13 Mar 2020 – 19:48 GMT – 6°C Light Rain – Co. Dublin, Ireland
I plan to bring a camera towards Rome. Weight is a major consideration and things have improved in that regard. In years gone by, I brought an iPhone on my walks because my DSLR kits were too heavy and unwieldy for use by brain tired, wet hands. So I’d bought iPhone battery extenders, lens kits for telephoto and wide angle options, specialty tripods and my favourite, a grip that also acted as stabiliser. These all coupled nicely with iPhone earphones, cleverly designed so the volume control also acted as a remote shutter release. Except I’d walked the batteries dead with Walkmeter and other mapping apps on iPhone versions 3, 4, 5 and 7 and wouldn’t you know, the camera kits tended to change from one generation of phone to the next.
Then I was lucky enough to be able to buy a Fuji XT-3. First, I had to be re-educated to know I needed an XT-3. This started with the influence of two excellent photographers who had switched from Canon to Fuji for the X-sensors and prismless technology and both were very pleased with their decisions. So I had borrowed an XE-1 from daughter and son-in-law and carried it around London for ten days. Quite a revelation. Light, unobtrusive and easy to use. Great photos. Street snaps and more considered compositions equally impressive. I found the mechanical dials intuitive, a throwback to my Practica and Canon A-1 from the 70s. My favourite was the exposure flexibility coming via the exposure compensation dial. And I loved the electronic view finder. Nearly WYSIWYG and bright enough to see in daylight.
Being six years old, the XE-1 had wake-up, auto-focus and shutter lags that I knew would not be issues in the newly released XT-3. Technology evolves.
And so I bought X-T3 for portability and simplicity of operation and discretion. The Canon SLR with 70-200 lens is not discrete. People frown, avoid, gurn or pose when they see it. And it can lead to an exposure of double meaning in urban environments where security isn’t guaranteed. No one notices the equally good XT-3 dangling from my wrist. Unobtrusive thus candid shots are easier. And it has a silent shutter option, brilliant for galleries, readings and the like where camera noise would be intrusive.
I mentioned technology evolving. Glass really matters in cameras. The Fuji 18-55 kit lens is brilliant. I also picked up a Pentax Auto-Takumar 35mm f/3.5 from 1959 that I use for nighttime street photography. Attached with a fotodioX adapter that also takes Canon EOS threads plus can tilt-shift. The Pentax lens has a manual aperture control ring from f/3.5 to f/22. That’s 1959 glass on 2018 electronics. And I can use Canon lenses and more should I wish.
Wabi Sabi. A book on same arrived in the post yesterday, another gift to be digested before I head towards Rome. “Looking and Seeing. Nalanda Miksang. Contemplative Photography. Way of Seeing: Volume 1.”
Wabi Sabi. Playful photography. I’ve been doing it unknowingly for years. I have a series of ‘abstract’ pictures of rust, peeling, cracking, bleeds and the like. I tend to take such pictures that are wabi-sabi with my phone because usually such pictures can’t be planned. They are of a moment, a curious schizophrenic moment: 1/125th of a second and also infinity. And more bizarrely, the shorter moment is the one you occupy and then you are absent for the infinite moment, a moment you carry but only temporarily because you’re as ephemeral as the shutter snap in the grand scheme of things. Ill-defined definitive moments. Head wrecking stuff.
Last night, I was taken out for dinner. A near empty restaurant due to Covid-19. It became totally empty for the last hour we were there. Vegan menu. Except the fries were cooked in the oil used for deep frying fish. The waitress was alert. She checked. Never occurred to us to ask. Reminded me of a baked eggs saga, a light snack bought in a spa last weekend. Lovely rich tomato and mushroom sauce seemed to have little nubs of salty somethings – lardons. Yes, bacon was mentioned in the small print. Very, very small print. True, it wasn’t labelled V or VE but then again it wasn’t on the menu – it was on a large promotional card on the food counter with huge font eggs and tiny font bacon. Lots of embarrassment on both sides and we got our money back but I would have preferred to eat in the 40 minutes we wasted.