Tuesday, September 18, 2007

To capture a moment

I believe in capturing moments in my life. I started in 1969 with a basic single lens reflex camera and two lenses, and over the next twenty-five years I simply used the camera to take photos of the places, friends, family, trips and whatever else passed my eyes to lift the camera and snap a photo. It was on a solo hiking trip I took a photo I felt no 35mm camera, film then but now also digital, could do it justice.

I decided to research and then buy a large format camera system to start a new career when I retired from my first one. But I've never lost the interest to simply take photos. The recent New Yorker has an interesting article on Leica camera by Anthony Lane. In it, as I read it, he describes a little of the history of the loyalty to the Leica M-series rangefinder cameras. It's just the M-3 is legendary among street photographers for it's size and simplicity, and for allowing them to take tons of photos of the moment.

Personally, while I wouldn't mind a Leica M-series of any recent vintage, I like my pair of Minolta XD-Series bodies. Yes, they're a SLR camera, but they're almost as small, almost as quiet, and just as easy and simple to use. And I carry the same few lense that are normal with most Leicas, or even any, rangefinder camera, namely a 28-35mm lens, a 45-55mm lens and a 80-100mm lens. It's just a good street photography setup.

This is where I agree with Leica rangefinder camera, using a small complement of fixed focal length lenses. The goal is to make the camera invisible with you and to the world. That's not always easy, especially some times and places I use my oversized Canon 5D, but there are times the XD is nice with a 45mm f2 lens, called a pancake lens due to its lens design.

Back to the point. What I like about capturing the moment as described in the article is the simple idea it's about the moment, and represented that way. The photographers of the 1940 and especially the 1950-60's with their rangefinder cameras didn't focus on capturing fine art photos or using the darkroom to improve or enhance their photos, they simple took them at face value, the moment.

And this is something I think photography has lost with all the focus on digital technology with cameras, computers and printer to produce saturated or larger than life images. We've forgotten the simplicity of the moment and it's value in representing life as seen by the photographer. This is why I prefer and do what I call walking around photography. I photograph what captures my eye to snap the shutter and capture the moment.

The moment I see, nothing more and just what it is. Like being stuck in downtown traffic in the holiday rush.

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