August 09, 1998

Lily in a Lake (Long Lake, Nova Scotia)

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.
6x7 cm film
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 algae.
6x7 cm film
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.
35mm film
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.

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