352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Test-Shoot One (The Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7 and Canon 5D Mk II, Blurring and Double-Exposures)

On Thursday 22nd January 2015, I decided to take out the Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7, and Canon 5D Mk II for a test shoot to allow me to decide which of the cameras I was going to use for my project.

(This is because, in a one-to-one tutorial that I had with Anthony Luvera on 14th January (please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 2 (One-to-One Tutorial with Anthony Luvera)”) he suggested that I should look into the use of medium format camera’s (or at least higher quality digital cameras) within my FMP, and through independent research that I conducted after this meeting (please see in the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Equipment and Editing Software Research”), I found that the Mamiya 7, Mamiya RB67, and the Canon 5D Mk II were all largely suggested in relation to landscape photography).

During this session, as well as simply testing the practicality and photographic quality of the camera, I also experimented with a couple of different photographic techniques (including deliberate blurring and double exposures) that were either introduced to me through research that I had conducted into Pictorialism within Alfred Stieglitz’s “Camera Work” (please see more detailed information in the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”), or that, through gaining inspiration from this piece of research, I thought would be interesting to experiment with in general.

Below you can find the notes about test shoot day (including a list of test shots, my methodology, and notes that I took on the day), followed by the photographs from the shoot and any after-thoughts I had about the cameras and techniques:

 


 

Equipment:

  • Canon 5D Mk II
  • Tamron SP10-24mm (wide angle) lens
  • Mamiya 7
  • Mamiya 7 80mm lens
  • Ilford HP5 (ISO 400)
  • Tripod
  • Sekonic L-308S Flashmate (light meter)

 


 

List of Test Shots:

  • Landscape – f/5.6 1/30
  • Landscape – f/5.6 1/30
  • Landscape – f/5.6 1/30
  • Landscape – f/6.3 1/30
  • Landscape – f/8 1/125
  • Blurred landscape – f/8 1/30
  • Blurred landscape – f/8 1/30
  • Blurred landscape – f/8 1/60
  • Double exposure – f/8 1/30

(Please note: although the Mamiya RB67 and Mamiya 7 allow 10 exposures per one 120 roll film, as I was unsure how to successfully create a double exposure using these cameras, I decided to leave the last two exposures of the film available to experiment with the double exposure; hence why there are only 9 test shots listed)

 


 

Methodology:

For the methodology of this test shoot, I considered a number of variables in order to allow me to gain the greatest possible understanding of the practicality and quality of the cameras I was testing. This section simply bullet-points some of the factors I considered, why I chose to shoot in certain ways, and the general technique I underwent on the day:

  • Although I am planning on shooting my final images using colour 120mm film, as you will see below, I actually decided to shoot with Black and White 120mm film for the test shoot
    • This was because, as the project is self-budgeted, I made use of the resources I already had and therefore used up some of the Black and White film I owned
    • Although this isn’t a very big deal at this point in the developmental and experimentation stage of the project, I do understand that, once I have decided upon which medium format camera I will want to use, I will have to experiment with the use of colour film
    • I also decided to change the digital images (taken on the Canon 5D Mk II) to Black and White, in order to provide me with the ability to focus on the comparison between the photographic quality
  • As you will also see, I also decided to shoot all 9 of the exposures/images in the same locations to, again, provide me with the ability to focus on the comparison between the photographic quality between the three cameras
  • At the beginning of the test shoot, as I was very excited to use the Mamiya RB67, I decided that I wanted to test that first
    • However, once I had captured the first exposures on both the Mamiya RB67 and the Mamiya 7, as I moved on to shoot digitally with the Canon 5D Mk II, I then relaised that the settings I received from the light meter I was using were slightly off, meaning that the exposures I had taken would be underexposed
    • From this point onwards, I then decided to shoot with the digital camera first in order to gain an understanding of the correct settings to use, before testing with the two medium format cameras
    • Once I have decided which camera I will be using for my FMP, if I choose to use a medium format camera, I think I will use this method of shooting digitally first in order to provide me with the correct technical information for my medium format exposure
  • Deliberately blurred landscape images
    • I decided to experiment with the deliberately blurred landscape images because, as suggested above, I was introduced to similar techniques within my research (by looking at Alfred Stieglitz’s “Camera Work” and Pictorialism) that I thought could be used to suggest one of the overarching themes of my final project: the fading memory
  • Double-Exposures
    • I also decided to experiment with double exposures because, although I hadn’t visited them in any of my research (and gained inspiration from the Pictorial blurring techniques), I thought that this technique could be used to represent the theories surrounding the falsehood of a memory through the incorporation of an individuals imagination (looked at within my Symposium module), by including faded aspects of different “memory” images that symbolize the merging of two possible memories
    • For the double-exposures, with the Mamiya RB67 I simply attempted completing the technique, that was briefly discussed in the self-learning tutorial (please see in the blog post “352MC Professional photographic Practice – Equipment and Editing Software Research”), to the best of my memory
    • However, with the Mamiya 7, although I did follow the double-exposure technique that was, too, discussed in the self-learning tutorial, I tried underexposing each section of the double-exposure by one stop as I thought that the double-exposure would balance out the individual underexposed images
    • As for the Canon 5D Mk II, as I don’t think you can actually create double-exposure using the actual camera itself, I simply opened up two images in Photoshop and manipulated them to create one image with two photographic layers
  • For the developing and editing of the images I created during this test shoot, I developed the black and white film in the developer machine before scanning them in using the Hasselblad scanner we have at university
    • Although, once scanned, I did open these medium format exposure in Photoshop, I decided to only crop and straighten them (not editing the exposure/levels) as I feel that digitally enhancing the medium format images in Photoshop takes away from the point of using film
    • However, when it came to the digital images (from the Canon 5D Mk II) I decided to edit these slightly more, in terms of exposure, levels, and contrast, in order to mirror the methodology I would use if I decided to use the digital route as my final output

 


 

Notes from the Day:

Mamiya RB67:

  • Very heavy
  • Easier to focus on than the Mamiya 7
  • Nicer to use (in personal opinion)

Mamiya 7:

  • Difficult to focus on aspects that have lots of detail
  • Rangefinder doesn’t show exactly what is being shot (so the composition of the image may be off)
  • Difficult to change settings when hands are cold

General Notes:

  • Shoot with digital first as exposure and settings on light meter may be slightly off – use digital to experiment with exposure
  • Practice composition on digital first before finalizing on film
  • If using Mamiya for final images, practice on digital using the same lens that is on the Mamiya
    • Will get better idea of composition of images
  • No access to wide-angle lenses for Mamiya’s
  • Will have to experiment with colour film on chosen camera
  • Blurring technique:
    • Difficult to do on the Mamiya 7 due to the fact that you cannot see it as an unfocused image (the rangefinder simply uses a ghost image for focusing)
    • The blurring of the images will be inconsistent – if taking this technique further (i.e. using it for my FMP), I will need to experiment with methodology to create consistent blurring
  • Tried experimenting with double exposures on Mamiya’s – confused as to technique and how to create them so will probably have to re-shoot

 


 

Test Shoot Photos:

Landscape 1:

Landscape 2:

Landscape 3:

Landscape 4:

Landscape 5:

Blurred Landscape 1:

Blurred Landscape 2:

Blurred Landscape 3:

“Double-Exposure”:

 

 


 

After-Thoughts and Reflection:

Cameras:

After completing this test shoot and experiencing both the practicality and photographic quality of each of the cameras, although during the test shoot I had an inkling that the Mamiya RB67 would provide me with better quality images, I soon found, after the development of the film, that the Mamiya 7 actually provided me with the better quality images. This is because, although I thought it was slightly easier to use the Mamiya RB67 in terms of focusing and viewing the image you’re about to create, as you have to hold the RB67 lower than eye-height, it completely changed the composition of the image, slightly flattening the landscape I was photographing. Because of this reason, and the fact that it is much more practical in both weight and size, I am now planning on shooting with the Mamiya 7 for my FMP. However, I will also be using the Canon 5D Mk II with my wide-angle Tamron lens (10-24mm) in order to help me achieve the appropriate camera settings for the desired shot, as well as providing me with digital back-ups in case anything goes wrong with the medium format film.

 

Techniques:

After experimenting with these two techniques (deliberate blurring and double-exposure), at this stage in the project, I feel that I want to create the more documentary style landscape images rather than the artistic creative images. This is because, although these techniques could greatly symbolize the idea of memories (suggested above under “methodology”), I agree with what David Moore suggested in the group tutorial (please see the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 3 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with David Moore, and a Self-Learning Workshop)”) regarding photographing the landscapes in the past, and that, although I am looking into the past and memories through the use of landscapes (which could be represented by the more creative techniques), I am actually using a present landscape as a gateway to the past and so should use an photographic aesthetic that represents the documentation of the now. I therefore feel that the more documentary style images would be able to capture this idea of the present landscape, and depending on how I decide to incorporate text within my FMP, it will be this textual aspect that could symbolize the memory factor of the piece. Although I have decided this now, as this project is still very much in its early stages, I may plan on revisiting these techniques further along the development process.

 



 

Colour Film Experiment – Unfortunately…

Although, as stated above in my experimental test shoot, I was planning on experimenting with colour film after choosing the medium format camera I wanted to use for my FMP (the Mamiya 7), I was actually unable to complete this experiment before I went on my next trip to the Lake District. I therefore decided to take a relatively risky move and use this next trip to the Lake District as the experimental test and therefore spent the weekend shooting on colour film that I had never used before.

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