Loving the Ricoh 35ZF

A week or so ago I was considering selling this little camera … but since then I’ve shot five 36 exposure rolls with the Ricoh and haven’t left home without it.

Elland, West Yorkshire

I’ve shot with it in the rain, on the bus and even in the sunshine (although not many sunny frames) and it hasn’t missed a beat. So, it will be staying – it’s sat on the table next to me already loaded with a roll of TMax – but I still need to decide on a camera or three to release back into the wild!

Contre-jour
Time for a Cuppa

“Street” with the Ricoh 35 ZF

I think he spotted me!

I’m in the process of down-sizing my camera collection and am currently considering my small rangefinder style cameras. Today it was the turn of the Ricoh 35ZF.

Loading with a roll of Berlin Kino black and white film I hit the first key consideration: could I push the film beyond its box speed of 400? It was dull and overcast so rating the film at 800 would have been useful. The ISO selector goes from 64-800 so that was a tick in the box. In the event I chose to rate the film at box speed but it was nice to have the option.

The Ricoh 35 ZF is a zone focus, shutter priority (or fully manual) 35mm film camera from the mid-1970s. It has a fixed 40mm f/2.8 lens, shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/8 (plus B), and an ISO range of 50-800. When shooting in an urban setting I have tended to set the shutter speed to 1/125th with the Ricoh, putting the aperture on ‘A’ and setting the focus pictogram depending on how close I expect to get to my subject.

Repeating shapes are always something I look for

The camera’s diminutive size means it fits in the palm of my hand so I carry it without a strap to make it even more discrete. It’s small size and unobtrusive shutter sound, a brief “click”, means I can shoot from the hip as I did for the opening shot here. Pre-setting the aperture and shutter speed and by using the zone focusing pictograms means I can also shoot quickly from the eye too as in the image above.

I won’t comment on the film beyond saying that it has its strengths and weaknesses both of which I tested today. For the very varied lighting situations I encountered today, indoors and outdoors, I would usually use HP5+ but that said there are some images on the roll that I’m very pleased with.

As for the camera, I think that it’s ideal for a walk-around, shoot-from-the-hip camera and I’ve had an enjoyable morning with it.

I’m 90% certain it’s staying in my collection too!

9 in 45: Take 3

Something different for this take on Mr C’s 9/45 Challenge. Colour and a walk that apart from the first few hundred metres covers an area of Halifax that I’ve not been to before nor indeed passed through as it is an area of back streets beyond the town centre itself. I walked in a meandering loop ending up not too far from where I started.

A fairly standard shot for me and an easy first shot in many ways

Starting at Bull Green at around ten past eleven, my first shot was taken as I turned into Gibbet Street and the second at the other end of the same street. The first makes use of the colour contrasts and a bright blue sky. It’s a safe composition but a good start and set me up for the rest of the Challenge, which was indeed more challenging than I’d expected. I’d normally not take a photo walk so late in the morning, especially with a bright harsh sun in a blue, virtually cloudless, sky and this coupled with the environment I was walking in made for an interesting walk. The second image is a historically interesting image, so lets precede it with some history.

The Halifax Gibbet was an early guillotine , estimated to have been installed during the 16th century, it was used as an alternative to beheading by axe or sword.  Halifax was once part of the Manor of Wakefield, where ancient custom and law gave the Lord of the Manor the authority to execute summarily by decapitation any thief caught with stolen goods to the value of 13½d or more, or who confessed to having stolen goods of at least that value. Decapitation was a fairly common method of execution in England, but Halifax was unusual in two respects: it employed a guillotine-like machine that appears to have been unique in the country, and it continued to decapitate petty criminals until the mid-17th century.

I was a minute or two late taking the image as I got distracted by the information board

The device consisted of an axe head fitted to the base of a heavy wooden block that ran in grooves between two 15-foot (4.6 m) tall uprights, mounted on a stone base about 4 feet (1.2 m) high. A rope attached to the block ran over a pulley, allowing it to be raised, after which the rope was secured by attaching it to a pin in the base. The block carrying the axe was then released either by withdrawing the pin or by cutting the rope once the prisoner was in place. Incidentally, the axe head fitted to the gibbet is a replica – the original is in a museum.

Greenmount Retail Park

From Gibbet Street I turned down Bedford Street North, ending up on one of the main roads into the town centre and the third image was taken on the corner of Pellon Lane and Hanson Lane by the retail park.

I can rarely resist a chance to shoot into the sun

I then proceeded along Hanson Lane and from here I wandered, taking turns at random and initially when I sat at the computer I could not be sure where these next few images were taken but Google Maps/Street View has helped me reconstruct the route and I’m now pretty confident on where I took the remaining images. The one above was taken along Hanson Lane looking over the fence into the Hanson Lane Memorial Garden.

Francis Street

A few twists and turns led me to Francis Street, a long, mainly residential street with cars parked pretty much everywhere. I stopped when the phone bade me do so and if I wanted to avoid cars then there was only one direction in which to point the Fuji.

I had just turned into Parkinson Lane when the timer sounded again. This was at the farthest end of the Calderdale College campus and I was grateful that the timer hadn’t gone off before I had turned the corner as the street was full of students and tutors on their lunch breaks. I was therefore particularly pleased with the simple composition I found to my left.

I so wanted to crop this square but was sticking to the rules!

Continuing down the lane I turned left onto one of the main roads back towards the town centre. I quickly took another left though, into Park Road, to get me off the busy, and noisy, dual carriageway. This was a broad, tree-lined street which hinted at the prosperity this part of Halifax once enjoyed. These old villas were largely multiple occupation now or undergoing repairs and the whole area was consequently a little shabby around the edges.

Yes – my thumbs itched to correct the converging verticals

The bright blue sky contrasted well with the stonework of these magnificent old villas. At the end of the road is the entrance to the park which runs along most of the length of the road and from which the road clearly takes its name. I couldn’t resist a peak inside and so my eighth image is taken in the peaceful surroundings of The People’s Park.

Stepping back onto Park Road I then turned right down Hopwood Lane towards my final destination which turned out to be the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre, home to a thriving community of creative, digital and innovative businesses, according to their website. For me it was the final shot of the set and another chance to play with shadows and contrasts. I used pretty much all of my allotted minute waiting for someone to walk into frame and whilst I’d hoped for someone approaching along the sunlit strip this was the best I saw before my minute was up and so “snap” the Challenge was completed.

Walks end … and another ten minutes saw me back where I’d started!

These 9 in 45 walks are challenging me in a way that I was not expecting. I’m forced to resist the temptation to take images which is counter-intuitive. I usually walk the streets looking for images and taking whatever opportunities arise. This challenge focus me to keep my camera in my bag until the appointed moment and I find that hard. Yesterday I was tempted to walk back to one location once I’d completed the Challenge to take an image that had caught my eye earlier in the walk, however a raging thirst and a desire to sit down with a coffee took precedent. Instead I shall go back next week at some point.

The mix of horizontal and vertical images shows I’m not afraid to turn the camera on its side too!

Image recap

Street in Southport

We’ve been to Southport a couple of times this year, just for a couple of nights to get away from the noise and hustle of our family home which bursts with three generations of our family. As the Oldies we probably need the peace more than anyone! On the last visit we decided to go and sample the delights of Southport’s retail experience. At least the wife went shopping! I went for a wander around an indoor shopping arcade. I just so happened (!) to have the Fuji X100t in my coat pocket.

Southport 1

Elizabeth Gray on the photographylife website defines street photography thus: “… street photography is about candidly capturing life in public areas.” It is one of many definitions that I have seen. Often partly contradictory, these definitions all have a slightly different take on the topic but all include reference to public areas and the word candid, or variations, crops up very frequently. However, the biggest variant I’ve found has been the inclusion of people. For some street photography seems to feature exclusively candid images of people going about their daily business. Some , like Bruce Gilden, best known for his candid close-up photographs of people on the streets of New York City, using a flashgun, are definitely in-your-face street photographers. Others take a less intrusive approach.

Southport 2

Do Street Photos Need People?

So, whether or not street shots need people in them is something that remains the subject of much debate. For myself, I do not feel that street photographs must contain people. That said, there needs to be something in the image that hints at the involvement of people. People are often in my frame, often as small but necessary elements of the composition and sometimes just as shadows or reflections. I will sometimes photograph things left behind by people, less though with the intention of leaving the viewer wondering what the story is behind the discarded objects but more as a comment on the crassness of a small element of the human race.

Southport 3
Three people, two walking into frame and a third reflected in a shop window (I/3rd way up on the left) but to my mind people are not a mandatory part of all street photographs.
Southport 4
A hint of the future presence of people perhaps?

So, with that said, what do I like to photograph on the streets? Well, pretty much anything as it happens. It’s all a matter of what takes my eye at the time and how bullish I’m feeling. It also depends on where I am. I will photograph on the streets of a small town such as Halifax but am considerably more conspicuous as you rarely see folk wandering about with a camera. A city like Liverpool or London however is a different kettle of fish as can be seen in some of the images on this earlier post many of which were taken with the same camera that I was using in Southport.

Southport 5
Next enclosure along …

The X100T, and to a lesser extent the X100 which I used before the T, is great for street and candid photography and the image quality at ISO 6400, when exposed correctly, is superb in my experience. An aperture of f4 is ideal with the 23mm lens of the X100T when shooting in public although if the main subject is a person I often open the lens up to f2.8. When the prime subject is not human however an aperture of f5.6 or f8 if the light allows is preferable for my taste.

Southport 6
Fuji X100t. 1/140th ISO 200 f5.6
Southport 7
All good street photography finishes with a cuppa!

So, an interesting hour. The wife only spent a few pounds and I enjoyed a wander around an admittedly quite arcade. I need to be in the mood for full-on street photography and the genteel peace of this old arcade was the perfect setting that morning.

Social media

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped making images or thinking for that matter. I have material for a couple of VLOGs, although I hesitate to call them that, they are more accurately personal video diaries to my mind, ones that I don’t mind sharing. There’s a lot of very well executed VLOGs on YouTube at the moment with exceptionally high production values hence my hesitation. There’s even a newly formed Facebook group celebrating UK landscape videos/VLOGs on YouTube.

I see in fact that it was October 20th that I last put electronic pen to digital paper, when I reflected on the phenomenon that was Ophelia,.  Which isn’t as long a gap as I’d thought but long enough.  I have made a token effort to process the images from the last five weeks and a selection have appeared on my Instagram feed and on my Facebook account.  Not my Flickr account though. I seem to have completely fallen out of the habit of posting on Flickr, even though it’s the account I’ve had for the longest and is after all designed for photographers (allegedly, but that’s another story).

When I look back at what I’ve posted I will no doubt find that those I’ve processed so far are those that have instant appeal. The more thoughtful photographs will follow in due course and these will be the most fulfilling for me personally. As they are also those that are less likely to have that instant appeal they may not make it to Instagram at all. I find it amusing that I happily post anything that interests me to my blog, which is my more “grown-up” social media outlet yet hesitate to share the more challenging images to Instagram or even Facebook where the only people I interact with are people I know and in the main, are people I have met in the real world. It seems that my social media usage is falling into three buckets almost:

  • Instagram: Instant hit – an ego boost?
  • Facebook: sharing my best work primarily with my friends
  • Blog: sharing what I like, what I feel and think.

Arguably, this blog is my more honest face on the social media merry go round.

© Dave Whenham
For Sale … to Let. The changing face of the high street in a small, former-mill town in West Yorkshire.  (63-2017-1)

Throughout 2017 I have been following the “365” exploits of Maxwell Law, a member of the same camera club as myself whom I interact with mainly via Facebook, email and very occasionally the telephone. This has inspired me to do the same in 2018 and I’ve already applied to join the Flickr 365 group to which he belongs who hopefully will have space for me in the new year.  I really do carry a camera, and not just a mobile phone camera, everywhere but whilst I use it regularly I do not use it every day. It will be interesting to see what being a member of a 365 group does for my photography. Will it reenergise my photography, will it become a chore, will I end up photographing the garden in the dark to grab that days shot? Will I last the year? A month? The first week? They don’t call them a challenge for nothing and I am at least going into this with my eyes open. It’s possibly the most social thing I will have attempted in recent years and no doubt I will cogitate on the subject over the next sixty-three days as we count down to 2018 and may even post a few words on the subject here.

An afternoon at 23mm

(C) Dave Whenham
Into the light was a regular feature of my afternoon

Finding myself needing to be in Leeds on Saturday with a few hours to play with I decided to grab a shoulder bag for an impromptu urban shoot. My Fuji x100t was in there, I really do take it everywhere, and I popped the Fuji X-T1 in for good measure with a couple of polarisers and an ND graduated filter.

(C) Dave Whenham
Harsh light, strong contrasts and processing to match

I wandered through the city centre with the x100t in my hand and as always thoroughly enjoyed shooting with this little camera. It’s fixed 23mm f2 lens has a character all of its own and as it equates to a full-frame equivalent of 35mm it is perfect for my style of street photography. I’m fast beginning to realise that if I had to give up all my toys apart from one then I would probably chose to keep this camera. It was a bright, sunny afternoon with barely a cloud in the sky. Very harsh light with very strong contrasts. The camera coped with it all and I found the EVF very handy in judging what degree of exposure compensation to apply.

(C) Dave Whenham
Heavy shadows called for some heavy duty processing in Snapseed

Because of the light I decided to work with black and white in mind. I would usually set a black and white preset but for reasons that are still unknown to me I chose not to today. The images were processed on my phone whilst I was out and on my return home and also processed a few on the iPad. In both instances however I only used Snapseed for the processing. The other stylistic choice for the first part of my afternoon was to work in the square format. I usually shoot in 3:2 and crop later but today I went for the 1:1 option so the screen was showing me the square crop and the resulting JPEGs were also square. I know the RAW files will be 3:2 which might be useful later but for now I’m working with the original JPEG files.

(C)Dave Whenham
I did get eye-balled a couple of times but kept smiling and kept moving

Since I closed my Facebook account I have posted a few images to Instagram and have also posted to this blog far more often too. When I sat and processed these images I deliberately chose a “grungier” look and feel to these images largely with Instagram in mind. The strong, contrasting light was also a big factor in this decision.

(C) Dave Whenham
Easy Rider

Leaving the city centre behind I headed to Clarence Dock where I swapped over to the Fuji X-T1 and it was only then that I realised it was sporting the 23mm f2 lens. It was the day of the 23mm lenses obviously. I will share the images from Clarence Dock and the waterfront in my next post.

Luminar

No, not a product review but as I’d mentioned this new software in my last post I thought I’d share a few images that have been processed using some of the presets. All have been tweaked from the original configuration of the preset as some of them are a bit too in-your-face at 100% but work really nicely at 60% opacity or thereabouts. All shot with the Fiji X-T1 and 18-55 lens.

© Dave Whenham
Luminar RAW conversion plus Angels in the Marble and Moonlight Falling presets.

© Dave Whenham
Luminar RAW conversion and B&W Standard preset (tweaked).

© Dave Whenham
Luminar RAW conversion and a tweaked version of the Moonlight Falling preset with a digital ND graduated filter applied over sky.

© Dave Whenham
Luminar – Bladerunner preset (tweaked). I still can’t decide if I like this or not!

Place: London Dateline: 2010

Yes, a wander back in time today and four images from the archive. All shot in London whilst I was down there working. As I was working all day these are of necessity night-time shots which at the time was a relatively new experience for me.

© Dave Whenham
The Ghostly Legs at St Paul’s

© Dave Whenham
St Paul’s from the South Bank

© Dave Whenham
St Pauls

© Dave Whenham
Canary Wharf from across the Thames in Greenwich