Simple Photography

I like to keep things simple. No zooms, no flash, no lens changing. No automation. Simple photography.

For me, photography is about making the photograph in the camera. This sounds obvious, however, with the rise of digital photography, and image-processing software, often the final photograph is made in the computer, and that photograph is way different to the photograph made in the camera. I suppose this can be likened to extreme manipulations of film photographs in the darkroom, so this is not a digital phenomenon, but more a philosophical or conceptual one.

I have no opinion about post-processing of photographs. For me, I like to keep manipulation of the photograph to a minimum. This means I follow a few simple rules when making photographs (actually, these are not rules, since rules imply they need to be applied. In my case, I guess I should call them habits). My rules (or habits) are:

  • Wait for the photograph to appear. Be patient, wait for the moment to develop. Unforeseen events occur, moments unfold, disconnected events align to form an interesting photograph. This is often missed by some. Scenes are not static. Waiting to see how time changes the scene can pay off.
  • Frame the photograph in the camera. I don't crop my photographs. I publish them exactly how I framed them in the viewfinder.
  • Do not alter the scene. I never add or remove elements from the scene, neither prior to making the photograph, nor while processing the photograph in my computer. My photographs contain every element of the original scene.
  • Do not over-adjust. I do make minor adjustments to my photographs with Photoshop. The main purpose is to remove artefacts that may have appeared due to dust on the camera's sensor or blemishes on the film. In addition I may make very small changes to colour saturation, contrast, or colour temperature. In all cases, these adjustments are intended to bring the photograph closer to the scene as I remember it. I never try to add drama or exaggerate elements of the scene.

The majority of my photographs were made with my Leica M9 (digital) and Leica MP (35 mm film) rangefinder cameras. Leica Summicron 28mm f2.0 and Leica Summicron 50mm f2.0 are my lenses of choice. Occasionally, I will also use my trusted 40 years old Pentax K1000 (the early all-metal version made in Japan). All of these cameras are small, reliable, and easy to use. I always make my photographs in manual mode, never relying on the camera's automatic exposure functions. In fact, only the Leica M9 has an automatic exposure function, but I prefer to use this camera in manual mode too.

While both the Pentax K1000 and Leica MP have exposure meters, I like to use an incident light meter (Sekonic L-398A) to determine exposure. I find this method of metering to be more reliable, especially under difficult lighting conditions. Since I am not making snapshots, I always have plenty of time to meter exposure correctly.

As far as film is concerned, I prefer to use Kodak Tri-X 400 for black-and-white photographs, and Kodak Ektar 100 for colour photographs. Read more about Kodak's professional films here.