It is becoming quite apparent to me that cameras, as tools, do more to shape an image than simply define the aspect ratio and size of the negative. When I started exploring photography, I moved between formats frequently, trying each on for size, and learning the strengths and weaknesses of each. Since 1991 however, I have worked almost exclusively with view cameras and they have become the way I see photographically. The lesson I have learned is that the simple act of changing the camera format used can have a great influence on the final results.
For this session, I left my 4"x5" at home, instead borrowing a friend's
Pentax 6x7 to try to speed up my image making process. As before,
Lilly's time was limited, and I wanted to make the most of what time we
had. This equipment choice gave me a 120 roll film camera for water
surface images, and a 35mm Nikonos camera for the underwater images. I
had expected to use both cameras to great advantage - working quickly
and making images in a more spontaneous manner. The problem was, I
simply could not see with either camera. In the case of the underwater
camera, I quite literally could not see; the water was just too full of
When I first used the Pentax 6x7 camera I was drawn to
its ease of use and the quality of the water blur in the initial images I
made with it. Since then, I have realised that though the camera worked
well in that specific instance, the way it portrays the world while one
uses it is so far from what I have grown comfortable with, that I
cannot make the leap to incorporating it into my way of seeing.
When I first processed the negatives from this session I was very disappointed with the images, and for a long while could not determine why. I knew it could not be the model - Lilly and I have previously made some very well seen photographs, so the failure could not lie there. There was nothing technically wrong, as the negs were well exposed and printed - but they were still lifeless for me. The real problem was a mismatch between the photographer and the tool - the Pentax simply does not function with my way of seeing.
|6x7 cm film
|6x7 cm film