Last of the square images

December 21, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I'm finally getting around to processing the multiple rolls of 120 B&W film in my freezer.  Since the developer I use has a six month shelf-life I generally accumulate enough rolls to justify mixing up a gallon and doing them all at one time.  Then that forces me to get out and shoot more B&W film in order to use up the developer still left!  For me, winter is a good time for B&W because only the form and tones of subjects matter - no infatuation with colors. 

What I'm finding is the 6x6cm square format of 120 film really isn't conducive to my type of images.  I look for the broad landscapes or more intimate wildlife images, both of which dictate the use of equipment that is different from square.  The camera I use, a Mamiya 6, is a great instrument and fairly simple to use but it really is more suited to portraits or street photography.  Since I don't do that type of work I'm probably going to sell this camera and the three lenses.  It's been fun to experiment with the format but there's no reason to keep the equipment lying around if I'm not going to use it.  Besides, if I want medium format image size and quality my Nikon D800 will get as close as I need. 

I've still got a few rolls left to process so there may be more images coming.  Here are the ones I like so far.

I am a fan of good zoom lenses, which have improved in image quality significantly over my time as photographer.  One thing I have to keep reminding myself about is that zooming only magnifies, it doesn't change perspective.  The Mamiya doesn't have a zoom lens - you have to change lenses to get a different view.  For example, look at these images.

This used the 50mm Mamiya lens. 

This used the Mamiya 75mm lens.

And this used the Mamiya 150mm lens.

Although it appears I just walked closer to the sign for each lens the actual composition didn't really change.  Notice the relationship of the sign to the upper left branches isn't different across the images.  Their relative size changes, but not their relationship in space.  Same with the space between the top of the sign and the house in the background - the relative distance doesn't change, just the appearance of the size of the difference.  What does this mean?

Standing in one spot and magnifying a scene using a zoom lens means you'll get the same composition in each image because the perspective doesn't change.  The relationship between elements in the image will remain the same; it's just their perceive size that will look different.  If you want a different composition you have to move the camera.  Or as a photographer told me, zoom with your feet.  Then the relationship of the elements in the image will change.

I have to remind myself about this all the time, and usually do so by walking around looking at a scene from different places.  Zoom lenses are useful when you can't get as close as you want but they are no substitution for "working the scene" by looking at it from different places.


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