool can be uncomfortable”.
I believe having the right tools to do the job makes me work better and that has become increasingly more important, so if I have to pay for a good night’s sleep and a meal I will do so.How do you prepare before going for a shoot?
Three really useful Apps get consulted in conjunction with the usual maps:
- Weather Pro Plus HD with the hourly subscription updates and predictive satellite views seem to give me the most accurate weather forecasts in a user friendly display on my ipad
- Tides Tables gives me a really good sinusoidal graphical display of tides for coastal shoots
- Photographers Ephemeris to predict sunrise/sunset moonrise/moonset on real photographic satellite based Google Earth maps with overlays to indicate the positions of the aforementioned sunrise/sunsets from locational viewpoints.
Mixed with all that is a good knowledge of seasonal variation of plants, their growth and colouration and decay (autumnal colour). Whilst great results are never guaranteed by making these pre-flight/shoot checks it never-the-less weights the odds of success in your favour.Do you have a post-processing workflow?
My post processing is basic and arcane. I scan all my transparencies to RGB 16 bit Tiffs using a Nikon 9000ED scanner hooked up to a modified driver to work with Windows 7, my scanning workflow is accurately set up to match the appearance of the Velvia transparencies that I shoot as viewed on a colour corrected lightbox. Any very minor discrepancies are micro adjusted in Photoshop CS5. I never stitch, but will sometimes crop one dimension of the original 6x7cm transparency to change the format as pleases me. Although I am skilled enough to blend exposures and have good basic knowledge of post processing I rarely apply them as I have an antiquated notion that a photograph is one single exposure no matter what its duration, that is a personal opinion though and definitely not one I would try to impose on anyone else.What is the most important thing you think of before you press the shutter?
I think the most important duty for me as a photographer is to ensure that I do everything in my power to get everything right in the field at the instant that I take the photograph, not to try to salvage something less than my best afterwards in post processing. I live by the doctrine of not trying to create a silk purse out of a sows ear. To that end timing, light and composition has to be spot on and technical competency beyond reproach.Lastly, what tips/advice do you have for other aspiring landscape photographers?
My tips to those aspiring to be the best they can are actually listed in my website at www.transientlight.co.uk, I think they are terribly important and mandates for a long and in my case quite prosperous career, they are as follows.
Bonus Tips from Ian
Enjoy your photography. Take pictures first and foremost for yourself, pictures that give you pleasure NOT pictures you think others might prefer to see. Your photographs are unlikely to please everybody, some regard mine as too saccharin sweet - I like my coffee with milk and sugar, doubtless others prefer theirs strong and black.
Don't forsake the aesthetic for the perceived need to be "original". A beautiful picture is just that; beautiful, it doesn't need the window dressing of contrived originality to be admired.
Appreciate, photograph and embrace the beauty of the light that is given. It is pointless to harbour regret for the anticipated light that didn't materialise and worse still to try and make up for its perceived inadequacy in post processing.
Many photographers I speak to seem intent on developing their own style. All that I have learned from my years of landscape photography has taught me that a style will find YOU.