Simplifying.

gear-1You might have spotted the I’m taking part in the 52 Rolls Project this year. The ‘rules’ are pretty loose and open to interpretation, but the basic premise is to shoot a roll of film (which might mean a roll, a pack of instant, a pinhole image, a large format sheet etc) each week for a year.

I came across the 52 Rolls blog last Christmas and by New Year was already shooting my first film. Since then, I’ve shot more than 70 rolls, missing only one week – last year I shot no more than 10 rolls in 12 months.

My last entry on the 52 Rolls blog was a ‘mid-year review’. It became the visual summary of a feeling I’ve had throughout the project – there’s just too much variety in what I’ve produced. While it’s been fun shooting ~15 different cameras and half a dozen or more film types, it means that the results are all over the place. There’s no common style or look to the pictures. Each individual post is OK in isolation, but the ‘eclectic’ doesn’t cover it when viewed together.

The other issue that I’m looking fix is that my digital stuff tends to be the work I put more thought and effort into, counter to what many people who do both will tell you. Examples like the Katowice set, A Shot In The Dark or More News From Nowhere  have all been exclusively digital, despite preferring the results that film gives. The film pictures gathered in that summary were pretty much all ‘snapshots’.

So, for these reasons, I’ve sold off a load of equipment (there’s more to go) and replaced it with one camera and lens. Like most photographers, I’ve lusted after a Leica for as long as I’ve had a camera, and for exactly the reasons explained by Bellamy Camera Hunter, decided on an M6.

Leica lenses are so expensive that they need to be gathered slowly over time. Since I bought a 35mm lens for my Canon a few years ago, it’s almost never left the camera, so the decision on which focal length to go for first was pretty simple. Mr Rockwell’s review and prolonged gushing sealed the deal.

The camera  is of course a delight to use. Small, quiet and the controls and operation are magnificently tactile. I took it to Poland last month and shot 10 rolls in as many days – I’ve gathered some of the results here. It took no getting used to, so simple is the operation (although I’ve used rangefinders for a few years so had a head start) and I look forward to ‘developing a relationship’ with it, along with a couple of film stocks to maintain that consistent look that I’m after.

So as people like to do, I offer you my ‘set-up’:

  • The bag is a Billingham Hadley Digital (black canvas, tan leather). This is my third Billingham and as with the previous two, it’s fantastically well made, absolutely rainproof, stylish and provides great protection for the camera
  • Leica M6 Classic
  • Summicron-M 35mm ASPH lens
  • a Japan Camera Hunter film case with Kodak Portra 400 and Tri-X
  • a Footprint leather strap
  • headphones
  • cleaning cloth
  • Sharpie and bottle opener

And that’s it. My plan is to use this kit (almost) exclusively for the rest of the year, and probably the rest of my life. I’ll let you know how it goes…

 

 

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